The cost to build a campaign website can range from just a few hundred dollars to thousands. Why do political websites range so much in price? It all comes down to how complicated a site your campaign needs.
Larger campaigns for congress or state-wide elected office usually pay a web designer to build a custom site. Smaller, local races often choose to make a DIY website using a campaign website builder.
The cost of building a website can be broken down into design cost, hosting fees, and domain name registration.
Website Design Costs
The largest cost for a custom website is the design. If you have the money, hiring a designer can be a great way to get a professional website. Some web designers will bill by the hour, while others will cost out the entire project.
No matter how the designer handles billing, most custom political sites cost between $1,000 and $5,000. Even more complicated websites for presidential candidates can cost three or four times that.
When a designer is figuring out how much to charge for your site, they will factor in many different things. More pages, more forms, interactive features like calendars or directories will all increase the cost of your site.
If you’re looking to keep costs low, try and simplify your design and focus on the pages that matter to your campaign. Most campaigns don’t need more than a biography and issues. A complicated website can become expensive, difficult to manage and a distraction from important voter contact.
Once your site is built, you will need to decide how it is managed. Some designers will manage your site for a monthly fee or by the hour, and can handle the updates for you. The cost of management will depend on how frequently you need updates.
Unless you’re running for President and need a dedicated webmaster to handle frequent updates and complicated features, paying more than a few hundred dollars a month for your site management alone should raise red flags.
One big exception: Many vendors will bundle a site along with other services like graphic design, mailers, search and digital ads, or social media management. Don’t expect to get all of that for just a few bucks.
Larger political campaigns will have staff who can take over the management of the site, while smaller campaigns may be managed by the candidate or a volunteer.
Keeping your site simple not only saves on the initial design cost but also on the management. Campaigns can save a lot of time and money by avoiding designs that require frequent updates.
If you’re running for city council in a small town, you probably don’t need to worry about having a news or events section on your website. You can always keep voters up to date on social media that are free.
Fill your site with quality evergreen content that is good year-round, and you can save a lot on expensive management.
Website Hosting and Domain Registration Costs
Website hosting and domain registration costs shouldn’t be confused with management costs. While some vendors will wrap these up with a management fee, even if you are handling the management yourself you will have to pay these.
What is the difference between hosting and domain registration? Hosting is the server space to actually store all the content of your website. Domain registration is the address of your site and the information needed to point visitors to your hosting servers.
The hosting and domain registration can be done with the same service, though they don’t need to be. Some hosts will offer a free domain name. Even if you decide to skip paying for the design and management of your site, you will have to pay for hosting.
What should it cost? It’s generally only a few hundred dollars per year. Your host may include features to build your own website, charging more for security and design tools.
It’s totally possible to find cheap web hosting that costs less than a hundred dollars a year. Beware, many of these are introductory rates that may skyrocket after a year.
Cheap hosts may not offer design help and require using an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) solution to load your own CMS (Content Management System). If you’re reading this article, you probably don’t know how to do that, and it’s best to stick to a reliable hosting plan with better features.
If you’re paying more than a few hundred dollars for hosting alone, it’s probably because you’re paying for a lot of capacity or dedicated server space. This really only matters if you have a high traffic website that gets thousands of hits per day.
99% of campaign websites would be lucky to have a few hundred hits on their best day. Don’t over pay for hosting capacity you aren’t using.
Cost of building Your Own Campaign Website
If you don’t have the budget for a custom website design, you can use a website builder, like Ryvall, Squarespace, or Wix. These will wrap up the design, management and hosting all in one.
These options are the most affordable, with plans generally between $20 to $50 per month depending on the features.
All these platforms will come standard with enough free website templates to get your campaign started, but not all website builders are easy to use.
Other platforms can overwhelm with features meant for graphic designers. Ryvall is designed for candidates.
With other editors, you have to manually build contact and volunteer forms, and connect donate buttons. These are standard features with Ryvall’s campaign website builder.
When you build your own campaign website, the largest investment is time. On a political campaign, spending too long on your website can cost you valuable time that could be spent knocking doors and persuading voters.