How To Start A Successful Blog For As Cheap As Possible

Dec 27, 2017 | Blogging | 0 comments

how to start a blog, how to blog, how to start a blog for cheap, how to start a successful blog
This post contains affiliate links.  All reviews are our own, honest opinion.  See disclaimer here.

L earning how to start a blog can be a daunting task.

There is so much information out there about how to start a successful blog.

Which is great.  Because you can literally learn anything you need to know about blogging at any time – and usually for free.

But it always bothers me when I see posts about how to start a successful blog for free.

It bothers me because you can’t have one without the other.

Sorry, but there is no way to start a successful and profitable blog for free.

For cheap, though?  Yes.

Starting a blog can definitely be done much cheaper than you’re probably thinking.

I’ll give you the rundown of the basics of what you’ll need to get your blog off the ground and set you up for success.

Don’t forget your freebie!  All the information you need in an easy to read checklist.

L earning how to start a blog can be a daunting task.

There is so much information out there about how to start a successful blog.

Which is great.  Because you can literally learn anything you need to know about blogging at any time – and usually for free.

But it always bothers me when I see posts about how to start a successful blog for free.

It bothers me because you can’t have one without the other.

Sorry, but there is no way to start a successful and profitable blog for free.

For cheap, though?  Yes.

Starting a blog can definitely be done much cheaper than you’re probably thinking.

I’ll give you the rundown of the basics of what you’ll need to get your blog off the ground and set you up for success.

Don’t forget your freebie!  All the information you need in an easy to read checklist.

how to start a blog, how to blog, how to start a blog for cheap, how to start a successful blog
This post contains affiliate links.  All reviews are our own, honest opinion.  See disclaimer here.

Sooooo, no.  You can’t start a profitable blog for free.

BUT!  You can start a blog for super cheap.

Yes, a successful blog.

For relatively cheap, you’ll be able to:

  • Design your dream website without having to pay a graphic designer or understand HTML coding
  • Grow your email list through targeted opt-in’s and email marketing
  • Increase pageviews with social sharing and Pinterest marketing
  • Earn money from your online business

Remember, starting a profitable blog is an investment.

Ever heard the saying, “you gotta spend money to make money?”

That’s gonna apply here.

But, every penny will be worth the investment when you start seeing a return on money spent in a few short months!

All of the steps and products/services listed below are the exact ones that we pay for to run this blog.  

And, in the last 10 months of blogging (as a side hustle) we’ve

  • designed our website with 100% design control (without hiring a graphic designer),
  • grew our email list to over 1,000 subscribers,
  • increased our page views by 87%, and
  • started earning cash for our product.

If you’re ready to do the same, stick around for the rundown of all the products and services we love!

Step 1:  Choose your domain name

Before you can start designing your blog, you need to decide on a name for your website.

AKA, your domain name.

The domain name of this website is www.whosayswhat.co.

I recommend researching each domain name that you are interested in to make sure that

a.) the name isn’t already taken and

b.) that a similar domain isn’t in use.

You don’t want to make your domain name too similar to another because they might get confused for one another.

You can use Name.com to search domain names and see if they’re already in use.

Once you’ve decided on a clean and memorable domain name, head on over to GoDaddy to register for as little as $5.99 per YEAR.

As I said, starting a profitable and successful blog for free is pretty difficult.

But for cheap…a breeze.

Because if you want to own your website, you need to pay for it.

Lucky for us, domain names are usually pretty cheap.

I purchased this domain for $5.99 per year.

I mean, not too shabby, eh?

COST: as low as $5.99/year

TOTAL SPENT: $5.99

Step 2:  Sign up for fast and reliable website hosting

Once you’ve registered your domain name with GoDaddy, it’s time to sign up for fast and reliable website hosting.

A website host is a service that keeps your website up and running – making it accessible to viewers and customers, so another necessity before you can start designing your website.

Without a host, your website would look a little something like this when people searched for your domain name:

how to start a blog, how to blog, how to start a blog for cheap, how to start a successful blog

Oops!  I’m guessing you want people to find your website, which is why I recommend TMDHosting for your website’s host.

Not only is TMDHosting super affordable, but they have an amazing customer and technical support team and offer internet speeds that are 32x faster than other hosts.

I know a lot of people in the blogging world recommend Bluehost for website hosting, but I simply don’t understand why.

Not only did we have a horrible experience with their customer service team, but our website was always crashing when hosted by Bluehost.  They were also never prompt about fixing the techinical issues with our site.

(If you wanna know more about our poor experience with Bluehost, check out our post “5 Reasons You Need To Change Hosting Companies.”)

So, we made the switch to TMDHosting a few months into blogging and seriously, it was the best decision.  Our website loads super quickly now and never crashes.

If you’d like a full review of TMDHosting, you can check out our comparison post “TMDHosting vs. Bluehost“.

Now, if you’re looking to start your blog for as little money as possible, TMDHosting offers shared hosting for $2.95 per month when you sign up for three years of hosting.

However, I truly recommend spending a little more money and signing up for Cloud Hosting with TMDHosting.

Cloud hosting will always be faster and more reliable than shared hosting because you aren’t sharing your website space with tons of other people.

If you want your website to load quickly to avoid high bounce rates and never want to worry about your website crashing, Cloud hosting is the way to go. 

And it’s only $3 more per month.

You’ll also notice when signing up for TMDHosting that they offer a free domain name included with a purchase of hosting.

Through my research, though, I’ve found many people’s advice to register your domain separately from your hosting company, which is why I first talked about GoDaddy in this post….but you do you, sista.

So, let’s get that website up and running with TMDHosting so you can start designing and creating! (They’ll even install WordPress FOR YOU!)

COST: $5.95/month (when you sign up for three years up front)

TOTAL SPENT: $220.19

Step 3: Install WordPress (the RIGHT WordPress)

I want to make this part super clear — if you are starting a blog with your own domain name and your own hosting, you need WordPress.org NOT WordPress.com. (see a comparison here)

If you’ve purchased a domain name through GoDaddy and hosting with TMDHosting, you need WordPress.org.

For some reason this was not heavily specified when I was doing research about starting a blog and it definitely caused me a bunch of confusion and aggravation.

WordPress.org is free to download and begin using.  However, WordPress isn’t the easiet thing to set up.

When we first downloaded WordPress to begin designing our website, we were using Bluehost as a host.

Not only did they not install WordPress for us, they didn’t even guide us in installing WordPress on our own.

We finally had to hire a friend who was familiar with WordPress and HTML to install it for us because we simply could not figure it out.

Don’t make our mistake!

To prevent you from being frustrated, TMDHosting offers FREE WordPress installation when you purchase one of their hosting plans!

I highly recommend taking advantage of this offer because like I said, installing WordPress is not easy.

I mean, just because we wanna start a blog doesn’t mean we’re computer tech’s amiright?

So, save yourself some time and frustration and let TMDHosting do the work for you by installing WordPress for FREE.

COST: FREE with your previous purchase of a TMDHosting plan

TOTAL SPENT: $220.19

Step 4: Choose your WordPress theme
how to start a blog, how to blog, how to start a blog for cheap, how to start a successful blog

You’ve made it!  It’s finally time to design your dream website – without the high cost of a graphic designer.

How?

With a WordPress Theme.

There are soooooo many WordPress themes to choose from, so I’ll save you the time and research.

The Divi Theme by Elegant Themes is the best.

This theme is literally the reason that I didn’t give up on creating this blog.

Because creating a blog (aka a website) is hard.  Like really, really hard.

We discovered how hard designing a website is when we tried to designing ours with a free theme.

Because unless you have HTML coding knowledge, most themes are quite difficult to customize to your brand.

Which sucks because your brand is soooo important to stand apart from the crowd when starting a new blog.

So, how do you create a website of your dreams without knowing anything about HTML?

With Divi.

Divi is a WordPress Theme by Elegant Themes that uses a drag and drop system.

This means that there is literally no coding involved.

If you want to insert a text box you simply add a text box.  Same goes for images, slideshows, buttons, contact forms, email signups, and more.

You name it, Divi likely has it.

I mean you can find tons of free themes out there, but none with the customization abilities that Divi gives you without having to understand HTML.

And in this day in age, you don’t want your website to look exactly like somebody else’s because you both are using the same free theme.

Ya know?

Trust me, Divi is 100% worth the investment if you are serious about making a profit from your blog by standing out from the crowd with a kickass brand.

And, when you purchase the Divi Theme, you’re really purchasing a subscription to Elegant Themes.  This means you’ll have access to all their other themes and plugins – for no additional cost.

Check out a complete overview of Divi here.

And when you’ve completely fallen in love with its ease of use and design capabilites, you can download Divi here.

COST: $89/year OR $249 one time fee (recommended)

TOTAL SPENT: $469.19

Divi WordPress Theme
Step 5: Plugins

Plugins are handy tools that let you customize your website even more.

They can also help with your websites security, SEO, and speed.

However, using too many plugins can slow down your website or cause an interference with your theme.

So, it’s best if you use as few plugins as possible and always use plugins that are updates regularly.

Here’s a list of the plugins I use and love (and how much they’ll cost you):

Bloom Email Optin Plugin

The Bloom plugin is essential for growing your email list.  Bloom makes creating email opt-in boxes (signup forms) super easy.  There’s over 100 templates to choose from and customizing your opt-in to your brand is quick and simple.  The best part?  It’s included with your purcahse of the Divi Theme!

Here’s an example of an email opt-in box that you can create with Bloom by Elegant Themes:

  • Disqus Comment System – FREE: This is the comment system that I use on my blog.  It is free, easy to use, and has a clean design.  I highly recommend!
  • Google Analytics for WordPress – FREE: This plugin will help you monitor your blogs growth through targeted analytics – which will help you know what’s working and what’s not.
  • Lazy Load – FREE:  A simple plugin that increases page speed by waiting to load images until after scrolling
  • Monarch Social Sharing Plugin by Elegant Themes – FREE with the purchase of your Divi Theme (Elegant Themes Membership):
Monarch Social Sharing Plugin

Monarch is another awesome plugin that is included with the purcahse of the Divi Theme.

It lets you place social sharing buttons on all areas of your blog, whether at the beginning and end of posts, a sidebar, footer, or basically anywhere you want.

This plugin also makes it easy to place follow buttons on your blog so your readers can follow you on sites like Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook.

Such as these:

Follows
  • Updraft Plus – FREE: This free plugin backsup your website in case it gets hacked or crashes.
  • WP Performance Score Booster – FREE: Simple plugin to increase website speed
  • WP Smush – FREE:  This plugin compresses images to optimize your website for speed
  • WP Optimize – FREE:  A tool that runs in the backround, automatically cleaning your WordPress so it can run “at maximum efficiency”
  • Yoast SEO – FREE:  If there is one plugin you download, let it be this one.  Yoast makes optimizing your blog for search engines (SEO) super easy.  Once installed, Yoast will guide you on every page and post to make it search engine optimized and readable to the average viewer.
how to start a blog, how to blog, how to start a blog for cheap, how to start a successful blog

COST: ALL FREE PLUGINS

TOTAL SPENT: $469.19

Step 6: Sign up for email marketing & get subscribers

If you want to make money from your blog, it is important to build an email list.

Email lists are so important to the success of your business because it is something that you own in its entirety.

Your email list is 100% yours and is unique to you – nobody will ever have the exact same list of people.

Building an email list is crucial because if all else fails on your blog, i.e., you aren’t making money from affiliate links or page views, you still have your email list to market to and promote your ideas and products.

So, who should you use to grow your email list for income security?

MailChimp.

I love MailChimp for a few reasons.

  1. It’s free up to 2,000 email subscribers
  2. It uses a drag and drop builder similar to Divi’s
  3. Their emails can be super simple or highly customizable
  4. Did I mention it’s free?

I know a lot of people recommend Convertkit but daaaanng $30/month for 0-1k subbies?

That’s just a little pricey for me right now and MailChimp does a fantastic job for free.

Their free plan includes:

  • Email automation
  • Sign up forms
  • Campaign templates and
  • Free reports and data insights

Like I said, MailChimp has given us everything we need to easily create email campaigns and successfully market our blog — FOR FREE.

Once you’ve signed up with MailChimp and created email lists and campaigns, it’s time to get people signed up for your list.

How do you ask?

Bloom!

Bloom Email Optin Plugin

That free plugin for email opt-ins that comes with your purchase of Divi!

This is the plugin that I used to create the opt-in form you saw earlier for our Budget Boss Binder.

As I mentioned, Bloom has over 100 templates for opt-in forms that you can customize to your brand.

Bloom also easily connects with MailChimp so it is a complete breeze to have people automatically added to your email list once they sign up via an opt-in form on your website.

Start sending these subbies engaging email campaigns so you can build a community of followers who will love your content and your products!

COSTS: FREE

TOTAL SPENT: $469.19

Step 7: Sign up for your favorite products’ affiliate programs

So you’re here because you want to create a blog that makes money.

We’ve covered the basics of how to set up your blog and website for success, but now how do you make money?

My first recommendation for turning your blog into a profitable business is with affiliate links.

Affiliate links are the easiest and quickest way to monetize your blog and what I recommend the majority of your posts be about in the beginning of blogging.

This is because affiliate links will monetize your blog and put earning money on autopilot and with much less work than creating and selling your own products.

So, sign up to become an affiliate with your favorite products and services to get the ball rolling on making some money.

I also recommend signing up for affiliate programs that are related to your niche.  This way, you can promote the product easily in your relevant posts without having to force a sale.

Then, once you’ve got your affiliate marketing on autopilot, you can concentrate on creating your own products.

Here are a few of my favorite affiliate programs that you might be interested in signing up for:

COST: FREE TO JOIN

TOTAL SPENT: $469.19

Step 8: Create content, products and/or services

So, you’ve signed up for some affiliate programs and wrote supporting posts.

Now, it’s time to focus on why you really started a blog – because you’re super passionate about a certain topic.

It’s time to start creating content relevant to your niche!  This content can be:

  • Blog posts
  • eBooks
  • Guides
  • Workbooks
  • Printables
  • Physical products
  • Merch
  • eCourses

Your blog should consist of free and paid content.

For example, you can write blog posts that offer a free content upgrade such as a workbook.

Then, your freebie leads to a sales funnel for a paid product or service.

Products and services are the second way you’ll be monetizing your blog and turning it into a profitable business.

You can offer products such as planners, merch, and ecourses and services such as financial counseling, life coaching, and graphic design.

This will turn your blog into a profitable business and let you quit that 9-5 for a life of financial independence.

Ooooohhhh yeaaaahhhh!

So, you’ve set up your affiliates to bring in money on autopilot.  And you’ve created kickass content – both free and paid.

Now, how’s anybody supposed to find your blog so you can start earning a living?

Well, you gotta market your stuff, of course!

COSTS: FREE

TOTAL SPENT: $469.19

Step 9: Market your stuff

It’s time to unleash your blogs greatness on the world.

By marketing yourself.

Primarily on Pinterest.

I focus the most on Pinterest marketing because it has been the most successful source of traffic for my blog.

And you can put your Pinterest marketing on autopilot, so thats another huge plus.

Oh, and Pinterest is free, so yay!

Pinterest is an awesome place to market your blog because it is a search engine that is comprised of millions of people searching for tons of different things.

This means that more likely than not, your blogs content will find an audience on Pinterest.

I use Pinterest in conjunction with Tailwind to automate pinning and generate traffic to my blog on autopilot.

If you want to learn how to set up your Pinterest and website to generate traffic with Tailwind, check out our post on How To Increase Blog Traffic By 64% In 30 Days.

Once you’re pinning automatically each day with Tailwind, your posts will be circulating on Pinterest and leading people back to your content.

Continue creating valuable content that you promote on Pinterest and the traffic and sales will come your way!

COST: FREE to sign up for Tailwind for one month (then $109.89/year *recommended) (or $15/month)

TOTAL SPENT: $579.08

Tailwind Visual Marketing Suite
Step 10: Monitor your progress

It’s important to monitor the progress of your blog to understand which strategies are working and which ones aren’t.

That way, you know which areas need improvement and which are popular with your audience.

I monitor the progress of my blog (my blog’s stats) in four different places, for four different reasons:

  1. Google Analytics to monitor website traffic
  2. Pinterest Analytics on Tailwind to monitor marketing strategies
  3. MailChimp to monitor email marketing strategies
  4. SendOwl to monitor revenue

By monitoring the progress of my blog on many different platforms, I can tweak things to improve the success of my blog.

I can also continue doing the things that are working, such as writing similar posts to ones that have received large numbers of shares and likes.

Don’t get too caught up on the statistics, though, because everybody’s progress and success is different.

COST: FREE

TOTAL SPENT: $579.08

So it’s gonna cost an initial investment of $580 to start your blog – and set it up to make ensure you make a profit.

This may seem like a steep cost – but in reality it’s pretty dang cheap.

Remember that this number includes a LIFETIME membership to Elegant Themes (which includes the Divi Theme and all their plugins).

This initial investment also pays for THREE YEARS of hosting for your blog.

If you’re wondering where you’re gonna find $580 spare bucks to put towards starting a blog, think about how you could earn some extra money.

Maybe get a second job such as babysitting or tutoring, have a yard sale, or spend less this month on ordering out or going to restaurants.

You can grab our free Budget Boss Binder if you’re interested in easily budgeting some money for starting your blog!  Download yours, now!

Getting serious about blogging?  Grab your checklist below and start your journey to blogging success off right!

HAPPY BLOGGING,

— MICHELLE

DON’T FORGET YOUR FREEBIE!

GET SERIOUS ABOUT BLOGGING.

GET MORE SERIOUS ABOUT QUITTING YOUR 9-5.

Divi WordPress Theme
Monarch Social Sharing Plugin
Bloom Email Optin Plugin

QUIT PROCRASTINATING,

START EARNING A LIVING, TODAY.

related biz:
psssst.  don’t forget to share this awesomeness with your friends!
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