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building a business

beginner’s guide: here’s how much it costs to start a blog

One of the top questions people ask every day on social media is how much it costs to start a blog.

Of course, the top answer to this is “it depends” – and it does! So I rarely see the question being answered thoroughly because it does indeed depend on a lot of factors.

So, I’ve made it my mission to answer this question as best as I can for you right here.

The first question you should ask yourself when looking at the cost of starting a blog is whether you want to blog purely as a hobby, or if you intend to monetize your blog at some point.

If you have no interest in making money from your blog, then a free blogging platform such as Blogger is good enough. On the other hand, if you’re looking to turn your blog into a side gig or a full-time business, you’ll need to invest some money.

The good news is, starting a blog is a surprisingly affordable business venture! The initial and ongoing investment is fairly low, so most people should be able to get their piece of the digital cake. And the best part is that you can start making a good amount of money before needing to upgrade your tools.

woman working on laptop
All you need to start blogging is a computer, an internet connection and a few simple tools. Keep reading!

Assuming you already have some basic equipment such as a computer and an Internet connection, here’s a quick breakdown of the typical costs of starting and maintaining a blog. This breakdown also assumes a self-hosted WordPress blog, which is what I use and recommend. Costs will vary if you choose a platform such as Wix or Squarespace.

Pssst! Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning I may earn a small referral commission if you make a purchase or subscribe to a service. I only recommend products I use, love and trust. For more details, read my full disclaimer here.

domain name

The first thing you’ll need for your new blog is a domain name. This is the address (or URL) that links to your website.

Fortunately, you won’t have to spend a lot on this step – the average investment is only about $15 per year! Some hosting providers will even throw in a free domain name when you purchase a hosting plan.

Domain names can go up to several thousand dollars for premium domains. Something like anxiety.com actually goes for $525,000 right now! Holy moly!

The good news is that you don’t need a name like anxiety.com to be successful. I found byebyeanxiety.com for $11.99 per year on GoDaddy. (Feel free to grab it if you’re starting an anxiety blog!)

Domain name: $15/year

hosting

Hosting your blog will set you back a little more depending on the provider and plan you choose. On average, you can expect around $5 to $15 per month for a shared hosting plan.

Keep in mind that hosting costs are usually cheaper in your first year, then go up to the “regular” price after a year. Lower prices are also dependent on signing up for a longer term such as 36 months at a time.

I currently use DreamHost with an unlimited shared hosting plan on a pay-per-month basis, and I’m past the first year of usage. Currently it costs me about $20/month, which is about what you can expect at that time. You can lower that by signing up for 12-month plans or longer.

The cost below is calculated at $10 to $15 per month, which you can expect with a 12-month basic shared hosting plan with popular hosting providers such as DreamHost, Bluehost or SiteGround. To keep things cheap, I recommend a shared hosting plan until your blog starts getting several thousand visitors per day.

Hosting: $50/year for the first year, then $120-$200/year

themes and plugins

When choosing a theme for your WordPress site, two things are more important than anything else. Can you guess what they are?

Speed, and the ability to customize fonts and colors to match your branding.

Most free WordPress themes are very basic and offer limited customization. The main exception to this is the Astra theme, and more recently, the Kadence theme. Astra has been the most popular free theme for a long time because it has excellent customization options.

Now that we have Kadence, I’ve thrown everything else out the window. In fact, I switched to Kadence from Divi and was blown away by how much customization it offers, especially in terms of the ability to use your brand elements throughout your website.

With Divi, my site was amazingly beautiful, but it loaded as fast as molasses in -20 degree weather. A study by Google showed that 40% of users will abandon a page if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. This is HUGE. If Amazon’s website took one (1!!!!!) extra second to load, it would cost $1.6 billion in lost revenue. Ouch.

Not only is Kadence lightning-fast, it also offers incredible options to brand your site. As far as free themes go, I don’t think there’s currently a better option.

colorful pillows and laptop
A good theme allows you to stay on brand and communicate your message to your ideal audience.

Of course, premium themes will still offer more customization options. Should you choose a premium theme, make sure to do your research and find one that loads fast. On average, you can expect to pay between $49 to $89 per year for your premium theme.

Theme: $0-$89/year

In terms of plugins, you can get most of what you need for free.

I use RankMath as my SEO plugin. The free version is mind-blowing! You can also get great free plugins for image compression, caching, backups, security, spam reduction, social media sharing and more. These are enough to get you started.

Once your blog starts growing, you may need to upgrade some of your plugins to the premium version. The cost varies for each plugin, but here’s what I use:

  • RankMath Pro – $59/year
  • Smush Pro – $190/year
  • Perfmatters – $25/year

For me, these add important features such as keyword analytics, image resizing and increased performance on my website. Totally worth it, but optional.

Plugins: $0-$274/year

marketing your blog

Nowadays, competition is fierce. This means that bloggers need to use marketing strategies in order to be profitable.

The most important marketing software you need is an email marketing software (autoresponder). This allows you to capture your visitors’ email address so you can them stay in touch with them.

For the tightest budgets, AWeber and ConvertKit both offer a completely free plan. These will allow you to grow your email list to 500 (AW) or 1000 (CK) subscribers before needing to upgrade. This should be enough to start making money.

woman sitting cross-legged wih hot chocolate, marshmallows and laptop
Email marketing is an important part of your money-making blog strategy.

Once you have more subscribers, you can expect your email marketing software to cost around $30/month.

Email marketing software: $0 to $360 per year

In addition to email marketing, bloggers need a strong social media presence. You can start using social media for free by using built-in scheduling tools on Facebook and Pinterest and posting manually.

This quickly gets time-consuming and tedious. Many bloggers will make their lives easier by using social media management software. I use RecurPost to schedule and manage my Facebook posts, and I’m currently doing Pinterest manually. If you use Pinterest a lot, you may want to check out Tailwind. (FYI: RecurPost will also offer Pinterest functionality in the near future!)

Most social media management tools are priced around $25/month.

Social media scheduling tool: $0 to $300/year

how much it costs to start a blog

Using the above numbers, we can estimate the cost of starting and running a blog. Please note that these are estimates and your mileage may vary and all that stuff. The calculations were made based on the average cost of the various industry-standard tools, themes and email providers I researched.

Bare-bones option – $135/year for hosting and domain name

  • free theme and plugins
  • free autoresponder plan
  • manual social media scheduling

Well-rounded option – $524/year

  • premium theme
  • free autoresponder plan
  • one social media scheduling tool

Deluxe option – $1158/year

  • premium theme
  • business-level autoresponder plan
  • three premium plugins
  • one social media scheduling tool
woman writing in notebook
Take some time to shop around for different tools and take notes on things like cost or important features.

what setup should you start with?

The good news is, you can get started with the bare-bones option! Make sure to do your research and find a theme that has a decent free version, and upgrade that same version to premium later if you need to. Having to switch your entire website to a new theme and layout will cost you precious time (and sanity).

The well-rounded option should easily get you through your first year or two of blogging, depending on how fast you grow. I included a social media scheduling tool in this option, which quickly becomes a huge asset. Don’t skip it! Here’s why.

As you start writing more blog posts, the social media tool can recycle your blog posts on your business page. Your other content can also get recycled, which can free up hours of your time every week and allow you to write an extra blog post, email your subscribers or create a new freebie to grow your list. As a blogger, this extra time is really valuable.

The deluxe option is what will allow you to grow your blog beyond the first couple of years. By then, you should be making more than enough money to cover the cost of additional subscribers and premium plugins.

what do you think?

I’m really curious – were you surprised to learn how much it costs to start a blog?

Did you expect more, or less? Or were your expectations pretty spot on?

Are you planning to go ahead and start your blog after reading this? If so, please let me know which setup you decide to try.

Let it all out in the comments!

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