How much does it cost to start a blog; question that many aspiring bloggers have.
And it’s hard to get reliable information on the internet on the best way forward.
So let’s get straight to the point.
Depending on your goals and the type of blog you want to start, a blog will cost around $30 to $70 annually to start a blog in 2021 when invested in the necessary blogging tools.
But the cost of building a successful blog can go up to thousands of dollars. You need to know what you want and prioritize tools based on that.
To simplify, let’s break down the three categories of people who want to start a blog and generate three persona cards, which you can use as a guiding principle to know exactly what you need.
These personas cards represent a majority of people who want to know what it costs to start a blog.
Hobbyist: Anybody who wants to run a blog as a creative outlet. They’ll publish content written in their free time because they enjoy writing.
Entrepreneur: An aspiring blogger who builds a blog either as a side hustle, or a full-time job to make money.
Business: Any company or business that wants to use content marketing to acquire clients and build brand awareness.
If you want to start a blog as a hobby, you only need the basic tools to get you started. I wouldn’t want you to break the bank buying tools you won’t be using or needing
On the other hand, a company requires several premium tools to ensure they achieve their business goals. Else, they won’t get a Return On Investment.
For instance, to look professional they need a well designed and functional website that requires a premium theme. Or they would like to ensure their data is stored safely online which necessitates a good hosting plan and a security plugin. More on this later
- How to Start a Blog for Free
- 1. Hobby Blog
- 2. Entrepreneur Blog
- 3. Company Blog
First, let’s get down to the most basic requirements of building a blog from scratch.
A domain name and hosting plan.
A domain name is the address of your website which doubles as your website name. Mine is contentdisrupt.com and my site name is Content Disrupt.
The price ranges between $10 to $15 for top-level domain names and can be more or less for other domain types
Without a domain name, people cannot access your website.
Hosting is the space leased on a server to provide storage for website data. It’s like the house you live in and pay rent to continue living in.
You can get a monthly or yearly plan depending on your budget but it’s always cheaper to pay for longer periods as it comes with a discount.
Without these two, you cannot start a blog which is just a type of website.
The rest of the tools we’ll talk about are extras that are necessary if you want more than just to blog.
In fact, you can start a blog without paying a dime.
How is that possible?
How to Start a Blog for Free
WordPress.com offers a free domain and hosting package, literally. You pay for nothing. And it’s very simple to set up.
Here is the guide on how to build a blog for free.
As a hobbyist, this platform is a great choice to showcase your writing creativity and passion.
But, for entrepreneurs and businesses, the cons of a free WordPress blog far outway the money saved.
- You can only register a subdomain as your domain name. It looks like this: yoursitename.wordpress.com. This is unprofessional and looks spammy. Most people wouldn’t trust you let alone buy anything from you.
- You are restricted from using your free blog for commercial activity, which means your earning capabilities are limited.
- You cannot install themes and plugins to customize and enhance your blog.
- Your content is owned by the platform. And they can do whatever they want with it. Which includes deleting content that doesn’t adhere to their terms and conditions.
If you’re planning to blog for a while and perhaps reach certain milestones, going free will eventually hurt you.
Another behemoth in the blogging industry that offers free blogging is Medium.
It’s a powerful blog-oriented platform with numerous resources and great design; practically everything you need to build a free blog.
In addition, unlike WordPress where you have to build traffic from scratch, in Medium, your content can reach millions of Medium readers who are already on board. This means you can get traffic as soon as you launch
But it’s not automatic. It’s easier said than done. It uses an algorithmic timeline to promote content to its huge audience.
So if you write content that resonates with people and gets many hearts, it’s well-promoted which can direct a significant amount of traffic to your blog.
Medium ain’t perfect. In fact, the same cons of free blogging that WordPress.com has are seen here.
- You do not own the content you publish. It’s subject to the rules of the platform
- The success of your work benefits Medium more than it does you. For instance, without a premium domain name, each article published only adds to the domain authority of Medium.
- Medium also has design limitations. You cannot customize the blog appearance as much as you want. Medium has a common design across all its web pages.
- Third-party advertising and sponsorships are not allowed and it lacks features to monetize the blog in other ways.
If you want to earn from medium, you’ll have to grow your blog through regular and high-quality content creation to attract traffic and get paid for the number of readers.
If you want to blog as a hobby and have no capital to start a premium blog, I’d recommend Medium. It’s very straightforward, simple to use and you sign up as a partner and make money with viral content.
But if you’re in for the long term game; building a sustainable online business, start a premium blog. For businesses, only use Medium for occasional press releases and company updates.
Blogger is a blogging platform owned by Google. It is very basic, easy to use and perfect for hobbyists who don’t give a hoot about the design and functionality of a blog.
It has several basic themes you can choose from to showcase your content.
Blogger is and will be totally free for life. And also you can earn using Google AdSense if you bring in good traffic.
- Blogger.com only offers a subdomain as your domain address which is not professional, and therefore cannot be used for building a business or brand.
- The limited functionalities and features restrict what you can do with your site and your readers’ experience for instance if the theme is not responsive. This makes it a bad choice for business-minded bloggers and companies.
Blogger is perfect for personal blogs; a peaceful place to share their ideas.
A modern simple solution for bloggers in need of beautiful designs for their websites.
It offers both free and paid versions.
With the free version, you get a subdomain that looks like this; yoursitename.wixsite.com, and a maximum of 500 Mbps of both storage and bandwidth.
The bandwidth limit means when your website gets a spike in traffic and consumes over 500MBs of bandwidth a month, you’ll have to pay more for the extra bandwidth consumed.
Sadly, with the free version, Wix displays its ads from which you earn nothing. Whoops!
Wix is great for hobby bloggers but not as good as Medium or WordPress.
Although creating a free blog is a choice, it’s not the best route. Only consider it when you’re penniless and the writing passion is calling relentlessly.
But an entrepreneur or business using a free blogging option means they’re not serious. In fact, even a hobbyist gains more using a professional website; it builds a personal brand that opens up opportunities to make money in future.
Because you’ll never know how successful your content will be.
Matthew Prince used to write down his thoughts in his diary after watching a movie, reading an article or listening to a speech. Then one day he thought, why can’t I be a content creator and get paid. And that’s how he started his successful writing business.
If your little hobby blog turns out to be successful and you built it on a free blog, you’ll have to shift to a premium website. And all the domain authority you have built will go to the drain and you’ll start afresh.
So why not just invest in a cheap, but effective premium package. In 2021, many hosting companies are offering affordable solutions for blog hosting. These services can get you up and running within an hour without putting a dent in your wallet.
It doesn’t break a bone setting aside a few cups of coffee in Starbucks to launch your online sacred space.
Going back to the personas we created, of the three we have, you either fall on one category or hang in the balance of two personas.
I’ll break down the needs of each persona, if you’ve got to go somewhere soon, just scroll to the section that fits your description
1. Hobby Blog
If you’re blogging as a hobby, you don’t necessarily need to invest a lot of money to set up a blog.
The minimum requirements are enough to get started; a domain name, and a hosting service.
We’ll use Bluehost as the benchmark for these prices
- A domain name costs between $10 and $15.
- A shared hosting package (cheapest) cost $4.95/month for one year and $2.95/month for a 3-year period.
And guess what? You get a free domain name if you purchase any Bluehost package
So for as little as $60 you are set for a year or you can choose to top it up to $110 and you’ll be set for 3 years.
Installation and Set-Up
Website installation is a very simple process that anyone with basic computer knowledge can undertake. Also, many bloggers have demonstrated the process on YouTube for practically every web hosting company.
But I understand some people would rather have the job done for them. It’s for a good reason. In fact, it’s best to have guidance on the settings to customize to ensure your site is well set up from the beginning. A good example are permalink settings.
I can help you with launching and setting up your site for a few cups of Starbucks Coffee
- Launch hosting instance
- Install WordPress
- Optimize general setting
- Install theme and activate preferred templates
- Install necessary plugins
- Integration with Google Analytics and Search Console
And just like that, you’ll be set to start publishing your articles.
Contact me any time.
In case you need to build a newsletter for your favourite readers, you can sign up with Mailchimp, a free email marketing tool that allows you to send regular emails to up to 2000 subscribers. Once you surpass that number you can upgrade to the Essential plan starting at $30 per month.
Alternatively, you can try Convertkit, a more functional and better email marketing tool. Although it’s a little more expensive for more than 1000 subs, it’s worth it.
However, it’s advisable to be as lean as possible to avoid unnecessary costs on tools you won’t be using.
2. Entrepreneur Blog
If you’re a business-minded blogger you cannot think the same way that a hobbyist does.
So much comes from building a website that can generate enough income to replace your job. And one of the most important things to do is to start on a good note.
For instance, understand that your domain name is as important as your brand.
If you choose a bad domain name at the beginning, it will haunt you for the rest of your blogging career.
But can’t I simply change when I want to?
Changing a domain name means trashing the online reputation of your original address and starting afresh. Your brand too will be affected.
Imagine waking up to the news that Coca Cola had rebranded to “Supadrink”. It will be hard to convince people that it’s the same drink?
When a domain address goes online, it starts to age. The older it gets the better. In its lifetime, it accumulates links based on the quality of content which elevates its domain authority; a major ranking factor in all search engines.
If you choose to change the address and start afresh, you will waste all the link juice collected over the period. And most likely, someone will snatch it up and build something out of it.
So, make sure you think through before settling on a domain name. Ensure it’s a name that will fit your present and future blogging goals as well as you’ll be proud of it.
Most good domain names have already been taken. So, be creative and come up with a domain name that’s relevant and memorable.
If you’re going to build a money-making machine, then you’d better get a reliable hosting service.
In the first year of blogging, all you need is reliable hosting to sustain occasional traffic spikes you might experience
Bluehost is perfect, especially for new starters, with a tiny budget. It’s easy to set up and has everything you need to get going. And the best part is; you get a free domain.
It takes at least 1 year for a new blog to start getting consistent traffic. If you manage to go viral before 12 months are over, then you might want to consider upgrading to a powerful cloud hosting service like Cloudways.
That’s what I’m currently using to host my 5 website projects and I have no complaints.
- Is fully cloud-based, meaning it’s highly reliable and scalable (Handle traffic spikes with ease)
- Has high-speed performance
- Great customer care service although no live chat is available.
- A simple payment system
- No limitations on websites you can host.
In case you plan to build more than one website, Cloudways lets you install as many websites as you can depending on your hosting package, Most hosting companies have limitations on domains you can use. Not Cloudways.
Having used Cloudways for more than a year now, I don’t see myself going anywhere.
Installation and Set-Up
Setting up a blog is very simple if you have basic computer knowledge and skills. You don’t need to pay someone to do this for you.
Plus there are thousands of videos on YouTube explaining the process step by step.
But if you find it a little daunting, you can seek setup services from an expert. I can help you with that. I help bloggers launch their blog as explained in the Hobbyist section.
Contact me any time.
Just like a hobbyist, you can always use a free theme to start a blog. But you’ll get more value investing in a premium theme.
Is this not the blog that will be making money as you travel around the world?
If it is, then you should invest in its design to create a good repertoire for your potential customers from the very beginning.
With a premium theme, you can customize your blog into something that is close enough to what you desire.
Most people don’t have the coding skills to customize a website’s appearance. A premium theme takes the hustle out. It has features to improve the functionality and appearance of the website.
A well-designed premium theme
- Let’s you change colours, add and remove widgets, tweak headers and footers, change the entire blog’s font and much more.
- It is optimized to be responsive so as to display well on any device.
- It is packed with the best coding practices to entice search engines.
- It is updated regularly to remove bugs and conform to the latest advancement in web programming.
With a gorgeous and functional website, you look more professional and gain trust from your readers even before they read your content
Google rewards well-designed websites with traffic to provide the best user experience to readers. Also, 94% of people say they cannot do business with an ugly website.
So you better get this right.
Now there probably exist millions of premium themes online. And they all look enticing. You’re spoilt for choice.
What can you do?
I had this predicament for a long while. I bought and played around with several themes and I never seemed to settle on one. My preferences were changing faster than the seasons and I realized I’m wasting money trying to quench my insatiable thirst for something new, interesting, fashionable, and more powerful.
Enough is enough. I had to settle with one. And it was….drum rolls, please!
Generatepress: A lightweight WordPress theme that focuses on speed, stability, and accessibility.
This is the perfect theme for entrepreneurs who want to focus on the things that really matter in building a blog. Not adding fancy features that slow down the site and give readers a hard time.
To mention but a few, Generatepress is
- easy to set up and use,
- fast even when all features are activated and
- it comes with many free templates to customize your entire blog instantly.
Its closest competitor is Astra Theme which has its own share of praise and admiration.
You can also visit Themeforest which has thousands of other WordPress themes to also select from. Theme prices start from $10 and there are themes that can practically cater for any needs.
In fact, the unlimited choices on that platform are what led me to the rabbit hole.
To be safe, select a theme with good documentation and an active online community where you can ask questions and get help with customizations in future.
As an entrepreneur, you only need basic plugins, and a few premium plugins to enhance your work especially if you are on a tight budget.
Focus on the plugins that help you in content creation and distribution; the most important part of blogging.
1. Rank Math SEO $59
An SEO plugin is a very important plugin for any new blog. It helps you create SEO friendly content, shows you where to include your focus keywords and other on-page optimization tips to improve your chances of ranking high.
For a long time, Yoast has been the industry leader in Search Engine Optimization. It is the most used WordPress plugin having been installed on more than 50 million sites.
However, since Rank Math SEO entered the scene, the tide has been shifting and RMS is catching up very fast.
In terms of the sheer number of features offered, RMS offers more than Yoast. In fact, some premium features in Yoast are offered in the free version of RMS. This might explain the rapid growth of users.
RMS Pro goes beyond to enable settings such as News and Video Schema integration, keywords tracking, Local SEO, and Google tools (trends and search console) integration.
2. WP Rocket $49
How does it feel when you try to access a website but it takes minutes to load? Irritating right?
Well, you don’t want that for your readers.
That’s why you need a caching plugin that lets your blog load fast. Caching is the storage of files, images, scripts and other multimedia in a device for access in future.
When you visit a blog that you have visited before, it loads instantly because its main data is already on your device. Don’t worry, it takes up a very tiny space.
Website loading speed is a ranking factor in Google. You cannot afford to have a slow website in 2021 especially, your money site.
So you want to make sure to take advantage of a caching plugin to make your website as fast as possible and the fastest caching plugin in the market is WP Rocket.
Essentially, these are the most important plugins you might want to start with.
Brain Tracy once said, learn from the experts, you will not live long enough to figure it out by yourself.
This quote hit me hard after blogging for five years and having nothing to show for it.
I wasted years learning the hard way. I tried to invent my strategies and many never worked. If I had spent a few bucks to learn from experts and implemented their tips, it would have been a different story.
Nowadays I take new courses every month to better my skills and also apply tactics used by successful bloggers in my work.
If you want to make it in blogging, take a good course. It will save you a ton of mistakes and you’ll learn strategies that give you an edge.
Here are some great courses to improve your chances of success in blogging with prices ranging from 0 to 1000s of dollars
- HubSpot Inbound marketing (Free)
- Income School Project 24
- Niche Site Academy
- Scale your online business at scale startup speed.
90% of bloggers give up their blogging careers within the first six months because of the frustration of working hard without any results.
If you don’t want to fall victim to this group, pick up a course and get to work, you’ll thank me later.
On average it takes five years for a hard-working blogger to earn a full-time income from a blog and as years go by, it gets more challenging.
But Adam Enfroy’s story is different. Within the first 8 months of blogging, his traffic rose to 100,000 per month and he made $24,000. In less than 2 years, he surpassed the $100,000 per month a feat 99% of bloggers will never reach.
How did he do it? He treated his blog as a startup company.
He delegated content creation processes and focused on content distribution and link building to improve the authority of his website.
1. Content Writing
If you want to achieve what Adam could, you should hire content writers from job platforms such as Fiverr and Upwork and focus on other aspects of your business such as link building, guest posting, and content distribution.
They matter as much as content creation and are essential if you want to see rapid growth.
But you need a good budget to pull this off because the average cost of hiring a content writer is about $20 per hour or $50 per 2k words.
Assuming you want to publish 10 epic articles per month, that’s about $500 per month.
But if your budget is low, learn to write content and enjoy the process. That’s the only way you survive the competition ahead.
2. Paid Advertising
To build traction and brand awareness early on, you should invest in paid advertising.
Paid advertising involves paying Google and Social Media Platforms to advertise your website and products.
With Google, you pay for real estate on the first page of Search Results. For every click that your advertisements, you are charged. It’s called Pay Per Click.
Your investment depends on budget and business goals. In fact, it’s more effective to use paid advertising to convert readers into leads or sell products.
So only invest in Paid Adverts when you have an info product to offer or when selling a service.
3. Social Media Marketing Tool
One way to distribute content is by sharing it on Social networks and it can be daunting considering the many platforms that exist.
That’s why you need a social media scheduling tool such as Buffer to help you plan for social media posts and build your following.
With organic traffic dropping for most blogs, due to Google snippets, it’s necessary to build a community around your blog that supplies reliable traffic.
Buffer lets you manage multiple social media accounts on one platform, plan posts, engage with your community and analyse data to see what works.
It starts at $15 a month, an affordable price for bloggers who’ll leverage Social media to drive traffic to their site.
4. Email Marketing Software
With time, you will want to build a newsletter and send regular updates to your subscribers which contributes more traffic to your blog.
Organic traffic is no longer reliable. Only about 50% of Google searches lead to a click because of snippets that provide information to readers instantly without visiting our websites.
And let’s not forget the regular Google Updates hitting websites hard.
To stay safe, build a newsletter. Use Mailchimp to get started. It lets you market to up to 2000 subscribers for free.
Once you cross the 2000 subscribers mark consider shifting to ConvertKit, a more powerful marketing tool. It’ll cost you a little more but it’s worth the investment especially since you can implement automation and let it run on its own.
3. Company Blog
The main agenda of a company blog is to build brand awareness and leverage organic traffic to attract leads who can later become customers.
Using the Golden Circle concept you can come up with a story broken down into what you do, how you do it, and why you do it to create content that highly resonates with your readers and build a relationship with them.
Customers will want to do business with you when you provide the best services that solve their pain points.
But first, have the company blog set up.
Domain Name and Hosting
It’s very likely that as a company, you already own a domain and a website set up.
If not, consider premium hosting services, such as WordPress Managed Hosting, which although expensive, are highly professional and optimized for top website performance.
They also come with additional features such as a free SSL certificate, CDN, Free backups and Security enhancement.
Some of them include;
- Bluehost Managed WordPress Hosting ($19.95)
- HostGator Managed WordPress
- A2 Hosting
There’s a lot that goes behind a website, you don’t wanna hire a full-time web frontend and backend engineer to make sure everything is okay. Managed hosting does that for a fraction of the cost.
As a company, a premium theme is a must.
You want to look professional and you want great features on your website to improve the functionality of the website and offer the best user experiences to your readers.
However, you also don’t need to be too fancy. I’d recommend
You can also consider a theme framework that is better
- It has multiple themes available to choose from
- A Reliable support system
- Lots of features and extensions to improve your functionality.
Some good examples are
- Genesis Framework.
- Y Themes
Going the framework route can save you a ton of money in customization fees a web developer would want to charge. You’ll have many themes to choose from and reliable support from framework developers.
Choosing the plugins to invest in depends on what’s important to you as a company and your business goals, for instance, create brand awareness, get leads, sell products, etc. But you’ll still need several basic premium plugins to get started on the right footing.
1. Rank Math SEO $59
An SEO plugin ensures you write content that not only caters for the needs of your readers but is also optimized to rank high on Google.
Without an SEO plugin, you’ll hardly be aware of what needs to be done to fully optimize a blog post.
RMS in my view is the best SEO plugin in the market, better than Yoast the most used SEO plugin. RMS has more features and it generally costs less.
2. Wordfence Security $99
As a company with an online presence, your website data is very important and it needs protection from loss or malicious attacks and hackers
Wordfence is the premier security plugin in the market. It ensures high-level security on your website.
A yearly plan at a cost of $99 will secure your database and handle your site without worries for the next 12 months.
3. WP Rocket $49
A caching plugin ensures your site loads fast. It improves website performance and offers a great user experience to your readers.
WP Rocket is considered the fastest caching plugin in the market. Starting at $49, it offers the best balance of cost and functionality
4. Page Builder
Besides a premium theme, you need a page builder that can help you customize your website further.
It lets you tweak the little things in your website or blog and add features that are not available in themes.
Without one, you will highly be limited on the things that you can do with your website and therefore might not offer some features to your readers.
Leading page builders include
- Wp Bakery
Choosing a page builder can be tasking. So check out this comparison.
Additional costs are based on different business goals. While these tools are not fundamental to operating a company’s blog, they help you in business operations to achieve your objectives.
1. Customer Service
If you want to offer live customer care services, you should consider the LiveChat plugin ($192 per year). This plugin lets you chat with your website visitors instantly.
If you sell products or services online, this tool can be very instrumental to your potential customers by giving them a chance to ask questions directly and get assistance.
Obviously, have in place a battalion of customer care agents to respond to the needs of their customers.
2. Lead Acquisition
ConvertKit is an amazing email marketing tool with an outstanding feature; automated emails. It’s perfect for lead acquisition; turning website readers into subscribers.
Use it to build your subscriber list using info products such as free e-books. Then update subscribers about your services and products as they are more likely to convert into customers.
Many businesses ignore email marketing thinking it no longer works. But some bloggers such as Laura Belgray have shown great results from email marketing making millions of dollars in the process.
Ignoring Email marketing is like leaving money on the table.
3. Grow Organic Traffic
The purpose of a content marketing campaign is to attract customers naturally online and you cannot do this without understanding what your customers need.
That’s why you need Ahrefs; a keyword research tool that allows you to do search analysis and discover search intent for better content design.
A keyword tool guides how to create content that solves customers’ pain points.
Ahrefs is the industry leader in Keyword Research. Having used it in tandem with other tools such as MOZ and Semrush, nothing comes close to the quality of data Ahrefs produces.
It starts at $99 per month.
I attribute most of my blogging success to Ahrefs as it shows me the right keywords to focus on to grow my traffic.
4. Brand Awareness
Today, billions of people are using social media daily. As a company, you should take advantage of this opportunity to spread your brand but do it strategically using a social media management tool.
Buffer ($15/month) is a social media management tool that lets you schedule posts for publishing, manage multiple social media accounts from one place, interact with people, grow your following and access analytics.
Being active on social media helps you build stronger relationships with your customers and credibility with potential customers.
You might have to consider hiring a social media expert who can take control of social media marketing.
5. Customer Management
You want to make sure that every customer is served well so as not to lose them and you can spot opportunities to turn leads into customers as soon as they pop up. Then you need a CRM.
A CRM is a customer relationship management platform that allows you to control or take charge of the customer. buying process
ClickUp ($5/user/month) is a multifunctional platform for managing people and projects online. It helps with tracking data visualization, email marketing, sales, pipeline, account management, communication tools and integration with other tools such as Google Docs.
Having a customer relationship management tool eases company operations through the allocation of tasks and customers to staff members creating an accountability system that ensures productivity.
6. Content Writing
The most important activity a company can invest in when building a blog is content writing. You get organic traffic by writing high quality, relatable and interesting content.
From experience, writing high-quality content is not an easy task.
That’s why you need to hire an in-house content writer or a freelancer to do the work for you.
Skills to look for include technical SEO, good language command, a good understanding of your industry, storytelling skills, and soft digital marketing skills.
Depending on your content goals, you might have to spend 1000s of shillings of dollars every month in content writing, in order to be at par with your competition.
7. Paid Advertising
Besides organic traffic, you can use paid advertising to attract customers.
As we’ve talked about it, organic traffic is becoming less impactful for bloggers and therefore you need to look for other channels of traffic acquisitions.
Paid advertising can be done on Google, Facebook, Instagram, Linked In, and Twitter. Choose the platform where your ideal customer spends their time and invest while testing to see what works and improve your strategies to get a good ROI.
Wrapping it up
The cost of starting a blog in 2021 is very low and affordable.
But with this ease of entry comes the greater challenge of adding value to the internet and making money in the process.
Nonetheless, depending on what you really want, as a blogger, you should only invest in what you need. Investing in unnecessary tools is a waste of money and time especially in the initial stages of blogging.
This breakdown is a good compass on what it costs to start a blog.
If I left out something, feel free to inform me in the comments section