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.
Investing In A Blog Vs. A Physical Business
Before I go into the details of how much a blog costs, let me give a little comparison.
Blogging is a business, a real business, that can make you millions of dollars in just a few years.
I started this blog from scratch but today it makes several hundred thousand dollars every year.
All with an investment of just a few hundred dollars.
Is that possible in a physical real-world business?
Can you start ANY physical business without investing thousands of dollars upfront? Plus it takes months and sometimes years to get to the break-even point, let alone profiting from it.
Purely from a business perspective, any money that you spend on building a blog is peanuts in comparison with a physical business.
But the ROI of a successful blog is MUCH MUCH higher than any physical small business.
So don’t think twice about spending money on your blog because you’re putting money into a real business that’ll make you millions in a few years.
Blogging Costs: What Do You Need To Run A Succesful Blog
To get your blog up and running, you need only three things really.
- A domain name (URL)
- A web hosting account
- A content management system (CMS), in other words, WordPress.
These are the core expenses that’ll make your site live and publicly accessible.
However, there are several other expenses you need to incur in order to grow a successful blog.
Let me give you a detailed overview of both the essential and optional expenses of running a blog.
The Essential Costs Of Starting A 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.
I’ve written a detailed guide about choosing the right domain name that you should read to learn more about this step.
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.
Click here to get started with Bluehost (and get a free domain name).
WordPress – Your Blog’s Content Management System (CMS)
WordPress is the world’s best CMS using which you can easily create a world-class website, upload content to your blog, and grow a successful online business.
The best part?
It’s completely free so you don’t need to spend any money on it.
Once you sign up for your BlueHost web hosting account, you can install WordPress on your site in just a few clicks.
You can’t create a successful blog without great content.
In fact, your content is your blog’s primary product. High-quality content means a high-quality blog that attracts visitors, generates leads, and makes money.
If you plan to create all the content yourself, you can skip this part.
But if you want to grow your blog quickly and publish high authority content written by expert writers, you’ll need to invest money (a lot of it)
Content is actually your biggest expense of running a blog.
How much does it cost?
There’s no fixed answer to this becuase it depends on the quality fo content you’re trying to create, plus the writers you’ve hired.
But let me give you an idea.
If you go to Upwork or iWriter, you can get a decent (not great) writer for around $10-$15 for a 1000 word article (that’s the minimum)
To ensure you get high-quality content, you’ll need to give your writers specific instructions and content templates that they’ll use to create exactly what you’re looking for.
But still expect to spend some time editing the content you get from them.
Assuming you plan to publish 8-10 articles per month, you’re looking at around $150 of recurring expense every month on content ($1800 per year)
That’s the minimum.
When your site starts making money, you might want to upgrade to better writers who can create higher quality content for you. Expect to pay somewhere between $40-$50 per 1000 words min.
The Optional Expenses Of Running A Blog
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.
Plus, premium themes generally have better security features and protect your site from malware or any other loopholes in the code that hackers can exploit.
Most premium themes will cost between $30 to $60 (one-time payment).
But if you do go for a free theme, I’d recommend choosing Astra, which is an amazingly versatile theme.
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.
Click here to get started with ConvertKit.
If you’re looking for a free option, Mailchimp is the perfect service to use. It allows up to 2000 subscribers and supports basic email automation which means you can send automated welcome emails or emails when someone downloads your lead magnet.
Backlinks And Guest Blogging
You can’t rank a website without getting high authority backlinks.
When your blog is new, you won’t need to invest as much into link building and can choose to publish guest posts yourself.
However, when you want to move the needle on the more competitive search terms, you will need to invest money into link building and guest blogging.
You can get backlinks by hiring guest bloggers to write and publish guest posts for you on the sites where they already contribute.
Or you could directly pay website owners to publish sponsored content that has your links.
In either case, you’ll be looking at a few hundred dollars per link (and a lot more if you want high quality HARO links)
It’s an optional expense but something that most professional bloggers invest in.
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 $70 – $80 per year for hosting and domain and around $150/month ($1800/year) for content.
If you’re investing in the optional costs as well:
Your costs will be around $400 to $600 per year.
As you can see, it’s not that cheap to get a full blog setup started. The biggest investment is your blog’s content. If you’re writing it yourself, you can save a lot of money.
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 in 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, but 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.
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!
Are You Ready To Invest In Blogging?
Compared to a physical business, blogging costs nothing.
But its returns are as high (and sometimes even higher) as a real-world small business.
Investing in blogging makes so much sense becuase unlike a physical business, you can change your direction any time, make fundamental changes to your business model without any additional expenses, and grow a location independent business that can potentially make money on autopilot.
What’s the worst-case scenario?
Your blog doesn’t get any traffic or makes no money.
You still learn a ton about blogging and use that experience to launch another business in just a few hundred dollars that eventually flies and makes you a fortune.
Seriously, don’t let this opportunity go.