Creating a blog is easy; in fact, it’s so easy it can be done for free.
Simply head over to WordPress.com and off you go.
Unfortunately, if it was as simple as that, I would end this article right now, but it’s not.
Creating a blog can be free, yes; but if you want to blog properly, or blog for a business to increase leads and get all the benefits of having a blog, then there is a little more to it.
Setting up a blog won’t cost you an arm and a leg, but it’s certainly not free.
This article will identify where your money will go, and how much you can expect to pay at each section.
Before I continue, I need to get this out of the way.
If you are going to have a successful blog, you need to own it.
If you use one of those systems, you won’t get all of the benefits that your blog can generate, e.g. you won’t get improved search rankings, and you won’t be able to customise it as much as you might like.
Instead, you need to go for a self-hosted option – this is your own space on the internet.
Hosting is where all of the files for your website will be held and the database your content stored.
Hosting prices can vary dramatically, but it’s very much the more you pay the better it is.
Before you pick a hosting company make sure you read lots of reviews, sometimes the smaller companies can offer much better support and loading speeds as they have less users on their hosting packages.
I use a UK based company called Vidahost after having a very bad experience with another hosting company. I would highly recommend them, and their prices are very reasonable.
With any hosting company, you should expect to pay between £20 and £50 per year if you are just getting started.
As your website grows, you may need to up this to continue getting decent website speed, up time and the support you may require.
Selecting your domain name
Once you have your hosting in place, it’s time to start looking at the domain name.
This is the link that people type into their browsers to find your website, so you should pick it carefully.
Good questions to ask yourself when you’re picking a domain name:
#1 – Am I representing myself or a business?
This will allow you to identify whether you should consider your name as your domain name, e.g. this website could have been samscholfield.com, however I decided against it as one day, this website’s content might come from others as well as me.
#2 – Is my audience local or international?
If your audience is local, then you should be looking at local extensions, e.g. if your company is UK based, and your targeting people in your local area, then a .co.uk will grant your website more trust, however if it’s international, then .com is normally the better option.
#3 – Is my ideal domain name available?
You might have had some great ideas for your domain name, however you need to check whether it’s available before continuing. If it’s not, then it’s back to the drawing board.
#4 – Is the website name available as social media names?
If you’re creating content on your website, you’re probably going to be promoting it across social networks. This works best if you keep the same username across all your channels, so make sure the name is available before purchasing a domain.
If the domains and usernames are available, then register them all at your earliest convenience as names have a tendency to disappear very quickly.
You can expect to pay around £7 for a .co.uk domain, and £10 for a .com domain each year.
The best place to buy the domain is the same place as your hosting, that way the task of configuring a domain will be kept minimal, and your expenses will be in the same place.
You can purchase a domain from somewhere other than your hosting location, there isn’t a drawback to this other than the extra configuration time (which is a few minutes if you know what you’re doing).
The Website Theme
So now we have a domain name and hosting, we need to create a website.
As your creating a blog, you’re probably going to want to use WordPress as the content management system.
WordPress itself is pretty easy to install, but you will need a theme that goes on top of it.
There are hundreds of free themes out there, so if you are looking at keeping your budget as low as possible, then take a look at the free themes on somewhere like Themeforest.
However if you’re looking for something a bit above that, I would recommend picking one of the themes from StudioPress and their Genesis framework.
That’s the framework I use here on StuffedWeb and is very popular amongst bloggers, so again, highly recommended.
If it’s the premium theme route you’re looking to go down, you should expect to pay between £30 and £100 for a good theme.
Finally, there is always the option of going bespoke. That means having a designer create you your own website layout.
If you go down this route, you will also need to hire a developer to build the design for you, this can cost anywhere from £1000 and up depending on what you need built.
Please be aware that £1000 should really be the bottom marker for this, there are companies that offer themes for much less, but I can assure you the quality won’t be there.
Resources for creating content
Fortunately, creating content can be done without any cost (other than time) and keep it’s quality.
But as with everything online, there is always the potential for extra costs just round the corner.
Here are a few of the most common:
If you’re anything like me, then you’re probably not a photographer with hundreds of images to accompany my content.
And the free photos out there don’t quite cut it, then you will find yourself with extra costs for quality images.
You can quite easily spend £2 – 5 on each image you use on your website, so if you’re creating two blog posts each week, that’s 8 images per month.
Video is extremely popular as content at the moment, this is because they are very easy to share, show who you are and allow some personality to shine through.
Despite you not needing that much equipment to get started, you still need some.
If you have a smart phone, then you could use that, however most will want to be investing in a HD camera for real quality.
James Wedmore, a frequent video blogger recommends the GoPro Hero 3. This will cost around £350 and will need a microphone, however having seen the video it creates first hand, I would have to agree with James’ recommendation.
Whether you are recording for video or a podcast, you will need a microphone to improve the quality.
This will not only make your recording sound better, but make your content seem more professional.
Microphones can cost anywhere between £10 and £200 depending on what your needing.
If you’re interested in the GoPro camera mentioned above, the additional microphone would cost around £20
A huge benefit of creating a blog is the email capture that can be direct result of your content.
This can be free if you are just starting, I know MailChimp are free up to 2,000 subscribers.
However as your blog builds, you may find yourself creeping over this limit.
At that point you will need to upgrade your account and you will find prices in the region of £20+ per month depending on how many subscribers you have.
If you’re in the tens of thousands of subscribers, you can expect to pay £100+ per month for your email campaigns.
As you can see, blogging can be very inexpensive; but it is far from free.
The prices highlighted above are what you should expect to pay when you are starting out, with additional prices added for when your content takes off.
The key point to remember is to never go for the lowest price when setting up a website.
That is especially true when choosing your hosting and your theme.
How much did you expect to spend on your website? Was that an accurate estimate? Let me know in the comments below.