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The Economics of Blogging as an Individual

Economics of BloggingThere are plenty of people out there who spend their time blogging for someone else. That someone else could be another blogger or a company with a blogging aspect of some kind. In other words, they’re getting paid by someone. Today, I’m focusing on the individual, the person who goes it alone. Someone like me.

Your Home Office and Blogging Equipment

Your home office can be something as simple as a laptop computer stand in an apartment bedroom (which is what I’m using until I return to my real home) or it can be anything larger. The key point is to have some place where you can write your blogging masterpieces without being bothered every few minutes.

Your equipment has to be something more suited to typing than a smartphone. I don’t know about you, but I fear the day I have to do the two-fingered tapping routine regularly. A tablet isn’t much better unless you use extra peripherals with it. The 10-inch Kindle Fire from Amazon.com is more affordable than most (at around $150) and a wireless keyboard and mouse would set you back $30 or more. Your best bet is a laptop computer.

I can buy a decent laptop computer for blogging for under $200 from Walmart.com, which doesn’t completely suck. As long as it has 4 gigabytes of memory and can run Windows 10 without issues, it’ll do exactly as much as I need it to do. You can choose a laptop computer or a traditional desktop computer, whichever you prefer, and it can be as powerful as you need it to be.

If you’re doing something new and want to do it frugally, your equipment cost should be a one-time investment of less than $200.

As far as software is concerned, you only need an image editor and a text editor. I wholeheartedly recommend XnView MP as an image editor (or Irfanview) and Notepad++ as a text editor. The software is free.

Online Blogging Platforms

If you’re just getting your feet wet, you may not want to invest anything other than what you’ve already invested. There are plenty of free online blogging platforms to choose from. I’ll list a few:

You can find more by searching for “free blogging platforms”. I use a custom CSS but I used WordPress (the self-hosted version) for years. Self-Hosted blogging comes next.

Self-Hosted Blogging

With self-hosted blogging, you need a web host and blogging software to put on it. Don’t be tricked into believing you can get shared hosting for a couple of dollars a month and it’ll all work out. You need at least a VPS (virtual private server), but you don’t have to spend more than $5 a month for it. I’ve used DigitalOcean (referral link) for a few years and I’ve never spent more than $10 a month (back before they cut prices in half).

There are plenty of free blogging software packages for self-hosted blogging available. I really can’t recommend one over the other since I wrote my own. If you want something with all the bells and whistles, use the package from WordPress.org, which I used until I wrote my own.

My domain name costs me $14.99 a year. My web hosting costs me $60 a year. As long as I make $75.00 a year (or more) from self-hosted advertising, I break even. I’ve never made that little. I can’t count internet or equipment costs because I’d be paying for them regardless of any online endeavor.

Ignoring the cost of a domain name, your web hosting cost should be around $5 a month.

The Economics of Blogging - For Me

There are times when I get excited by how much I’m making every day. I use Google AdSense because it’s a safe bet. There are other times when I get depressed by how little I’m making every day. I sometimes require a bit of prodding from my wife, Josie, to snap me out of it.

Blogging (or writing) is something I’ll be doing whether I make money from it or not. I retired from the military in 1998 and then from the regular work force in 2006. I don’t care what anyone says, you can’t survive in retirement without doing some form of work. My work (my hobby) costs me $75 a year. That’s cheaper than woodworking and other similar hobbies, which may yield nothing in return.

The fantastic part about blogging for myself is I don’t have to do it more often than I want to do it. If I do it every day, that’s cool. If I do it only a couple of times a month, that’s cool too, because I have no one to answer to but myself.

So, let me break it down for you. If you want to get into blogging, your initial investment should be under $220. That’s less than $200 for equipment, $15 for the domain name and $5 for the first month of web hosting. You’re not limited to that much and even if you give up before getting anywhere, you can still keep and use the equipment for something.

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By RT Cunningham
March 5, 2020
Personal Finance, Writing