It’s interesting how many people still ask this basic question, wanting to know how much it costs and what it takes or more specifically “how to do it”. I get the question from college students, colleagues and more often neighbors who stumble upon my not so secret digital identify. While there’s a lot more social media around today than there was back when I started blogging in 2007 and I believe there’s still a space for blogging. You’d be surprised that many of the reasons people start blogs are commonly similar. Whether it’s for professional exposure or experience, personal interests or curiosity there are no shortage of tools or solutions available today to help a budding creator.
I started with Blogger back in 2007 and then in 2008 I migrated to a self-hosted installation of WordPress. While there are a number of great managed solutions available today I’m one of those guys that enjoys the challenges of learning by building it yourself and then managing it day to day. The self-hosted WordPress or WordPress.org as some refer to it, requires a server to run the software stack. In my case I’m using a Linux Virtual Private Server (VPS) rented/leased from a hosting provider in order to run WordPress. This was traditionally done with what is referred to as a LAMP stack, Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP. These days I’m running a LEMP stack which includes Linux, Nginx, MariaDB and PHP. I’ve gone through a few hosting providers in my days, starting with RimuHosting, then Linode and today I’m using DigitalOcean. I’m also still using GoDaddy as my domain registrar. While I’ve heard a lot of horror stories from GoDaddy customers I haven’t experienced any issues myself. I have heard really good stores from customers of Gandi.net.
You can still find my original site on Blogger today at http://michaelfmcnamara.blogspot.com/.
If you are looking to test out blogging I would strongly suggest you start with Blogger or perhaps WordPress.com – not to be confused with WordPress.org. Whether you decide to try Blogger or WordPress.com both solutions make it incredibly easy to get up and running quickly and easily. If you later find that you enjoy blogging and you want to delve into all the features and options then you can migrate your content to any number of solutions, both commercial and other.
Since I run a self-hosted WordPress site I needed to purchase the following components separately;
|Domain Name (michaelfmcnamara.com)||GoDaddy||$56.32/2 years|
|Virtual Private Server (Linux CentOS 7.6 x64)||DigitalOcean||$240/2 years|
|SSL Certificate (Wildcard)||RapidSSL||$258.00/2 years|
|$554.32 Total (2 years)|
As you can see the costs quickly add up, on average $23/monthly. I advise anyone just jumping into blogging to start out with a free solution until you are ready to commit your hard earned $$$. I use my server to host multiple websites (and more recently a Minecraft server) so the costs presented above are a little skewed so don’t go postal on me in the comments. There are definitely cheaper alternatives out there, this is just what I’m doing these days and it works for me. As another example if you used a WordPress.com Premium account that would run you $8/monthly or $192 over 2 years.
You can look to use advertising to help offset some of the costs above. For a number of years there I was earning about $130/monthly from Google Adsense and directly contracted banner ads which helped offset the costs. It takes quiet a bit of effort to get beyond anything more than “beer” money so keep that in mind if you think you’ll be able to launch a blog or even a YouTube channel and it will start paying for itself in six months.
In the end it’s not Blogger or WordPress that’s going to make your blog successful, it will be the content that you share!
If you have any questions drop them below and I’ll do my best to answer them.