It’s an easy question to ask “How much does it cost to start a blog in 2021?”, 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, zilch, nada if you don’t produce content people value.
Disclosure: If you purchase products through links on my site (eg Bluehost hosting) I may earn a commission. This is at no extra cost to you but it helps me create more free content.
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 its 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 intent on making a full-time income from blogging.
Having your blog on Blogger also sends out the wrong message when you’re trying to build your reputation as a blogger. It’s saying “I’m not really serious”. You’re sending out the wrong message if you’re 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.
Instead, one option is to start a blog using the free version of WordPress.com.
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
It’s super confusing for a new blogger until you discover that there are two different versions of WordPress. One is the self-hosted WordPress.org loved by all pro-bloggers and powering 35% of the internet.
The other is WordPress.com. It’s a hosted solution so they get to call the shots. This means putting THEIR adverts on your free blog. So it’s just about impossible for you to make money.
The free version of WordPress.com has a very limited selection of themes, and you can’t use your own domain. Plus they won’t let you upload any plugins. Free comes at a price.
WordPress.com does have paid plans but 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 your 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.
✅ Blog hosting – starting at just $2.95 per month. A 36-month package costs $106 with my 63% discount. That’s all you need to pay for 3 years of blogging!
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.
If you want a completely free theme, use a WordPress one. The Twenty Twenty theme is a great option when teamed up with the default-free Gutenberg editor. (Or even the new Twenty Twenty One theme but you might want to change the background color).
I’m using the paid version of GeneratePress right now on this Simply Hatch blog. The cost is $59 per year. It’s highly rated by so many pro-bloggers because it’s super fast and lightweight. You can even upload demo sites from their site library to kick start your new blog:
My advice? Stick with the Twenty Twenty WordPress theme or the GeneratePress free theme for the first few months until you know how you want your blog to look and you’ve started making money. Then it will be time to spend money on a paid theme.
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. I’ve tried out a lot of different email service providers and the best by far for affiliate marketing is ConvertKit.
✔ConvertKit is designed purely for Pro-bloggers by people who really understand what you need as a blogger. I use it every day and it’s an essential service for affiliate marketing and selling your own products. ConvertKit has a FREE version for your first 1000 subscribers!
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 started out using the FREE version of Social Warfare. It’s a great tool for encouraging your blog visitors to share your posts on social media. The free version is definitely worth installing via your plugin library.
If you have a lot of Pinterest visitors, you may want to upgrade to the Pro version at $29 per year. This lets you add a Pinterest Save It button overlay to all post images. It really encourages visitors to share your pins.
These days I use Grow by Mediavine. It’s a great social plugin at $34 per year and definitely worth using if you’re a big Pinterest user. (They don’t have an affiliate scheme so I don’t make any money from recommending Grow. I just think it’s the best paid plugin).
Tailwind is my scheduler for pinning posts on Pinterest. It also gives me access to Tailwind Communities, groups of Pro bloggers who share each other’s pins. It’s the main reason my new lifestyle blog has grown so quickly. Cost starts from $9.99 per month with 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 in 2018, 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 Ebook 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+
Or pick the more affordable option of my Hatch A Blog Ebook which comes with tons of BONUS lessons and a Private Support Group.
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.
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 $106 upfront for a 36-month hosting package
- Email marketing free for your first 1000 subscribers
- Social media tools free (optional costs Social Warfare Pro $29 per year, Tailwind Pinterest Plus $9.99 per month)
- Blogging courses – find information for free online (optional $49 – $1000+) or access my high-value Hatch A Blog Ebook for far less.
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.
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.