Is starting a blog really as cheap as people say? Let’s answer some basics of: how much does it cost to start a blog?!
When I started blogging in 2015, it was because I read a a post (recommenced to me on Pinterest) called “How to Start and Run a Blog for FREE”.
I still see the post floating around from time-to-time!
And, although I’m SUPER grateful that this post basically launched my blogging career, looking back, it’s pretty misleading.
Many people jump into blogging because there’s basically ZERO barrier to entry. But here’s the problem: those types of businesses tend to have super high competition, because ANYONE can do it!
Literally, ALL you need to start a blog is $2.95 for web hosting and your domain.
So, the real answer to “how much does it cost to start a blog?” is: $2.95.
I’ll show you how in a sec.
We could end here, but that doesn’t take into account the cost of actually running a blog for business.
What I didn’t realize when I started blogging (trying to do everything for FREE) is that NONE of the big bloggers are running their blogs for free.
It just doesn’t exist.
In order to actually run your blog like a business, there are business expenses you can’t avoid!
And yes, blogging is still 100 times cheaper than opening up a store in your neighborhood or designing a new iPhone App, but it’s NOT free!!
And if you’re reading this post, I’m guessing you want to start a blog to make money and you (ideally) want to turn your blog into a business.
Believe me, the LAST thing I want to do is burst your bubble! I’m only trying to show the REALITY of blogging for business so you can be totally prepared for the expenses that come along with it.
And by the way, some of these links below are affiliate partners, but I would never recommend something I don’t use myself, or stand behind 100%!
So, yes starting a blog has a super low start-up cost compared to other new businesses, but if you want to start a successful blog quickly, there are some things you’ll want to invest in right away.
So, the real question should be: how much does it cost to start a blog and run it like a business?
1. Domain + Hosting ($2.95+/month)
So the FIRST thing you’ll need to do after deciding you want to start a blog is buy your domain name and invest in reliable web hosting.
In my guide about how to start a blog, I talk about how to choose a niche AND how to choose the best domain name, so definitely check that out if you’re stuck.
I’ve had LOTS of blogs throughout the years and I’ve tried many different web hosting companies.
Now, I stick with Bluehost. I’ll tell you why:
- Bluehost is only $2.95/month which is one of the best options I’ve found for new bloggers who don’t have a ton of cash
- They have incredible WordPress integration making website setup easy as heck
- They offer a great affiliate program which really helps bloggers earn some extra income
I have a super easy setup guide for your new domain and Bluehost hosting here.
2. WordPress Theme ($40-$80+ or free options)
I wrote an entire post on the best WordPress themes for new bloggers here.
Like my theme? Get it now!
Ok, so you definitely DON’T need to start off with a WordPress theme if you’re super design savvy and WordPress literate, BUT it will make a big difference!
I never believed in WordPress themes early on in my blogging journey. I always did the free themes and DIY-ed the crap out of my websites.
When I finally decided to try out a professional WordPress theme it was a GAME CHANGER.
My website looked way more professional, it freed up TONS of time I needed to create content, and my bounce rate decreased.
There are tons of options for professional themes, but most of them fall in the range of $40-$80.
I definitely wouldn’t go above $80 for a WordPress theme unless, of course, you’re getting your website custom designed!
3. Graphics Program ($5.99+ or free options)
It’s no secret that you NEED to be creating beautiful blog graphics to stand out on social media (and make your website look professional!).
I started using Canva right away and I fell in love with how easy it is to create ALL my blog graphics and images. I have a tutorial on using Canva here.
The free version works really well and I was using it for the first year I was blogging.
I ended up buying Canva for work and it was a great decision! They offer tons of stock photos, illustrations and templates for creating graphics. You can also resize your graphics for any social media platform AND you can create a branding kit to keep all your logos and colors in one place.
Canva for work is $12.95/month (with a hefty discount if you pay for the year).
There are also other options like Adobe and PicMonkey ($5.99/month). Both of them are great options for creating blog graphics!
4. Stock Photos ($16.50+ or free options)
If you’re a new-ish blogger, you may be wondering, where the heck does everyone get the perfect-looking photos they use in their blog graphics?!
Well, of course it’s ideal to have the equipment and props to take your own photos, but lots of bloggers don’t have the time (or the cash!) to do this.
There are many websites with FREE stock photos for bloggers, but you might find it’s harder to stay on brand using only free images. The selection isn’t amazing.
You can also buy indiviual stock photos for $1-$3 but it end up costing WAY more than buying a subscription.
I ended up buying a subscription for professional stock photos which gave my blog a HUGE boost.
Here are a few options for fantastic stock photos:
- Haute Stock ($99 for a 3 month membership)
- Styled Stock Society ($75 for a 3 month membership)
- Envato Elements ($16.50/month)
5. Keyword Tools ($29+ free options available)
Having a decent keyword tool to help you navigate through Google and SEO is mandatory!
One of my biggest regrets when I started blogging was NOT focusing any effort into search engine optimization. I’ll be honest: I missed out BIG time!
I’ve had to go back and re-do every blog post optimizing it for Google to boost my organic reach in search.
If using keywords and SEO is totally new to you, no worries! Grab my SEO Cheatsheet for new bloggers.
There are free options to get you used to researching keywords: Google Keyword Planner and Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest. They’re both GREAT starting points.
BUT, if organic reach is really important to you from the get-go (and yes, it totally should be!) then you should really start thinking about buying a keyword planning tool.
I use Long Tail Pro which is one of the less expensive tools ($37/month). I’ve also tried Mangools ($29/month) and Keyword Tool ($69/month).
Before purchasing any tools, I definitely recommend testing out the free versions first!
5. Email Subscription Service ($29+ free options available)
Having an email service set up and ready to go when you launch your blog is crucial! This will allow you to capture readers and turn them into subscribers through opt-in forms.
You’ll also be able to stay in touch with your community through regular email updates and promotion/new product info.
I’ve tried ALMOST every email service out there, and I ended up sticking with ConvertKit. It’s definitely not the cheapest option, but I find it easy to use, reliable and my delivery rates are much higher.
ConvertKit starts at $29 if you have under 1000 subscribers.
BUT, there are also free options you can start out with if you’re not ready to pay for ConvertKit.
MailChimp is a great option and it’s totally FREE for 0-2000 subscribers. You can also try MailerLite which offers both a free and $10/plan for under 1000 subscribers.
6. Social Media Scheduler ($10+ free options available)
When I started blogging years ago, I wasn’t making the connection between growing my social media and pageviews on my blog.
It sounds crazy now, but I regret how much opportunity I left on the table from NOT focusing on social media and developing a consistent posting routine.
My BIGGEST recommendation for new bloggers (or people who feel like they’re struggling with traffic) is to start dominating social media!
And I mean d-o-m-i-n-a-t-i-n-g. Create at LEAST 60-100 posts a day across all your platforms.
My 3 main sources of traffic are: Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter.
I post on Instagram 1-2 times a day, Twitter between 5-10 and Pinterest between 50-60 times! **Yes, I should be doing Facebook but I hate it with a passion! My goal is to master Facebook in 2019**
I couldn’t do all this without some major help, and this is where scheduling tools come in!
For Pinterest and Instagram, I use Tailwind. It’s hands-down the BEST scheduling tool (especially for Pinterest).
I’ll even say, if you can only invest in ONE tool for your blog this year- make it Tailwind for Pinterest scheduling. It’s only $10/month and worth EVERY penny!!
If you want to try it out, grab 1 month free here!
For Twittter, Instagram, and Facebook, there are other options like
SmarterQueue and Hootsuite (both of which I love!).
SmarterQueue is $19.99/month and Hootsuite is $29/month, but they both offer up to 10 social media accounts and unlimited scheduling.
Of course, the “free” version is doing everything manually and pumping out your own content. I did this for YEARS.
I thought I was being super productive when, in reality, social media scheduling was taking me away from what I REALLY needed to be doing: creating content.
7. Social Media Advertising ($50-$100)
Now this one is TOTALLY optional and depends on what you’re trying to build with your blog.
If you’re creating a brand or a business based around selling products and services OR if you’re trying to build up followers on social media for affiliate marketing, consider setting aside some cash to test social media ads.
Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram offer opportunities for sponsored posts that can lead visitors to a sales page, landing page, or simply to your social profiles for more followers.
This is a great way to drum up interest and attention for your new blog and it will help you grow SO MUCH faster than depending solely on organic reach!
IF you have the cash, set aside $50 to test running a sponsored pin on Pinterest or an Instagram story ad to drive traffic to your website/social profiles.
So let’s tally this up!
Drum roll please…….
So, how much does it cost to start a blog?!
You can start a blog with a professional WordPress theme, great graphics+branding AND have some money set aside for advertising for ONLY $184. WOW.
Of course it’s not free like some bloggers may lead you to believe, but to start a business for under $200 is still INCREDIBLE!
If you were on the fence about starting a blog, I hope this helps you finally take the plunge!
Any questions about blogging costs? How much does it cost to start a blog? What has your experience been? Let me know!