Running a blog can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be, at least not when you’re starting. If you sink too much money into your blog right away, it’s going to be a while until you start seeing dividends, which means you may run out of steam faster.
The best way to launch a new blog is to do it on a budget. That way, you’ll be able to test everything you want until you get the hang of blogging without burning through your savings. Plus, if you are blogging on a budget, it means if your blog doesn’t succeed, you can cut your losses and it won’t be as painful.
In this article, I’m going to walk you through all the things you need to run a blog on a budget. Plus, we’ll also talk about what to do when budget solutions aren’t cutting it anymore. Let’s save some money!
Find a Reliable Budget Web Hosting Provider
A little while ago, I wrote a post about how much you need to spend on hosting for your blog. The short version of it is there’s a lot of variation in quality between web hosts. However, if you do your research, it’s very easy to find outstanding shared hosting plans starting at below $5 per month. Some of my personal favorite hosts include:
- Bluehost. This is the provider we usually recommend to new WordPress users since it offers an excellent all-around service.
- A2 Hosting. Out of these three, A2 Hosting offers the broadest selection of plans
- SiteGround. Excellent performance, but you only get the best prices if you pay for a year of hosting up front.
To be clear, these providers all offer budget-friendly plans, but they’re by no means bottom-of-the-barrel options. In my experience, their starter shared hosting plans are more than enough to handle a growing blog. That means it doesn’t make much sense to spend anything beyond $5-10 on hosting per month, at least until your blog picks up some steam. At that point, you might want to move on to a Virtual Private Server (VPS), but that’s a ways away.
Get to Know the Best Sources for Free Stock Images
Images are a key component to every blog. Depending on what subjects you deal with, you’ll need to use different types of graphics, though. For example, since we talk so much about blogging and freelancing, I stick mostly to screenshots, so you get a visual of what we’re talking about.
On the other hand, if you’re running a blog that promotes products, you’ll need to use photographs or stock images. As far as product photographs go, you’re on your own, but when it comes to stock images, I can help you out. There are a ton of websites where you can find free stock images, but plenty of them are terrible. Here are my favorites:
- Pixabay. This website has the most extensive collection of free stock images around and they come in multiple sizes.
- Startup Stock Photos. Perfect if you need stock images related to tech and business.
- Pexels. The images on this site tend to be more high quality, but there are fewer options than on Pixabay.
Between those three, you should be pretty set for stock images. If you’re up for it, I also recommend you get acquainted with some free image editing tools, such as Photopea, which is similar to Photoshop and works from your browser. Even basics such as knowing how to crop and resize images can be plenty to make a difference and make your site look less generic.
Use a Free (Or Low-Cost) WordPress Theme
If you look around the premium WordPress theme ecosystem, then you’ll notice all the most popular picks are filled to the brim with extra features. Some themes include page builders, pre-built layouts, enough features to require dozens of pages of documentation, and more.
Having access to all those extras is nice. However, you don’t need an expensive WordPress theme to launch a successful site. All you need from a theme is for it to meet the following criteria:
- It needs to look good and be responsive.
- The theme should be under active development.
- It plays nice with the plugins you want to use.
That’s about it. There are thousands of free WordPress themes that kick ass but don’t get as much attention as their premium counterparts.
To be honest, I use premium themes on most of my sites. That’s because I already have access to them and I know exactly what functionality I need. However, if you’re new to blogging, it’s best to get acquainted with WordPress before you start blowing money on fancy themes and plugins.
Focus on Search Engine Optimization
For most blogs, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is what makes or breaks them. If you pay attention to SEO basics and you make an effort to write content people are looking for, then you’re already on the right track.
The best thing about SEO, though, is you can do it for free. The more content you put out, the more traffic you should get. It takes patience, to be sure, but it also means you don’t need to spend any money to grow your blog other than your monthly hosting fees and buying a domain.
A lot of people grow frustrated because they expect their blogs to become hits overnight. That often leads to paying for clicks or views, which usually doesn’t work, unless you’re selling a product and you can break even.
At some point, you might want to start looking into paid traffic for your blog. However, that comes after you’ve already found your footing and your blog starts earning money, so you don’t burn through your savings.
At some point, you may want to sink some serious money into your blog. For example, you might purchase premium themes or plugins to increase its functionality, or you might want to get better hosting to handle growing traffic. However, for a new blog, the bootstrap approach is the way to go.
For example, a great shared hosting plan for blogging on a budget might only cost you around $5 per month. If you choose a good provider, that’ll be more than enough for quite a while. You also don’t need to spend anything to set up WordPress and the themes and plugins you’ll need to get started. Your most significant cost upfront might be buying a domain – which should run you around $10 – or if you choose to pay for a year of hosting up front.
Running a blog might not take a lot of money, but there are a lot of things you need to do to get started. If you need help, take a look at our Start a Blog course, which covers all the steps from the very beginning.
Image credit: Pixabay.