For hobby bloggers, it really doesn’t cost very much at all — if anything — to start a blog and begin driving traffic to it. For serious bloggers and those who blog for their businesses, there are more likely not going to be some costs involved.  Below are some key areas where you may face costs to move your blog to the next level.

Hosting & Domain

Hosting is one of your most important expenses when you begin to blog seriously. While you can get started or try out blogging on a free platform such as WordPress.com or Blogger, there are several reasons it’s important to pay for your own domain.

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When you use a free service for your blog, you typically don’t have much control over your domain name. Instead of  www.yourblogname.com, your domain will be something like yourblogname.wordpress.com. This simply doesn’t look as professional nor as memorable as your blog’s name as a domain name. Another consideration: you won’t necessarily get the same SEO benefits. Another reason to consider paying for hosting and your own domain is that you often get special features and other things you can use through that hosting service.

Getting your own domain name is relatively inexpensive. It can cost around $10 to $20 per year. It’s a small price to pay for your own domain name. Hosting can cost a bit more — anywhere from $60 to $100+ if you elect a fancy package with many extras.

Themes

When you are first testing the waters with your own blog, you can always settle for one of the free templates or themes available for your specific blogging platform. Once you get serious about blogging or if the blog represents your business, you should take steps to make your site unique and well designed. This may involve hiring a designer to do the design work. Another, less expensive route is to buy a custom theme. You can buy themes starting around $45 or more and many of them come with added features. Hiring a designer can cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars, so a customizable template can be a good deal. My favorite sites for purchasing themes are themeforest.net, solostream.com, and headwaythemes.com.

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Content

If you aren’t confident in your writing ability, you can always hire a ghostwriter or content marketing agency to create your blog content for you. The benefit here is not only that you don’t have to do it yourself but that you get content that’s unique and well-written by a professional writer or content marketer. Content is the lifeblood of your blog. It’s important and needs to be good. Hiring a writer or content marketer can be a worthwhile investment especially if your blog is to promote your existing business. A well written, 1000-word post will cost your $50+. You can probably find cheaper writers, but you may be risking quality — or worse, you may be receiving duplicate and/or copyrighted content from someone who is taking shortcuts.

Another inexpensive alternative is to buy PLR, or private label rights, content. PLR content is ready-made content that comes in packages by niche or topic. PLR can be an option to help you develop content, but it’s important that you don’t just copy and paste it “as is” in your blog. The package you purchase may be purchased by many other blog owners. If you don’t take time to develop the post into original content — not just rewriting but adding your own insights, perspectives, stats, etc. Otherwise, your blog will have simply have duplicate content:  that’s not great for your readers. It’s also not great for SEO.

Advertising

Advertising is very likely optional for your blog. If you are blogging for business, your best use of online advertising is to push traffic toward targeted landing pages that move people through your sales funnel — not pushing people to read your latest blog post. Serious bloggers who just blog for money or personal branding, however, may have good reason to consider paid advertising to generate more traffic.

There are several different ad networks. Two of the best known are Bing Ads, which provides paid search ads on both Bing and Yahoo, and Google AdWords. Both Google AdWords and Bing Ads allow you to target your audience based on geography, time of day, and the specific keywords people use when searching on Google, Bing, or Yahoo to find information like yours.

In addition to paid search, many social media sites have paid ad platforms. Facebook, StumbleUpon, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest all offer different forms of advertising on their sites. Most of these platforms allow you to get very specific with your targeting criteria.

Conclusion

With each expense for your blog, take time to calculate your return on investment (ROI). Is each expense justified? Will you earn enough in future revenue to justify the expense? Judging ROI may be difficult in the beginning. Keep an eye on both your expenses and revenue before you get carried away.