It’s an easy question to ask “How much does it cost to start a blog in 2020?”, but it’s a devilishly difficult question to answer.
I could counter with, “As much as you want to spend”. It’s a bit of a cop-out but the truth is what you spend starting your blog will depend on your budget.
The law of diminishing returns definitely applies to blogging. At the end of the day, however much you spend on tools or gizmos, expensive themes or first class hosting, it will be worth diddly-squat, ziltch, nada if you don’t produce content people value.
The Cheapest Way To Start A Blog
This is what most people want to hear. What’s the cheapest way to start a blog or even can you start a blog for free?
The answer is yes, of course.
Now it’s not the best way to make money from a blog, but it’s an excellent way to test out ideas and build up a few followers.
If you’re not in a hurry to start making money, or you want to start really small, going down the FREE route makes perfect sense. Platforms such as Medium or Blogger can be a good place to start if you just want to get a bit of practice blogging to see how people respond.
Can you make money on a FREE blog?
Making money is almost impossible on Medium. It is possible on Blogger. You can sign up for AdSense after 6 months and you can apply to Amazon Associates straightaway.
Blogger does have it’s limitations. The most important one is you don’t own your blog on Blogger. It’s owned by Google. Now that may be okay if you’re just blogging to make money for your local charity. It’s not so good if you’re trying to build a home business.
Having your blog on Blogger also sends out the wrong message when you’re trying to start a business. It’s saying “I’m not really serious”. You’re sending out the wrong message if your trying to sign up to be an affiliate marketer.
I suggest you move your blog from Medium or Blogger to a self hosted WordPress.org site when you’re ready to start making money.
Can you switch from Blogger (or Medium) to WordPress?
Moving your blog from these platforms is a little tricky. You can export your blog from Medium but you will lose all your existing traffic. With Blogger it’s a little better but it’s still a time consuming process setting up redirects for every blog page.
Starting a free WordPress.com blog is another option but I’m wary about this choice. WordPress.com now entice you to sign up for one of their paid plans.
These plans are expensive and way more limited than the complete freedom you have with a WordPress.org site. If you intend to use your blog to make money, starting off with a self hosted WordPress.org blog is always going to be the best route.
Fortunately, pricing starts at about the price of a cappuccino per month in your favourite coffee house – so for most people it’s affordable.
The Best Way To Start A Blog (The First Few Months)
How much does it cost to start a blog if you want to make money from the word go?
If you’re starting a blog as a complete beginner, but you’re serious about making money from the word go, opt for a self-hosted WordPress.org blog.
You need to choose hosting that’s fast, secure and reliable. If you’re budget’s really small, this is all you need. Once you’re paid for your hosting everything else is optional.
It’s a bit like buying a car. Your WordPress.org hosting is the essential basic model for starting a blog. All the extras you can add at a later date or splash out on now if you have the cash.
Cost from $3.95 per month but you will have to pay 1-3 years upfront to get the best deals. Allow about $100. Find out more >>
Free Blog Themes
Once you’ve got your hosting, there’s nothing wrong with using a FREE blog theme. But there is a catch.
Many of these so called free themes are really just hooks to get you to pay for their premium version. Install a free theme and I can guarantee you’ll be upgrading to their paid version within a month.
Why? Because the free version is limited and you’ll be constantly enticed to opt for the paid version.
My advice? Stick with this combination for the first few months until you know how you want you blog to look and you’ve started making money. Then it will be time to spend money on a paid theme.
Most Pro Bloggers use the Genesis framework combined with themes such as my favourites from StudioPress. They’re not the cheapest but the Pro’s use them for a reason. They’re fast to load and work exceptionally well. Cost $99 to $130
Free Email Marketing
Ideally you should start building an email list straightaway. It’s the best way to build relationships with your blog visitors and keep them coming back for more.
It’s also easier to sell affiliate products, (or your own digital products), via your email list.
The good news is the email service MailChimp is free for your first 2000 subscribers. That’s great! The only problem is you can’t use MailChimp for affiliate marketing.
If that’s how you’re intending to make money from your blog, think about signing up for ConvertKit.
ConvertKit is designed purely for Pro bloggers by people who really understand what you need as a blogger. In my view it’s an essential service so put it on your wish list! Costs starting at $29/month. Click here to get a free trial.
Social Media Tools
You can start out without paying for social media tools but once you’re serious about growing your blog, this is one of the best areas to invest your money.
I use two social media tools. Social Warfare and Tailwind. For my blogging businesses these are essential. You can get a free version of Social Warfare but the Pro Version allows me to add a Pinterest Save It button overlay to all my images. This really encourages visitors to share my pins.
Tailwind is my scheduler for pinning posts on Pinterest. It also gives me access to Tailwind Tribes, groups of Pro bloggers who share each others pins. It’s the main reason my new lifestyle blog is growing so quickly.
Costs: Social Warfare Pro $29/year, Tailwind starting at $15/month. Click here to get a free trial.
There is lots of free information on the internet. Seek it out, be prepared to be led down a few false alley ways, and there’s no reason to spend money on a blogging course.
Blogging courses just make your life easier. I’m not just saying that because I have my own blogging course.
I’ve spent money on several blogging courses. When I switched to using WordPress two years ago, it was a quick, effective way to learn something new. And time is money!
Plus it can be hard finding the right advice online. Sometimes investing in a course can fast track you along your blogging journey. You just need to choose a course from someone who’s opinion you trust.
I’d love it to be mine. My Hatch A Blog Course will walk you through launching your blog and making your first $1000.
Costs: Can vary greatly for blogging courses. I’ve tried expensive courses (1000+) which were useless and micro courses for niche topics which were incredible value. Expect to pay anything from $49 to $1000+
Cost Of Growing Your Blog
How much does it cost to start a blog if you want to grow your blog quickly?
Some of the costs of blogging get bigger as you grow your blog and if you want to monetize your blog quickly, there’s a whole host of tools from landing tools to SEO research tools. None are essential which is why the cost of starting your blog comes down to how much you’re willing spend.
The one area where you will need to spend more as your blog grows is hosting. Hosting costs depend on your traffic. (There is no such thing as unlimited traffic and you will get a firm reminder to upgrade your hosting as your traffic starts to soar).
It makes sense. You can’t expect to hog all the resources on a shared server. At this stage you should be making some money from all that lovely traffic and the cost of around $25/month for Pro hosting should seem reasonable.
When I started out in business I was paying $70/month for a tiny shop so small you could swing a cat in it. This was on a High Street near the Scottish border with very little passing trade. Starting a business online is so much cheaper!
Email Marketing Costs As You Blog Grows
My last business had 25,000 subscribers. It was an eCommerce business so MailChimp worked well sending out newsletter with lots of images.
It certainly wasn’t a free service. At today’s prices, this level of subscribers would cost me $189/month. But that was okay. Why? Because every time I sent out a newsletter, I generated several thousand dollars in sales.
Your costs for email marketing will increase as your blog grows. With ConvertKit expect to pay $49/month for up to 3000 subscribers.
Conclusion – How Much Does It Cost To Start A Blog?
You can start a blog for free on Blogger but it’s way better to commit to a self hosted WordPress.org blog if you’re serious about making money. Allow about $100 if you want to get the best deals by paying for 1-3 years upfront.
Estimated blogging startup costs:
- Hosting $100 upfront
- Email marketing $29/month
- Social media tools $29 upfront plus $15/month (optional)
- Blogging courses $49 – $1000+ (optional)
Expect to pay more once your blog starts to grow. Hosting costs and email marketing costs will increase, plus most successful bloggers continue learning and investing in blogging courses.
Ready to start a blog?
Frequently Asked Questions
You can start a blog for free on Blogger but if you’re keen to make money from blogging, it’s best to pay for shared hosting. Most hosting companies will expect you to pay for 12 months upfront. Allow $100 to cover your 12 month hosting cost and your domain name. You can spend money on a paid theme and email marketing but there are good free options if want to keep your costs to a minimum.