The Internet is crowded. You’ve probably noticed that.
If you’re planning on launching a website, web app, or similar web-based digital project with the goal of drawing in customers and users, you’re facing significant competition. It’s critical that you do what you can to ensure your site or app gets noticed.
Unless you’re a developer yourself, this will usually require hiring developers to turn your idea into a reality. That said, while you may have a smart idea for a web development project, you might not have any ideas about how you’re going to pay for it.
Don’t resort to donating plasma or planning a heist just yet! There are more ways to finance a web development project than ever before. This overview will cover a few noteworthy options to keep in mind.
You may be wondering whether you need to bother financing a custom website or app at all. Couldn’t you save a lot of money in the long-run by simply creating a basic website with a low-cost template?
That’s an understandable assumption to make. However, you have to consider the role your website will play in the long-term success of your business (or product, or charity, etc.)
We’re all told not to judge a book by its cover. Most of us do anyway. If your website or app looks unprofessional or generic, it may not matter that you strive to offer your customers unbeatable service. Your online presence will give them the wrong impression when they first discover your business.
Over time, a quality website will pay for itself by attracting more customers. Financing one now instead of creating a bland website that is forgettable at best will pay off in the long run.
Be aware that a strong custom website or web app doesn’t just “look good.” The benefits of hiring developers to create your site include:
One thing is for certain, the cost is not cheap. Hence, a greater need for financing exists as startups, strapped for cash are looking for ways to expand and grow.
Many of the ways in which you can finance a web development project involve applying for some kind of loan. Naturally, before doing so, you need to determine if you will be able to pay back a loan in a timely manner.
You should also consider certain other factors before submitting a loan application. For example, once you’ve found reputable developers to create your site or web app, thoroughly discuss the overall cost of the development process with them. You want a clear idea of how much money you need to raise to ensure you don’t accept a bigger loan than necessary (or apply for a loan that won’t cover all expenses).
It’s also wise to determine how you’re going to monetize your finished product. Monetizing some websites and apps, such as eCommerce sites, is fairly straightforward. In other instances, when you’re not directly selling anything through your site, you may have to experiment with various monetization strategies to find what works.
The developers you hire may also have monetization ideas you hadn’t thought of. While it’s not necessarily their job to choose a monetization strategy for you, it’s worth bringing this topic up during early discussions if you want to hear their suggestions.
That said, “monetization” may come in the form of business growth. A custom site for your business will help you reach more potential customers naturally. When that happens, you won’t need to rely on any additional monetization strategies to earn back what you spent during the development process.
You have a number of options worth looking into when deciding how to finance a website. They include:
Some developers offer in-house financing to help customers pay for their work over time. Although you shouldn’t work with a developer simply because they’re affordable, you can discuss this topic with the developers you’re thinking about hiring to find out if it’s an option. We are this camp, so get in touch!
The U.S. Small Business Administration coordinates with banks and other lenders to help small business owners access the capital they need. Compared to many other types of business loans, SBA loans often allow you to repay them over a fairly long period of time.
The main drawback is that the application process can be, well, less than fun. However, if you don’t mind filling out paperwork and waiting a while to hear back after submitting a loan application, an SBA loan may be the ideal option.
Whether the idea of filing a complex application sounds about as appealing to you as going to the dentist, you’re eager to get your site up and running fast, or both, if you don’t want to wait to learn whether you’ve been approved for an SBA loan, you can instead seek a short-term business loan from another lender. Applications for such loans are often approved or denied much more quickly than applications for SBA loans.
Of course, as with any business decision, you need to honestly weigh the pros and cons of this option before deciding it’s the best way to go. Short-term business loans can have very high interest rates. If you’re not able to pay back your loan fast, you could be stuck with serious debt.
You don’t have to be the heir to an eccentric millionaire’s fortune to know people who may be willing to help you get started on your web development project by lending you money. Naturally, you don’t want to put unnecessary strain on relationships with family members or friends by asking for a loan that you’ll be unable to pay back, but if you know relatives or friends with money to spare, and you’re close enough that you’d feel comfortable asking them for some financial help, this is an option you may consider if you’re having trouble securing traditional business loans.
There are many reasons you may not be approved for a loan even if you could genuinely pay it back. For example, maybe you have limited credit history in this country because you’re originally from a country with a different credit system. American lenders are often hesitant to approve loan applications for immigrants who lack the credit history they need to determine if an applicant is financially responsible.
Luckily, fintech startups that specialize in providing business loans often approve loan applications when traditional lending institutions won’t. No, this isn’t always because they engage in predatory lending tactics that would make loan sharks blush.
(Although you should always investigate a lender’s reputation to ensure you’re working with a reputable company.)
Fintech lenders often use innovative methods to evaluate applicants when they have limited credit history. For instance, they may use AI and other such tools to analyze relevant data that can give them a better sense of whether they can trust applicants to use loans wisely.
You shouldn’t seek a loan from a fintech lender if other lenders are turning you down because you genuinely can’t be trusted to handle a loan responsibly. You need to be very honest with yourself to avoid ending up in a stressful financial situation. However, if you’re confident you will use the money you receive to finance a website that will eventually deliver returns on your investment, don’t overlook fintech-based alternatives when searching for a lender.
Do you have an idea for a web app or similar digital product that you know has major potential to succeed? Consider researching app idea contests if so.
As you probably guessed, such contests involve submitting app ideas to a panel of expert judges. Winners of app idea contests often take home large cash prizes.
There are benefits to submitting an idea to a contest even if you don’t win. Sometimes, even strong app and website ideas are still lacking certain crucial elements that hold them back. If you have a basic idea for a site or app, but you think it still needs some fine-tuning before you’re ready to hire developers, you might meet someone through a contest whose idea will complement yours. Along with helping optimize your idea, a new business partner could help you secure more capital to fund a web development project than you could secure on your own.
You may consider using a credit card to fund your web development project if you’re approved for a sufficient line of credit. Be aware that alternatives to traditional credit cards are also becoming increasingly available. For instance, instead of a credit card, you might use PayPal credit.
Whether it’s a website or web app, the finished product you plan on launching may be something there’s already some demand for. Future customers and users might be so excited about your idea that they’re happy to help you pay for it through Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms.
As always, just be realistic if you go this route. Sometimes people launch crowdfunding campaigns, accept others’ money, and then either never complete their projects, or end up creating something that doesn’t live up to donors’ expectations. This can have a major impact (and not the good kind) on their reputations. Winning back customer trust after misusing the capital a crowdfunding campaign generates is no easy task.
None of this is meant to discourage you from launching a crowdfunding campaign as means of raising money for a web development project. You simply need to remember it’s very important to give donors what they expect if you’re going to take their money.
There’s no one “right” way to finance a website or web app. The right option for one person or company may not be right for you due to many factors.
The main point to remember is that there are numerous ways you can go about paying for a web development project without taking too great of a financial risk. Don’t assume you’ll have to settle for a lackluster product if you can’t afford to hire developers to build a custom site or web app. There’s a very good chance you can take advantage of at least one of the financing options covered here.
Ryan is the VP of Operations for DEV.co. He brings over a decade of experience in managing custom website and software development projects for clients small and large, managing internal and external teams on meeting and exceeding client expectations–delivering projects on-time and within budget requirements. Ryan is based in El Paso, Texas.