How Much Does it Really Cost to Start a Blog?

By Ian | Blogging

cost of starting a blog

Does it cost money to start a blog? If you’re talking about a blog that’s set up for success, then it’s a definite yes — but you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars.

 

There are many guides out there claiming that starting a blog will cost a lot of money. Well, that’s because they include a lot of unnecessary products that you don’t actually need if you’re just starting out.

I’ll tell you right off the bat: landing page softwares, premium keyword research tools, premium themes, and email marketing services aren’t included in this blog.

 

“What? But other guides are saying that those products are a requirement — that you should buy them immediately!”

 

There’s no doubt that premium tools and softwares are helpful. The reason that I didn’t include them in this article is because they have no ability to generate extra revenue for a business until consistent traffic has been established.

You don’t need premium tools and softwares for at least 6-12 months after you’ve started your blog.

 

Free Blogging Sites? Don’t Even Think About It!

Free blogging sites instantly dooms the future of your blog the very moment you start using them. You can throw away any hopes of earning anything from your blog once you set it up on a free blogging platform. Why?

 

wordpress cms

 

You Don’t Own Your Own Website

In exchange for using a free platform, the company has full ownership over your website. The company may shut your website down at any time if they deem it to be in violation of their Terms & Conditions (which changes frequently), erasing any trace of your content on the internet.

Since you don’t own your website, its URL will include the name of the free platform you’re using. This is what your website’s URL will look like if you use a platform like Blogger: “yourdomainname.blogspot.com.”

A URL like this comes across as unprofessional in the blogging industry. People don’t take blogs established on these free blogging sites seriously. Creating a blog on one of these sites will undoubtedly drive off potential business partners.

Monetization will also be limited. Free blogging platforms have strict rules when it comes to monetizing content. An example of this is how they prohibit people from placing ads on their blogs because free blogging platforms usually place their own ads on the websites people create through them (ads you won’t earn anything from).

 

WordPress.org is the Only Choice

When it comes to blogging platforms, the self-hosted WordPress.org is king. Don’t confuse it with WordPress.com, though. Think of WordPress.org as WordPress.com’s older sibling.

The main differences between the two are that WordPress.com is much simpler than its “.org” counterpart and limits the ways a site can be monetized. Also, users are restricted to certain free themes and plugins they can use.

If you set up a free website with WordPress.com, your URL will look like this: “yourdomainname.wordpress.com.”

The level of control and customization WordPress.org (which I’ll refer to as WordPress from now on) provides is unparalleled. Although you have to secure your own hosting, you have complete ownership over your blog and there are no limits to how it can be monetized.

WordPress is the most popular blogging platform currently available. With millions of users, WordPress has naturally resulted in an overwhelmingly supportive community. Got a question or a problem? The WordPress community has answers.

The only disadvantages to using WordPress are that it requires a bit of technical knowledge and it’s self-hosted. However, if you take advantage of our affiliate links, you can get the lowest prices possible for securing both hosting and domain registration.

 

Hosting Costs

The purpose of hosting is simple: web hosting providers secure and store the files for your website. This makes it readily available to anyone who searches for it on the internet.

Hosting costs will vary depending on the company and the plan. If you want to secure hosting for the lowest possible price without sacrificing quality, I recommend Bluehost.

 

Bluehost ($59.40/year)

You might find mixed reviews when researching Bluehost. Back in 2010, Bluehost was acquired by Endurance International Group and the customer support became terrible, which resulted in a lot of the negative reviews on the internet. However, Bluehost’s entire support department was restructured when more experienced members were hired.

Now, Bluehost is better than ever.

Bluehost (affiliate link) is the best choice for a beginner or an intermediate blogger. We’ve made a special deal with Bluehost that lets you secure hosting for as low as $59.40 a year.

To better understand Bluehost’s pricing plans, check out the image below that reflects the prices offered if you register through our affiliate link.

 

bluehost pricing page

 

  • If you opt for the “Basic” plan and register for 1-year, you’ll pay a total of $59.40. If you opt for a 3-year plan, you’ll pay an upfront total of $106.20, which translates to $35.40/year — that’s a savings of $24/year.
  • I recommend the “Plus” plan for those who are aiming to take blogging seriously. If you opt for a 1-year plan, you’ll pay a total of $89.40. If you opt for a 3-year plan, you’ll pay an upfront total of $196.20, which translates to $65.40/year — again, saving you $24/year.
  • The “Choice Plus” plan is basically the same as the “Plus” plan, but with a couple of extras: Domain Privacy and CodeGuard Basic. These extras are just that – extra. They aren’t really needed, so it’s better to get the best value and opt for the “Plus” plan.

The reason why I recommend the Plus plan is because it offers unlimited websites and website space. Unlimited website hosting can come in handy if your first website doesn’t go well (knock on wood). If this happens, you won’t have to switch hosting or delete an old website if you want to try a different niche or start over from scratch.

However, if you’re blogging on a budget and are absolutely cash-strapped, the Basic hosting package is a really good option.

 

GoDaddy ($95.88/year)

GoDaddy offers plans that are much more expensive when compared to Bluehost’s.

For example, Bluehost offers a free SSL Certificate on its lowest plan while GoDaddy only offers it for “free” with its $12.99/month plan. Overall, you’ll end up paying a whopping $79.99/year for an SSL Certificate with GoDaddy’s lower-priced plans.

SSL Certificates are really important. Without an SSL Certificate, your website will appear as “unsecured” and visitors will be warned before entering your website. This isn’t exactly ideal for a good user experience.

 

no free ssl certificate warning

 

GoDaddy doesn’t even offer hosting for unlimited websites in any of their plans. By contrast, Bluehost offers unlimited website hosting starting at their “Plus” plan.

 

godaddy pricing page

 

If you opt for GoDaddy’s “Basic” plan and register for a 1-year plan, you’ll pay a total of $95.88. But if you opt for a 3-year plan, you’ll pay a total of $251.64 (again, everything is paid upfront), which translates to $83.88/year.

Compared to Bluehost’s hosting plans, choosing GoDaddy doesn’t make sense. Bluehost offers more value than GoDaddy offers at a cheaper and reasonable price.

 

HostGator ($95.40/year)

HostGator’s “Starter” plan doesn’t look great when compared to Bluehost’s “Basic” plan.

If you opt for HostGator’s “Starter” plan and register for a 1-year plan, you’ll pay a total of $95.40. But if you opt for a 3-year period, you’ll pay a total of $214.20 (everything is paid upfront), which translates to $71.40/year.

When comparing HostGator’s “Starter” Plan and Bluehost’s “Basic” Plan, there isn’t really much difference other than Bluehost offering everything HostGator has to offer at a SIGNIFICANTLY lower price.

 

hostgator pricing page

 

It’s obvious that compared to other web-hosting providers, Bluehost offers the lowest costs and provides the most value. I know that seems too good to be true, but believe me — it’s true.

 

Hosting Costs: Summary

Bluehost

Cheapest: Basic plan = $59.40 (1 year);

Recommended: Plus plan = $190 (3 years)

GoDaddy

Basic plan = $95.88 (1 year)

HostGator

Starter plan = $95.40 (1 year)


Domain Registration Costs

Domain registrars are companies qualified and accredited to register and reserve your domain name on the internet. Buying a domain name from a domain registrar is just as important as securing hosting for your website as it’ll serve as your address on the internet.

There are three major options when registering a domain name:

 

  1. The hosting company (in this case, Bluehost)
  2. GoDaddy.com
  3. Namecheap.com

 

Bluehost ($23.87/year)

If you register a domain name with a registrar that isn’t the hosting company, you’ll need to connect the domain name with the hosting company, which sounds more technical and complicated than it is.

Registering a domain name with a hosting company takes the “technical and complicated” process out of the equation, which makes starting a blog a lot more convenient and straightforward.

However, this “technical and complicated” process only takes 5 minutes, tops. You can read about that process here.

Hosting with Bluehost includes a free domain name for the first year. However, if you’re in it for the long-run, Bluehost’s prices for domain names and domain privacy are a little bit on the expensive side.

 

domain name in bluehost hosting

 

Domain privacy keeps all of your personal information (e.g., full name, home or company address, phone number, and email) from being open to the public. Personally, I’m not comfortable with my information floating around the internet. Leaving your personal information exposed to the public makes you susceptible to hacking and fraud. Although those chances are low, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

After the first year, domain name and domain privacy costs a total of $23.87.

 

GoDaddy ($17.99/year)

Compared to Namecheap’s prices, GoDaddy’s domain prices are absurdly high.

GoDaddy charges $11.99 for a “.com” domain for the first year and then hikes the price up to $17.99 for the second year.

While GoDaddy does include basic domain privacy in their fees, the prices they offer are much too high when compared to Namecheap’s.

 

domain name in godaddy hosting

 

Namecheap ($9/year)

The price of registering a domain name varies depending on popularity and competition. With our affiliate link, the average price of a “.com” domain with Namecheap is around a whopping $9/year, which is considerably lower compared to what other domain registrars offer.

Considering that the $9 dollars per year includes free domain privacy FOREVER, it’s a pretty sweet deal.

Unlike GoDaddy, Namecheap’s prices are consistent and don’t spike after the first year.

Register with Namecheap through our affiliate link to get the lowest prices when registering your domain name.

 

domain name in namecheap

 

Domain Registration Costs: Summary

Bluehost (Domain Name + Domain Privacy) = Free during the first year; $11.99 + $11.88 = $23.87/year after the first year

GoDaddy (Domain Name + Domain Privacy) = $11.99/year in the first year; $17.99 after the first year.

Namecheap (Domain Name + Domain Privacy) = $9/year  

 

WordPress Themes and Plugins ($0)

As you’re just starting up, it isn’t necessary to pay for premium themes and plugins – YET. All of the plugins that a beginner needs are available for free.

The plugins I’ll be recommending make your site SEO-friendly and address the security concerns of WordPress.

Here are the only WordPress plugins you need:

 

  • Yoast SEO – helps with making your site more SEO friendly.
  • Easy Updates Manager – handles updates for WordPress, plugins, and themes.
  • Wordfence – helps with the security of your site.
  • Contact Form 7 – allows the setup of customizable contact forms on your site.

 

When it comes to WordPress themes, it’s not necessary to pay for one right now. As long as it’s mobile-friendly, simple, and fast, a free theme is more than adequate for a first-time blogger.

It’s crucial to focus on more essential things, such as writing content, that will drive traffic to your site. Consider buying a premium WordPress theme once consistent traffic has been established (about 9 to 12 months after launching your site).

While a premium theme does a lot for the aesthetic of a website, it has no effect on traffic generation or SEO. But if you’re dead-set on buying a premium theme and have the extra cash, go for it. All I’m saying is that it really isn’t a necessity for now.

 

Blogging Tools ($0)

Contrary to what you may read, blogging tools are not necessary in the beginning. I don’t know why other guides are SCREAMING for you to purchase really expensive blogging tools when you’ve only just set up your website./*

Your time should be devoted to consistently writing high-quality content, especially for a website that doesn’t have a lot of it yet — and a method that helps you write high-quality content is keyword research.

A high-quality blog post doesn’t simply fall out of a writer’s head.

blogging tools

High-quality blog posts are optimized for certain keywords to ensure that the content reaches the right people, and keyword research is the best method of finding such keywords.

There are several premium tools that make the keyword research process a lot easier, but to be honest, you don’t need one. The best free keyword research tool is Google Keyword Planner, and all that’s required is creating a Google Ads account.

Once your blog starts making money, then a premium keyword research tool might be ideal. There’s just no sense in paying for a tool from the get-go when there’s a free alternative that’s just as promising.

 

Advertising ($0)

Paying for advertising doesn’t make sense if you haven’t produced enough reliable content — because, what’s there to advertise?

Begin focusing on paid advertising and promotion once your site is getting 75-100 consistent visitors a month.

With that said, there are a couple of notable (and free) methods that are time-tested and proven to drive traffic to your site: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and social media. These methods should be implemented the moment you publish your first blog post.

 

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search Engine Optimization is a method that organically drives traffic to your site. It’s free and should be implemented in every blog post.

In simple terms, SEO is the practice of optimizing content to ensure that it reaches the people who are searching topics related to it. There are two types of SEO: On-page SEO and off-page SEO. On-page SEO involves factors that you can control within your content while off-page SEO involves factors outside of your content that you can’t control.

If your curiosity about on-page and off-page SEO is piqued, read more about the basics of on-page SEO here and off-page SEO here.

 

Social Media

Promoting your content through social media is another method of free advertising. Examples of social media platforms that you can take advantage of are Pinterest, Facebook, and Youtube (to name a few), and the one you choose to use should depend on your content and niche.

For example, if your blog is mainly focused on video content, promoting your content on Youtube will be more effective than promoting your content on Pinterest.

Social media may get harder as your blog expands, and that’ll be the time when email marketing softwares and other social media tools come in handy.

 

Summary: The Total Cost of Starting a Blog

So, how much does it REALLY cost to start a blog? Here’s a breakdown of the basics needed to realistically get started:

 

  • Blogging Platform/ Software: $0
  • Hosting: $59.40 for a 1-year plan or $109.40 for a 3-year plan with Bluehost’s “Basic” plan. I recommend opting for the “Plus” plan where you pay $89.40 for a 1-year plan or $190 for a 3-year plan.
  • Domain Registration: $9/year with Namecheap.
  • Themes & Plugins: $0
  • Blogging Tools: $0
  • Advertising/ Promotion: $0

Total Cost (Cheapest): $59.40 (Hosting) + $9 (Domain Name) = $68.40 for 1 year.

Total Cost (Recommended): $190 (Hosting) + $27 (Domain Name) = $217 in upfront costs ($72.33/year for 3 years)

 

Take note that the costs included are ALL the necessary costs to start a blog while taking advantage of free tools and methods. If you happen to have decent start-up capital and want to purchase premium tools, plugins, or themes right from the get-go, by all means — do so!

 

BUT, keep in mind that you’ll do just fine without paying for premium tools, plugins, or themes. You’ll just have to exert a little bit more effort.

 

Other than hosting and domain registration, the biggest investment you’ll make when starting a blog is time. You’ll have to devote yourself to creating high-quality content consistently for months, if not years.

Namecheap is the best option for long-term domain registration. If you’re really trying to limit costs in the first year of starting a blog, you may consider the free domain name that Bluehost offers through our affiliate link.

If this article has tempted you to start a blog because now you know it can be done by only spending $68.40, read our guide on how to start a blog here.

 

Do you think I missed something? Let me hear your thoughts in the comments below! 

About the Author

I've been in internet marketing for over 10 years, and I've purchased dozens of illegitimate products for the sole purpose of evaluating them and exposing the truth about these products to anyone who's thinking about purchasing it. I never let money influence my rating of a product and your success/safety is my absolute highest priority. Don't want to buy a product? Register for one of my 100% free internet marketing training courses>>