There are many reasons you might decide to start a blog. Perhaps you’d like to expand your brand or business, or maybe blogging is a fun hobby. No matter what your reason is, you probably have a ton of questions, especially what the cost of starting a content website is. Check out our breakdown below and step by step example for where the costs actually are.
Where the Costs Exist When Starting a Blog
Before you even begin your first blog post, you’ll need to set up your website and consider what the overall theme of what your content will be. You should focus on something you really believe in and are passionate about.
You’ll need to pick a name and domain (the url) for your site. Apart from your computer, the domain registration is the first expense.
Pick a site name that is relevant and memorable.
When you have a title, you’ll need to figure out which platform and/or hosting to keep your website on. There are dozens of blogging platforms out there, so consider your needs and how big you want your site to grow. Some platforms are free (like Wix or Tumblr), but they have limiting features and are constraining after a certain point. The most popular content platform out there is WordPress, so we’ll continue our example here with WordPress.
When setting a site up with WordPress, you’ll need to select and pay for a hosting company in order to get started. A hosting company essentially rents you the server to get your website online.
Your next step is to set up your website and choose a design theme. Many of your choices starting out will likely be based on your experience and skill level. Many times beginners like to close WordPress themes that don’t require much experience in coding and technical ability. Those usually include templates and customization options to make the visual design aspect easier. There are both free and premium paid themes here.
Once you have your site set up, it’s time to create, publish, and promote some content!
The cost here is in tools if you feel you need them to write content, or schedule your posts for you. There are a bunch of tools out there. You can read about my favorites here.
Lastly, make sure to post consistently, promote your work, and be patient. Post regularly (some like to post so on a set schedule for each month), and connect with your audience. Creating a popular blog doesn’t happen overnight, so you have to be committed to it. Try networking on forums, social media, and by talking to like-minded people and family. Even a few friends sharing your content can result in some surprising growth.
Cost Breakdown In Detail
What are the start-up expenses of starting a content website? Here’s a detailed look:
When you start, you may or may not have equipment costs.
For writing and publishing content, you’ll need to access computer or laptop. If you have one you’re happy with (probably most readers here) that’s great. If not you’ll need to find some way to access one or get one. You can check out our take on the best laptops for blogging here.
What you spend after this on equipment depends on what you’re blogging about and why. Equipment and blogging software costs can range from virtually zero to thousands. If you’re blogging about new research or new books or some informational topic and you already have a functional laptop, your costs could be null.
If you plan on starting a site featuring your own HD travel photography but don’t have the camera, expect to shell out the big bucks. The same can be said for your computer. Depending on what you need from it, it can either be a no cost/ no issue deal, or expensive based on your needs.
If you need to use video or photo editing platforms, you’ll need lots of memory space and a super quick speed which comes with a bigger price tag.
Paying for your own domain is something beginning bloggers may struggle to decide upon. However, experienced bloggers pretty conclusively agree that the cost is minimal relative to the benefits. There are many credible sites that you can purchase your domain name from.
And yes, the domain is still yours and usable if you choose to use a blog hosting platform. Domain hosting platforms may allow either monthly or yearly payment options. If you choose an annual payment plan, you often get a significant amount discounted too.
Wherever you choose to purchase your domain from, it shouldn’t cost more than $10 – 14 per year.
You will definitely need to pay for hosting to make the most of your website. Paid hosting has many more options and benefits than free blogging platforms offer. When you pay for hosting, you have more control over the direction, profit, and overall design and interaction with your blog.
As with many start-up expenses and maintenance costs, the prices can vary quite a bit. For personal sites or small to medium-sized business blogs, you can easily find hosting options for a few dollars up to $25. What you pay for hosting will depend largely on a few factors:
- Traffic and bandwidth – Figure out how many readers you expect on the blog. Don’t forget to check out your host’s options for upgrading if you start receiving more traffic. Bandwidth, which is also tied to traffic, can be greatly impacted by your site content. If you plan on having many graphics, video content, or interactive content, it’s worth looking into a plan that provides for this.
- Accessibility – Companies with highly rated uptimes and options often cost a little more. If you’re thinking of going with a cheaper host with higher downtime, consider carefully. Frequent downtimes can impact visitors desire and patience when trying to visit your blog.
- Support – Customer support and education are some of the most valuable things hosting companies can offer to bloggers. It’s a good idea to read reviews about their services. Next, take a look at their hours of support. Some companies offer limited support hours and resources while others are available 24/7.
Many bloggers prefer to create all their content on their own. However, many also realize that with a lot of growth comes a lot less time to create content. This cost is entirely dependant on your preference. If you struggle to keep up with consistent posting or need lots of content to get your site going, you may consider hiring a company or a copywriter. Rates can vary significantly. How high the price goes will typically be based on time spent writing or word count.
It’s realistic to expect to pay $15 – 35 when hiring a company or copywriter. Likewise, you may consider hiring an editor or proofreader at similar rates. Even if you intend to use only the content you create, they will enhance your material.
Design and Branding
Of all the things to include in start-up costs, design and branding are perhaps the largest (albeit still quite affordable considering the benefits). Your site needs to look professional in order to give you credibility. So, like many other bloggers, you will most likely look into buying themes and templates.
These are the elements that really bring it all together and project a sense of quality. Many themes can be purchased for a pretty low cost depending on what you choose. Many blogging platforms offer at least a few free options. If you choose this, however, be warned it may make your site look very similar to others.
If you want to go in on a premium theme or design, you’ll make your website stand out from others. Themes and designs can usually be purchased for around $30 to about $90 or $100.
To really make your brand stand out, consider investing in a logo and a custom banner. If you’ve got a good eye for design and a high enough skill level, you may be able to do this yourself. The benefit here is that there won’t be any cost. The downside is that if you’re not exactly on point, can ruin the whole look of your brand.
There are a ton of places to find designers and freelancers who’d be happy to do the work for you. Again, depending on what you want, the level of detail, and time required, prices will vary. You should be able to find a logo and banner designer for anywhere from $5 to $50. Whatever your design idea is, you should be able to get it done without stretching your budget too much.
Promotions and Advertising
Big businesses can run expensive ad campaigns, but that isn’t typically a good solution for bloggers. The first reason is that big ad campaigns are expensive. Think six-digits. For bloggers, using social media to advertise a post or article is a really good solution. This is true especially when you’ve just begun your site need to find ways to expand your audience.
Sponsored posts and tweets are the ideal way to accomplish this. Why? That’s because tweets and sponsored posts help expand your brand and attract a larger audience. Plus they’re pretty inexpensive considering how effective they are. The cost of these posts tends to be based on audience engagement. For Facebook, costs typically fall within $0.16 cents to 1$ or more per click. If you choose Twitter to promote your content, expect to pay between $0.50 cents to $4 per interaction. Another venue that will appeal to bloggers wanting a more professional audience is LinkedIn. LinkedIn advertising generally costs about $2 per click.
Why You Shouldn’t Choose the Free Options
It’s understandable that the beginner blogger would first look at the free options for things, but when you’re serious about your blog, you need to invest in it. There are many valid reasons as to why you should bypass the free options on a blogging platform. If you’re on the fence, first consider these things:
It’s nearly impossible to gain revenue from your blog if you go through free providers. First, you really have no say in what ads pop up on your site. The ads may be highly irrelevant or just downright inappropriate for your audience.
That alone can turn off your audience. If you plan on being able to earn income from ads on your blog, the free options definitely won’t help. When you pay for your blog, the profits come to you, and you have more control over advertising options.
Free Blog Platforms Limit Your Potential
If you have experimented with free blogging platforms before, you know how few options there really are. As we’ve mentioned, there’s no ad revenue or choice. Plus, you won’t be able to decide what plugins you want to enhance your site. If you’re an intermediate to experienced blogger, you know how important WordPress plugins are.
You also have severely limited options when trying to design and enhance your site’s appearance. Free themes and plugins are standard and you can find them just about anywhere. What that means for your site is essentially anonymity. Basic features lead to a basic site, so let yours stand out.
Free Options Can Limit Future Progress
If you start on a free platform or with a free plan, know that the company is still profiting from your blog, ads, and the hope that you’ll eventually upgrade. What if your content expands in popularity overnight and experiences heavy traffic? Look forward to crashes and downtime. If that happens and you decide to upgrade to a paid plan later, you can be in for a big headache. Even if through the same platform, you can have to pay additional fees.
You might want to switch to a different platform later on. Transferring your site can be costly, time-consuming, and stressful. You might end up losing data in the transfer. Some companies offer services to migrate your site, but it’s just another fee added to your bill. It can literally cost you hundreds for a full migration depending on what your blog contains and how you decide to migrate it.
Businesses Aren’t Done For Free
The key to success for bloggers is realizing that you need to treat your website like a business. Every business requires some level of investment whether it be small or large. When you invest in paying even a little towards your site, you invest in yourself and in your brand just like a business.
That allows you to be the one accountable for changes, profits, and successes. You’re willing to put gas in your car to get to your full-time job, right? Think of the startup costs of your blog the same way. You’re putting in a small amount of money right now, to get you to where you need to be.
Starting a blog can be a confusing process and take as much time as a full-time job, but it can be a lot easier when you follow a simple formula. Follow the step-by-step guide we’ve outlined above to get it up and running, and remain committed to your work. And above all, persevere and invest in your site. Consider start-up costs a simple utility (like putting gas in your car), that gets you where you really want and need to be. Treat your business costs as an investment.