I get asked every single day without fail if you can make money blogging for free. The moment I say it requires some form of investment, many immediately turn away.
Then, of course, they go off to spend 5 bucks on coffee, 50 bucks at the mall, dinner for 50 more dollars and another 40 bucks for a movie.
What do I do? I do none of those things, I invest my money right back into my business and make 10 times my investment back!
Treat Your Blog Like A Business
It’s important to always keep in mind that a blog is a business just like any other startup. If you treat your blog like a business, you will be rewarded. Treat it like a hobby? You won’t earn squat!
In order to make money blogging, you need to invest your time and your money in the best tools to make your job easier.
You wouldn’t build a house today with your hands, would you? You’d go to the hardware store and find the best tools to help make your job easier.
The same applies to blogging.
And yet, today again, I’m asked by someone if they have to spend any money. I tell them, like I always do, the following:
“No, you can use a free blog host like tumblr. You won’t make any money, but you can certainly create a blog entirely for free.”
The reality is that there is no such thing as a free lunch. If you want to create a money making blog, you need to start thinking of your blog as a business.
So how much does it cost to start a blog? Let’s find out the truth.
Domain Name ($10 per year)
You can nab your very own .com domain at GoDaddy for about $10-$15 per year. A domain name is very important, as your blog won’t be taken seriously if you don’t have one.
Let’s make it even cheaper though, if you choose Bluehost as your webhost, they’ll give you a domain completely free.
I wrote a guide here on how to choose the perfect domain name.
Web Hosting ($47.40 per year)
Much like a brick and mortar store needs to pay rent, you need to pay for hosting for your blog.
I recommend to all my students to use Bluehost. Mainly because they are newbie-friendly and so very cheap (less than 5 bucks a month).
In order to get the best deal at $3.95 per month, you need to pre-pay your hosting for 3 years. If you instead choose to only pay for 1 year up front, your monthly cost becomes $5.95 (or $71.40 per year).
Here’s my guide on how to start your first blog.
Cost: Bluehost is $3.95 per month or $47.40 per year when pre-paid.
The blogging platform I always recommend is WordPress. It’s entirely free to use, easy and there’s some great plugins and themes to really customize your site.
Cost: WordPress is free
Blog Theme ($59.95 one-time fee)
Yes, there are countless free themes available on WordPress. But they are severely limited in what they’re able to do.
Free blogs won’t allow you to customize your blog enough, thus leaving your blog looking like the thousands of other people using that free theme.
When you use a paid theme like the ones from Studiopress, you can change the color, the font, the structure of your blog and more.
The best part of having a paid theme is that you have access to support, who can help you in case you mess something up or want to change something specific.
Email Marketing ($288 per year)
Building an email list is extremely important. It’s the way many blogs actually make money. Rather than filling your blog up with ads and affiliate links, you can instead create a mailing list of devoted fans and monetize your blog through them.
An email list is the ideal way to build a relationship with your readers. Once you’ve established that relationship you can then recommend products (or sell your own).
Mailchimp is the leader in free email marketing. Mailchimp is perfect for newbies because it’s free up to 2,000 subscribers. Sounds enticing, right?
Well, there are two problems with Mailchimp.
First, in their terms it states you can’t use affiliate links in your emails. And frankly, that’s how new bloggers can expect to earn their first $1,000 online.
Second, what happens when you reach their limit? You’ll most likely want to switch to a more professional email marketing service.
The better solution is to avoid the hassle of importing users and email campaigns and sign up with the service the pros use: ConvertKit.
You will rarely, if ever, find a blogger making $10,000 or more with their blog using anything other than ConvertKit. It was made specifically for bloggers, after all.
Here’s my guide on setting up your first email list.
Cost: ConvertKit is $29 per month or $288 when paid yearly
Lead Generation Software ($168 per year)
An email marketing service is what you use to send your emails, whether they be welcome emails, an email sequence or your latest blog updates.
But what about collecting the emails? For that you’ll want to use OptinMonster to create your optin forms.
In order to generate lots of email subscribers, you’ll need to employ high level tactics like welcome mats, slide ins, exit intent popups, two-step optins, inline optin forms and a topbar optin form.
Not only that but you need awesome templates too. I couldn’t possibly design or code any optin forms myself, so instead I use OptinMonster to create all of the optin forms you see on my blog.
Cost: OptinMonster is $14 per month or $168 per year
Social Media Sharing ($99.96 per year)
Sure, you can post to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram on your own. But that’s way too time consuming. The pros schedule their social media posts ahead of time.
Do you need a social media post scheduler? Yes! Nowadays, a lot of traffic comes from social media. If you’re waiting for Google to start sending you traffic, you’re going to be in for a long wait.
Social media is the way to get a steady stream of traffic coming to your blog and you need to post multiple times daily at optimal times to get noticed.
Personally, I use Social Pilot to schedule my Facebook and Twitter posts. I post 5-10 times every day and it’s all on auto-pilot.
On your blog, you also need to encourage social sharing. You can do this by adding share icons like the ones I have using Social Warfare, which is $29.
Cost: Social Pilot is $10 per month or $99.96 paid yearly
Pinterest Pin Scheduler ($119.88)
Pinterest deserves a section all by itself. It’s not really a social media site since no socializing goes on. In fact, it competes with Google as a visual search engine that lets you save links.
Pinterest is a massive traffic generator for me and it’s all thanks to Tailwind. I use this tool to pin over 50 times per day to my Pinterest group boards!
Cost: Tailwind is $15 per month or $119.88 paid yearly
Keyword Research Tool ($297 per year)
This one is entirely optional. I’m including a keyword research tool because I believe it’s essential to create content with a purpose. Otherwise, you will be writing for no one but yourself.
You see, in order to get traffic from Google, you have to create content that people are searching for on Google. With a keyword research tool like Long Tail Pro, you can see the volume of a keyword phrase and how competitive that keyword is.
In other words, it helps direct you to writing the content that has the highest chance of ranking on the first page of Google’s search results.
It’s the very reason why my keyword phrase for this post is “How Much Does It Cost To Start A Blog”. My research showed this is a search term Google users frequently search for and I’ve got a good chance to rank on the first page for the phrase “How Much Does It Cost To Start A Blog”.
Cost: Long Tail Pro is $297 paid yearly.
Advertising Costs ($300 per year)
Spending money to advertise your blog is optional. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend a new blogger dive into spending money on ads at all.
Before you spend a dime on ads, you should first have the following things ready:
- your blog has to be fully launched and full of content
- you need optin forms with lead magnets (freebies) to entice subscribers
- you need to be making money already with your email list
- and ideally, you should have created a product to sell
You should be able to accomplish all of those tasks before your first year of blogging. When you do, it’s time to venture out into paid ads.
I recommend starting with Facebook Ads, as you can drive traffic to your blog for as little as 5 cents per user. Then you can branch out into Google Ads, which can be a bit more costly.
Cost: $25 per month in Facebook Ads drives 500 visitors monthly
Blogging Courses ($97 per year)
This next one is entirely optional. Even now, after 15 years of blogging, I am still buying courses and learning new things.
I know that Google and Youtube are full of information. It’s what I use when I have a question I need answered. But the information is spread out, it’s sporadic, it’s not in any kind of order.
With a blogging course, you can learn something new and master it by the end of the course.
I’ve taken courses on Pinterest traffic, email marketing and Facebook ads to name a few. I’ll be taking another course starting next month too, because learning never stops.
Cost: One $97 course per year
You can’t blog without a good quality computer or laptop. I use my iPhone for most everything, but not for blogging.
It’s important to have your own computer and not share it. Remember, your blog is a business, treat it like one.
Good Internet Connection
You need a reliable wifi connection that’s fast. I try and do everything as fast as possible, so waiting for a webpage to load drives me nuts.
Perhaps your most important investment will be your time. You can’t have a money making blog if you don’t devote time to your new business.
Most people who are starting a blog either stay at home taking care of their kids or work a day job. Either way, you need to find time if you want to make this work.
Total Costs To Start A Blog
- Domain name: $10 per year (free with Bluehost) *required
- Blog Hosting: $47.40 per year (Bluehost) *required
- WordPress: Free *required
- Blog Theme: $59.95 one time fee (Studiopress)
- Email Marketing: $288 per year (Convertkit)
- Lead Generation Software: $168 per year (OptinMonster)
- Social Media Sharing: $99.96 per year (Social Pilot)
- Social Sharing Icons: $29 per year (Social Warfare)
- Pinterest Pins Scheduler: $119.88 per year (Tailwind)
- Keyword Research Tool: $297 per year (LongTailPro)
- Advertising Costs: $300 per year (Facebook Ads)
- Blogging Courses: $97 per year
- Laptop: $1,500 one-time fee
- Internet Connection: $480 per year
So, how much does it cost to start a blog? The bare minimum is domain + hosting + blogging platform, which in this case is $10 + $47.40 + free = $57.40 for 1 year.
And how much does it cost to start a blog that makes $10,000 per month (like mine do)? That would be the grand total of $1,768.24 per year (not including the cost of a laptop).
Not a bad return on your investment, right?
Do you want to start a blog? What’s holding you back?