You have come up with a good idea for a blog and you are eager to get your online presence going. However, have you taken into account the cost of starting a blog? I found out that a new blog cost could add up to a tidy sum. Here is all you need to know about starting and how much it is going to cost you.
Determining Your Budget
One of the first things I recommend you consider is the budget. This is going to depend on the goal of your blog, and what you want to do with it. If you want to blog for fun or provide free information, your costs will be lower than if you want to start a blog to make you money.
The different categories of bloggers are:
- Bare-bones for fun
- Serious hobby blog
The bare-bones blogger sets up a blog for fun. It might be just to write about their life or things they like or do not like.
The serious hobby blogger wants to grow an online presence part-time and perhaps head into making money from their blog.
The fill time blogger is the person who wants to make money from their blog, perhaps through advertisements or selling something. I am in this category.
Once you have decided which of the above applies to you, you can then look into choosing the things you will need to start blogging. These all factor into the cost of starting a blog. They include:
- The hardware
- Domain name
- Website hosting
- Website design
- Website theme
Choosing Your Hardware
The chances are you already have hardware that you can use to set up and write your blog. By hardware, I mean a laptop or computer.
Either will work equally well but if you are going into professional blogging, I recommend hardware with a fast processor, lots of memory and a large screen/monitor and maybe a microphone and web camera. The latter two are required if you plan to upload video recordings you are recording or going live.
Other Blogging Tools to Consider
Depending on the type of blog, you get up and running, there will be additional blogging tools to purchase for you to get the most from your blog.
For instance, you might have a blog that requires you to take and upload photos. In this case, when determining the cost of starting a blog, a good quality camera will have to be factored in.
The same will apply if you are setting up a blog and are going to make and post videos. A camera with a good quality video recorder is needed.
Choose a Domain Name
When considering a new blog cost you have to factor in the cost of a domain name.
The domain name is the name and address of your blog so I recommend you choose wisely and link it with what your blog is about or what it offers.
You might be lucky enough to get a free domain name for a year if you sign up for hosting but it can pay to shop around for the domain name and hosting package.
There are many providers out there; I think one of the best is InMotion Hosting. The cost of a domain name will range depending on which provider you choose but can range from around $7 to $15.
If you choose a hosting plan with InMotion Hosting, you can get a domain name free.
Bear in mind that domain names have to be renewed every year unless you take the domain name out for longer than one year when signing up. Sometimes a domain name is cheaper if you choose to take it over two or five years. Of course, you have to pay upfront and if you are not sure your blog is going to stand the test of time, this might not pay. I started out taking out a domain name for just the year.
Shop around for the lowest prices for a domain name. The most used domain names end with the extensions .com and .net but there are many other extensions.
Choosing Web Hosting for your Blog
After the domain name, you have to choose web hosting, unless you chose web hosting that comes with a free domain name, such as InMotion Hosting.
The web hosting is one of the most expensive outlays when considering the cost of starting a blog. This ongoing monthly or yearly cost to be factored in and generally ranges from $5 to $10 per month.
WordPress hosting with InMotion Hosting starts from $8.99 per month and offers fast performance, data backups and protection against malware and hacking. I think this is a great package for the price.
Having backup is essential, more so as time goes on and you grow your blog and have hundreds or thousands of posts on it.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Web Hosting
There are many factors to consider when considering paying for web hosting. While it might be tempting to go with the cheapest, it might not always be the most suitable.
Shop around for the best deal in regard to the cost, along with what you get for the money. There is free web hosting but bear in mind that such a package will be several limited and this may be detrimental to your website. It may also come with rules and terms and conditions, such as you have to sign into the hosting panel at least once per month or the account is suspended or terminated. I made this mistake very early on when I first started blogging.
Shared Hosting or Dedicated Server
When paying out for web hosting one thing to consider is the disk space and bandwidth. The cheaper the hosting package the less disk space and bandwidth you get. While this is not going to matter much when first setting up the website it will factor in later on, particularly if your blog takes off and you get thousands of visitors per day.
You might choose a more expensive web-hosting package with unlimited storage and unlimited bandwidth. If so, check the terms and conditions along with the small print to ensure that it is unlimited. Usually, this is not the case on shared hosting. If you want truly unlimited and no restrictions, you might be better choosing a dedicated web hosting package.
A dedicated web-hosting package is going to cost more than the shared hosting but it may be worth it in the end. Of course, you could choose shared at first and then move onto dedicated if your site takes off.
Web Hosting That Offers cPanel
Before signing up for web-hosting check to make sure the company offers a control panel that is easy to use and navigate. In my opinion, the easiest is cPanel.
Most web hosting packages come with Softalicious installer in the cPanel. This allows you to install plugins to your website and there are choices for blogs. Of course, if you are going for WordPress hosting this is not such a big deal, as it will already be installed.
WordPress is considered the standard platform for blogging. In my opinion, it is also one of the easiest platforms to get a blog up and running. Most web hosting companies offer Softalicious plugins that can be installed on your site through the cPanel and WordPress is generally one of them.
There are also some hosting providers offering specific WordPress hosting and you might want to consider this if you are setting up a WordPress blog.
InMotion Hosting, for instance, offers two choices for WordPress hosting. Both come with a free domain name, which saves money on purchasing one separately. The cheaper the package the more limits are in place, as you would expect.
The biggest benefit to choosing WordPress hosting for your blog is that WordPress is installed and ready to use. The package will also offer access to different themes and plugins, all of which can be installed through WordPress. For blogs, I think this is the best way to go when purchasing hosting.
If the hosting company does not offer WordPress plugin through the cPanel, you can also install it yourself, as it is available as a free download. Just download it, upload the package and run the set-up. However, I would not recommend this for beginners to websites and hosting. You can pay to have someone install it for you but this boosts up the cost of starting up a blog.
You could also choose a paid WordPress site through WordPress themselves.
Choosing a WordPress Theme
If you have chosen to go with WordPress as your blogging platform, you will have to choose a theme and this need considering when working out the cost of starting a blog.
WordPress does come with many free themes but if you want to customize your blog and make it personal, you might want to go for a paid theme. There are hundreds of themes to choose from depending on the type of blog you are running.
Premium themes for a WordPress blog range from $30 to $100 and upwards. At the top end, you can expect to pay upwards of $3000 for a completely custom theme. I personally do not see why you would want to spend as much as this though, at least when first starting up.
Logo Design Costs
Many WordPress themes have the option of uploading your own logo to be used in the header of the website.
With this in mind, the logo design costs have to be factored in when determining a new blog cost.
A logo design might cost anywhere between $5 to $400 plus depending on where you look for a designer. Bear in mind it may be worth spending that little bit more to have a creative and good quality logo designed as it is the first thing that people visiting the blog see at the top of the web page.
The range of WordPress Plugins
The range of Word Press plugins is extensive. Plugins add functionality to your blog. Just a few of the many you might want to consider are:
- Store plugins for selling items
- Contact forms
- Automatic social media sharing
- Scheduling Posts
- Related Posts
There are many free WordPress plugins to download that offer a taster but if you want a more extensive choice, you will have to pay for the plugin. Plugins generally fall in the range of $10 to $100 and more if you want a plugin developed specifically for you.
Online Store Plugin
If you are looking to build a blog to sell goods, you might want to invest in a high-quality online store plugin.
A plugin such as this will install everything needed for you to set up your online store. This will generally include pages for:
- Listing items you are selling
- Shopping basket
- Information pages for items
- Gallery of pictures for items
- Check out system
- Customer account page
A good quality contact form is essential, more so if you are selling items and making money from your blog.
There are free contact form plugins and paid ones that offer a great deal more. Depending on the type of blog you are running you might want to factor in paid ones when taking into account the cost of starting a blog.
A good quality paid SEO plugin can do wonders for any blog and more so if you are planning to make money for your blog.
SEO stands for search engine optimization. In order to attract visitors, you have to get your blog in Google rankings and preferably on the first page of search rankings. An SEO plugin can help you to make sure your blog posts have associated keywords, good titles with keywords in them and good snippets. These are what show up in Google searches when people search for things.
You can start with a free version of the plugin and then go on to subscribe or pay the more extensive version to get access to additional features when your blog takes off.
Importance of Social Media Networking
Social media sharing and scheduling plugins are a necessity for any WordPress blog.
Many free plugins allow you to add a single social media account but to get the most out of them you really need to pay out for a good plugin. Paid plugins will allow you to add several social media accounts. Whenever you write a blog post, it is sent to your linked social media accounts in the form of a snippet, along with a picture.
This is one of the best ways to build up followers on a blog and attract customers. The paid plugins are often worthwhile factoring in, as social media is such a huge deal in attracting people to visit the site.
Many paid social media plugins allow you to schedule posts ahead and I recommend using auto scheduling. For instance, you can write five or six blog posts per day but you might not want to post them all to Facebook or Twitter on the same day.
With social media scheduling, you can set a time and date to post and the plugin will take care of the posting on your behalf.
The same applies to posts on your blog. You might want to write several posts but not post them all to your blog on the same day. Here the plugin will allow you to set a date and time to post the post automatically, either just to the WordPress blog or to social media accounts as well. By getting in front with posts and scheduling them, I can prepare for the unknown or continue posting even while I am on vacation, automatically of course.
A related posts plugin will help to keep visitors on the site once they are there. Again, there are free options but to get more features and be able to customize you will have to pay for the plugin.
Depending on the type of blog, you might want to install a good quality calendar plugin. This can be essential if you are planning seminars or talks. People can see what is coming up on the calendar on the blog.
Alternative Options to WordPress Blogs
While WordPress is my personal favorite and favored by millions of bloggers it is by no means the only options for setting up a blog.
Google has its own blogging platform called BlogSpot. If choosing this option you do need to purchase a domain name, otherwise, you will have a domain name ending with Blogspot.com.
The Blogger platform does not come with as much customization as WordPress and nor does it offer the themes of WordPress so your site is going to be limited.
Another option is to choose web hosting and then use the free website builder offered by the hosting. However, this can be hard work, and I would not recommend it for a blogger as an additional blog would have to be installed and this is nowhere as easy to post to as with WordPress or Blogger.
When it comes to determining the cost of starting a blog there is really no set amount as it all depends on the type of blog you are setting up.
The hosting and domain name are among the biggest outlay, as these have to be continued each month to keep the hosting and domain name. Roughly, you might expect these to cost around $100 per year or less.
At the very least, you are going to need a laptop, web hosting and domain name but this is really just the bare bones of blogging. On saying this, it is all that is needed to get started with an online presence and keeps down new blog costs to a minimum. When your blog has been up and running for some time and it takes off, attracting new visitors each month, you can upgrade.