The Cost of Startup Maintenance: WPZOOM’s Monthly Costs

Written by on May 3, 2013 in News 5

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The awesome thing about being a startup which sells digital products, as WPZOOM does, is that it’s possible to work as a distributed team all over the world, taking advantage of some awesome tools.

Chris Coyier started the ball rolling back in October last year, with a list of all the “web developer-y services” he pays money for every month. I’ve done the same, and with Pavel’s help, this is a list of all the web services that WPZOOM pays for every month.

This doesn’t include things like salaries or office costs; it’s just web services we pay for. Intrigued? Here goes!


Hosting

VPS Hosting – $149.95/month

This is the obvious one to get started with: our VPS hosting which keeps the whole site online. With hosting you really do get what you pay for, so for us it’s worth paying for quality hosting.

Vimeo Plus – $59.95/year

vimeo-plus

Vimeo Plus is the upgrade to the standard Vimeo account, allowing Unlimited HD videos, HD embeds and customisation of the Vimeo Player. It’s a solid, professional service and we use it for embedding our video tutorials onto our documentation pages.

There are notable free alternatives here — specifically, YouTube — but the Vimeo player just gets out the way and lets you the content, and it’s worth paying for that experience.


Premium plugins

BackupBuddy - $75/year

iThemes’ BackupBuddy is  fantastic plugin which gives us piece of mind that WPZOOM.com is safe if anything were to happen to it. There are tons of WordPress backup solutions available, including Automattic’s VaultPress and various plugins, but BackupBuddy still holds court, with the option to regularly back up sites to FTP, email, Dropbox or a host of other services, including Amazon Web Services.

As WPZOOM is just one site, we’re using the “Personal” plan, which offers two licences.

GravityForms - $39/year

GravityForms is another fantastic plugin we’re using; it’s quite probably the best contact form plugin around. We looked at a number of contact forum solutions, and the attraction to GravityForms is the ability to keep everything on our database, meaning our customers’ queries aren’t going anywhere else and we can be sure messages aren’t slipping through the gaps.

As with backup plugins, there are a ton of contact form plugins around, but GravityForms is still the most flexible. As with BackupBuddy, GravityForms is only installed on WPZOOM.com, so we’re rocking the one-site “Personal” plan.


Project management/accounting

FreshBooks – $29.95/month – evergreen plan

We use FreshBooks, for all the boring accounts stuff; managing invoices, sorting expenses and doing taxes. The $29.95/month “evergreen” plan offers unlimited clients, unlimited invoices and all the other handy stuff that comes with FreshBooks.

Beanstalk – $15/month

beanstalkapp

Beanstalk is a super-cool code-collaboration service, which lets our team work on awesome new themes and features without risking over-writing each others’ changes. Beanstalk also allows us to “deploy” our code easily — essentially meaning we can easily push stuff to WPZOOM.com really easily. Tools like Beanstalk are essential for us as we’re a remote-working team and all the team need the freedom to work from wherever they happen to be. Not that anyone’s ever committed some code whilst on the beach… yet ;)

Basecamp - $24/month

Basecamp is a fantastic project management tool which we use for… managing projects, actually. Basecamp is great for spec-ing out projects and then discussing them as a team, and we’ve been able to make quite a few positive changes as a result of discussing projects here.


Social/marketing

CampaignMonitor – $250+ per campaign

Email marketing has always played a big part in our promotional strategy, and CampaignMonitor is our tool of choice for sending out email campaigns. We’ve got a huge email list and we only tend to send out emails once a month, so paying per campaign is the most cost-effective for us.

CampaignMonitor offers all the tools you’d expect in good email newsletter software; tracking of open rates, clicks etc. Its main advantage over its competitors has been price, although other services such as MailChimp are offering slightly better value for a list of our size and send frequency, so we may look at switching in the future.

BufferApp – $10/month

We’ve only started using Buffer relatively recently, but it’s a fantastic addition to our tools. Buffer is a social-network scheduling tool which we use to schedule our tweets and spread them out throughout the week. It also has all sorts of handy analytics which let us track which tweeting times are most effective.

Buffer has a free plan available, but the paid “Awesome” plan offers a little extra flexibility; it lives up to its name.


Site tools

Google Custom Site Search – $100/year

Google’s Enterprise Custom Site Search is, well, the best there is. We need search for our site, we want the most relevant results to be displayed, so using Google’s Custom Site Search makes sense.

Woopra – $29.95/month

Woopra and GoSquared are the two real-time analytics tools we use, and they provide us with all sorts of handy eCommerce stats, working out which pages on the site result in the most people buying our awesome themes — and which pages people are visiting and then leaving as fast as they can. We know we need to work on those pages.

Swiftype – $19/month

swiftype2

Swiftype is the awesome app which we use for our all-new support center. It will fetch results for searches and display them in real-time, so we can use it to get people the answers to their questions as they’re searching. Pretty cool, huh?


Grand total of…

That all adds up to $550.65/month, or $6,607/year in web services which we pay for. That’s quite a lot  and really goes to show how it all adds up.

So what are your monthly costs? Talk it out in the comments!

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5 Comments

  • Alex thanks for sharing some the inner workings of WPZoom. It looks like you are doing a great job of keeping costs low. It was not long a go that a small company would have to spend $1,000 + on hosting alone…times have changed.

  • Nice summary Alex, thanks for this article.

  • Nicely done article! Thanks for the peek behind the cost curtain!

  • I’ve always wondered about these things, it’s definitely good to know the kind of applications that boost the quality of service you guys provide.

    I’ve just started out designing skins for another WordPress theme builder. I’m based in the UK so it’s a big advantage for me to buy web applications & services in $ currency.

    Services I currently use:

    1. Mediatemple – (dv) web hosting = $50 per month
    2. Socialbro.com – Premium plan = $6.95 per month
    3. Mailchimp – Forever Free (upgrading to the next plan when my subscribers outgrow 2k).
    4. Hootsuite – Free
    5. Adobe Creative Cloud – $50 per month
    6. Kashflow.com – $30 per month

    Total = $136.95 per month or $1,643.40

    (I might add more services within the next 3-6 months as my business grows).

  • Hi, this is a great post indeed. but i just wonder, whether the monthly marketing cost will be added to the maintenance cost or not? if yes, then what that is? thanks.