Setting up your own website is very affordable these days, but committing to ongoing monthly payments might not be too attractive for some. If you want to get your toes wet and learn more about the world of blogging I can show you how to get a fully hosted, professional looking blog up and running for a grand total of $11.66.
Here is how I did it.
Finding a Domain Name
After a lot of thinking and lucking out with various names using the Godaddy domain finder I finally settled on the one I have now. I found out that there are a lot of extras and add-ons you can get when buying a domain, but if you just want the bare bones, it will only set you back $7.49 for a .com (actually $7.67 because of the ICANN fee). It is possible to get a domain from other places (Bluehost give you one free when you sign up with them), but Godaddy is reputable and most people say that it is a good idea to keep your domain registration and hosting separate. At the end of the day your domain is your property, so it is worth looking after (plus it is still cheap anyway).
After a lot of looking around I stumbled across the Blog Me App site by MarketMeTweet. As I was keen to try and do this as cost effectively as I could, I was very happy with the deal and signed up for a starter package (there are others available). So for the outrageous sum of $3.99 I got:
- 1 Year of free hosting
- Unlimited bandwidth
- 350mb of Free hosting storage (upgrades are possible)
- 100% complete control, with the ability to change hosts whenever I want
- A bunch of other stuff I’m still trying to learn about
After a year the renewal fee is $49, which is still very good when you compare it to other host providers like Godaddy, Host Gator and Bluehost. I haven’t had any trouble with the hosting to date, even during a few ‘spikes’ in traffic (for me anyway) where I had 300 – 400 visitors in a day. However if I do get to a point where I need to change hosts, I think that Bluehost might be my next move.
Free Premium Theme
I got a free premium theme (which alone are worth up to $80) through the Blog Me App I chose the Busy Bee theme by Woo Themes, which is very customizable. You can choose from over 75 other themes if you sign up for an account, with apparently more to come, so I’m sure there will be something for almost anyone.
I used the PSD file from my theme as a template and downloaded a free copy of Gimp to design my logo. I did a few searches online and found a free icon I liked and then incorporated some text. If you don’t want to do this yourself, try Fiverr to get something made for 5 bucks or 99Designs if you are willing to pay more.
This is where a lot of people tend to go a little over board. I still don’t know why you would need a calendar in your sidebar, but each to their own. I took the best advice I could find from people like Glenn Allsopp and Pat Flynn, then took a look at what else I might need to get people to interact or help publicize my content. The plugins that I am running now are:
- All in One SEO Pack
- Google XML Sitemaps
- Social Media Widget
- WP Greet Box
- Yet Another Related Posts Plugin
- WP Touch
The Blog Me guys are actually nice enough to preload a few handy plugins for you too, these ones get used by almost everyone:
- Subscribe to Comments
- WordPress Gravatars
- WP-Contact Form
An eBook is certainly not an original idea, but it is something almost anyone can make and give away as a gift. If you have subscribed by email to this site, you would have received a copy of my eBook and while it is no masterpiece, it is a good reminder of the fundamentals of wealth creation (sometimes these are easily forgotten).
Making my eBook was easy. I put it together in word, formatted it and added a table of contents, then downloaded a free trial copy of Adobe Acrobat X Pro, which allowed me to create a PDF and embed links. To make my cover, I used the free trial at eBook Cover Creator. The online cover creator is really easy to use and the range of premium covers is even better again. If you don’t want to do a cover, then try Fiverr again for a cheap alternative.
Free Mailing Client
If you spend even a short amount of time reading about building a blog, you are going to hear people say “the money is in the list”. Basically what they mean is that you need to find a way to contact your audience and drive them to your site when you have something to show them. To do this, most people will use a mailing client. By far the most popular client at the moment is Aweber and for good reason, they offer a great service and have some terrific templates and other resources for users to do almost anything they want. The trouble is the basic fee is $20 per month and I didn’t want to commit myself to that. The best alternative in my opinion is MailChimp. They offer a free plan to anyone with under 2,000 subscribers and with fewer than 12,000 emails per month. There are no catches or sneaky fine print, that is it. So now I can deliver my eBook to new subscribers on this site for free until I hit 2,000, by which time I will be happy to pay for the service.
So that is about it, a fully hosted site, ready to roll for $11.66, not bad eh?
Update: So it turns out the cheap hosting thing didn’t work out (big surprise eh?). I’m now using Web Hosting Hub who are really great to deal with and I have had absolutely no problems at all. They are currently offering a hosting plan that costs $4.95 per month, so in the end my grand total is $67.07. As far as I’m concerned, it is worth every cent.
Image by Kristina B