How to Blog on a Budget

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Blogging on a budget

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please read about this more on my disclosure page.

Updated: Sept 4, 2019

Are you trying to start a blog to take care of some expenses passively?

Blogging is not easy. It takes a lot of time and dedication as well as a lot of knowledge to make a successful blog.

Not only does it require patience to learn all that is needed, but also it may require investments.

When I first started blogging, I didn’t see any need in spending money. Essentially it was just a hobby for me. I just wrote about my life and challenges. I was happy enough on a free platform such as Blogger.

But as the months and years went on, I learned that sometimes the free route isn’t always the best route.

So I started to do some investing in my blog. I got an email responder, a domain name, a lead page software, and I started playing around with them. It took some time to get to learn the different platforms and I felt like the money I spent was a waste.

I’m not saying that the best way is the free way. In fact, I’m saying the opposite. If you really want a successful blog, one that could be profitable in the future, you will have to invest some money into it.

As with anything in life, you can invest a lot or a little. There are some programs out there that will teach you the ins and outs of making a profitable blog for over $100. I understand that when you are first starting out, this is a lot of money.

I am in this boat. I live paycheck to paycheck, I don’t have time or money to drop any large amount on investing in just one program.

 

Why start a blog

Starting a blog can be fulfilling, both emotionally and financially. You are able to own a little piece of internet real estate, a corner that you can write about whatever you like.

Not only can you personalize your blog and allow it to revolve around you, but you can also make a substantial amount of money for it if you do it right.

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner started a finance blog called Making Sense of Cents. She write about what she knows. She has grown her blog to the point of making $179,000 last month alone. Here is her latest income report for February 2018.

How can this be? You may be asking.

What is she doing on her blog to make this much?

And most of all, what is she spending to make that much?

For further clarification check out: A Complete List of Expenses for a Multi-Million Dollar Blog 

While typically someone like Michelle will have the necessary costs associated with running a blog of that size, someone who is first starting out can keep their costs to a minimum until they start to see the returns. Surprisingly, Michelle doesn’t even have that much in costs. This is why blogging is a great option to do on a budget.

How to stay in your blog budget

The trick to staying within your budget for your blog is to analyze what stage your blog is in and designate the amount of money you can spend.

Step 1: If you just started putting up posts you don’t need to spend more than just the domain name and hosting. First, build up your post count before you begin promoting and spending money on gaining traffic.

Step 2: Once you develop your blog you can work on gaining traffic. The more readers you gain the more you can develop a specific focus on their needs. Pick a social media platform and invest in tools that will help you succeed in that platform.

Step 3: When you start pulling in an income from your blog, you can then work on getting materials that will help you develop as a blogger into your budget.

Step 4: When you are pulling in a decent income, then you can begin to outsource things that you don’t want to do such as hiring a social media manager, a website content editor, and more. You want to be able to consistently work with the same people.

Tip: A good rule of thumb is to spend the first couple of months of income from your blog on the blog itself. Improving the theme, learning new strategies with content creation, email marketing, and building traffic can be a couple hundred in courses and products. Investing back into your blog is investing in yourself.

What should you pay for?

I’m not saying that you should go completely free everything with your blog. What I am saying is that, like most things in life, your blog should have a budget too.

If you don’t budget for your blog, you will find that you lose interest in it too fast. You will start to become depressed that every one else is doing much better because they were able to invest more money and more time, and you are left struggling to make a dollar with your blog.

The number one thing that I would say that is okay to invest in is your own domain name and hosting.

Domain name and Hosting on a Budget

A domain name and hosting is not something that is going to break the bank, and it will give you the piece of mind that you fully own your blog.

I personally use Namecheap for my domain as they are the most cost-efficient domain name provider I have found. Although some hosting companies give you a free domain name when you start a hosting plan. 

If you are looking for cheap domain name and hosting option all in one, one of the most popular ones is Bluehost which offers plans for $3.95/mo. This small investment will mean a lot to you and your blog in the future, so write it into the budget.

 

Services to plan and budget for

You will need several services to get your blog up and running successfully and also making a profit for you.

You will need an email marketing service in order to create an email marketing list. This will be important in gaining traction as a new blogger.

The email marketing service I use is called ConvertKit. It has a 14 day free trial but after it is about $29. The system is a little easier to use than some other email autoresponders and there are more features like landing page options and templates.

You can use this email list to:

  • offer a free product for a lead magnet (free ebook, guide, checklist)
  • keep your subscribers updated on your blog
  • offer them affiliate offers

When you create an email list or opt-in, you have a list of people that are niche specific. You know that you can market to these people about the same category of product that they originally signed up for and they may be interested in it. This will be very important once you begin to gain traffic.

If you are really on a budget, opt for Mailerlite as it is free for the first 100 subscribers. The Mailerlite platform is easy to use, provides free tutorials, and will give you all the functionality of a premium email marketing service.

Blog on a budget

Free Services for your Blog 

You don’t need a budget for everything as a lot of helpful services for your blog are free to use. For example, graphics, some SEO tools, and organization programs you don’t need to spend a dime on. 

Graphics on a Budget

In order to promote your blog posts, making a graphic for social media is a great idea. Using a free service like Canva can really cut down on the costs associated with graphics. Try to make a graphic a day and you will not be left short on graphics.

SEO Tools on a Budget

Certain SEO tools you need a zero dollar budget to take advantage of. My favorite out of these is a site called Answer the Public which allows you to look up questions someone would ask about your niche or topic. 

Another SEO tool that is free to use is Google Keyword Planner tool. Get a good idea of how much traffic and competition is in a keyword that you choose. 

Organization on a Budget 

Blogging on a budgetWhen I first started building a blog, organization was important to me. I personally use Evernote to organize notes and affiliate links. I like them because I can use them on any device, from my phone to tablet to PC. 

 

Services to invest in once you start bringing in income

Once you start bringing in a bit of income, then it will be time to invest in a few more helpful items that can take your blog to the next level. 

Themes on a Budget

Once you start bringing in income from your blog, you can start to expand into other services and products. One product I would invest in is a good theme. Having a great theme can take your blog to the next level.

Here are a few things having a premium theme can do for you:

  • It can allow you to customize your menus and header and really create a brand for you and your blog
  • Having a great theme makes your blog look more professional and gives it appeal so people will want to stay on it longer
  • It can also allow you to customize your ads so that they are in optimum places for making money
  • It infuses personality into your blog

 

A premium theme doesn’t have to cost a lot. You can spend as little as a one time cost of $17 for a theme. The best part about it is once you purchase it, it is yours. You don’t have a re-occurring payment each month to keep it on your blog.

See also: 6 Websites for Beautiful Customizable Themes 

 

Marketing on Budget

One service that you should invest in after you start to gain traction is a service for promotion. I use Tailwind. Tailwind is the top service for blog promotion on Pinterest. They offer a free trial and then have monthly packages that come with more features.

 

 

So how much should starting a blog cost you?

Starting a blog can cost you as little as $10 for a domain name and hosting.

Realistically, starting and running a profitable blog will cost you…

Domain name – $10/year

Website hosting – $3.95/mo

Convertkit for email marketing – $29/mo

Tailwind or other pin scheduler – $9.99/mo

 

So there you have it! I’ve totaled above about $45/mo as a good blog budget and will allow you to get all the necessary items needed to run your blog in the beginning. 

*Half that if you opt for the FREE email marketing serivce Mailerlite

Keep in mind that whatever you should be purchasing for the blog, should have the blogs goals in mind and will eventually help it get new and continuing traffic so that your income rises in proportion to the tools for your blog. 

 

Stay within your budget by avoiding this one thing

Shiny object syndrome

Also, I am sure you have heard of Shiny Object Syndrome. It’s when you start to subscribe and buy everything that you come across about building a blog. Don’t do this!

You will go through hundreds of dollars and tons of repetitive information. Believe me, I know.

If you decide that you do have some extra money you want to spend on some knowledge about blogging then first do this…

Check out the free email courses that are offered by bloggers on how to start a blog or get traffic.

Research specifically what you need help with and see if a course would help you or not.

– Find the free course helpful and valuable? Then subscribe to a paid course by the same author because you know it will be jammed packed with useful information.

Check out reviews on paid courses to see what others have thought about them and how it helped them.

 

I hope you have found these tips helpful. Blogging can be a very lucrative gig and it will take some time to get there so be patient. When you are first starting out, it is important to create a blog budget and make sure you stay within your budget. Hope this helps!

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