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One of the questions I get asked a lot is ‘How much does it cost to start a blog?‘
The answer is ‘as much as you want to spend.’
You could even start a blog for free.
But I do not recommend this. Unless you have ZERO intention of ever making money from it.
Even if it’s just a hobby now, you might want to monetise it in the future. At the very least, it might give you a bit of extra pocket money. Or then again, it might become your career..!
So if there is ANY possibility that you may want to make money from your blog then it’s worth spending just a little bit to set the right foundations.
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Why you need to think of your blog as a business from day one.
Every single professional blogger I know, started thinking of their blog as a business from day one.
This is MEGA IMPORTANT.
The blogosphere is huge and super competitive. Without the right framework and foundations, you will struggle to ever make money from your blog.
You may be thinking ‘I’ll start investing money when I start making money.” Let me tell you now, this playing it safe strategy doesn’t work.
That said, you DO NOT have to start buying every product and every course ever recommended to bloggers. There are loads of free resources and information out there that you can get your hands on without going bankrupt.
In this article, I’ll be showing you where you should spend your money and where you can save it.
The one absolute essential purchase you need to make for your blog
If you aren’t convinced yet that you want to spend much money or perhaps you just don’t have much to spend, then prioritise paid hosting.
Think of getting self-hosting like buying a flat with a leasehold. You own the flat but you pay a leasehold to make sure the building your flat is in, is looked after. If something goes wrong with the building your flat is in, they will sort it.
Similarly, a website host looks after everything that goes on in the background. They keep your website running quickly and efficiently and give you a platform from which you can create your website.
You could use a completely free host provider. But I don’t recommend it.
By using a free host provider, you are essentially renting the flat not buying it. You will not own your website and be subjected to the many restrictions they place on it.
These restrictions with mean that;
- You can’t install paid ads on your website
- You can’t add affiliate links
- Your website could go down at any time – permanently (This happened to me!)
- You have limited space
- You cannot use Plugins (see below) or upload a premium theme.
- You cannot monitor your stats with Google Analytics
- You cannot sell your own products on this platform
- You won’t own your own domain
That’s a LOT of restrictions!
Using a free host means you will not be able to monetise your blog in the future.
You can switch from free provider to a paid host but it is complicated and time-consuming. It is much better to buy hosting on day one.
How much does hosting cost?
Don’t worry, hosting is actually very affordable. It starts from around £2.99 or $3.50 a month. That’s the price of a mug of coffee…
The host I use for both of my websites is Siteground. They are well known amongst bloggers for hosting fast websites and having great customer service.
I was a total technophobe when I started. I didn’t have a CLUE what I was doing! But Siteground talked me through the entire set-up. They have a great chat function which means you can have any questions answered within just a few minutes.
They will either talk you through how to do it yourself or often they will just set things up for you! It depends on how hands-on you want to be!
These are the next things you should contemplate buying for your new blog
Whilst Hosting is the only absolute essential blog expenditure, there are a few others I would highly recommend you consider getting soon.
1. A Premium Theme
Once you have sorted out hosting with a provider such as Siteground, you will be given the opportunity to download WordPress.org for free. (Do not confuse this with WordPress.com which is the free host with all those restrictions we mentioned.)
Once you have WordPress, you will need to choose a theme which is essentially your website layout. Unless you are a web designer, you will want to use a pre-made theme which you can easily customise.
There are some free themes you can use. But if you want a theme which looks professional, loads quickly and can be customised exactly how you like it, then you’ll need a premium theme. Most premium themes start around $50-70. You can buy much more expensive ones but I don’t think you need to.
Again, I don’t know any professional bloggers running a free theme. BUT you can update this later.
If you have the money, I’d suggest getting it straight away as it’s much easier to design your theme on day one when you don’t have any traffic to worry about. Otherwise, you will have to use a staging plugin to keep your website functional whilst you re-design it.
Definitely easier to do from Day one!
Should you get a premium theme?
Yes if you have the money. It’s more convenient to design your website from day one. If you’re feeling skint, then you can wait and upgrade later.
But which theme should you get?
I have dabbled with several different themes over the years, some I’ve liked, some I haven’t.
By far the best theme I’ve had (and the one this website uses) is Flatsome via Envato market. It allows you loads of flexibility with the design and is really easy to customise with a visual drag and drop builder. It’s also a really fast theme which is important for keeping your audience happy.
I’ve had many themes over the years and this one stands out a mile. I was getting fed up of downloading a theme which promised to be easy to use but in reality was anything but! I was also getting frustrated by the lack of customisation options available with most themes.
But Flatsome changed that. With it’s in-built drag and drop page builder, you’ll have a beautiful, professional and sleek blog before you know it!
I’ve also enjoyed using 15Zine, also with Envato Market. It’s slightly cheaper and looks great but offers slightly fewer options to customise your website exactly the way you want to.
2. A Keyword Research Tool
Second to hosting, this is possibly the single most valuable tool for your new blog and would probably be my 2nd priority when choosing how much money to spend on my blog.
A keyword research tool will help you decide what topics to write about and will help you get traffic (that’s readers) to your new blog. I use a tool called Keysearch which I personally feel is the best affordable option out there.
Your writing can be totally awesome but if no one is reading it, you are a LONG way off ever making money with your blog.
Keyword research tools help you find out what your ideal reader is searching for on Google. It then helps show you what phrases you might be able to rank for so that you can show up on the first page of Google.
You can research your competitor’s keywords, track your own rankings and find out who else is ranking for the subjects you are going to write about.
Say you are writing a food blog and you want to write about Vegetarian recipes. I use my Keyword research tool Keysearch and type in ‘vegetarian recipes’ into the search box.
As you can see, Vegetarian recipes has a HUGE search volume which is great. I know 246,000 people are searching for that every month! BUT, the red score of 50 tells me that it’s super competitive. There’s pretty much zero chance of me ever ranking for that or any of the similar suggestions. Therefore, I won’t be seeing ANY of that traffic.
So now I want to narrow down the search and see if there’s something with a good search volume AND an easier difficulty score. So I type in ‘Low Carb vegetarian recipes.’
This looks much better.
That’s more like it. Low carb vegetarian recipes are searched for by 9900 people every month. That is still a huge search volume and I’d love to rank for that. It is moderately difficult so I might stand a chance to rank for it when my blog becomes more established.
Low carb vegan recipes is way easier to rank for. The search volume is not quite as high but is still great. But now the difficulty ranking is only 28. I might not be able to rank for that with a brand new blog but I can certainly expect to start ranking for that soon.
So now I would start writing an article about different low carb vegan meals and before long, a chunk of those 6600 people searching for that search term, might be directed to my website.
So as you can see, without a keyword research tool like Keysearch, I would have been stabbing in the dark, likely trying to rank for terms I didn’t stand a chance at ranking for.
How much does a keyword research tool cost?
Do I need to get it straight away?
No, not necessarily but it’s better if you do. I waited 6 months before getting it which meant I had over 50 posts which I had to go back and re-optimise for keywords which was a total time-suck. I wish I had purchased Keysearch on day one and saved myself a lot of time.
3. A Pinterest Scheduler
Getting your article on the first page of Google takes time. If you want to drive traffic to your blog faster then I recommend getting Pinterest.
Pinterest is essentially a visual search engine.
It is much easier for a complete newbie to rank on Pinterest than it is to rank on Google.
But it’s not as easy as just pinning the occasional pretty pin that directs people to your blog post. It’s important to SEO optimise your Pinterest profile. (I have an article which will help you set up your Pinterest profile and make sure it is SEO optimised.) It’s also important that you pink frequently and use a Pinterest strategy.
My personal strategy involves me pinning a minimum of 30 pins a day. This is a mixture of other people’s pins and my own. These are spread out over the day with many being pinned when my US audience (Pinterest is popular in the USA) are awake which is when I am sleeping in the UK.
The only way I can do this without being glued to Pinterest is to use a scheduler.
The only scheduler which Pinterest recommends using is Tailwind.
There are a whole heap of other benefits too such as being able to access Tailwind Tribes. Tribes allow you to upload your pins so that they can be shared by other members of the tribe, hence reaching a new audience. In return, you can share other people’s pins with your audience.
Another great reason to use Tailwind is for accessing analytics. The Pinterest analytics aren’t great – I barely use them. But Tailwind Analytics give me WAY more information that I can use to optimise my strategy and reach more people.
How much does Tailwind cost?
Tailwind starts at $9.99 per month which is very affordable.
But you can get a free trial using this link which can help you decide if it’s worth it. (Don’t worry, no payment details are required for the free trial.)
Do I need Tailwind straight away?
Not necessarily immediately. But if you want to see traffic quickly then you definitely want to be using this tool. Since there is no time limit on the free trial, I suggest signing up and see how you get on. You can upgrade when you run out of pins or when you are ready to start getting serious about your blog.
Anything else I need to invest in?
Sure there are loads of things you CAN invest in. Posh plugins, personalised logos and branding kits, social media scheduling tools etc. But you don’t NEED any of these right now.
I would focus on the 4 things I mentioned above as your absolute priorities.
That said, if you do have some money to spare then I would suggest investing it into doing some blogging courses or reading some E-books.
There is a lot of free information out there but most of the real gems are found inside courses. It makes sense that the bigtime bloggers want to keep their secrets and make a profit by only giving them away in their paid courses.
When you are just starting you have a lot of different topics to learn so sometimes the best thing is to buy a bundle of courses. There are a few companies which sell huge bundles of blogging courses at heavily discounted prices which are perfect for setting new bloggers up for success.
My favourite is the Genius bloggers Toolkit which usually is available for a few days in either September or October and then sometimes again for just a day or two in January/February. Even as an advanced blogger I still buy it every year to keep up with new changes!
Or if you want to learn more, read my Genius Bloggers Toolkit Review
So how much does starting a blog actually cost?!
If you follow my advice and decide to purchase the 4 items I recommend, then starting a blog will cost you a total of $27 a month with a one-off payment for a blog theme of around $50.
Courses generally start around $150 and E-books from around $35 upwards.
So it’s actually a pretty affordable hobby which could end up making you lots of money! It’s a win-win situation if you ask me!
If you are planning to run your blog as a business then it is probably one of the cheapest businesses you can start with the least risk.
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