In Step 1 of “How to Start a Blog”, we learned that it’s in our best interest to approach starting a blog like we’re starting a business.
Like all business startups, we’re going to need some startup money.
How much does it cost to start a blog? As with many things in life, it depends. The short answer is probably somewhere in the range of a few hundred dollars, but we’ll look at some budgeting models to firm this up a bit.
I’m sure you’ll have questions about some of the items on this list, so there’s a kick butt sister article explaining – in depth – what each item is and why I think you need it.
I’m going to tell you right now – despite what you may see floating around other sites – you do not want to start your blog with a second rate host, a dodgy theme, or sketchy plugins. You might save a few bucks at the outset, but oh boy are you going to pay (and pay and pay) in time, frustration, and problems.
Free stuff is free for a reason.
If you’re just getting started, do you want to spend all your time trying to figure out the boring nuts-and-bolts of computers and computer code just to make your site run the way it’s supposed to? No way! That stuff doesn’t build your product and it doesn’t make you any money. Creating content and promoting your product are the things that make you money, so spend your time doing those things, instead.
To avoid spending all your time trying to figure out how to run the stupid computers working in the background, the backend of your blog is going to need high quality products that work and offer support. Products like that cost some money. Not a ton, but some.
Keeping this in mind, I’ve prepared two sample budgets to share with you.
How Much Does it Cost to Start a Blog?
There’s a “deluxe” budget, which includes all the things I think you – the up and coming professional blogger who is starting a business not working on a hobby – should have.
I’ve also made an “essential” budget, which includes only the items you absolutely must have to get your blog off the ground in a configuration that’s ready to start generating revenue.
Let’s look at the budgets and then we can talk about them.
The Deluxe Blog Startup Budget
- Hosting: Obviously, your blog needs hosting. But you do have a variety of hosting services to choose from, and they come at different price points. The deluxe budget places your blog with a fully managed, WordPress-only, top tier host, like Kinsta. We have a longer article on hosting options if you’d like to learn more.
- Domain Registration: Another inescapable cost of starting any website. The price listed here is for a two year .com registration. It also includes privacy protection, which prevents your personal information from being publicly accessible via the whois database. I pulled the pricing from GoDaddy.
- Incorporation: The average cost of forming a single member LLC. Prices vary by state, so your cost may be slightly lower or higher. Incfile is the company I use, and they’ve always provided solid service.
- Mailbox: The pricing here is for a small USPS PO Box in a competitive market. This is an average cost, because the USPS pricing model is kind of complex. They do publish the whole thing on their website, if you’d like the mind numbing details.
- Plugins: I’ve included the price for the paid versions of Thrive Leads and Thirsty Affiliates.
- Theme: The average (ballpark) cost for a full featured, professional WordPress theme from a reputable developer sold on a reputable site
- Email hosting: Gsuite costs $10/mo per user for business tier service. Unless you have employees or need more than 50 email addresses, you only need one user. You can get good service for a little less money from Rackspace. If you need to learn more about this, we just happen to have an article on email hosting. Lucky you.
- Mailing Service: This is how you collect, store, and manage the mailing lists you create by gathering email addresses on your site. The price is for the free tier of MailChimp, which is a top notch service. We use MailChimp and it took a long time (long after revenue started rolling in) before we got popular enough to cross over into a tier that actually costs any money.
The Essential Blog Startup Budget
- Hosting: The hosting price decreases in the essential budget because we move to a second tier host or a very small plan at a top tier host.
- Domain Registration: Unchanged. You need a domain name.
- Incorporation: Gone. We run everything under own own name.
- Mailbox: Gone. We use our home address for all business mail and all legal documents
- Plugins: Unchanged. You need these plugins.
- Theme: Unchanged. You need a professional theme.
- Email hosting: Unchanged. You need email.
- Mailing Service: Unchanged. The service doesn’t cost anything until you have 2500 subscribers. By the time you get there, you’ll be making enough money that you won’t care about the $10/mo fee
WHICH BUDGET IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
Listing prices is easy. A little bit of research, some spreadsheets, and boom…price list. Figuring out which things you should/can spend money on is a little harder.
It is my honest opinion that you’ll be in the best position for success by going with all of the stuff on the deluxe list. Having a good host, a reliable mail service, and a corporate entity that is separate from your personal life will make all the behind-the-scenes details of running your blog business much easier.
But, you don’t have to take either of these budgets as the way things must be. Sit down with a paper and pen (or a spreadsheet, if you’re fancier than I am), do a little research, and find options that work for you.
With less time spent worrying about the dumb details of running your back end, you’ll be free to dedicate more of your time and energy to producing quality content and building an audience. And that’s the stuff that will make you money, not fixing server crashes or troubleshooting a buggy plugin.
If you have a little time to spend reading, you should continue on to the companion piece to this article, where I go step-by-step through a detailed explanation of each item on the budget and explain exactly why I think each item is important.
Need Some Review?
How to Start A Blog Part 1: Choosing a Great Topic