Blogging is an excellent way to establish your online presence, thereby capturing audiences for your online business. Starting a blog is not as difficult as you might have imagined.
What if I told you that you can start creating your online presence on a shoestring budget of $100 a month?
Here’s a list of what you need to get your online presence on the right track. At the end of this post, I summarized how much these would cost.
- Domain name for your website
- Hosting account
- Blogging platform
- Theme for your website
- Email service provider (ESP)
- Pop-ups provider
Notice that “create logo” is not in the list. Most new bloggers put so much time and money in creating their business logo. For startups, you do not need a fancy logo. Once you are sure that the business that you’re starting is the right one for you, then that is the good time to think about the perfect logo for your business.
When you invite people to come to your house, you’ll give them your home address. On the same token, if you want people to find your website, you will also need to provide them with a web address. Your domain name is your website’s web address.
You can purchase your domain name from domain name registrars such as GoDaddy.com or Namecheap.com. Typically, a domain name cost less than $5 per month.
The contact information listed for your domain name such as your name, home address, phone number and email address, are required to be publicly available per your registrar’s agreement with ICANN (International Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers). If you do not want this information to be accessible to the public, you may want to add-on private registration to your domain name, which costs about $5 per year.
- Don’t buy your domain name from the same company where you buy your hosting account. If you ever want to change host, it might be difficult to have them release that domain to a new host.
- Find a domain name that has social accounts available as well. Knowem is a free resource that allows you to search for names to see if a matching domain and social media accounts are available. It is ideal to have the same name for your domain and social media accounts, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or Linkedin even if you are planning to use only one or two of these popular social medias. Having the same name for all of them is a good branding tactic.
Once you’ve registered your domain, you now have an address for your website. Just like your house needs a land to sit on, your website needs a place to reside. Your web host will provide that space. Web hosts offer “shared” and “dedicated” hosting packages.
With a shared hosting package, there are other sites hosted on the same server as your website. This package is cheaper than the dedicated server package because the cost is shared by the websites on that server.
The downside of having a shared hosting package are:
- You have limited disk space. If you have a lot of content and images on your site, you might go over your allotted disk space.
- You have limited bandwidth. If there are a lot of traffic generated on the shared host it could drain bandwidth resources which could lead to slow response time and slow loading time.
- If one of the websites on your shared host gets into trouble, e.g., blacklisted by search engines for spamming, all the websites on the shared host could be affected and become blacklisted too.
With a dedicated hosting package, your website is the only one hosted on the server. The bandwidth and disk space are dedicated to you alone so there is no sharing and no limitations on the amount of available space.
For beginners, shared hosting fits the bill.
Different companies offer shared hosting. One of the most popular ones like Bluehost and Hostgator, as well as several others, are actually owned by the same company so there is not a lot of difference among these web hosts.
Two hosting companies I would recommend are Siteground and eHost. I have used both of them, and I am happy with their service. My former e-commerce stores were hosted by Siteground. Presently both my websites are hosted by eHost.
Although it is cheaper to pay for a year in advance, you might not have the budget to do that. When you sign up for hosting pick the monthly package to start with. Uncheck all the add-ons that they try to sell you. At the beginning stage, trust me, you won’t need them yet.
The monthly fee is going to cost you around $8 a month.
So, continuing with our house analogy. Your website now has an address (domain name) and a place to sit on (web hosting). What’s lacking is the structure of the website – how will it look like?
The structure is generated by a software framework that you install on the host where you can type/organize your blog or content.
The most widely used of these blogging platforms is WordPress (WP). This is what I use, and a lot of bloggers do too.
There are actually two versions of WordPress – a self-hosted one, WordPress.org and hosted one, WordPress.com. You will need your own hosting for the former, and the latter will host your site for free. The downside of letting your site hosted by WordPress.com is that they own your site, and they can delete it anytime they want, among other things that you have no control of.
Theme for your website
WordPress alone, however, is not enough to give you the structure of your website. You will need a “theme.” to give your site the look and feel of what you want. You can think of theme as analogous to the paint and decoration of your house.
The theme sits on top of WP, and it allows you to adjust things like colors, fonts, and layout of the screen. There are hundreds of WP themes – both free and paid (also called premium themes). Avoid using free themes, if you are serious about using your site for your business. Free themes have limitations and are usually not updated by the creator/s, which will make the theme incompatible with newer versions of WP.
I use two different themes. My main one, EntreprenAlchemy, uses Genesis theme plus a child theme called Hello Pro. My signature product site, Restore Your Career Online, uses Divi Elegant theme. The Genesis theme costs $59.95 (one-time fee). Elegant themes cost $ 69 per year for the basic (personal) plan.
Choose a theme that is “mobile responsive.” That means your website will look good on a tablet, a smartphone or a desktop. Mobile is taking over desktop users, so it is important that you have a mobile responsive theme.
Email Service Provider
You might have a great looking website and valuable information on your blog, but if no one sees it, it is all for naught. So, one of the most important things you’ll need is a way to capture email from viewers who visit your website. The companies that provide this technology are called email service providers (ESP).
For startups or beginners, I recommend Mailchimp, and it’s “Forever Free” plan. You can send up to 12,000 emails per month and have up to 2,000 total subscribers, which is a lot for someone who is just starting.
You can use Mailchimp to gather and store email address of your subscribers, send automated emails when they sign up where you can include a newsletter or a free gift (called lead magnet) in exchange for their email address.
The downside of the free service are (a) there is no email or chat support, in other words, if you have a problem you are on your own or you can ask “Mr. Google” for help, and (b) it does not offer automation ( sending email series when triggered by a specific date, event or subscriber’s activity.).
Upgrade to Mailchimp’s “pay as you go” plan if you want email/chat support and email automation. This type of plan works best for infrequent or inconsistent senders. It costs $9 for 300 credits.
The credits are like postage stamps, where each individual email you sent costs one credit. For example, if you sent one campaign (targeted email) to 100 subscribers, you would have used 100 credits out of your allocated 300 credits. If you need more than 300 credits, you can purchase more in batches of 300 at the same $10 per batch.
Pop-ups software provider
To get your viewers to notice your opt-ins, you will need pop-ups. I am sure you’ve seen them. Some slide-up, some are located on the left or right column, or the first thing you see when you type the domain name of the website (those are called “welcome mats”).
Many companies offer pop-up software, free or paid. I used to use Leadin, a free product from Hubspot. It is a good product, but the one thing I didn’t like about Leadin is their pop-ups require the last name in addition to the first name and email address. I felt that it was a deterrent for some viewers. If you don’t feel the same way, Leadin will be perfect for you.
I now use Convertplug, which cost a one-time fee of $21. It is an all-in-one WordPress popup plugin that has over 100 beautifully designed ready-made templates.
Note: Some of the products listed in this article are affiliates. This means I have the potential to receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you purchase something using one of my links.
Your First Month’s Estimated Cost:
Domain name $ 12.00 (including private registration)
Hosting $ 8.00
Mailchimp (ESP) Free
Pop-up (Leadin) Free
You can use the remaining $11.00 ($100 – $89) to either buy a more expensive theme or use it for buying Canva images (more tutorial about that) for your blog.
On your second and subsequent months, your cost will only be your monthly hosting fee since you won’t be paying for your theme (one-time fee for Genesis and yearly fee for Elegant Themes).
Hence you will have more financial resources to spend on other things like online ads for your business, images for your blog posts, or a social media management tool for scheduling your posts. More of these in my succeeding articles.
“Where will I get the extra $100 to spend on creating my business online presence?”
Okay, that is a valid question. Look at your expenses and set up a simple budget. What expense/s can you live without for a while?
If you think you can’t live without a Starbuck coffee in the morning, go get it. If there are simple pleasures in life that help you get you going, keep them. What I am talking about are cable subscription, frequent dining out, Netflix subscription, popcorn, and drinks at the movies, and so forth.
If you are really serious in creating your online business, you should be willing to make necessary changes, even if it means foregoing some “luxuries” or non-essentials that you want but do not necessarily need.
Should you use your credit card to finance this online presence? Only if you can repay the balance before your statement cycles. Starting a business based on debt is never a good idea. I trust that you will find ways to afford what it takes to open and establish your website for your business.
If you have any questions or comments, I am ready to talk with you through Skype. Click here to make an appointment for a free 15-minute discovery call with me.