How Much Does It Cost to Start a Blog in 2020?

Last updated on June 21, 2020  ∙ by Edwin Contreras13 comments
How much does it cost to start a blog?

I may earn a commission for purchases made through links in this post.

How much does it cost to start a blog (and make money) in 2020? In this post I'm going to go through real blogging costs, making sure to find you the best blogging tools at the lowest prices.

On with the list!

Can you start a blog for free?

Let’s get this question out of the way first. Yes, you can start a blog for free. I have a post about the best blogging platforms here, including free ones if you want to take a look.

Here’s the problem with free blog platforms: nobody, and I mean nobody, will ever take you seriously.

When you use a free blogging platform you will never make money from affiliate marketing, sponsored posts, selling your own products or even ads.

To make money with a blog you need to invest in your business with your own domain name and web hosting. In short, you need to spend money to make money.

1. Domain name - Porkbun - $0.71 per month

Domain registration

If you want to start a blog you need your own domain name. There are tons of places to register a domain name, with GoDaddy being the most popular.

The downside of GoDaddy is their $17.99 renewal rate (source) which seems to go up every year. If you want domain privacy (and you should), that's another $14.99.

Note: If you choose Bluehost as your hosting provider, they will cover the domain registration fees for you.


You can see if the domain name you want is available here:

Instead, I register my domain names at PorkBun. Their domain registration and renewals go for $8.56 and come with free domain privacy.

Cost: A dot com domain registration at PorkBun is $8.56 per year or $0.71 per month.

PorkBun

This is where I register all of my domain names. After being with GoDaddy for years, I'm glad I made the switch.

2. Web hosting - Bluehost - $3.95 per month

Bluehost web hosting

Much like a brick and mortar store needs to pay rent, you need to pay for hosting for your blog.

I recommend Bluehost for new blogs because they're newbie-friendly and provide the best value.

Additionally, you get a free domain name with your hosting account if you use this link.

In order to get the best deal at $3.95 per month, you need to pre-pay your hosting for 3 years ($142.20 total or $47.40 per year). If you instead choose to pay for 1 year up-front, your monthly cost becomes $5.95 (or $71.40 per year).

If you're ready to start a blog, follow my step by step guide on how to start a blog here.

Cost: Bluehost is $47.40 per year or $3.95 per month

Bluehost

Bluehost comes with the WordPress blogging platform pre-installed so you can get your blog started from day 1.

3. Blogging platform - WordPress - Free

WordPress.org blog platform

The blogging platform I always recommend to start with is WordPress. The other popular blogging platforms you may be familiar with are Wix and Squarespace. While those other platforms aren't bad, per se, they are more tailored to ecommerce stores, rather than blogs.

WordPress powers an impressive 63.6% of all websites (source) whose content management system can be detected.

I recommend WordPress for new bloggers because it's entirely free to use, it's lightweight (loads fast), powerful (tons of great plugins), and there's endless customization options (blog themes and page builders).

Cost: WordPress is free

WordPress

WordPress is the best platform to start a blog on. While there may be a learning curve to start, it's well worth getting to know how to use it.

4. Blog theme - Divi - $7.42 per month

Yes, there are countless free themes for WordPress. But if you're serious about treating your blog as a business you should not use a free blog theme.

Free themes won't allow you to customize your blog, leaving your blog looking like the thousands of other people using that same free theme.

Then, if you ever want to change anything, you'll need to hire a designer to do it for you. The cheaper alternative is to use a visual blog builder.

The blog theme I recommend is Divi from Elegant Themes. With it you can change the color, the font, even the entire structure of your blog using their drag-and-drop interface.

The WordPress theme I use on this blog is Thrive Theme Builder. The reason I don't recommend it off the bat for new bloggers is because there's a learning curve to using it.​


And as a new blogger, your focus should be on setting up your blog (even with a template), writing blog posts, and trying to reach monetization as quickly as possible.

Cost: Divi from Elegant Themes is $89 per year or $7.42 per month

Divi

Divi is the WordPress theme I recommend new bloggers get. It is newbie-friendly and simple to design on your own (or with a pre-made template).

5. Page builder - Thrive Architect - $5.58 per month

Thrive Architect page builder

If you end up starting with a free blog theme you will need to at least use a page builder.

Page builders are plugins that let you build better blog posts. Without a page builder, you risk creating boring pages that are just text and images.

In 2020 and beyond, you need to be building webpages that are rich not only with great content, but with visual elements as well.

With a page builder you can insert pre-built elements like quote boxes, pros and cons, click-to-tweet, styled lists, etc. Then you can edit and arrange them on the page in any way you want.

The page builder that comes with WordPress (Gutenberg) leaves a lot to be desired.

Here are the page builders I recommend instead:

These page builders work with any theme, free or paid.

Cost: Thrive Architect is $67 per year or $5.58 per month

Thrive Architect

Every blog post or page on Do Six Figures was built using Thrive Architect.

6. Email marketing - ConvertKit - Free

ConvertKit email marketing

Up to this point, you already have all of the tools you need to start a blog. But if you want to make money and not have this be a hobby blog, you need to keep going.

If you want to make money blogging, you need to start an email list. I know it sounds "icky", but the goal here is to make money. And people don't really buy things directly from blogs.

ConvertKit is who I use and recommend  for email marketing. They will store the emails you collect and send emails to your list.

We need to capture readers' attention with a blog post, then convert them to an email subscriber, then convince them to click on a link and spend money.


Providing value to your email list is an ideal way to build a relationship with your readers. Once you've established that relationship you can then recommend products (or sell your own).


Without that crucial link of email marketing, you're going to be missing a really important step in the formula.

Cost: ConvertKit is free up to 1,000 subscribers

ConvertKit

When you use my link to sign up to ConvertKit, you get to create unlimited forms, landing pages ,and send emails to up to 1,000 subscribers.

7. List-building plugin - Thrive Leads - $5.58 per month

Thrive Leads list building plugin for WordPress

You need awesome email opt-in forms to grow your email list fast. A plain form in the sidebar or footer that says "Subscribe to my newsletter" isn't going to cut it.

In order to truly grow your email list you're going to need high-end templates and multiple opt-in form types with a plugin like Thrive Leads.

The forms I use are in-content, a lightbox that displays when the user scrolls 60% down the page, and exit intent.

Where a list-building plugin truly shines is with the reporting you get. With Thrive Leads, I can see which form converts best, which page converts best, and which referring traffic source works best.​


It's a dream come true if you want to create a profitable high-converting website.

Cost: Thrive Leads is $67 per year or $5.58 per month

Thrive Leads

This is the list-building plugin I use to create the opt-in forms you see on this page.

8. Graphic design - Canva - Free

Canva graphic design tool

Canva is a drag-and-drop graphic design tool that makes it simple to create graphics for your blog. I use Canva to create logos, social media images, pins for Pinterest, ebook covers, and ads.

Cost: Canva is free, although I use the Pro version for $9.95 per month

Canva

While I have Photoshop, I find myself creating all of my design elements in Canva instead. Note: I use the pro version of Canva.

9. Writing and editing - Grammarly - Free

Grammarly is a free Chrome/Firefox browser extension that helps you write better. The free version catches common spelling and grammar mistakes while the premium version helps with more complex issues like the tone and conciseness.

Cost: Grammarly is free, although I use the premium version for $11.66 per month

Grammarly

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10. Pinterest scheduler - Tailwind - $9.99 per month

Tailwind Pinterest scheduler

At this point, we've got a blog set up and an email list ready to go. But what about traffic? The next few tools will help to get traffic to your blog.

Every blogger will tell you that Pinterest and Google are their top 2 drivers of traffic to their blog.


Facebook and Instagram, while wildly popular, don't send as much traffic than Pinterest and Google. The reason being that Facebook and Instagram are social media while Pinterest and Google are search engines.

I use Pinterest to drive traffic to my blogs with the help of Tailwind.

While their main feature is their Pinterest scheduler, the real benefit of Tailwind is SmartLoop and Tribes.

With SmartLoop, your pins are posted on a repeating schedule. It's not quite hands-off full automation, but it is close to it.

With Tribes you and your tribemates share each other's content. This is a great way to bring added exposure, especially if a popular account shares one of your pins.

Cost: Tailwind is $120 per year or $9.99 per month

Tailwind

The best way to get traffic to a new blog isn't Google or Facebook, it's Pinterest! And there's no better Pinterest scheduler than Tailwind.

11. Social media scheduler - Social Pilot - $25 per month

If you think you can get a lot of traffic from social media, you're going to be in for a rude awakening.

Social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are all designed to keep you on the platform. The longer they keep you on their sites the more ads they can show you and the more money they can make.

Trying to get someone to leave social media and visit your blog is not easy. There's no real trick to it other than creating and sharing awesome content.


If something gets shared and takes off - you're going to enjoy a nice boost of viral traffic for a few days before it dies off again.


While it might sound like I'm against social media traffic, I'm actually not. I just don't think you should waste too much time trying to get it.

Here's my social media marketing strategy in a nutshell:

  • Create a list of all my blog posts on a spreadsheet (I use Google Sheets).
  • Write different messages/titles for each blog post.
  • Upload this spreadsheet to Social Pilot and they are shared on auto-pilot.

Using Social Pilot I'm able to queue up thousands of updates and have them sent on my schedule for months in advance. This strategy allows me to be "present" on social media without actually wasting any time on the platforms.

Cost: Social Pilot is $300 per year or $25 per month

Social Pilot

I spend 99% of my time on Google SEO and Pinterest. The other 1% is spent setting up my social media posts with this app.

12. Social sharing icons - Social Warfare - $2.42 per month

You know what's better than posting your articles on social media? Having others do the work for you.

To get any kind of traffic from social media you need to not only post your content but you need others to share your content as well.

Every blog needs to have share icons to encourage readers to save and share your content.

I use Social Warfare to add the share icons you see on this blog. Here's what this WordPress plugin can do.

  • Add share icons for all of the major social media platforms.
  • Option to add share counts for social proof.
  • The share icons hover on the page as the user scrolls down.
  • Icons look great and load fast on smartphones and tablets.
  • Lets you add UTM parameters so you can see how this traffic performs on Google Analytics.

Cost: Social Warfare is $29 per year or $2.42 per month

Social Warfare

Other than Thrive Architect, Leads, and Comments, this is only other front-end plugin I use on this blog.

13. Keyword research - LongTailPro - $25 per month

I'm including a keyword research tool because I believe it's essential to create content with a purpose. If you write about whatever you want, you will be writing for no one but yourself.

You see in order to get traffic from Google you have to create content that people are searching for. With a keyword research tool like Long Tail Pro, you can see the volume of a keyword phrase and how competitive that keyword is.

In other words, it helps direct you to write content that has the highest chance of ranking on the first page of Google's search results.

It's the very reason why my keyword phrase for this post is "cost to start a blog" and my longtail keyword phrase is "how much does it cost to start a blog". I'm also targeting "blogging costs" by the way.

Anyways, LongTailPro showed me the volume and difficulty scores and I determined it was worth my time to write this article.

Cost: Long Tail Pro is $300 per year or $25 per month

LongTailPro

Keyword research and competitor analysis are essential for getting Google search traffic. Without it, you are driving blind!

14. Facebook / Pinterest / Google ads - $150 per month

Spending money to advertise your blog is entirely optional. In fact, I wouldn't recommend a new blogger dive into spending money on ads at all.

Before you spend a dime on ads, you should first have the following things ready:

  • Your blog has to be fully launched and full of content.
  • You need to have opt-in forms with lead magnets (freebies) to entice subscribers to join.
  • You need to be making money already with your email list.

You should be able to accomplish all of those tasks before your first year of blogging is up. When you do, it's time to venture out into paid ads.

Always have a purpose. Why are you advertising your blog? With Facebook Ads, you can choose from the following campaign types:

  • Getting likes to your Facebook page (to build brand exposure and social proof)
  • Get email subscribers (to nurture leads, for people not ready to buy)
  • Traffic campaign (to make sales)

Each one serves its own purpose so it's important to set your goals beforehand.

Cost: An example Facebook ads budget is $300 per year or $150 per month

15. Blogging course - Six Figure Bloggers Blueprint - $8.08 per month

Six Figure Bloggers course

The best investment you can ever make is in yourself.

While all the tools I've mentioned in this post are great, it does you no good if you don't know how to use them. This is why I'm a big proponent of taking a blog course.

I've taken courses on Pinterest marketing, how to launch a course, Facebook ads and Google ads. And I'm still learning to this day because learning never stops.

Cost: Six Figure Bloggers Blueprint costs $97 (with coupon code 200OFF) or $8.08 per month

16. Computer - $41.67 per month

You can do pretty much everything from your smartphone but you're going to need a computer of your own to run your blog.

You should treat your blog like a business and sharing a computer just isn't going to cut it.

I run my blogs from my used 27" iMac purchased from eBay for $650. It's been upgraded with an SSD drive and is as powerful as I need it to be.

I also have a laptop but I rarely use it because the screen is too small (I'm as blind as a bat!).

You should be able to find a good-quality used Macbook Pro or iMac on eBay for roughly $500.

Cost: Used computer from eBay goes for $500 or $41.67 per month

17. Time - priceless

Perhaps your most important investment will be your time. You cannot build a money-making blog if you don't put in the time. Like I said earlier, blogging is not a get rich quick scheme. - it's a slow grind.

When you hear of bloggers earning a six-figure income know that it took years of hard work to get there.

Everything takes time. It takes time to create content, get traffic, build an audience, and to build a full-time income.

Total costs to start a blog in 2020

Getting your blog set up ($17.66 per month)

Email marketing ($5.58 per month)

Traffic generation ($212.41 per month)

  • Pinterest scheduler: $9.99 per month with Tailwind
  • Social media scheduling: $25 per month with Social Pilot
  • Social sharing icons: $2.42 with Social Warfare
  • Keyword research: $25 per month with LongTailPro
  • Advertising costs: $150 per month

Blogging tools ($49.75 per month)

Total cost to start a blog: $285.40 per month

Why you should treat your blog like a business

A blog is a business just like any other. If you treat your blog like a business, you will be rewarded. Treat it like a hobby and you won't earn squat.

In order to make money blogging, you need to invest in blog tools to help you build and grow your blog.

You wouldn't build a car, a house or a computer with your bare hands now would you? You'd go find the best tools to do the job right. The same applies to blogging.

I put together a list of the actual blogging tools I use here if you want to see how I do it. The reality is that there is no such thing as a free lunch.

If you want to start a money making blog you need to think of your blog as a business.

Can anybody make money blogging?

Blogging is not a get rich quick scheme. It takes lots of time and hard work. But yes, you (yes you) definitely can make money blogging.

I should know. I had no special skills, I wasn't creative, a great writer or have a wonderful idea for a blog.

I was just fully committed to making my blog a success. That determination led me to build one successful blog after another until I was making a six-figure income as a full-time blogger.

Your experience may not be the same as mine, but I know that if I can make money blogging, anybody can do it!

Thanks for reading, hope this helped you determine how much it costs to start a blog... but one more thing. It would totally rock my socks if you saved this post on Pinterest!

Blogging costs

Until next time,
Edwin, DoSixFigures.com

just a little > about me

About edwin

Edwin Contreras is the professional blogger behind Cash The Checks and Do Six Figures. Over the last 17 years, he has started over 100 profitable blogs on his way to a six-figure income as a full-time blogger. He is now obsessed with helping people just like you escape the 9 to 5 and make serious money online. You in?

learn more > earn more

continue > the conversation

  • I agree Edwin… a free blogging platform is appealing when you’re starting out, but it’s probably the least useful thing you can do. You simply can’t beat a self-hosted blog in the long-term if you’re serious about blogging, and paying for your blog in this way is a proper commitment to it.

  • That might be one of the very first posts ever that really talks about the true costs of owning a blog. Being a blogger myself I know what it takes to put the machine working.
    As for what Edwin wrote that’s all true, and no this is not any paid comment or whatever, it’s an honest one.
    At this moment I have around 5 to 6 months on the blogging world and I’ve invested around $1000, with 3 courses, hosting, Fiveer work, themes and Pinterest Scheduler. I’m only missing an email marketing software, I will choose ConvertKit so that will cost me around $290.
    The main mistake around a blog is to see it as “look, buy, set and forget” type of thing.
    It must be seen as an investment.

    If Edwin allows me, I would like to share my mistakes at blogging that has been slowing me down on my path to financial freedom.

    Thank you for the post

  • Winnie Xu says:

    Really nice article for newly-started bloggers! I’ve used GoDaddy in the past– it does add up and get expensive after a while but it’s definitely worth it. I find it really convenient because it has domain name registration, web hosting, and email services all offered on the same platform.

    But I do think that the other options noted are worth checking out and will definitely do so. I never realized that starting a blog would be this expensive but I suppose that in the end, it’ll be worth it. Thank you for sharing!

    • Yes it can get expensive. But to start, it doesn’t have to be.

      When I first started blogging I used all the free tools I could find. It wasn’t until I started to make money that I invested it back into paid blog tools.

  • Great post on the cost breakdown and total rather than “start a blog for free.” It is a business and there are always costs required to start a business.

    • Yes Rachelle, that’s the big takeaway here. Blogging is a business and should be treated as such.

  • Hey guys and gals. Let me know what blogging cost is the biggest hurdle for you at the moment.

    For me when I started, it was hosting. Right now my challenge is… hosting again! I need to upgrade my hosting plan and don’t want to pay a fortune.

    What about you?

  • It’s a perfect time for me to come across this post as I’m getting ready to launch my first blog. It reassured me that my strategy of spending a few more bucks than needed may be well worth it. Thanks for the post!

    • Awesome and good luck! Be sure to catch my launch your blog free eCourse, it’s definitely helpful for new bloggers.

  • Great read.. I’m at the bare minimum cost right now. But also at the bare minimum end of traffic and revenue too.

    Hopefully I can invest more in the near future and see ROI from it!

    • Hey Kevin! Nothing wrong with bare minimum cost, that’s where EVERYONE starts. The way you grow is to invest all your earnings right back into your blog.
      Thanks for your comment.

  • Really amazing break-down of the cost capital to begin a blog. And that too for a year. Everyone should know that blogging is a business, and just like every business requires investment of money and time.
    Well done.

    • Thanks for your comment! Yes it requires investment, just like all other businesses do.

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

    ready to start making big money blogging?


    Six-Figure Bloggers Blueprint shows you the system to build a profitable blog from scratch. These are the exact steps I've used to build multiple successful blogs.

    If you're serious about making real money with your blog - you need this course!

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    see what's in the course

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