How Much Does it Cost to Start a Blog in 2020? Blog Budget Template and Free Guide
This is the ultimate guide to figuring out how much does it cost to start a blog? So, follow along and we’re going to break down the cost to run a blog in 2020.
How much does it cost to start a blog?
Depending upon your goals and the type of blog you want to start, it costs around $34.50 to $65.40 to start a blog in 2020 and cover your first year of expenses.
If you need to factor in buying a computer, phone or other hardware into your equation for how much it’ll cost to start a blog—then that can add anywhere from $200 to $2,600 in one-time purchases depending upon the brand of computer (Windows vs Apple) and features (MacBook vs MacBook Pro) you decide upon. Plus, there are a lot more variables to consider.
This year, there are an estimated 31.7 million bloggers in the U.S. alone—and if you’re here, you’re probably wondering if now is the right time for you to learn how to start a blog and jump into the industry yourself.
After 6+ years of growing this blog to more than 500,000 monthly readers and turning it into a full-time business for myself, here’s my honest take: Starting a blog can be incredibly fun, lucrative and immensely rewarding, but it’s also important to first understand how much does it cost to blog?
Is the upfront investment of starting a blog actually worth it in the end?
In this guide to creating a blog budget for your unique goals & needs, we’re going to break down (item-by-item) the exact costs you can expect to incur from blogging in 2020.
Most importantly, I’m going to show you the very minimum cost to start a blog in the leanest way possible—as well as the expenses you can expect to incur once your blog is growing and you’re ready to seriously invest in turning it into a profitable blog business.
How Much Does it Cost to Start a Blog in 2020? (Blog Budget Template)
- Minimum Cost to Start a Hobby Blog in 2020: $34.50
- Minimum Cost to Start a Side Hustle Blog in 2020: $65.40
- Minimum Cost to Start a Full-Time Blog in 2020: $941.40
- Hardware Costs: $0 – $2,640
- Hosting Costs: $2.95/mo
- Domain Name Cost: $0
- WordPress Theme Costs: $0 – $49
- WordPress Plugin Costs: $0 – $217
- Email Marketing Tool Costs: $0 – $41/mo and up
- Security Costs: $0 – $240
- Extra Blogging Tool Costs: $0 – $2,217
- Advertising Costs: $0 – $1,000
- Content Creation Costs (Outsourcing & Admin): $0 – $500
- Accounting Costs: $0 – $500
- Additional Costs You May Not Consider: $0 – $370
- Doing the Math: How Much Does it Really Cost to Start a Blog?
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First and foremost, it’s important to note that the cost of starting (and running) a blog can actually vary widely depending upon the decisions you make on a broad range of startup costs and ongoing purchases. We’ll be focusing solely on making smart financial decisions in this blog budget guide.
Here in this guide, we’re breaking down the benchmark costs to start a blog for 3 different groups:
- Hobby Bloggers (blogging solely for fun or as a creative outlet)
- Side Hustle Bloggers (blogging on the side of your day job to slowly build a business)
- Full-Time Bloggers (blogging as a full-time business)
Here’s why—if you’re just getting started and want to keep your new blog on a tight budget, you’ll have a different threshold for costs compared to someone who’s running a blog that already generates a little income when it makes sense for them to upgrade into more premium expenses like faster web hosting, better plugins or themes and more robust email marketing tools.
To get straight to the point though…
Here’s exactly how much it’ll cost to start a blog (and run it) this year—depending upon the type of blogger you want to be.
How Much it Costs to Start a Blog in 2020:
- How Much it Costs to Start a Hobby Blog: $34.50
- How Much it Costs to Start a Side Hustle Blog: $65.40
- How Much it Costs to Start a Full-Time Blog: $941.40
To be fully transparent, I’ll be the first to tell you that these summary numbers are an over-simplification and not necessarily what everyone who starts a blog this year should expect to spend. To really get a sense of how much it costs to start a blog, you’ll need to dive deeper into this blog budget template and guide to managing your anticipated costs.
Because the reality is that your best answer to the question… “how much does it cost to start a blog?” may be a little different than someone else’s.
There are plenty of areas where you can significantly cut costs in your blog budget (depending upon your goals and if you’re willing to make some sacrifices), while there are other areas that you may want to spend a little more.
So, we’re going to begin by thinking about what kind of blogger you want to be—and the most realistic starting point you’ll be at for a blog budget right now.
Want to Start Your Blog (the Right Way)?
Check out my ultimate guide 5 Steps How to Start a Blog (on the Side).
Now without further delay, let’s dive in!
Determine Your Blogging Purpose First (3 Types of Bloggers)
The cost to run a (fun-only) personal blog will be very different than the cost to run a blog you want to make money from and grow into a full on business.
A personal blog that you set up either on WordPress or one of the top free blogging sites will be structured completely differently (and have a different set of goals, tools, structural decisions) than a blog that’s set up to eventually generate income and be a real business.
In this guide, we’re going to walk through how much it costs to blog in the leanest way possible—and all the way up to what a serious business blog costs to run once it’s grown a bit.
Are You a Hobby Blogger?
The first category is the personal or hobby blog. This is the type of blogger that has little to no interest in ever monetizing their blog—they just want a creative outlet to share about their life, practice their craft or keep family up-to-date on local happenings. Hobby bloggers are usually on a tight budget, want low upfront costs and skip on any paid blogging tools that can accelerate growth. We’re calling this group the hobby blogger.
Are You a Side Hustle Blogger?
The next category of blogger, the side hustle blogger, definitely has the goal of building a profitable blog within their niche, but they’ve got other commitments in their lives (like a full-time job, family or otherwise) that don’t yet allow them to work full-time on growing their blog today.
They’re able to publish content with some frequency, and they do plan to make money from their blog eventually, but they know it’ll take some time to get there while they maintain other key responsibilities. This category of blogger is willing to spend a little more money up front to get the right blog setup that’ll ensure long-term growth & success, but don’t want to make a huge investment right away. We’re calling this group the side hustle blogger.
Are You a Full-Time Blogger?
The final category is the blogger that’s all-in right now—ready and willing to spend a meaningful amount of capital upfront in order to grow as quickly as possible. They have a clear idea of what they want to do with their blog and they’re comfortable with higher costs because they understand how they’ll translate into blog revenue. This category of blogger sees their blog primarily as a business. We’re calling this group the full-time blogger.
So, how much does it cost to start a blog?
Let’s look at the real costs to start a blog—for each type of blogger.
The Hardware Costs of Blogging: $0 – $2,640
Typically, when you consider the question, how much does it cost to start a blog? you’re probably thinking first about the software side of things. The blogging platform you choose, hosting plan, theme design and such. But first and foremost, the hardware (computer) you choose to use for blogging is also an important aspect—especially if you don’t already have one that you can use for your blogging endeavors.
👋 If you already have a computer and smartphone, you can skip the hardware costs of blogging
While many aspiring bloggers probably already have a computer, it’s still something to factor into the cost of starting a blog for some. Not only that, but consider that you may need to upgrade from your current computer if you’re serious about blogging.
Here’s a list of some of the basic (hardware) items you’ll need if you’re starting a blog.
Hobby Blogger Hardware Costs: $200
- Laptop computer (or desktop): $200
To be a hobby blogger, you really don’t need a lot of hardware. A decent laptop and a smartphone will do it. In fact, you may not even need anything beyond a computer as far as hardware costs are concerned.
If you don’t already have a laptop, you can get one on Amazon for less than $200. You’re probably going to use the laptop for more than just blogging, so it’s a worthy investment to make.
If you don’t already have a smartphone for your regular life, it isn’t a necessity for blogging. It’s convenient to check things out or upload content when you’re on the go—but you don’t absolutely need to have it.
Instead, you may want an inexpensive digital camera so you can load pictures to your blog. If you’re not interested in providing your own pictures you can also use free images from image sites like pexels.com and pixabay.com.
Minimum Hardware Costs for a Hobby Blogger: $0 – $200
Side Hustle Blogger Hardware Costs: $1,400
- Upgraded computer (powerful laptop): $600 – $2,000
- Smartphone with a good camera (for photo and video): $40/mo
- Headphones: $60
Upgraded Laptop Computer: $600 – $2,000
At the side hustle blogging level, you need a laptop that’ll give you more functionality, dependability and processing power. I’d highly recommend a laptop over a desktop because you can take it anywhere. If you’re traveling or want to work at a coffee shop before heading into your day job—you can take your blog with you. It’s a much smarter plan for a blogger who’s taking their blog growth seriously.
The type of laptop you choose is up to you, but you want it to have good processing speed and a lot of storage. A bonus would be something that comes with video and photo editing software.
The biggest question is whether you want to get a Windows laptop or spring for a more premium MacBook.
MacBooks are the most popular choice for bloggers (including me), but Windows-based laptops are getting much better and can be a viable option today. Most of the time, this decision comes down to preference. Those that are used to one or the other generally want to stick with what they’ve been using. A MacBook will cost more money, but tends to be much more powerful and will last for the better part of a decade—making it an overall better laptop.
Depending on the make and model of the laptop you choose, you can expect to pay anywhere from $600 to $2,000 dollars for a fast computer that’ll last years.
Smartphone with a good camera: $40/mo
A smartphone is extremely useful for bloggers today, making it an essential factor in your how much does it cost to start a blog equation. It keeps you connected to the digital world even when you’re away from home. You can receive emails on the go and quickly share relevant content to your blog’s social accounts when you’re out.
Collecting photos or video material for your blog is easy with a smartphone. You may not always have a camera with you, but you probably take your cell phone wherever you go. Get a smartphone that takes excellent photos and videos for content purposes.
Another reason to have a smartphone, is that you can use it to see how mobile-friendly your blog is. This is useful because it’s predicted that by 2025 over 72% of Internet users will only use smartphones to connect to the web.
For a non-prepaid cell phone plan you should expect to pay around $40 a month.
A good pair of headphones is essential for those early mornings or late-night coffee shop work sessions. They’re also helpful if you live with other people and need to focus while working on your blog around others on a regular basis.
You can get a decent pair of headphones for around $60 or spend up to $400 for the highest quality Bose ones.
Minimum Hardware Costs for Side Hustle Blogger: $0 – $1,400
Full-Time Blogger Hardware Costs: $2,640
- Fast, reliable and top of the line laptop (MacBook Pro): $1,300 to $2,600
- Smartphone with high data plan: $90/mo
- Bose noise-canceling headphones: $300
- High quality microphone: $150
MacBook Pro Laptop: $2,100
For a full-time blogger, your hardware costs will be somewhat similar to that of a side hustle blogger, but with one big exception—you’re going to be using your computer A LOT.
So, it’s worth investing a little more up front today into the best possible laptop you can get your hands on: a MacBook Pro. This computer is built to last you the better part of a decade.
My recommendation is to get your hands on the 13-inch MacBook Pro with the maximum processing speeds and memory—maxing out these two features will guarantee you’re getting the fastest possible laptop that can handle multi-tasking different applications at the same time, lots of browser tabs being open at once and that everything happens at lightning speed.
A full-time blogger can also expect a higher-tier phone plan to unlock more data and a newer phone. You can expect to pay around $80 to $100 for that combination. It always helps to shop around, because there may be a different plan that offers you what you want at a better price—with a new iPhone, of course.
Your headphones don’t necessarily need to be more expensive as a full-time blogger, but you may want noise cancellation headphones like the Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Bluetooth if you plan on working out of coffee shops, at a noisy co-working space or from a home office where pets and kids are running around. These headphones usually cost around $250 to $350 depending upon where you find the best discounts online.
For full-time bloggers, producing your own podcast (or at least recording some limited videos for a YouTube channel) should be on your radar for soon accompanying your written blog content. A good microphone is a smart addition, and most of them will run you between $100 and $200 on Amazon, though there are plenty of less expensive options too.
Minimum Hardware Costs for a Full-Time Blogger: $0 – $2,640
Hosting Costs (WordPress with Bluehost): $2.95/mo
The next thing to consider when it comes to how much it costs to start a blog—is your blogging platform and web hosting plan you’re on.
While there are free (no hosting required) blogging sites that you can use to test the waters into writing as a hobby blogger, I can’t recommend enough that new bloggers use the combination of WordPress with a Bluehost hosting plan.
Wix and Weebly are popular choices for free blogging platforms, but they’re pretty limited and you don’t actually own the rights to your blog. Even if you’re choosing a hobby blog, I still suggest paying the low cost of hosting to have total freedom with your content. Plus, if you ever want to get more serious about blogging and growing your site, you won’t have to go through the hassle of moving your site later on.
Moving forward, we’ll be breaking down the costs of blogging using the combination of WordPress (as your content management system) and a Bluehost hosting plan.
Hobby Blogger Hosting Costs: $2.95/mo
WordPress is 100% free content management system (CMS) to use for managing the content on your blog, so the only thing you’ll need to pay for is hosting.
When it comes to getting your blog hosted on a budget, Bluehost is what I recommend. They also come highly recommended by the makers of WordPress themselves, and they’ve built their business around offering reliable, inexpensive hosting plans to new bloggers.
For a hobby blogger, you really only need to purchase their Basic plan, which gets you everything you need for $2.95/mo.
It’s important to note though, that Bluehost hosting is paid up front in a single payment (that secures your hosting price and a complementary domain name for a minimum of your first year).
If you want the flexibility of true month-to-month payments, but don’t mind paying a little more each month to keep your blog online, check out my picks for the best monthly paid plans for bloggers that need to keep their monthly budget really low.
Minimum Hosting Costs for Hobby Bloggers: $2.95/mo
Side Hustle Blogger Hosting Costs: $5.45/mo
For a side hustle blog that you’re taking seriously and hoping to grow into a source of revenue for this side business—I recommend springing for Bluehost’s faster hosting plan that comes with a few more features—called the Choice Plus Plan.
Their Choice Plus Plan comes with a lot of features beyond what you’ll get in their lowest-cost plan, including free domain privacy, automated backups and more disk space (to get your site running faster). This plan will cost you $5.45/mo, and as with all Bluehost hosting plans, requires at least a 1 year commitment up front. That being said, the full year payment does lock you in at one of the lowest-cost hosting plans for the amount of features, value and reliability—especially because you’ll be blogging for the long haul.
If you want to shop around a bit more though, check out the other options for high quality hosting plans that offer a true month-to-month payment option.
Minimum Hosting Costs for Side Hustle Bloggers: $5.45/mo
Full-Time Blogger Hosting Costs: $5.45/mo
In my opinion, even if you’re diving into blogging as a full-time endeavor, you don’t need a hosting plan more robust (or expensive) than Bluehost’s Choice Plus Plan until you’re attracting thousands of monthly readers to your blog.
It’s only at that level of readership that it makes financial sense to upgrade to a more robust hosting plan, either with Bluehost or from one of the other best web hosting providers.
So for now… stick to the Choice Plus Plan from Bluehost that’ll cost you just $5.45/mo and you’ll be good to go for a while as you focus on more important matters (like getting readers).
Bluehost does offer what’s called WordPress managed hosting though, for when you are ready to upgrade. These plans are usually on sale for existing customers and range in cost from $19.95/mo to $49.95/mo which unlocks more great features for active blogs—like unlimited web storage, unlimited domains and much higher levels of hands on technical support.
Minimum Hosting Costs for Full-Time Bloggers: $5.45/mo
Domain Name Cost: $0
A domain name, your blog’s address on the Internet, is another relatively small expense that bloggers have to pay.
Thankfully, if you choose Bluehost for your hosting plan, you’ll get your domain name included free for the first year—and it’s around $10/year to renew it after that. So for getting your blog started, your domain name cost will be $0 if you opt for Bluehost.
If you don’t want to use Bluehost for your hosting and domain name—or if you want to switch later—here are some other options:
- GoDaddy: $10.00 – $20.00
GoDaddy’s pricing varies a bit based on the domain name you’re considering purchasing (popular names tend to go for more), so it’s difficult to estimate exactly what it will cost to get a domain name on GoDaddy. For most .com extensions, you can usually expect to pay between $10.00 and $20.00 per year. Again though, these may just be introductory prices and they vary greatly depending on a number of factors.
- NameCheap: $9.00
NameCheap is another solid option to evaluate for picking up an inexpensive domain name, but like with GoDaddy, their pricing varies quite a bit based on a number of factors. You can expect to pay around $9 for most .com domain names for your first year of registration.
- GoogleDomains: $12.00
Google Domains charges a consistent $12.00 registration fee for .com domain names. Of course, some names are deemed premium and do cost more from any domain registrar.
Minimum Domain Name Cost for All Bloggers: $0
WordPress Theme Costs: $0 – $49
Picking a WordPress theme for your blog is an extremely important step in the process of building your blog.
While you can change your theme in the future, it does take some reconstructing your website in order to do so—which is why I highly suggest picking a great theme from the start, so you don’t have the hassle of multiple theme changes in the future.
Hobby Blogger WordPress Theme Costs: $0
There are quite literally thousands of free WordPress themes available today, but if you’re looking for a free theme that’s easy to use, ultra fast and offers beautiful design layouts, my #1 recommendation is the Hello Theme from the team behind Elementor.
This free Hello Theme was created to be fully compatible with the Elementor Page Builder, which also starts fee and will extend your functionality significantly—giving you a ton of visual editing and creation features.
Minimum Cost for a Hobby Blogger WordPress Theme: $0
Side Hustle & Full-Time Blogger WordPress Theme Costs: $49
As either a side hustle or full-time blogger, you’re out to grow your blog into a source of revenue. You’re taking your blog very seriously.
And if you don’t come from a background in web development, you’ll find it extremely beneficial to use a premium theme and visual page builder like Elementor on top of your Hello Theme. Premium page builders like Elementor offer a lot more customization options and the freedom to tweak the design of your blog exactly however you want.
While Elementor does technically start out as free, the personal plan of Elementor’s PRO Page Builder unlocks all of the features you’ll want as a serious blogger (for $49.00/year):
Pairing their free Hello Theme with the Elementor PRO Page Builder is the way to go—and it’ll keep your cost to start a blog nice and low.
Eventually over time, it might pay off to start investing in a fully custom-built theme that can suit your very specific needs, but I’ve been blogging for 6+ years here with the same premium theme I started out on—so fear not.
Minimum Cost for a Side Hustle & Full-Time Blogger WordPress Theme: $49.00
WordPress Plugin Costs: $0 – $217
If you’re not already familiar with WordPress plugins, a plugin is a small piece of software that adds new functionality to your blog.
Plugins are really useful for WordPress-powered blogs and can allow you to do a truly unlimited number of things with your site. There are tens of thousands of free and premium plugins available in the WordPress ecosystem, but a few rise above the rest.
You’ll want to start by first installing all of the top plugins I recommend in my guide about how to start a blog. After those top ten, consider these.
Hobby Blogger WordPress Plugin Costs: $0
A hobby blogger shouldn’t have to worry about purchasing a premium plugin. There are lot of useful ones that are totally free. Here are some that you may find helpful.
- Instagram Feed: Instagram Feed lets you display your Instagram feed directly embedded into your website.
- Google Analytics for WordPress: You may not yet be monetizing your website, but it’s still smart to install Google Analytics or a more premium analytics tool like Fathom to develop an understanding of who your readers are and how they discover your content. It’s good information to collect if you ever do want to start monetizing your blog.
- Envira Gallery Lite: You can create galleries directly in WordPress and within Elementor, but Envira Gallery Lite gives you even more options.
Minimum Hobby Blogger WordPress Plugin Costs: $0
Side-Hustle Blogger WordPress Plugin Costs: $217
Side hustle bloggers will want to move beyond just free plugins and opt for utilizing at least a small handful of the best premium plugins to aid in everything from writing great blog content, to making sure you’re hitting the right SEO best practices, making your content easily shareable and more. Here are the top premium plugins you’ll want:
- Yoast SEO – $89/year: Yoast SEO has a very robust free version of their plugin that helps you create SEO-friendly content (to rank higher on search engines). The free version offers free keyword optimization, readability checks, communication with Google indexing and a lot more. The premium version of their plugin includes internal linking suggestions, content insights, focus keyword experts and more to consider upgrading for. The premium version costs $89 a year.
- WooCommerce – $0: WooCommerce is a powerful eCommerce add-on plugin for bloggers interested in using their site to sell their own products. The best part is, it starts out completely free to use and only costs you something once you want to unlock advanced features (or you’re processing a high volume of transactions).
- WP Forms – $79/year: WP Forms is an extremely helpful premium plugin for bloggers that want to include any kind of form on their site (if you don’t have a WordPress theme that allows for the easy insertion of forms already). Their form tools are extremely dynamic and start at $79/year.
- WP Rocket – $49/year: WP Rocket is the fastest caching plugin for WordPress that keeps your website running extremely quickly, even when you have a lot of traffic.
Minimum Side Hustle Blogger WordPress Plugin Costs: $217
Full-Time Blogger WordPress Plugin Costs: $217
Full-time bloggers should maximize all of the best premium WordPress plugins as well as other key plugins that add smart functionality to your blog.
In addition to the plugins listed above, you may want to consider these more advanced ones (depending upon the type of blog you’re building and the ways in which you’ll be monetizing your content). For that reason though, I’m not adding any of the below plugins into your equation for figuring our how much does it cost to start a blog. If one of these resonates with you though, then add it in!
- Zero BS CRM – $204/year: ZBS CRM (also known as Zero BS CRM), is a customer relationship management WordPress plugin that gives you insights into who your customers are. This is an extremely helpful plugin for eCommerce-focused blogs that are selling products directly from their sites. The plugin is free, but you can add extensions at a premium cost. ZBS CRM has also recently joined the team at Automattic, the company behind WordPress, so you can expect more great integrations.
- LiveChat – $192/year: LiveChat gives you the ability to immediately chat with visitors on your website. If you sell products directly on your blog, then this is a great plugin to add into your mix—that way you can answer important questions from your potential customers on the go. LiveChat ranges in price from $16/mo to $50/mo (or more) depending upon features.
- WPML – $29/year: If you’re interested in reaching readers in regions of the world where English isn’t as common, then the WordPress Multilingual Plugin is what you’re looking for. It ranges in price from $29 to $159. The lowest version can translate posts, pages, tags, WordPress menus and more—so you’ll be good to go with that.
Since many of these plugins are optional depending on your unique needs, I’m leaving the plugin costs at the same level as for side hustle bloggers: $217.
Email Marketing Tool Costs: $0 – $41/mo (and up)
Email marketing is the lifeblood of just about every profitable blog. And your blog’s true worth is in the quality of your email list.
Why? Your email marketing is a way for you to communicate directly with blog readers who’ve expressed an interest in what you do and signed up to get more of your content.
They’re your first stop for figuring out how to monetize your blog and will be an unlimited source of new blog post ideas to write about too. That’s why you should start building an email list as soon as possible.
Hobby Blogger Email Marketing Tool Costs: $0
A hobby blogger likely isn’t very interested in creating an email list—but it’s still not a bad idea to start one with the goal of building relationships with your readers and making your blog a more meaningful destination. Plus, if you’re a hobby blogger with an interest in monetizing your blog in the future, there’s no time like the present to start an email list.
The good news is, you can use Mailchimp’s Forever Free Plan with a limited feature set up to 2,000 subscribers.
Since your blog isn’t meant to be a serious business if it’s just a hobby, you may never cross that 2,000 subscriber mark, so Mailchimp would be perfect for your needs. That means you’ll be able to maintain an email list for free indefinitely.
Either way, even if you do self-identify as a side hustle or full-time blogger, there’s a good argument to be made for starting with a free tool like Mailchimp in order to keep your costs low in the very early days—before ramping up to invest in a paid tool like ConvertKit or AWeber.
Minimum Cost for Hobby Blogger Email Marketing Tools: $0
Side-Hustle and Full-Time Blogger Email Marketing Tool Costs: $0 – $41/mo (and up)
My advice for both serious side hustle bloggers and full-time bloggers is the same when it comes to email marketing tools: ConvertKit all the way (but not right at first).
You’re probably familiar with Mailchimp, AWeber and ConvertKit as the top three big email marketing choices for bloggers. This is a quick version of my opinion on these three tools and why ConvertKit ultimately wins, but if you want a deep dive, check out my more in-depth comparison of them all.
Unless you’re starting your blog with an existing list of email subscribers—I suggest sticking with the free version Mailchimp to start collecting subscribers and getting to know them.
If you’re not actively working to making money with your blog right from the very beginning, you can’t really justify the expense of a more powerful (paid) email marketing tool like ConvertKit.
Once you do start crossing into 1,000+ subscriber mark, then I’d recommend upgrading to ConvertKit. It offers the most functionality, includes the ability to deliver automated emails (which can be used to sell your products on autopilot) and so much more. But by time you get to 1,000+ subscribers, you should be monetizing your blog to the extent that more than pays for this tool.
The cost of using ConvertKit rises with your number of email subscribers—but the starting price (for 1,000-2,000 subscribers) is $41/mo (paid annually).
Minimum Cost for Side Hustle and Full-Time Blogger Email Marketing Tools: $0 – $41/mo
Security Costs: $0 – $240/year
WordPress.-powered blogs don’t come with robust (built-in) security like you might expect from a website builder like Wix.
However, the hosting company you choose to power your blog should provide an extra layer of defense. That’s why I recommend Bluehost (they include site lock security).
As your blog grows (and generates revenue) though, security becomes increasingly important—as your site can be targeted by hackers seeking to exploit your earnings.
Hobby Blogger Security Costs: $0
Thankfully, if you’ve chosen Bluehost to host your blog, you have their baseline built-in security.
For a hobby blog, your risks for additional threats are extremely low—and what comes with Bluehost is all the security you’ll need for now.
Minimum Security Costs for a Hobby Blogger: $0
Side Hustle Blogger Security Costs: $99/year
As we’ve already covered, if you’re hosting your blog through a reputable company like Bluehost or Dreamhost, then you’ve already got a baseline level of security monitoring in place. But for additional security, installing an easy-to-use security plugin like Wordfence is a great starting point (and will stay on your blog budget).
Wordfence starts out at $99/year for installing their advanced security features on one blog. You can usually get a promotional 10-20% discount if you sign up for multiple years too.
With this security plugin, you’ll add many safety features like:
- Leaked password protection
- Live traffic monitoring
- Two-factor authentication
- File repair
- Country blocking
- Advanced manual blocking
- Endpoint firewall
- Malware scanner
Minimum Security Costs for a Side Hustle Blogger: $99/year
Full-Time Blogger Security Costs: $240/year
For the highest-level security on your blog, Cloudflare is the best possible choice (and it’s what I use here to secure my blog).
Cloudflare ranges in price from totally free to $200+ per month depending upon the size of your website, how many visitors you’re getting, number of pages they’re protecting and such.
If you’re a full-time blogger, you’ll probably want either their Pro or Business Plan. The Pro Plan is recommended for, “Professional websites, blogs and portfolios requiring basic security and performance.”
The Pro Plan includes:
- Enhanced security with Web Application Firewall (WAF)
- Enhanced performance with image and mobile optimization
- HTTP/2 prioritization
- More control with advanced features
This plan is a good starting point and costs: $20/mo
The Business Plan is for, websites and businesses requiring advanced security, performance, and prioritized support. Here are some quick specs on this product:
- 24/7/365 support
- Custom SSL Certificates
- CNAME Setup
- Custom WAF rules
- Up to 100K image resizing request
This plan is worth upgrading to once you have a sizable amount of readers and costs $200/mo.
Minimum Security Costs for a Full-Time Blogger: $240/year
Extra Blogging Tool Costs: $0 – $2,217/year
Here’s a list of the best extra tools and plugins that I’ve personally found useful in growing my blog over the years.
If you’re trying to answer, how much does it cost to start a blog? for yourself, then don’t forget about these essential add-ons that’ll help you drive more traffic & earn more over the months to come.
Hobby Blogger Extra Tool Costs: $0
For your hobby blog, I highly recommend using only free tools and plugins. Start here:
- Google Analytics – Free: Since 2005, Google Analytics has been a (free) web analytics service built and offered by Google that allows blog owners to track and report on their website traffic. Today, it’s just one of the many blogging tools offered inside the overall Google Marketing Platform brand, designed for marketers and advertisers to reach more readers.
- Twinword Ideas – Free: This free blogging tool from the team at Twinword, gathers keyword data directly from Google and other top search engines, making it more accurate than most other free keyword research tools out there today. Leveraging this free tool will help you pick smart topics to write about, that people are already searching for online.
Minimum Extra Tool Costs for Hobby Bloggers: $0
Side-Hustle Blogger Extra Tool Costs: $290/year
At the side hustle blogging level, you’ll start to pay a little bit for extra tools that add meaningful functionality to your blog.
Remember at this stage, your goal is driving more traffic and better-monetizing your content—and these kinds of tools are well worth the investment towards that pursuit.
- MonsterInsights – $99.50/year: To put it simply, MonsterInsights is a dead simple Google Analytics plugin for WordPress—that allows you to view your GA data directly within your WordPress dashboard. MonsterInsights allows you to easily connect your WordPress blog with your Google Analytics account (without hiring developer or writing any code yourself)—a task that can sometimes be a bit more complicated than most new bloggers bargain for, depending upon which of the top WordPress themes you’re using. MonsterInsights starts out free, and their Plus plan unlocks all the additional features you’d ever need at $99.50/year.
- Wordable – $190/year: Converting a blog post draft from a Google Doc into WordPress can be an incredible pain. That’s why I love Wordable, because it’s saved me literally hundreds of hours of my life. Once you’ve signed up for Wordable’s free trial, you’ll download their plugin and install it on your blog. Then, in literally one click, you’ll be able to instantly export Google Docs into a WordPress post or page on your blog—without any formatting challenges. Wordable costs $190/year to run on one blog.
Minimum Extra Tool Costs for Side Hustle Bloggers: $290/year
Full-Time Blogger Extra Tool Costs: $290 – $2,217/year
Beyond the tools in the side hustle section above (which I’d consider must-have’s in your equation of how much does it cost to start a blog?), I recommend taking these more advanced tools into account for your blog budget if you can afford the additional spend and you’re focused on serious growth in the immediate term.
- Ahrefs – $990/year: Hailing as the absolute best SEO-related tool for bloggers and online businesses alike, Ahrefs has more than earned its reputation at helping content creators nail the most important blog SEO strategies—with a special emphasis on keyword research & competitor analysis. Their most relevant features for bloggers, is that it quadruples as a content research and analysis juggernaut, keyword rank tracker (with historical SERP movements going as far back as when your blog began ranking for its first keyword), a competitor research tool and on-page SEO analyzer. I know, that’s a lot. The lowest plan with Ahrefs will run you a hefty $990/year (when paid annually), but I can promise it’s well worth the cost.
- Teachable – $348/year: As your blogging business grows, making and selling online courses will be a natural evolution along the path to monetizing your blog. Teachable has long been one of the easiest-to-use online course delivery platforms that can not only serve content to your students—but also collect payments on your behalf. Teachable starts at $29/mo when billed annually.
- Can I Rank? – $588/year: This is by far one of the most exciting new tools I’ve started using this year. At the core of their product, it’s an AI-powered software engine that gives you actionable advice for how to improve your blog’s SEO rankings, get more traffic and even gather clever content ideas to pursue based on your existing content—and which opportunities will provide the most potential traffic value in the months to come. Can I Rank? ranges from free to $49/mo for plans that a full-time blogger should consider.
Truth be told—as your blog grows, you can spend much more than this in all the advanced blogging tools out there.
So your version of, how much does it cost to start a blog? can actually vary quite a lot depending upon the mix of tools you’re leveraging to grow your blog.
Minimum Extra Tool Costs for Full-Time Bloggers (+ the Side Hustle Tools Above): $290 – $2,217
Advertising Costs: $0 – $1,000/year
The cost of advertising is a common one up for debate amongst bloggers.
Should you pay for advertising, or should you invest in (arguably slower) free marketing strategies for growing your blog? I’d actually argue that there’s a time for both paid and free marketing channels—and it depends largely on where you’re at in your blogging journey.
For example, if you have a brand new blog with no means of monetizing your traffic yet, then it makes no sense to run paid ad campaigns to your content yet. You’ll want to get up and running enough to where your content is at least somewhat monetized before you’re spending a meaningful amount of your blog budget on ads.
Here are some of my best ways for growing your blog that includes both free and paid channels.
Hobby Blogger Advertising Costs: $0
It almost goes without saying that a hobby blogger wouldn’t spend money on advertising. Without any intention of making money from their blog, it really doesn’t make sense to.
However, you probably still want to attract some people to your blog—even for the fun of interacting with people who are also interested in the same things that you are. There are a ton of free ways to grow your audience, but a few pertinent ones are here:
- Post to Pinterest: Posting on Pinterest is often a lot more useful and far-reaching than other social media platforms. Use portrait-oriented images with text right on the image. These images perform the best on Pinterest because people scrolling through can see at a glance what your blog post is about.
- Use Other Social Media Platforms Too: Don’t stop with Pinterest. Share information about your blog across the spectrum of social media. Repost your blog posts to Medium, share your newest content on Twitter, and post relevant photos on Instagram. Join a group on Facebook in your niche and share your newest blog posts with them.
- Ask Your Audience Questions: If you want to get to know what interests your audience—ask them! Ask on social media, in email marketing, or right in a blog post. This gives them a chance to boost your social media posts by engagement and also gives you an insight into the kind of content they’d like to see on your blog.
Minimum Hobby Blogger Advertising Costs: $0
Side-Hustle Blogger Advertising Costs: $0 – $100
Like it or not, advertising your blog is an experimental task.
Right now, you won’t know the most effective ways to market your blog—until you try a few things first.
You can spend a little money on social media ads (on Facebook or Pinterest), but there are a lot of other ways to grow your blog audience without having to spend much money. My advice is to cap your social media advertising costs to around $100 on the platform your audience seems to spend the most time on.
Here are some ways that have worked well for me in growing my blog:
- Develop a Content Ecosystem: A content ecosystem means having enough relevant content on your site that you can link to internally (like this link right here to developing a content marketing strategy). I’ve linked to several relevant articles from this guide about how much does it cost to start a blog? because I’ve spent a lot of time creating my own content ecosystem. Doing this accomplishes two things. One, it establishes your authority on a subject. It also shows your readers that you’re deeply familiar with the topic they came to your site to research. The other obvious benefit is people will spend more time on your blog rather than searching for information on someone else’s site.
- Optimize Your Blog for Google Search Rankings: I won’t go into depth here about Search Engine Optimization, but it’s an extremely important aspect of getting more readers to your blog. Do your keyword research, pay attention to the recommendations from your Yoast plugin and use smart blog SEO strategies.
- Reach out to People (and Brands) You Mention in Your Posts: Bloggers are far more successful when they have a strong network. One way to grow your network is to include other bloggers in your content. If you quote someone or link to their content, reach out and let them know. They may share your article with their audience—and even if they don’t, you’ve still made a good potential connection.
Minimum Side Hustle Blogger Advertising Costs: $0 – $100 (for Experimenting)
Full-Time Blogger Advertising Costs: $0 – $1,000/year
It’s tempting to think that at this level of full-time blogging, you should spend more money on advertising.
And while a sponsored guest blogging opportunity may actually be a good opportunity to grow your audience a bit (if you land the article on a site with a large target audience that you also want to reach), that’s about the only other paid advertising experiment I’d personally recommend when you’re still early on in your blogging journey. Especially if you don’t much by way of monetized content on your blog at the moment.
All of this being said, I’m a big believer that you can grow your blog without hemorrhaging money. Here are some more ways to build your audience that won’t cost you an extra arm and a leg:
- Teach Online Courses For Your Blog Readers: Offering free online courses will mostly cost you time, rather than money. Whether you charge for a course or offer some free online classes as an incentive for people to join your email list, it’s a great opportunity to get to know your audience. It also gives you the opportunity to establish yourself as an authority in your blog niche.
- Use Quora: This question and answer forum traverses many different topics. It’s used by a diverse group of users and it gives you the potential to connect with many different kinds of people. You can find questions that people ask about a topic within your niche. Look at which questions keep coming up again and again—then answer the most popular ones in a way that highlights your expertise. You can tactfully include a call-to-action that directs them to your blog for additional reading too. Here’s an example of a search result for “blogging” on Quora. Even in this quick search you can see that people primarily want to know how to start a blog, how to promote it and how to make money from it. If my blog didn’t already cover those topics, this would confirm to me the importance of writing about it now.
- Be a Guest on a Podcast: Another great way to reach new audiences is to be interviewed on a somewhat popular podcast within your niche. You don’t have to own a podcast in order to be a guest on someone else’s, either. With their growing popularity, you have the opportunity to reach a lot of new people.
Personally, I recommend getting as much mileage as possible out of free marketing channels before diving into paid advertising tests. Once you start adding paid ads into your mix, the answer to your version of how much does it cost to start a blog? can rise pretty dramatically.
Minimum Full-Time Blogger Advertising Costs: $0 – $1000/year (to Start Experimenting)
Content Creation Costs (Outsourcing & Admin): $0 – $500/mo
Will you be writing all of your own content or will you contract some of it out?
In the beginning, it’s smart to write all of your own content—but if that’s difficult for you, seek ways to outsource the most challenging aspects of the content creation process.
For example, if writing is difficult for you, consider hiring a freelance writer who can take audio recordings of you talking through a particular topic, and let them compile a first draft of an article that you can then be an editor of.
Hobby Blogger Content Creation Costs: $0
If you’re blogging simply because you enjoy the subject matter—and not because you want to make money, it really doesn’t make sense to hire outside writers or admin help. So you can go ahead and check the “free” box for this one and remove it from your equation when it comes to answering, how much does it cost to start a blog?
Minimum Hobby Blogger Content Creation Costs: $0
Side-Hustle Blogger Content Creation Costs: $0 – $250/mo
Even at this level of blogging, the majority (if not all) of the content you publish should be written entirely by you.
It’s worth investing the extra time into finding your voice, developing your style, exploring the tone your content takes—and reacting to the feedback of your earliest readers. If you start out by publishing content that’s written by others, then you’ll skip this very important stage in your development as a writer.
You may want to outsource some content as your blog grows, but at the very beginning—I highly recommend not skipping this important developmental phase.
As you solidify your approach though, it’s safe to start outsourcing either the first drafts of your articles or finding some admin help to handle formatting of your own drafts by finding talented freelance help on freelance jobs sites.
Minimum Side Hustle Blogger Content Creation Costs: $0 – $250/mo
Full-Time Blogger Content Creation Costs: $0 – $500/mo
Even if you’re all-in on growing your blog from day one, my recommendation from above still stands—hold off on hiring external writers when you’re just getting started (even if your blog budget is of no concern), as it’s absolutely crucial to develop your own writing style at first.
You may still want to bring on some extra help with various steps of the content creation process though. If you absolutely have to hire some writing help—get an editor first. They’ll be extremely helpful in shaping your style, correcting mistakes before you publish and generally teaching you a lot about writing.
I’ve always had great luck finding strong editors, writers and even admin assistants through the ProBlogger Job Board (where you can post about your job for just $70).
Now, as you start to get the hang of your own voice, and you want to ramp up to a more ambitious content schedule, consider first hiring a guest blog post writer (to help promote your content and get published on other sites).
A guest post writer can help create content that you can then pitch around to other blogs (in order to attract targeted readers and build up your domain authority).
If you do want to hire a freelance writer for your content, think about what you want your budget to be and if the content will be worth the expense.
The cost of hiring a freelance writer can range widely depending on knowledge, experience and skill. It also depends on what you want them to do, but it’s safe to budget for a minimum of $500/mo in writing-related costs if you’re expecting to get 1-2 articles completed by a good writer each month.
Minimum Full-Time Blogger Content Creation Costs: $0 – 500/mo
Accounting Costs: $0 – $500/year
Accounting is one of those hidden fees that you may not immediately think about.
It’s obviously not important if you’re not planning on using your blog to make money, but it will be a line item in your equation of how much does it cost to start a blog? if you’re looking at your blog as a future business.
Hobby Blogger Accounting Costs: $0
It goes without saying that as a hobby blog, you don’t need to treat your site like a business—and expenses should remain ultra low. Ultimately, you shouldn’t need to factor accounting into your question of how much does it cost to start a blog?
Minimum Hobby Blogger Accounting Costs: $0
Side-Hustle Blogger Accounting Costs: $120/year
Paying taxes on a side hustle business is a lot different than claiming income with your typical 9-5 job.
In any sense, once you start making money from your blog, it makes sense to consider hiring an accountant to keep track of making sure you utilize your write-offs and properly track revenue (and pay taxes on it).
The cost of an accountant varies widely, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics says the average hourly rate of an accountant in the United States is $40 an hour.
My advice though? Pick up an inexpensive tool like Quickbooks Self-Employed that can link your bank accounts and credit cards to help you categorize all of your income & expenses as they come in the front door.
If your numbers are relatively low at the end of the year, you could probably get away with using an online filing tool like Turbo Tax to loop in your side blog income to your normal tax return filing process.
Minimum Side Hustle Blogger Accounting Costs: $10.00/mo (Quickbooks Self-Employed)
Full-Time Blogger Accounting Costs: $500/year
At this level, once your blog starts generating enough income, you’ll probably want to hire an accountant for more than just your quarterly filings and end of the year tax returns.
You may want them to advise you about the structure of your business, offer insights into ways you can maximize your revenue and get the most of your potential tax write-offs.
A good accountant will likely run you somewhere in the neighborhood of $500 to keep on retainer and stay in touch with throughout the full year.
Minimum Full-Time Blogger Account Costs: $500/year
Additional Costs You May Not Have Considered: $0 – $370/mo
There are a few extra expenses that you may not consider when calculating your version of, how much does it cost to start a blog? You could call these hidden costs.
Some of them you may already be spending for personal use, unrelated to your new blogging efforts. For instance, you probably already pay for the Internet at home, right? The only difference now, is that you may need a faster Internet plan in order to keep up with your blogging goals.
Hobby Blogger Additional Costs: $0 – $40/mo
For one, you’ll want a reliable Internet connection.
Even though you probably already pay for this service at home, you might want to upgrade your connection speed in order to load pages faster on your blog.
How much you spend on the Internet depends greatly on where you live and which plan you choose. It’s safe set this cost estimate between $40/mo and $60/mo as an upgrade rate—although your local plans may be different.
Minimum Additional Costs for (Most) Internet Providers: $0 – $40/mo
Side Hustle Blogger Additional Costs: $0 – $160/mo
The side hustle blogger is definitely going to want a fast Internet connection. In order to achieve maximum speeds, let’s set that cost at somewhere between $60/mo and $80/mo beyond what you’re already spending today.
Additional costs include gas money, office supplies, extra data storage, and lots of coffee. Although it’s almost impossible to calculate exactly what your expenses will be, we can guesstimate what it might be.
- Internet speed upgrade: $60/mo – $80/mo
- Office supplies: $20/mo – $40/mo
- Extra data storage with Google or Dropbox: $10/mo
- Coffee shop drinks and snacks: $50/mo
Minimum Additional Costs for Side Hustle Bloggers: $0 – $160/mo
Full-Time Blogger Additional Costs: $0 – $370/mo
We’ll quickly run through this list of potential additional costs for full-time bloggers, with some slight tweaks above the side hustle blogger.
- Internet speed upgrade: $60 – $80/mo
- More regular office supplies: $100/mo – $300/mo
- More extra data storage with Google or Dropbox: $20/mo
- More coffee shop snacks (more frequent visits): $80/mo
Remember that these aren’t just the only additional costs you can incur—as your blog grows and you get more traffic to your site, you’ll likely want to deploy and upgrade more of the blogging-related tools we’ve covered above (in the pursuit of better monetizing your blog).
Minimum Additional Costs for Full-Time Bloggers: $0 – $370/mo
Doing the Math: How Much Does it Really Cost to Start a Blog?
How much does it cost to start a blog? (And keep it growing your first year).
That’s a good question. What it costs to start a blog actually depends greatly on what you want to get out of it.
Minimum First Year Cost to Start a Blog for Profit: $65.40.
You can truly get started as a side hustle blogger (building your blog to become a source of income one day) for as little as $65.40 for all of your first year costs.
This doesn’t take into account buying a new laptop or paying for Internet. So, if you need to budget for purchasing a basic new laptop and consider home Internet a blogging-related cost, then you’d be looking more like spending a minimum of $714.40 for your first year of blogging. That number can also rise quite a bit as you add more tools, upgraded themes or plugins and even contract-based help into your blogging efforts.
The real variables when it comes to how much it costs to start a blog, are in the “nice-to-have” expenses like tools, upgrades to your blog design, contractors and such.
If you’re interested in seeing the real-life expenses of a professional blogger (me), check out my monthly income reports. Each month, I break down exactly what I spend on my blog business in full transparency.
Since my blog is my primary source of income at this point, I even include expenses like health insurance costs, legal fees and all of my other business expenses that detail everything it takes to keep my blog running each year.
👋 One thing I don’t want you to feel at this point is intimidated or discouraged.
I want you to have a good idea of the real cost to start a blog, but I also want you to understand that you’re investing in a business for yourself.
Like any startup, you can expect to spend money today… in order to make money in the near future.
Remember that you personally hold the power to manage these expenses the way you see fit.
So, how much does it cost to start a blog? The answer is really up to you… and if you keep your budget as lean as possible, then $65.40 should be doable for your first year.
If you like some of the blogging tools I use and recommend—but aren’t quite ready to invest in them yourself, then you don’t need to yet.
Especially as you’re just getting your blog off the ground. Focus on the fundamentals:
- Write great blog content
- Begin driving traffic and experimenting
- Learn from your readers and start to monetize your blog
Add new features, tools and expenses (that are justified) to your blog business as it grows and starts to make an income.
No matter which way you look at it though, some initial investment is necessary in order to get started—and succeed with your blog.
Want to Start Your Blog (the Right Way)?
Check out my ultimate guide 5 Steps How to Start a Blog (on the Side).
Content retrieved from: https://www.ryrob.com/how-much-cost-blog-budget/.