Want to learn how to start a blog for under $100? Read this post for the full rundown on services and details on getting a blog set up on a budget.
Have you considered starting a blog, but were too nervous that it would cost an arm and a leg to set up? Or you’d get things all set up and then have way too high of recurring costs each month that you’d run yourself into the ground before you even turned a profit?
You’re not alone. Starting a blog – and getting all the details set up – can be overwhelming. Especially when it comes to setting things up the right way – plus wanting to keep it lean until you decide if it’s where you want to spend more of your time or money.
It doesn’t take a lot of steps or money to get started with a blog where you share what you know, or even offer some products or services. Remember when you’re just starting out, you don’t need to have the top of the line offers and tools. Upgrading tools and services over time to fit the size of your blog is an absolutely great way to ensure that you aren’t in over your head financially before you start pulling in the big bucks.
I know it can be scary when you don’t know even where to start with getting a brand new blog set up – which is why I’ve put together this blog post outlining exactly how you can get completely set up with the just the basics for under $100 total and under $15 in monthly recurring costs.
Securing and purchasing a domain is simple. There are many options out there to purchase domains, but my favorite is Google Domains. Their process is seamless and easily integrates with G Suite (an awesome cloud-based tool that allows you to create, share and save documents for only $5/month per user). You can even set up your email address to come from your domain quickly and easily, like “[email protected]”
Google Domains costs $12/year and is a recurring cost to your business annually.
There are a wide range of providers at different price points. On the low end, HostGator offers a $2.75/month plan which is perfect for beginners.
Another great option that I have personally used and love is WP Engine. I’ve used my fair share of hosting services over the years and really do love WP Engine, because they have top-notch customer service and very little downtime. This hosting service costs $27/month for up to 25k monthly visitors to your site.
I currently use Vultr for hosting and RunCloud for server management. However, these tools are pretty technical to set up (my husband helps me with this stuff because it’s over my head!), so I don’t know that I’d recommend them unless you know quite a bit about configuration of websites.
If you’re wondering why I’d make a switch away from a service like WP Engine that I really like, it was simply that based on my traffic, it was more to invest in their service than go with the combined Vultr and RunCloud route. I still highly recommend WP Engine for anyone who has traffic under 25,000 visits per month.
Email newsletter provider
There are a number of great providers out there, but Mailchimp and ConvertKit are my favorite for beginning bloggers.
Mailchimp offers a basic free plan for up to 2,000 subscribers and will allow you to send emails to your list regularly. Other features, like email templates, A/B testing, custom branding, and customer support require an upgrade to $9.99/month.
ConvertKit is my favorite email provider and I have been using them for over 3 years. I appreciate how they are blogger-centric, their customer support is super helpful, and how basic yet customizable everything in their tool is.
ConvertKit offers a free 14-day plan with use of their landing pages, and you can “unlock” up to 1,000 subscribers for free on your plan. That means while you’re testing out an blog idea and whether it will be successful, you can be gathering emails without having to pay. The downside is that you only get 14 days to gather emails before your trial is up.
The catch is that you have to be telling others about ConvertKit in order to gain access to these free subscribers. If you don’t want to do any of that, the lowest price is $29 per month for up to 1,000 subscribers.
I love ConvertKit and have used them for years. However, for this blog, I am currently using Mailchimp to keep costs down as I get it up and running.
There are so many options and a wide range of prices when it comes to choosing a theme for your blog. When it comes to themes, you usually pay a one-time fee for the theme itself and install it and update it on your own through WordPress.
I personally use WordPress and a StudioPress theme called Authority Pro on the Genesis framework. I love how simple and clean the theme is, and the Genesis framework is extremely easy to use, is responsive (meaning it adjusts beautifully between desktop, tablet, and mobile), and the themes are fast.
Site speed is super important, especially if you decide to run ads later down the road, so I love this setup for the sake of keeping things lightweight.
The best part of StudioPress is that if you are a WP Engine customer, you get all StudioPress and the Genesis framework for free. Seriously, such a great deal.
If you don’t want to use WP Engine for hosting, but do love StudioPress, you can buy the Genesis framework and buy the specific theme package that you’d like for your site.
There are other places to buy great themes without needing to buy the Genesis framework too. You can find great themes on sites like Theme Forest, which are typically around $60, and Elegant Themes, which costs about $89 per year. I have used both of these in the past and are great options whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned blogger.
There’s really no right theme to choose, it really comes down to preference on what you like and what your budget is. I would definitely take into account things like responsive design and site speed before making a decision. These will be really important to you as you grow your blog, and it’s easier to get them set up the right way first, before having to go back and shift everything from one theme to another (take it from someone who has done this far too many times).
It doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to get the basics set up for your blog. All you need is a domain, hosting, an email service provider, and a theme or website service. By keeping your brand new blog lean, you can stay nimble and find out what services you like or want to switch to as you grow your blog and gain traffic over time.
To recap, here’s the final costs of what it would take to start your blog under $100 and for less than $15 recurring monthly costs:
- Domain: $12/year with Google Domains
- Web hosting: $2.75 with HostGator
- Email service provider: $9.99/month with Mailchimp upgraded plan (free without upgrades)
- Theme: $59 with Theme Forest Theme + WordPress
Total cost: $83.74 for set up of all services, $12.74 monthly recurring costs, $12 annual recurring costs
And here’s a look at what some upgraded options look like: Under $100 to set up less than $60 recurring monthly costs:
- Domain: $12/year with Google Domains
- Web hosting: $27/month with WP Engine
- Email service provider: $29/month with ConvertKit (or free if you unlock credits for up to 1,000 subscribers)
- Theme: Included with WP Engine Price with Genesis framework and StudioPress theme
Total cost: $68 for set up of all services, $56 monthly recurring costs, $12 annual recurring costs
Surprisingly, some of these “upgraded” options actually give you a lower setup cost than if you were to choose the lower priced options for hosting or themes. The first option gives you a larger setup cost with lower recurring costs, while the second option shows you what a little higher tier or products will give you with a higher recurring monthly cost.
There’s no right or wrong way to configure your new blog. I hope that outlining some of these services can help you see just how simple and dare I say – low risk – starting a blog can be. With two options under $100, there’s plenty of opportunity for you to get started blogging with a very small investment up front.