The Shocking Cost of Running a Blog (and How to Create a Realistic Budget)

The Shocking Cost of Running a Blog (and How to Create a Realistic Budget)

Ever wondered how much it really costs to run a successful blog?

Get ready for a shock.

I spend $285 per month to run my website and podcast.

(Cue the collective gasp.)

Of course, whether you need to spend that kind of money depends on your goals.

If you’re running a blog purely for fun, you can get most of what you need for free.

But if you’re trying to earn a living from your blog – or if you’re simply serious about building a popular blog – you can’t do it on freebies alone.

Too many bloggers, though, refuse to invest in their efforts at all – even to buy their own domain name – and then wonder why they can’t grow their following or struggle to get taken seriously.

Others sporadically invest in their blogs, but fail to track what they spend, leaving no financial barometer by which to measure their return on investment.

But whatever your goals as a blogger, you’d be smart to get some clarity around what it’ll cost to achieve them.

So here’s the big question:

How much should you spend, and what should you spend your money on?

How to Create Your Ideal Blogging Budget

The truth is that there is no “one size fits all” budget that will suit all bloggers.

The right amount of investment depends on your goals, available income, and comfort level.

That’s why this guide is broken down into three categories – the Bare-Bones Blogger, the Serious Hobbyist, and the Blogpreneur:

  • The Bare-Bones Blogger blogs for fun and wants to keep costs to a minimum.
  • The Serious Hobbyist has committed to growing their blog but it’s not their full-time job (yet). Like any keen hobbyist they don’t mind spending money to enhance their enjoyment or success.
  • The Blogpreneur is not just a blogger but a business owner. They can justify any expense that increases profits – either in the short term or further down the line.

Choose the track that’s right for you and use our downloadable Blog Budget Calculator to start tracking – and planning – your spending.

Let’s see how the costs break down.

Hardware

Bare-Bones Blogger: A Basic Laptop

If you’re an existing blogger, chances are that you already have a suitable desktop computer or laptop. But if you’re just starting out this is likely to be an essential investment.

These days a low-end laptop is no more expensive than a desktop computer and the extra flexibility of being able to work on the move (an essential part of the blogging lifestyle!) makes one an obvious choice.

A basic laptop ($250 upwards) is certainly up to the task of maintaining a simple blog, although it likely won’t be suitable for anything that requires a lot of memory or processor power – editing large video files for example.

Another option for the budget conscious blogger is a Chromebook (starting at $199) which relies almost entirely on Google’s web-based applications and storage.

Serious Hobbyist: A Powerful Laptop

True hobbyists who are ready to take their blogs seriously need to maximize efficiency, flexibility, and functionality.

This means a more powerful laptop – with more memory, more processor power, and a bigger screen.

A high-end laptop will make it easier to run multiple applications without a noticeable impact on performance and video editing and rendering will be far less painful. It will also likely have a better quality webcam and built-in microphone allowing higher quality video calls, Google Hangouts and webinars.

The choice between a Windows-based laptop or a Mac is more a matter of personal preference than one of function or capability. Macbooks tend to be more expensive than their Windows-based equivalents, but are arguably easier to use and require less technical knowledge to maintain.

A more powerful laptop will cost from $800 to $2,000, depending on brand and features

Blogpreneur: Additional Tools and Accessories

If your goal is to make money from your blog, creating high-quality multimedia content is almost essential.

If you’re a food blogger, that means you have to take excellent food photos. If you’re branching into vlogging (video blogging), your videos must have great sound and lighting.

If you plan on adding a podcast to your blog, then audio quality is paramount.

And as a result, you’ll need to purchase additional hardware.

High-Quality Camera and Additional Lenses

Some smartphones have great cameras, but very few give you the flexibility a digital camera with detachable lenses offers.

If your blog requires great photography (food blogs, craft blogs, design blogs, etc.), then invest in a camera and additional lenses that help you capture beautiful, sharable photos – it can make a huge difference if your goal is to create viral content.

The Canon “Rebel” range of DSLR cameras (e.g. the Rebel T3i) is very highly regarded and all models are also capable of shooting short, ultra high quality videos.

While I’m no food photographer, the quality of our food photos on Girls Gone Sporty improved drastically after we purchased a quality camera and an ultra-wide-angle lens.

You can see the difference when comparing a photo I took with my smartphone of an angel food cake recipe, and a photo I took with our camera of personal caprese salads.

High-Quality Microphone

Have you ever watched a video or listened to a podcast, and all you hear is an echo, the podcaster’s breath catching the microphone, or undulating volume? Poor sound quality is a major turn-off for most people when it comes both audio and video content.

The type of microphone you need to solve this problem varies significantly based on the content you’re producing, but aim for quality. For instance, we use a Heil PR-40 ($327) for our High Impact Blogging podcast, and a Samson AirLine Micro Wireless Earset System ($227) for our exercise videos.

Granted, we went all-out on the best microphones we could buy, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend as much as we did. The Audio-Technica ATR2100USB is a good option for interviews and vlogs if you’re sitting at your computer, and it only costs $60.

High-Quality Video Camera and Webcam

Like your digital camera and microphone, the video camera or webcam you select should be based on the type of content you’re creating.

If you’re doing Google Hangouts, vlogs, video podcasts, or Skype interviews, go ahead and purchase an HD webcam – it blows the quality of your built-in webcam out of the water.

We bought the Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920 for $99 (now available for about $70), and you can see the difference it makes during our Hangouts – my video quality is far and away crisper than that of my interviewees.

Likewise, if you plan on filming activities, events, exercises, or programs, retire the smartphone video camera and use a quality, HD option that films up to 1080p – the highest quality streamable on YouTube.

For short video your digital camera might work just fine – particularly if you have one of the newer DSLRs described above. But if you’re shooting longer videos that need to be super high quality – e.g. videos delivered as part of a premium product you sell from your blog – then you’ll need to invest in a dedicated video camera.

There are numerous options – Sony and Canon are market leaders – but expect to spend £1500 – $2500. Here’s a good roundup of semi-pro video cameras from Epfilms.

Light Boxes and Tripods

It’s one thing to have a great camera; it’s another to have great light and a steady hand. If your content is focused on photography or videography, supplement your still and video camera purchases with light boxes and tripods to improve your lighting and steady your picture.

We purchased a very basic light box set and tripod from Amazon, and they’re working just fine. Alternatively, there are a number of guides on the web explaining how to create a guerilla lighting rig for $100 or less. Here’s one from Real SEO.

At the upper end, a professional lighting rig could cost thousands of dollars.

Hosting, Tools and Software

Bare Bones: Domain Name and Basic Hosting

I can’t emphasize this enough – go ahead and invest in a domain name. I know it’s easy to set up a free blog on Blogger or WordPress.com, but there are two primary drawbacks to this approach.

First, you’re not in control of your content – if Blogger shuts down tomorrow, you could lose everything you’ve created, with no way to recover it. Second, your URL includes “.blogspot.com” or “.wordpress.com,” which makes it harder for people to remember the name and takes away some credibility.

Domain names usually cost around $10 per year, and you can often find discount codes to reduce that price significantly. For instance, we recently purchased the domain name “BlogWellSummit.com” from GoDaddy for just $2.17 because we found a discount code.

Remember that when you buy your own domain name and manage your own blog, you do have to pay for hosting. Companies like SiteGround (affiliate link) are known for quality service at an affordable price, and you can get started with shared hosting for just $4 per month – that’s less than a Starbucks coffee.

Serious Hobbyist: Upgraded Hosting, Custom Email, Email Marketing Service

Basic hosting is great for the beginning blogger but if you want better reliability and performance from your blog, you might want to consider an upgrade.

WPEngine (affiliate link) is probably the highest-regarded shared hosting service for WordPress blogs, and you can try it risk-free for 60 days, before paying $29 per month to host a single blog.

Even if you’re not ready to upgrade your hosting service yet, there are two other things the serious hobbyist blogger should do.

First, you should make sure you have a custom email address. If your blog is hosted at www.dancingdaisies.com, your email address should be yourname@dancingdaisies.com. This gives you instant credibility when networking and making connections. You can set-up your own custom email address through Gmail by paying $5 per month through Google Apps for Business.

Second, you want to make sure you set up an email marketing solution for managing your email list. The sooner you do this, the better. Even if you have no intention of turning your blog into a business now, if it starts growing substantially, you might change your mind. It’s better to anticipate success in advance, than try to scramble after it down the line.

Services like AWeber (affiliate link), iContact, and Constant Contact each have monthly subscription plans, but I’m personally a big fan of Mailchimp. Your first 2,000 subscribers are free, so you can send up to 12,000 emails per month to fewer than 2,000 subscribers for absolutely nothing. After you hit the 2,000-subscriber mark, the pricing does creep up quickly, but at that point you can research other options and decide which provider makes the most sense.

For a paid service you’re looking at $20 upwards depending on your subscriber numbers.

Almost all of these services make it easy to import and export email lists, so it shouldn’t be difficult to transition from one to another.

Blogpreneur: Premium Plugins and Security Certificates

Many useful plugins, such as Akismet, and ease-of-use services, including as Buffer, InLinkz, PicMonkey, and Rafflecopter, offer free versions that meet the basic needs of the typical blogger.

Once your blog is making money, though, it’s worthwhile to look at the paid versions to see if they can make your life easier. For instance, we started paying for the upgraded version of Buffer because it was more time-effective to schedule social media posts once per week (the free version limits how many updates can be scheduled in advance.)

We also upgraded to paid versions of ScheduleOnce and PopUp Domination – both have been undeniably beneficial to our business. ScheduleOnce has made scheduling meetings with clients and interviewees across time zones seamless and headache-free. It’s $19 per month, but it’s been well worth it.

PopUp Domination has boosted our email opt-ins by more than 100% in just three months. We bought the Pro version for a one-time fee of $97 to cover unlimited websites, but for a single site it costs just $47 as a one-time fee.

Once your blog becomes a business – in other words, you’re making money – you’ll need to pay $5 per month for the Akismet comment spam service to help prevent spam from flooding your comment section.

If you set-up a store through your blog, you absolutely must make sure the payment transactions are secure. Some plugins and services, including PayPal, ensure this, but others don’t.

Depending on how you set-up your store, you may need to purchase an SSL (secure sockets layer) certificate to create a secure connection between the client and the server. These typically cost less than $50 per year.

Contracted Services

Bare-Bones Blogger: Custom Logo and Header

Even for the minimalist blogger first impressions are important and your blog logo and header are an important part of your brand.

Too many bloggers keep the default design provided by their blog theme and this results in a blog that looks like a hundred others.

You can create a simple logo for your blog with careful choice of font and color or use Canva and PicMonkey to create your own graphic header.

But even a bare-bones blogger can benefit from the help of a professional designer.

The good news is, it doesn’t have to cost much. Check out Etsy for pricing on custom blog header and logo design. Typically, it costs less than $50 for the one-time service.

Serious Hobbyist: Additional Custom Design

Beyond your logo and header, there are lots of other customizable design elements that can bolster your blog. From social media headers to backgrounds and blog templates, you’ll want to create a seamless look that reflects your image across your blog and social channels. You can pay for custom design of each individual element, or you can purchase a package up-front.

The cost of custom design varies significantly depending on who you work with and what you’re purchasing. You can get individual elements for $10 from some Etsy shops, or you can pay for an entire design package for hundreds of dollars.

Just be careful about who you enlist as your designer – ask for references and samples of work before you sign-up, and make sure you know exactly what you’re paying for. You don’t want to shell out tons of money and end up feeling disappointed by the work.

Blogpreneur: Development and Assistance

Once you’re making money with your blog, it’s important to understand that you can’t do it all. To serve your audience more effectively, you need to focus on the things you’re best at, and start delegating and contracting out other work.

The best way to go about this is to think about which tasks feel hard, frustrating, or never-ending. Which things don’t you enjoy? What’s taking away from the time you’d like to invest in your favorite parts of your blog?

For instance, if you’re constantly bombarded by emails and having a hard time managing your schedule, you might want to contract with a virtual assistant – a typical cost might be $100 a month.

If you’re trying to develop a new program to provide better resources to your readers, but you’re having a hard time updating your blog throughout the process, you might want to hire a few freelance writers.

If you feel like you’re banging your head against the wall trying to put together a store for your blog, or you’re frustrated by the plugins you’re using, you might need to contract with a web developer.

And if social media seems to be taking up most of your time, look into working with a freelance social media manager.

In all my interviews with successful bloggers, bringing in external help seems to be one of the most difficult steps for people to take. But even if you’re not ready to hire someone yet, it’s important that you start preparing for the eventuality.

Training and Education

Bare-Bones Blogger: Books

When you’re just starting out, study as much as you can for free. Check out YouTube, popular blogs, and forums, but don’t shy away from buying a few books.

For example, if you want to master social media, check out Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk. Ask other bloggers which books they swear by – in fact here’s a recommended reading list from the Boost Blog Traffic team.

Serious Hobbyist: Blog Audits, Trainings, and Conferences

If you’re serious about improving your blog, even as a hobby, you’ve got to improve your craft. This doesn’t mean you need to pour money into education, but you should budget for a blog audit, a few trainings, or maybe even a conference.

With a blog audit, someone comes to your blog with fresh eyes and gives you a point-by-point analysis of the things you’re doing right and the things you’re doing wrong.

It can be pretty brutal to hear the criticisms, but by taking them to heart and fixing them, you can significantly improve your following. You might have a trusted friend or fellow blogger who could perform an audit for free, but professional services are available for about $50 to $100.

In addition to a blog audit, seriously consider signing-up for trainings or conferences. Not only can you improve your craft, but you have the chance to network with other bloggers and pick their brains for tips and resources. I’ve learned more from other successful bloggers by asking questions and networking than I ever have from searching the Internet.

Conferences and trainings can add up, especially if you have to travel to the event. Look for options in your area, or find online schools and summits you can attend.

Blogpreneur: Coaching and Mentorship

Lebron James has a coach. Tiger Woods has a coach. John Lee Dumas, of Entrepreneur on Fire, has a coach.

The fact that these types of people enlist coaches to make them better should tell you something. The value of an outside source giving you feedback on how you’re doing and advising how to improve your craft is immeasurable. If you’re serious about getting better, making more money, and serving your followers to the best of your ability, at some point you’ll need to ask for help.

Coaching and mentorship can come in a variety of forms. You can join a mastermind group, pay for a business coach, or seek out mentorship from a blogger you admire and trust. You actually might be able to find a mentor for free – the SCORE website can connect you with someone in your area – but don’t be surprised if you have to pay for coaching from an expert in your field.

Mainstream business mentors may be able to help you improve your accounting system or set up a better payment system, but they probably won’t be able to help you navigate the fickle nature of an online audience. You’re going to need an expert blogger to help you improve your craft, and expert bloggers tend to be busy serving their own audiences.

When it comes time to hire a coach, set aside an hourly rate on par with that of other professionals – $50 or more per hour is a reasonable amount to budget for initially.

Download the Blog Budget Calculator

We’ve looked at the typical costs you’re likely to incur, as a Bare-Bones Blogger, a Serious Hobbyist and a Blogpreneur.

And while one of those descriptions will fit your situation better than the others, in practice every blogger is different.

The only way to get an accurate picture of your blog’s running costs is to create your own personalized budget.

So download our Blog Budget Calculator and discover the true cost of your blog – and work out what you need to spend in future.

How to Use the Blog Budget Calculator
Click on the Blog Budget Calculator link then use “File > Download as” to download a copy in your favorite format.

Alternatively, if you’re logged into your Google account, you can select “Make a copy” to create an editable copy in your Google Drive.

Take Control of Your Blogging Costs

Growing a blog is tough work, especially when you consider the millions of other bloggers you’re competing with. But you don’t have to reinvent the wheel or spend hundreds of frustrated hours learning everything there is to know about web design and development. Rather, you need to be smart about how you spend your money, as well as how you spend your time.

Whether you’re a newbie blogger with almost zero budget, or a professional blogger who wants to make more profit, if your goal is to reach more people and share your story, making the right investments in your blog is crucial.

So why not download our Blog Budget Calculator and get started!

P.S. Let me know in the comments about any costs that are missing and we’ll update the spreadsheet so it becomes the definitive budgeting resource for bloggers on the web!

About the Author: Laura Williams, M.S.Ed., is the founder of Girls Gone Sporty, the host of High Impact Blogging, and the author of 12 Easy Ways to Improve Your Blog Writing Today (affiliate link).

58 Comments

  1. Rob McNelis
    Jul 17, 2014 @ 12:01:35

    Great post! Especially for someone that is starting to get some traction.

    I think the most important thing is just not spending money until your making money. Or at least keeping costs low, then expanding after validating.

    • Laura Williams
      Jul 17, 2014 @ 12:17:06

      Yes, absolutely! We definitely didn’t start out spending $285 per month. 🙂 It’s been a gradual build.

  2. Serena @ Thrift Diving
    Jul 17, 2014 @ 12:03:42

    Ahh….you’ve touched upon a topic that is near and dear to my heart. When you’re goal is to be a professional blogger, but you’re operating on a bare-bones blogger budget: >>>ME!!!<<<< I have invested in conferences, equipment (still need a good wireless mic for my YouTube videos), and there is still more I need. I'm at the stage where I am trying to hire some VAs to help with things, but honestly, $80 here….$140 there…..not sure I can swing that until I am making "Jon Morrow money" 😉 So I get by any way I can. My passion and goal to give up my day job and replace it with full-time blogger keeps me going, even when I'm "in the red."

    Serena @ Thrift Diving

    • Laura Williams
      Jul 17, 2014 @ 12:20:03

      You’ll get there! My husband and I joke about the “slow burn.” And let me tell you, there have been lots of missteps along the way, but it pays off as long as you keep at it, keep investing, and always strive to get better.

  3. Aaron
    Jul 17, 2014 @ 12:11:57

    Good article. But, $50-$100 for a blog audit? Seems low. What would be included in that type of audit (design, site performance, keywords, conversion, content quality)?

    • Laura Williams
      Jul 17, 2014 @ 12:23:58

      You’re right – if you’re looking for a FULL audit (site performance, metrics, SEO, etc.), you can pay much, much more. This type of audit would be more focused on design/content quality. And would solely be focused on pointing out problems or areas that need improvement, not fixing issues.

      • Aaron
        Jul 17, 2014 @ 13:01:11

        Makes sense. Thanks for clarifying.

  4. Olayinka
    Jul 17, 2014 @ 12:16:20

    What a wonderful write up laura.. What i know about IM is that spend your money in place that matter most..

  5. Noufal Binu
    Jul 17, 2014 @ 12:18:45

    Thanks for sharing very informative article, It is really helpful for beginner bloggers.
    I think better for bloggers just use net book and desktop.

  6. Kathryn Goldman
    Jul 17, 2014 @ 12:30:49

    Great post, Laura.

    I’m actually not shocked by the cost of running a blog. Businesses have expenses. So, do hobbies and passions. “What did you pay for that new Trek bike?!”

    I particularly liked the recommendations you made for photography and microphones. I’ll be going there next. I prepared my first video using the mic that came with my cell phone. It wasn’t bad, but I know there are better options out there.

    Thanks.

    Kathryn

    • Laura Williams
      Jul 17, 2014 @ 12:42:25

      Of course! And don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions about mics – we did a lot of research before choosing the ones we did.

  7. Kevin Duncan
    Jul 17, 2014 @ 12:41:20

    Hi Laura,

    Great post! I’ve created a few different blogs in my day, and it IS a bit crazy how expensive everything can be if you’re not careful.

    You definitely need to dip your toe slowly into the spending waters. Don’t throw down $200 in Facebook Ads if you don’t have any worthwhile content yet, for example!

    Thanks for the good read, Laura. I’ll have to check out your other stuff.

    – Kevin

    • Laura Williams
      Jul 17, 2014 @ 13:07:56

      I completely agree! Hold off on the FB advertising until you’re absolutely sure it’s going to pay off in money, not just page likes! 🙂

      And thanks so much for your kind words!

  8. Hugo Pereira
    Jul 17, 2014 @ 12:46:28

    This is one of the most useful posts I’ve read for an aspiring blogger as myself.
    Thank you very much!

  9. kelly
    Jul 17, 2014 @ 12:51:39

    I would like to know the profits of running a blog on each level! Maybe another post ?

    thanks! I’m new to this and am soaking up all the info I can.

    • Laura Williams
      Jul 17, 2014 @ 13:09:59

      Great idea! And like this post, the answer will be extremely variable from niche-to-niche, blog-to-blog, chosen revenue stream sources, etc. If you ever have any questions, feel free to shoot me an email. contact@girlsgonesporty.com.

  10. Raheel Farooq
    Jul 17, 2014 @ 12:52:00

    Fantastic, Laura. Thumbs up!
    This is not a typical appreciation. I assure you now I can “swear by” this post as one of the most useful resources for the three levels of bloggers. You’ve not only analyzed the whole expenditure stream so thoroughly, but also given very useful suggestions.
    I don’t know if I’m a begginner or serious hobbyist, but I can and will benefit from your advice for these two categories.
    Thanks a lot. Love you! 🙂

    • Laura Williams
      Jul 17, 2014 @ 13:10:50

      Thanks so much for your kind words – I’m so glad it was helpful!

  11. Stef Gonzaga
    Jul 17, 2014 @ 14:15:32

    This is such an important topic that not a lot of bloggers and blogging mentors talk about from the get-go. I love that you included a blog budget calculator template and not just send readers into the void hoping they’d know exactly how to count their blog expenses. Thank you so much!

    Personally, I’ve learned that bloggers shouldn’t take their design for granted. Good design elevates the reading experience completely, giving justice to the time and effort it takes to write your posts.

    • Laura Williams
      Jul 17, 2014 @ 15:14:32

      Money does seem to be a very taboo topic for bloggers, so I’m glad this was helpful. And I agree – design really improves user experience and boosts credibility – very important point!

  12. Amy Dunn Moscoso
    Jul 17, 2014 @ 14:22:49

    Hi Laura,

    Thanks for taking on the taboo topic of costs.

    I like the three models that you have portrayed and how you challenge that all too common perception that ‘blogging is free’.

    Thanks for the resources.

  13. Abdul Rahman
    Jul 17, 2014 @ 14:26:30

    Great Post ! Really it will help the apsirant bloggers to manage their budget and How to enter the million dollar writing and Networking Business . The Blogs Like Mashable , Techcrunch ,Johnchow and Huffingtonpost are pockdting hundreds of Dollars and Covering their Costs easily . Really , Laura , You come up with three categories of Bloggers with specific Hardware , Hosting and other operational costs . It really help the Newbiews to grow by keeping their Budget under Control . Thanks for such Informative Post !

  14. Zoe
    Jul 17, 2014 @ 14:43:28

    Hey Laura, I live reading this. I am very much a bare bones blogger and I love doing it. And while I would love to have more readers I dont aim to make any money from it. Should I still invest? £110 per year for hosting seems like a lot to me right now. Would rather spend it on craft supplies (I’m a craft blogger). What do you think?

    • Zoe
      Jul 17, 2014 @ 14:44:23

      Ha, obviously should make more effort proof reading for a start!

      • Laura Williams
        Jul 17, 2014 @ 15:23:55

        Haha – it happens! 🙂

        I like thinking about it in terms of cost/return. Figure out how much total you can spend on your blog each year, including the cost of supplies, then decide where that money is best spent. Your site looks great, so from a visual perspective, you’re doing really well.

        I do always suggest self-hosting, but if money’s tight & you’d rather spend on supplies, then I would suggest purchasing your domain name, locking it up so you can switch to self-hosting down the line when you’re ready. I hear from lots of people who eventually switch to self hosting, but they’re bummed when their preferred domain name isn’t available – if they had purchased it earlier, they might have been able to grab it.

        Hope that helps!

  15. Razwana
    Jul 17, 2014 @ 15:49:40

    Laura! Love this !

    If I calculated all that I’ve spent on my site over the years, I think I would cry! I’ve broken into making a profit, but simply buying a domain, hosting and an email service provider is cost in itself – especially if you want to go pro.

    Great post.

    • Laura Williams
      Jul 17, 2014 @ 16:52:25

      I know, right?! I’ve always had a good idea of how much I was spending, but when you look back at the total cost over a number of years – whew, it can get spendy! 🙂 So glad you liked the post & that you’re already in the black!

  16. Don
    Jul 17, 2014 @ 16:58:28

    Sure an interesting but long post, can’t believe I read it all. any we have a blogger in Nigeria on blogspot who makes more money than any pro blogger you can think of. am talking of lindaikeji.blogspot.com

  17. Don
    Jul 17, 2014 @ 17:03:58

    Sure an interesting but long post, can’t believe I read it all. any we have a blogger in Nigeria on blogspot who makes more money than any pro blogger you can think of. am talking of lindaikeji.blogspot.com 🙂

    • Laura Williams
      Jul 17, 2014 @ 17:40:05

      There are always exceptions to the rule! 🙂 I just cringe to think what would happen if Blogger decided to shut its doors overnight – would she lose her content completely, and by default, her revenue source?

      Whenever you host your content on someone else’s site, you have so little control. I provided some examples in this post: http://highimpactblogging.com/why-you-should-self-host-and-how-to-get-started/ – Mega Upload, Facebook, and even WordPress.com have all made changes or experienced incidences that affect users, and they have every right to do so. That’s my main argument for going the self-hosted route.

  18. Janette
    Jul 17, 2014 @ 18:29:47

    I think one of the best things any blogger can spend money on – whether they are a newbie or experienced – is a professional editor to review their copy. An editor will make your writing sparkle. Professional writers always work with an editor.

    Also, don’t forget that you time is valuable too. When looking at the cost of you blog you should consider the amount of time you spend on it and what value that time has.

    • Laura Williams
      Jul 17, 2014 @ 19:20:14

      Absolutely! I edit for a living, and even so, I find mistakes in my own work because I’m too close to it. Even if you don’t get every piece edited, working with a writing coach or an editor to improve your craft is such a helpful resource.

      And yes, time spent is significant, too! It’s a little trickier to gauge the cost/benefit of a time investment, but it’s definitely something to keep in mind. Especially if you’re spending lots of time each week, and your goal is to make money, but you’re not seeing any return on that investment. Working like a dog day-in and day-out without a financial return doesn’t make any sense. Good point!

  19. Irwin
    Jul 17, 2014 @ 20:33:10

    Thanks for sharing this, Laura! Great stuff.

    For months I’ve been holding back on spending on my blog. I’ve only spent on the domain and hosting. I use Mailchimp because, just like you said, it’s free for the first 2,000 subscribers. But then if I wanted to make something out of it, I have to invest in it. So I paid for one minor logo design.
    I’ve been tempted to spend on SEO and backlinks but it might not be the wisest move right now. After reading this, I know that I should spend on stuff like important plugins and an audit.
    Your calculator rocks!

  20. Lori Robinson
    Jul 17, 2014 @ 20:37:21

    Thank You for talking about this little discussed subject. When I started my blog, AfricaInside.org a couple of years ago, I had no idea what it would require of me financially and otherwise. I spent thousands to learn how to do things on the wordpress backend, to get a nice looking theme with custom additions, for workshops and books on being a better blogger. The list goes on. I have loved doing it but never had earning a living off of it as a goal. To do that I am sure I would need to spend a ton more. I’m sticking to what I have for the time being.

    • Laura Williams
      Jul 17, 2014 @ 22:36:10

      What a great site (love the content & concept)! No need to spend more if you’re happy with what you’ve got going – cheers!

  21. Alexander
    Jul 18, 2014 @ 01:49:57

    Thanks Laura,

    great info.

    Now I fall into the “serious hobbyist” category since my blogs are really extended business cards, CVs and work samples.

    Have been dabbling in online entrepreneurship, but for that I have tons more to learn until I can even recover my expenses.

    When it comes to notebooks, my favourites are ASUS, lenovo and Samsung, and all those years I have paid the equivalent of 750 USD (in Euro).

    Photos: Yes, Canon rocks. I have a 500D, paid about 450 USD (350 EUR), and if I shoot a pen lying on my desk, it looks amazing, like an art pro shot.

    For video podcasts, which are basically a commented slideshow, I use a decent headset (Plantronics, as used by call centers) and the recording freeware Audacity. Then MAGIX Video to edit, beats any other editing Software by light years.

    If I want to be in the video myself, I find it crucial to have an external microphone, especially when I am hopping around on stage and the camera is in the back. I have a wireless one for about 140 USD and a cord one for about 125. Plus a Canon HF200, and the quality blows me away.

    Now that I think about it, I am surprised that I never had a concept of needing to invest in a blog if I want to make money from it.

    Strange.

    But with the web has come so much of a freebie mentality that this probably locked out any thoughts of having to pay for anything.

    Thanks again.

    • Laura Williams
      Jul 18, 2014 @ 09:11:26

      Thanks for sharing all your resources, too! I love to hear what’s working for other people, and what they recommend for purchase.

  22. Joy Healey
    Jul 18, 2014 @ 04:22:35

    Hi Laura, Thanks for a great post and a list of seriously useful resources. I particularly like the way you have shown how we can start with free ones and then upgrade to paid as “things” scale up.

    I daren’t think how much I have spent to get started although it’s very much on the low end compared to the list for a blogpreneur.

    I was “taken in” by the blogging is free hype initially, but I’m now on a mission to warn people they need to have a budget. In fact I think trying to do everything “free” cost me more in wasted time, lost profits and re-starts.

    An excellent post I shall refer back to as my business expands. Thanks.

    Joy

    • Laura Williams
      Jul 18, 2014 @ 09:13:45

      Such a great point about how it’s possible to end up paying more in the long run if you don’t make solid investments initially. But yes, it’s absolutely possible to scale up as you grow – good luck with everything!

  23. Bryan Collins
    Jul 18, 2014 @ 05:42:40

    Hi Laura,

    I enjoyed your post.

    I’m at the serious hobbyist stage. Lately, I’ve tried to outsource more work (design, development) so I can concentrate on writing ebooks etc.

    I wasn’t aware Etsy provided design packages. I’ll take a look. Thanks.

    • Laura Williams
      Jul 18, 2014 @ 09:14:43

      Of course! Just be a little careful about who you enlist – make sure they have great references and a portfolio they can share.

  24. Ryan Biddulph
    Jul 18, 2014 @ 06:56:26

    Hi Laura,

    Great point here. To be a pro, invest some dough. Right? I invest in hosting with a quality service, so even though I spend a few more bucks each month having a fast loading site that stays up most of the time is worth it.

    As for tools I focus on Hootsuite Pro. I dig it, and the fees are reasonable. Gotta use a paid tool or 2 to automate effectively.

    On the design front I built a strong friendship with an ace designer a few years back so all hooked up there. I feel blessed, for sure.

    I think serious pro bloggers can run a mini empire by paying a set amount of money without busting their budget. Factor in some creativity, and work out profitable partnerships, and you can pay a decent amount on the necessities while saving in other areas.

    You definitely need to pay for excellent hosting as a bare minimum because if your blog isn’t up and fast as lighting virtually all the time you’ll lose out on a bunch of traffic which heads out the door at a moment’s notice.

    I feel outsourcing is just such a smart way to go if you have no desire to design, or to handle other aspects of your blog. Save your creative energies for stuff you love doing. Outsource. Invest wisely.

    Excellent Laura. Thanks for the share, and I’ll be happy to tweet to my 28,000 followers.

    RYan

    • Laura Williams
      Jul 18, 2014 @ 09:21:01

      I appreciate it, Ryan! I’m lucky, too – my husband’s a web developer so that piece is built in for me. And I couldn’t agree more about hosting – we actually use Amazon Web Services because we manage our own virtual server (and when I say we, I mean my husband does – I’m clueless about servers). But I outsource work all the time (to him) which frees me up to focus on the things I enjoy & am great at – I can’t imagine the frustration and time spent if I was always focused on doing tasks that are outside my skill set!

  25. Carolyn
    Jul 18, 2014 @ 14:53:57

    I’m getting serious with my blog but not in spending. As of now I only pay for domain and hosting then eventually for a perfect theme.

    I manage to get by with free services (email w/ my site’s domain by Outlook) but I knew I have to invest in some software for SEO etc. I’m also thinking of donating to plugin developer in the future. They made my life less complicated.

    One thing that confused me is building an email list. I’m eager to use MailChimp till I found out that I need to use an address. Definitely not my own. Then I checked the price for a PO Box in a local mail post. It costs more than $100/year.

    Is there a way to get around this? Is it possible to build a list without breaking the law–and my pocket?

    Thanks for the post and the calculator. I realized I’m not guilty with blog-related expenses. It’s justifiable–and worth it in the long run.

    • Laura Williams
      Jul 18, 2014 @ 15:50:47

      Hi Carolyn!

      To my knowledge there’s not a way around the address-listing, unless other services allow it (which I’m not sure about). The only other option would be to maintain your own list by setting up an opt-in through a service like Google Docs, where visitors to your site fill out a form that allows you to capture their emails into a Google Doc. But really, that wouldn’t have the flexibility or ease of use that an email service provider offers.

      We list our own home address on our email list since it’s also our business address, and haven’t had any problems. Obviously not everyone will feel comfortable with sharing their address, so a PO Box would be the only other way.

      Laura

  26. JJohn Lee Dumas
    Jul 18, 2014 @ 17:32:03

    WOW,

    What a transparent article, and SOOO helpful!

    And HONORED with the mention in the same sentence as LeBron 😉

    Keep rockin!

    • Laura Williams
      Jul 18, 2014 @ 17:44:05

      Glad you liked it – and the mention is well-deserved! You keep rockin’ it, too!

  27. Marilyn Martin
    Jul 19, 2014 @ 10:28:24

    Hi Laura,

    What a great post you have written, and I for one appreciate how honest you were in writing it. I would love to one day to be like Jon Morrow, and it does take a lot of hard work to be like him or yourself. Thanks for all of the great advice, and explaining exactly what is entailed to be a professional blogger. I truly enjoyed reading your post.

  28. Brandon Wirtz
    Jul 20, 2014 @ 19:07:31

    If you are a blogger it doesn’t matter how big you are, even a Netbook will do you. You can get a great laptop for blogging for $350. For real, I bought one for an employee.
    If you are serious about blogging where you need to spend money is in figuring out what to write about, what your site looks like, and the quality of your hosting.
    I sell one of those services, but you are on your own for the look and the hosting.
    As for camera’s and lenses. No. For the most part your SmartPhone takes good enough pics for blog posts, and with a tripod and an external mic it can be your video camera for stuff except when you are shooting at a conference.
    The key to being a real blogger is content. You need to know what to write about and how to write about it. You need to be aware of your audience, and you need to be aware of your advertisers, and you need to be aware of the search engines.
    Everything else is just a distraction. Something you can optimize when you get the recurring revenue to pay for better toys.

  29. Danni
    Jul 24, 2014 @ 08:53:46

    You are simply awesome Laura, you have chosen the topic which most of the bloggers doesn’t talk about. Thank you so much for providing very useful information.

  30. Umar Khaleeq
    Aug 09, 2014 @ 17:00:05

    hi, i love to read this site. I want a favour from you . please review my site and tell me what should i do to get more subscribers. i like to continue my blogging career for a long time, i am too lazy to do any other work . please guide me for blogging , my site http://www.blogtipsuk.com

  31. Kostas Chiotis
    Aug 27, 2014 @ 16:08:04

    It certainly all adds up, sometimes without us evening noticing, but when it is put in black and white it really hits home. Budgeting for your blog is essential

  32. Ankita Agrawal
    Nov 21, 2014 @ 01:41:27

    I am new to this blogging world. recently started blogging. I will be writing a blog almost twice a week. This article has really helped to understand the cost involve in running a blog.
    Thanks a ton

  33. Instanceofjava
    Dec 15, 2014 @ 06:42:58

    I am a new blogger and i think it is the very best work for begnnier. thnak you

  34. Danielle
    Jan 09, 2015 @ 10:15:28

    Love your posts! would you consider adding a pinterest share button? I like to save articles there.

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