How much does it cost to start a blog? Many people think you can start a blog and make money for free. That's just not true.
Your blog is a business and, like any business, you need to invest in it to make it succeed. In this blog post I'm going to tell you the real costs of starting a blog - and it may surprise you.
Starting a blog can be cheap, but if you want to make money blogging, you need to treat it like a business. And in any business:
If you want to make money, you have to spend money.
But don't let this discourage you from starting a blog. Starting a blogging business is [by far] the cheapest type of business you can start.
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.
You can go to wordpress.com and create a free blog. You will be given a url like http://yourwebsitename.wordpress.com and you can start blogging right away.
Here’s the problem with that. Nobody, and I mean nobody, will ever take you seriously.
You will never make money from affiliate marketing, sponsored posts, selling your own products or even display ads.
To make money with your blog you need your own domain name and web hosting. In short, you need to invest in your business.
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 your time and invest your money in the best blogging tools.
You wouldn't build a car, a house or a computer with your bare hands. You'd go find the best tools to help make your job easier.
The same applies to blogging.
The reality is that there is no such thing as a free lunch.
If you want to create a money making blog, you need to start thinking 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 to me building 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!
So how much does it cost to start a blog? Let's find out the truth.
1. DOMAIN NAME ($12)
You can register a dot com domain at GoDaddy for $11.99 or at NameCheap for $8.88. After the first year, it costs $17.99 to renew at GoDaddy and $10.98 to renew at NameCheap.
There is another option. To skip the cost of registering a domain name altogether, you can use Bluehost as your hosting provider and you'll get a free domain name. More on this later.
You can test out some domain name ideas below. And if you need more help, I wrote a guide here on how to choose the perfect domain name here.
Cost: Godaddy is $11.99 per year
2. WEB HOSTING ($47)
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 when pre-paid.
3. WORDPRESS (FREE)
The blogging platform I always recommend is WordPress. It's entirely free to use, easy and there are some great plugins and themes to customize your blog.
Cost: WordPress is free
4. BLOG THEME ($89)
Yes, there are countless free themes available on 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.
When you use a paid theme like Divi from Elegant Themes, you can change the color, the font, even the entire structure of your blog. That's because Divi is a drag-and-drop blog builder. This means you can change anything on your blog so it looks just how you want it to look.
The best part of having a paid theme is that you have access to support, who can help you in case you mess something up or want to change something specific.
Cost: Divi from Elegant Themes is $89
5. EMAIL MARKETING ($290)
Most people stop here and don't invest in anything else. That's perfectly fine if you're blogging as a hobby. But if you want to make money blogging you need to go further and invest in tools to help you succeed.
Speaking of tools, ConvertKit is who I recommend using for your email marketing software. This is where you will store the emails you collect and they'll handle sending your emails.
Starting an email list is a must if you want to make money blogging. That's because bloggers don't make money directly from their blog - they make money from their email list.
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).
Cost: ConvertKit is $29 per month or $290 when paid yearly
6. LEAD GENERATION SOFTWARE ($67)
You need awesome optin forms to build your list. A simple form 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, different optin form types, stats reporting and A/B testing from Thrive Leads.
Cost: Thrive Leads is $67
7. SOCIAL MEDIA SCHEDULING ($100)
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 $100 for their individual plan when paid yearly
8. SHARE ICONS ($29)
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 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
9. PINTEREST SCHEDULER ($120)
Every blogger will tell you that Pinterest is either the number 1 or number 2 driver of traffic to their blog. Pinterest is a big driver of traffic because, unlike Facebook, it's not designed to keep you on the platform.
That's because Pinterest isn't a social media site, it's a search engine just like Google.
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 others' content which is super useful for getting traffic to your new blog.
Cost: Tailwind is $15 per month or $120 paid yearly
10. KEYWORD RESEARCH TOOL ($297)
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". Long Tail Pro showed me the volume and difficulty scores and I determined it was worth my time to write this article.
Cost: Long Tail Pro is $297
11. FACEBOOK ADS ($300)
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 optin forms with lead magnets (freebies) to entice subscribers
- you need to be making money already with your email list
- and ideally, you should have created a product to sell
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: $25 per month or $300 for the year
12. BLOGGING COURSES ($200)
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.
I use Google, Pinterest and YouTube to learn new things all the time, but I tend to get lost and end up wasting a few hours looking for just the right information.
This s why I'm a big proponent of taking blogging-related courses.
I have 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.
The reason why I prefer learning through courses is that everything is presented in a step by step manner. This lets me go at my own pace and actually learn something.
Cost: $200 in courses
13. COMPUTER ($500)
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 runs super fast.
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 MacBook laptop on eBay for $500.
14. 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
Getting your blog set up
Social media traffic
total cost to start a blog: $2,051
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!