Can you launch a profitable blog for less than $100? Yes, you can.
Here are my tips on how to get started with a blog that you can monetize without spending a ton of money, and how to spend your money wisely.
1. Affordable Domain Name Registration
The first thing you need to do in creating a blog is to find your desired domain name and register it.
You can do before you even select a web host, to make sure your domain is available right away. While some hosting services will include this in your package, it may allow only you one URL – and then you may charged a high rate for additional domains. Your domain registration fee should be between $10-15 a year. If not, I recommend using a domain registration service to save money.
Personally, I host all my domain names through GoDaddy. I cannot recommend their web hosting, but their domain pricing is reasonable and easy.
2. Affordable Web Hosting
As I mentioned last time, quality hosting should cost you no more that $20 per month.
Read our extensive review of web hosting services, many of which are under $5.00 per month. However, many web hosts allow you to save money even more than that with sales, discounts and promotions. Once you have found a host that meets your needs, you’ll want to Google the name of that host plus “discount” or “coupon.” You’ll find that many hosts have sales that they don’t openly advertise. In addition, you can call up the sales department directly and ask for a discount or if they are having a sale soon. These sales often last one year. Finally, carefully review the homepage. Hosts may offer a coupon code right on their site for a free or low cost month upfront.
Another trick to saving money is to purchase your hosting more than one month at a time. Many hosts offer plans that have one month, 3 month, and one year billing cycles – or more – and the longer your commitment, the less you pay per month. However, you may only be saving $1 or $2 a month, so you’ll have to gage whether it’s wise to eat up your entire budget in one shot.
Finally, while free hosting is an option, it’s not a wise choice for a quality blog. Read why free web hosting is not the best option.
3. Free Blog Software
Obviously, you will need free blog software. Of course, I’m going to recommend WordPress, as it is the industry standard and has the shortest learning curve. Most web hosts will give you the ability to install your WordPress site in one click, however, this is not the safest option. It’s actually relatively easy to install WordPress manually, as long you have FTP access.
4. Free FTP Software
While you can often manage everything you need through your web hosting portal and your WordPress administration, it’s a good idea to have FTP software installed on your computer. FTP services allow you to upload files to your website – documents, PDFs, images. Some of these actions can be done through your host or WordPress, but there are times when that will not work so well, especially if a file is very large. In addition, if you choose to do a manual install of WordPress, you’ll need one. There is plenty of reliable FTP sofware available free of charge. Two of my favorites are Filezilla and Coffee Cup.
5. Affordable Design
You want your blog to stand out and be unique but creative design services are costly. Even low-end custom design can run a minimum of about $300. Is there a solution? Certainly!
First of all, as long as your blog is not horribly distracting (think moving parts, blaring music, colors that strain your eyes) and is slightly appealing (use at least some images), your blog will be read if you promote it properly, share useful content and do all the things you need to drive traffic. Feel free use a free theme and spruce it up with a little customization. If you are using WordPress, you can easily search for themes directly from your admin entry. This search lets you set parameters, such as colors and how many columns, and find what you need.
However, if that is too bland for your taste, there are some great resources for low cost themes. You won’t be the only blogger using these themes, but you will stand out a little than the average free theme user. There are even themes that can do a little extra legwork for you, such as responsive themes that flawlessly work on mobile devices, portfolio themes for artists and photographers, or magazine-style themes. You can even find affordable ecommerce themes. One of my favorite sites for this is Theme Forest. They feature WordPress themes from $25 to $60, and you can search, sort and see what it looks like in a lime demo. Mojo Themes is another similar source, starting as low as $6. You can also find subscription sites, such as Elegant Themes, which provides access to over 80 themes with technical support for $39 per year.
6. Free Guides and Tutorials
There are lots of options and settings in WordPress, so a good guidebook is valuable.
For beginners, I suggest Easy WP Guide. If you want to get in-depth, and learn how to program it and the in’s and out, I recommend Digging into WordPress, an affordable ebook guide that gets you from beginner to pro.
You can get tons of information on the mechanics of writing at CopyBlogger, tutorials on building traffic at Traffic Generation Café and Boost Blog Traffic, and download a free copy of “The Beginners Guide to SEO” at Moz.com. EFF has a “Legal Guide for Bloggers” that you should read.
To learn about maximizing social media, sign up for Beth Hayden’s “Free Pinfluence Guide.”
7. Use Free Plugins
There are lots of plugins available, and it’s up to you to select and choose which will work best for you. Once you’ve selected the plugins you must have, you can expand and add all kinds of resources – everything from selective RSS to ecommerce. That said, there are also plugins you can pay for. For now, use the freebies. There are no plugins that I can think of that a new blogger should have to pay for. That said, when you are downloading and installing plugins, keep in mind a few things:
- Plugins do get stale. If you see a plugin that has a warning up top, it has not been updated or supported in a year or more. Do not download those. They will not be compatible with the current version of WordPress.
- Even if the plugin is up to day, make sure it’s compatible. Find the latest version of WordPress and check to make sure it’s compatible with that.
- Every plugin has a review – 1 to 5 stars. Obviously, the more stars the better, but also be sure to see how many people reviewed it. It could be just the creator and his friends updating reviews.
Read “WordPress Plugins 101” for more information.
8. Deals and Discounts
A lot of places run freebies and discounts just for web design, such as graphics, themes, icons, plugins and more.
My favorites are Deal Fuel and Mighty Deals, Finally, many paid stock houses, like iStockPhoto and Big Stock Photo, offer weekly free images, video and audio for download.
Tip: Check out our Discount and Freebies section for hosting discount coupons.
Annual Cost to Set up Website:
Domain Name Registration = $15
Web Hosting: $5 per month x 12 months = $60
Design Template =$25
Software, Plugins, Guides, Tutorials, Social Media = $0
Total: $100 for one year!
Starting a blog for under $100 that can become profitable is doable. Once you are set up, keep in mind safety and spam issues, then get started blogging.