It costs money to start and maintain a small business, and web design is no exception. Even without an office or in-person staff, I invest a good chunk of change every month to help me operate my business and serve my clients as best I can. Here’s a breakdown of my monthly web design business expenses!
VIDEO TRANSCRIPT: How Much I Spend Every Month As a Web Designer
It’s tax season and even though it’s not usually our favorite time of the year as small business owners, it’s a great time to go through all of the expenses, all of those tools and apps that you pay for on a monthly basis and decide which ones you want to keep and which ones it’s time to get rid of.
I’m Galen from Local Creative Co and in today’s video, I’m going to break down all of the tools that I use and pay for every single month as a web designer and a few that I don’t pay for just so you can see what goes into running a business.
Now my business might actually be a little bit unique and that there’s two sides to my business. I work with clients, one-on-one doing web design projects. And then on the other side, I also run an online education business where I teach online courses and offer digital products today. I’m specifically going to be focusing on the web design expenses or the apps and the tools that I use for the web design side of my business.
But if you want me to make. Uh, a second video about all the expenses that I have in my business, or specifically the apps and tools that I use in the online education side of my business. Let me know and I’ll make that video soon.
As I go through each of my expenses, I’m going to break them down into categories just so it’s easier to visualize. And then we’ll add them up at the end to see what I spend each and every month.
I want to preface this also by saying that I’m pretty addicted to shopping for and finding the coolest, latest technology to do different things. I think I’ve done a pretty good job cutting it down over the years, but there have been times where I have definitely subscribed to apps that I didn’t need to be.
And this is such a great exercise to do because it helps you really see what you’re paying for every month, what it adds up to at the end of the month. And then when you look at the cost at the end of the year, it can really change your mind about what you truly need to run your business.
I also recommend switching to the annual plan for as many of these different apps and tools as you can, because typically you’ll get a bit of a discount when you sign up for the annual versus the monthly plan. And then it also makes it a lot easier for you. If you’re somebody like me, who does your own bookkeeping, you only have to categorize one expense for the year versus 12.
Okay. Let’s dive in to the first category, which is web hosting. Now I have quite a few websites. And as I mentioned, I have two different sides of my business. There’s going to be a little bit of an overlap here, but I’m going to try to keep this as much as possible to just looking at the web design side of my business. So while I actually pay for three different websites, subscriptions, one is on Showit.
And two websites on Squarespace that are all related to my business as a web designer, really only one of those websites is what brings in new web design. And clients for my business. And that is the ShowIt website right now. And that costs $36 per month.
Even though it’s not specifically web hosting related, I am going to include my domain purchases as well as my Google suite email in this category, because I just think it kind of all fits together. So four domains, I also own a ton of different domains. Every time I have a business idea or an idea for a course or something. I will buy a domain for that. Really, it should cost about $13 a year, 12 or $13 a year. But for me, because I have so many, if I break down that yearly cost into a monthly cost, I probably pay about $13 per month for all of the domains that I have.
And since I use Gmail to host my business email, I do have to pay for that too. And I actually pay for four users for the different contractors on my team, including myself. And that ends up being $24 a month or $6 per person, which I think is a pretty great deal.
I love having branded email addresses for myself and everyone else on my team, because it looks and feels really professional when we’re communicating with anybody outside of my organization. It also makes it super easy for me to add my team members to different apps that I’m using. And it keeps all the communication related to my business within those branded accounts.
Let’s move on to the next category, which is storage. I’m a huge fan of cloud storage. I don’t love having a ton of external hard drives laying around. I’ve got a couple and my desk here, but in general, I rely on cloud storage to store almost everything related to my business.
I always joke that if my computer were stolen tomorrow, I literally wouldn’t lose a single thing because every file that’s on my computer is backed up to Dropbox. So right now I am paying about $17 a month for Dropbox. And then I also pay for Google drive storage and I pay about $8 a month for that.
So I pay for storage in two different places because I have like, I said backed up every single file image, video piece of content in my business, everything is backed up and sinked to one or both of those places.
At this point, I think I’m paying for close to two terabytes of cloud storage, which is a lot. So if your just getting started in business, you definitely do not need to pay for this much storage. I’ve kind of upgraded it depending on my needs as my business has grown.
The next category I called media because I wasn’t exactly sure what to call this, but this includes descript, which I use for all of my video editing. It includes Canva pro, which I use all the time for pretty much all of my graphic design and elements that I’m creating for websites. I even do a lot of my website mock-ups directly in inside of Canva because it’s so, so simple.
I used to pay for the entire Adobe suite. But I recently canceled my subscription because I didn’t find myself using it anymore. Now that I rely so heavily on Canva.
I will still purchase an Adobe subscription as needed. If I have certain projects come up where I feel like I need to hop into Photoshop or where I have a file that I’m editing for a client and Illustrator. I still love those programs again. I just didn’t see myself using it all the time. So I ended up canceling.
Loom is the third app in this category. And I absolutely love Loom for recording videos that I can send to my clients that I can add inside of my courses in programs to answer questions. It is such a wonderful tool and it’s only $10 per month.
I believe at this point, there’s actually a free version of Loom to where you can record up to five minute videos, which is amazing, but I use it so much and I am constantly recording videos to, like I said, answer questions or respond to client emails that I ended up upgrading and I’ve never regretted it.
Descript the tool I mentioned earlier for video editing is an amazingly simple tool. I think of it like video editing for people who aren’t video editors. It actually transcribes all of the words that you’re saying in your video. And then you edit the transcription to edit the video. So it’s a super, super seamless and easy tool to use.
And it makes editing super fast because you can read the transcription and edit from that as you go through the the video.
Descript cost me $15 a month. And Canva pro costs me around $13 a month. Canva pro is so worth it over the free version of Canva. I use the free version for a long time, but being able to add my team members to Canva, being able to export transparent background images, being able to create templates in Canva that I can send my clients.
There are so many valuable features that make the upgrade a no brainer.
I am going to include links below to all of the tools I mentioned in this video, in case you want to check any of them out and use them for your own business.
Up next, we have the marketing category of expenses and this is one of my favorites. Keep in mind, I left out any expenses related to the online education side of my business. So the hosting apps and I’m using for my courses, all of that, that is not going to be included here. These are just apps and tools that are related to my web design business.
The three tools that I want to focus on here. Here are ConvertKit for email marketing Planoly for social media scheduling.
And then I use Hello Audio to host and schedule my podcast episodes.
Quick plug here for the podcast. If you haven’t subscribed yet, I will include a link below for that too, because it’s pretty awesome. And I go more in depth about how I run my business and I share some amazing interviews with my business friends.
For a very long time I actually used Flowdesk for all of my email marketing. And then I recently at the end of last year, made the switch back to ConvertKit because I really wanted more of the automation features and really more of the reporting features that ConvertKit offered that flow desk was missing.
I actually used Flow Desk for quite a while as my email marketing tool of choice. And then at the end of last year, I made the switch back to ConvertKit because I really wanted more features and functionality when it came to integrations, when it came to automations. And most importantly, when it came to analytics,
If you’re new to business or you’re new to email marketing, ConvertKit actually has a free plan to help you get started. The price does go up as your list starts to grow, but you won’t need to worry about that until you get to that point.
I’ve tested out a lot of different scheduling tools over the years. And I always come back to Planoly as being my favorite it’s specifically for Instagram. They do have Pinterest scheduling as well. I think Tailwind really just sort of dominates when it comes to the Pinterest world and automating Pinterest.
I currently don’t have much of a Pinterest strategy. That’s something I’m looking to implement more towards the second half of 22. So I did cancel my. Tailwind subscription a while back, but I use Planoly every single day. I love it for uploading and scheduling out all my social media content ahead of time and seeing what my grid looks like before I post.
Hello Audio is a really cool podcast hosting platform. Well, they do allow for public podcasts, their bread and butter is really private podcasts. That’s what sets them apart from the competition. You basically can create a private podcast feed, have people opt in or subscribe and get access to that feed.
You get amazing analytics.
I have tested out private podcast feeds for courses and online summits that I’ve done in the past. And there are really amazing tools and people love them. I hope to integrate private podcasts, more into my marketing this year and next year, because it’s such a powerful way to connect with your audience.
So let’s go into how much each one of these three tools costs.
ConvertKit cost me $79 per month. Planoly cost me only $9 per month. And Hello Audio costs me $30 per month.
Again, if you’re new in business, you probably won’t need to pay as much for something like ConvertKit , because your list won’t be as big. And if you don’t have a podcast where you have no plans to start a podcast, you definitely don’t need it to be paying for a podcast hosting tool. Like Hello Audio.
I do think having a YouTube channel or having a podcast or a blog or some way that you’re putting out content. Into the world every single month is a great way to attract new clients for your service based business.
Okay. Now let’s dive into the admin category. This category has three different apps. The first one is Notion, which if you’ve been subscribed to this channel for a while, you know, I love to talk about notion. If you’re not subscribed, make sure to do that now. But Notion is an amazing tool to help you organize your business and your life.
Notion is actually a totally free tool, but I pay for Notion every single month because I do upload all of the videos that I create into Notion. And I started to hit that point where I was going to run out of storage. I don’t even think I ever did run out of storage. It’s just such a nominal amount every year that I didn’t even question whether I was going to be on the free plan or whether I was going to upgrade.
So Notion costs me a whopping $4 per month when you. Let’s break down that yearly or that annual cost into monthly payments.
The next tool I have here is LastPass. LastPass is a really powerful tool that lets you store all the passwords related to your business and easily share them with your team. So instead of sending just a word doc or storing them in a Google doc and sharing that with your team, which isn’t very secure, you can use LastPass.
Instead you give them access to LastPass and they’re able to log in to different sites related to your business without actually seeing your login info. Information.
I pay annually for LastPass, but when I break it down monthly, it ends up being right about $3 a month. So again, not really breaking the bank and it’s a really simple tool to use.
The last tool in this section is HoneyBook. And I absolutely love HoneyBook. It’s another tool that I talk a lot about on this channel. I use HoneyBook for all of my client management for automating all of my client workflows for keeping track of my projects for emailing clients back and forth for sending proposals, for sending contracts, for getting paid through my invoices.
It really is a one-stop shop for everything related to my client process. I’m an affiliate for HoneyBook. So when I talk about HoneyBook at other people sign up through my link, I actually make a commission. So HoneyBook ends up costing me nothing every month. I actually make a little bit of money off of it. So it’s a really great tool and you can promote it too. When you sign up for a HoneyBook account, you get a link of your own to be able to share it with your friends or your business connections to hopefully make a little bit of the money back.
I have a link below here. If you want to check it out. It ends up making HoneyBook about $4 and 50 cents a month. If you’re brand new and you’ve never tried it before, it’s a great way to get your feet wet and just see if it’s going to be a good fit for you and your business.
I have one more category on my list here, and that is free apps and tools that I use in my business. A lot of the apps that I mentioned actually do have a free plan that you can get started with. And like I said, all include the links below this video. I just ended up paying for them. Cause I usually tried the free plan, thought it was awesome. Ended up wanting more features and upgrading at a later point.
I’ve been in business for a long time now. So if you’re just starting out, I highly recommend just start with the free plan and see where it goes from there.
In this category, I have Zoom , which you all know and love as the video conferencing tool of choice. I use Zoom for all of my client calls for I do a sales call and a strategy call with every single client that I work with. It’s a really powerful tool. 99% of the time. I don’t pay monthly for it. There’ve been a couple times in the past where I’ve had to host larger meetings or where I have hosted. Uh, longer meetings with multiple people. And I have upgraded my account and I did end up paying for Zoom, but then I typically cancel it. Cause it’s just not something I need every month going forward.
The other tool that I use every day, that’s free is Slack. Slack is an amazing communication tool. If you remember AOL instant messenger from back in the day, Slack is kind of like that, but for business it’s perfect way for teams to communicate with one another throughout the day, rather than sending emails.
I actually never really send emails with my team. I don’t really communicate with them via email. I try to save email for. My clients or for newsletters that I’m subscribed to, but I really don’t want to get any more email. And so Slack completely eliminates the need for my team and I to communicate over email. And we all just chat with each other during the day on Slack instead.
Okay. So now that we’ve gone through all of the apps and tools that I use on the web design side of my business, let’s add it all up and see what it costs me every single month.
I’ve got my Excel spreadsheet open here. I’m going to do a quick formula and . All right. It looks like for my business. At this point in time, I am spending about $279 per month, just on the apps and tools that I use to run my business.
As I mentioned earlier, not all of these are a hundred percent related to the web design side of my business. A lot of them kind of spill over into that online education side of my business too. Like maybe I wouldn’t have a YouTube channel and a podcast. If I were just doing web design for clients. Although they do help bring me clients. They also help with the education side of my business as well.
Now if we take the $279 per month. And multiply it by 12 months per year, we have $3,348 per year spent on the apps that I use to run my web design business. That’s kind of a lot when you think about it.
That could be a down payment on a nice car. That could be a weekend away for me and my husband. There’s a lot of other things that money could go towards, but at the end of the day, it’s an investment in myself and my business. And hopefully all of the tools that I’m spending money on will end up bringing me a return in the end.
If you found this video helpful, make sure to subscribe and let me know in the comments I’d love to hear from you. If your expenses as a business owner looks similar to mine or completely different, I can’t wait to hear from you.
Thanks so much for watching and I’ll see you in the next video.
Would you rather listen to this episode? Use the podcast player below…
You can also listen on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify
How to Choose Tools for Your Web Design Business
I’m a bit of a tech addict when it comes to trying new, interesting tools in my business. But all the apps and programs I currently pay for are ones that benefit my business and pay for themselves in the long run. By researching the best apps for the job, I can keep my web design business expenses relatively low.
My Favorite Tools As a Web Designer
While there are actually two sides to my business–the web design side and the online education side–today I’m just breaking down the expenses associated with my web design business. These tools allow me to attract, convert, and work with clients efficiently. Plus, they help me and my team communicate with ease!
Website & Hosting – $91/month
I pay for my website hosting, a variety of different domains, and my personalized email through Google Suite.
I use both Squarespace and Showit in my business, though Squarespace is mostly for my online education work. That being said, I do design for both platforms, so I’ve included both in my total.
Whenever I get a new business idea, I tend to snatch up the domain just in case I want to bring it to fruition. If you only have one domain, you definitely won’t pay this much.
Google Suite allows me to create personalized email addresses for myself and my team members. I find that this adds a touch of professionalism and helps us stay organized.
Here’s how this category breaks down:
- Squarespace – $18/month
- Showit – $36/month
- Domain Purchases – $13/month
- Google Suite Email – $24/month or $6/person/month
Use my link and enter code PARTNER10 for a discount on Squarespace!
Storage – $25/month
Every single file I create for my business–from raw video files to documents to social graphics–gets backed up in two places. I prefer cloud-based storage over hard drives, mostly because I don’t have the space or budget for dozens of them. Instead, I invest in Dropbox and Google Drive, which totals out to about 1TB of storage. If you’re just starting out, I recommend opting for the smallest package and upgrading as needed.
Here’s how this category breaks down:
- Dropbox – $17/month
- Google Drive – $8/month
Media – $38/month
I’m constantly creating content for my web design business, and these programs help me get the most out of my time.
Descript is my video editing software of choice because it creates a transcript of my video and allows me to edit based on that instead of the video itself. It’s not as robust as Adobe Premiere, but it’s perfect for my needs.
I use Canva Pro to create all my graphics, from social posts to web design mockups. The pro version is well worth the investment and so much more robust than the free version.
Loom the software I use to create videos and screen recordings for clients. If you’re a web designer, I highly recommend trying it out for any website walkthroughs or tutorials you might send you clients.
Here’s how this category breaks down:
Marketing – $118/month
Like I said, I create a lot of content for my business. These tools help me share that content and attract my ideal clients.
I recently made the switch from Flodesk to ConvertKit for my email marketing. ConvertKit is a bit more involved, but it offers a lot more in the way of analytics and automations. If you’re a new business owner, you can start with the free plan and upgrade as your email list grows.
Planoly is my favorite app for scheduling and auto-posting social media content. I especially love the option to include hashtags in the first commend on the post.
Hello Audio is the app I use to upload and distribute my podcast. I chose this program specifically because you can create private podcast feeds for courses and memberships along with your regular public feed.
Here’s how this category breaks down:
- ConvertKit – $79/month
- Planoly – $9/month
- Hello Audio – $30/month
Admin – $7/month
As a business owner, I spend a lot of time on administrative tasks. These are the programs that I use to keep my team organized and my business running smoothly.
If you’ve been around for a while, you know Notion is my app of choice for project management. While there’s a perfectly good free version, I pay the small fee for unlimited storage.
LastPass is a password manager that allows me to share passwords with my team safely and securely. I can even share login info with them without them ever seeing my passwords.
Finally, Honeybook is the CRM I use to manage all my client communication, payment processing, and scheduling. Because I’m an affiliate, Honeybook ends up costing me nothing at all, and most months I actually make a little money from it! Use my link for 50% off.
Here’s how this category breaks down:
Free Apps – $0
I’m not afraid to invest in my business, but I also don’t like spending money when it’s not needed. These are a couple of the free apps that help me run my business.
Zoom’s free plan is more than enough for me and my team most months. If I’m planning a large meeting or webinar, I subscribe for just a month at a time. For the most part, though, I’m happy with the free version.
To communicate with my team, I use the chat app Slack. It allows us to communicate largely without using email, and who doesn’t want that?
Here’s how this category breaks down:
My Total Monthly Expenses As a Web Designer – $279
And there you have it! I spend $279 per month on apps, tools, and software for my web design business, which comes out to $3,348 per year in web design business expenses.
While that might seem like a lot, all these tools end up paying for themselves. Because I invest in myself and my business, I’m able to take on more clients, make more money, and take on projects that truly inspire me.
Ready to attract dream clients for your web design business?
Here are a few more posts you may want to check out next…
- Do These 3 Things Before Starting a Web Design Business
- How to Confidently Crush Sales Calls As An Introverted Creative
- Pivoting & Getting Your Mindset Right to Create a Business You Love With Nikita Williams