How to Start a Blog/Website on a Shoe-string Budget?

Recently, I read 33 blogger interviews at bloggingtips. At the time, I was interested in the answer to just one question – “What will you do if you had $100 to spend on your blog?“. The interviews are with 33 top bloggers, so you may want to read the series too.

I read each one of the blogger’s answer to this question. Some said, they would spend $10 on getting a domain name, then the rest on buying an year of hosting. Others said, they’d spend it on domain, hosting and a good theme from ThemeForest. Someone even said they’d just spend it on getting Market Samurai.

I thought – Is spending even a $100 needed when you start with blogging? I don’t think you need to spend even $100. At least I didn’t. Even you don’t have to, if you’re smart and have good research skills, and can ask for help. Okay, it’s good to have a paid blog theme since the start of your blog. Themes like Thesis or Genesis, or even a good one from ThemeForest, which helps in SEO. Jane Sheeba advises this because, once  your blog starts getting more traffic, you will find it difficult to change your blog theme and have the time to learn a new theme. But, what do you do, if you’re on a shoe-string budget and can’t afford to spend much?

Even Jane says content is first and you should have a few killer posts before you even go live with your blog. So, if you’re on a very low  budget, I would say you can forget getting a paid theme for a while, if you don’t mind learning a new theme later, when you purchase a paid theme.

There are hundreds of good, simple and easily customizable, free WordPress themes, available from the WordPress repository. Or,if you wish,  you can get a very low cost theme till your blog becomes famous. Some simple, low cost themes can be purchased for as low as $5 -$10. I went with the first option for all my blogs.

So, how much do you need to spend, if you don’t yet have a blog and want to set it up from scratch? These are the only things you need to spend on:

1. A Domain Name

2. A Reliable Webhost

3. Blog Software

Below, we’ll go through each of these, one by one.

1. A Domain Name:

In the olden days, more than a decade ago, domain names used to cost something like $35 per year. Not anymore. Using a coupon code, you can get a .com domain for $1 – $4 for the first year. The renewal costs about $9-$10, but you don’t have to worry about that till one year.

You can search on Google for GoDaddy coupon codes to use when purchasing a .com domain. NameCheap offers a .com domain for just $3.98 for the first year. The advantage with NameCheap is, they give the Whois Privacy Guard service, free for the 1st year.

2. Web Host:

Many people would say Host Gator and Blue Host. I haven’t used Blue Host but have experienced bad tech support from Host Gator, last year. So, I won’t recommend Host Gator. Also, know that Host Gator isn’t the same now – they were sold to EIG. Same is true for Blue Host. I know many people are with these two big hosts and may not have experienced what I did. This is just my opinion.

What you should ideally do, is – check with some webhosting forums like Web Hosting Talk, and ask for a cheap and reliable webhost. That is where I found the webhost I’m using and even got a 50% discount due to their Black Friday deal, last year end. They still give a 25% discount for lifetime.

Even though they don’t seem to have live chat like host gator (I’ve had night mares before their chat worked, anyway), they’re far better than Host Gator. Do you agree? – [Tweet “It’s better to get response via ticket in 5-10 minutes than to wait 2.5 hours for chat support”.]

That’s how long I waited once, last year on Host Gator chat.

You can sign-up for Hawk Host HERE. They have different hosting packages, like every other web host. You’d want to get the Basic plan in the shared hosting.

If you’re looking for still cheaper webhost, I’d recommend Half Dollar Hosting.  The shared plan at Half Dollar Hosting starts at a mere $0.5 per month, if you pay for the whole year. That’s just $6 an year. They even have chat support, though they’re not always online for that. But it’s there and it works many times.

I’ve also heard very good things about Dream Host, Inmotion Hosting, Site5 and even NameCheap, but haven’t tried them, so can’t say anything about them. Out of these three, only Dream Host is the low cost option. You can have an year’s hosting with them for as little as $22. Another one, but again, I haven’t tried it, is levelhosting.ca . This one’s also recommended at Web Hosting Talk forums.

3. Blog Software:

You might have already heard and read about WordPress. So, if you’re using any other platform like blogger/blogspot or even the free WordPress.com, it’s time you install and use self-hosted WordPress. Most webhosts would have a one-click installer, where you just fill in some details and just click to install. It hardly takes a few seconds to install.

If you’re new to blogging or need help with installation, troubleshooting or through the initial phase of blogging and webhosting, I’m available for help and hire. Contact me for a free consultation, using the below contact form. You can also e-mail me at raspal[AT]raspalwrites.com or contact me using Twitter, if you don’t like to use a contact form.

 

Featured Image Credit: conorwithonen (via Flickr)