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Most new bloggers or solo-entrepreneurs don’t always realize the costs of having a blog that will become their business. Because if you’re blogging for fun that’s totally different than blogging with the purpose of earning a living online. That’s why knowing upfront how much a website will cost is pretty darn important. In fact, most new bloggers have no clue what they need beyond that well known advertised B.S. to start a blog for as little as $3.95/month. Huh. I can’t even buy a Happy Meal for that price, why would I think I could have an online business for that amount.
People believe it because it sounds so good. Almost too good to be true and it is.
So here is the reality check. I hate to burst your bubble of happiness but if you plan on being in this for real then you need to get your head out of the clouds and plan for the essential website costs that will make you successful.
You want to build a WordPress website. I get it. I did too and I learned a few costly lessons along the way. If you go with a monthly subscription service that provides pre-canned drag-n-drop templates plus email integration you’re starting at $97/month. And that doesn’t actually cover the cost of the email service; it just means that there’s some easy integration with email. Too much of this kind of help will get costly rather fast. While drag-n-drop landing page services like Clickfunnels or Leadpages are great for folks that aren’t techie and have deep pockets, there are other low-cost alternatives that do the same thing.
If you’ve done any Google searches on the subject, then you’ve seen lots of comments that it takes $3-4 /month to get started with a WordPress site or blog. Yes, just for a basic hosting plan, that’s technically true but what about the other costs you will incur?
Let’s cover a few additional details so you have realistic expectations. How much does it cost to start a blog? The best way to explain website maintenance cost is to break it into essentials versus nice to have extras.
The Good, The Bad and The Truth About Website Costs
Here’s the honest truth. It takes more than $3-4 /month hosting fee to make a site that “stands out”. Anyone who tells you otherwise is skipping details. And a $3-4 fee really isn’t going to give you a high performance, speedy website unless you add in some other features will cost more $.
WordPress powers much of today’s websites, but unless you code it from scratch and I don’t remember that, you’ll need a “theme”, a couple of robust well supported plugins and a bit of elbow grease. The theme is the foundation; it’s what you entire site uses as a framework.
So a good theme is essential. I know many folks who go with free. I prefer to pay a nominal fee and get support. It’s so worth it when I run into issues. Good support is not always free; you can get support thru forums on most WordPress issues. Post a question; wait for a response. But when it’s critical, paid support is a heck of a better deal. And believe me, I’ve been there. At some point, you’ll run into an issue. That’s why support for a theme makes sense. So in my humble opinion, paying $40 – 60 for a theme is not a lot to ask.
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Budgets and Priorities
Be choosy about what you use. Once it’s in place it gets complicated to replace it. I’ve done it when I’ve run into situations where the fix was simply to use something that integrated better, had support or provided the right feature.
I’m pretty picky about what I use and what I’m willing to pay for. I’ve tested a tried quite a few plugins and found that a great theme with a great page builder will go much farther to getting what I need than adding bunch of free plugins that sort of integrate and kind of do what I want. So think about the time, effort and goal of you site. If you’re serious about building something to earn a living there’s a few items beyond the hosting fee you need to purchase.
Make your site rock within your budget but don’t go so cheap you’ll end up having to retro fit down the road.
The BIG 3 – Hosting, Themes and Email:
Hosting: The basic service is $3-5/month. However, if you can I’d bump that up to a slightly better plan with whoever you end up hosting with. Why? Simply for performance.
Here’s a real-world story: My first website was on a well know hosting company at the cheapest plan I could find. I used a free theme and my home page loaded in about 45 seconds. No lie. I’d go to get coffee and it would still be loading. I laugh about it looking back, but seriously you don’t want that.
Themes: A great theme will run $39 to $59 or more. You shouldn’t have to go up to $100 or over; I’ve done than and don’t recommend it. No theme is worth that. A great theme is: flexible, easy to use and has responsive support.
Email: For me this is a love / hate thing. Email is essential if you have a blog; not so much if you’re just doing affiliate marketing. But email services should be in your budget because email is how you reach out to subscribers. Email costs go up when you subscriber list grows. There are a few well known email providers that are free but as you grow thats going to at least be $30 to $50/month.
Get A Good Page Builder
I can’t stress this enough. You’d need this to create a nice home page, email form, sales landing page (this replaces those pricy landing page services) etc. A good page builder you’re comfortable will make building and managing your WordPress site about a thousand times easier than if you don’t have one. If you’re looking for ideas, check out the resource page here.
WordPress Maintenance and Management
Plugins: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and performance plugins are pretty darn important for getting traffic. In this day of Internet breaches even little “guys” need security, and backups are there for emergencies.
When you get beyond the essentials you’ll find other features you might want. Things like image compression, surveys, link cloaking, affiliate ad creation and more. Depending on what your blog or website is about, you will be able to find all kinds of plugins and services that add cool features you can use. Most will be free; you may find one or two you might end up purchasing.
My point? Expect to spend a little more than that originally mention $3-4/month hosting fee. Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking that’s all you need.
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