The $100,000 Website

$100,000 WebsiteWhat does a good website cost these days?  $100,000? It sounds ridiculous, but that is essentially what law firms all over this country are paying for a cookie-cutter, under-performing websites.

Attorney/blogger Morris Singer recently wrote an interesting article on how lawyer website providers are taking advantage of the lack of tech knowledge by most attorneys.  There is no question that lawyer ignorance when it comes to technology is costing us big time.

Recently I spoke with an attorney who had hired one of the large lawyer website providers.  This attorney is a member of a small firm of 4 attorneys.  They hired a nationally known company to build them a website and hopefully move them up in the search rankings.

The cost?  $2,200 per month!

After four years these attorneys began to become very frustrated with the service that was being provided.  I took a look at their website and found that it was a simple run-of-the-mill website that did not have an active blog.

There were a few pages with the same content that was put up four years ago when the website was created.

Over the last four years this firm has paid over $105,000 for this website!  A static website without a blog that was no where near the top of the search results.

One Hundred and Five Thousand Dollars!!!  Man.

What in the world are they paying for?  And here is the thing…these are smart guys.  They are great lawyers…but being a great lawyer takes a lot of time and effort.  So, they put their trust in a national, respected brand to create the firm’s online presence.  It turn’s out, that trust was misplaced.

What Should a Website Cost?

So what should it cost to create a strong online presence for your firm?  In his article Mr. Singer says that it should cost you no more than $635 PER YEAR to build and run a website.  Essentially he broke it down into four categories: (1) domain, (2) email, (3) hosting, and (4) website design/production.

I agree with one exception.  I believe more resources should be devoted to website design.  Mr. Singer estimates that a website will cost about $1,500 to construct.  That is true if you buy a non-custom site with few features.

However, in today’s world of smart phones and tablets it is vital that you have a mobile responsive site.  A mobile responsive site is a website that that will adjust to the size of screen that it is being viewed on.  For instance, this website you are looking at here at JDBlogger is a mobile responsive design.  Take a look at the site on your smart phone and compare that to what you see on your desk top computer.  The site will adapt to both screens and make it easy to read no matter how large or small the screen is.

Currently the majority of internet users surf the web on a mobile device.  If you want to be found it is more important than ever that your website be catered to those users.

So what does a good mobile responsive design site cost?  Probably about $4,000-$5,000.  I know that is a chunk of change.  But now more than ever you need to understand that your website is how your firm is being judged.  This is your firm real estate.  This is how the world sees you and what you do.  Without question this is an investment.

After that the domain, email, and hosting are under $20 per month.

I currently spend $0 on my website.  Nada. Zero.  As of today I am getting approximately 11,000 visitors per month.

What does $2,200 a month buy you in the form of visitors to your site?  Apparently about 1,500 (or less) visitors per month based upon what I was told by the attorneys of this Hundred Grand website!

Get a great website.  Become a blogger.  Connect and distribute with social media.  Get off the sidelines.  You are not being left behind – You have been left behind.  You need to catch up.

Stop wasting thousands of dollars each month and take control of your law firm marketing.

 

 

Comments

  1. Awesome article! I speak to lawyers every week who pay this amount per month for zero results, and they’re vague about what it is they’re paying for.

    The worst part? The minute they STOP paying that money, their website DISAPPEARS. That $100,000 investment VAPORIZES, because it turns out they didn’t own the website, the content on it, and often even the domain name where it resides.

    The big legal marketing firms entice solo and small firms with small budgets with intimidation “the guy across the street is paying $3000/month, so if you hope to outrank him, you must pay similar” and by NOT asking them to pay up front for the website – rather, just a monthly fee that seems manageable if only the results were delivered.

    Law firms should look at the long term costs involved, the hidden gotchas (such as the vaporizing website), and the hard truth that that only content marketing and social engagement are what works in today’s search climate.

    • John Skiba

      Thanks for the comment Cynthia. You are exactly right. I asked this firm if they owned the website and they weren’t sure. And that is the problem. Firms are paying huge money and not sure exactly what it is they are buying.

  2. John, really scary that people are paying that much for websites – wow. One person in a firm keeping a free blog up-to-date would have far better results that the site you’ve described.

    Hope your article motivates firms to rethink their strategies on this.

    • John Skiba

      Thanks for the comment Dave. It is scary. I think many attorneys justify the cost by thinking that “well, if it brings it work, we can make up money that way” without realizing that they are spending money that simply doesn’t need to be spent.

  3. Great information John. It is amazing how much research we do for our clients, but when it comes to something related to our business we don’t put in enough effort. I too am a solo practitioner and so I have to watch every penny that is spent. I write all my blogs, but the frustrating part as a solo is finding time to do it on a consistent weekly basis. Thanks for all the information!

    • John Skiba

      Hey Sabrina – thanks for the comment. I agree. We put a ton of effort in for clients but don’t look as closely at things for our own practice as we should. I have been blogging for 4 years now and know how tough it can be to find time to write each week. I have found that I have to schedule it as part of my day in order to get it done. I usually write early in the morning. I can attest to the fact that if you are consistent it will have a huge impact on your practice!

  4. Interesting article John.
    As a lawyer and marketing consultant myself, I wanted to weigh in. While I certainly agree that charging $2,200 monthly and delivering no results is a shame, I think it’s important to point out that good SEO agencies are providing clients with real, tangible value on a regular basis. Your article doesn’t mention conversions, and that’s where I think you may be missing the point. The purpose of a good SEO campaign is not to rank a site for a specific search term and it’s not to provide a fancy website, the point is converting new business. Now, as a practical matter, ranking for certain high volume search terms will help with conversions, but ranking alone won’t pay the bills and neither will traffic. I am familiar with your blog, and think you do a fantastic job of publishing good content on a regular basis, but how many of those 11,000 monthly visitors are conversion opportunities? Without looking at your analytics, I’d guess that a good chunk of the traffic is outside the state of Arizona and that many of your high traffic articles are very low conversion pages (i.e. post discharge discussion etc). This is not to say that your blog isn’t a powerful source of business, however, there are many paths to the mountain top. The market is more efficient than you give it credit for, not every firm working with an agency is wasting money. I think we can all agree that $2,200 per month no longer seems high when the client is generating positive ROI. After all, the Yankees make money on Derek Jeter.

    • John Skiba

      John – Thanks for your comments. I agree that not every firm working with an agency is wasting money. Marketing with a blog or podcast is not for everyone. And truthfully, if a business owner isn’t committed to it can be more harmful than good. I have seen some firms spend a lot of money ($10,000+) per month and it is worth every penny. My main point is there are many other firms spending a lot of money on a monthly basis, seeing no results, and frankly don’t even know what they are paying for. My mission is to show firms that fall into the latter category that there are options – and I believe a better way to do things.

  5. I agree there completely, not having a basic understanding of what an agency is doing for you is a recipe for disaster and any reputable agency will be transparent about what tactics they plan to use.
    Interesting format here, I look forward to more posts.

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