If you heard that blogging is free – that is a myth. While WordPress is a free and open platform – it will cost you.
Of course, you don’t have to choose WordPress but the general rule is that a free blog site is not the best vehicle for a small business.
As always there are exceptions.
But most people that start out free eventually move onto a more robust platform like self hosted WordPress.
And once you get there, you start to pay.
The first thing that you will need is a hosting account.
This is where your blog lives. It is basically a computer somewhere (referred to as a server) that is up and running 24/7 so that visitors can access your site anytime.
In the beginning, you can start with a basic plan that will run you a few dollars a month.
As your traffic increases you will need to upgrade your hosting account – but at that point, hopefully you will be making enough money from your site to cover the cost.
Three good choices for beginning bloggers are HostGator (Click here and use the coupon code PRACTICALGATOR to get 25% off of your order), Bluehost, and my personal favorite – SiteGround (see how easy it is to set up here in this tutorial).
Cost: Approximately $5 per month to start out.
Domain Plus Privacy
All three hosts that I mentioned include one domain with your hosting package.
But if you have purchased your domain elsewhere, you will pay about $10 per year to continue to own it.
If you add privacy to your domain it will run another $7 or $8 per year.
Cost: Approximately $20 per year
There are a lot of free WordPress themes out there, but I am firmly in the “you get what you pay for” camp.
Personally, I use the Genesis Framework by StudioPress on all my sites.
You need a child theme to go with it and StudioPress also offers several beautiful and functional options here.
StudioPress bundles the framework with any child theme for an initial purchase and then you can buy other themes separately at a discounted price if you want to “change your clothes” later on down the road.
Cost: Approximately $120 one time purchase
Total First Year Costs
As you can see, at a bare minimum – your first year in blogging will cost you at least $200.
That does not include the hardware that you will need.
Again at a minimum, you will need a computer and a basic camera (or smartphone camera), which I assume you already have.
Once You Dive In …..
Once you are hooked you will find that you need (or want) several additional services or plugins to make your life easier or to make your blog better.
These are not free services. People and companies have invested much time, effort, and manpower to develop their product or service. And the reality is that they need to charge for their product or service to continue it’s development and support their customers.
From day one of your blog, you should be collecting email addresses.
Once you hit the free subscriber/email limit or when you need more options than the free plans allow you will then need to upgrade to a paid plan. But nothing beats starting out for free.
Neither one is free but they are both robust and use a system of lists and tags which makes it easy to organize your subscribers.
Some WordPress plugins are free. Others are not.
Some premium options that are really useful are:
To collect email addresses you need a nice opt in form on your site. Convertkit is an email service provider that allows you to easily create and insert option boxes on your WordPress site.
Not only that it has lots of features to help you test and track stats on how those boxes perform.
Cost: $29 per month to start
And Then Some
Call it an addiction, but once you discover the possibilities you want it all.
I have my eye on plugins from Gravity Forms, Lead Pages, CommentLuv, and Digital Access Pass to name a few.
These add wonderful options for creating forms, landing pages, engaging readers through a robust commenting platform, and the ability to create protected content for members only.
The sky is the limit!
Plugins are not the only area where you might drop a dollar or two.
If you find Evernote as useful as I do, you might opt for their premium service which runs about $5 per month.
To keep your finances organized Quickbooks or Quickbooks online is something that can help.
Social media – if anything, the Buffer app has proven itself to be priceless for scheduling social media shares.
I could go on.
I Am Not Crazy – People Really Do Pay To Blog
I got the idea for this post after reading this article on Jon Morrow’s Boost Blog Traffic blog. Jon is a blogger that I really admire. He offers great information about blogging. The title of his article says it all – and he outlines even more costs than those I mentioned.
The Shocking Cost of Running a Blog (and How to Create a Realistic Budget)
To keep it real, Jon split his list into three levels – Bare Bones Blogger, Serious Hobbyist, and Blogpreneur. You can really get a feel for what your costs might be depending on your current situation.
Interestingly, Jon lists training and business coaching as a Blogpreneur expense.
What products or services do you pay for as a blogger that you can’t do without?