Not sure if you can afford to start a blog?
When I started my blog (originally The Messy Momma) I had just been put “on call” from my job and was surviving with two kids on only my husbands salary PLUS I didn’t know at the time that I was pregnant with my third!
Needless to say, I had little to no money to invest in a blog. Through a lot of research I was able to figure out how to start my blog for roughly $100. So if $100 is all you have to invest, trust me when I say that’s all you need.
This post will assume two things about you:
- that you already have a niche and/name down
- that you are ready for the technical part of building a blog
However if you don’t have this part yet and are a TOTAL beginner then check out my blog post: Blogging for Beginners. At the bottom of this post, you can see a complete chart of different price ranges with different options available.
What do you need to start a blog?
In this post, we are going to go over your options on the essentials of getting a blog started.
Included will be a cost breakdown of
- Different hosting companies
- Hosting plans
- WordPress Themes
- Frameworks & Stand alone themes
Let’s get started!
The first thing you will want to decide is where to host your website.
Web hosting is basically online storage space for you to run and access your website out from. You are basically renting space from them.
Before we dive right in, I want to kill a misconception of advertised prices on hosting sites. The price advertise is always conditional to your monthly plan (how many months you pay for hosting).
For example, it may say you get $3/month hosting but the condition is that you have to pay the annual cost for 36 months upfront.
In some cases, that is a good deal because the monthly price is lower but the instant price to pay is higher.
I recommend going through either A2 Hosting, Bluehost
(my personal hosting company) or Host Gator.
HOSTING UPDATE 02/2019:
At the time of this update, I switched hosting companies from Bluehost to A2 Hosting.
For my entire first year of blogging I used and loved Bluehost. It was 100% worth it! I loved that they started me out with a free domain, they have a simple way of starting out with WordPress and have amazing customer support.
I honestly love and would still recommend Bluehost.
As my blog grew and my needs as a blogger changed, I decided to take the plunge by switching to A2 Hosting. Both are amazing hosting platforms and would 100% recommend the two.
You can read more about my reasons for switching to A2 Hosting plus a one year review on Bluehost in my post: The Best Hosting for Bloggers
The prices of A2 Hosting are very competitive in relation to Bluehost which is really cool.
My biggest reason for switching was because I wanted to have Unlimited Websites on my account so I was going to need a host that has great Uptime, Bandwidth and Speed.
Unlike most other hosting companies, A2 Hosting has Anytime Money Back Guarantee which says a lot about how confident they are that you will love it!
And ALSO unlike other hosting companies you will really pay $3.92/month. Regardless if you get a 12 month plan, 24 month plan or 36 month plan – you will be paying the $3.92!
A2 is officially my Number 1 recommendation followed by Bluehost! Plus you can’t beat that great price.
I purchased their second tier option Swift for 12 months for $64.62. I paid similar to that with Bluehost and did not have Unlimited Websites or Storage plus you get the free SSL.
From my research, Bluehost is a highly recommended site for web hosting. They host more 2 million website! That’s insane. But like most things, web hosting is not a one size fits all so let’s see if Bluehost is right for you.
I personally used Bluehost for my web hosting and I did not have any issues with it at all. As for my budget when starting out, web hosting was my biggest investment.
Aside from my budget, I loved the fact that Bluehost also gives you a FREE domain name ($15 value)!
As you can see from the image below, the cheapest monthly price for web hosting is the 36 or 60 month plan.
But keep in mind that this will be paid annually so multiply that by 12 (or however long your plan is) and you will be paying $142 out of pocket! So I paid for the 12 month plan at $5.45/month without any upgrades and paid $65.
Side note: I recommend paying for the “Domain Privacy Registration” which keeps your information (email and phone number) private. I have received so many emails and at times calls from people wanting to “work with me” on my website and I wish I would’ve purchased that ahead of time!
Bluehost offers a 30 Day Money Back Guarantee so if you decide that Bluehost is not for you then you can go ahead and request that by calling their customer support (which is also amazing).
Bluehost is so easy to get started and have a quick and simple WordPress install (we will by talking about WordPress as your second step).
As soon as you set up your Bluehost account you have the option to “Create Site” and the rest of the install will be super easy.
Host Gator is very similar to Bluehost (since they are under the same parent company). It offers all the same features as Bluehost except it allows you to pay monthly versus an annual fee which is good if you have a small starting budget.
So as you can see from the picture below, you can get started with as little as $11! Maybe you are unsure if blogging is for you and want to test it out before paying the annual commitment.
You can try it for 3 months and decide if blogging is for you. Once the 3 months are up you can decide to upgrade or switch with only $33 invested. Since this is a budgeting post then this might be a good choice for you if at the moment you don’t have a lot to invest.
Keep in mind, you will have to also purchase a domain name additionally. You can purchase it straight from Host Gator for about $12.95 or you can go to a third party site like Namecheap and try to snag a cheaper deal.
Hosting Cost Breakdown
For a 12 month plan with A2 Hosting, you will be paying $52.86
For 24 months of A2 Hosting, you will be paying $93.96
I purchased their Swift Web Hosting for 12 months which allows me to have Unlimited Domains for $64.62
For a 12 month plan with Bluehost, you will be paying $71.40
For a 36 month plan with Bluehost, you will be paying $142.40
For a 3 month plan with Host Gator, you will be paying $35.02
For a 12 month plan with Host Gator, you will be paying $76.11
In order for you to make the best financial decision, you will have to consider how much you want to invest right away and how long you want to have hosting for. In my opinion, it can be a wise decision to pay a large chunk upfront than paying more over time.
Both of the above hosting plans have simple and quick WordPress installations. If you’ve been researching how to start a blog, then you’ve probably already heard to use WordPress “.org” not WordPress “.com”
The hosting platforms will automatically sync you to WordPress .org but in case you are trying to log in and can’t, make sure you are on the right WordPress.
There are two things you will want to do in order to have this part set up. You will need to choose a WordPress Theme and install plug-ins.
PIN FOR LATER!
>>DON’T FORGET TO GRAB YOUR FREE GIFTS AT THE END OF THIS POST!<<
Usually first time bloggers spend a great deal of time looking for the “perfect” theme. They spend a lot of time and sometimes a lot of money. How do I know? Because that was me! The second highest paid thing for my blog was my theme and months within I regretted it.
Not to say that I don’t love my theme (because I do) but your blog will refine and develop over time. Most likely how you want your blog to look will also change.
The theme currently displayed on my site is this one bellow from HelloYou Designs . As you can see, this theme only cost me $29 – she has a few other premium themes that are worth checking out. I have also since then customized the theme (using Elementor Pro) so I do not have a lot of the things on my site that are displayed in her demo (view the demo here).
The creators of my theme have amazing customer service and beautiful themes at low cost. Make sure to follow the instructions carefully for correct install – you must first install and activate the Genesis Framework and then the actual theme in order for them to work properly.
Although this theme is only $29, it does require you to also have the Genesis Framework which is an additional cost.
Another amazing option is Bluchic Premium Themes. You can snag most of their themes for $79 and no framework is required. You would simply download the theme after paying and upload it onto your site.
Remember to check out my price comparison chart at the end of the post to view all your options.
Plug-ins is extra software that allows you to customize your website by adding extra functions and features. I have my top 5 plug-ins that are basic and of course free. As you start to build your content and your website you will see that start needing more more plugins but these are my recommendations when getting started.
The easiest way to download a plugin is on your WordPress panel. On the side, click “Plugins” and “Add new.” Search the name and download the plugin. It’s very important that you don’t forget to “Activate” it or it won’t work.
1 Coming Soon Page & Maintenance Mode by SeedProd
This is a good plug in if you want to start heading people over to your page before it launches. If you are a Bluehost user, a basic landing page will be there. It will say it’s being worked on and instruct them to come back later.
With this plug in, you can customize it and even add a Call To Action in order to start getting subscribers there from day one! Maybe you already have a following on social media and you want to let them know that you are starting a blog. Send them over to your landing page and start collecting those emails.
Jetpack is a standard plugin, it might even come already with your WordPress site. It can be easily pushed off to the side and be forgotten but this a great tool for looking at your website stats. You can filter it from the day, week or month and see where your source of traffic is coming from.
3 Contact Form 7
So this one is kind of obvious. It allows you to create contact forms for you to place on your page. If you are creating a Contact Us page this plug in will allow you to do that. You can have a contact form in minutes.
4 YOAST SEO
YOAST is a MUST HAVE! If you are trying to get noticed on any type of search engine such as Google. This super cool and easy to use plug in rates all your page’s SEO and gives you recommendations of improvement.
Not only that but it analyses the “Readability” of your pages. Basically, it tells you if your post is easy to read and follow. It will give you easy suggestions like adding more headers into your post or cutting down run on sentences. Honestly, before posting anything run it by this plugin!
BONUS TIP: Doing this will save you so much time in the long run. I put this aside until I had about 6-7 posts and it was such a pain to go back and edit ALL MY POSTS. Plus, adding this will help your SEO on Pinterest when it’s saved! (and yes Pinterest uses SEO too).
5 Genesis eNews Extended
What good is it to have the Genesis Framework if you aren’t taking advantage of their plug-ins? Genesis has a lot of cool plug ins but I really like eNews Extended. This allows you to place your Call to Actions in different places of your website while still following the theme of your website.
You can add it to your sidebar. Plus it can integrate with your email provider (Mailchimp, MailerLite, etc). I have this on both my main Call to Action and my side bar CTA.
Blog on a Budget Price Comparison Chart
Final Step: The Blog Posts
The finals steps of having an actual blog would be blog posts. Obviously, you need to fill it now with all your content. Many bloggers suggest to have “5 pillar post.” Meaning, five posts just to fill the empty space, but I don’t agree.
Why would you spend so much time (hours, days, weeks) on a post you don’t care about or will eventually sit on the side to collect dust? That makes no sense. Instead, I suggest to make your first posts as your foundation to what everything else will be.
You need to create your pillars into high quality content that your readers can have for free. But make sure to give yourself an opportunity (at least 2/3 posts) to make some sort of profit. That can be something as simple as you gaining a subscriber by giving them an opt-in.
If you plan on blogging for profit, then I suggest laying down the foundation for that as well. Either if you are planning on using affiliates, products or your own services. Make sure you have an opportunity to invite your readers to join.
I actually took a course to help me create amazing blog posts called Post By Number by Suzi from Start a Mom Blog. I highly recommend reading her blog and taking the Post by Number course. It is only $9 and helps so much at an amazing price.
Aside from your foundational posts, you will also want to create an about page and a disclosure page. Now we have covered a lot of ground and it may seem like a lot. But trust me, you can get this all done in about an hour. Just focus on the steps exactly how I laid them out:
- Blog Posts (Foundation Post, About page, Disclosure Page)
Have you started a blog yet?
Tell me in the comments if this resource has helped you start your blog – I’d love to hear from you! If you haven’t started your blog, what’s holding you back?
If you need additional support, comment your questions below. Please also share this post with your friends on social media. Thank you!
- How to Start a Money Making Blog
- 20 Ways to Make Money with your Blog
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- The Ultimate Blog Funnel