How Much Does it Actually Cost to Start a Blog in 2021?

How Much Does it Actually Cost to Start a Blog in 2022?

Whether you want to become an influencer through blogging or launch a blog for your business, I often get asked: How much does it cost to start a blog?

You might be surprised to hear this, but you can start a blog for nothing through several different blogging platforms. As long as you don’t mind doing the writing yourself and posting images that you have the rights to, such as photos you took with your own camera, there’s no reason that you ever need to pay one red cent to start up a blog. There are plenty of services online that will host your content for free, so you shouldn’t even have to worry about footing the bill for server space or a comprehensive hosting plan.

That being said, many people aren’t exactly enamored with doing all of that on a personal basis. Few individuals have much time to devote to something that isn’t directly related to running the business they’re already involved with. Some might not feel comfortable writing material and posting it without getting some professional assistance with doing so. Considering that nearly 6 million blog posts are being published every day, you’ll certainly want to make sure yours are as clean as possible to help them stand out. That might mean you’ll need to hire some professionals to help out, whether through editing your content or evaluating and working to improve Google analytics scores.

Fortunately, you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a blog going. Even if you planned to have everything professionally done, there’s no reason that you can’t get your ideas off the ground for less than a few hundred dollars spent over the course of a year. Before you start, though, you might want to look into ways to reduce any of the costs that you might incur on your blogging journey.

Dealing with Costs Associated with Running a Blog

WordPress powers 43% of the world’s websites, so I recommend you start your blog with WordPress, which also runs this blog. Now let’s look at the various costs you will incur as you develop your blog.

Domain Name

A domain name is also called the address of the site you are looking to develop. A “.com” or “.net” domain name is usually only delivered with the premium version of a hosting platform. To save on costs, you can utilize a domain name that has an additional tag at the end. For example, if the name of your site is “John Doe,” rather than having a site called “www.johndoe.com,” you might have a site called “www.johndoe.wordpress.com.” For some, the addition of the site’s host feels unprofessional or childish, and they opt to pay the fee required for a custom domain name. Others would rather save the money that would be spent on the domain name, and retain the “.wordpress” or “.blogspot” tag. 

Website Hosting

Unless you plan on using a free service to host your material, you’re going to need to calculate your overall website hosting costs and figure out how much of your potential budget these are going to eat up. The shared hosting industry is currently trading in something of a competitive market, so it’s certainly a good time to buy. There are a number of deals that can bring hosting costs down to less than around $36-60 annually.

That being said, you should still look into other types of services before you make a final decision. Renewal prices at freemium hosting providers tend to be the most expensive. A number of sites that aren’t run by truly free services will offer users two or three years at no cost. Once the time comes to finally pay for another year, however, they’ll normally charge much more than the market average. By that point, you might have already inked a virtual contract that requires you to keep paying for a certain amount of time before you can get out. If you’re going to opt for a free host, then make sure to go with something that’s actually genuinely free.

Regardless of what kind of service you work with, make sure that you’re regularly making backups, because disruptions can make your overall costs go through the roof. In general, web hosting costs should be among the least of your concerns when running a blog. Most people end up spending considerably more on content creation and curation than they ever do on the actual hosting service itself.

However, if the company you’re working with goes out of business, your blog could end up suddenly vanishing. You’d need to recreate all that content you lost in the process if you didn’t have backups, which can cost thousands of dollars and destroy blog content, contact forms, and effectively tank a successful blog. Keeping an extra copy on a local drive is free, and there are plenty of low-cost or free cloud storage services that will help garner peace of mind.At times, you might consider plans that come with a number of freebie blogging tools. Some of these are just throw-ins to try and attract additional customers, but once in a while, you might find one that can help you reduce costs by eliminating the need to purchase some other piece of software. Pay special attention to hosting plans that come with some kind of advertising tool, since you’ll need to buy these later anyway.

WordPress Theme

A blog theme is essentially the decoration of the blog in question. A theme typically encompasses the colors used on the, the font(s) used, the layout of the page, and the structure of the site as a whole. Premium themes can range from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars, depending on the level of customization involved, and the person used to create the theme. 

WordPress themes vary considerably in terms of their scope and even where you locate them. The WordPress site itself offers plenty of themes (both free and paid), but you can also pay a web developer or graphic designer to create an entirely unique theme used to maximize your branding efforts and craft a distinct persona. 

WordPress Plugin

The term “plugin” is used to describe a piece of software that is added to a site in order to improve its capabilities. It can be used to describe a truly limitless number of applications that can improve a slew of features on your site. Some plugins amp up Google analytics and allow you to more thoroughly track your blogging efforts. Others improve the appearance of your site and allow you to place links to things like an email list or social media profile using specialized icons. Although plugins are not necessarily essential to be a successful blogger, they do provide far more customization options than sites that do not use plugins. 

Further Reading: The 21 Best WordPress Plugins for Business Blogs in 2022

Fortunately, there are many free plugins available that are designed to either improve the experience of your site’s visitors or improve your experience on your site. These often come with a step by step guide to walk users through how to use them and how to take advantage of the additional features provided by adding plugins to your site. 

WordPress plugins can be found on the WordPress site itself when you are setting up your site, and they can be found elsewhere on the internet, including on social media channels, where companies advertise their wares. These digital products can spruce up your site a great deal and set you apart from your peers. 

Further Reading: The 15 Best SEO Plugins for WordPress That You Should Know

Once you’ve had these issues sorted out and you have the technical infrastructure for your blog, you can then move on to the actual blogging aspect of your site. Obviously, you could write your own blog posts using your own time, but as they say, time is money, so you might want to start looking at the possibility of hiring content creators to get your blog going.

The Cost of Freelance Writing in 2022

Due to the fact that more people are working from home these days, there’s a good chance that you could get a more competitive price today than you might have three or four years ago. However, there’s also a large number of unscrupulous services online that sell content that is either blatantly taken from somewhere or spun off of existing material by using a computer program.

You’ve probably started to read a blog post, only to find that the content itself was incoherent. In many cases, this is directly related to a combination of these two unscrupulous production methods. The old adage about getting what you pay for is never more true than in the world of content marketing.

On top of finding someone who can write decent content, you’ll also want to look for a person or organization that can produce quite a bit of it. Businesses that are able to increase blog traffic often blog 4 times per week, and to achieve higher search engine rankings, it is recommended each post has between 1,140 and 1,285 words (source). While you don’t want to create spam, you do want to make sure that you’re putting out something new frequently enough to attract attention from potential readers as well as the search engines. Depending on the type of blog you’re running, you may want to try automated social media technology to bring in additional readers. While you don’t want to rely on this kind of software to actually write anything, you can use it to attract people and improve your Google analytics scores. Best of all, this type of technology generally shouldn’t run up your operating bill at all.

Further Reading: How Long Should a Blog Post Be? The Definitive Answer for Every Post

Your best bet is to work with an organization that contracts with freelance writers and photographers to provide content. These groups have sometimes been called content mills, but in reality, they give you more than enough leeway to specify exactly what kind of writer you’d prefer. They normally charge a per-word cost of around $0.02-$0.05 for articles, so you can expect to pay around $20-50 for 1,000 words of well-written material. That’s quite a bargain when you consider how many people a single blog post can bring into your brand.

Depending on what your schedule looks like, you’ll more than likely want to supplement this with your own posts. Each article that you write is one more than you don’t have to order, which can lead to a fairly substantial savings in the long run. Those who need to purchase stock images or photographs on a fairly regular basis will also be able to save cash if they’re able to provide a few illustrations of their own. If you’re running any kind of ecommerce site, then you more than likely can use product images for some articles.

Further Reading: 15 Best Blog Writing Services to Consider

Marketing Costs to Promote Your Blog

We’ll discuss monetizing your blog further below, but assuming that your blog is your business, you should start to look into actually promoting your blog so that more people will visit it, and eventually you will make more money from it. With that in mind, here are some additional costs of starting a blog that you need to figure into your calculations.

Email Marketing Service

From email marketing companies to email marketing softwares, an email marketing service can help you develop compelling content and a consistent audience to create a substantive email list used to deliver information about your blog domain, your brand, and your company. An email marketing service can be as involved or uninvolved as you’d like. Some of these services, for instance, provide little more than the bones with which to create content for your email subscribers. Others are far more comprehensive in their offerings, and deliver not only a platform from which to create email marketing campaigns, but also analytics tools, content suggestions, and a team of people prepared to help you develop and carry out your email marketing campaigns. 

Although this robust set of services does come with an extra cost, some bloggers feel that the bump in blog traffic and blog visitors is well worth any additional expense that is incurred. After all, building a blog from scratch is no easy feat, and many bloggers need all of the help they can get. 

Further Reading: The 19 Best Email Marketing Software Tools to Consider Investing in Today

Social Media Tools

Social media tools for bloggers are largely designed to increase blog traffic and automate social media posting to reduce the workload on the shoulders of an emerging blogger. Automating social media posts is certainly not a bad idea; social media is essential when creating and promoting a blog, and regularly posting to a social media platform can quickly eat up a great deal of time and energy. Creating (or paying to have someone else create) social media content is time-consuming, and it can be an enormous boon to have all of that content prepped and ready to be posted every week, rather than having to hop on your computer or phone each and every day to post your content on all of your social channels. 

Further Reading: 50 Best Digital Marketing Tools Ebook [Free]

SEO Tools

SEO tools are extremely helpful when creating and posting your blog content. SEO tools can be used in a variety of ways, including developing blog post ideas, determining the best keywords to target as you begin writing, and learning how to best appeal to your given blog niche. Whether your blog is a supplementary tool used to promote your online courses, or your blogging business is used primarily to direct beginner bloggers to your graphic design business, SEO tools will help you develop posts and pages that will most effectively optimize your blog’s reach and help you achieve your blogging goals. 

SEO tools can be the difference between blogging success and blogging failure, because they comb for information about how to best market your material and increase the likelihood of you coming up in Google search results. From hobby bloggers to a blogging business, SEO tools can be absolutely vital to find success in your specific blogging niche. 

Further Reading: The 21 Best SEO Tools to Power Your Search Engine Marketing

How Much Does It Cost to Start a Blog Summary

Based on the above, here is one example of how much you want to invest to successfully build, launch, run, and promote your blog. Note that these blogging costs are average numbers and you might be able to find special deals or end up spending more, but this should give you an idea to help manage your expectations.

  • Domain Name: $10 to $15 (annually)
  • Website Hosting: $5 to $25 (monthly)
  • WordPress Theme: Free to $100 (annually)
  • WordPress Plugins: Free to $200 (annually)
  • Blog Writing: Free to $500 (monthly – depends on how much you outsource)
  • Email Marketing: Free to $200 (monthly – depends on list size)
  • Social Media Tools: Free to $100 (monthly)
  • SEO Tools: Free to $100 (monthly)

By looking at the above, you can see that running a blog can actually cost close to nothing, but then it will take up a lot of your time and you might not be able to promote it as well as if you had used some of the types of tools I recommended.

Now that you have a relatively good handle on what kind of blogging costs you might be looking at, you should be able to figure out what it might take to mitigate them. Several options are available for any site owner who wants to do so, and you might even be lucky enough to eke out a small profit over time without investing all of that profit into blogging tools.

Monetizing Your Blog to Mitigate Costs

You’ll want to start monetizing your blog as soon as possible, which will ensure that you can recoup your initial costs quickly.

Products and Services

The quickest way to monetize your blog is if it is already part of an integrated website that sells your products and services. If that’s the case, then you’ll certainly want to use your blog as a way of bringing in customers to your main business. Make sure that you’re providing plenty of actionable information to your readers, and you’ll eventually start to bring in more sales than ever before.

Ask for Donations

If you don’t have any products or services to market, don’t be afraid to ask for donations, but remember that there are drawbacks to raising money in this way. If you’re providing useful content for your readers, then you might be able to use an online donation plugin to recoup some of the costs of providing this content. Keep in mind that there are fees associated with using these services, which will normally come out of the money that your followers are donating.

Display Online Ads

It can be difficult to attract donors, which can cause difficulties for those who need to recoup their initial investment quickly. If that’s the case, then your next best bet is advertising. Those who plan on going this route will potentially want to work with more than one organization in order to increase their chances of getting paid.

Naturally, you’ll want to make sure that you enter into agreements with the major ones, like Google. However, be on the lookout for individual advertisers and other smaller institutions that will pay you directly. Those who run popular blogs are often able to sell ad space directly to those who provide services in sectors that might interest their readers.

At the same time, you’ll want to leverage the power of your social media connections to raise cash. For instance, you can connect your blog to your company’s Twitter marketing campaign in order to attract advertisement dollars from multiple channels.

Affiliate Marketing

Finally, affiliate marketing is another type of advertising that can attract income effectively when done right. Affiliate links allow your readers to purchase items from companies you have partnered with and you receive a small amount of the total cost. 

While running a blog in this manner can certainly be a challenge, it’s certainly worth it once you begin to really bring in money. Don’t be afraid of the costs associated with starting a blog because if you do things right, you can easily recoup them and be on your way to profit in no time.

This is a post written on behalf of one of my marketing partners. All opinions are 100% mine.

Photo: Mika Baumeister / Unsplash

How much does it cost to start a blog? Here's how much you can expect to pay - as well as ideas to quickly recoup your costs.
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Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer is a leading authority on helping businesses through their digital transformation of sales and marketing through consulting, training, and helping enterprises large and small develop and execute on social media marketing strategy, influencer marketing, and social selling initiatives. President of the social media agency PDCA Social, Neal also teaches digital media to executives at Rutgers University, the Irish Management Institute (Ireland), and the University of Jyvaskyla (Finland). Fluent in Japanese and Mandarin Chinese, Neal is a popular keynote speaker and has been invited to speak about digital media on four continents in a dozen countries. He is also the author of 3 books on social media, including Maximize Your Social (Wiley), and in late 2019 will publish his 4th book, The Business of Influence (HarperCollins), on educating the market on the why and how every business should leverage the potential of influencer marketing. Neal resides in Irvine, California but also frequently travels to Japan.
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2 Comments

  1. Neal, I’m so glad you priced out what it actually costs to run and start a blog. I see so many headlines saying it’s FREE. It never is FREE. Even the time we spend on the blog is equal to money. Thanks for sharing the truth about blogging :)

    • Amen to that Lisa – and thanks for the comment! I actually republished this one and added the detailed costs so that we are all on the same page that nothing is free – yet I am still bullish on the fact that it is still relatively inexpensive for its benefits!

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