I have been thinking about writing a post about this subject for a long time now. My blogging journey started in February 2019. After ten years of solo travel, I decided to start a travel blog…great timing, right?! Now that I am past my first year, I have a handle on the cost of running a blog. Spoiler alert! It’s cost me A LOT more than I thought it would.
If you are planning to start a blog or have one already, you will want to pay close attention to this post. I will share all that I have gone through to get this blog to where it is today. I’ll be brutally honest about the mistakes I made, and what I wasted money on. Do your research before you start a blog, I could have saved quite a bit a money if I did.
When you are starting a blog, there is one crucial question you need to ask yourself. That question is, are you starting a blog as a hobby or as a business?
(Disclaimer: Some links in this post may be affiliate links, meaning if you click on the link and make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This is at no extra cost to you and you may even receive a small discount. See disclosure for more information.)
The Cost of Running a Blog as a Hobby
If you are starting a blog just as a hobby, with no intention of creating a business, it’s fairly inexpensive. But, if you are starting it as a hobby, and secretly hoping your blog will be so awesome that it will become profitable, read this whole post.
I won’t lie; I was one of those people when I started this blog. My sneaky hope is that it would just explode in popularity based on my great style and raw knowledge of solo travel. So I started the blog, knowing nothing other than, I have great advice and taste.
Well, here we are, a little over a year in, and not only have I made nothing, but I have also spent quite a bit. How much exactly? Oh, I won’t tell you just yet. I want to build the suspense a little.
But, how much is it to just have a hobby blog? The annual cost of running a blog as a hobby could be as little $250. But you shouldn’t stop reading here; you really need to understand what you are getting into.
The Reality of Blogging for Profit
Everyone that has a blog will have a different story about how they grew their blog and their challenges. Some people who started the blogging game early, grew without a lot of difficulties because there wasn’t too much competition.
The times have changed. Everyone has a side hustle now, and depending on your niche; the competition is FIERCE.
As this post goes on, I will be brutally honest with you. And, yes, it will seem as though I am trying to talk you out of starting a blog. I will speak to you the way I wish someone were talking to me when I started.
If I knew what I know now, I wouldn’t have started the blog. But because I have invested so much money and TIME, I continue. Truthfully, there are a lot of things I do enjoy about blogging, but when it gets hard, the bad feels like it out ways the good.
Are You Tech-Savvy?
Are you tech-savvy is a crucial question to ask yourself. Do you know some website basics? Do you speak the “WordPress language”? If you do, then great. You just might be able to keep your sanity and all those Benjamins; )
If you know nothing about starting a website and are planning to go self-hosted with a WordPress site, there are some things to know.
First of all, if you don’t know what the difference between self-hosted sites and hosted sites are let me help you. I struggled with the difference, and it leads to a very costly mistake.
The Cost of Running a Blog Self-hosted or Hosted
Let me tell you; I really couldn’t grasp the difference between wordpress.com and wordpress.org at first. It’s confusing and annoying.
WordPress.com is it’s OWN hosting and platform you use to create your blog. I first created my blog with the platform Wix. But, soon after spending months getting it launched, I realized to grow it, I needed a self-hosted site. I read that having a blog with WordPress is the best platform for growth. So I thought, ok, fine, and I went to wordpress.com, signed up, picked a plan and the migration started. Yay!
But wait. I didn’t get a self-hosted site, because how the hell would I know the difference? This is what happens when you don’t do the research. So there I am with a new site hosted with wordpress.com, basically the hosting situation as I was in with Wix.
Going with WordPress.com as the host isn’t bad, but it has its limitations. Same as Wix or Square Space. All are great site platforms, but if you are doing a blog for a business with ads, you want to go WordPress self-hosted.
Yes, you can run Google ads on your site hosted with WordPress.com. But, you will have a lot of limitations on themes, plugins, and other ad revenues if you go with WordPress.com as the host.
Something I did with regards to my URL was to register it with someone other than my host. It makes moving it much easier. I purchased this on NameCheap.com.
If you get your site domain directly with a host such as Wix or WordPress.com, it can be more expensive, and moving to different hosts can be more involved.
Hosting with WordPress.com
Hosted with WordPress
- You can bring your own domain URL over. Or Purchase it directly with the host.
- WordPress.com is the host. Choose your hosting plan with them.
- Build your site in the WordPress platform.
- The annual cost is a bit more with wordpress.com as a host. But as a host they are fantastic. They seriously helped me with every little question or issue.
Hosting with Siteground.com
- Get your domain name from Name Cheap or some other domain site.
- Get your own host, such as Site Ground. Choose your monthly plan.
- Build your site in WordPress platform.
- If you are self hosted and have an issue, you can ask Site Ground, but you need to fix it yourself. Site Ground has tons of self help videos and guides.
Flow Chart for the Self Host Set Up Process
Something I struggled to understand was that if you switch your hosting to a self-host from wordpress.com hosting, everything will still look the same. I thought I needed a whole new login, that I would be going to wordpress.org to sign in. You don’t. Everything looks EXACTLY the same. Just instead of asking WordPress for help in the contact section, you go to Siteground.
Going self-hosted really has been the biggest issue for me as a beginner. I don’t know anything about websites. Even basic terms and concepts were foreign to me.
If you are technologically challenged, it can really add to the cost of having a blog. It’s a guarantee that you will encounter an issue, and if you aren’t familiar with basic website terms, it can be tough. The responses you can get from self-hosted customer service can seem like they are speaking in a different language. My CNAME needs to point at what?! It’s a lot to learn.
My brain and soul have melted down many times. Find me some tissues, please.
Self-Hosted Solutions When You Have an Issue
When you have a tech-issue with your site, and allow me to share mine, it can get expensive. The cost of running a blog will depend on how your blog is functioning.
Not to go too far into the issue, but just to give an overview, it’s about pictures. My site is pretty simple; it does not perform magic tricks. I display images, texts, a few ads, and a video.
For whatever reason, on some mobile devices, my pictures don’t display. It’s been hard to figure out why. When you have a self-hosted site, the response from the host when you ask for help is “hire an expert.” Oh, joy! Let’s really spend some money now.
So, here we go again with the cost. In one year, I have spent over $800 using professionals for this issue, and site speed. The service company I use is called Codeable. I don’t love having to pay for help, but since it is necessary, I happily recommend them.
Websites are tricky. You do one little new thing, and a whole bunch of issues can arise. It is never quick and easy, so take a big fat breath. Both times using Codeable, the people working on my site went above and beyond to help me and answer every little question I had.
Hopefully, you can now see what you are getting into. The point I am trying to make is if you don’t know a lot about websites, tech issues cost a lot. I will move on to more costs of running a blog.Get A Quote With Codeable here.
Picking a Blog Theme
By now, you might be reading this thinking, damn creating a blog is a huge drag. Well, the fun part of making a blog is picking a theme!
Admittingly here, I spent more than I needed to because I changed my theme so many times. A lot of money can be saved if you just take your time and really think about the theme before you buy it.
Yes, there are plenty of FREE themes out there, but depending on your niche, you want to pick something that stands out. Free blog themes are well, not that inspiring. But the choice is yours.
In the end, or I should say, at this time of writing this post, I have a theme by 17th Avenue. And I love it!
The Cost of Running a Blog – Your Time
I have jokingly thought about changing the name of my blog to This is Why I am Single. Why? Because a blog will suck up every minute of your free time. That is if you are trying to run a blog that makes a profit. It’s not enough that you have great information and a great aesthetic.
Both the information and aesthetics are vital to your blog success, but it is not the only thing that matters. Here is a shortlist of what else you should expect to spend your time doing:
Setting It Up Right
Since many of you coming to this post are likely thinking about starting a blog, I insist you take a course.
I took the Blogger Bootcamp course after I had created my blog. If I had started with this all inclusive how-to course, I would have saved SO MUCH MONEY. This course walks you through exactly what to do.
The Blogger Bootcamp gives you the broad overview of exactly what you need. It sets you up with tools and branding ideas right from the start.
If you want to avoid unneeded costs of running a blog, invest in this course NOW.
Think your blog will be found on the internet without understanding SEO? Think you will just get lucky, and it will become wildly popular. Let me burst that bubble. It won’t. I recommend you get Make Traffic Happen and read these guides a few times. It’s an added cost of running a blog that you can’t afford to skip. You also need to get Keysearch and start playing around with the long-tail keywords.
Social Network Threads
Pinterest for Blog Growth
Pinterest. This how you really get some traffic. With the right strategies, you can get a lot of traffic to your blog. Growing with Pinterest is much more achievable than on other platforms. I use tailwind to help grow my Pinterest. It’s fools game without it. My affiliate link for tailwind will get you a discount.
Creating Pins, and More
Make Pins for Pinterest. If you are doing Pinterest to help yourself grow you need to make pins. The pin design is important, if you don’t understand how to make attractive pins, then it’s a waste of time. I create all my pins in Canva. Canva is amazing. It is my favorite design platform I use.
Instagram. The platform is very saturated and you really need to stand out to grow a following.
If you have a new platform for business, this course is vital to helping you build a profile that stands out from the rest.
Posting is very time consuming. To make posting manageable, use the post planner Planoly.
Editing & Sizing Photos
Writing Blog Posts
Writing your blog post! Some people can produce a post in one day, and those people must be magicians. If you are able to write like a wizard and produce a post in a day, I applaud you!
Self editing is hard!One of the best tools I use for grammar and such, is Grammarly.
So let me ask you how much is your time worth? You can seem from my long is of must-dos for every post; this is not just a couple hours a week kind of thing. Making a blog is a massive undertaking. I overlooked this factor when I got started.
Photography Gear & Extras
Blog Extras for Optimal Functionality
I was so naive when I started this blog. Because I did so little research on how to create a blog I felt blind sided by all the extra costs of running a blog.
Let me start with the scheduling apps I use, which are:
- Planoly for Instagram post scheduling. This scheduler will allow you to schedule out your Instagram posts along with posting them to Twitter and Facebook. I love the simplicity and design of this app. It is more user friendly than the other scheduling apps I have tried.
- Tailwind for Pinterest scheduling. Though you shouldn’t rely solely on a scheduler to do all your pinning, this scheduler really helps you stay consistent. You will still have to manual pin to keep the algorithm happy.
Now let’s talk about Plugins that I am using and find to be vital:
- WP Rocket– This plugin will help best optimize your site for speed and function. It has a low annual cost, but still, it’s a cost I wasn’t expecting.
- Social Pug– I love this plugin. What it does is, it lets you put in a pin description for any photo on your site. This was if someone pins an image from your site, it goes into Pinterest fully loaded for success. Also a meager annual cost, I would highly recommend it!
Email Services & Forms
If you read my post on how to make a downloadable map, then you read all about how to automate something. It is essential to offer your readers freebies and extras of your content.
In the post about maps, I recommend using Active Campaign and Lead Pages. Both great platforms, however, I have found a better service that better represents my brand. The service I use now that combines both the “lead page & form” as well as does the sending is Flodesk.
Flodesk is a MUST HAVE! It will cost less than both the Lead Pages and Activate Campaign combined. The stylish and user-friendly platform had me at, hello ; )
Essential Items | Camera Related
Depending on your niche, some of this gear is going to be vital. If you are running a blog that could rely on using stock photos primarily, like an advice blog, the following equipment might not be as necessary.
If you are a travel blogger, food blogger, lifestyle blogger, you are going to need to factor camera equipment into the cost of running a blog.
I have a full list of the essential camera gear to take breathtaking photos.
The Breakdown of Each Cost of Running a Blog
Here is the list you are likely searching for, the cost of running a blog. This list contains the annual cost of what it will cost if you do it the right way.
The Annual Must Have List
|Domain Name – Namecheap – Annual Cost||$12.00|
|Self-Hosting- 1st Year with Site Ground – 1st yr. Annual Cost||$223|
|Theme – 17th Avenue + Installation (one time)||$194|
|Keyseach.co -Annual Cost||$169|
|Email Service – Flodesk– Annual Cost||$456|
|Social Pug Plug-In Pro – Annual Cost||$34|
|WP – Rocket Plug-In||$49|
|Adobe Creative Cloud – Annual Cost||$132|
|Planoly – Annual Cost||$108|
|Tailwind Premium – Annual Cost||$104|
|Photo Presets (worth EVERY penny)||$46|
What I Spent on Extra’s
Let me go get the violin for when you read this list.
|Codeable- Blog Tech Help||$900|
|SEO Books (3 book bundle)||$130|
|Blog Online Course||$450|
|Camera & Lens||$850|
How to Offset the Cost of Running a Blog
After all of that, are you still eager to get in the blogging game? Are you wondering how you could offset some of these costs of running the blog? Let me give you a few ideas of how you can turn this money pit into a moneymaker!
Affiliate Links – The Basics
Amazon.com– No surprise here, but there is a catch. Before signing up for Amazon, you should have a lot of traffic already. Why? Amazon requires that you make three sales in the first 180 days. Sounds easy, right? It’s not.
If you think, oh well, I will have a friend buy three things from my site, and I will reimburse them, think again. Amazon is smart. They somehow caught on to me when I tried that, and the sales made didn’t count!
Shareasale– This is an affiliate platform to get links for merchants, such as Artifact Uprising, a make your own photo book company. This where you can apply to join programs for merchants you think would best sell on your site. Depending on your website age and the niche, you may not get approved for the programs you try and join. I have been denied in the past, ouch, it does sting a little sometimes.
Cj Affiliates– This is an affiliate platform just the same as Shareasale. Different merchants, but the same idea.
Rewards Style– This affiliate network may be hard to get approved for a new blog. I applied and was approved, but my blog was one year old. This affiliate network is excellent for blogs such as lifestyle, fashion, health, and beauty.
Get Your Guide– This affiliate network is only for travel blogs. And if you are a travel blogger right now, I know, this pandemic is rough. All the commissions I had pre-booked had all been canceled.
Cost of Running a Blog Summary
The bottom line is you need to have the drive, motivation, patience, and a little bit of money to make a blog successful. If I had read this article with the cost of running a blog all spelled out like this, I would have given it another thought. No sense in sugar-coating it, making a blog is a lot.
The truth is I had NO IDEA how much hard work and money would be needed to make a blog. I have a high level of respect for anyone who successfully created and stuck with their blog. I know just how time-consuming and thankless it can really be.
Truth About Affiliate Links
Also, I softly wanted to mention that it can take a long time for affiliate links to bring in revenue. I have found that some consumers seem to have an aversion to them. Other bloggers talk about this, mainly when the word “influencer” is being used.
People should want to use someone’s affiliate link. Otherwise, the company you just purchased from is getting free advertisement and endorsement. Doesn’t everyone want to support the little guy, not just let the big guy get bigger?
Not sure exactly why some people rather not use them. Maybe it’s the control you have not to use it, and not let that blogger earn money. I can’t say exactly.
Almost all the links in this post have an affiliate link. They all link to services or products I use. I encourage you to contact me if you have more questions about anything I recommend in this post.
I have to be transparent about creating a blog. Blogging for profit is much harder than I ever dreamed, and I did want to burst that bubble early on.
I hope you learned something from this post, and I personally would be happy to talk to anyone who had more questions! Please subscribe to my newsletter for freebies and insider info!
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