Grow your CSS skills. Land your dream job.

Web Developer Economics: Monthly Service Costs

Published by Chris Coyier

Dave Rupert once asked people on Twitter about all the web services they paid for and it looked like he received a lot of interesting replies. I thought I'd blog mine and get the ball rolling on sharing lists of these services. It's interesting to consider the apps that have managed to cross our magical barrier to our pocketbooks. Perhaps looking at them as a whole we can see a pattern or at least have better mental grasp on our spending choices as developers. The following is a list of every web developer-y web service I personally pay money for.

The services that are marked with a *, for one reason or another, I don't actually pay for. But it's inclusion means I absolutely would pay for it.

GitHub (Small Plan, $12/month)

GitHub hosts git repositories with a bunch of social and issue tracking features. It is free, if all your repos are public and costs money for private repos. We have CodePen on GitHub which isn't open source at the moment. That's one of four private repos I have currently, which is enough to fit on their Micro plan, but I like having some breathing room and I'm happy to pay for such an amazingly useful service.

Free alternatives: use all public repos on GitHub / use BitBucket if you need private / host your own git repos (it's open source).

Vimeo Pro ($199/year)

After weeks of struggle with hosting my own protected HTML5 video for The Lodge, I was pretty darn frustrated. It is not a simple thing to do well. Exporting video in the right codecs is the least of it. After talking with the guys from Kicktastic, I was convinced using Vimeo Pro is the right way to go. It has a nice customizable player, it works on more devices that it would be practical for me to support on my own, and I can lock down the videos to just The best part? It's cheaper than what my self hosting costs would have been anyway.

Free alternatives: Nothing, if you need locked down video / YouTube if you don't / Self hosting if you're masochistic

BrowserStack ($19/month)

I don't run virtual machines or multiple computers anymore for testing. I do it all right through my browser. And you don't just get screenshots, BrowserStack spins up a VM on their end and allows you to view and interact with it through your browser. Test in multiple versions of Windows (XP, 7, 8), OS X (Snow Leopard, Lion, Mountain Lion), as well as a bunch of device emulators for iOS, Android, and Opera Mobile.

Free alternatives: Run your own emulators / VirtualBox / for open source stuff if you're on Windows

FreshBooks (Seedling, $19.95/month)

When I need to send a quick invoice, I often just log into FreshBooks and shoot one out from there. With FreshBooks I can keep track of paid/unpaid and the invoices have PayPal buttons, which makes it compelling for me to use. I'm not a power user, so I stay on the lowest plan and just delete old "clients" as I need to make room for new people to invoice.

Free alternatives: just make your own invoices / have an editable HTML one

Wufoo* (Bonafide, $29.95/month)

Wufoo helps you build forms on the web you can use anywhere. I used to work there, as you may know, but I was a huge user and fan of Wufoo before that. I have nearly 50 active web forms across various sites powered by Wufoo. It is easily one of the most vital (time-saving) web apps I use.

Free alternatives: Google Docs forms / Just built your own forms (hahahahahha just kidding)

Beanstalk* (Bronze, $15/month)

I like GitHub, but GitHub doesn't help with deployment. Beanstalk is a Git repository in the cloud just like GitHub but minus the social features and issue tracking and plus deployment. Easy deployment is big for me.

Free alternatives: Capistrano / Dandelion / Nerdy stuff

Media Temple* ($150/month)

Every single website I work on (except CodePen) is hosted by Media Temple servers, and it has been that way for years. a pretty fundamental and vital thing! I have CSS-Tricks on one (dv) and everything else on another. These (dv) servers are so hardcore (and upgradable), pretty much any site will be fine on them forever or until you need something super specialized.

Free alternatives: You can probably find less expensive hosting but I'm not sure I would recommend it and definitely wouldn't recommend "free" hosting if there is such a thing.

TypeKit* (Portfolio, $49.99/year)

I use custom web fonts on almost every site I work on. CodePen doesn't just because we need to be really sensitive about performance on an app full of iframes. CSS-Tricks is now using the beta of the HF&J web font service just because I've been dying to use Whitney and Gotham for ages on a web site. But every other site uses Typekit and it's damn fine service. The Portfolio plan at 500,000 pageviews is enough for those other sites.

Free alternatives: Google webfonts / finding fonts with licenses acceptable for @font-face use and Font Squirreling them.

Amazon Web Services (variable, expensive)

CodePen runs on a bunch of different EC2 instances, so that's variable and we pay for all that. The videos in The Lodge are downloadable, and I host those on S3. I might switch those over to Vimeo since Vimeo Pro does offer direct links to the high quality files. Not sure, always kind of an in-progress thing. I'm lucky enough that IGN hosts the files for the free screencasts CSS-Tricks does, otherwise I'd have to move those to either S3 or Vimeo Pro as well.

I'm going to leave this out of the totals since it's so variable and specific to one app (not part of an overall toolbox).

Dropbox (Pro, $9.99/month)

This used to be more important to me when I used multiple computers, but I'm all consolidated now onto one machine. Still, I keep 90+% of all my files on Dropbox as real time cloud backup which is invaluable. It's amazing to me how incredibly good Dropbox is and still no big player has had any decent attempt at replicating their offering and pushing them out of the market.

Free alternatives: Google Drive has 5 GB free.

Gmail Extra Storage (80GB, $20.00/year)

I've been using Gmail for longer than I've been building websites. That's a lot of email and I think it's kinda awesome that it's all in the cloud, backed up, and easily searchable. I give them a few bucks a year starting when I was getting close to maxing out storage on the free account.

NetDNA* (~990 GB, $60/month)

CSS-Tricks uses NetDNA as a CDN. Under 10 TB a month of bandwidth, it costs $0.06 per GB, which adds up to about $60/month. However on their pricing page it says accounts start at $800/month. I think it's just because NetDNA is their enterprise product and MaxCDN is their normal user product. On MaxCDN, CSS-Tricks would fall into the $39.95/month plan.

Flickr (Pro, $24.95/year)

I like having a dedicated cloud-y home for all my photos. I don't put everything there, just the most important/shareable ones. Still, there is enough there to require a pro account. Mostly it's personal, but I also store screenshots of UI work and milestone articles and things like that there so I think it's relevant to list here.

Free alternatives: Picassa / Facebook / Have few enough photos that you don't need to be Pro

Dribbble ($19/year)

Similar to Flickr, but more specifically for design work, I think of Dribbble as a sharable archive of things I've designed. The pro feature gives me organizational tools I wouldn't have otherwise.

VaultPress (Premium, $40/month)

I used this on CSS-Tricks to do real-time cloud backup of the files on the site and the database. Absolutely vital to me I have a service I can count on for this that doesn't require any work from me.

Free alternatives: BackUpWordpress / WP-DB-Backup

Internet Access ($149.95/month)

Comcast - $75/month. I get high speed internet access (only) from them for my home internet.

GoGo - $39.95/month. I fly enough that the least expensive option for in-flight internet (on Delta) is to pay by the month. Too expensive for how unreliable it is, but it's worth it to me to be able to get stuff done in the air.

AT&T - This post inspired me to look into my bill closer than I usually do. I was accidentally on some weird broken plan that was charging me $220/month. I have it down to $110/month now (iPhone 5 on LTE with tethering)


My monthly costs all totaled up. Yearly services are divided by 12.

Service Monthly Cost
GitHub $12.00
Vimeo $16.58
BrowserStack $19.00
FreshBooks $19.95
Wufoo $29.95
BeanStalk $15.00
MediaTemple $150.00
TypeKit $4.17
Dropbox $9.99
Gmail $1.66
NetDNA $60.00
Flickr $2.08
Dribbble $1.58
VaultPress $40.00
Internet $149.95
Total $531.91

My impression: that's a decent chunk of change but it doesn't scare me. Compared to other industries I'd think its lower than average as far as costs for fundamental tools to enable to business. If money got tighter, I'd invest more time in seeking out the cheaper or free alternatives to these things. But at the moment, I'm OK with all this. My most precious resource is time.

It will be interesting to follow this post up with similar tallies for one-time(ish) software and one-time(ish) hardware costs for web developers. That should give us a more complete picture of the costs of being a web developer.

Just Missed

  • Sublime Video - I used to use this for an HTML5 video player before Vimeo Pro.
  • - I paid the $50/year mostly because I'm annoyed there is no perfectly awesome Twitter for Mac app anymore. It's now $36/year.
  • Netflix / Hulu / iTunes - Too personal for the list, but I give money online to all three of these services.
  • Grooveshark - I was the very first Grooveshark Pro user ever. I don't use it much just because I'm so ingrained in iTunes land, but it's a great service. Also too personal for the list.
  • Shoutcast - We use this at ShopTalk to broadcast live. Little too specific to include as generally useful to any web developer.

Also, if I was starting out these days, I'd almost certainly be paying for some learning service like Treehouse,, or Code School (or multiple).

Update: A few other things should have made this list... yearly domain name fees and PayPal fees.


It would be interesting to hear about web services you pay money for. But beyond that, why you pay for it. What are the things that compel you to cross the magical barrier and open your pocketbook?


  1. Federico Teotini
    Permalink to comment#

    Very interesting post, at the beginning I thought that all was a little too expensive, but thinking that this is your businness at the end it’s pretty awesome!

  2. I happen to be a small business owner (freelancer) so I have to keep cost low in order to stay afloat. I’ve learned to use services that you pay for once and update for free.

    An alternative to Freshbooks is Pancake which is a one time fee of $50. You just install it on your server and run the app from the admin panel. It offers me many options and keeps track of my invoices and clients. It also has a cool feature that lets you send your client a link to a private page where they can communicate or keep track of your process.


    I also use dropbox but I just been a user for so long and taken advantage of their contests that I have 15gb of service for free. I also use Google Drive for documents to share with clients, MS Skydrive for personal documents, and if I really need it there is MediaFire. Which offers 50GB of space for free.


    For hosting I currently don’t need anything big but I use Hostmonster. I’ve tried so many others and I always come back to them and at this point just recommend to my clients to use them too. It also helps I get 75 dollars for each person that signs up too. But they have yet to be down and they offer unlimited everything for $5 dollars a month about 80+ a year. It might not be Media Temple but it gets the job done for small sites.


    For some of my clients I like to use a smaller lightweight CMS because many of them don’t need the full power of a CMS like wordpress. I’ve liked Perch CMS which is a php based custom CMS that you can pretty much make into anything you want. Best part for me is I can design a static website and just add some simple lines of php to make it into a CMS. A little learning curve at first but its worth the $59 a license for what it does.

    The rest of things I use are close to what you use Chris.

    • Thanks for mentioning Pancake. I like that idea rather than paying on monthly basis. I’ve been using Freshbooks but the free one since most of my works came from oDesk which handles all the billing process.

  3. Thanks for share it here, I just inspired you use, typekit. I just love some great fonts from typekit. I genegarlly use google & fontsquirrel free fonts for my client if they interested.

  4. <3 THIS! I need to wrap up my blog and post mine totals as well.

  5. Permalink to comment#

    Awesome post, I really like these peek into the lives of developers type articles. I pay for Typekit, Dreamhost, Basecamp, Freshbooks, QuoteRobot and I’m pretty frugal with my money but I find those services to be necessities ( except Typekit which is just awesome ) .

  6. I only use the free stuff, as well as free software.
    I’m not doing too much, so it’s fine for me.

    It’s interesting to see what web-services use (you’ve shared the software you use in the past).

  7. One small correction, that applies to some countries:

    Internet Access ($149.95/month)

    Actually, in Romania that is:

    Internet Access: ~€10/month with ~100Mbs download speed. Yup, unlimited!

    Beat that! :)

    • Webjsubash
      Permalink to comment#

      Hay Ionuț Staicu,
      Are you kidding :) if you are right i want a migration visa to Romania.

    • There are some things to not kid about. Like God for some, internet connection for others…

      Sure, there other downsides here (like, let’s say, the rest of Europe think that all Romanian people are thieves because of some gypsies), but this is just politics :)


    • Prrr, an image is missing from my reply:

    • Webjsubash
      Permalink to comment#

      Sorry about the kidding thing. You took that seriously.

      I am paying $20 for the world’s slowest internet. It’s just 192kbps.
      Unbelievable speed i would be so glad if i had just 1mbps internet but 192kbps is highest available . I can’t even use that because there is no electricity for 14 hours a day.

  8. I’m also using Gridsetapp which has become an invaluable part of my workflow. I am paying a yearly fee at $180.

  9. Permalink to comment#

    Great article Chris, and mostly a great reminder to work up my own list.

  10. Interesting list. I think I’m also using about 80% of these. I pay for Cheddar and Rdio and stuff like that. Also, does Creative Cloud count? Thanks for the list though, gave me some good recommendations.

  11. Hey There! I just wanted to chime in and thank you for including (mt) Media Temple on the list. Very helpful article to me personally :). If you ever need us for anything, we’re here 24/7 via phone, chat or Twitter.

    Drew J
    (mt) Media Temple

  12. Permalink to comment#

    I like reading about what tools other devs / freelancers use on a day-to-day basis.

    Here are a few that I use

    Assembla Free private git repositories

    why pay for Github private repos when you can get unlimited private repos for free?



    My website is hosted on Hostgator, because it’s not worth paying more for the traffic I get, but for client projects I think it makes sense to use WPEngine if it’s a WordPress site, plus you won’t need VaultPress as they already manage backups and updates.



    As mentioned in a previous comment, I use Pancake App which is awesome because it’s self hosted and a one-time fee! Why shell out a monthly subscription for that?



    I have used Learnable for the HTML5 & CSS3 course by John Allsop which is great.

    Lynda has some excellent courses too, alas, the PHP ones are a little outdated, but Skoglund is a great teacher.

    Codeschool has some very nice courses too such as Git, Sass and responsive design. I have a subscription for that.
    I also bought a few courses at Udemy.

  13. Wil W
    Permalink to comment#

    A nice free alternative to Dropbox is SparkleShare (

    Basically it is a dropbox setup on top of git. If you already pay for a git service/have your own/free non-public, then it is super easy to setup and use.

  14. Jason Webb
    Permalink to comment#

    Hehe, great plans there. You guys’re expensive :)

  15. John Veldboom
    Permalink to comment#

    I'm not trying to start a flame war on who is the best hosting company, but why would you pay <a href="; rel="nofollow">$150 with Media Temple</a> instead nearly the <a href="; rel="nofollow">same server with 1&1 for $99</a>? (this is an honest question)

    • Hosting is a tricky thing. Very few people have really objective views on it because very few people have tried enough hosting companies to really compare them (including me). But more importantly, people blame hosting for all sorts of things that aren’t the hosts fault. If your site is hacked or goes down, 90% of the time it’s something you did or didn’t do, not the host (true story). Not that a great host can’t help you with those things (they can). So what makes a great host is usually that help they can provide, not comparisons of numbers like how much bandwidth and disk space you get. Anybody can compete on those numbers and they usually don’t mean a whole lot.

      But since you bring up 1&1. I rather despise them.

      There was a rash of domain thefts a while back. This site being one of them. I ultimately got mine back, but Soh Tanaka ( also had his stolen and wasn’t so lucky. GoDaddy fought on my behalf to get mine back from another registrant. Luckily that registrant wasn’t 1&1. Soh’s went to 1&1 and they essentially refused to help him. To this day, that domain is gone. Owned by some bullshit hacker. Makes me sick to my stomach.

    • chriswiley
      Permalink to comment#

      I agree with Chris in the fact that most webhosting services can offer close to the same stuff for about the same price. I would use MediaTemple for large websites and I use Webfaction for most other non-high traffic sites. I love what Webfaction has to offer and the price, but it is their customer service with sells it for me. I create tickets with them and put it as low priority because it isn’t that big of a deal and in just a few minutes they have already solved the problem. They are always on top of their game.

      I also wanted to make another comment on photo sharing and storage. I think people should look at G+ they have unlimited storage I believe it you keep it in their required dimensions. You can go here and read about it.

      Great writeup on what people are using out there these days and what one can expect to pay for such services.

    • @ChrisCoyier

      Did he ever contact ICANN? Apparently you can file a complaint with them.

    • This is what I tell my clients:

      You’ll find many comparable service offerings in the world of hosting. Base your choice on the use of their customer interface and the quality of their support. If you do, you’ll end up with Mediatemple for most applications.

    • Permalink to comment#

      Perhaps it’s because of the experience that Chris and multiple other sites (like Soh Tanaka’s) had with 1&1 a while back. Oh, and their customer service … let’s just say it leaves quite a bit to be desired.

    • John Nguyen
      Permalink to comment#

      No mediatemple here. I had them but needed some help with plesk and of course, they were not helpful at all. Couldn’t getting any assistance. From there, switched to Linode… even its unmanaged, I installed cpanel on to manage my hosting-something similar to plesk. Linode doesn’t offer any assistance either; but because MediaTemple nor Linode offered any help, I decided to go the cheaper route, Linode, and get my support else where if I really needed. So far, cPanel support has been good.

    • Permalink to comment#

      I use both 1&1 (for my own site) and mediaTemple (for a major client’s), and I have to say that in my experience, they’re both great.

      I remember the incident with Soh Tanaka’s site, and 1&1’s [lack of] response really surprised me. It was very discouraging to hear, but it’s not been my own experience – I’ve never had one problem they didn’t help out with.

    • Personally I had a supreme support from Hostgator (more than three years so far). Customer Service is king. And my actual provider never misses to surprise me for the care they have in my regard.

  16. Considering this is your business, it’s really not all that bad. The costs seem reasonable. Great write up Chris!

  17. Permalink to comment#

    Interesting… there area few things that look like they’d be good to pick up :)

    For invoicing, I use Harvest App. So far it’s been my absolute favorite and I can’t find a feature that Freshbooks has that they don’t for only $12 a month. Pancake actually looks really cool! I might have to check that out. The thing staying my hand is the Harvest mobile app is amazing – everything from project management hours to expense management (with receipt picture sync built in!).

    I’m kinda curious why you’d bother using Flickr when you could just use Dropbox to store/share photos?

  18. It still amazes me how expensive internet is in US.

    I pay $35 for 100Mbs download / upload net (in Czech Republic).

    • Jonathan Cardoso [JCM]
      Permalink to comment#

      The U.S. Internet is cheap, when compared to what we have here in Brazil (not in all states, but in the majority, yes).

      I am currently paying 30 dollars for an internet of just 1mb/s, in the town where I used to live, I was paying the same amount for 300kb/s, from this you can see the big difference in the price/speed.

    • In the US companies charge what they can get away with. For instance I was paying $85 a month for Internet and cable, I called and told them I had a lower offer with another company and they simply matched the price with no argument. Most Americans wont threaten to walk and pay what the company feels they can get away with. If all Americans stuck together and just refused to pay, prices would plummet to actual reasonable prices. America is all about maximization of profit, which is at its base out of integrity to say the least.

    • 30 USD for 1Mbs download in Colombia – Super cheap and good enough for my needs.

  19. Permalink to comment#

    Have to agree with Casey. Having made my way through the list, I was actually pretty impressed with the total. Certainly manageable.

    I’d be interested in seeing what aspiring developers spend on educational resources (e.g., Treehouse, Code School, Net Tuts) each month.

  20. Dom
    Permalink to comment#

    Gravity Forms is a pretty excellent WordPress specific forms option. $199 per year for unlimited use across unlimited sites.

  21. What are peoples thoughts on Adobe Creative Cloud?

  22. Permalink to comment#

    $150/month with mediatemple, you must be rippin’ through their GPUs. I hope you make money off your site.

    • Their (dv)’s start at $50 a month and go up to $1,500 a month, so really they are pretty low-level servers. But yes, I make enough money from this site that that cost would be negligible. Even if I paid for it, which I don’t because they sponsor the site’s hosting.

      If you want to learn more about how this site makes money, I go through all that in The Lodge.

  23. Great list. I too use a number of these services. My internet costs are cheaper than yours. I use AT&T U-Verse at 32Mbps, plus a 4G data plan for my iPad. That totals around $99/mo.

    I use Harvest for invoicing and love it. I never tried FreshBooks though. But I’m happy w/Harvest. It also has integration with Outright, which has been great.

    I use CloudFlare as my CDN, they’ve been good and very affordable, but admittedly I don’t have much to compare them with.

    GitHub, Vimeo, DropBox, Beanstalk, Flickr, extra Gmail storage—yes, yes, yes, and more yes. I get the extra Gmail storage free now, though because they screwed up my account during the Google Drive change, so they comp’d me for the life of the account.

    My two additional add-ons would be Minigroup (which I used to replace Basecamp). Basecamp was overkill for me and I love the flexibility and communication features of Minigroup. MailChimp as an Email Management Service.

    I’m an ExpressionEngine user, over WordPress, and there’s a nice module, Backup Pro (paid) or Backup Pro-ish (free) that handles backups, including the database for us. I use to use WooFu and FormStack for forms, but switch to FreeForm Pro (EE2 Module)

    I’m a big fan of the once a year fees, like DropBox, Minigroup, Gmail Storage, etc. or just paying once for an app. I don’t mind monthly fees, I just find it hard to keep track of them, so if there’s an option to just pay for the year, I’ll take it when possible.

    This does remind me that I was looking at BrowserStack, need to add them to my list. Oh’ and I use PollDaddy.

  24. I think I’m becoming more frustrated with this whole “leasing” fonts idea. I love that Typekit optimizes for screen rendering outside of the foundry but I’m not happy with not being able to own the ones that I’m using after giving them my money. Of course the price doesn’t reflect ownership but I wouldn’t be opposed to paying more if I had a file as well as hosting. I’m curious to know how you ended up not paying for an account. Sponsorship?

    Overall, this is leading me to MyFonts.

  25. Permalink to comment#

    I am paying a yearly fee at $180, but use more to GitHub, Vimeo, DropBox, Beanstalk, Flickr, extra Gmail storage—yes, yes, yes, and more yes. I get the extra Gmail storage free now. Thanks!

  26. It was very informative, and I think everyone should read it.

  27. Subash
    Permalink to comment#

    Ah i think i am a looser perhaps my country is a looser which sucks,
    I pay $20 for 192 kbps adsl connection which is not only slow but slowest in the world.
    And i can’t even use that for all time for because 15 hours a day power cut which they call load shedding.
    Ah it’s too hard to survive here.
    Can you believe.
    Perhaps i am a brave person still alive and writing comment here.

    • lawrence77
      Permalink to comment#

      Hope you are from Tamilnadu, India. well Join the Club. But fortunately I am in its HQ, so only 1hr powercut :)

  28. Ryan
    Permalink to comment#

    Wow…I pay that much in rent and car insurance to my parents. xD

  29. djbokka
    Permalink to comment#

    Great article. Always nice to compare with our peers. We’re a 6-person team but here’s our stack:

    Media Temple dv’s (replaced Rackspace)
    Vzaar (replaced Vimeo – highly recommended)
    Liquid Planner (replaced Basecamp)

  30. Nice post, alway interesting to see which tools freelancers are using.

    Currently i use the following services:

    Adobe Creative Cloud / For the Creative Suite licenses e.t.c. – PAID
    Dropbox 4GB, for sharing files and back-up some project files – Free
    Google Apps, for sending e-mail via gmail with your own domain – Free, for testing good old IE – PAID, Small VPS Hosting for client websites + directadmin license – PAID, for invoicing my clients and small accountancy stuff – PAID, Cable Internet
    Vodafone, iPhone

    And of course a bunch of WordPress plugin licenses.

  31. Smasty
    Permalink to comment#

    Internet Access ($149.95/month)

    And I thought 40€/month for Internet, TV and Phone in Slovakia was blood-sucking…

    • Topher
      Permalink to comment#

      I pay about $30/month in Kenya for the same. The internet is only 4Mbps though. Anyone else?

  32. Ben
    Permalink to comment#

    I think people completely forget Pluralsight for online subscriptions.

    Blows Code School and Treehouse out the water.

  33. Permalink to comment#

    Your post almost makes me want to cry. The pricing of the services you mention is the same all around the world. They are equally useful all around the world. But we don’t earn the same amounts of money all around the world. 500 dollars is 80% of my monthly income, and I like to eat in between all my payments for web services too. Sucks to live in a poorer country :(

    • If you can live for 625 dollars a month, I would say you are in the situation to develop a SaaS solution for yourself to make money with. Go ahead, spend 20% of your time to develop something usefull, maybe a cheaper alternative to one of the aboves targeted to “poorer” countries. I bet you will multiply your income in notime.

    • Permalink to comment#

      You’re not far away from what I’m planning. An email marketing tool is in the works ;).

  34. Filip Bech-Larsen
    Permalink to comment#

    I love browserstack… Just today I created bookmarklets that lets you open the current page in a browser/OS of your choise. I thought maybe some of you might find it helpfull too, so I wrote a short blog about it.

    (org. credit goes to Stephen Way btw)

  35. Permalink to comment#

    Nice free CDN with greta features: CloudFLare (

  36. Great article, really useful info. tnx bro

  37. Keep your eyes on over the next 6 months… Some major changes coming there to their product, and they don’t use emulators for mobile, they use actual devices.

  38. I am surprised no one mentioned just to use Paypal invoicing for invoices, since clients pay that way mostly anyway. Its all I use and it sends invoices, and manages subscriptions also.

    • That’s an error on my part, I absolutely use PayPal! I’m not a lover, I’ve had my fair share of problems, but never so bad as locking my account and all those horror stories you here. For the most part they’ve enabled me to process transactions and have a career on the web.

      I pay them $30/month + transaction fees to have PayPal Website Payments Pro. That’s so people can check out with credit cards (like on the Lodge and soon to be merch store) without ever leaving this website.

    • I use PayPal, but not for invoicing. Our invoices can vary from as low as $100 to over $10k, so having a solid invoicing system, where payments can be by check, paypal, or even be made in installments is required. That’s why I like Harvest. If I client wants to pay using PayPal they can, but most pay by check.

  39. Alosa
    Permalink to comment#

    Wow, internet and phone rates are pretty high compared to Europe. Here in Finland my internet is $ 35/mo (very fast) and phone is around $ 25/mo. We pay phone based on usage. Phone data is $ 6/month.

  40. I use Mediatemple’s (gs) instead of (dv) in most cases. If you get the GridContainer add-on and use a CDN it works well and eliminates some of the worries that come along with a client-managed server. The (gs) can’t really expand beyond a certain point though, so you need (dv) or better for big sites like CSS-Tricks.

    You’ll notice if you use (gs) that Mediatemple is packing a LOT of sites onto a single IP. Just get an SSL certificate for one of the domains on a (gs) and it solves that problem.

  41. Permalink to comment#

    If I were you, I’d call Internet company and ask for internet promotion. I do that every 6 months or 1 year. I saved a lot of $.

    Regarding AT&T (if you’re married, of course), you can get monthly discount depending on what kind of your job is. I get 18% off per month for family plan.

    Those listings are great. Thanks!

  42. The 2 services that I see myself using for many years to come are: Dropbox & Evernote.

    Dropbox is where I keep everything that I wouldn’t want to lose if I lost my laptop & archives of stuff I want to hold on to.

    I use Evernote to write down anything I want to remember or archive + for sending OCR’ing receipts from my iPhone for tracking expenses.

    I also just setup MyBackupBox to get a copy of my WP files and MySQL dumps every night into my Dropbox. It’s $21/mo. so I’ll probably be using that over Vaultpress since I like keeping all my cloud stuff in Dropbox.

    Also Adobe Creative Cloud is pretty sweet since it not only includes the CS6 versions of Photoshop & Lightroom but also Typekit and Adobe Browser Lab.

  43. Thanks for the list. My favorite part (showed my wife!) is when you state that your most precious resource is your time. We so easily forget that and schedule it away, work it away, and waste it away.

    Dropbox $10/mo revolutionized the way we produce our print / online catalogs as well as general web file sharing between co-workers. I’m up to 126GB of storage for that low monthly fee … imho.

    I also vote for Cloudflare – great service (freemium but I’m on free) and always improving. No real reason NOT to use it.

  44. AjF
    Permalink to comment#

    Nobody is paying for porn?!?








    No hard filings, just a joke :)

  45. It was interesting to read what tools/applications you use, and others likewise.

    While I haven’t used every single host available, I have used the following:
    IXWebhosting, Bluehost, Hostgator, Rackspace, ThePlanet, SoftLayer, and MediaTemple (and about 5 other cloud-based services — each of which pretty much sucked as they oversold their hardware). After having found MediaTemple 4 years ago, they continue to be my #1 choice because of the look and feel of their control panel, their support is very helpful and personable (no robots), and setting features and options up is easy and self contained (unlike SoftLayer). At the end of the day, you get what you pay for and I expect and receive a lot from MediaTemple and they always deliver.

    Back to the article, I use Beanstalkapp as well over Github for the deploy aspect.

    What about project management utilities such as BaseCamp or GoPlanApp?

    • Did you know that majority of those companies..hostgator, ipage, etc. share the same parent company. I think it’s WHY they all suck equally. I currently use Pacific Host. They don’t use the plex control panel, but they have excellent service.

      I use Springloops for project management and git hosting. They also do deployment via http://ftp…not as popular as beanstalk, but the devs are incredibly active.

      For client collaboration, I use tracky ( is in beta, but again — very active devs).

    • @justrjlewis — actually, I too came to the same conclusion at some point when I realized all of their pages looked almost exactly the same. It doesn’t bother me that they may simply be resellers… but, it did help me realize WHY they offered such cheap hosting.

      I feel like we’d work well together justrjlewis… :)

  46. Permalink to comment#

    I reeeeaaaally want to love Browserstack, but on my free trial, I noted it was a lot choppier trying to test animations, Jquery, or any other interactions than my VirtualBox set-up.

    What am I missing on Browserstack that is making my experience so irksome?

    (Testing on Mountain Lion, Chrome)

  47. Permalink to comment#

    need to add some of this of my list, CDN is my first

  48. Permalink to comment#

    I love dropbox, the space they offer is really great. Basecamp should be added, its a great way to manage project

  49. I just wrote a post with the tools and services we use at Lift. I figured a virtual development agency perspective might be useful here.

  50. Jera Vincelli
    Permalink to comment#

    Great morning read +1

  51. Ashley Clarke
    Permalink to comment#

    There is a nice script that allows files to be added to your server when pushed to github or bitbucket by Stephen Radford on his blog here.

  52. Such a nice and exceptional post. After reading this, i tried to calculate my cost :D . [ ]

  53. Cassie
    Permalink to comment#

    I would add Adobe Creative Cloud now…for $49.99 a month. Then MediaTemple, Dropbox and Campaign Monitor. And that’s it! Nice and simple.

  54. Eric
    Permalink to comment#

    Love the list, and you can put a +1 next to Dropbox & gmail for sure.

    I was surprised not to see WebInk mentioned as I think it has better integration into Photoshop than typekit for about the same cost.

    On the billing front I have been using a Grand Total and Timings (timelog before that) for years and I love it, about $100 for both, but being able to take my time slips, assign them to an invoice and hit send right in the app makes me feel happy ever time.

  55. Permalink to comment#

    Vimeo and Freshbooks are essential for me. I also pay for Capsule CRM, which is pretty amazing and has helped me market my business a ton. Typekit and DropBox are next on the list.

  56. Matt Rugamas
    Permalink to comment#

    How are you getting 4G LTE with AT&T? Let alone a package with that AND tethering for $110?

  57. Permalink to comment#

    Paid-for platforms are not the future of font delivery. I’m sure type-heads will disagree, but personally I could never justify a service such as Typekit taking a chunk of my yearly expenses. Comparatively of course they’re not that expensive, but it still all adds up.

    • Permalink to comment#

      I think there will always be those that don’t consider fonts worth paying for, just as there will be individuals and business who don’t feel a website should cost more than $500. But, I don’t see paid-for platforms are going away. I think distribution methods might change, associated costs may increase or decrease, but generally speaking, people are willing to pay for a service that saves them, time, energy, money, and from having to acquire, yet another specialized skill, especially if the service is affordable.

      Sure there is Google Fonts, and their growing database of free fonts, Font Squirrel for the fonts you already own or free fonts, but some fonts are worth paying for, at least to some developers.

    • So you think fonts should be free? I’d love to hear your opinion on why you think so. Plus, $50 a year is beyond cheap compared to buying them outright. The problem with Typekit is that you are basically leasing the fonts you use without being able to own them eventually.

  58. Ernesto
    Permalink to comment#

    Check this for internet prices, i live in Cuba, i pay 120cuc/mo (aprox 120 USD) for a limited 60 Hrs / month Internet via dial up (remenber dial up?), no other choice for me here, hows that for expensive. Great article by the way.

  59. Permalink to comment#

    Very interesting. We moved to Projectlog for billing, timesheet and expense tracking.

    Surprisingly, getting connected to the world wide web still represents one of the major expenses for most of us.

  60. morphosic
    Permalink to comment#

    another seemingly small one for me is the xmarks/lastpass combo for $20/yr. this let’s me keep my bookmarks and passwords synch’d across all browsers on my work computer, home computer, and phone!

  61. Maurice
    Permalink to comment#

    Just wondering, I am starting in this realm and am looking for options when I am away from home. AT&T are the only ones giving me low rate options for just internet (usb/mobile) at $99/mo (everyone else requires I get a mobile phone plan attached). Anyone out there try any of these “pay-as-you-go” wireless internet providers you see at the local wall-less store? Money is tight as it is, but this is something I am finding I need more as when I go to clients, their internet is lacking.

    I also have Comcast with just the 6MB/1MB internet service. Does what I need, and only pay $48/mo for it. As one said earlier, I called and said I had a lower offer for the same service, and they never asked, next bill, I was charged $48, and it never changed since. I have a friend who visits from time to time (from Japan), and he laughs at the rates being charged in America (he gets 100MB for roughly $30/mo in US dollars).

    As for web hosts, I am with iPage which has great customer service and has not gone down (even when they say it will be for maintenance in the middle of the night). They are also quick on low-priority responses. I would stay away from 50webs as I had them (free tier, then moved to webmaster @ $400/yr) in the beginning, but the customer service is in India, the main office is in the UK, and the billing department is in New York, but to speak with them, you have to first talk to India. Their servers would go down multiple times, and when I called, I would be told that it was my internet connect (though friends out-of-state verified it was down). Terrible service, so I bounced over to iPage from a recommendation. When I grow, I may look at better options, but iPage is doing what I need them to do for now.

  62. Permalink to comment#

    +1 for MaxCDN, very easy to deal with. For video services, I webcast for clients a lot and I use ustream, justin and youtube, the broadcast app I use is the pricey WireCast from Telestream.

  63. Jason
    Permalink to comment#

    I like Wistia for video hosting and A Small Orange for general web hosting.

  64. Just wanted to chime in on Amazon EC2. We buy reserved instances. There is a one time fee on the instance, but we have a nice instance and are paying around $50/month.

  65. We use for accounting and invoicing. It is free and I think the best web based accounting system. It integrates with Paypal and most banks so you can import your banking and Paypal transactions in csv file.

    No I am not affiliated or staff at Waveaccounting but we just love it.

  66. Permalink to comment#

    For me, paypal is a huge cost. It’s nearly 10% of my earnings. Being in Brazil, the cost of international transfer is 7.3% plus the conversion fee.
    Hard to swallow, especially when you know services like Strpie and GoCardless exist in other countries

  67. Permalink to comment#

    As far as git alternatives go, we use bitbucket ( that provides free private git and mercurial hosting for up to 5 devs and teams. It does iclude issue tracking and a bunch of other features and (it keeps getting better) if you’re GUI fan they make the excellent SourceTree app (for free!) as well.

    As far as the rest of the article goes, either you have a lot of ‘extra’ services / mo or I am very cheap and don’t spend a lot of money on non-business essential services or simply do without. You would think that would improve my income margin, but nope, just about equal.

    I think a lot of software should not be a subscription model for that reason. It adds up to too much and takes. If you think about those services and their cost as compared to the income per website per year, that is a very large chunk going to services that you may not need or could get cheaper. Take billing software for example, yes a subscription might add features to its services, but do you need them to operate? Invoices and billing have not changed drastically in half a century (! or more) so that new social feature might not be the essential thing your subscription should be paying for. And bug removal should not be part of a paid service. Bug tracking & removal should be part of the product. Yup that often means higher purchase price.

    Take Adobe’s Cloud offerings, if you upgrade your Suite every few years you’ll be paying more by subscription than a one-time purchase, however if you upgrade every year the subscription pricing does not add much to your overall costs (plus you get a bit more [‘Value Added’]). Subscription services are not there to save you money, but to increase the flow of steady revenue and increase overall sales. Keep that in mind when looking at your business necessities.

  68. Permalink to comment#

    What type of files are you backing up in dropbox and why?

    Personally I keep all my project related files with the project, which means in the same repository as well… That means I have some pretty large repositories, but the concept is that I wan’t to get as close as I can to “Checkout-compile-run”… So testing tools etc. are all in the repo…

    Things that aint are tools that simply doesn’t have a “Xcopy deployment style” option or for other reasons can’t be in the repository… But if I could I would basically like to get all the way to where I could just install a Raw OS (Windows in my case)… Checkout and then run… No need to install stuff ect…

    And with that mindset, I don’t have much to backup elsewhere… So that was just a thought…

  69. rebellajones
    Permalink to comment#

    Those offers are too costly. Make them more cheaper.

  70. Permalink to comment#

    What happened to my comment?

  71. Permalink to comment#

    Geez… I just wrote about my incredible experience with Dropbox as well as praising you guys again for creating another awesome list of services.

    For anyone considering Google Drive, my opinion is forget it! Dropbox is way better. I hate the interface of Google Drive too. Especially the mobile interface.

  72. Jason Smith
    Permalink to comment#

    FreelanceSuite ( is missing from this list. FreelanceSuite is a self-hosted app for managing customers, project, and billing. Since it’s self-hosted, there’s no monthly service cost. The payment gateways are designed to allow automated invoicing and payments.

  73. I use Insightly for CRM.

This comment thread is closed. If you have important information to share, you can always contact me.

*May or may not contain any actual "CSS" or "Tricks".