If you’re new to the modern world of blogging, welcome to the club! I actually started my first blog on Xanga.com (#tbt) when I was in elementary school—the good ol’ days of getting acquainted with the Internet.
After about a two- or three-year stint in “blogging,” I ended up deleting that account and taking to other popular platforms amongst kids my age (e.g. Neopets, Myspace, etc.).
It wasn’t until a year ago (aka 10+ years later) that I decided to start a new blog just for fun.
I began to experiment, play around with the blog, and slowly take my newfound hobby a bit more seriously. And like many others, I found myself reading countless articles on how to figure out my “niche” and monetize my blog.
I knew I’d eventually switch to WordPress.org but wasn’t quite sure where to begin. Plus, I wanted to do my research before making any kind of investment.
But don’t overthink the process (like I did)!
You should do your research and consider the costs before starting a blog. Just make sure you spend more time doing, rather than thinking. You will figure things out as you go.
**This post contains affiliate links. To learn more, please click here.
Anyway, it’s been three months since I started A Million Musings (est. August 2017), and I don’t regret taking the plunge. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how I set up my blog and how much all of it cost:
Choosing a domain name took much longer than setting up the blog itself. Once I decided on a name, I made sure it was available and began comparing prices on different domain name registrars—namely (pun intended) SiteGround and Namecheap (the most reputable registrar). I ended up purchasing my domain name with Namecheap, as it was a few bucks cheaper than the same one on Siteground.
Tip: Have your “nameservers” handy when you set up your blog with Siteground or any other host. Here’s a great article.
Cost of Domain Name: $9.84
Since Siteground was officially recommended by WordPress.org, I knew it had to be legit. The web host offers useful features such as 1-click install, auto-updates, caching, and backups.
If you don’t know how to set up your blog with SiteGround, they will take care of this for you and answer any questions that come up along the way! What I love about SiteGround’s customer support is that I’ve never had to wait more than a minute or two to get connected to a representative via live chat.
According to Siteground:
“The StartUp plan is perfect for people with one website that are starting now.
The GrowBig plan is a great value for money offer, including the option for multiple websites and the SuperCacher that greatly improves a WordPress and Joomla website speed.
The GoGeek plan is perfect for people with e-commerce and larger sites, or more geeky development needs like staging and GIT integration.”
I went with the basic hosting plan because I’m super cheap and had other business costs to consider apart from this blog. If you think you’ll need more space or want to run more than one blog (i.e. a different niche for each) you might want to go with the “GrowBig” Plan. Choose what suits your long-term vision and blogging needs best!
*Keep in mind: the 60% off discount only applies to the first year of each plan.
If you sign up with an existing domain, a free website transfer is included in the SiteGround hosting service:
Why did I choose SiteGround over Bluehost? According to several reviews comparing the two popular hosting services, Siteground has a faster response time, better 24/7 customer support, and a slew of other winning features.
Customer support is my biggest consideration before purchasing a service. That’s why I ended up choosing Siteground over Bluehost, and so far I’m really happy with my decision.
Cost of SiteGround’s “StartUp” Plan: $47.40
If you’re transferring content from WordPress.com to a self-hosted blog, you’ll have to sign into WordPress.com, click “Export,” grab your XML file, and import it into your new self-hosted blog. This was a relatively quick process for me, because I didn’t have too much content to move over. You might have to wait longer depending on how many files you need to migrate.
Tip: Not all of the photos from my image library were transferred to the new blog, so look out for any broken links or missing images once you’ve imported your old data!
Akismet Anti-Spam: Protects your blog from spam comments.
Jetpack: Gives you access to stats and lots of WordPress.com features.
Short Pixel Image Optimizer: Makes your website load faster by optimizing your image library.
Yoast SEO: Helps you make your blog posts more searchable. It’s the best free SEO plugin out there.
Since I didn’t want to stress out over the design, I bought a theme that would make my website look more professional and a lot prettier than I could ever make it seem on my own.
That said, the theme I ended up purchasing cost a whopping $50 (including tax). I was only willing to invest this much because I knew I wanted a classic theme that I wouldn’t have to change for a long time.
As a beginner blogger, you might not want to spend so much money on a single theme. And that’s totally fine! You can always find a nice, cheap theme on Etsy, Creative Market, and scores of other websites. All you have to do is adjust the search filter so that the results reflect your budget range (see image).
Not much of a designer? Save yourself the headache and purchase a beautiful theme online. Your blog will look great without you having to do any of the legwork. Here are some of my recommendations: Creative Market, Etsy (ex: CityHouseDesign), *Kotryna Bass, Pipdig, Restored316, Solo Pine, Station Seven, and Theme Forest.
*I purchased a theme from Kotryna Bass and had a really good experience with their customer service. They also offer free theme installation with your purchase!
Cost of Blog Theme: $50.00
If you’ve written a handful of blog posts and you’re ready to start monetizing your blog, I highly recommend “Career in the Making” by Krista Aoki and “How to Make Your First Affiliate Sale in 24 Hours” by Elisa McDowell.
Krista’s book is a comprehensive guide for beginners/new-ish bloggers and I find myself constantly referring back to it for strategies, tips, and practical advice.
With Elisa’s book, I was I able to use Pinterest to make my first affiliate sale ($10)! It also gave me a foundational understanding of Pinterest and how to use the platform to my advantage.
Both books together will help you brand, market, and monetize your blog as a newbie and get started without having to read scores of other articles. (Here’s a more in-depth review of each ebook!)
Anyway, I hope you found this blog post helpful and start your blog soon. Good luck, and see you on the other side! 🙂