This month marks Seaside Sundays’ first birthday and I thought it would be interesting to see find out what the real cost to start a blog is. We have all seen the ads that promise a money-making blog in just 5 minutes and a few dollars but how true is it?
How much does it really cost to run a blog?
Don’t forget that in some blogging niches, you need a lot of equipment and supplies to get started with your blog.
Fashion bloggers need clothes and a good camera (plus someone to take those perfectly posed photos!). Food and DIY bloggers need to make professional videos and buy fancy supplies for their blog posts.
In my niche, I don’t need any special materials to create blog posts but that doesn’t mean it’s totally free. As you will see below, blogging costs can add up if you are not careful.
Making Money From A Blog
If your goal is to make money off your blog, then you likely will end up spending some money to get it looking just how you want.
While many hobby bloggers can make use of the free blogging resources, professional bloggers tend to need certain products such as pro plugins and email services that cost money.
I no longer publish blog income reports as it just wasn’t something I was super comfortable with but to give you an idea of my income, I have made over $2000 every month since my 5th month blogging, some months I’ve made a great deal more than that but my monthly goal is always $2000.
My income comes from a mix of ads, affiliates and my own products with the odd sponsored post sprinkled in.
Previous Blog Income Reports:
My First Blog Income & Traffic Report: May 2017
Income Report for June: My 3rd Month Blogging
July 2017 Income Report: 4th month of blogging
Before I give you all the details of my blog expenses, I do want to point out a few things.
First of all, I definitely wasted money on useless things or just because I had no idea what I was doing. An example is the fact that I had to change hosting providers halfway through the year even though I had paid for 3 years with ehost.
Secondly, you do not have to spend anywhere near the money I spent to be successful. Honestly, I would say there are about 5 courses that have made up the bulk of my success while the others were useful but probably not life-changing.
Likewise, I chose to use some premium products like Convertkit from the get-go when I could have saved money and gone with a free or cheaper option like Mailchimp or Mailerlite.
What Does it Really Cost To Start A Blog?
1. Setting Up A Blog
WordPress Host 1 – $59.40 (ehost)
WordPress Host 2 – $163.20 (Siteground)
As I mentioned in this post on choosing the best hosting for your blog, I switched halfway through the year due to my original host charging me over $100 a year for the SSL certificate that you need to make your site secure in Google’s eyes.
Looking back, I probably should have known that Ehost would be barebones for the awesome price I got and to be fair, I was completely happy with them and their customer service was awesome. I do think my site is a lot faster since switching to Siteground though.
If you want a cheaper option than Siteground, you can get hosting for only $2.65 a month with Bluehost so it is very comparable to ehost but it includes the free SSL and domain. I wish I had known about them when I started my blog.
For full details and a step by step guide to setting up your blog with Bluehost, see my tutorial.
My ehost hosting package came with a free domain for the first year. ($19 for renewal).
WordPress Theme: $49.00
I chose my theme from Sugar + Code.This is a great theme that you can completely customize and was so much cheaper than comparable Genesis themes. I highly recommend checking them out if you want to find a new look for your blog!
2. Social Media Promotion
– I use Tailwind for their fantastic analytics and for promoting my blog posts in Tailwind Communities. You can see how I use them to grow my traffic in this post.
You can also use Tailwind to schedule your Pinterest pins out to your boards so you can take a hands-off approach. Personally I do not use Tailwind this way as I live pin my stuff by hand (more details about that further down)
Hootsuite: Free for 30 posts. I used this for Twitter only and schedule 2 tweets a day for two weeks. Every 2 weeks I spend half an hour rescheduling tweets and filling up my queue.
Facebook Page: I use the Facebook scheduler which is free.
Instagram/Google + etc: I post to all the other social media sites manually.
3. Creating Blog Content
I don’t pay for guest posts or PLR (Private Label Rights) which is content you can use as your own or alter as you wish. As I am not a food or DIY blogger, it doesn’t cost me anything to create content for the blog.
You definitely don’t have to use PicMonkey to create your social images and Pinterest pins but it is my favourite photo-editing website and I find it the best out there and easiest to use. You can sign up for a free 14 day trial to see if you like it.
If you are looking for a free option for images, you can also use Canva which I like too.
Deposit Photos: $49
There was a great deal in the fall that offered 100 stock photos for only $49.
I do, however, supplement with awesome free stock images all the time. I could use all free photos but I find that using a mix of free and paid images gets me better results on social media. .
Related: 24 Awesome Sites That Offer Free Stock Photos
When you are looking at the cost to start a blog and monetize it, you really need to include some kind of course or ebook. Sure, there is a ton of free information out there but almost every successful blogger I know has purchased at least one blogging course throughout their journey.
I don’t think that means you need to buy the $900 dollar course or even the $300 one, in fact as you will see below, some of my favourite courses are also the cheapest ones I have taken.
In the first year of blogging, I bought 9 different courses or ebooks and I bought the Ultimate Bundles Genius Bloggers Toolkit twice (In April and Oct).
Total Cost of Courses & Ebooks: $656.46
Although I think each course I bought taught me something, I am not going to lie and say I thought they were all amazing. Some were maybe a little too basic for me once I had been blogging for a while, although they would be great for beginners while others simply didn’t fit with my own blogging philosophies.
Below are the purchases I made that have given me the best ROI and the ones I would wholeheartedly recommend to every new blogger:
Pinteresting Strategies By Carly Campbell
My only regret with this book is that I didn’t buy it sooner. I saw results literally the day after I implemented Carly’s strategies for manual pinning and I am 100% convinced that her ebook is the reason I got 70,000 page views by only my 4 month of blogging. I highly recommend reading this book if you are struggling to get traffic from Pinterest.
First Affiliate Sale in 24 Hours by Elize McDowell (now called Paid by Pinterest)
This was the first ebook I ever bought and the gateway drug, so to speak. It got me started on affiliate marketing, specifically on Pinterest. You can learn all about it here – How to Make Money With Affiliate Links On Pinterest
Traffic Transformation by Lena Gott
Lena Gott knows her stuff. She is a wizard at getting traffic from multiple sources and milking each blog post for all the traffic she can get. I highly recommend checking out Traffic Transformation if only for the free trial offered.
Cost: $79 (I bought it before it was upgraded so it cost me less than that).
Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing
Michelle makes over $100,000 a month from her 6 year old personal finance blog, with more than half of that coming from affiliate marketing. If you are looking for a really comprehensive course on making money with affiliates, I highly recommend her course. You also get access to a private Facebook group that, for me, has more than paid for the course itself in traffic and connections.
Billionaire Blog Club
(now called Dare to Conquer)
I only bought this course in January but it is probably my favourite blogging course yet. It is really 9 courses in 1 plus an awesome community and a leader who is very accessible and hands on.
Here are the courses included:
- Billionaire Blogging SEO
- BoardBooster Masterclass
- Niche Selection
- Billionaire Pinterest
- Affiliate Marketing
- Intro to Email Marketing
- Google Analytics
- Content Creation
I’ve only gone through the Pinterest and SEO courses so far but I have already learned so much.
If you are looking for a bang for your buck option, I highly recommend BBC. I actually think that if I had found it a year ago (it wasn’t launched until the summer), then I would have saved money by not needing some of the other courses.
5. Monthly Subscriptions
Convertkit: $49 a month Sept-Dec/ $79 a month Jan and Feb = $305
I use Convertkit for my email lists. It’s helps me to send out emails to my subscribers. Having an email list is one of those things that everyone recommends and it really is something you should factor into the cost of starting a blog.
Convertkit is quite pricey but I think the ease of use and fantastic customer service makes it a worthwhile business expense.
Sendowl: $15 a month (Sept – Feb = $90)
Sendowl is the program I use to sell my two products, Affiliate Action Plan and Naturally Fertile. It allows me to create affiliate programs so I can pay a percentage of my sales to people who promote the books.
Influential Mama Network: $13 a month ( Dec-Feb – $39)
I joined Inez Bayardo’s Influential Mama Network back in December and I love it! When you subscribe to the group, you get access to a private Facebook group that is very active and very supportive.
The group focus is social media and sponsored posts so it’s a bit different than a lot of other blogging groups. Inez makes a full time living just from sponsored posts and is a bit of an Instagram guru.
For your subscription price you get access to all of Inez’s courses, tons of trainings (a few times a week Inez goes live on Facebook) AND a free 30 minute coaching call with Inez every month! I had my first call last week and managed to secure a sponsored post the next day thanks to Inez’s tips and pointers.
I also like that it is a month to month program so you can just pay $13 for a month then cancel if you like.
You can check out the network and if you decide to join, don’t forget to say I told you about it!
So, How Much Did It Really Cost To Start My Blog In Its First Year?
Starting and monetizing my blog definitely cost more than I expected. I know I wasted a lot of money on the hosting and other impulsive buys but I was surprised to see the grand total!
It’s ironic to me that some of my best buys were also the cheapest (Pinteresting Strategies, my WordPress theme and the Influential Mama Network).
I think aiming to spend $500-1000 is realistic if you plan to buy ebooks and courses as they seem to be getting more and more expensive. I also find that the best thing is to buy them when they first come out as prices seem to rise quickly.
If you can do without spending a lot on courses apart from a select few, you can likely start a blog for less than $300 all in.
Grand Total: $1,591.94
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