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Have you been dreaming of starting a blog but you’re worried about the cost?
Do you have a blog but you’re finding it hard to build it up because your budget is tight?
I’m going to go over how to start, build and run a blog on the cheap!
CHEAPEST WAY TO START A BLOG
I’m sure you’ve heard or seen other bloggers say start a blog for next to nothing only to find out that there are expenses involved especially if you want to monetize your blog and turn it into a part or full-time business.
Related: Best Free Courses for Bloggers
Now don’t get me wrong you definitely can start a blog for next to nothing especially compared to any other business.
As a blogger myself who blogs about personal finance, frugal living and money saving tips I don’t want you to spend money you don’t have or that you don’t need to when just starting out.
Once you start to make money with your blog you can then reinvest that money into courses, tools, and resources to help you scale your blog into a business and save yourself a lot of time.
But right now if money is tight there are MANY ways to get everything you need very cheaply or even free!
The point of this article is to help you find super affordable (including lots of freebies) tools, resources, and courses that will help you start a money making
I also briefly go over how to actually get your blog up and running and show you how easy and cheap it can be if you do it yourself.
I will also mention some items I think you may want to spend a little money on but those are optional and up to you.
START A BLOG ON A BUDGET
The one thing you need to pay for if you want a money making blog is your website hosting. If you’re starting a blog and plan to monetize it then I suggest a self-hosted blog on WordPress (WordPress.org).
If you have no clue what that even means don’t worry its pretty easy and very affordable, you can start for under $4 a month! Plus I’ll go over how in just a bit.
There are many website hosting platforms out there but the ones I have personally used are Bluehost, Hostgator and Siteground. I am now with Siteground just because I wanted to see if I noticed a difference in site speed with a new host. I was with Bluehost for many years though previously.
All are pretty reasonable price wise but what I actually like about Siteground is that they will transfer your site for you for free (I had mine transferred from Bluehost) and that you can get the new customer discount for a longer period of time (up to 3 years) if you pay up front for the number of years you choose.
You can pick 1 to 3 years upfront and pay the discounted rate for the period you choose so if you know you are in it for the long haul you can pick a longer term and save money.
I’m going to use Siteground in my example but they are all similar in the setup process as far as signing up and installing WordPress.
SETTING UP YOUR BLOG ON SITEGROUND
Step 1. Choose your hosting plan
The StartUp plan is perfect for people with one website that are just starting out allowing for up to 10,000 visits monthly.
The GrowBig plan is a great value for the money, including the option for multiple websites and the SuperCacher that greatly improves website speed and allows up to 25,000 visits monthly. ( I started with this plan)
The GoGeek plan is perfect for people with e-commerce and larger sites, or more geeky development needs like staging and GIT integration.
Step 2. Choose a Domain
If you have’nt already bought a domain you can buy one when you sign up or you can sign up with an existing domain. They do free website transfers for the GrowBig and GoGeek plans.
Registering a new domain starts at only $15.95/year with SiteGround.
TIP: If you want to get an even cheaper domain name you can purchase it first on GoDaddy.com where they usually have sales as low as $2.99 for a domain.
Step 3. Review & Complete. Install WordPress (or have Siteground do it for you free)
That’s it! You’re done with signing up for hosting and now you can move on to installing WordPress which is super easy and if you go with the GrowBig Plan you can have customer service do it for you!
IMPORTANT NOTE: There may be other options already selected for you as you’re completing the transaction but you can uncheck those as they may cost more and you don’t need them yet as a new blogger.
|Hosting (Grow Big Plan for the year)||$71.40|
|TOTAL SPENT (year):||$87.35|
*Prices can change and different promotion may run on hosting and domains but these are the prices at the time of writing this article.
What other business can you start for that price?
If you’re on a super tight budget and don’t need the transfer/install service you can always start with the startup plan at $3.95 a month bringing your yearly total to $63.35 and you can grab your domain at GoDaddy on sale to cut costs even more. Keep in mind that the startup plan only supports up to 10,000 visits monthly so that’s why I recommend the Grow Big Plan.
So let’s continue………..
Once you login to your Customer Area for the first time, you will see a pop-up asking you if you want to start a new website on your account. Select that option and click on the WordPress button.
After installing WordPress you need to select a theme. You don’t have to buy a Premium WordPress Theme at this point, you can start with a free theme (I’ll be going over how to add pretty graphics for free) and you can always switch themes when you’re ready. Switching themes is not that difficult so don’t worry.
As a new blogger, the Free “Astra” theme is pretty nice. Don’t go for anything too flashy, simple designs with lots of white space work best.
To check out more free themes just go to Appearance- Themes in your WordPress Dashboard.
Keep in mind the theme previews will show the theme how it will look when it’s all set up and configured using all its features. You don’t need all the features right away and may never need them.
You basically want easy menu navigation, a place for your logo at the top and easy to read fonts, especially when starting out.
NOTE: Don’t get stuck on aesthetics! Lots of bloggers do. I am going to go over how to make your blog look great for no money or super cheap so don’t spend days focusing on themes because you can always change it later.
If you’re overwhelmed with WordPress itself I recommend you grab this free course: Understanding WordPress.
Once you have your domain and host setup and you installed WordPress you’re ready to make a few design tweaks (more info below) and start writing! Remember don’t get stuck on the design.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR BLOG PRETTY ON THE CHEAP
With a free theme, you can still make your blog look nice. I highly recommend using Canva to create a logo and also images for your blog posts.
If you’re new to Canva and have no clue how to use it or want to use it better then I recommend taking this FREE Canva 101 Workshop.
This course is designed to give you an overview of some of the things you can do to get started in Canva. It includes a walkthrough of Canva, how to create lines and charts, how to design text for your digital projects, setting up templates for yourself, and using design elements to step up your designs. Sign up here.
Canva also has free images for you to use in your blog posts. I use it in all of my blog posts. If you hate design or maybe your just not good at it , I highly recommend purchasing ready-made templates. They are super affordable and save you a TON OF TIME and frustration.
She also has The Complete Blogger Template Toolkit which pretty much has everything you will ever need as far as graphics for your blog. It’s currently at $97 which may seem like a lot but the hours you will save creating graphics or paying someone to do it is priceless honestly.
If you can spend $97 I would definitely grab those!
|DOMAIN & HOSTING|
(for the year)
(optional but recommended)
(everything you will ever need pretty much)
For more free design graphics for your blog, you can check out Creative Market. Creative Market is a great place to get free fonts, graphics, videos and all kinds of design goodies. You definitely want to sign up to get free goodies each week emailed to you.
There are also a lot of free image sites but just be aware that anyone can upload graphics to these sites and then turn around and say you stole them. Copyright infringement is no joke so if you do grab free images from any of these free image sites always get a screenshot of it on the website as proof.
I was able to snatch a deal on Despositphotos for 100 credits for $49 through AppSumo. That’s just $0.50 a photo which is AMAZING! Get on their list to be notified of upcoming sales.
I also recommend you grab this free guide for Branding Your Blog.
BUDGET CHECK-IN: If you have grabbed credits from a stock photo site add that to your total or take your own photos and the cost will be just your time.
Now that you have a blog up and running and looking good you can start to set it up for success without spending a bunch of money (or very little money).
You will need to start building up your content! Decide what you want to write about and stick to only a few topics that are closely related.
For example, I am in the personal finance niche so I blog about budgeting, saving money and making money.
START AN EMAIL LIST
If you haven’t heard the saying, money is in the list then I am letting you know that now. Email is not dead and is the most important thing to get started if you want to make money with your blog even if you don’t have anything to sell or make money off of yet (we will get to that later).
First, you need an email service provider. I love and highly suggest Convertkit but it’s NOT cheap (starts at $29/month) so if you’re just starting out you can go with a free service like MailChimp which is FREE for up to 2000 subscribers.
You signed up for an email service provider, now what?
If you’re just starting out you may not know what to send to your subscribers or even how to get them to subscribe??
I recommend using these free welcome email swipe files as a guide. They will help you create emails that you can send to your new subscribers.
As far as how to get people to sign up, I recommend creating a beautiful opt-in freebie for signing up (also called a lead magnet). Something as simple as a checklist or PDF guide that can be created right in Canva.
If you have $37 in your budget you can grab
If you grabbed the Complete Blogger Templates I mentioned above they also include templates for
MANAGE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA FOR FREE
Scheduling tools are not that expensive each but the more you use the more your costs go up so I suggest starting out with free plans at least for now and then upgrading once you figure out which one you love.
To start out you could use:
For Pinterest, you can manually Pin for now and use Tailwind Tribes for sharing your pins and finding other pins to share on your boards. Tribes on Tailwind are free!
For Facebook, you can also use Facebook’s “schedule” feature and just spend 30 minutes scheduling a couple of weeks worth of posts manually for now.
For Instagram you can also use the free version of Later for scheduling as you can schedule a lot more than you would be able to with Buffer.
MONETIZE YOUR BLOG
In order to start making money with your blog so that you can reinvest money into paid courses and tools, you will need to implement a monetization strategy or two.
But before you can start monetizing your blog you will need to have built up some content and driven some traffic to it. To help with that check out these two FREE resources: 120 Blog Post Ideas and The 12 Month Blog Plan.
I would also recommend learning SEO so that you can start ranking your blog articles on Google and getting found. And also Pinterest since lots of bloggers get tons of traffic from Pinterest.
Check out these two free resources to learn both:
This is a free course from Yoast! Whatever your expertise is, whether you’re new to SEO or have been working on it already, this training touches on both the content part and technical part of SEO so there could be something new in there for everyone
This course is great to learn how to master Pinterest to drive traffic to your blog and it’s free!
Bloggers make money in a bunch of ways but I want to go over the most common ways and share with you free courses to help you understand them in-depth.
Affiliate Marketing is when you make money by recommending other people’s products.
Learn everything you need to know to get started with affiliate marketing in this free Quick-Start Guide to Affiliate Marketing for Bloggers
Lots of bloggers make good money by working with brands on sponsored content. Learn how you can pitch brands for sponsorships with this free Pitch Perfect Cheatsheet.
Your Own Product
Many bloggers make money with their own products like courses, ebooks, and other digital products. If you’re going to invest this is where I say you should!
If you want to create a digital product I highly recommend you take this training: Create and Launch a Profitable Product Free Training.
If you’re looking for a course to learn how to create courses you definitely should check out Course by Number (not free but a great course) if you have money in the budget.
If you want a free option
The free Teachable course doesn’t cover deciding on a topic or getting customers to buy or how to sell your course so again if you can swing the money for Course by Number than grab it.
MANAGE YOUR BLOG ON A BUDGET
One of the tools I absolutely love and use daily to manage ALL THE THINGS is Asana. Asana is FREE! It’s a project management software that is awesome.
They have a paid version but if you don’t have a team of people I think the free version does pretty much everything you need it to do.
You can use it to:
- Keep track of affiliate programs
- Keep a calendar of projects
- Organize sponsored content
- Set reminders and more
Another option is Trello. I am just learning about Trello and may give it a try as well.
When to Invest Money and Where to Invest It
If you have no money or simply do not want to invest right now I think what I shared above should be sufficient to get you started with your blog.
Once you start to make a little money with your blog I recommend you reinvest some of it into tools and courses that will help you grow your blog faster so that you can make more money.
I suggest finding one complete course that can walk you through starting and monetizing a blog step by step.
Its great to be able to learn from many free courses but it can also be harder because you may be missing pieces here and there.
One of my favorite budget-friendly blogging courses is Blog by Number from Suzi Whitford of Start a Mom Blog (it’s not just for mom bloggers, I am a personal finance blogger). It’s under $100 and worth so much more!
What I like about Blog By Number is it takes you from step one of creating and designing your blog all the way to monetizing your blog and more and Suzi is awesome and gives so much value to her students in the course and on her Facebook Lives.
TIP: You can also just grab the eBook if you don’t need the video instruction, it’s just $18!!! Grab the Blog by Number eBook.
It’s probably one of the best blogging courses out there in my opinion, especially for beginners. I loved it so much I’ve purchased other courses from Suzi as well (as you see I mentioned Course by Number earlier).
Another course I love is Elite Blog Academy but it is a large investment and only available once a year but if you want to get on the waitlist you can do that here. UPDATE: EBA IS OPEN NOW FOR 2 MORE DAYS!
Another place you really need to invest is in your email marketing platform. I mentioned earlier I love
The reason I love
When you’re ready for that you can go ahead and get a FREE TRIAL OF CONVERTKIT to check it out.
I really hope this article helped you, if you have questions on how to save money on your blog that I haven’t covered feel free to leave a comment and I will be sure to respond!
I will also be updating this article often as questions come in or I find new things.
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