You’ve probably heard this before and you’ll probably hear it again: it costs money to make money. If you want to turn a profit on the stock market, you obviously need some starting capital to buy those stocks in the first place. And you’ll also need some money for all those transaction costs too. Similarly, if you want to open a traditinal brick-and-mortar business in your local city, you also need money to get started. You need to buy equipment, hire staff, purchase inventory, pay for rent, and so on.
But what about launching a blog? We’re not talking about some online diary where you can simply post your thoughts for fun — those can be had for free. We’re talking a blog as a business, an online vehicle for generating some real revenue. We know that it costs money to make money, but how much money are we talking about here?
Let’s start with the absolute core basics. Of course, there’s going to be some variation here and you can likely score a deal if you do some shopping around. For the purposes of this discussion, let’s just go with the typical price for these sorts of things.
First, you’ll need to have your own domain name.
There are free subdomains to be had on services like WordPress.com, but you will already start off at a disadvantage if you don’t have the power and branding of your own domain name. This adds a far greater air of respectability and legitimacy. The cost for a domain name can vary from registar to registar and from TLD to TLD.
As a rough average, you can likely expect to spend about $10 to $15 a year to get a typical .com domain. Add in about another $10 if you want private WHOIS registration too.
Second, you’ll need to have some web hosting.
Again, your cost will vary based on the level of service, control and traffic that you desire. Know that you can always scale this up or down to suit your needs. Most shared hosting plans start in the $5 to $10 a month range, maybe a little more if you plan on hosting multiple domains or you need more features.
Third, you’ll need a content management system. Many professional bloggers, myself included, use WordPress.org. It’s free and comes with a large community and plenty of support.
Realistically, those are the only three components you need to get started. What this means is that you can have an honest-to-goodness online business for about $100 a year. That’s a negligible pittance and it should be affordable for practically anyone who is interested in launching a professional blog. You have no excuse not to get started. Signing up for Google Analytics, Google AdSense, Amazon Associates, affiliate programs and the rest of it is typically free too.
Beyond these most basic of requirements, you’ll find a huge array of optional services and products that can greatly improve the propsects for your online business. For example, it is very worthwhile to invest in having a custom logo for your blog to better define the brand. Hiring a designer can cost as little as $5 on Fiverr or hundreds or even thousands of dollars from someone more professional.
Similarly, using an off-the-shelf WordPress theme is practical but hardly optimal. Many premium themes can be purchased for less than $100, while completely custom designs (which we recommend) will cost more than that. You might also invest in educational and training materials, premium WordPress plugins, pro accounts for social media and advertising management, professional writers and editors to bolster your content, and so on. Some are one-time costs, while others are ongoing expenses.
As your online business grows, and your blog is definitely an online business and needs to be treated with the respect and attention it deserves, you’ll find that your costs may also start to increase. The amount of money that John spends to run this blog is likely different than how much you’re going to spend, at least to start.
But even then, running a million dollar online business is far more cost-effective than running an equivalent traditional business. That’s one of the many advantages of the dot com lifestyle.