How Much Does It REALLY Cost to Start a Blog? First 3 Months and Beyond
Let’s chat about how much does it REALLY cost to start a blog, from getting your blog hosting all the way to expected costs for your first few months of blogging.
We know a lot of you are considering starting a blog, but you’re either unsure of what it will truly cost or you’re feeling overwhelmed by the financial decisions you have to make over your new blog.
We’re going to discuss the mindset you need to have going into this new business venture as well as the costs that you can expect to have during your first 3 months of blogging and then what you can expect beyond that.
If you’re new to our blog, let me tell you a little bit about us first.
We started our first blog, Avocadu.com, in the health and wellness niche. Alex was working full-time as a personal trainer, and I (Lauren) was working full-time as a certified public accountant. We worked nights and weekends on our new blog.
Just a few short months later, we quit our jobs to work on our blog full-time before we were making a dime. It was risky, but we wanted to give this thing everything we had. Thankfully, we made our first $200 in that first month we quit. We went on to double our revenues for the first 5 months of business.
We took Avocadu to earning over $10,000/month before we started this blog, Create and Go, where we teach our strategies to new bloggers.
Because we have now started TWO successful blogs and even had a first blog that failed before those, we know about everything there is to know about starting a blog and what you can expect to invest before you start making any money.
Before we talk about the actual costs, we want to talk briefly about the mindset that you should have before you start a blog. It will help you set the right expectations and intention for your new blog.
Treat Your Blog Like a Business
It’s important to remember that your new blog is a BUSINESS. It’s not much different than any other business start-up.
There is always a risk that you won’t ever make any money with your blog, although we are of the belief that if you don’t give up, you can’t fail.
Blogging is not a get-rich-quick scheme, and we don’t ever intend for it to look like our success has come easily.
You can’t expect to start out with free hosting and free software and make a bunch of money with your blog. It doesn’t really work that way. You WILL have to spend some money if you hope to make any money from your blog, and it also requires a lot of time, focus, and dedication.
But you CAN make some serious income with a simple blog. Our health and wellness blog consistently makes us an average of $20,000/month.
It’s important to begin your blogging journey with these things in mind so that you have the proper expectations of what it will take and what you will need to invest into your new business.
Why You Should Avoid Free Blog Software
We’re about to give you a little tough love here. Prepare yourself.
If you start a blog on the cheap, you can expect to get cheap results.
It will be tempting to start a blog with free hosting, free themes, and try to send emails to your subscribers for free, but you need to be aware of what to expect.
Free Blog Hosting
Many of our readers starting a new blog wonder about free hosting. Why would I pay for hosting when I can start out on a free platform like blogger or free WordPress?
Because free blogging platforms are INCREDIBLY limited.
You will be limited in how you can monetize your blog (no ads allowed), how you can design your site (no paid themes), what plugins you have access to, the overall control of your site, and more.
We have an entire article on the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org (free vs. self-hosted) that you should read if you are considering starting out on a free platform.
Free Blog Themes
Next, you’ll be tempted to try to use a free theme on your blog because the average paid theme costs around $60. Free themes are also incredibly limited.
Most free themes don’t even allow you to make simple customizations like changing the color of your menu…
You also have to consider what your time is worth is here. If you spend 4 days trying out different free themes looking for one that allows you to design your blog the way you want when you could have spent ONE day designing it with a very customizable (paid) theme, you’ve spent a LOT more than $60.
You could have spent the rest of that 4 days writing your first few posts and getting ready to launch your blog.
Free Email Marketing
The very next cost you’ll be looking at is related to email marketing. You’ll need to start building an email list right away if you want to propel your blog to success as quickly as possible.
Email is how you will begin to build a relationship with your readers and learn very valuable information, including what they are most interested in and how you can eventually monetize your blog.
Email is also one of the single most important tools you will use to make money with your blog.
Free email services are also very limited, especially with how you can monetize. MailChimp is the most popular free blog platform, and they don’t allow you to use affiliate marketing in your emails, which is the #1 way most bloggers begin earning money with their blog.
So, you can start out with a free email marketing service, but when you’re ready to make money with your blog, you’ll have to switch to a paid service anyway.
Expected Costs in the First 1-3 Months of Blogging
The following costs to start a blog can be expected in the first 1-3 months of blogging. You’ll incur most of them in the first month but it ultimately depends on how quickly you are moving with the start-up process.
This is what we call the “start a blog” phase and it includes setup and blog design. This process will generally take you a month or two, depending on how you choose to start.
Blog hosting is going to be your very first and important cost to start a blog. Your hosting provider is the company that basically takes your blog “online” so that it is visible to the rest of the world.
You can sign up for a 12 to 36-month plan, but the catch is that it must be paid up front. BUT other hosting companies that allow you to pay on a monthly plan generally charge $11.99+/month. That’s 4x the cost and WAY more expensive over time.
Bluehost is what we use to host both of our blogs plus a few other websites, and they are the best in the biz! They have 24-hour customer service and it also comes with a free domain name!
You can start using our step-by-step tutorial on How to Start a Successful Blog.
Estimated Blog Hosting Costs: $110
Blog themes are the pieces of software that allow you to customize the design of your blog, including changing colors, fonts, and the overall structure of the content on your blog.
A beginner-friendly and customizable blog theme will save you days of headaches of wasted hours, which ultimately ends up saving you money.
We have two theme recommendations for beginner bloggers:
- Divi Theme
Divi does come in at a slightly higher price tag of $89/year, BUT the cool thing is that you get access to ALL of the blog themes that Elegant Themes has to offer. So even if Divi turns out to not be for you, there are 70+ other themes to choose from!
You can check out Divi Theme here.
- Avada Theme
Avada theme is our #2 recommendation for new bloggers.
It’s nearly as customizable and beginner-friendly as Divi, but it comes in at a lower price tag of $60. That’s a one-time payment, not yearly, although it’s only one theme (not the entire market that comes with Elegant Themes.
You can check out Avada theme here.
Estimated Blog Theme Costs: $60-90
Email Marketing Service
It’s important to keep in mind that no email marketing software is free in the long run.
Even MailChimp, the best free option, is only free until your first 1,000 subscribers. But as we stated before, you won’t be able to monetize your blog with affiliate marketing through their service.
Affiliate marketing is when you sell other people’s products to your readers and receive a commission of the sales price for every sale you make (generally 10-70%). This is the #1 way most bloggers start monetizing their blog because it’s easier than creating your own products and services.
We’ve tried about every email marketing service you can think of over the last two years, and ConvertKit is by far the best in the biz for bloggers. It’s incredibly easy to use and was designed specifically FOR bloggers.
You can check out ConvertKit here.
Estimated Email Marketing Costs: $29/month (first month free)
Social Media Tools
Regardless of which social media platform you are driving traffic on, you will likely need to purchase software to help you schedule posts and drive traffic to your blog.
Estimated Social Media Related Costs: $10-30/month
Investment in Blogging Courses
Now guys, this one is totally optional but we highly recommend it, and not just because we sell our own courses. You don’t have to buy ours. Buy someone else’s if you find a better one. But this can make a HUGE impact on your new business.
Yes, the internet has a wealth of free information but it’s often outdated, sometimes untrustworthy, and very often fragmented.
The smartest bloggers and business owners withhold their best information for their paying customers. They don’t give all of their secrets away for free.
Good blogging courses will give you a step-by-step plan with actionable steps that tell you what you need to focus on every step of the way. Compare that sifting through articles via Google search…
Blogging courses are generally priced anywhere from $49 – $1,000 or more. The more in-depth you get into the world of monetizing your blog, the more expensive they will be.
We have four blogging courses, and the very first one designed for new bloggers is called Launch Your Blog.
Our Launch Your Blog Course will take you through all the steps after starting your blog all the way to launching it in one month or less, and it includes the following…
- How to learn and navigate WordPress
- Creating your first few posts
- How to design your blog with a great theme
- Starting your email list + templates for your first few emails
- Our favorite plugins and blogging tools
- And so much more!
You can check out Launch Your Blog here.
Estimated Investment in Blogging Courses Costs: $97+
Total Estimated Costs to Start a Blog (1-3 Months): $267 up front + $29/month after that
Expected Costs in the After 3+ Months of Blogging
After the initial “start a blog” phase, including set up and blog design, you will begin to focus on driving traffic to your blog and monetization. You could be in this phase as soon as 1 month after starting, depending on how you quickly you move.
Our Launch Your Blog Course described above is designed to get you to this point in just a month! So while we say 3+ months, it could be much sooner than that.
At this stage, you will run into some additional costs to grow your blog.
These costs will vary based on how quickly you grow your blog and monetize it. Most software companies in this business charge you based on how many views your pages get or how many subscribers you have.
For example, your monthly costs for email marketing will increase as your number of subscribers increases.
These expenses are harder to estimate because it depends on how quickly you’re growing and what areas you are focused on growing with your blog.
The key is to work on monetizing your site as quickly as possible so that you can generate enough revenue to cover these growing costs. This is where HELP can really come in handy…
Investment in Additional Blogging Courses
I’ll let you in on a little secret:
The learning process when it comes to blogging never stops.
We’ve been blogging for over two years and make well over $50,000/month and WE still buy courses! In order to keep your blog growing quickly, you will need to keep learning new things.
As I explained before, we have four blogging courses. The next course is designed to be taken immediately after Launch Your Blog.
Make Money Blogging for Beginners is all about how to make your first $1,000/month blogging with free blog traffic, affiliate marketing, and other awesomesauce strategies!
It will teach you how to…
- Get started driving traffic to your blog through social media
- How to get more subscribers to your email list + create your first sales funnel
- How to sell affiliate products to your audience
- And so much more!
You can check out Make Money Blogging for Beginners here.
Our other two courses, Pinterest Traffic Avalanche and Six-Figure Blogger, are designed to help you drive TONS of traffic to your blog with Pinterest and teach you how to create your own digital products and services to scale your income to $10,000/month and beyond.
Our courses were designed to be taken in a certain order because it does take time to work through all of them. So you don’t have to purchase all of them at once, but we do have the option to at a big discount with our Pro Blogger Bundle (discounted bundle of all 4 courses)
Estimated Investment in Blogging Courses Costs: $150+
Total Estimated Blogging Costs After 1-3 Months: $75/month + $150-$1,000 in courses (optional)
The key at this stage is to quickly begin monetizing your blog so that as your blog costs grow, your revenues will begin to grow as well. We now spend anywhere from $2,000 – $20,000/month running our blogs, but we also made over $90,000 blogging just two months ago in our latest income report.
Now, advertising is a huge chunk of those expenses, so you don’t have to expect to incur those same costs. We simply spend a lot of money because it helps us make MORE money.
Again, you have to have the right mindset going into this.
Let’s say you have cheap landing page software and you make an average of 1 sale every day for $20. If you spent an extra $97/month on better landing page software but it bumped up your sales to TWO every day, you would do it, right?
That’s spending an extra $97/month to make an additional $674/month. Yes, please…
This is generally how paid software in the blogging biz works and why it’s important to understand that you will often have to invest some money up front before the rewards pay off.
Other Expectations and Costs
There are just a few other minor details that we want to address before we part.
You don’t need any special equipment to be a blogger except for a working laptop with a good internet connection.
If you don’t have regular access to a great Wi-Fi connection, you need to consider getting it or finding another career. Blogging requires you to be regularly connected to your work, your audience, and social media.
The good news is that you don’t need special cameras or any other kind of external equipment. Other than a laptop, blogging is more about the software that you use and that we described above.
Don’t forget that another huge investment is your TIME! If you currently have a soul-sucking 9-5 job, you may not attribute your time to being worth THAT much. But when you’re a blogger, you do.
When you are in direct control of your income, every extra hour that you spend working on your blog matters.
When your blog begins to be successful and starting earning you income, you’ll find that you’ll start bouncing out of bed in the morning because you’re so excited to get to work!
I’ve always been a morning person, but I was NEVER super pumped about driving to my job as a CPA every day. But now, I purposely set my alarm at 6:30 am most mornings because I LOVE getting up before the sun to work on our blogs!
Summary of Costs to Start a Blog
Expected Costs in the First 1-3 Months of Blogging
- Blog Hosting: $110 (averages to $2.75/month with our Bluehost discount)
- Blog Theme: $60-90 (#1 recommendation: Divi theme)
- Email Marketing: $29/month (first month free)
- Social Media Tools: $10-30/month (Social Media Warfare + Tailwind)
- Investment in Blogging Courses: $97+ (Launch Your Blog is our beginner blogger course)
Total Expected Costs in the First 1-3 Months of Blogging: $267 upfront + $39/month after that
Expected Costs in the After 3+ Months of Blogging
- Other Software: $29+
- Additional Blogging Courses: $150+ (Make Money Blogging for Beginners is our first monetization course)
Total Expected Costs After 3+ Months of Blogging: $150 upfront + $67/month+
I hope this helped to address all of your questions associated with the cost to start a blog and run it, but if I missed something, please feel free to ask in the comment section below!
Co-Founder, Create and Go
P.S. Have you launched your blog yet? If not, make sure you sign up for our FREE 7-Day eCourse on Starting Your Blog from scratch!
Alex & Lauren
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