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How much does a content management system cost?

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To determine how much you’ll pay for a CMS, start by determining what you need the content platform and its tools to do for your business. Here's a breakdown of some of the factors you'll need to consider when looking at overall costs for your CMS.

A content management system (CMS) is a necessary business expense if you want to regularly share new content with your audience without worrying about handling the coding and development. But how much does a content management system cost?

As with any purchase, the price you pay will depend on the model you choose. A brand-new sports car will cost more than a used sedan, but not everybody needs or wants a new sports car.

Different types of content management systems provide different levels of service—and not everybody needs all the services available. To determine how much you’ll pay for a CMS, start by understanding the options and determining what you need the content publishing platform and tools to do for you.

‘Free’ isn’t really free

There are some content management systems that technically don’t cost anything. For instance, WordPress and Drupal are two popular content management systems that don’t require licensing fees or subscription fees.

However, the free CMS tool does not include hosting or a domain name. So, if you plan to use a “free” CMS, you’ll still have to locate a hosting provider and purchase a domain name.

You’ll probably also need to hire a developer to build your site using a free content management system. And because tools like WordPress offer thousands of plugins to enhance your site, the prices for developing a site can vary widely. Choosing to use premium plugins will likely drive up the cost of building the site.

In addition, if you plan to run content for several different sites through your CMS, you’ll have to pay for hosting, domain names and development separately for each one. As you can see, the costs for a “free” CMS can add up quickly.

Different pricing structures for different products

Most enterprise-level content management systems include hosting and maintenance. These systems are usually priced on a monthly subscription basis. There is a wide range of monthly prices because there is a wide range of product offerings.

Sometimes the monthly base price is not the full price. There also could be hidden costs for setting up the CMS, such as costs for implementation, training, hosting and maintenance.

However, with a cloud-based CMS, the price is more transparent. Because these systems are hosted in the cloud, costs for hardware or servers, for example, are typically shared across multiple tenants. In addition, a cloud-based CMS service provider handles maintenance and security, which is included in the monthly fee. And while you may still need to provide training for staff to learn how to use the CMS, most cloud-based systems are designed intuitively, reminiscent of other commonly used programs and social media platforms. That makes training quick and easy.

    8 factors to consider when evaluating the cost of your CMS

    There’s no simple answer to the question of how much a content management system costs because, for most systems, the price varies based on the services you plan to use. Your monthly subscription payment may vary based on a number of criteria, including: 
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    The number of sites you plan to operate with the CMS
    Some providers charge a separate fee for each site. This might also extend to the number of users who can work in the CMS.
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    The bandwidth you want for your CMS
    Greater bandwidth translates to faster speed and better performance for your site, especially if you plan to publish videos and other data-heavy content.
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    Monthly traffic
    Some web hosts will limit the number of page views or unique visitors you can have in a month, because more visitors requires more bandwidth.
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    Storage space
    Some CMS providers include storage space for your site with their service, while others require you to pay an outside provider for hosting. 
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    Domain names
    Many CMS providers include a customized domain name in the cost of their CMS plan. If this is not included, you’ll have to purchase a domain name and pay for it annually.
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    Many CMS providers include security certification for your site in their purchase price. If you choose a provider that does not, you’ll need to purchase security certification separately, as it’s crucial for keeping your website, your data and your site visitors safe.
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    One of the best parts of a robust content program is being able to keep track of your visitors, which pages they visit and the actions they take after viewing a piece of content. If your CMS provider doesn’t provide analytics data with the subscription price, you may want to use a third-party tool to keep track of your content metrics.
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    Launching a new system such as a CMS may come with a learning curve, so it’s important to make sure the price you’re paying includes the ability to contact customer support for guidance along the way.

    How much a content management system costs will ultimately depends on your specific needs. After learning about all the various options and services that a CMS can provide, you’ll be in a better position to make an educated decision on which system will give you the most value for your organization’s content production and management needs.

    Find out here the pricing and features available with Brightspot (then sign up for a free trial to see if Brightspot CMS is the right CMS choice for your business).

    Take the guesswork out of finding the right content management system with our guide to choosing the right CMS. See how Brightspot compares to CMS alternatives like Adobe AEM, Drupal, WordPress VIP, Contentstack, Contentful and Sitecore.

    About the Author
    Nancy Mann Jackson
    Nancy Jackson has been writing about business and technology since 2001. She has written for technology brands including Oracle, Planview, Codility, Brightspot, Zinnia and Brightly Software. Her work also has appeared in publications including Entrepreneur, Fortune, Forbes and She’s based in Huntsville, Alabama.

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