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General Discussion

Greg Kitchin
Greg Kitchin
31,522 Points

Recuperating costs for your own web sites

Hi. This is going to be an odd question. I'm not quite in a position to do it yet, but I have an idea for a website, and in a few months, would like to build it as a project and portfolio piece. Now, I know the costs of hosting, buying a domain etc, are fairly cheap nowadays, but ideally, I'd like to not have to pay for it at all. For one or two sites, the money shouldn't be an issue, but I'm looking at it as a point of I'm building a portfolio of work, and I don't want to be paying out possibly a chunk of money every month, if I end up building a few more sites. This is especially true if they all have their own unique domain names, hosting companies etc.

I know there's various ways of earning money through having your own site, such as hosting adverts. I'd be more than happy getting enough to cover the hosting fees, I'm not expecting to be earning millions (though that'd be fantastic). I don't expect it's something that Treehouse would cover, especially with different countries having different laws concerning income (I believe that any money I make would be taxed, even if it's only to recuperate costs, and that's before I have to go into filing the paperwork as well). But is it possible to recuperate costs for a web-site?

If you can make money from your site, even a little, how do you do it?

1 Answer

A.J. Kandy
A.J. Kandy
Courses Plus Student 12,422 Points

Well, the best way to make money is to offer a product or service that people actually a) need and b) are willing to pay for :)

That said, in terms of operational expenses like hosting and related services (TypeKit, premium plugins, themes, domain registration, your internet connection, etc), yes, all of that can certainly be claimed as legitimate business expenses on your year-end tax returns, and thus be entitled to at least a partial refund/rebate.

What you can claim will depend on where you live and what your yearly business-related income was, so year-to-year, this may vary. If you're just starting out though, you likely can claim a good portion back. If you work from home, you can likely claim some portion of your living space and utilities costs as well.

Best thing to do is talk to a small business accountant or adviser, who can walk you through what expenses to track and where you can claim things on your year-end return. If you use an online accounting app like FreshBooks, you can file all your receipts there, which makes it quite easy to organize and export come tax time.

Your company structure may also come into play. If you're a sole proprietor, it's really more like your personal income tax. If you have a registered corporation, then there are more ways to claim expenses and save money, but this generally only kicks in above a certain income level. Ask your advisor!

In the short term, I would start by seeing where you can reduce costs and/or make money on the commodities you use.

  • Many hosting companies offer Reseller accounts to developers. This means you get a discount on space for your own use, and if they have some sort of affiliate bonus deal, you get a little reward when you get clients to sign up with them. Alternately, you can just offer to manage the hosting and mark-up the costs. If you wanted to run an ad on your site, your hosting partner would be a good first choice of sponsor.
  • Beyond a simple ad, think about creating content that you can monetize with ads and/or sponsorships; a blog, podcast or video blog. Maybe see if you can get special discount codes for readers or listeners, etc. My friend Brian Rotsztein just published a very useful book on content marketing which may be of use: http://www.amazon.com/Content-Marketing-Ideas-Social-Strategy/dp/099211750X
  • See where you can consolidate servers. Maybe you don't need a separate server for every site, but just a single server with domains and subdomains mapped to specific project folders. A little bit of clever .htaccess and domain redirection setup can work here.
  • You can do a lot with Amazon Web Services, who offer a free tier. You could in theory move portfolio site hosting there, and take advantage of their ecosystem (S3 storage to start with) - certainly worth trying. Other Infrastructure-as-a-Service companies may have similar offers.