How much does it cost to start a blog (and make money) in 2021? While it’s theoretically possible to start a blog for free, you’re not going to make money blogging if you’re unwilling to invest in your blogging business.
With that said, you don’t want your blogging expenses to get out of control either. But with so many blogging tools and services out there, how do you know which ones are the best?
In this post, I will go through real blogging costs, making sure to find you the best blogging tools at the lowest prices.
Let’s do this.
Blogging costs FAQ
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.
But 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 from an ad network.
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.
Is starting a blog like starting a business?
A blog is a business just like any other. If you treat your blog like a business, you will be rewarded. On the other hand, treat it like a hobby, and you won’t earn squat.
To make money blogging, you need to invest in premium 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? Instead, 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. Unfortunately, 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.
Is blogging worth it?
By now, you’re aware that blogging costs money. You’re also aware it takes time to build a profitable website. So you might also be wondering, is blogging worth it?
I can only speak from personal experience, but I can say it’s worth it if you are willing to make some sacrifices and changes to your daily routine. Here’s what it takes to make blogging worth it:
- Make time for your blog. Devote at least one hour per day to blogging.
- Learn productivity hacks to make the most of your time.
- Use productivity tools that allow you to take blogging shortcuts.
- “Sharpen your saw” and invest in your blogging education.
If you give blogging the time it needs to work, you will see for yourself that blogging is still worth the effort.
Can anybody make money blogging?
Blogging is not a get-rich-quick scheme. It takes lots of time and hard work. But yes, you definitely can make money blogging.
I should know. When I started blogging, I had no special skills; I wasn’t creative, a great writer, and didn’t have a wonderful idea for a blog either.
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 anybody can do it if I can make money blogging!
What do you need to buy to start a blog?
Your blogging costs will boil down to these 4 major areas:
- Getting your blog online (domain and hosting)
- Designing your blog
- Getting traffic to grow your blog
- Email marketing
- Your education
What are the costs to start a blog?
Ready to see how much it costs to start a successful blog? Let’s dive deep into your actual blogging expenses, down to the penny!
Domain name – Porkbun – $0.71 per month
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 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.
Web hosting – Bluehost – $3.95 per month
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.
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
Blogging platform – WordPress – Free
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 are endless customization options (blog themes and page builders).
Cost: WordPress is free
Blog theme – Astra Pro – $4.92 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 blog theme I use and recommend is Astra. While there is a free version, you’re going to want to unlock Astra Pro to help you build a powerful website.
Astra is easy to get started with. Simply choose from one of the many pre-made templates, and you’ll have an entire website designed in minutes.
The last thing you want is to waste hours designing your blog. Instead, 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.
One of the reasons I recommend Astra is because it pairs nicely with Elementor, the page builder I’ll discuss next.
Cost: Astra Pro is $59 per year or $4.92 per month
Page builder – Elementor Pro – $4.08 per month
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.
The page builder (if you can call it that) that comes with WordPress (Gutenberg) leaves a lot to be desired, which is why I recommend using Elementor instead.
In 2021 and beyond, you need to build web pages that are rich not only with great content but also with visual elements.
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.
Cost: Elementor Pro is $49 per year or $4.08 per month
Email list – ConvertKit – $29 per month
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.
We need to capture readers’ attention with a blog post, convert them to email subscribers, and 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.
For email marketing, I use and recommend ConvertKit. They will store the emails you collect and send automated emails on schedule to your list. They also have pre-made landing pages so you can start growing your list from the start.
Cost: ConvertKit is free up to 1,000 subscribers and $29 to unlock automations
Blogging course – Do Six Figures Bootcamp – $37
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: Do Six Figures Bootcamp costs $37 or $3.08 per month
Social sharing plugin – SocialWarfare – $2.42 per month
You know what’s better than posting your articles on social media? Having your own readers 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 SocialWarfare 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
Graphic design – Canva Pro – $10 per month
Canva is a drag-and-drop graphic design tool that makes it simple to create graphics for your blog. For example, I use Canva to create logos, social media images, pins for Pinterest, ebook covers, and ads.
When you upgrade to Canva Pro, you get access to premium stock images. This eliminates the need to have a separate stock image site membership.
Cost: Canva has a free plan, although I use the Pro version for $119.99 per year or $10 per month
Writing and editing – Grammarly – $11.66 per month
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 tone and conciseness.
If you want to make money blogging, you have to take the “blogging” part seriously. That means writing in the correct tone, avoiding run-on sentences, and getting your point across clearly. And those are all features you get in the premium version of Grammarly.
Cost: Grammarly is free, although I use the premium version for $11.66 per month
List-building plugin – ConvertPro – $8.25 per month
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.
To truly grow your email list, you’re going to need high-end templates and multiple opt-in form types with a plugin like ConvertPro.
The forms I use are in-content, a lightbox that displays when the user scrolls 60% down the page, and exit intent.
Cost: ConvertPro is $99 per year or $8.25 per month
Image optimizer – Shortpixel – $3.99 per month
Before uploading images to your WordPress blog, you need to optimize them first. This means resizing, cropping, and making the images as light as possible. The last thing you want is your website to be bogged down by unoptimized images. Not only is it annoying to the reader, but it’s bad for your SEO as well (source).
To automatically optimize your images when you upload them to your blog, use the ShortPixel Image Optimizer plugin. The $3.99 monthly plan is all you need, which is enough for 5,000 images a month. While this sounds like a lot, realize that WordPress, your theme, and even some plugins create additional thumbnails when you upload an image.
I actually optimize my images offline using Adobe Photoshop (it has a save for the web feature). Then I use ShortPixel’s other plugin, ShortPixel Adaptive Images, to resize, crop, and optimize images on the fly. This optimized image is then served to users from ShortPixel’s CDN. Regardless of which plugin you use, the monthly fees are the same.
Cost: ShortPixel is $3.99 per month
Caching plugin – WPRocket – $4.08 per month
Like I mentioned earlier, your site speed matters. Aside from optimizing your images, the next best thing you can do to improve site speed is to use a caching plugin.
While there are plenty to choose from, the one I use and recommend is WPRocket.
To see how well this plugin works, you can see a live speed test of this page here. At the time of this writing, I’m scoring a 99 out of 100 on desktop, with this page loading in less than 1 second.
Cost: WPRocket is $49 per year or $4.08 per month
Pinterest scheduler – Tailwind – $9.99 per month
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, especially the highest-paid bloggers, 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 as Pinterest and Google. The reason is 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 Communities.
With SmartLoop, your pins are posted on a repeating schedule. So it’s not quite hands-off full automation, but it is close to it.
With Communities, you and your community members 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
Social media scheduler – SocialPilot – $25.50 per month (optional)
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 SocialPilot and they are shared on auto-pilot.
Using SocialPilot, 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: SocialPilot is $306 per year or $25.50 per month
Keyword research – SEMRush – $99.95 per month
I include 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, to get traffic from Google, you have to create content that people are searching for. With a keyword research tool like SEMRush, 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, SEMRush shows me the volume and difficulty scores, and I determined it was worth my time to write this article.
Cost: SEMRush is $300 per year or $25 per month
Computer – Macbook Pro – $41.58 per month
You can do a lot 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 can find a good-quality used Macbook Pro or iMac on Amazon or eBay like this one for roughly $500.
Cost: Used computer from Amazon or eBay goes for $499 or $41.58 per month
How much does it cost to start a blog in 2021?
Cost to start a blog
This is the bare minimum to launch your blog.
- Domain name: $0.71 per month with Porkbun
- Blog hosting: $3.95 per month with Bluehost
- Blogging platform: Free with WordPress
Total: $4.66 per month
Blogging costs for beginners
These are some must-have resources for building a successful blog.
- Blog theme: $4.92 per month with Astra Pro
- Page builder: $4.08 per month with Elementor Pro
- Email list: $29 per month with Convertkit
- Blog course: $3.08 per month with Do Six Figures Bootcamp
- Social sharing icons: $2.42 per month with Social Warfare
Total: $4.66 + $43.50 = $48.16 per month
Blogging costs for pro bloggers ($212.41 per month)
If you’re serious about earning money blogging, these are the tools pro bloggers like me use every day.
- Graphic design: $10 per month with Canva
- Writing and editing: $11.66 per month with Grammarly
- List building plugin: $8.25 per month with ConvertPro
- Image optimization: $3.99 per month with Shortpixel
- Caching plugin: $4.08 per month with WPRocket
- Pinterest scheduler: $9.99 per month with Tailwind
- Social media scheduling: $25.50 per month with SocialPilot
- Keyword research: $99.95 per month with SEMRush
- MacBook Pro laptop: $41.58 per month
Total: $48.16 + $215.00 = $263.16 per month
Total cost to start a blog in 2021: $263.16 per month
Thanks for reading; I 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!
Until next time,