blogging is not cheap
Blog Right

The Truth: Blogging IS NOT CHEAP

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that I may receive a small commission if you make a purchase, at no cost to you.

As many others, I came across the idea of starting a blog as part of a “Ideas about Making Side Income” post by a blogger. It sounds very enticing to join the blogging community, considering that the general sentiment is that you can do it very cheaply. 

Well, I’m finding that is not the case and I wanted to share with you why and how.

Let me just lay it out there, I am not trying to detract anyone from starting their own gig. I am just hoping to paint a more realistic picture of the expenses that go in setting up, maintaining and growing a blog. Especially if you want to grow your blog to be generating revenue for you in the long run, you’re most likely going to need to pay past the free versions of services that are available. I’m just here to set realistic expectations. Honestly, I would really appreciate someone to have had this breakdown available when I started. More on that in a second.

Ok, some may argue that there are really inexpensive ways out there to do everything that I am about to mention. And that there are ways to start a blog for as low as $100 (or even less). I don’t deny that possibility, but if you follow the successful blogger’s bits of advice on the tools that they use – chances are, they aren’t running their sites on freemium software models. Just saying … 

Ready? Here we go.

SETUP YOUR BLOG

Let’s start with the basics. This is not a step-by-step guide on how to start a blog, and if there is sufficient interest – happy to write a separate post about this (please let me know in the comments), so I’ll just cover the tools that you’ll most likely need to invest in to start your blog.

Buy a Domain

Buy a domain name for your blog

ADVICE: This is a no-brainer. If you want a professional looking blog, you’ll need to buy a domain. Bloggers suggest you invest in getting a self-hosted version of the site so that you have more control over how you monetize on it and it just gives you a bit more credibility. For example, you’re promoting content and provide a link to your blog site which may look something like this “ameliee.blogspot.com.” As a reader, would you be compelled to click this link or “www.ameliee.com”? For most, it’ll probably be the latter.

COST: Hate to give you this answer, but kind of hate to … The cost of buying a domain really depends on its popularity. It can be as low as $1.99 and go up in the thousands. You can search GoDaddy for available domains to see what your domain of choice will set you back by. I’ve noticed that shorter and memorable domains usually cost more, especially if a .com domain is available. For example, I started typing in words that I’d like my blog to go by like “iBlog” and although iBlog.com is taken, iBlog.co is available and will cost approximately $50,000 for you to claim that domain. No, that’s not a typo. If you continue scanning down the list iBlog.io is another option that costs only $49.99. 

Please note: these numbers are based on when I wrote this article. The more people search for these terms at GoDaddy, the cost will rise because GoDaddy will assume that lots of people are interested in buying that specific domain and price it up. Even if you continue to check the domains that you’re interested in buying day after day (because you’re not yet sure), GoDaddy will consider that as interest and increase the price for the domains you continue to inquire about. 

Web Hosting

Cost of web hosting for your blog

ADVICE: Another no-brainer item that you must have to run a self-hosted blog. Web hosting allows a service company to run everything in the background for you (storage space, servers, databases, etc) for your blog to be running smoothly and without interruptions. You can also expect your host to provide your email accounts with your domain name and WordPress support (if that’s where you’re going to create your site).

COST: The monthly hosting cost to begin your blog will be relatively cheap to begin. Something that you should note is that the price may vary depending on the amount of traffic that your blog will drive. So the minimum prices for their hosting may work for you to start blogging but will require you to up the plan once your traffic begins to grow. Lastly, although it sounds very appealing to only be paying $3-4 a month for a web host company to host your blog, you actually have to cash out for the entire “contract period” when you sign up.

So, if you choose Bluehost (below) for the $3.95/month offer and you choose the 36-month option, be ready to spend over $140 when you sign up. Here are the costs for some of the most popular web hosting companies:

So, if you choose Bluehost (below) for the $3.95/month offer and you choose the 36-month option, be ready to spend over $140 when you sign up. Here are the costs for some of the most popular web hosting companies:

  • Bluehost:  By far the most popular and highly promoted in the blogging community. $3.95/month introductory offer for 36 months, then the cost will become $8.99 (may differ depending on your plan and duration elections).
  • SiteGround: $3.95/month introductory offer for the first year and the price will go up to approximately $11.99 (depending on the plan). Generally, bloggers who’ve used different web hosting companies feel that this service provides the fastest loading time and better support. 
  • HostGator: $2.75/mo introductory offer for up to 36 months. This is the longest offer period that I’ve seen available. So if you’re starting your blog as a hobby and don’t expect a lot of traffic, this is a good value for your money.

Theme

The cost of buying a theme for your blog

ADVICE: Themes are the website layouts that you’ll need to choose to drive the general look and feel of your blog. There is a wide range (literally hundreds, if not thousands!) of themes available, so you may get just a little dizzy looking through the options. Generally, successful bloggers recommend that you invest in a theme that makes your blog stand out, and suggest not to spend over $60 on your theme.

The bright side of paying for a theme is that there are no maintenance costs, as this is a one-time purchase. However, you may want to pay an additional “support cost” in case you have questions about the theme and need support.

COST: up to $60, but the price could be lower depending on the Theme that you choose. 

Branding

Cost of branding your blog before launching

ADVICE: You may have already been sketching the layout of your blog and started thinking about your brand colors and such. One part of your blog brand will be your logo, which is how people will remember your blog by. Yes, most likely people will associate your content and social media posts with your logo, rather than a picture of your face. For example, although you may know that Steve Bezos is the CEO of Amazon. But the first thing that comes to mind when you get something delivered from Amazon is their unique black and yellow logo that they literally put on anything and everything (trucks, boxes, box tape, etc.). 

So if you want your blog to really stand out among the rest, you’ll need to either create your own logo or outsource it to someone else. I used Fiverr to hire a freelancer to design a few options for my blog and I chose the one that I liked best. Although there is not generally a recommendation about what you should be spending on a logo, to give you some directionality – I paid $27 for my logo. As I mentioned, the freelancer provided multiple designs for that cost, which I think is a great value. And if you wanted to hire a “Pro” logo maker, the cost can go up into the hundreds of dollars. But for the purpose of this, I’ll assume that you’ll probably want to go the cost-efficient route, to begin with.

COST: $27

Legal Protection

Cost of legal protection of your blog

ADVICE: This part of “blogging” is not talked about enough and I do want to emphasize that you must, absolutely MUST, protect yourself from potential lawsuits. Especially if you are running the blog as an independent or self-employed, a potential suit could drive you into bankruptcy. There are many ways that you can protect your blog (and a potential suit to affect your personal finances), and again, if there is interest for me to write on this topic I definitely will. Please comment below if you are interested!

If you look through my site’s privacy policy, disclaimer and terms of use pages, they are really sophisticated! I’m not saying this to make myself look like I’m full of it, but do want to point out that all of that legal language was written by attorneys who are really good at what they do. In fact, I used the same service as some of the most successful bloggers out there and I totally think it was worth the investment.

Please note: the language that I use in my legal pages is copyrighted, so you will have to buy a licensed copy for your blog. 

COST: $147 for all three (Privacy Policy, Terms of Use, Disclaimer) from Disclaimer Template

Cookies Notification & Consent

Cost of cookie notifications and consent

ADVICE: This is another piece of blogging that is not talked about enough and actually has legal implications. Website Cookies are small data files that store information in readers’ web browsers (Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc.). The intent of using cookies is actually good, and it’s mostly used to enhance the user experience. For example, a user may shop for something on some site and before purchasing an item in their cart, leaves. Upon returning, cookies allow the user to come back “where they left off” without the need to search for specific items and placing it again into the cart.

“EU Cookie law” is part of the privacy legislation in the European Union that requires websites to provide some form of notification to users about cookie use and users must consent to it before you can proceed. If your blog reach could potentially be read in EU, I suggest that you strongly consider this. In fact, it’s almost impossible these days to preclude someone in another country from getting information online. So you’ll have to have something in place on your site that gets users to agree that you’ll be collecting cookie data from them.

I used Cookie Consent that allows you to build the consent for free, but there are other options for you to do this at cost, or as part of another software bundle. Again, I’ll assume we are all out there to save money so I’m recommending the free route.

COST: Free

MAINTAIN YOUR BLOG

Images

Cost of using images in your blog

ADVICE: Use unique images on your blog because they catch readers’ attention. You want to get the most out of the free stock photo sites like PexelsUnsplashPixabay, and others. But there are only a limited amount of photos that are available, especially if you are planning to blog in a popular niche. Once you start scanning your competitor’s pages and their social media, you’ll start drawing parallels and notice a lot of similarities in the images they use. 

Solution? Invest in images for your site or social media to attract attention and get readers to your site. 

COST: Approximately $9-10 per image on iStockphotos or Shutterstock, if you buy ad hoc. The price becomes lower if you buy their monthly plans (which are quite expensive, in my opinion).

Email

Cost of hosting email for your blog

ADVICE: If you want to build a successful blog, you’ll want to build an email list. You will email your subscribers about your new content, send them newsletters and build your sales funnels through. Most successful bloggers recommend that you begin growing your list since day 1. To get started, you can create a MailChimp account that will give you opportunities to build your list and do simple marketing outreach. However, the free model will not last you long as its capabilities are limited, and you’ll most likely need to upgrade or move to a different service.

As you’re doing research, make sure that whichever service you choose is simple to use. You will be building your marketing funnels through them and communicating with your subscribers (hopefully on a regular basis), so spend some time doing a bit of research and even request demos.   

COST: This will depend on the service, but I will include a few common services that are often promoted by bloggers.

  • ConvertKit: $29/month (up to 1,000 subscribers) and increases infinitely, assuming that they can support that. You can type in your actual list size and ConvertKit will provide an estimate. This service has an easy-to-use interface for creating emails, newsletters and relatively easy to set up your email campaigns.
  • Constant Contact: $20/month (for up to 500 subscribers) and is a bit of an expensive service, but it’s highly talked about outreach service. 
  • MailerLite: $10/month (up to 1,000 subscribers) and I think they have a great comparison chart of all the services that they have available that go above and beyond other services (even ConvertKit). It’s also one of the more affordable options that I’ve come by. Similar to MailChimp, they have some services available at no cost for up to 1,000 subscribers.
  • AWeber: $19/month (up to 500 subscribers) and is also one of the highest rated mailing services.

GROW YOUR BLOG

Social Media Posting (Pinterest/Instagram)

Cost of promoting your blog

ADVICE: Once you are in a good place for getting your basics in place, you’ll probably want to focus more time on writing for your blog and would like to outsource some promotion of your blogs to 3rd parties like Tailwind. I’ll cover TailWind (AFFILIATE LINK) as it by far the most promoted and talked about service.

I do think that it makes promoting your posts on Pinterest and Instagram so much easier, as you can “schedule and forget it” literally for days (if not more). The only downside is that Tailwind does not cover Facebook, so you’ll need to do your own promoting there. 

COST: $9.99/month per account. This means that you’ll need one account for Pinterest and a separate account for Instagram if you want to utilize both platforms. 

Capture Emails through Lead Magnets

ADVICE: So you’ve bought and built up your site, and are now looking at ways to build your subscriber list further. What do you do if your content is not driving new subscriptions? Well, first you’ll need to start thinking about freebies and what you can provide as value to your readers. You’ll need some service to enable you to show promote your freebies throughout your site and enable you to capture readers’ emails. In the blogging world, this is referred to as Lead Magnets. One such service is ThriveLeads

COST: $67 one time cost.

Monetize on eBooks and Other Products

How to monetize your blog with products

ADVICE: Last but not least on my list (and probably the most important) is collecting payments for your ebooks and products. You’ll need to be able to payment information someway, somehow. 

One such service is Selz (AFFILIATE LINK) that allows you to build a small store of products within your site. 

COST: There are no monthly costs to setup or maintain up to 5 products, but Selz will collect 2.9% plus $0.30 per transactions (generally), some other caveats apply. 

Monetize on Your Courses

Monetize your blog by selling courses

ADVICE: This kind of goes along with the last item. In addition to creating eBooks and other products, you may look into creating a course (sometimes also referred to as “product”). The only reason why I broke this up is that you’ll need yet another service to host your course.

One other thing to note is that these services often provide you tools to create a separate course landing page where you can “sell your course” to your audience and collect payments (assuming you’re monetizing the course).

By far, the most promoted and talked about platforms for creating your courses and hosting them are Teachable and Thinkific, so I’ll only cover the cost for both specifically. But there are definitely others to consider like Udemy, WizIQ, Coursecraft, Skillshare, and many others. 

I am all for consumer choice and given that both – Teachable and Thinkific – have been in the market equally long, they are pretty similar. So what it comes down to how comfortable you are with their platform (completely personal preference). I recommend trying them both out since they have a free version of their service available, so you can test it out and see if you want to invest in either (or both) platforms further.

COST: the cost really differs depending on the platform as follows:

  • Teachable: (AFFILIATE LINK) There are 3 pricing models that differ by functionality, but generally start at $49/month for the essentials plan to $279/year for advanced. 
  • Thinkific: (AFFILIATE LINK) Similarly, Thinkific offers multiple plans that range from $39/month to $299/month depending on what features you want to have access to. Thinkific also has a free version available. 

ANYTHING ELSE?

What you need to know about costs of blogging

Phew … at this point, you must be thinking … “what else could there be? It feels like a huge investment already, stop adding more and more things. It seems like you’ve covered it all.” Sure there are other tools available but you may or may not need them depending on what else you need. In this post, I wanted to focus more or less on the basics of what I feel is needed to run a money-making blog that is able to grow with your audience.

The list I mentioned above is not exhaustive, of course. I am 100% open to feedback and any comments about what you think I’m missing something. There are various other tools that are recommended by successful bloggers, but I feel like those functionalities are already covered by some of the tools mentioned above. Also, there are other tools that are available for free that I did not include here, such as plugins, open software items that you may be used to enhance something within your blog.

Again, if anyone thinks it’s helpful to know about free plugins to use to run your blog successfully, happy to devote a separate post on the topic.

Conclusion:

The truth is … Blogging is expensive. Yes, lots of successful bloggers out say that you can do it on the cheap. But in reality, if you want to have a blog that is ready to grow from the start, you need to invest in quite a few services. You can do the math from what I’ve covered so far, so prepare to spend a good couple of hundred dollars to get started blogging. If you want to do it right, and get it right the first time: do your homework, invest in what you think is right and best of luck!

Leave a Comment!

I love hearing from you and as always would love to learn your ideas, perspectives, and comments. And if you just want to say “hi” – would love to take the opportunity to say “hi” back!

Related Links:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

shares