A Broke Girl’s Guide on Starting A Blog
I’m going to start this post with a throwback to early April last year. Little old me sitting in front of my brother’s PC trying to figure out what “Blogging” really means. I remember reading millions of posts, trying to understand how it’s FREE and how you can make money from it. After following the instructions in a “Start A Blog” post, I realized that Blogging is not exactly free… Back then I was broke (and unemployed) so immediately I felt overwhelmed. Luckily there were some really kind girls in a facebook group who explained to me that there are actually two options.
1. You can start a free WordPress.com blog but you don’t own your content and you can not make any money from it.
2. You have to invest an amount of money to start your “own” blog and be able to monetize it.
I’ve tried both. I started a blog on the free WordPress platform because I wasn’t sure if I would like it and I didn’t have any money! So I used this as an experiment and an opportunity to learn a few things. I was blogging for free for about 4 months. I really enjoyed it because it was like a hobby for me and I wasn’t spending any money on it so I was a lot more “relaxed”.
After learning a couple of things about blogging, I decided to move to my own self-hosted website, and start looking at my blog more professionally. It wasn’t easy though because I had to invest some money, and I had to make a budget for it. In case you didn’t know I’m living in Greece, and the financial situation is quite bad here. I don’t wanna dig into that, but let’s just say that my salary wasn’t enough to buy hosting immediately.
I had to do a huge research into what I was going to invest my money on. One thing I also learned is that you don’t pay these services once and for all. You have to pay them annually, so I had to consider that also. I’ve read a lot of blog posts (once again!), I’ve chatted with a lot of people in Facebook groups, and I came to the conclusion that I only needed two things.
A Hosting Service & A Domain Name
There are a lot of things you can also buy, like a theme and various plugins, but if you’re broke these are the only two things that you need.
A Hosting Service
This was the toughest choice I had to make. The most popular choices were Bluehost and Siteground. But which one would be the best option for my blog and my “wallet”? I started comparing and reading a lot (A LOT!) of reviews. Bluehost had the most mixed ones. Some were saying it’s amazing and some had a lot of downtime problems. Also, I’ve learned that Bluehost has a kinda high-paying affiliate system, so everytime someone recommended Bluehost to me they also added their affiliate link. I really didn’t like that. I saw a lot of people promoting Bluehost just to make money from their affiliate system while their websites were down. Siteground on the other hand, I haven’t seen a single person complaining about it. Also, on their website, they claimed that they have the best support team and 99% uptime on their hosting servers. It took me about a week to decide. I mean.. everyone wants what’s best for their blogs right?
So I went with the more reliable option, Siteground, and I’m so glad I did. They have 3 plans, I chose the GrowBig one because I wasn’t sure if the StartUp was enough, but now that I’m going to renew it (I bought it for a year), I will downgrade to Startup probably. (If I’m going to have more than 10.000 visitors I’ll keep the GrowBig one). If I could do it all over again I would choose the StartUp package for sure. 4€ per month, that means 1€ per week. I think everyone can afford that.
After almost 9 months with Siteground, I’m completely satisfied with the choice I made. Their customer support is amazing and if you ask anyone with Siteground they will tell you the same. I had only 1 downtime and it was because of a malicious plugin (I was activating plugins like crazy not knowing a single thing about page load speed), and Siteground’s customer support helped me fix it in just a few minutes. They also helped me improve my page load speed, and they helped me with the cache and the SSL certificates. I didn’t have a clue about all these things but they were there for me, to explain and educate me.
Money spent for hosting: 96.40€ for a year (111.60$) *including the fees/taxes
A domain name
Of course, I had to buy my domain name also! Siteground offers you to buy a domain from their site with your hosting plan but I didn’t choose this option. I bought my domain separately. There are a lot of websites from where you can buy domain names. So I went with the cheapest yet reliable one, Namecheap.
I didn’t hesitate much about this though. A lot of people recommended it, I saw their website and I loved it, so that’s why I went with that. Also, I think it’s better to keep your domain name separately from your hosting service. Personally, I think I can manage them better like this.
One mistake I made was that I paid for the extra Premium DNS service, which my Siteground hosting plan already had it, so my domain would’ve been even cheaper.
Money spent for domain: 13.60€ for a year (15.74$)
The only Social Media Growth tool I’m using is BoardBooster for Pinterest. I started using it since December, and I had my first 500 pins for free. Since January I’m paying 4.30€ (5$) per month for 500 pins, so I’ve spent 21,50€ (25$) so far.
About 20€ (23,15$) on notebooks and colorful pens. I’m really obsessed with organizing stuff, writing notes on my notebooks and making my own planners. It’s the only way I can keep myself and my blog on track. No matter how many apps or plugins I’m using, I can’t live without my Notebooks. From Passwords to Weekly Schedule, Social Media tracking or just Braindump. I just love my Notebooks!
Total amount of other expenses: 52,70€ (61$)
As you can see the only things you need to start your OWN blog is a hosting service and a domain. The cost of these two is 110€ or 127$ for a year. Not really much money but still it’s a considerable amount. Of course, as I said before, you can start a free blog on WordPress.com, but you don’t own your content (WordPress does) and you can not monetize it (the profits from your site goes to WordPress). So it’s definitely up to you and the goals you have for your blog.
I wrote this post because I wanted to be transparent and clear on what I use for my blog and how I started. I remember a lot of the “Start A Blog” posts I’ve read back in the days weren’t exactly transparent. I also remember I hesitated when I realized I had to invest money in my blog. And I bet a lot of you also do. I thought about it once and twice and a hundred of times. I just wanted to make sure that I won’t throw this money away. And that’s why I choose Siteground and Namecheap. And I would do it over and over again.
I also want to disclaim that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and I make a small commision if you make a purchase through them. But as you can also read here, I’m only going to promote and share with you, products and services I love and really USE.
Also, this was my first blog post when I moved to my self-hosted website! You can find some more details about how I started in there.
What did you think about my “starting a blog” experience? How did you start your own blog? Do you have any other tips for the new Bloggers out there? Or if you have any related Blog posts I’d love to read them! Comment below!