Start a Blog {On a Small Budget}

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Start a Blog {On a Small Budget}

This post contains affiliate links. For full disclosures, see here.

Have you considered starting your own blog?

People start blogs for various reasons. To keep in touch with family, to share their experience with others, as a hobby, etc. For me, blogging was a journey I began more as a ministry (you can read about how to blog as a ministry here). And, as a blogger, I’ve realized one very important lesson:

Blogging ain’t cheap.

Start a Blog {On a Small Budget}

However, after spending a lot {ahem, a LOT} of money, I’ve found some cheaper, or even better – free – resources that either work just as well or can get you by until you’re actually making money. And let me just add that, while some of these are affiliate links, some are not. This post isn’t all about money, rather giving you the most cost-effective tools I’ve found. I also give you links to items I don’t necessarily use so that you can check it out for yourself.

If you already have a blog up and running, some of this you won’t need. However, if you haven’t even started yet, I’ll begin with the very basics.

First things first, you have to have hosting. So, basically, you pay someone for your little slice of the internet. Hardly seems fair, I know. But I personally use Bluehost, their plans are affordable, and you can get your domain name through them also (your domain name is the actual name of your website). If you’ve read much on blogging, you’ll see that a lot of people were unhappy with them and switched. I also know many people had to switch when they started getting too many pageviews. But I’ve not had an issue with them, and so far their customer service has been fantastic.

Bluehost also makes it super easy to get an email address (yourname@yoursite.com) through them, and you can have those emails forwarded to another account. You might not think it matters now, but you’ll want this in the future. Many affiliates and other programs want this email address to verify that you actually own the site and can access it, etc.


The next thing you have to do is get set up through WordPress. Now, see, here’s the thing: I’m not all technical with what WordPress is or why you really need it. But here’s what I do know: you have to have it. Set up on WordPress.org (free to sign up) because if you plan to make any money in the future, most affiliates and additional features you need do not work with the wordpress.com platform. This is your dashboard, where you’ll write posts, edit, all that fun stuff.

The next thing you’ll want to do is invest (yeah, money, ugh) into the Genesis Framework. What this does is provide a “frame” for your child theme to be built up from. Genesis (the parent theme) is the foundation, and the child theme (whatever you choose) is the walls.

After installing your Genesis framework, you’ll need a child theme. And, let me say, I cannot stress enough how important the theme is. The theme is what gives your site its appearance. The number of menus, widgets, pages… I had no idea how important those things were when I started, so I spent a lot of money on a theme that I ended up hating and having to write a TON of custom code for (thank you, Google). I ended up finding a much cheaper theme (because I’m on a real tight budget!) and have one now that cost about $15. So, my advice, look around. Check out other blogs to see what you like and don’t like about their set-up. The theme I have at the time of writing this post came from Etsy. SUPER easy. Just make sure whatever theme you use works on the Genesis Framework.

After setting up your theme, you’ll need a couple plugins. Now, so many people have so many different opinions on what you need to use. But before you pay for a plugin, try the free version first. Many times you can get what you need from the free version and, obviously, save money.

You’ll need to set up with an email provider. This has been a journey for me. I started with MailChimp because it was free up to 2,000 subscribers. But… I didn’t like it. So after reading pretty much every blogger out there, I switched to Convertkit. And while I LOVED the ease of use, it just wasn’t cost effective for me to spend $29/month when I was making $0 (actually, blogging costs me money every month at this point). So I switched to MailerLite and have been happy thus far. It’s free up to 1,000 subscribers, and I hope by the time I get to that point I can afford the higher plans 🙂

MailerLite Email Marketing for Small Business
For social media, that’s a whole book. But, just know you can’t be everywhere at once, and you’ll burn out before you master them all at once. So while it’s not a bad idea to sign up for accounts with the platforms you think you’ll use, don’t stress too much on spending a lot of time and money just yet. I’d say for most the biggest things would be a Facebook page and a business Pinterest account (you’ll want business to track stats, etc).

For Pinterest, I do like to use schedulers. BoardBooster and Tailwind are the two most commonly used, and the ones I use. Boardbooster has affordable plans, as does Tailwind. However, know that you can pin manually for free. It just takes a lot of time.

Unless you take your own photos (ie food blogger, DIY/crafts, etc) you’ll want high-quality images to use for social media (and because people like pretty pictures!). You have to be really careful about this. So, in other words, don’t just Google “picture of _______” and use what comes up. Most images are copyright protected. And you can get sued. Which would be bad when you’re not making any money. Or in any situation. But if you go to a site that says their images are free, make sure they’re attribution free (you don’t have to give credit), royalty free (pay the photographer) and all that jazz. I like to use Pexels, PicJumbo, and Pixabay.

In order to add words to those pretty pictures, you’ll need photo editing software. A lot of bloggers use Photoshop, but that comes with a price tag (we’re on a budget here, remember?). So I use Canva. The free version does pretty much all you need it to do. The paid (or business) plan is $12.95/month. What I like about the paid version is you can save your colors, fonts, logos, etc. and they’re ready to use saving a lot of time. You can also create custom templates so that you’re not starting your images from scratch every time.

I use Grammarly to help with, well, grammar. It’s an extension on my Mac, and it’s free. While I don’t agree with every suggestion, I like it overall for catching typos and whatnot (because I never misspell anything…).

So, with all this, how much does it cost to start a blog?

Can you really start a blog on a small budget? (Here it is for you skip-to-the-bottom-folks):

Hosting (Bluehost): $3.95/month x 12 (pay 12 months up front) = $47.40

WordPress.org = FREE

Genesis Framework = about $50

Child Theme = varies, but $15 (hey, this is budgeting!)

Plugins = FREE

Email Provider (MailerLite) = FREE (for right now!)

Pinterest scheduling (BoardBooster) = FREE trial (same with Tailwind)

Stock photos = FREE (BUT DO YOUR RESEARCH!!!)

Canva = FREE

Grammarly = FREE

TOTAL FOR BASIC SET-UP: about $115

Now I intended to put informative resources in here as well (so you don’t have to scour Pinterest for hours, like I did…) but this post turned out pretty long. So I’ll do another post showing you that you can educate yourself on these tools and more for cheap {or free}!

Keep in mind, this is a basic set up to start a blog on a small budget. However, you can monetize with whatcha got, and eventually move up later (what I’ve learned the hard way!).

Start a Blog {On a Small Budget}

October 16, 2017
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