Your Blog Budget – 5 Critical Investments To Consider Today

There I was sitting at my kitchen table with my laptop open and fresh hot coffee. I was ready to start my first blog post, share my ideas, and change the world. And it was all going to be totally free!

Right? Wrong.

While setting up a blog can be as easy as choosing a site name on the platform of your choice, if you have even the tiniest thought of moving the blog out of your head, computer, or kitchen, and into the wider world, there are some expenses that it helps to know about upfront. Making these investments in your blog from the beginning will help you to establish your financial plan and protect you from ugly surprises down the road.

  1. Purchase your domain name
    This is essential. Why? Because even if the name you have chosen for your blog (and all related social media profiles) is unique and descriptive and you can’t imagine that anyone else would ever want to use it, if you are going to invest any time in branding your blog, it would be extremely inconvenient if, six months from now, every online search directs people to someone else’s website. The good news is that this is relatively inexpensive, as you can expect to pay anywhere from $10-25/year. Also, when I purchased the domain name for booksandblintzes, knowing that I had even that small amount of financial skin in the game made a positive difference in my commitment this project. From there, I went straight to work to maximize that initial ROI.
  2. Decide if you need hosting or other professional web support services
    This is a maybe, at least in the beginning. Depending on your personal technology skill set and what you are planning to offer to your readers, you may decide that having more control over the back-end coding, personalization options, more tech support, email services, and other management tools is worth the investment. Eventually, you will want to invest in self-hosting to protect your ownership rights to the content of your blog. Most basic plans start at $10-15/month. After some time muddling through my blog’s web-design on my own, I decided I needed more tech support and wanted more control over exactly how the my blog looks. I have never regretted having unlimited instant messaging access to the people who can save me hours of frustration and increase my productivity.
  3. Incorporate your blog
    There are many reasons why you would want to incorporate your blog as a separate legal entity from yourself. Principally, incorporating can protect your personal assets, as well as allow you to legally operate as a business or non-profit organization. Depending on what you are offering your readers and where you live, the costs just for filing this paperwork vary enormously. Plan to spend at least $100 in filing fees alone, and make sure to note variable renewal fees as well. There are services available that will do all the legwork for you, but their fees usually begin at around $75. Since my website was structurally very simple, incorporating as a non-profit in New Jersey was something I was able to do myself.
  4. Legal and accounting advice
    Mazel tov! Your blog officially exists on the internet and in the records of your country’s tax department! It may be that you already have a working knowledge of all the tax and business regulations that your incorporated entity is subject to. If, however, you took one look at the IRS website and gave up trying to figure out which forms you needed to fill out, or aren’t quite sure about the tax ramifications of throwing the revenue from your website into your personal bank accounts, or you have questions about using copyrighted images, consider paying someone who specializes in these topics to help you. Actual costs will depend on the complexity of your individual situation (such as revenue from the blog and other income, if you employ other writers, contractors, etc.) and where you live. Professional legal and accounting advice is likely to cost $1000 or more a year. Paying someone else to file your website’s tax return and ensuring you’re in compliance with non-profit regulations is priceless. Bottom line: the drain on your resources – your money, your time, your reputation – of not understanding your rights and responsibilities makes addressing the risks of not incorporating or having good counsel an expensive, but necessary priority.
  5. Miscellaneous expenses
    Internet access, office supplies, business cards, promotional materials, stock photos, financial transaction fees…. Whatever it is that you are writing about, even if you get lots of goodies and access as gifts, chances are good that there are still ancillary costs that go along with those free concert tickets. Is the promoter paying for your transportation? I’ve been lucky to receive many of the cookbooks that I’ve reviewed as promotional copies, but I still had to pay for the groceries. My blog’s miscellaneous budget also includes subscription fees for relevant periodicals, occasional childcare, and new bookshelves.

Whether you see your blog as a fun side project or your ticket to change the world and retiring by 40, these five investments could make all the difference. Which one will you start with today?