What does it cost to blog? (How I started mine for $100)
If you're thinking of starting a blog, but are strapped for cash, I'm going to teach you how to start blogging for less than the price of 4 full gas tanks (what I pay for them, anyways)!
So, just like getting a car to get to your job, you have a couple options. You can obviously walk. That would take ages, and people might look at you weird... sometimes even offer a ride. This is taking the free route of blogging.
Another option is to spend a few hundred bucks and pick up a beater. It runs and gets you to work, but isn't very glamorous. This is what I'll be teaching you to do. There's no need to spend a couple thousands dollars on a new blog... when you've never blogged before. Instead, start small and grow slow. As your income grows, you can spend more money on your blog.
Using this method, you'll eventually be able to buy a metaphorical Mercedes, Benz, or Lamborghini to take you to work.
What you need to blog for under $100/year
Hosting + Domain
I'm going to recommend Bluehost. Why? Because I use it for a few of my blogs and it has never failed me. I have also used other web hosting services like 1and1, GoDaddy, NameCheap, and HostGator, and to be honest I just like Bluehost the best.
So, first you need to think of what to name your blog. Then you need to check if it's available... and then you need to buy it before anyone else get it because online real estate is quickly fleeting!
After that, you need to set up a place to host your website. Think of it like this, the domain is the road to get to your website, and the hosting is the house of your blog. The road is important, but people can't even come over if you don't have a house.
Check out Bluehost:
I suggest choosing the "basic" plan if you're a new blogger because you can always upgrade later, but there's no need to get super fancy without money coming in first.
After you enter your domain, check out the total yearly cost of this hosting... By the way, Bluehost gives you a FREE domain for the first year! We're totally under $100.
If you agree with this price, just enter your card information and you'll be literally minutes away from designing your blog. By the way, I always choose "Domain Privacy Protection" because it prevents people who want to know where I live, what my phone number is, or my full name from stalking me.
Another thing I absolutely love about Bluehost is the fact they give you a temporary domain to start working with. This is important because on other hosting services, you have to wait up to 24 hours before the domain propagation is completed... which means you have to wait 24 hours to start messing with your blog.
Remember that analogy I started earlier? If a domain is the road, and hosting is the house, then themes are the outside decorations. They are the beautiful flowers out front, the nicely-lit siding, and the amazing shrubbery art that everyone stops by to look at.
Now, just like any house, you can get by with free decorations... or you can buy paid decorations. Paid themes generally look better, are faster, and have less errors. This is because there's usually a team behind the paid themes working to always improve them. Free themes are usually created by new designers that want to get their name out there and experience in the field.
The theme I'm using right now is from a paid service I love: ThriveThemes. This theme is called FocusBlog.
Honestly, I've created many blogs before and they all started out with free themes, but this is the first blog I've paid for a theme before adding any content.
Here are some free blog themes:
Sparkling by Colorlib:
ColorMag by Colorlib:
Writee by ScissorThemes:
Masonic by ThemeGrill:
Here are some paid blog themes that I've used before and loved:
Smart Passive Income:
FocusBlog from ThriveThemes:
The Blogger from ThemeForest:
Plugins are the electricity, gas, water, and sewage lines of our house. Without them, out house isn't really a house... it's a shed. You can get super fancy with your plugins (and of course you can pay for premium versions), or you can stay minimalistic and keep your water bill low.
Here are some plugins that I love and I highly recommend checking out:
Pretty Links allows you to turn nasty affiliate URLs into pretty URLs you can easily customize. If you're wondering if you should cloak your URLs or not, the answer is most likely a "yes", but I wrote a whole article on the topic to help you decide. There's a free and paid version. The free version is what I use, and wonderful for what I want to accomplish. The paid version is a significant upgrade and has all kinds of tracking tools and redirection options available at a base price of $57/year.
Social Warfare is a plugin that displays your social share count and allows readers to easily share your content. The SocialWarfare plugin also has paid and free versions. The free version is outstanding, and the pro version only costs $29/year. With the pro version, you'll be able to have access to tons of other social media websites, the ability to pin all images, and the ability to recover lost shares.
YoastSEO is a must-have for new bloggers who wish to grow their organic traffic through search engines. The plugin optimizes your website for SEO and helps you rank faster by automatically creating sitemaps. Again, Yoast has a free and paid option. Almost every wordpress user that has Yoast started with the free version because it's absolutely amazing and solves the problems it's designed to fix. The paid version costs $89 and you get bonuses like:
- Keywords optimization
- Previews of your page on Google
- Full control of breadcrumbs
- Removal of any duplicate content
- Internal link suggestions (which is awesome!)
- Ad-free use
Other Blogging Resources
Also, when trying to grow your blog, there are other optional services. Each of these are fairly cheap, but super helpful in growing and monetizing.
TailWind is a tool that allows you to do a bunch of cool blogging tricks with Pinterest. Basically, you can schedule, analyze, and monitor your pins and boards on Pinterest, which helps you receive more traffic from them.
Teachable is a tool that allows you to create online courses. I absolutely love Teachable and have used them for over a year. I've tried other course creation software, and this is my favorite by a long-shot. The way the curriculum is set up, the ability to add co-authors and affiliates, and the payment processors are really handy.
ConvertKit is an email marketing tool that I personally use, love, and am an affiliate for. The team is super helpful and really easy-going. The product is reliable and cheap... even for new bloggers (the cheapest option is $30/month). If you're new to email marketing, it's easy to make $30/month with around 300 email subscribers.
Leadpages is an opt-in building software with capabilities of email marketing. You can create lead magnet pages, sales pages, or just beautiful blog posts with their custom designer. The cheapest option is $25/month and includes unlimited landing pages and traffic. This tool, along with Converkit is really helpful in growing your email list, however ThriveThemes is a rival of Leadpages (and in my opinion better, but more expensive).
ClickFunnels is an all-in-one funnel building software company. You can do email marketing with them. You can create a website with them. You can sell things like digital products and online courses with them. Heck, you can do it all, from the opt-in to the upsell with them. The downside is their cheapest plan is $99/month. However, if you can afford them, you'll most likely make your money back within a few months. I don't use Clickfunnels currently.