If you’ve ever started a blog, then you know you can actually do it without spending a penny. There are many great platforms like WordPress.com and blogger.com that allow you to start up your own blog for free.
But what you might not know is that there is actually a contingent of users who are spending money on starting their blogs, sometimes in large amounts.
How Much Does It Cost To Start A Blog On WordPress?
This post examines those costs and discusses the advantages and disadvantages of starting a free blog vs paid.
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I mentioned at the start of this post that there are some great free platforms for starting your blog. WordPress.com and Blogger.com both allow you to host your own blog for completely free.
Everything is automatically installed for you- you don’t have to do any of the behind the scenes work to get it started.
The other option is to self-host your blog. You can still do this for free in fact, but a lot of users are paying for it. Hosting your own blog requires a bit more knowledge than your average blogger because it requires you to setup the blog platform yourself.
With WordPress, you must download the WordPress software and upload it to your own host. Then you need to setup your own database, update configuration files and more.
You might be asking, but why do that? It seems like an awful lot of time wasted. Well perhaps- but the advantage of self-hosted blogs is you have complete control. You can modify any file you like- you can dive into the WordPress code and make changes to suit your blogs need.
When you’re hosted by WordPress.com, you’re limited to the functionality that they provide. You have a set limit of themes and plugins you can use and a lot of the time their functionality is restricted too.
What’s the cost of self-hosting a blog?
Well that all depends on how popular your blog is. Self-hosting requires you to sign up with a web host who provide you with space on their server. A popular blog is likely to need more resources and a web host will charge you more for it.
You can easily find a good reputable host for around $2.67 a month, such as WestHost. This is perfect for just starting out- you won’t be getting much traffic in the beginning and so you won’t need a powerful web host.
If for some reason you do think your blog will get a lot of traffic right off the bat, a lot of these web hosts such and flywheel.com provides much more expensive packages (starting from $15-$100/month) that give you more server resources.
Domain Names Get Free Domain Name With Hosting
A domain name is how your blog viewers visit your site. When you use a platform like WordPress.com, you get a free sub-domain like http://myblog.wordpress.com . What you can do however, is purchase your own domain name.
Many web hosts such as bluehost.com allow you to register a free domain name with webhosting plan.
Related Article: How To Choose A Good Domain Name For Your Blog
There are hundreds of different variations of domain names these days, but some of the top level domains such as .com, .net and .org are the most sort after.
A domain registrar (where you go to buy the domain name) will usually charge you between $8-$12 a year to register your domain name.
Once you have purchased it, you can then assign the domain name to your blog. So instead of typing out http://myblog.wordpress.com , your users can type http://www.myblog.com/ .
Some of the benefits of having your own domain versus a sub-domain are subjective. Many people believe that having your own domain name increases the likelihood of your customers thinking your site as more professional, especially if your blog is trying to promote a brand or company.
There’s also some arguments for believing that google will rank your blog better if it has it’s own domain name than sub-domain name, but that’s not necessarily true.
I have seen many popular blogs using the sub-domain who are out-ranking top-level domains.
Having your own domain does make it easier for a customer to remember your blog. One thing you have to be careful about is that if you do start out with a sub-domain, and your blog becomes quite popular, the actual domain for your blog might get snatched up by someone else looking to make a quick profit.
So sometimes it’s a good idea to get in there early to prevent someone else using your name and since registering a domain name is quite cheap and easy to do, it can be worth it than having to spend $500+ on a domain squatter in the future.
When you use a blogging platform like WordPress, you get the choice of using a theme to give your blog a specific design and style. Themes are just pre-packaged designs, giving you a few customization options to make it unique to your site, such as changing the logo, colors and layout.
On WordPress, there are hundreds, if not thousands, or free themes to choose from. Some of these are really professional looking too- saving you hundreds and hundreds of dollars in terms of having to hire a professional web designer to come up with your own unique design.
The free WordPress themes usually come with limited options however. A lot of these free themes have a “premium” version which require you to pay for.
The premium version has locked away features, which sometimes can feel a little petty and a nuisance but that is usually how the free themes make their money.
You can, of course, pay for your own theme. There are many websites which allow you to pay for themes, with prices ranging from $20 to $100.
Some sites, such as ThemeForest.net, have thousands of different ones to choose from, all coming with a plethora of customization options and different layouts that really can help give you the control over your blog’s design.
Usually, the paid for themes also have great support- meaning you can ask questions to a team of experts who are happy to help get you started. With free themes- support is usually limited and theme updates are usually very infrequent.
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Like themes, you can also have hundreds of different plugins for your blog. Plugins provide extra functionality, like giving you the option to display tweets to users or attempting to block spammy comments on your blog.
There’s thousands of different plugins (such as WooCommerce, Business and RealEstate plugin) and you can choose which ones to install right from your blog’s control panel, usually with just a click of the button.
Like with themes too, there are paid for versions of plugins. However, I would say that paying for plugins is usually not as necessary as paying for a theme.
As someone who has been running a blog for years, I have only ever paid for one plugin and even that time it was a mistake to do so because I never ended up using it. If you ever pay for a theme, they usually come with a selection of paid-for plugins, usually at no extra cost.
You can find lots of plugins in the dashboard of your WordPress blog, but you can also find them on marketplaces like CodeCanyon.net. The prices range spectacularly, from $5 to $50.
Related Article: 5 Free WordPress Plugins To Increase Blog Traffic & EMail List
Some plugins offer little customizations and other plugins offer you brand new functionality like turning your blog into a discussion board.
As with anything free, the paid for versions usually offer better support and updates. You’re more likely to find broken free plugins than you are paid for ones.
This may seem like a strange topic to discuss when talking about the cost of a blog, but bare with me.
When you start a blog, especially with the aim of making it into a popular resource, you can often get pulled into the idea that you need to invest a lot of hours into it.
There’s no denying that the more time you put into your blog, the more likely it is to be successful. Someone who creates quality content is more likely to get visitors than someone who puts out sub-standard content.
The cost of time spent is subjective. If you’re someone with a full-time job, the time you spend on your blog might be very limited.
It might be that your few free hours in your evenings or lunch breaks is being used up to blog. But if you’re a student, or someone who works from home, you might find that you have copious amounts of free-time to write and so spending time on your blog is not as costly to you.
This is definitely something you should consider when starting a blog.
This isn’t a big deal if your blog is more of a hobby and you don’t care about driving traffic, but if you’re taking you blog serious and want to make it popular, it’s going to take up a lot of your time.
For me, blogging requires me to set aside a couple of hours daily to write articles and blog posts.
Advertising your blog for free is quite hard to do. To do this, it’s all about your connections and reach.
If you have a following on Twitter or Facebook, then your advertising options are a bit better than someone who is just starting out and has no one.
If you have your own personal website that has traffic, you can advertise on their for free too. Paid for advertising is a bit different however and it can be very expensive.
It’s not something I recommend to someone who is just starting out their blog- why advertise when you don’t have anything to show?
You want to build up a great blog with lots of great quality posts before you even attempt to drive traffic to your blog otherwise it’ll be a waste of money.
Your options for paid for advertising are many. You can go into the extremely professional market of Google Adsense, which can take any budget in the world, or you can look at getting your blog page link advertised on specific websites by contacting the owner.
With any kind of advertising, you need to have some kind of goal that’s going to make advertising worthwhile.
For example, if you’re selling a product or service, you need to be able to say if I spend X amount on advertising, how much extra profit does that make me. Does it increase my visitors? Does it increase the engagement on my blog?
You’ve also got to consider what happens when you stop advertising. If you end up with getting 100 extra visitors a day from an advert campaign, will you retain any of those visitors when the campaign finally ends?
You want to keep your visitors coming back and if your blog doesn’t have enough quality content or relevant content, it might not be a good idea to actually advertise.
There are definitely more arguments for starting a free blog and a paid for blog. What I would say is that it also comes down to your individual experience.
If this is your first ever blog, it’s definitely a good idea to start out with the free options first, so you can get a feel for how it all works.
If you’re someone with a bit more experience with websites, then having the paid for options might work better for you. You can always scale up or down depending on how well your blog does in the future, or how much time and effort you spend blogging.
I hope this gives you a good insight into some of the costs of blogging and some of the decisions you’ll have to take when starting out your very own blog.
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