I have been blogging in some form or fashion since 2013. In fact, at the time that I got started I didn’t even know I was blogging. My journey started when I learned to use coupons to supplement my grocery budget. I had a few local friends who shared grocery deals with their friends and sharing deals slowly turned in to a opportunity and income generating hobby. I say hobby because it was never my ambition to make any money from what I was doing when I started. I found a way to use coupons to save money and wanted to share that information with others.
When I started, I was sharing information about weekend coupon inserts and what to expect in the paper. I shared a few posts on social media here and there and friends started asking how to follow along with the deals. My friends and I were simply matching up coupons to weekly grocery deals and sharing with others who wanted to save money. We each had a Facebook page to share our deals on and eventually created blogs or websites. My website was on the WordPress.com platform and I will admit that I really didn’t have a clue as to what I was doing with my blog. Not. A. Clue.
Fast forward to 2018 where I own, operate and blog from two different websites, run a virtual assistant business for side income and manage multiple social media pages for other bloggers. I know a thing or two about what to consider before you decide to start a blog of your own.
Many things about blogging from 2013 to now have changed and will continue to do so but there are the basics on blogging that will never change. If you are wondering how to start your own blog, here are the things to consider. I am going to start with the extreme basics and will work up to more detailed steps in future posts.
Oh! One last thing. Anyone that has ever asked me about blogging has always and will always get the same answer. My advice is to write first for 30 days. Every day. Write. I don’t care what about and yes this step comes before you even setup your blog. Write about what you are doing that day, something you want to share to help others or even something that you find challenging and could use some help on. The point is to write. It sounds easy but wait until you sit down and try to put pen to paper on day 15 or so. Don’t give up! Just write something.
How much does it cost to start a blog?
Good question and probably the one question that has several answers depending on your path. I promised to keep this post limited to the very basics but also want to set expectations on what is ahead. Here are the things that cost me money now with a established blog. Most of these tools you won’t need in the beginning. Some you might not even need at any point but these are things I choose to spend money on for my blogs.
- annual domain name renewal ($12 a year per site to keep my website names)
- dedicated hosting for self hosted sites ($14.99 a month for 2 sites)
- custom email address ($5 a month and mainly used for my newsletter and to look more professional)
- a graphic design program where I create images both for my blog and to sell as part of my virtual assistant business ($12.95 a month)
- domain privacy ($9 a year per site to keep my private address off the web when someone wants to look up information about my websites)
- SSL certificate ($70 a year per site but this is subject to change as I search for another hosting company)
Things that I use for my blog that are currently FREE!
- a newsletter subscription service
- a secondary graphic design program that allows me to create vector images for both my website and my virtual assistant business
- a scheduling service so I can schedule posts once a week and content is shared throughout the week or month
- a program to help me brainstorm future posts and content ideas for both sites
- a image and graphic design newsletter sent to me that offers up to 6 freebies per week
Do you have that type of money coming in to support your website from the ground up? If you are thinking “heck no” then give me a minute to break these things down below and in future posts.
*Note: This is a recap of my costs. Costs vary per website owner and what they choose to do with it. As my website grows I anticipate my costs to increase. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means when you click on them and use them, I get a very small pay out to help pay for the cost of my websites. Affiliate links do not cost anything to click on and I only post affiliate links that I trust and know would be beneficial to you as a blogger.
For right now lets just talk about the first two bullet points.
What are you going to call it?
What will you name your blog and how much is that going to cost? This is a tough one that comes with high expectations right out of the gate. Some bloggers tend to just use their first and last names while others have names with a meaning behind them. The name of my current blog, The Hot Mess Kitchen tends to speak for itself. I knew for a few months before starting my site that I wanted to write about food and kitchen things but I had a problem. I had no clue what to call it! It didn’t hit me until the day I melted a pot on my small apartment stove. My response to the liquid metal all over my stove was, “what a hot mess!” and then The Hot Mess Kitchen was born and I had something to write about.
Now I know that the first bullet point came with a price tag and you are probably wondering when I am going to get to that part. The time is now. Lets talk about how I established TheHotMessKitchen.com and the other options I faced before I bought my very own domain name.
Tip: A domain name is the actual website address. It is the address that your readers will type in to their search bars to find your website!
Where is your blog going to live and will it cost anything to keep it there?
In all seriousness your blog is not going to have a house. What I mean by “live” is where will it be hosted? Hosting broken down is a fancy way of talking about a big computer somewhere that is going to keep your blog alive on the world wide web (the internet). There are two VERY important things you need to know about hosting and your blog.
#1 – Free hosting like on WordPress.com and other sites is technically like living in a free house. You have rules for living there (or being on the free hosting platform) and limits on space and what you can do. You have probably seen a few of these sites in passing. The website address for them would probably be something like thisdomainname.wordpress.com or thisdomainname.blogspot.com. The thing about these free domains are at any time the hosting landlord can boot you out or limit what goes on with your site.
I started with a WordPress.com site because it was free and I had no incoming funds outside of my full time job. I didn’t know how much time or effort I would have to invest in my site so I wanted something that came with little to no out of pocket cost. I ran a big risk in putting all of my hard work on a free hosting site like WordPress.com because at any time if it were pulled, I would have zero options to get it back. Luckily, I was writing all of my posts either from Pages on my iPhone or in Microsoft Word on my PC. I had a backup copy somewhere to fall back on but there were lots of steps involved to operate this way and a lot of copying and pasting from one to the other!
Now I am not 100% against a free hosting option. It is a great way to get your feet wet if you want to get a very basic view of what WordPress or a website platform looks like. You will learn about security, newsletters and writing blog posts. You will get a good feel for the moving parts of a website and blog post. When I started my site I knew absolutely zero people followed it. I would do things like change colors or fonts and save them to see what they looked like. I would publish a article and then go back to see what it would look like to my reader.
I learned a lot about HTML, editing and content review. It brought me back to the MySpace days where I would edit some of the code to make my page look fancy! (I am sorry for the outdated social media platform mention. If you don’t know what MySpace is, it was THE THING before Facebook.)
I know plenty of bloggers who started on WordPress.com or another free hosting option and later upgraded through that free host to paid services. They transformed their domain name from thisdomainname.wordpress.com over to thisdomainname.com to look more professional and to shorten the website title. Those bloggers are also keeping within the rules of hosting with that company.
#2 – Paid hosting or self-hosted like WordPress.org is more like taking out a mortgage to own your home, except you will continue to pay for the mortgage forever or as long as you want to keep the site up and running. You can choose to pay monthly or annually and most annual payment plans come with a discount. There is no end date to the paid hosting unless you want it to because you call the shots. Having a self-hosted website is like being the boss, which you are technically and you get to call all of the shots. You decide what goes up, what comes down and what is shared. The only thing stopping you would be if you wanted to switching hosting companies for any reason (which there are quite a few reasons to depending on the situation).
This option is the best as it puts you 100% in control but that statement comes with the good and the bad. The good. You own it. It is yours. There are still rules but a lot more freedom with what you want to do. The bad. When it breaks you are responsible for fixing it unless you are ready to pay someone or figure out how to fix it yourself. This will slingshot you right in to learning how to manage your site whether you are ready or not. I spent many, many nights searching YouTube and the web for help files. There were TONS of “make money quick” scams and unfortunately lots of “blog coaches” out there just waiting to take your money to help get you started. More on this in a later post otherwise my word count on this post is going to explode.
Others would probably continue to write on the basics of starting a blog but I am going to stop here.
Any more and you are going to plunge straight in to blog overload. We can get in to a few more bullet points on the next blog post but lets recap on what was discussed. We talked about the general costs of blogging and I gave you examples of what I pay now for two established websites. We figured out that you are going to have to sit down and figure out what you will call your blog first. Next comes the decision of where to host your site. Will you choose the free option with limitations or go full throttle and launch a self hosted site that costs money?
One last thing before the next post. In true fashion of showing of my fancy blogging skills, I must as a favor or two of you.
If you liked this post or found it beneficial, please leave me a comment below or share this post. In blog space, leaving comments on something or sharing is kind of like leaving a tip for a awesome waitress. It helps me with my site and leaves feedback for future visitors that read this post.
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