Cost of starting a blog the right way

It is possible to start your own blog for free. But there is a cost of starting a blog if you want to do it the right way.

The good news is that it does not have to cost you more than $1 – $5 dollars per month for the first 12 months of operation.

Why is it not better to start a blog for free?

Free always sounds attractive. But you need to be aware of what you’re giving up. 

When you start a blog for free with Wix or Blogger you really do get everything for free.

There is not even a cost for a domain name or website hosting. 

They will give you a domain name you can use. You will also get free website hosting.

So why is this not the ideal solution for everyone?

The answer is simply that you do not own your domain name. You are given a website address to use and promote but you do not own it. 

You will not own a website address like yourname.com or yourwebsite.com.

Instead you will be given something along the lines of username.wixsite.com or username.blogspot.com.

This will not only make you look less professional, it will also make it more difficult for you to promote your website. And you will not be able to have a mailadress using your own domain name. 

But, of course, the free option can be a great alternative if you are simply looking to create an online journal or personal hobby type website.

Conclusion: If you are starting a blog to make money online you need to accept that there is a cost of starting a blog the right way.

The cost of starting a blog is an investment

When you decided to start a blog to make money online you made the decision to invest in yourself.

Bloggers are solopreneurs and you will be working to create income as well as value.

You will promote your website to attract visitors and build a brand in your chosen area of expertise. 

It will take time. But you will work to create income from advertising, affiliate marketing and possibly selling your own expertise in the form of a course or an ebook.

And as you create monthly income from your website the value of your website, brand and domain name will increase.

This is the goal of all bloggers looking to make money online.

But to get there it is important to start your blog the right way. This means that you should be in control of the blog you create.

For this to be true you need to be prepared to buy your own domain name and arrange for your own website hosting.

The good news is that it is not expensive.

But there is a real cost of starting a blog the right way.

The minimum cost of starting a blog

For people who have a lot of money it is easy. They do not have to worry about spending money to make money. 

But when money is tight, you need to be careful with the money you spend and budget wisely.

Here I will list 5 things that I believe is the minimum you need to be able to start a blog the right way.

Two of these will cost you a little bit of money. But they are necessary.

The three others are optional but you need to be aware of them as they are needed. It is your decision whether you spend money to save time or use your own time and get it for free.

If the money is not there for you right now, do try one of the free options to get a feel for blogging. But as you will see below it does not have to cost you a lot to get started.

1. Domain name 

Your domain name is your brand and the website address where people will find your website.

You can choose to buy your domain name from a domain name registrar or choose a website hosting company that offers a free domain for one year.

I have done both in the past. If you chose to buy a domain name directly there are several companies that offer good deals.

  • Namecheap.com – $8.88 first year (renews at $12.98 per year)
  • GoDaddy.com – $11,99 first year (renews at $15 per year)
  • Ionos.com – $1,00 first year (renews at $15 per year)

When you look at the cost of starting a blog you can see that the cost for a domain name ranges from less than 10 cents to about $1,00 per month.

Ii is important to select a provider you feel safe and secure with. I have had good experiences from both GoDaddy and Namecheap.

Cost per month for domain name (year 1): 10 cents to about $1,00 

2. Web hosting

When we look at the cost for domain names above it is not surprising that they are given away for “free” when we sign up for web hosting plans.

And when you compare prices you always need to look at the term or period needed to get the lowest and most often marketed price.

Web hosting can be a big part of the cost of starting a blog. But it does not have to be that way.

When you first start you need an inexpensive web hosting company that has good customer service and clear terms and conditions. 

You will not have many visitors from day one and it is perfectly fine to have a budget hosting company when you first start.

When you have more visitors you may want to move to a different web hosting company. And this is when you will be happy that the web hosting company you initially chose has great customer service and clear terms and conditions. 

I will give you 3 options here but there are several others. I have first hand experience with BlueHost and WPX hosting.

Bluehost: 

Probably one of the most recommended hosting companies among bloggers. 

Bluehost offers a full range of plans and optional services. They offer a good level of customer service.

When you first start it is perfectly fine to choose the smallest plan Basic. 

The Basic plan is listed as costing $2.95 per month but it only applies if you sign up and pay for 36 months.

Yes, three years.

A more reasonable period of 12 months costs $4.95 per month. 

The plan auto renews at the regular rate of $8.99 per month if you do not cancel to move to a new hosting company.

It is easy to set up domain specific email addresses with Bluehost and they also include a SSL certificate to make your website load as https (not http).

An added bonus is that the hosting plan includes a free domain name for the first year. This is of course a nice bonus but we have also seen that a domain name does not cost a lot per month.

Conclusion: Bluehost is trusted by a lot of bloggers when they first start. Bluehost offers great value and helps keep the cost of starting a blog low.

WPX hosting:

WPX hosting is a great hosting company with excellent customer service. 

But they are not the cheapest alternative out there.

If you are on a tight budget there is really no reason to start with WPX hosting. Personally, I moved to them before I needed to as I want my websites to be fast loading. 

But in all honesty, when you are first starting out it is not necessary to choose fast hosting.

It is more important to get started.

WPX hosting offers several different plans. If you do choose WPX hosting the Business plan will cost you $20.83 per month when paid yearly ($24.99 Monthly). The plan will allow you to host up to 5 websites at no additional cost and it is easy to configure email for your domain(s). SSL certificate is included in the hosting plan.

Conclusion: WPX hosting is a great option when you are looking for a web hosting company. But it is better to get started with a cheaper option like Bluehost if you are on a budget.

Ionos:

I have never used Ionos but still feel the need to include them on the list as a really cheap budget alternative. 

The Ionos Business hosting plan will allow you to host one website for $1 per month for the first 12 months (renews at $8 per month).

Free domain year one, SSL and domain specific email addresses are included.

The domain will renew at the current rate year 2 (currently $15 per year).

Conclusion: Ionos is a real budget option for bloggers starting on a tight budget. I have never used Ionos but if you are on a tight budget they are an option to consider. Especially if the cost of starting a blog is what is holding you back.

Cost per month for web hosting (year 1): $1 to $24.99 

3. Content (optional)

You will need content to publish on your blog. If you write yourself it will only cost you time.

If you decide to use writers you can easily spend hundreds of dollars every month. 

You can find authors that charge as little as 5 cents per word.

If you publish 3 articles a week at 1500 words the math looks like below.

  • 3 articles per week
  • 12 articles per month
  • 1500 words per article 
  • 5 cents per word

Cost per month: $900

I assume you will write your own content when you are first starting out.

Still I include it in my list. After all, no content – no blog. 

Cost per month for content (year 1): $0 to $900 (per my example)

4. Keyword research (optional)

Most bloggers write articles to attract readers from the search engines. 

But how do you know what articles to write and which keywords to target?

I have seen 3 different methods among bloggers.

1. Write it and they will come

Here you simply put all your knowledge on your blog and wait for people to find your articles.

This method is of course the easiest and least expensive method but it is a real hit and miss approach. 

You may be writing excellent articles with information and solutions that are already published by authority websites. 

You will have a hard time outranking authority websites when you are first starting out.

I do not recommend this approach.

2. Google is my friend

Simply search on Google and look for keyword phrases where the search results (SERPs) are not dominated by authority websites. 

When you find a keyword phrase you like, simply write a better and more useful resource.

Sounds easy enough. But it is harder than you think.

Authority websites are prolific publishers and they are dominating all kinds of keywords and keyword phrases.

And how do you evaluate the strength of a website listed as number 1 in the Google SERPs?

This method is also hit and miss but more effective than simply writing blindly.

3. Using keyword research tools

I believe that domain name and website hosting are necessary costs when starting a blog with the intention to make money online.

And subscribing to a keyword research tool comes in a close third place.

A keyword research tool will help you find low competition keywords in your niche in a systematic and orderly manner.

No more guessing. Forget hit and miss. Here we analyze and decide on a keyword phrase where we should have a decent chance to rank.

And what could be more important if you think about it? I firmly believe that there is a cost of starting a blog and that it is to be viewed as an investment.

You can spend months or even years writing for highly competitive keywords like web hosting or credit cards without securing a first page rank in Google.

With a keyword research tool we give ourselves a better chance to succeed. 

Several tools offer free trials. Keysearch.co and Ubersuggest.com are two examples.

AHREFS are considered the market leader and offer a paid trial ($7 for 7 days). A subscription to their cheapest lite plan will cost you $99 per month. 

I personally feel that Keysearch.co offers a good introductory plan. You can start with their free plan for 1 month. If you choose to continue you have to pay $17 per month but there are often coupons and offers available. 

Sign up to the free trial and you will most likely receive a discount code to use when you switch to a paid plan.

Tip: You can cancel most plans at any time. Sign up and do all the research you need for any amount of keywords and articles. Then cancel. You can always sign up again when and if needed.

Cost Keyword research tool per month:  $0 to $99 (depending on provider)

5. Photos and graphics (optional)

It is hard to run a blog without images and photographs. And images can be expensive to buy.

If you buy every photo individually the cost of starting a blog can quickly get out of hand.

So where do we get photos, images and illustrations to use for our website?

If you have your own photos to use it will of course be free. And an added benefit is that your photos and images will be unique.

There are other free options like Pixabay where you can download images, photos and illustrations for free. Just make sure you read the terms and conditions for each item before you use it.

The downside is that the photos will be used by many other websites.

A third option would be subscription based image banks like Depositphotos.com.  There are several different plans but let us continue with the example where we publish 12 articles per month.

Further we assume that you need 2 photos per article.

Depositphotos.com offers a plan with 25 photos per month for $36 per month.

Again, be on the lookout for discounts – especially around the holidays.

Cost photos and graphics per month:  $0 to $36 (assumptions per above)

Summary and conclusion:

I will make 5 statements relating to the cost of starting a blog the right way. And they are all valid depending on where you are right now.

1. It is possible to start a blog for free. 

Free is of course tempting but also remember that you do not own or control your domain name and website address

2. It is possible to start a blog for $1 per month for the first 12 months (Ionos)

I have never used Ionos so I cannot recommend them from a user’s perspective. 

3. You can start a blog for $4.95 per month for the first 12 months (Bluehost)

I have used BlueHost and they offer a good service and a high level of customer service.

Bluehost is a company that has been tries and tested by many bloggers before you.

4. Consider using a keyword research tool from day 1

Keyword research tools will help you write content where you have a chance to compete. Free options are available. Also, consider paying for a month every now and then and do bulk research when you have used up all the free options available to you. 

5. You will save a lot of money when you write your own content

You started a blog because you had something to say. And you will save a lot of money if you can get your message out there in your own words.

Writing takes time. And one day it may make sense to use writers to free up time.

But when you start and money is tight I recommend you write your own content.

Meet the author: Serial entrepreneur and travel industry expert with more than 20 years working experience from web development, Wordpress and the travel industry. Mattias is a big fan of Open Source and will show you how to build and manage a website using Wordpress and a bit of optional PHP for the true enthusiast. Mattias identifies with self-starters and entrepreneurs and also shares ideas on how to monetize a website.