Maybe you want to share your love of travel, your investing expertise, or your poetry with a larger audience. Whether you want to start a blog to share your thoughts with the world or to earn income (or both), you may wonder how much it costs to dive in. The good news is that the bare minimum blog startup costs can be quite low, perhaps even zero, or $100 or $200. That can help you start the blog and see if it’s something you want to do long-term.
Then, if you continue to build your blog and start making money, you can use some of your blog’s revenue to continue to pay for additional services and features. That lets you hopefully balance out your expenses with revenue, so that you don’t have to pay too much out of pocket to finance your blog.
But you are probably wondering what to expect in terms of the price tag to get started and what items you’ll need to check off your list before you go live with your blog. Read on to learn more, including:
• What is a blog?
• What does it cost to start a blog?
• What do I need to buy to start a blog?
• How much does it cost to run a blog?
What Is a Blog?
Blogs (originally short for weblog) have been around since the early days of the World Wide Web and come in all shapes and sizes. Since then, they have exploded in popularity, and the barriers to entry for starting your own blog are quite low. Some people start and run a blog only to share their own thoughts and opinions with a small audience. Others run blogs as a business to build up their passive income options.
Blog topics are as varied as the people who create them. Some want to share gluten-free recipes; others want to explore and sell collectibles or chronicle a home renovation project. Still others want to address mental health issues and perhaps offer counseling services. Whatever the case, blogs can be a satisfying personal endeavor as well as a way of making money from home.
Common Blog Startup Costs
The absolute minimum to start up a blog can be quite low. But if you want to create a site with bells and whistles or have extra capital such as from a money windfall that you’re ready to spend, you can choose to make a blog with many more features. To determine how much it is to start a blog, consider these common startup needs and costs:
You’ll need some way to write, produce, manage, and publish your blog entries. While most blog software is in the cloud, you’ll probably need a laptop or other computer if you don’t already have one.
If you’re planning on taking your own pictures, you’ll need either a camera or a smartphone with a sufficient camera. If your blog will feature video, you may also need headphones or video processing software.
You can start a blog without your own domain name, using hosting platforms like Wix, Weebly, or WordPress. But if you do that, your blog won’t seem as professional as it would if it had its own domain name.
You can buy your own domain name through a registrar like GoDaddy or NameCheap, or you can get a domain name through your hosting provider (see below). Typical costs are in the $12 to $25 per year range.
You may want to buy a privacy service which keeps your name and personal information private in terms of your site. This can help prevent a deluge of marketing offers filling your email inbox.
Web hosting involves the services required to launch and maintain a blog. Paying for hosting is not mandatory to start a blog, but if you don’t pay for hosting, you’ll be stuck on a subdomain like http://yourblogname.wordpress.com. While this may be sufficient if you’re just writing for friends or family, if you’re trying to use a blog as an actual business, you’re going to want to pay for hosting.
There are many different hosting companies out there, each with slightly different programs and costs. A basic hosting plan might cost around $10/month, though hosting companies often offer promotions, especially for new customers. As your site grows, you may end up wanting to upgrade your hosting, which can increase your total costs.
When you start a blog, unless you’re extremely tech-savvy, you’ll likely do it through blog software like WordPress. The basics of WordPress offer enough to make a simple blog, but adding plugins can help give your blog added functionality. For instance, perhaps you’d like to integrate a “Buy on Amazon” button on your blog; that feature will likely require a plugin.
Many blog plugins are free, while others require a one-time or recurring payment. Other blog plugins are “freemium” where the basic features are free but you can upgrade for additional features.
Your blog’s theme determines the overall look and feel of your blog. This includes a color scheme as well as the overall layout of how your blog looks in desktop, tablet and mobile phone views. Your blog software (e.g. WordPress) will give you access to several blog themes for free, but you may find it worthwhile to pay for premium themes, which could cost between $50 and $70 or so.
Depending on your subject matter — whether recipes or tutorial videos — you may find a theme that’s specially designed to suit your topic. These layouts can really bring your blog to life and make it more engaging for visitors.
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As your blog grows, you might find yourself wanting to start and manage an email list. Most email marketing sites (like Mailchimp, Mailerlite or ConvertKit) offer plans that allow you a certain number of subscribers or email sends for free. But as your site becomes more popular, you may want to upgrade your email marketing plan. This can be anywhere from $10 to $50 or even more, depending on the size of your list and how many emails you send each month.
Social Media Marketing
Promoting your blog on social media is another important step in creating your blog and getting traffic. In fact, many content creators only have a basic blog but make a living on social media. You can do some basic social media marketing for free, but if you want to take your blog to the next level, you can also pay for apps (typically between $10 and $50 a month) that help automate your social media postings and potentially grow your audience, or even hire a virtual assistant to manage all your social media for you.
Nobody wants their blog to get hacked, so it’s important to consider security when running a blog. Fortunately, you can take some basic steps to increase your security without any additional cost. This includes using reputable blog software, choosing a security-conscious host and maintaining strong passwords.
However, if you want added security to safeguard your blog, you could pay up to $200 a year for services.
Cost to Run a Blog: A Summary
The costs to run a blog will vary widely depending on your specific situation. And remember that many of these can be considered tax deductible expenses for freelancers. Here is a range of some costs:
• Hardware — $0 to $1,000 or more (if you have to buy a computer)
• Domain Name — $10 – $25
• Hosting — $10 to $100 / year
• Blog Plugins — $0 to $50
• Blog Themes — $0 to $100
• Email Marketing — $0 to $100 / month
• Social Media Marketing — $0 to $50 / month
• Security — $0 to $50 / month
Just about anyone can start a blog for little to no money upfront, depending on your own skill set and expectations. Keeping expenses low can be a way to figure out if blogging is something that interests you and meets your goals. As your blog grows and starts earning money, you can use that revenue to make smart purchases that will help your blog grow even bigger.
If you’re starting a blog, you will need an account to receive revenue and pay your expenses. You might want to consider an online bank account like SoFi’s all-in-one Checking and Savings account. Eligible account holders can earn a competitive APY when you sign up for direct deposit and pay no fees, which can help your money grow faster.
Can you start a blog for free?
You can absolutely start a blog for free. You don’t even have to pay for hosting if you’re okay having your blog be on a subdomain of a hosting company like Wix, WordPress, or Weebly. But if you are trying to use your blog as a business for making money from home, it will probably make sense to spend some money to make your site seem more professional.
What are the benefits of starting a blog?
Many people blog solely for the joy of writing and sharing their thoughts and opinions with friends and family. Others start a blog as a way of attaining financial freedom through passive income. Whatever your reasons are to start a blog, it makes sense to keep your initial expenses low and then spend money as you start receiving revenue.
Will starting a blog cost more if I do it full time?
Your upfront costs for starting a blog won’t change much if you do it full time. One benefit of working on your blog full time is that you may be able to devote sufficient time to helping the site grow (and make more money).
Photo credit: iStock/Photobuay
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