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I always say the real cost of starting a blog is time.
One of the most appealing things about blogging for business, whether you’re a business or an individual, is the relatively low cost.
For businesses, blogging is a super cheap way to market yourself. Compared to radio and television spots, marketing yourself with a blog and on social media costs pennies.
If you’re an individual, that cost is still pretty low. If you can hold back $300-400 from one of your paychecks (or even just $100 here, $100 there), you can easily pay for a blog.
But it does cost time. Lots of time.
If you’re strapped for cash and barely making it as is, you probably shouldn’t invest in a blog yet. If you have the time to dedicate to a blog, that time might be better spent getting a temporary job and setting aside the money to start one in a few months.
I only say this because you want to be able to comfortably run your blog and not have to worry about having to call it quits because of either a lack of time or lack of money. If there aren’t any foreseeable obstacles, give it a shot!
So, what does starting a blog really cost, in terms of your hard-earned dollar bills?
$180 on the low end, $400 on the somewhat higher end. I’ve included both the necessary costs and the tools that are just so useful to have. They’re not necessary, but I’d be tearing my hair out right now if I didn’t have them!
Domain names: $30.17
Once you find a good registrar, I highly recommend keeping all your domain names in the same place. It’s a huge pain having to keep tabs on which domains are hosted where, especially if you have multiple domain names.
When I first started my blog, I had already secured a .com domain through Namecheap, so when I bought hosting, I just took the free .net domain name. They have affordable domain pricing ranging from around $8-13 for .com/.net domain names. (In other words, you don’t need both a .com and .net domain name, but if you can get both cheap, go for it! Many registrars have .com/.net promotions.)
If you sign up for their mailing list, you’ll get notified of deals and promotions, during which new TLDs can go for as low as 48 cents.
I’ve listed my renewal fees below. These are costs that are typically annual, but you can choose to pay for several years at a time.
Domain Renewal (.com): $10.69
ICANN fee: $0.18
Domain Renewal (.net): $12.88
ICANN fee: $0.18
This is without any sort of promotions, so keep in mind that your initial cost will typically be much lower than renewal fees. The mindset hosts/registrars tend to use is that new customers can “try them out” without having to pay full price for their services at first.
So, if you can get good pricing, see if they have an option to lock into 2-3 years at that same price. It’ll save a lot of money in the long run.
Hosting: $143.88 (1-Year Hosting Plan)
If you’re on a budget, your first thought may be to go with the cheapest hosting.
Don’t fall into that trap.
Sure, there are sites that will host your blog for $12 a year, but you’ll probably run into a huge lack of support and quite a bit of downtime.
And while I could spend all day talking about all the different hosts I’ve been with, I’ll spare you some time and get right to who I’m currently with—Lyrical Host. Lyrical Host is a hosting company who offers straight-forward pricing, free design/informational resources, and wonderful support. I hit a few kinks in trying to migrate my site due to some issues with my last host, but they stepped in to help out and took care of things for me.
Note: Free design resources. Not that they design your site for free! They send out free photos, illustrations, and other goodies to help customers with their graphics and such.
While they’re a tiny bit more expensive than standard shared hosting, they’re much more affordable than other managed hosting services. Their plans start out at an affordable $11.99 per month. (That includes the free stock photos and other resources they send out every month, which is awesome.)
Learn more about Lyrical Host and get a special discount here!
Elegant Themes membership: $80
I came across Elegant Themes when I was looking for a drag-and-drop builder for WordPress and the Divi Builder does not disappoint. At the time, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to dish out the $250 for a lifetime membership since I hadn’t tried them before, so I went with the annual $80 charge.
On top of the drag-and-drop builder, they have tons of ready-made things if you don’t feel like putting much into designing your site. All of them come with the membership, so it’s the same price either way. (Their lifetime membership is a great deal, though! I went ahead and snagged it earlier this year—I’m absolutely loving the Divi theme and builder.)
Also included with your membership is are some additional plugins, two of which I currently use. Monarch is a social sharing plugin and Bloom is an email opt-in form plugin. Both have a simple design with customization options.
If you want to do more with your WordPress site and don’t want to deal with trying to customize a pre-made theme, I highly recommend checking out Divi. It’s already a wonderful theme that’s worth the membership cost by itself, but they’re adding more features to it all the time.)
I’ve been using BoardBooster for the past year but switched to Tailwind to cut costs. I absolutely love BoardBooster and the fact that you don’t need an app to use it. Being able to schedule my pins from Pinterest was a huge selling point.
However, I’ve recently started pinning a lot more and Tailwind had a more affordable plan. At $120 per year, they offer unlimited scheduled pins. You have to use their app to schedule pins (whether it’s the Chrome plugin or their mobile app), but the interface makes it super easy to use. I’ll be writing a more detailed review on it here in the next month.
Stock photos: $30
Normally, I spend a lot of time looking for public domain stock photos. I try to use photos I’ve taken myself or free stock photos for my own websites and articles.
But occasionally, I come across a site with decently priced photos that I really like. Deposit Photos was one of those. You may recognize the name if you’re a Canva user, which is where most of their stock photos come from.
A month-long subscription to Deposit Photos is at least $30, which allows you to download 30 photos. Anything more than that will be added to your bill at $1 per photo.
If you want to download tons of photos, but don’t like dealing with subscriptions, Storyblocks has an unlimited download plan for $99/year. I took part in a free trial earlier in the year (when they were under GraphicStock), but it looks like they’ve added lots of photos since then.
Depending on your financial standing, $400 seems like a lot to put into something that may or may not work. For some of us, it’s simply not possible in the immediate future. But you want your content to be yours. You don’t want to deal with free hosting that locks down your ability to customize your site and possibly even take down your content.
First of all, know that I didn’t just dump $400+ into my blog on a whim. I jumped on the hosting and domain registration, but those are the only two things you really need to start your own blog. The rest of it just cuts corners and saves time here and there.
So, when you’re left with the basics, it comes out to around $174.05 (less, if you only get one domain). And that’s with the whole year of hosting completely covered.
Paying for a full year of hosting will save you some money. Even if you have to just set aside a little money each month until you can afford it, it’ll be a huge weight off your shoulders once you have the entire thing paid for. It’ll also help you cut costs if you’re on a tight budget!
The real investment—time!
I put a lot of time into my blog since I didn’t want to pay for advertising. I’m talking almost enough to be another job, clocking in around 20-30 hours a week. At least for the first couple weeks.
This included things like getting my social media accounts going, building up content on Pinterest, and writing lots of posts so I didn’t have to deal with my blog for a month or two. After all, I did have another full-time job to worry about.
But you don’t have to spend that much time getting started. I really didn’t know much about what I was doing at the time, so I was trying to do everything all at once.
If you want to avoid burnout, it’s better to take baby steps and do a little bit at a time. If you’re working a full-time job, try just putting in 5-10 hours when you can. Don’t rush things, unless you know you can handle it.
On WordPress.com and Free Hosting
I wanted to address this because I get a lot of people that ask why they can’t just get the free site.
You can—and many authors and bloggers do just go with a free blog on WordPress.com or Blogger.
But let me warn you: it’s really difficult to monetize a free blog and you have to be careful about using free hosting for promotional purposes. (As WordPress.com states somewhere in their help section, it should primarily be about the content—they don’t want things stuffed with affiliate links or focusing purely on promoting products.)
I’ll cover more on WordPress.com in the next post, which will cover different platforms and hosting companies.
Blogging Roadmap: Next Steps
If you have plenty of money to work with and can afford the initial startup costs of a blog, great! If you can’t, start reworking your budget and thinking about what unnecessary costs you can cut to make room for your blog. Whether it’s music or streaming subscriptions or a box of wine each month, consider what you’d rather have and set your priorities.
Start thinking about how much time you can reasonably set aside for your blog without affecting your work or family life. Once you have that number, you can work out a schedule that will allow you to efficiently run a blog, even if you have a full-time job.
Finish filling out the first page of your workbook. Write down how much time you’re able to spend on your blog and set a budget for yourself. Sticking to this is important, as you don’t want to overwork yourself, but you want to commit the time you need to be successful. Some of us have to spend more time in the beginning—that’s okay!
If you haven’t downloaded your Blog Starter workbook yet, be sure to grab it! It’s free and no opt-in is required to get it.