The Cost of a Self-Hosted Blog
What Are the Costs of a Self-Hosted Blog?
For those who wish to have more control and income from their blogs, a self-hosted blog is essential. Though a self-hosted blog may use a free popular blogging software platform such as WordPress.org or Drupal, decisions about the look, content, and advertising sponsors are completely the responsibility of the blogger . . . along with ALL the costs.
Here is a quick overview of the costs. Cost examples offered are as of the date of this original post and may be higher or lower.
Domain Name and URL
One of the first decisions that needs to be made is what to name the blog. The name of the blog can then be purchased as a domain name URL (website address) through registrars such as GoDaddy. Some registrars offer a very cheap promotional price for the first year. Then the price goes up for the second and future years. This cost will apply, year after year, as long as the blog is active!
Bloggers can also choose to add domain privacy so that their home addresses and personal information are not revealed in an Internet WHOIS database lookup; see your registrar's website for availability and details.
- Domain Name Registration: Expect at least $15/year or more + applicable taxes and fees
- Domain Privacy (optional): Expect at least $10/year or more + applicable taxes and fees
On a hosted blog, the host site pays for the server that houses the blog. But for a self-hosted blog, the blogger assumes this cost. Hosting gives the blog's content and software a place to "live" on the Internet. Many registrars, such as GoDaddy and Bluehost, offer special hosting packages for blogs.
When selecting hosting, a decision needs to be made about shared hosting versus dedicated hosting. Shared means that you are sharing the server space with many other blogs and websites. This helps save on costs for everyone on that server. However, should one site on the server be infected with malware or get hacked, there is also a chance that every site on the server could suffer the same fate and even get blacklisted. Costs for dedicated hosting, where one site is the only site on a server, are much more expensive.
Hosting costs are monthly, but are often paid for in advance for the entire year. Month-to-month hosting may not even be allowed. But if it is, it will be expensive.
Security and encryption of data flowing between visitors and the site is also of great importance these days. Though it doesn't offer a complete security package, purchasing an SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate is highly recommended. With it, the site's URL web address will begin with https:// to show that it is a secured site. One more reason to add SSL? As of January 2017, Google will start marking sites that do not have SSL as non-secure in Chrome (SearchEngineLand). A mark of a non-secure site can also turn off visitors.
- Self-Hosting of Blog: Expect at least $10/month or more for shared blog hosting + applicable taxes and fees, usually paid in advance for the entire coming 12-month period
- SSL Certificate: Expect at least $70/year for minimum protection for one site + applicable taxes and fees, again usually paid in advance for the entire coming 12-month period
Primarily on the WordPress platform, themes can be applied to the blog to make it look and display in a way that will be appropriate for the audience or device. When selecting a theme, it is important to evaluate the theme's responsive design, meaning that it will display and be usable on a variety of devices such as mobile phones and tablets, in addition to desktops and laptops.
Many themes on the WordPress.org platform are free, but may have a fee for upgraded features. Theme developers and designers may also solicit "tip jar" type donations to help fund maintenance and development of themes.
Tip: Always make sure your theme software is updated with the latest version. It should also be a theme that is compatible with the latest version of your blogging software (e.g., WordPress) and should be continually updated by the theme provider. Hackers have been known to exploit vulnerabilities in themes, especially old, never updated ones.
- Themes: $0 and up/month + applicable taxes and fees
What is a plugin? Plugins are bits of software that can be appended to the blogging software to do a variety of special functions. Examples would include image handling, security (highly recommended!), spam comment control (also recommended), contact forms, and much, MUCH more! These can greatly enhance the functionality of a blog.
Like themes, many software developers offer their WordPress plugins for free, but may charge for upgraded features. Some may ask for "tip jar" type donations to help defray the costs of development.
Tip: Make sure your plugins are constantly updated with the latest version. They should be compatible with the latest version of your blogging software (e.g., WordPress) and make sure your plugin providers are continually updating them. Hackers have been known to exploit vulnerabilities in plugins with some very nasty attacks that could shut a blog down, steal site or visitor information, and more. Yikes!
- Plugins: $0 and up/month + applicable taxes and fees
Depending on the topic of your blog, your attorney may also suggest additional preventive measures to protect you from media liabilities.
- Legal: Depends entirely on the attorney or legal service provider you use. However, you can expect to spend at least a couple hundred dollars up to thousands on this item, depending on your unique circumstances.
Be very careful about the images you use on your blog! Use only images that are royalty-free and that you have specific written permission to use. Check the terms of service for any stock image site to make sure that the images you choose are safe to use. Even if you take your own photos, make sure you have property and model releases to use images of people, places, and property.
- Images: $0 and up/per image OR per month subscription + applicable taxes and fees
Surprised at all the costs? I'm not surprised if you're surprised! And this is just a rundown of the bare minimum costs of self-hosting a blog. Costs can escalate quickly as you add features and functions such as video, podcasting, email marketing, and more.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
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© 2017 Heidi Thorne