How Much does it Cost to Start a Blog?
How much does it cost to start a blog?
This is a question I’ve been pondering a lot recently, especially when reflecting on some of the coaching sessions I’ve had with aspiring bloggers this year.
A blog is undoubtedly one of the cheapest possible businesses to get off the ground. There’s a huge amount you can achieve by putting in time rather than money. However, it’s becoming increasingly clear that if a blog is to be more than just a hobby, you do need to be prepared to put in a little money to get properly started.
So, with that in mind, I thought it would be valuable to provide a concise answer to the question of how much you should expect to spend. I shall then go on to explain how I arrived at the figure.
How Much does it Cost to Start a Blog?
You can start a blog completely free, by simply signing up to a site like WordPress.com. However, if you plan to make money from your blog, it makes sense to budget for a minimum of $170 in the first year. This is to cover professional web hosting, a good-quality WordPress theme, and a month of access to a keyword research tool.
How Did I Arrive at this Figure?
Obviously, coming up with a definitive figure for the cost of starting a blog is rather subjective. However, I’ve based the figure on some unavoidable realities:
- If you want a professional blog you can make money from, it needs a proper domain name, and it needs to live on proper hosting of its own – not a free platform.
- It makes sense to use a well-designed, commercial theme from the start – so that you have a good structure, and a professional look and feel.
- If you DON’T research your keywords, and write articles about things people are actually looking for, you’re practically eliminating any chance of success (and wasting a LOT of time).
What do you Need to Buy?
If I was starting a blog with the $170 budget I mention above, this is what I would be expecting to spend (prices are, of course, approximate):
Domain and Hosting
$70 to register a domain for one year, and pay for some basic shared hosting.
WHERE? There are many web hosting companies. I’ve been using Dreamhost for around a decade and always recommend them.
$50 to buy a professional WordPress theme, in order to achieve the desired look and feel for the site.
WHERE? My first port of call for browsing WordPress themes is Envato Market. They have over 40,000 themes, and a $50 budget will allow you to pick from the majority of them.
Keyword Research Tool
$50 to pay for a month’s subscription to a professional-grade tool for researching SEO keywords.
WHERE? It’s possible to spend a LOT more than $50 on SEO tools. I use and recommend Mangools KWFinder, for a good balance between price and features.
Ways to Trim Down the Cost
If my estimate of how much it costs to start a blog is beyond your financial reach, it doesn’t mean you have to give up. There are some ways to trim the cost down. I wouldn’t personally like to make these sacrifices, but if you’re on a really tight budget, you could consider doing the following.
- Trimming a little money from your hosting budget. There are companies out there who charge less than $5 per month, especially in the first year, but be aware that the cost will often shoot up after that first year. (You can, of course, just use a free platform, but without a proper domain name nobody will take the site very seriously and – worse – you’ll have to work out how to move the site at some point).
- Making do with a free theme. There are plenty of free WordPress themes, and some look perfectly good. You may not get access to good quality support, but if $50 for something commercial isn’t viable, you still have a lot of choice. There are also themes on Envato that come in at less than 50 bucks.
- Using a Free Keyword Research Tool. If you can’t stretch to something like KWFinder, take a look at Ubersuggest. It’s not in the same league as a commercial tool, but it’s definitely better than doing no keyword research at all.
What About if you Have MORE to Spend?
There’s no limit to the tools and plugins you can invest in if you have the money to do so. You can also often make substantial savings if you’re willing to pay annually up front for products and services instead of monthly.
Here’s what I would do:
- Pay for a year of KWFinder up front. You save a huge 40% off the monthly fee doing it this way, and once you get into professional blogging, you’ll be using your keyword tool every day. Only having a month of access is already a considerable hardship, in my eyes. However, I’ve only allowed for that in my $170 figure, as I think more than doubling it would put many people off the whole idea of blogging!
- Pay for several years of hosting in one go. Again, you get big savings this way, and can reduce the cost of basic hosting down to less than three bucks per month.
- Invest in an email marketing tool. As many bloggers say, “the money is in the list.” As such, if you have the budget, it makes sense to build your email list using a proper tool like Aweber, right from the very start.
- Pay for some training. I’d be inclined to spend any other spare cash on some training. Something like LinkedIn Learning would be a good choice, because you can focus in on the exact topics you need to as you go along.
To be frank, I wouldn’t be chomping at the bit to pay out much more money right at the start, even if I had it available. It makes more sense to test the water and try to generate a bit of traffic before going “all in.”
The only question I’ve considered here is “how much does it cost to start a blog?” I’ve obviously not looked at what it costs to buy a computer or pay for an internet connection! Presumably it’s not too much of an assumption that you already have those things if you have blogging in mind.
I’m aware I’ve been a bit bold by trying to pin down an exact figure here, but it’s good to try to provide a straight answer to questions like this.
I’ve no doubt plenty of people will disagree with my numbers, and say you could spend less, or need to spend more. There’s plenty of nuance to the question of what a blog costs to get started. I certainly don’t think anybody should ever be put off blogging by the potential cost of it. As I’ve already explained, you can further trim the expenses if you need to.
Overall, however, I’m going to put my name to that $170 figure – for now anyway 🙂