Your 2012 Blog Budget

One of the things you should be thinking about during these first few weeks of January is your plan for your blog in 2012. What most of us don’t spend enough time on is forecasting the expenses required to maintain your blog all year long. In fact, we tend to just get from day to day. That’s why this post from Kim Gauthier is great. It talks about what she’s considering as she plans her blog budget for 2012. It’ll get you thinking, too!

If you’re like me, you just started blogging one day. I didn’t put too much thought into keyword research or monetizing my blog. It wasn’t until I heard about Bloggy Boot Camp that I stopped seeing my blog as a hobby and started to view it as a business.

As a business person, I decided to treat myself and splurge on my blog and saw how quickly the splurging could get out of control. I’m a fan of free, but sometimes spending is necessary.

Blog Budget
Let’s take a look at my 2012 Blogging Budget:

Required Spending – $176/year

Domain Name – $14/year. The shorter your URL, the easier it’ll be to remember, right? So why share your URL real estate with WordPress or Blogspot?
Hosting – $107/year. Because I’ve monetized my blog, I’m not eligible for a WordPress.com (free) site; I use WordPress.org. At this time, Blogger does allow users to monetize their sites.
Wordpress Theme – $50 (for 5). I pay for a theme, because it comes with support; as a technically challenged blogger, I need that extra support to help manage my sites.
Logo – $5. Yes, you read that right! Two of my logos were created by as part of a trade – two logos for promotion on my blog. My third logo was created by someone on Fiverr.

Optional Spending – $35/year

Domain Privacy – $9/year – the privacy is supposed to keep you from being spammed
Site Back up & Restore – $17/year – another treat offered by my hosting company; I prefer that the site backups remain on my host’s server than trying to save them on my own.
Pagemodo – $9/month – this site helps you create cool landing (and other) pages for your Facebook page.

And don’t forget about the things like internet service, notebook or desktop, and your business license. If you reach a point where you want to determine if your blogging business is making money, you’ll have to take these into account as well.

If you’re not 100% sure about any investment, don’t make it. Instead, take the time to do your research. Hosting companies are always promoting deals for your first year. Connect with a blog designer to dress up your site in exchange for free ad space. And don’t forget about Fiverr; I’ve gotten some great deals on that site!

What are your big expenses for your blog this year?

Looking For More Blog Tips?

If you are looking for more ideas on how to stay motivated both in blogging and in life, then you do not want to miss these posts:

About the Author:

Kimberly Gauthier is a prolific blogger who has rediscovered her love of writing and photography and is now the author of Through the Lens of Kimberly GauthierAdventures in Blogging, andKeep the Tail Wagging.  She’s excited to share what she’s learned about growing a successful blog at the 2012 Las Vegas Bloggy Boot Camp.

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Comments

  1. If you wish for to take a good deal from this paragraph then you
    have to apply these methods to your won weblog.

  2. Great email! My sister works in advertising and I’ve now gotten inspired to have her create a logo for me. Any advice when thinking of ditching the “.blogspot” in favor of a personalized URL? I know blogspot will let you purchase through them, but does that limit your ability to customize your blog at all? Are there any advantages of purchasing through another channel?

  3. I’d really like to spruce up my blog – as in go all out: get my own host, use WordPress.org, get an all out custom design, and treat it more as a business, but I just can’t do that right now. I’m still in the basics of blogging, even though I’ve been doing it for a few years now. With school, I just can’t give my blog the attention in deserves. However, I graduate in May (finally!) so I’m hoping after that I will be able to spend more time making my blog into what I want it to be. This is a really good guide for doing that, too. It gives me a lot to think about in terms of what I want out of my blog, and what I need to do to get there.

  4. Wow, never even thought about a blog budget…

  5. Great post!
    I need to get more organized with my blogging finances this year. What do you guys use to keep track of what you spend and what you earn? I know QuickBooks is out there but I don’t want to shell out the money for that just yet.
    I envision a spreadsheet where I can indicate the who owes me money, and when it’s received…

    I hate to reinvent the wheel. Does anything out there exist like that?

    Caroline

    • Hi Caroline – I use 2 things; a spreadsheet and Paypal. I try to have everything run through Paypal – all my expenses out and all my payments in. Anything that doesn’t run through Paypal, I track in excel.

      I used to use Quicken, but I found it to be cumbersome – with creating all the categories – the excel spreadsheet was easier and then I created a profit & loss statement to pull it all together for taxes. Excel has P&L templates or you can Google them. If you don’t already know, a P&L statement is just your revenue less expenses = profit – I put list out my revenue (affiliates, reviews, advertising), then my expenses (hosting, domain, supplies, internet, etc), and then total it down. I try to be really simple.

  6. I’m confused…you said “At this time, Blogger does allow users to monetize their sites.” I know a lot of people who have monetized their Blogger hosted blogs (including us).

    When making out your blog budget, don’t forget the expenses related to your posts too (i.e. craft items and food items).

    • Nope, you got it right. Blogger does allow users to monetize their site. The reason why I added “at this time” is because WordPress.com doesn’t allow and I don’t know if at some time in the future, Blogger will have a hosted vs self hosted version of their service the way WordPress does.

      That is a great point about the food and crafts. My blogs don’t require more supplies than what I have, but I also don’t do crafts – I’ve always wanted to – I’ve always wanted to scrapbook.

  7. I don’t believe I saw anyone mention ads to get more readers to their blogs – sometimes you can free coupons for a free trial like Web Magazine….I like those!

    • That’s a great point, Lisa – I’ve tried to find free ads, but the only ones I’ve done are Google and Facebook and they’re only free the first time you use them, but every now and then they send me something that I can use. I’ll check out Web Magazine. I haven’t heard of that one. Thanks for the tip!

  8. I’m currently having a logo designed. I’m considering paying to have my Facebook page advertised. What are your thoughts on that?

  9. I just recently made the jump to having my own domain name and it’s great. Only I realize that I’m not started back at zero with my page rankings. That’s a bit of a drag. But I love having my own domain name. Nothing like owning a little piece of internet real estate!

  10. Great post Kimberly, I definitely need to sit down and work out a budget this year!

  11. Do you include a social/educational budget? (I would think this to include conferences, books, classes etc.)

  12. I have just been blogging for the fun of it. I am so glad to get this article now, as I am thinking of expanding my horizons. I will refer to it again.

  13. Great tips!i just invested in a new theme :) I wish I had more of a business but now it’s just a hobby. Would love your next post to be about going from hobby to business, Kimberly!

  14. Great post! Though of course you forgot to mention budgeting for blog conferences! ;) And don’t forget business cards.

    Another point to consider, depending on your personal tax situation, expenses related to your blog may be tax deductible!

    Chrysta

  15. Great post, it helps me learn a bit more! :)

  16. Right now my blog budget is $0.00. I am taking time to see if I can keep up with consistent posting for(3 or more times per week, every week) for 52 weeks. If I do that, I am thinking of moving from Blogger to WordPress, so I can have a fully functional blog. My plan is blogging for pleasure, not business. So I am not sure if spending $$ to blog is feasible.

  17. My big expense is hosting. But I also pay for a security site that scans my blog daily for malware. After a malware scare my first year blogging, it is worth the expense to me! I paid for my blog design once upon a time; a treat to myself:)

  18. Excellent tips and I need to sit down and do this.

  19. My blog spending is tempered by my business partner – my husband. It’s difficult at times for us to agree on what is worth investing the money in because he isn’t a blogger. But for the most part he understands the need to invest money in order to earn money. The biggest expense I have for this year is to attend Bloggy Boot Camp. I’m thankful to have won a ticket but now I have to cover the expenses of travel and hotel. Plus, hubby has to take a day off of work we have to pay for a sitter. I know that the expense is worth it! Just need to figure out the details. :)

    • I’m going to have the same expense. I’m a speaker in Vegas, but I still need to pay for the flight and hotel. I decided to combine the trip with a fun visit with my mom so we’ll split the hotel, but if she can’t make it, then maybe I should see if anyone wants to split a hotel room.

  20. i’m lucky i don’t have any of this ecpense because my blog doesn’t make money so i have no worries

    • Becca – “no worries” is a fantastic place to be, because once I started accounting for my blogging, things got more complicated. I love it blogging and it’s been a fun ride, but I do appreciate those “no worries” days :)

  21. I agree with JanMary – don’t forget the expenses to BBC… totally worth the experience.

  22. I am actually saving up my pennies this year as I plan to convert over to WordPress in 2012. Moving over is quite the ordeal, and I want it done seamlessly and to premiere my new and improved blog. I anticipate spending about 300 to 400 dollars on it and after that I don’t think I will spend anymore. I don’t mind spending money on my blog to a certain extent – everything in moderation.

    • Congratulations. I converted from Blogger in 2010 and I hired someone to help me, because I was worried that I would muck it up. I really enjoy WordPress and have found more flexibility with the free plugins, fantastic themes, and the drive to learn a little coding.

  23. Wow! So much to think about!

  24. I like that concrete breakdown of what is and what is not a useful expense. At this point, I haven’t monetized my blog. I don’t feel like I have enough traffic yet to make the added expense and hassles pay for themselves. I do pay for my own domain name, but that’s it. So far.

    • Jessie – if you ever change your mind, let me know. I just started a new blog this month. It’s called Keep the Tail Wagging, and it’s already made money and the month isn’t over. I’ve paid less than $50 for this new blog – domain, crazy deal on hosting at year end, and the theme was free (I bought it for another blog – once you buy, you can use it as often as you’d like).

      Stay in touch!

  25. Of course there is the cost of attending SITS bloggy boot camp but it gave me such an experience and connections that the benefits far outweighed the cost!

    :)

  26. You’re doing good. I think I’m spending more than that. I have 2 blogs and 2 web stores. The hosting on the blogs is real cheap thanks to Hostgator but my e-stores is $29.95 a piece each month. I just havent’ figure out how to migrate them without messing them up!

    • Thanks, Michelle
      I’ve thought of adding a store, because I was considering offering stock photography to bloggers, but I couldn’t justify the additional cost, because I would have to sell my images to cover it so I scratched that. But I love checking out the stores of bloggers.

      • You could make your store a part of your blog. It doesn’t have to be a separate site. Mine just happened to be that way. I had my business first and then started blogging, so I don’t consider myself a blogger primarily. It’s second and an extension of my business.

        Had I known what I know now I would have started with WordPress and then added e-commerce functionality to it. Cheaper that way with HostGator hosting unlimited sites for one cost.

        Now, I have this huge site that contains products and articles and it would be a lot to combine it with my blog.

        If you use wordpress, couldn’t you just sell your photos from there, using a plugin to add the e-commerce functionality or even just use paypal?

  27. I really need to sit down and do this math. Thanks for the nudge.

  28. Does anyone have a blog just for fun anymore???

    • Of course! But I know what you mean about so many people wanting to make money. It does seem to change things. That’s why I will only blog about things I love. I have three blogs, one about photography, one about blogging, and one about dogs. I have a blast writing them, connecting with people, it’s fantastic.

      What really changed for me was when Chevy contacted me, because they wanted a dog owner to test our their Equinox. I get dog food and toys to sample and review. I even got to try out a lens for a month. Some of these have tax consequences and with the IRS sneaking around our lovely blogging community, I thought I’d better be safe than sorry and started treating my blogs as a business.

      I work hard not to become a blogger who’s focused on sales – once it stops being fun, then I’m done or I’ll go back to the basics.

  29. I do have a separate savings account I use to help pay for expenses like domain name and hosting. I haven’t tried tracking income since most of my blogging income is in the form of gift cards so far.

    PS – I had the same issue as Kacie. Every time I hit “tab” it moved me up to the top of the page. On this page and the Daily Blogger SITS post as well.

  30. The only money I’ve spent is for the .com and hosting. dear, there are so many more things I could invest in, huh? I’d need a serious budget monitor.

    • I know what you mean. It would be cool to have an app that beeped like crazy when I went too far. LOL

      One thing that I’ve had to watch are the webinars. They’re free and there are some good ones out there, but the point is to sell a product. I watched one about Facebook marketing that was AMAZING and when it was over, the product was only $97 – wow, that’s a deal. I turned off my computer. It would suck to spend $100 only to learn what I already know.

  31. My main investment this year will be educational books. I don’t think I’ll be making it to any conferences, so books will be how I gain a lot of needed information.

    • If you have a Kindle Fire, you can download books to it – I’ve been doing that a lot lately. If you’re interested in a book recommendation, I’d suggest Launch. I’m going to write a review of it soon. It’s an amazing book by Michael Stelzner. If you find any cool books, please keep me in mind and send over recommendations. Thanks :)

  32. I keep a low blogging budget, but I think I should increase it to account for outsourcing some tasks, if I can. When I think of my 2011 expenses to income, my expenses are less than 5% (not counting taxes).

    Site note — when I hit “tab” on this comment form, it kept taking me to the top of the page instead of to the next box.

    • I’m having the same issue with the tab – glad it’s not just me.

      What I found most difficult was keeping track of what I was outsourcing so I started paying for everything through Paypal, because then I have all of my ins and outs on one report. Doesn’t work for vendors who don’t offer Paypal as a payment option and Paypal keeps a little when you withdraw, but it’s all I got for now. :)

  33. Good tips! Thx.

  34. My question is about stock photo services. My posts rarely have any pictures and I’m a terrible photographer, so i’d like to find a photo service to buy some stock photos. I think posts look so much more professional if there is a picture or two. Can anyone recommend one that isn’t too expensive?

  35. Last year I spent about $350 total on my blog, including my domain (2 years), annual hosting, theme costs (Thesis) and paying a designer (a fellow SITS member!) to create my header and buttons. The total revenue I earned last year was $315, so I almost broke even. I hope to do better this year! I was proud of myself seeing as it was my first year blogging! This was good info, especially for those who have never invested money into their blogs. Great tips, thanks for sharing!

  36. Hm….my blog budget is currently $0. I make no $$, so I invest not $$. I do invest plenty of time (which I suppose could be considered), but I can’t justify spending any cash when there is no return on investment.

    These will be great tips if and when my blog ever justifies some investment.

    • I don’t have a blog budget either. I think sometimes it’s forgotten that some of us do it for fun still.

      • I don’t think it’s forgotten that some bloggers do it for fun. I still do it for fun too. I love it. But once I started receiving items for review and getting paid, even if it was only $25 here and there, I started seeing it as a business too. I was curious to see how far I could get as a business.

        I love that there are so many of us out there who are blogging for a variety of reasons. It’s a fantastic community.

    • That is so smart, Kerry – I had a friend who got carried away with her blog – paying for a domain, hosting, logo, tons of stuff and she had just started. I appreciated her enthusiasm, but saw that she regretted her haste a few months later when she was only posting 1x a week. She wasn’t blogging to make money, but she didn’t take advantage of all of the free options out there.

  37. Great tips!

  38. My biggest expense right now is Aweber. It’s certainly not something I like handing money over for every month, but it is another “necessary evil” to protect yourself from potential disaster later on.

  39. For years I had no blogging expenses because I kept saying it was a hobby. Now that I have a home office, it is clearly no longer ‘just’ a hobby so your post comes right at the best time!

    And 5.00 for a logo…I am impressed! :)

    • I know what you mean. I have a home office and photography studio – all for my blogging. At first, I wanted to be a portrait photographer, but the blogging was way more fun. And now that the IRS has it’s eyes on bloggers, it’s important for those of us who are running a business to get our ducks in a row :)

  40. I don’t usually think of my blog as a business, so thanks for the paradigm shift!

  41. Great info, Thanks!

  42. I think the biggest investment I’ve made for my blog is a new camera. No more grainy photos to go with my writing. That said, if I stopped blogging tomorrow, I would still have a great camera to take family pictures so it’s not completely a blog expense. :)

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