Blogging is really popular—and for good reason! It’s a fun hobby that helps you build marketable skills and can turn into a side hustle. But it can get expensive quickly. So if you’re looking to start a blog, here’s what you should budget for.
Domain Name – $10-20 per year
First, you need to purchase your domain name. I’ve always purchased mine from my hosting provider, but that’s not necessarily a best practice. I recommend buying it separately from a place like Namecheap. Depending on your domain name and the extension you want to purchase (.com, .org, .co, etc.) the price is going to change, but expect to spend between $10 and $20 per year on your domain name.
Domain Privacy – $0-12 per year
I also recommend getting some sort of privacy for your domain. Each domain provider calls it something different—on Namecheap it’s called WhoisGuard, on Siteground and Bluehost it’s called Domain Privacy or Domain Privacy Protection. Basically, once you buy a domain, your contact information is searchable on the public record through something called WHOIS. When you purchase privacy for your domain, your domain provider’s information is subbed in for your own. So, if you buy your domain with Siteground, when someone looks up your domain in WHOIS, they’ll find Siteground’s contact information instead of yours.
As a blogger, this level of privacy protection is highly recommended. Depending on where you buy your domain, it might be free, or it might be a dollar a month, billed annually.
SSL Certificate – $0-20 per year
Next, you’ll want an SSL Certificate. This is a security feature that encrypts your site. It’s essential to have if you’re an ecommerce site, and highly recommended for all sites. If you don’t have an SSL Certificate, internet browsers like Google Chrome will warn visitors that your site isn’t secure, and Google might actually punish you in your search rankings. A lot of domain providers have it available for free, but if you’re an ecommerce site, you might want to pay for a premium one for $10-20 per year.
Hosting – $4-6 per month, paid annually
And finally, you need website hosting! A domain name is only the URL someone types in to get to your site—you also need hosting, which is the space your website actually takes up. The two hosts I recommend are Bluehost or Siteground. I’ve used both and really prefer Siteground, as their customer service is much better. I switched And Possibly Dinosaurs over from Bluehost to Siteground about a year ago, and I’m in the process of switching my work blog over as well. It’s not uncommon to spend 30 minutes waiting for a customer service rep on Bluehost’s chat platform, and on Siteground, I’m connected with someone within a minute.
I recommend getting at least 12 months of hosting, but if you can afford it, get more. If you go with Bluehost, the cost per month goes down if you pay for a longer term up front. On Siteground, it’s the same cost no matter how many months you pay for up front. I went with the maximum 36 months with Siteground, because I had the money up front and I didn’t want to be hit with a bill for hosting every year. It’s nice to have it taken care of for 3 whole years! And if you decide you don’t like a hosting provider, you can always switch and get a refund for the unused portion.
When you’re just starting out, I recommend going with shared hosting. On Siteground, go with StartUp, and on Bluehost, go with Basic, both of which are around $4/mo, billed annually. Unless you’re planning on having more than one website right away, these plans should be plenty big to start, and you can always upgrade later.
The rest of these are things that would be really nice to have, but aren’t by any means required when starting a blog. If you’re tight on money, add these to your wishlist and come back to them later—you can make due without them for now.
But, if you have a little bit of extra money, I highly recommend investing in the items below. I put them in order of importance, so start at the top and work your way down as your budget allows.
WordPress Theme – $20-100
A WordPress theme is the look and feel of the frontend of your site. WordPress provides some for free, but if you can, I recommend purchasing one for a little bit more of a custom feel. Sites I love are Themeforest, Creative Market, and Coded Creative. I’ve used themes from all 3 for And Possibly Dinosaurs—my current theme is Olivia from Coded Creative.
Cloud Service – $1-10 per month
When you start a blog, you’re going to acquire a lot of files, quickly. A cloud service allows you to store all of it, back it up, and access it on the go. Google Drive, iCloud, and Dropbox are all great options, depending on your preference. I personally get the 2TB plan with iCloud, which costs me $10/mo.
CoSchedule – $50 per month
CoSchedule has gone up quite a bit in price since I first started using it, but I personally think it’s worth every penny. It’s an editorial calendar plugin for WordPress, and it brings in all of your blog posts, social sharing, email marketing, analytics, and more. Plus, if you refer paying customers, you get 10% off your subscription, and if you write a review, you get 50% off. So the cost is definitely flexible!
A Design Program – $10-53 per month
You’ll need something to create your branding and graphics. And while free options are awesome (looking at you, Canva), you can really step up your game with a design program like Photoshop or InDesign. I recommend Adobe Creative Cloud, because you’ll get access to all of the design programs, but if your budget doesn’t allow it, you can get by with just Photoshop for a smaller monthly cost.
If you’re interested in learning more about InDesign, which is what I use for most of my design elements, you can also check out the InDesign Adventure Guide, my course on how to use InDesign to grow your blog!
A Designer – $500+
A designer is really not necessary when you’re beginning your blog, but it’s nice to have if you want to turn your blog into a business right away. If you have no design experience, it will start you off strongly! If you’re not sure where to begin, I recommend Kory Woodard—her stuff is amazing!
Starting a blog can be expensive. But it doesn’t have to be! In order to get started, you really only need about $60 per year, which covers your domain name and hosting. The rest can come later as you save up and / or monetize your blog.