If you want to make money, you have to have a hosted site, they tell us, as they make money, selling us hosting plans. At least someone is making money here (but probably not me and you).
If you’re just starting out in blogging, the first choice you have to make is “free” or “paid.” A free site on WordPress.com or Blogger is perfectly fine for personal, journal-style blogs. These sites will populate your blog with ads–from which they make money (not you), but that doesn’t start to happen until your blog starts getting a good amount of traffic. In one’s early, struggling days, you will not see any ads. Rather than having your own “domain” — you’ll have a long website name that has their name embedded in it, either wordpress or blogspot.
I have bought domains in the past; under 20 bucks, well, it’s sort of an ego thing, really. “I have my own DOMAIN!” Cue the evil villain laugh! Muahahahah. But the real reason for a domain name is credibility.
Professional Blogs need a domain name
If you’re creating a professional blog, or for an a oh-to-be-hoped for side income blog, then yes, you should buy a domain name. That’s a small investment and an easy call to make. The plan issue? Well, we all dream big. In my last effort, a women in technology blog, I went full tin-foil. I bought the Bluehost plan, the most recommended plan out there and pretty good it was, too. Check out this even-handed review on Bluehost hosting services, which shows how the reason everyone recommends them so highly is primarily profit margin. Yep. They’re paid to promote the Bluehost hosting service. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s a pretty good service and the review above gives us some facts. If you get the cheapest plan, $2.95/month, you HAVE TO BUY 36 months worth. I opted for the 12 month plan, at $3.95/month and spent $47.50.
It’s the add-ons that, well, add on. You’ll get some of the same add-ons everyone, of course. Twelve bucks for the domain name, that’s going to be pretty standard. But it gets very difficult figuring out what else you’ll need, starting out. E-Commerce? The most cool themes? I spent money on a cool theme ($59.00), Sitelock Security, domain privacy, Akismet spam protection– and I ended up paying around $398 before I was all done, including the 47.50 for the site. That’s the first problem being a newbie: I didn’t know what I would need or how hard it would be to set up certain things.
The other cost was time. I didn’t know how to set up the things I bought, and I spent full weekends dinking around with settings and dealing with technical issues. This was time taken away from creating content for my customers.
Note, too, something I didn’t see at all in my run-up to creating my first officially commercial blog: they only offer the introductory rates for the first three years. Three years is a long way off. I haven’t ever had a consistent blog for more than two years. Many one-person-blogs from the Olden Times did not last for more than a year. People change. Times change. Topics change. A commercially oriented blog will even change, as they discover new topics and new customers to serve.
That great article I mentioned on the caveats of hosting with BlueHost really caught my attention. They say if you don’t sign up for the 36 month plan, when you renew, it costs $8.99 per month. Whhooaooa. I never got there, but man. $107.88 per year? And then, if you want to move your site, a whopping $149 dollars? There are hosts that will migrate your blogs to (But to be fair, not all hosts do that. )
My final costs were in books, a bit of software, a few add-ons I never really got the hang of using and too many themes. Divi was the last theme I bought. It was over-the-top in complexity and I never did get it to run correctly. All told, I spent close to a grand on blogging last year.
Before you shop for a webhost, I would suggest checking out the blog Hosting Facts.
The bottom line is this: you cannot make money until you get thousands of views each day. For that, you’ll need to know the secrets of search engine optimization, which is a serious time sink. This is why there is a long lead time between popping content up on pages and making a profit–a profit above and beyond what you’re laying out for a host service with all the trimmings. You can make small amounts of money from affiliate programs of various kinds–but getting traffic has got to come first.
Would I do it again? Would I go out and buy a hosting plan and go back to trying to run a full-bore commercial site? Maybe. I’d have to have the traffic FIRST. I’d have to have a stronger knowledge of search engine optimization and the ins and outs of commercialization programs like Adwords and Wordsense. At this juncture, I’ve gone back to the drawing board, focusing on developing a brand, working with customers, and creating a business model. The main thing is, I’m having fun and learning all the time. Making money? Maybe in 2019!
Reading Tip: Just bought Search Engine Optimization 2018 at Amazon. Great read! Recommended!
~ Regards, Lola