Blogging is a long-time interest and passion for me. It’s also been a huge part of my work-from-home business plan for many years, so I’m definitely a fan. I’m also a realist. So when people approach me and ask about blogging and ask, “Should I start a blog?” here’s the advice I have to offer based on 20 years experience.
1. You’ll have to spend some money up front
While blogging is one of the cheapest home businesses to start, there are still a few startup costs that you can’t avoid. Some people would argue that you can start off with a free blog, and you can, however, you will not have the same functionality or the freedom to monetize a free blog the way you would if you purchase a paid hosting service.
You may not be able to verify a free blog with social media accounts to register as a business (which allows you extra analytics and access to business features and promotional opportunities). Also, you want the professionalism of owning your own domain and having an email associated with your blog.
So what will that cost you? Essentially, coffee money for a couple weeks. Here’s the breakdown.
A hosting package will run you anywhere from 33.00 to 40.00 for your first year. If you buy your hosting for a longer term—say 3 years—you can get an even better rate. I recommend HostGator as reasonably priced hosting platforms with great customer service.
Many hosting packages will include a free domain name with the purchase of your first year of hosting. I highly recommend you take advantage of that offer. This will save you 10.00 to 15.00 depending on the price your host typically charges for a domain.
While this is not a must-have, I highly recommend you invest in the Privacy Protection service which makes the personal information attached to your domain private. If you don’t, anyone with a computer can look up your name, address, phone number, and email and use it to spam you, harass you, or stalk you. (Open a new tab and type in whois.com, then type heartmylife.com into the domain search. If I didn’t have privacy protection, you’d instantly have all my information.)
Unfortunately, we live in a world where it’s not always safe to share your info. If you plan to post pictures of your young children, I’d especially recommend this service. Call me paranoid and suspicious, but there are way too many weirdos in the world to just hand them your address.
So at a minimum, you will need to buy in for one year of hosting and the privacy protection.
2. You can use a free theme
There are plenty of beautiful free themes available. I have used Astra in the past when I couldn’t afford a paid theme, and it’s a beautiful and clean theme. Great to start with.
However, a free theme may not have all the features and bells and whistles of a paid theme or the options you want. Some features can be added with plugins. Others are easier to obtain if they’re programmed into your theme in advance. You can always pay someone to code in a new feature, but that will cost you more than buying a theme with the work already done, so what would be the point?
You can find paid themes that cost anywhere from $20.00 to $200.00, and they are well worth the investment in the long run. Do your research up front. Go to sites you enjoy visiting and identify the features that appeal to you. Make a list of features you want on your site, then shop themes.
Here’s a list of Theme providers I have used and recommend:
3. You can get by with “free” versions of plans and services
Free trials and free versions of various plans and services are available, however, after a while it’s a lot more work and not as effective. You will spend much more time, and you may not grow as quickly than if you invest in the tools up front and just go for it.
Definitely make use of free trials and test-drive offers, but be prepared to pay for the subscription if you like the service and feel it’s saving you time and making you more effective. But only you can decide how comfortable you are with an upfront investment.
I started affiliate marketing a few weeks before I started this blog and I had all my hosting costs and $300- 400 tools paid for within two months. You don’t have to wait long if you work smart and hard. 🙂 Here are some companies I have used that offer free trials or have a free level of service.
- Tailwind free trial
- MailerLite free up to 1,000 subscribers
- Etsy if you plan to sell a handmade product
4. Security can be an issue
If you don’t know the steps to take to immediately secure your site, you may find yourself being brute force attacked by Russian bots and hackers. If they can gain access to your site, they will take down your site and put up an unpleasant one or forward your site to something nasty or illegal.
Take some time to do research or take my FREE Ready, Set, Blog Course where I walk you through some steps to move your site out of harm’s way so you don’t have to deal with those headaches.
5. There’s definitely a learning curve
Depending on how much experience you have when you step up to the plate, you’ll be learning a LOT of new skills. You’ll need to become proficient in WordPress, do some graphic design, learn to integrate a mailing program, possibly set up a store, learn affiliate marketing, work with ad companies, maybe do video editing and set up courses, construct effective email sequences, develop your sales techniques, become a social media guru, write, write, and write some more.
The good news is you can find a video teaching just about anything on YouTube and there are many adequate free courses and excellent paid courses that will help you learn what you need to know if you’re willing to invest the time and energy to seek them out. Nothing is terribly hard, just frustrating at times when you’re learning and bumping into obstacles.
6. You’ll put in more hours than you expect
Some bloggers want to paint you pictures of rainbows and fairies. They will tell you their blog practically runs itself. I say hogwash! No matter how you slice it, it takes time to write articles, create opt-ins, write emails, design graphics, promote on social media, do affiliate marketing, and develop products. All these steps are necessary to create income from your blog.
If you have a limited amount of time each day—say you can only work during the kids’ nap time—your progress will naturally be slower than if you can work eight hours a day. The key is to be consistent.
No matter how much time you have, if you put in effort each day, you’ll move forward. Some months you’ll make more progress than others. Over time, the efforts will compound, and so will the victories. One day you’ll look back and realize you’ve come a heck-of-a-long way and you’ll have a blog to be proud of. It just takes time and consistency.
7. Blogging isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme
You have to be consistent over time to gain the traction you need to succeed, which means you’re going to have to settle for delayed gratification. Yes, there are bloggers who earn $10,000 or more each month from their blogs. This almost never happens in the first year, so you can plan on steady work for at least that long to get established and gain the traffic and recognition you need to generate that kind of income.
Think of blogging like riding a bike over a mountain. There’s a ton of work to do in the beginning and you feel like you’re peddling uphill. The view is bleak, as all you see is the side of the mountain for a while. But then you learn the skills, you establish a solid foundation, and your efforts begin to develop some momentum.
Suddenly you’re at the top of the mountain and you see the beautiful views. You experience rewards and you remember why you started blogging in the first place. The trick is to hang in there until you reach that point.
Let me help!
Many people give up and walk away before they get to the top of the hill and miss out on the rewards. Networking with other bloggers who can advise and encourage you along the way is critical. Grab my free download that shares 25 Facebook groups for bloggers, part of my free resource library for bloggers. The FB groups provide a place to ask questions, share tips and information, help one another market posts and products, and build your network of friends. Click below to grab your list!
So now that we have all this honesty between us, I can truly say that I love blogging and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys writing and design and social media marketing.
If you’ve been considering starting a blog, sign up for Ready, Set, Blog! my free How To Start a Blog Course which offers video screen share lessons that walk you through the steps of buying hosting, a domain, and setting up your blog, gives you insider info on the plugins and software the pros are using, provides numerous downloads and resources to help you get and stay organized, and so much more!
And did I mention…it’s FREE! What are you waiting for? Click the image below to join!