Building a blog is a lot of like building a house.
You can build a house without a split AC or an LED TV, but you cannot build it without the walls or ceiling or doors/windows (maybe you can, but let’s stick to my kind of house).
Also, you need to get the house structure made first before you start with the interior designing. So the doors and windows come before that designer painting you love or that beautiful indoor plant you’ve always wanted to keep in your living room.
My point – when building a blog, you need to get the essentials right first, and then move to the more fancy stuff.
In this article, I am going to show you exactly what all you need and how much would it cost at each stage.
And to do that, let me break down the blogging components into three categories:
- Absolutely needed (or else you don’t have a blog)
- Needed (to power your blog and make it something more than a journal)
- Good to have (recommended, but you can build a profitable blog even without these)
Let’s now get into the process of building and growing a blog.
Absolutely Needed To Start a Blog
To start a blog, you only need three things:
- A domain name
- Hosting Space
- Content Mangement System
Now if you’re an absolute newbie in the world of blogging, let me explain how these three come together to create a self-hosted blog/website.
Again taking the example of building a house:
- Domain Name: A domain name is the address of your house. As our address is unique to our house, a domain name would be unique to your website. There can not be two sites with the same address. In case of a blog, its something like – https://craftofblogging.com.
- Hosting Space: Consider hosting space as the land on which you house structure is built. It’s the land that will support the structure. Everything within your house will remain inside this plot. In the world of a blog, hosting is a server that keeps all your files (your blog posts, images, files, etc.)
- Content Mangement System: When you’re building a house, you get to design it. For example, you can decide how many rooms you want, how many floors to build, what will the color of the walls, etc. This designing is what makes your house unique and different from all the other houses in the world. A content management system (example – WordPress) allows you to build your blog just like this. Using WordPress, you can decide what theme you want on your blog, where should the logo be placed, what to show in the navigation bar, etc.
I hope I have done a good job in helping you understand the basic concept of building a blog.
Now let’s talk about the cost of each of these parts:
To start a blog, you need to register a domain name.
This is a recurring cost and you would be required to pay for each year for which you want to keep that domain name.
The cost of getting a domain name from Godaddy for one year is ~INR 750.
You can get a discount sometimes or you can use other sites to buy a domain name as well (such as Namecheap or Siteground).
I have been using Godaddy to buy all my domain names and have never faced any issues (just the domain names).
Annual Cost of a domain name: ~INR 750
There are many hosting services available on the market, but I strongly recommend SiteGround.
With SitGround, getting up and running is really easy. You don’t need any technical expertise, only a little guidance.
If you take their StartUp plan, it costs $3.95/month ($47.4/year).
This would come out to be ~INR 3200 per year.
Annual Cost of a domain name: ~INR 3200
<div=”cbblue”>Related: Read my detailed review of SiteGround.
Content Management System (WordPress)
As I explained in the house example, a content management system allows you to manage your blog.
It’s an interface that allows you to write blog posts, upload images, assign tags/categories, customize your theme, etc.
I use WordPress as the CMS as its robust, SEO friendly, and has a lot of support available. Also, most of the tools that you would need to grow your blog are made for WordPress.
Good to Know Stat – 30% of the web uses WordPress.
WordPress is a free application that you can easily install in your hosting (for the domain name you have taken).
Once you have WordPress installed, you can start blogging.
Annual Cost of a WordPress: ~INR 0 (it’s FREE)
If you have these three things in place (domain name, hosting, and WordPress), you are all set.
The total annual cost of starting a blog (with absolutely necessary tools) is ~INR 3950
This number can vary a little depending on where you buy your domain or hosting.
Needed to Manage and Grow Your Blog
While domain, hosting, and WordPress will definitely get you started, there are a few additional things you should consider getting if you want to grow your blog and make it more than just a hobby blog.
Now if you’re on a tight budget or want to first experience a little bit of blogging before investing more money into it, you can surely continue without getting any of the tools mentioned in this part.
However, if you’re serious about building an authority blog that makes you money, I suggest you analyze the tools mentioned here and get the ones that suit your blog.
I value my time as well as yours. I don’t recommend anything that I haven’t tried myself or I am not sure about. Each and everything I write here is meant to help you start and grow a blog that can help you achieve your goals.
Premium WordPress Theme
As soon as you install WordPress, you get a default theme installed on your site.
You can continue to use this theme (or any other free theme) and build your blog on it. But that would make your blog look just like millions of other blogs out there.
Coming back to the house building example, the default theme is like a house that has been constructed for you already. You don’t get to decide how large the living room should be or what wallpaper should be in your bedroom.
Just like this house, a free theme is restrictive. You don’t get to modify it easily. You can do that if you’re an expert in CSS and PHP, but if you aren’t, you’re stuck with it.
Instead, a paid theme allows a lot of customization and many other useful functionalities that will help you build and grow your blog faster.
Paid themes often have options to make it really simple to change the look and feel of your blog. Although it comes at a cost, a paid theme can make your blog look professional, and can save you a lot of time.
I recommend using GeneratePress as a theme for your blog. I have been using it for more than a year now, and have installed it on most of my blogs.
It’s super-fast, it’s clean, and allows for a ton of customizations.
Cost of GeneratePress – $39.95 / year (~INR 2,720)
Note: When you buy the premium GeneratePress theme, it allows you to install it on any number of sites.
Email Automation Tool
This is something you need to have from the very beginning. Having an email list is the best asset for anyone trying to turn a blog into a business.
To be able to capture the email address of people and to be able to send them emails, you need an email automation tool.
There are many email automation tools available in the market right now and I have tried a lot many of these.
The one that I recommend is Drip.
Drip is an extremely powerful email automation tool that is easy to start with and takes only a few minutes to set up.
You can signup for Drip and get a 14-day free trial. After that, it’s $49 per month for up to 2500 subscribers.
I have been using Drip for more than two years now. It’s an amazing tool that is worth a lot more than it costs. It allows me to run my blog as a business by automating a lot of stuff.
And it’s built on robust technology, so you don’t have to worry about email not delivering or the tool being buggy (which can’t be said for a lot many email tools out there).
WordPress Plugins (ALL FREE)
WordPress is a content management system that comes with a set of functionalities.
A plugin is an add-on that can enhance the functionality of the WordPress platform. For example, if you want quickly create a table of contents for a post, you can either do it manually, or you can install a plugin that will automatically do it for you.
This table of content functionality is not inbuilt in WordPress, but we get it as an add-on with a plugin.
There are many useful plugins that you can use to make your blog better,
Here are the free plugins that I have tried and use on all of my websites:
Akismet is a FREE WordPress plugin that helps you secure your site from spam comments. To use this plugin, you need to install it in WordPress and activate it (which would require you to create a login).
Once activated, you can say goodbye to comment spams.
Easy Table of Content
If you write blog posts that have many different sections, it’s a good idea to have a table of content at the beginning of the post. It helps a reader quickly get an idea of what all is covered as well as jump to any specific section of the article.
Easy Table of Content is a free plugin that you can install and use. You can customize it a little bit and use insert it in all your blog posts automatically, or use a shortcode to insert it on some posts only.
This blog post has a table of content created using the Easy Table of Contents plugin.
This is a free plugin that helps you create blog posts that are SEO friendly.
It analyzes your article and gives you suggestions to make it rank better. You can rank without even using it, but I have found it to be useful to have this kind of plugin.
Note: Yoast SEO analyzes your article and gives an indication (red, yellow, green circles) whether the article does a good job in that area or not. Don’t get too hung up on getting all the greens. Write your articles for people, not for the Yoast Plugin or search engines. Optimize your articles without compromising the quality.
The total annual cost of starting a blog (with a premium theme and an email automation tool) is ~INR 30,070
Needed to Grow Your Blog And Make it a Business
Ahrefs – SEO Tool
Ahrefs is one of the best SEO tools out there. And I am not saying this just because I use it, but because I have tested a lot many SEO tools available in the market (such as SEMRUSH, MOZ, Majestic, etc.).
This is an expensive tool and you should invest in it only when you are ready to benefit from it.
AHREFs can help you:
- Analyze the backlink profile of your competitors
- Keep a track of your own backlinks and search rankings
- Identify opportunities to build links and improve your search rankings
- Perform keyword research for your blog post ideas
It costs a minimum of $99 per month (~INR 6750), and for those who can use it well, it’s more than worth it.
If you want to test it out, use their 7-day trial (which will cost you $7).
If you don’t want to invest in this tool, you can manage with a couple of free tools – such as Keyword Everywhere, AnswerthePublic.com, UberSuggest, etc.
We covered getting an email automation tool (Convertkit) in the previous section.
While Convertkit is a great tool, it isn’t going to give you the tools to design good-looking opt-in boxes on your site.
Wondering what an opt-in box is – click here to see for yourself.
You can create great-looking opt-in boxes using Thrive Leads and then connect it to Convertkit (which takes less than a minute).
So when someone enters their name and email address (or whatever info you’re collecting), it will pass that information to Convertkit. Once the data is in Convertkit, you can segment these based on interest or send them broadcast emails or product pitch emails.
I have been using Thrive Leads for 3 years now and it keeps getting better and better.
It’s a WordPress plugin and you can easily install and use it.
I recommend signing up for their annual plan that costs $19 per month (~INR 1290 per month) when paid annually.
When you signup for their monthly plan, you get access to all their products – including all the premium themes and plugins. All their products are top-notch and it keeps getting better with time.
If you’re hosted with SiteGround, you already get a daily backup.
But being the paranoid being I am, I want to double sure that I always have a backup copy of my data. This paranoia has it’s rooted in an incident when I almost lost one of my sites (which was getting 100K+ monthly page views).
Fortunately, I had invested in VaultPress to keep daily backups of my site.
If you’re like me, consider investing in VaultPress. It takes a daily backup of your site and you can restore your site with a single click in case you lose your data.
It will cost you $39 per year (~INR 2650 per year)
PrettyLinks is a WordPress plugin that is useful if you do affiliate marketing.
It allows you to create easy to share URLs as well as tracks the clicks in each URL.
I currently use this plugin on this site to make my affiliate links looks better.
It costs $57 per year (~INR 3,890).
In case you go with all the tools that I have mentioned here, your annual cost of blogging would be ~INR 1,33,090
Here is a detailed breakup of the cost of blogging based on the tools/services covered in this article.
You can download the detailed breakup worksheet spreadsheet by clicking here.
Note that all these numbers are just to give you an idea about the cost of blogging in India and is completely based on my experience of running blogs over the past five years. You can choose to get other tools or may not invest in some of the tools mentioned here. The intent of this article is to give you an idea of the kind of expenses that may be needed.
Starting and growing a blog would need some investment in the right kind of tools and services. You don’t need all the bells and whistles, to begin with, but as your blog grows, it opens up new ways for you to make money.
And to earn money from your blog, you need to make sure you’re equipped with the right tools. In this article, I have shared the tools that I have been using.
You can absolutely create an amazing blog without many of these tools, but I truly believe having these basic tools will help you reach there a lot faster.
Related: 10 Ways to Make Money Online in India.