Would an extra $500-1000 per month help with your living expenses? What if you could make that extra money by starting your own online business and working just a few hours per day?
That is the beauty of blogging. Starting a blog is a great way to make some extra money, and I wholeheartedly believe that anyone can do it. And the best part is, getting a blog up and running is seriously one of the cheapest businesses you can start.
If the goal of your blog is to earn an income, the cheapest way to start a blog is not going to be free. You’ll need to purchase some things, but they don’t have to be expensive.
Startup costs for a blog are minimal.
You really just need to make 3 purchases to get started:
1. A domain name ($1)
The first thing you need is a personal domain name. I buy my domain names at 1and1.com whenever possible. For new customers, you can buy your perfect domain name for $0.99 and get free private registration!
But let’s talk for a second about choosing a domain name. This is an important step because it’s also going to be the name of your blog. Here are some tips for choosing a domain name for your new blog.
- Choose a .com .org or .net domain. I recommend avoiding .info, .biz, or other domain endings (called TLDs) because more and more spammy sites are popping up with those.
- Use correct spelling and avoid numbers and dashes. Like choosing a .info domain, weird spellings, numbers, and dashes are commonly used on spammy websites, and having them in your domain may cause readers to question whether they can trust you.
- Keep it under 20 characters. You’re going to have a hard time branding your site and images if your domain name is really long.
- Before you commit, do some research. You’ll want to make sure there isn’t another blogger out there using a similar name that could get confusing. Also check Pinterest, Google +, and Facebook to make sure your blog name is available as a username on those platforms as well.
Sometimes it’s hard to find a name you like that is available so you may have to brainstorm some ideas.
- What will you blog about? Your domain name may include your main topic: cooking/kitchen, fitness/health, crafts/decor
- Do you want to include your name? Something like Sarahcooks or Sallysews is good, but consider these 2 things before committing to using your full name as your domain and blog name:
- Your name does not describe the content on your blog
- It’s hard to sell a domain or blog that is branded with your name
- Here are some great resources for getting ideas for a domain name:
Okay, now you have chosen your domain name, head over to 1and1 to purchase it. A few things you need to know: your name and address are available to the public if you do not get private registration. If you have a business address you can use, use that as your address instead of your home.
2. Online hosting for your website ($15-60/year)
Just because a domain name exists doesn’t mean you can build a website there. You need to purchase hosting to put your site up on the web. Your web host is the company who makes sure your website is live on the internet.
Free website builders include hosting, but they don’t offer you enough flexibility for making an income. Great hosting companies can still be cheap – for $30-60 you can get a great hosting service for an entire year.
My recommendations are hosting with 1and1 or Siteground (this is who I use). I’ve heard horror stories of bloggers whose sites crashed just as they started getting traffic because they were using Bluehost and GoDaddy hosting services. I recommend joining some blogging groups on Facebook and asking around because every single review of hosts in a google search is going to be an affiliate post.
Install WordPress on your site (free)
Once you have your hosting service, you need to install WordPress on your site. WordPress is a free content management system (CMS) that can be installed on any site in seconds. There’s a really good chance your host will do this for you if you ask, but installing WordPress is as simple as clicking some buttons and you can totally do it yourself.
Word of caution: do not mistake setting up a blog at wordpress.com with installing WordPress onto your self-hosted site. Those are 2 completely separate things. However, start your blog at WordPress.com unless you just want to practice writing posts and working within the WordPress platform.
3. A premium theme ($0-100)
When you’re working within WordPress, the easiest way to design a pretty site is to purchase a theme. Technically, there are plenty of free themes you can use for starting your website. Do a search for free themes and you’ll have tons of options.
Siteground has a lot of options for free themes, but when I build a site, I always end up upgrading to a purchased theme. I think it’s worth investing in a quality theme so your site provides the best user experience.
When you’re shopping for a theme for your site:
- The number one most important thing is to only consider themes that are mobile responsive. Most of your traffic will be from users on tablets and phones so you need to make sure your site is mobile friendly.
- Do your research before you buy. Search for reviews of the theme and developer to make sure other bloggers are using and loving it. You can also look for YouTube videos that show you how to customize the theme. They will likely come in handy when you’re working on a new theme.
I’m a big fan of Studiopress themes which are easy to customize, mobile responsive, and trustworthy. They’re fast and SEO friendly and it’s easy to find help for any issues that come up. But they’re not the cheapest themes.
ThemeForest is another recommended source for themes, and there are tons of options. However, they sell themes by Thrive Themes with whom I had a terrible experience.
After installing a Thrive theme, several aspects of my site did not work, and despite many attempts to contact the developers for help, I got no response. I ended up deleting the theme, and my purchase from them was a total waste of money. Just sharing my experience.
The cheapest way to start a blog – total expenses: $16-161
That’s a pretty low start-up cost for any business. Even if you go with the most expensive options I’ve listed in this post, you still haven’t spent a lot of money to get your online business up an running.
Sure there’s a lot more work to do to get your site to the point where it’s making money, but once you have these basic items set up, there are lots of free blogging resources for promoting your site and gaining subscribers.
Don’t let the thought of installing and working in WordPress intimidate you. Once you have some experience with it, it’s really easy for beginners to get used to running a WordPress blog.
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