When you start a blog, there are a few mandatory expenses that come along with it.
For a lot of people, the thought of having to invest money into a what is usually a side-project (or hobby) is unattractive. However, if you grow a blog using the right strategies, then these costs should be returned multiple times over.
In the beginning, it can seem like a big amount of money. In the long-run, it’s pennies compared to what your blog can make you once you start monetizing.
Couldn’t you just use a free platform?
However, when you’re using a free platform you don’t technically own your website – that’s a scary thing.
You’re getting the use of a free platform in exchange for control and ownership of your blog.
Here’s why I don’t recommend using a free platform:
1. It can be shutdown at any time.
The company you’re using can be shut down at any time. They might decide to close shop one day, and your blog would be closed down with it.
In other words, you’re at the mercy of someone else’s decisions.
2. You have to follow their policies.
You don’t have 100% control over how you decide to grow out and monetize the site.
For example, the company you’re using can decide that they won’t allow affiliate links on their users’ sites anymore. Overnight, you would have to remove this revenue stream.
3. You can’t sell your blog.
The prospect of selling your blog in the future is one of the biggest advantages of building an online business.
Usually, blogs can sell for 20x to 30x of your monthly income. That’s a hefty amount.
If you’ve been working on your blog for years and have grown it to $5000/month, that’s a potential $150,000 payday you’re forfeiting simply because you decided to start a blog on a free platform.
What you want to do is build a self-hosted WordPress blog
Self-hosted means that you control the hosting. If you own the hosting, you own the website. On free platforms, you’re basically paying for free hosting.
Self-hosted WordPress blogs run on the .org version of WordPress. It’s what this site you’re reading now is run on, too!
Let’s run through the costs of building and running a self-hosted blog.
Need help starting your first self-hosted blog?
The essential costs are the expenses that you can’t avoid.
The domain name is your web address. For example, this blog’s domain name is RANKXL.COM.
A domain name will cost you about $10/year.
Hosting costs vary greatly depending on the power and features that you need.
If you run a high-traffic blog with millions of readers per month, the fees can get into the thousands of dollars.
But if you’re just starting out with a new blog, then you only need a basic web host.
This will cost you about $50 to $70/year – depending on how much you decide to pay for upfront (1 year or 2 years or 3 years).
If you’re just getting started, I recommend you use Bluehost to host your website. It’s the most popular amongst bloggers and they even offer you a free domain name.
The following are things that you can decide to pay for, but aren’t totally necessary to keep your blog up and running like domain and hosting are.
Premium WordPress theme
You could use a free WordPress theme for your blog, or pay for a premium design.
You can find a lot of nice free themes in the WordPress theme repository, but I strongly suggest you invest in a premium theme.
Design is more important today than it ever was. There are so many blogs popping up today. You want yours to stand out – be different by design.
A good design gives a strong first impression about your blog and brand.
Most premium themes will cost between $30 to $60 (one-time payment).
Email List Provider
If you’re starting a blog, building an email list is a must.
It’s your distribution channel, and how you’ll make 99% of your sales. It also keeps visitors coming back to your website over and over again.
I even wanted to put this as an “essential cost” since it’s that important, but instead I’ll just say it’s an optional, but strongly recommended investment to make.
An email list provider is going to be your biggest cost if you decide to get one at around $30/month. As your email list grows, your costs grow as well. For example, when you have 10,000 people on your email list, your costs will be around $150/month.
But starting out, it will be $30/month.
There are a lot of email service providers to choose from, but the one I use on this site (and the one I recommend) is ConvertKit.
As your blog grows, you may decide to invest in other software such as special WordPress plugins, software, and custom design.
Some of these are one-off purchases, and some will be monthly subscription payments.
These are things you can look into and invest in later on when you need.
Okay, let’s tally up the numbers and see how much it will cost to start a blog today.
If you’re only getting the essentials:
Your costs will be around $50 – $60 per year.
If you’re investing in the optional costs as well:
Your costs will be around $400 per year.
As you can see, it’s not that cheap to get a full blog setup started. The biggest investment is your email service provider.
But if you’re just wanting to get the essentials (domain and hosting), then it will cost you less than $10/month if you use Bluehost. You’ll even get a free domain name.
Before you decide, consider your goals with your blog and what you want to use it for.
Investing into a blog is the best decision I’ve ever made. It’s what allowed me to quit my day job and work from home full-time.
Today, I spend my days building a lot of blogs. As you can imagine, my expenses add up to quite a bit. Not only am I investing in the tools mentioned above, I’m also paying for content, custom design work, virtual assistants, etc.
But when your blog starts to make money, the expenses become pennies compared to the revenue it generates for you in return.