I think you’ll agree with me on this: When you start a blog, you don’t want to waste your money on tools you don’t need. But how can you start a successful blog on a budget? How much does it REALLY cost to start a blog in 2020?
Luckily, there are a few helpful tips for finding the best blogging tools that you need to start a blog. To save as much time and money as possible, you want to invest your money wisely in tools that will pay off.
In this post, I will show you exactly how much it costs to start a blog without any unnecessary bells and whistles. You will learn precisely what tools you need to build a successful blog from scratch without wasting a dime on stuff you don’t need.
The best part?
Starting a blog to make money is still one of the cheapest ways to start a business and earn a full-time income online.
However, it’s not going to happen overnight. You need to put in a lot of work and dedicate time to creating content people love to consume. But trust me, your efforts will pay off.
Here are a few related posts you may want to read, too:
- Why Start a Blog? 12 Essential Reasons Why You Should Start Blogging
- How to Start a Successful Blog in 6 Practical Steps
Can you start a blog for free?
Technically speaking, you can start a blog for free. Anyone can sign up for a free blogging platform and start writing about a topic they want to share with the world.
However, if you want to turn your blog into a business and make money blogging, that’s just not going to work.
The biggest problem with free blogging platforms is that you don’t have any control over your blog.
Your blog could get shut down, the blogging platform could be sold and you’d lose all your content overnight without notice. And of course, all your traffic and loyal readers would be gone, too.
On free blogging platforms, you don’t own your content nor your traffic. All the traffic you get points at a URL that’s not really yours.
For example, if you blog on WordPress.com, your blog’s URL will be something like
See what I mean?
All your traffic points to wordpress.com.
Another big shortcoming with free blogging platforms is this: nobody will take your blog seriously.
If you want to monetize your blog and create a successful online business, you want to build a trustworthy brand with credibility. The only way to do that is to start a self-hosted blog from the beginning.
Related post: 7 Critical Things You Must Do Before Launching Your Blog
First things first: Your blog is your business
If you want to become a successful blogger, you should think of your blog as a business. Starting now!
Trust me, this is what sets you apart from all the hobby bloggers out there. If you treat your blog like a hobby, you’re not going to make any money blogging. Simple as that.
So, just like any other new business, you need to be prepared to spend a few bucks to get it started. And don’t get me wrong here: I don’t want you to spend money on your blog. Instead, you should invest money.
The difference between the two?
Spending money means wasting it while investing means that you’ll get the money back at some point in the future.
Therefore, the tools we’ll look at in this post will all pay themselves back eventually. You just need to know which tools you really need and which ones you should set aside for later.
Let’s get started!
Related article: 4 Time-Saving Blogging Strategy Tips for Beginners
7 essential blogging tools that will help you start a blog in 2020 and make money online
1: Domain name ($10 per year)
A domain name is basically the name of your blog. It’s what your readers will see in the URL address bar in their browsers when they visit your blog, like this:
That said, your blog domain name will be your brand, more or less. You should make it memorable and easy to read.
If you haven’t figure out your domain name yet, check out my post on how to choose the perfect blog name in 20 minutes.
A domain name usually costs around $10–15 per year.
It’s a recurring service, so you’ll always renew your registration for one year at a time.
What this means is that you’ll never own your domain in the sense that you’d have it forever. Instead, you just “rent” it for a given amount of time and have the right to use it for your blog.
Registering a domain name is super easy, even if you have no technical experience with starting a website or a blog.
You can choose between a number of domain name providers out there. But if you’re looking to save a few bucks and get a free domain name, I’d suggest you go with Bluehost.
I use Bluehost for my blogs and I’m not shy about recommending them to my reader. Out of all providers I’ve worked with throughout the years, I’ve had the best experience with Bluehost so far. Their setup is super easy and quick, just perfect for beginners.
Want to check if your domain name is available right now? Just enter it into the lookup tool below and see if you can register the domain name of your dreams:
2: Blog Hosting / Web Hosting ($35–45 per year)
When you start a blog, you need to sign up for web hosting to give your blog a place to “live”.
A blog hosting provider will give you space on their web servers to store your blog files on. That way, your blog will be accessible to anyone using the Internet.
If this sounds like too much jargon, don’t worry.
You don’t need any technical knowledge to set up your blog hosting account.
All you need to know is that blog hosting is necessary to build a successful online brand and make money blogging.
The best blog hosting provider I’ve used during the past few years is Bluehost.
Their service is always top-notch, with excellent performance at an affordable price. That’s why I’ve chosen to host Blogging Explorer with them, too.
Their 10-minute setup process is insanely easy, even if you’ve never started a blog before.
More importantly, Bluehost delivers great value for your money. I’ve even negotiated a special blog hosting deal for my readers to help you save money:
Through my special link, you get access to exclusive hosting plans starting at just $2.95 per month. And that includes a FREE domain name for your blog – all for just $35/year.
3: WordPress blogging software (Free!)
When you’ve registered your domain name and signed up for blog hosting, you need a blogging software to create your blog with.
What’s a blogging software again?
A blogging software is simply a piece of software that allows you to build and manage your blog.
For example, it allows you to create subpages, write blog posts, upload image files, and moderate comments you get from your readers.
You use your blogging software directly by logging into your blog online with a username and a password you get from your blog hosting provider.
The best blogging software available is WordPress.org. It’s the most popular and powerful blogging platform worldwide:
Related article: What’s The Difference Between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?
The best part?
WordPress.org is 100% free!
Moreover, it’s super easy to install and use. If you choose to host your blog on Bluehost, they install WordPress for you automatically. When you finish your signup, you have a fully-functional WordPress blog ready to use.
4: WordPress theme for blogging ($40–90)
Now you should have everything set up with your domain, hosting, and blogging software. Good job!
The next point you need to consider is how you can customize the design and look of your blog.
You probably have an idea about how you want your blog to appear to your readers? Maybe you’ve thought about some colors or fonts already?
To customize your WordPress blog’s design, you need a WordPress theme.
There are countless themes to choose from so this step might feel a bit overwhelming for many beginner bloggers.
My recommendation is to use a paid, premium WordPress theme from the beginning. There are free themes you can use, too, but they have limited customization options and poor customer support to answer your questions.
We’re not talking about a huge investment here. Plus, you can use the same theme for years.
Check out the top WordPress themes on Themeforest for example. You can easily sort the most popular themes by price, ratings, or downloads:
Here’s a helpful article to help you find the perfect WordPress theme for your blog.
The best WordPress theme that will save you time:
I use the Divi Theme for almost every blog and website I build these days.
It’s super easy to set up and very beginner-friendly, even though it’s one of the most powerful and customizable WordPress themes available.
If you want to create a professional-looking blog super quickly, here’s something you’ll love:
Divi comes with 100+ pre-made website packs you can use for free! They include designs for your homepage, blog feed, blog posts, about page, and more.
Thus, if you want to get your blog website up and running in a matter of minutes, Divi is the perfect WordPress theme for you, too!
When you get a license for Divi, you also have access to around 80 further themes by Elegant Themes, plus a couple of useful plugins, like the Bloom email marketing plugin to build opt-in forms for your blog (like the ones you see on my blog, too).
For more theme recommendations, check out these best WordPress themes for blogs.
5: Social media sharing (FREE)
Once you’ve customized your blog design and you start writing your first blog posts, it’s time to add social media sharing buttons to your blog. They’ll help you grow your blog by allowing your readers to share your articles more easily on social networks.
The best way to add social media sharing buttons to your blog posts is to use a WordPress plugin.
Again, you have a few options to choose from. My #1 recommendation is the Social Warfare plugin, which you can get for free. It’s easy to set up and customize.
Plus, the sharing buttons look great on every blog:
Social Warfare has a premium paid version, too. If you have a few extra bucks you can invest, feel free to upgrade to the paid version. But if not, don’t worry about it. The free version is perfect for getting started with a shoestring budget – I did so too at first.
6: Email marketing tools (FREE)
If you want to build a six-figure blog, you need to start an email list as soon after launching your blog as possible.
The idea behind email marketing is to collect email addresses from your readers. That way, you have a direct channel to contact them in the future.
You can get in touch and build trust with them more easily. Share your personal stories and behind-the-scenes material to build trust with your subscribers. Be honest, transparent, and listen to their feedback.
Later on, once you’ve established a relationship with them, you can start making money blogging by promoting your products or services to your subscribers. They are your most loyal audience!
Email marketing can become your most important way of monetizing your blog in the future. Therefore, you want to make sure you choose the right tools for it from the beginning.
But which email service provider should you use?
There are plenty to choose from, but I use and recommend MailerLite:
MailerLite is the best provider in the market these days, and they build their tools specifically for bloggers.
I use their tools and I couldn’t be happier. MailerLite is 100% free up to 1,000 subscribers and you can sign up in 1 minute, seriously.
Also, MailerLite offers amazing support to help you achieve better results step by step. I’ve had a few tricky questions about optimizing my automation workflows, and their helpful reps have always gone the extra mile to help me out. (Thank you!)
If you’re serious about making money blogging, go with MailerLite to get things set up properly from day one.
Head over to my full step-by-step guide to start an email list and grow your blogging income with email marketing.
7: Social media automation tools ($120 per year)
If you want to make money with your blog, you need to have the right tools to generate massive traffic first.
I mean, if no one’s reading your blog, how could you make money with it?
However, promoting your blog posts on social media is a lot of work. The only way to attract readers to your blog is to be active and consistent with sharing and promoting your content on social networks.
You don’t want to waste your time on things you can easily automate, right?
Therefore, you should invest in a solid social media scheduling tool. You can save hundreds of hours of work every year by letting an automation tool do the hard work for you.
A while back I was struggling to grow my traffic on a blog I’ve had for a couple of years. Most of the visitors found my articles via Google, and my rankings there were great already.
Thus, I needed a new source of additional traffic if I wanted to grow my blog any further. I knew I had enough content, so I simply needed to leverage a new traffic source.
So I turned to Pinterest – even though I was a bit sceptical.
But since I had nothing to lose, I thought it would be worth a try.
I used my proven Pinterest strategy and here’s what happened:
Within six weeks, my blog traffic had DOUBLED. Yes, I was generating more visitors through automated pinning on Pinterest than all other traffic sources combined.
I went from ca. 300-450 daily visitors to over 1,000 in just 6 weeks:
You probably want to know how I did it? Here’s the tool I used…
The best social media automation tool that will save you tons of time:
The best platform to promote and grow your blog is Pinterest. It allows you to gain traffic almost instantly, even if you’re just starting out. You don’t need thousands of followers of dozens of blog posts to see traffic from Pinterest.
To help you get as much traffic as possible with very little effort, I recommend using Tailwind.
I use Tailwind to automate and schedule about 95% of my pins on all my blogs. What’s great about the app is that it knows when you should share your content for maximum exposure.
In other words, you don’t need to worry about posting at the right time, because Tailwind already knows when your target audience is active on Pinterest.
Based on that data, you can create a smart schedule to publish your pins at the perfect time, every time.
The best part?
You can use this link to try Tailwind for free to see how you like it.
(I know you’ll love it!)
Final thoughts: How much does it cost to start a blog in 2020?
Starting a blog to make money online is just like starting any other business. You need to make a few essential investments to help you make money faster and with less effort.
However, the trick is to know exactly which tools are necessary and which ones are just “nice to have”. I use all the tools we covered in this article and they’re the cornerstones for building a blog that actually makes money for you.
Here’s a summary of the blogging tools you can use to start your blog and their costs:
Bare Minimum = $35.40 per year:
- Domain Name – Free for the first 12 months with Bluehost (after that $10 – $15 per year)
- Blog Hosting – From $35.40 per year with Bluehost
- Blogging Software – Free with Bluehost (WordPress)
Tools to Save Time and Make More Money:
- Premium WordPress Theme – From $40 on Themeforest
- Social Media Sharing – Free with Social Warfare
- Email Marketing – Free with MailerLite, free with MailChimp
- Social Media Automation – From $120 per year with Tailwind
As a rule of thumb: With everything you invest in, ask yourself one question:
Is this tool going to help me achieve my blogging goals faster, more easily?
If yes, think about how much time and money you’ll save using it.
From my experience, most investments pay themselves back much quicker than you think.
For example: after finishing my Tailwind trial, I decided to purchase a license to save time and write more content for my blog. Within a couple of weeks, I had already made back that initial investment through the growth in traffic via Tailwind.
And that was only the beginning. My Pinterest traffic from Tailwind is still growing, with no end in sight!
Alright, you know what? It’s your turn now!
If you haven’t started your blog yet, head over to my step-by-step guide on how to start a WordPress blog in just 10 minutes. I’ll see you there!
Here are a few related articles you may find helpful, too:
- 8 Proven Tips to Start a Successful Blog TODAY
- What to Blog About? How to Find The Perfect Blog Niche and Topic
- How to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed With Blogging
If you enjoyed this post about how much does it cost to start a blog, just drop me a line in the comments below!
P.S. If you found this article helpful, I’d appreciate if you shared it with others, too! Thanks so much!
I’ll see you in the next article! Happy blogging!