Blogging is like building a business and unlike any other businesses, it needs some regular cash flow to keep it going. Running a blog needs more than monetary commitments. It needs time, research, technical support and most of all, your special attention.
In this article I will outline how much does it costs to run a blog. I will also share how much money I am spending to maintain this blog.
One of my blog readers Sam is starting out a new blog and since he is a complete newbie he asked me lots of questions regarding blog platform and the cost associated to blogging. I decided to address the issues on a fresh blog post.
Blogging can be done for free but when it comes to building a business and making it worthwhile, you will have to invest some money on a more reliable and professional platform.
I don’t suggest a free blog platform because all the free platforms are owned by someone else and not you. When it comes to credibility in online business, hosting on a free site will make you look casual. Free platforms lack many of the top website features. However if you are short on money and you just want to test out the waters of blogging, then feel free to use a free provider.
The best platform for a blog+website is wordpress found at wordpress.org. This is an open source content management system that installs on your server.
After installing, it has an admin address like this: www.blogkori.com/wp-admin
And it looks like this from the inside:
You will need a domain name for your blog. You can register from any domain registrar or if you have an old domain, you can use it on your new blog. This domain will cost you roughly $10 per year. I suggest you take advantage of some of the deals on GoDaddy or NameCheap
Next you will need a web hosting service. The one which is good for you is the shared hosting solution (on linux) server. My blog is hosted on HostGator for many years. I pay $9.95/month to host this blog. This account allows me to host another 4-5 sites that I own.
Read: HostGator Review
Modern web hosting accounts come with many new features and one of them allows you to install wordpress with few clicks. The steps to take here are,
- Get a domain name ($10/yr)
- Get web hosting ($9.95/mo)
- Link your domain to the web hosting account
- Install wordpress on your website (Free)
Once you have a fresh wordpress install. Now it is time to make it pretty. Now wordpress has a range of free and premium themes. For a starter you can have access to the hundreds or (if not thousands) of freely available designs. Just one click and you have new design for your blog.
For them who want to take their blog to the higher level, there are paid themes that offer better functionality and professional look.
Some of the pro themes I recommend,
- Thesis Theme ($87) –BlogKori is designed on this framework
- Woo Themes ($70) –Marvelous looking designs
- Theme Forest ($30) –Stunning designs to choose from
Every paid theme has some pros and cons and you have to get used to the learning curve. At first things will look a lot messy and confusing. You can take the path of trial and error or you can hire a technical person to do this job.
When the design part has been sorted out you will need a system to capture leads. Lots of people will visit your blog and then never come back. Email marketing software will be the ideal tool to capture them.
BlogKori uses Aweber to manage the email marketing. Here are 3 of my recommended email marketing solutions:
- Aweber email marketing ($19/mo)
- MailChimp (Free)
- Feedburner email subscriptions (Free & no auto responders)
When you have started building your blog, you will need to keep backups for your blog. Without taking backups your hard work can wash away very easily. Hackers attack, virus, server error –disasters happen! I found a very good backup solution for my blog called backup buddy. Backup buddy automates the process of backup and it can send me a copy of my whole site via email. It puts the complete site, the content, comments, design and customizations in 1 single zip file. This file can be later used to restore or move to another server.
- BackupBuddy plugin ($75)
Can I live without taking backups?
Yes you can but you won’t be able to sleep at night. Your blog is your online business and you cannot risk it being taken down.
Then you will need an additional server to host your extra content.
What extra content?
I offer a few ebooks from my blog. And when people download the ebooks I don’t want to put extra stress to my shared server. The shared server, hostgator is happy with my blog, but when so many people access so much content (downloading) at the same time, they will get unhappy at me. As a result they will pull the plug (my site will be down temporarily)
So to stay on the safe side, I have arranged a sub server to host the freebie downloads. On the other hand I have assigned the backup plugin to send the backups to this 2nd server.
Amazon S3 is a secure and cheap solution for this matter. I pay around 30-50 cents per month for the data I use.
- Amazon S3 (1GB free, then $0.120 per GB)
Time to draw the line
Now the final question is how much I am paying for this blog?
These are my recurring costs,
- Domain name – $10/yr
- Web hosting – $9.95/mo
- Aweber email marketing – $19/mo
- Amazon S3 – ¢50/mo
So I am spending around $40 per month to maintain this blog.
The one time investments to this blog were,
- Thesis wordpress theme – $164 (I bought the developers edition)
- Backup buddy plugin – $75
Please excuse me if there are some errors in the above equation, I am not good at math. For promotion I spent around $7 in adwords and $10 in facebook advertising. That’s for the lifetime of this blog and I am not an ads person.
From time to time I needed some help for my blog so I have hired virtual assistants for managing the marketing of this blog.
I am paying $50/mo for a VA to manage the social media accounts of my blog.
This blog is having a custom design and I am a designer myself so I have designed it myself. But if you were to hire someone for a custom design, it would cost you around $1000 for a design like this.
The main investment (above money) is the time commitment. I put hours for the content and learning from other blogs. The other time I spent tweaking and experimenting with the design and functionality.
As a return on investment I made money from my blog since the beginning of my blog. I took paid reviews, paid advertisements and sold affiliate products. This blog also helped me gain clients for my web design business.
Here are a few tips for the beginners to save money
1. Use coupon codes to buy your domain name. Here is a good site to find coupon code for your purchase.
2. When you buy web hosting, if you have money then buy 1 year advance. This will save you money. Also use this coupon code BLOGKORI25 to have 25% off or this one BLOGKORIFREE for having first month free. (Works on HostGator)
3. Use free email marketing software such as MailChimp if you are short on cash.
4. In the beginning your blog is small (5MB) so it’s easier to just copy everything to your computer to take backup. You will not need a professional backup plugin.
5. For blog design look at ThemeForest for some really nice but cheap themes.
6. Create another wordpress blog in a test domain; say demo.yourblog.com or yourblog.com/demo. And test everything here. And make sure you set this blog hidden for search engines in the privacy settings.
What makes blogging a great online business is because you can really help people and make money from it. The entry level of blogging is very low meaning that it is much cheaper than starting a real business.
Let us continue the discussion, how much do you spend/planning to spend on blogging? How much resources are available to you for your next blogging venture?