So you’re ready to start a blog?
You have a topic in mind, and you’re ready to share your passions, your knowledge, or your product with the world wide web.
Blogs are a great way to make your voice heard. To demonstrate your expertise. To build a community of followers with similar interests. Blogs can also be a great side-hustle (read: a source of extra income).
In this article, I’m going to detail what it really costs to get your blog up and running. First things first, a disclaimer: this post is written on the presumption that you already have access to a computer (or phone or tablet, at the least) and a reliable internet connection. I haven’t included these two expenses in the total cost, because they are implied. It goes without saying, but you can’t have a blog without them.
Now, you may be thinking.. costs? I thought starting a blog was free. Well, you’re not wrong. You can technically set up a blog for completely free on platforms such as Blogger, Weebly, Wix, or WordPress.com, for example. But, you probably also know that free platforms are extremely limited.
Still, it may be worth exploring a free option before making the leap into a self-hosted blog. You’ll be able to gauge how committed you are before making any financial investments.
However, if you want blog autonomy (and you do), and you’re serious about making money from your blog, you’re going to have to shell out some cash.
Cost to Start a Blog #1: DOMAIN NAME
At the very least — even if you’re hosting on a free platform, you’ll want to purchase a custom domain name/URL to distinguish your blog. No one has operated under www.myblogname.blogspot.com since 2008. Harsh, I know. But true. A custom name that matches the name of your social media profiles is best, and it’s the easiest way for readers to search and find you online.
The actual cost for your domain name will vary, and if your first choice isn’t available– you may have to compromise by choosing a different name altogether, or a different domain ending such as .org or .net. As long as your name isn’t highly competitive, a domain name is relatively inexpensive. Think $10-20 per year.
But word to the wise: if you already know that you won’t be using a free blogging platform, and you’ll be self-hosting instead, many companies offer a free domain name when you sign up for a hosting plan.
Domain Name Cost: ~$15.00
Cost to Start a Blog #2: HOSTING
Case in point: companies like Bluehost, GoDaddy, Siteground, and Google all offer one FREE Domain name when you sign up for hosting. What is a hosting site? It’s basically where your domain name/URL & all it’s content is parked online. And you have to pay for parking.
Most of the blogs you read are self-hosted. Self hosting has an advantage over free platforms- it gives you complete creative freedom over your blog– specifically the appearance, functions & the way you choose to display ads.
Most bloggers then choose to then install WordPress.org platform (this is different from the free WordPress.com blogs) on their website. This process requires some technical skill, but there are many tutorials online about how to do this. Squarespace is another popular blogging platform, but WordPress has a long-standing reputation with bloggers, and there are hundreds of thousands of articles and plugins that allow you to optimize your blog according to your taste. I consider WordPress.org the blogger standard.
Hosting costs- as with all things- depend on a number of factors such as how many websites you are hosting, how much storage space and speed you require, etc.
Most hosts offer the new sign-up price of $3.95/mo. You’ll have to pay for a full year at once, and this allows you to host exactly one website. After your first year, the price increases to the $12/mo range. However, a great bonus is that most hosting sites now include SSL (security certificate for your site) FREE! SSL is important because it gives you that little https:// prefix, which tells users that your site is safe. It should be noted that SSL can be an added cost if you need advanced security measures or have multiple domains.
Hosting Cost: ~$47.40
Bonus: SSL Certificate Free!
If we’re being technical, you can stop right here. You can start a blog for free, or for the price of your domain, or for about $60 you can get your custom domain name/URL and hosting. If you’re using WordPress.org, you can select from a variety of free blog templates. But if you want a blog that looks really good, that you’re proud of, then you’ll probably want to spend some extra money for a website design that really represents you/your brand.
Cost to Start a Blog #3: Blog Design (Optional)
Site designs can be as inexpensive as $10 for a premade template all the way into the $1,000s for a completely custom design. I recommend shopping on Etsy for premade templates, like these by 17th Avenue Designs. These premade templates are completely customizable, meaning you can change the colors, logos, photos, etc. Installing a WordPress template requires some technical skills, and full transparency: it can be a total headache.
Luckily, you can have the template installed for you, but— you guessed it. That’ll cost extra.
Premade WordPress Template Cost: $59.00
Template Installation Cost: $39.00-79.00
Cost to Start a Blog #4: Learning & Education (Optional)
Now that you have a pretty site, and maybe you’ve even made a few posts, I’ll bet you’re wondering when the money will come pouring in.
Monetizing your blog isn’t easy. If it was, everyone would do it. It is possible, but it requires discipline and hard work. To learn how, you basically have two options:
- Spend hours upon hours of your life Googling how to make money from your blog, piece together advice from a billion sources, and then implement some trial & error tactics until one catches.
- Buy a course from someone else who will teach you step-by-step how to monetize your blog.
Not all courses are created equal, and there are tons of them out there. A decent course will start around $300, but there are much more expensive courses, too. Choose wisely. It’s worth it to invest in your blog if you want to start making money, but no matter what anyone promises you — no course will turn you into an overnight success. There will be a lot of elbow grease required, and you’ll only get out what you put in. More than likely, you’ll be working harder than you have in your life.
Educational Blog Course: $300+
Cost to Start a Blog #5: Marketing (Optional)
Marketing your blog could mean using paid advertisements or email blasts: basically, any service or tactic you’ll utilize for growth. You don’t have to use paid ads to grow your blog, but you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone on the internet who doesn’t emphasize the importance of an email list.
Why is an email list important?
Because you OWN your email list, and it isn’t subject to the whims of Facebook or Instagram or Google’s algorithms. You can start an email list for FREE with platforms like MailChimp or Constant Contact, but as your list grows, you’ll eventually have to pay to level-up and keep sending.
Email List (Based on Mailchimp’s Pricing): FREE (Up to 2,000 Subscribers + 12,000 Emails/mo
Mailchimp’s Grow Plan: $120/yr+
So what does it really cost to start a self-hosted, decent looking blog with the ability to profit?
Grand Total: $541.40
While $500+ may seem like a large number (especially compared to free), in comparison to the cost of starting a real brick & mortar shop or a restaurant, the start-up fees and monthly overhead of a blog is extremely small. If all you have to lose is your time and $500, there’s barely any risk involved! So the real question is: is it worth it to you?
Not sure what to blog about?
Read my Best Tips for Choosing a Blog Topic and Download my FREE Worksheet: Find Your Niche.
Want to learn Graphic Design using Adobe Illustrator & Photoshop? Check out my Tutorials:
- How to Make Chevron in Illustrator
- How to Make Zig Zag Lines in Illustrator
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