How Much Should a Blog Cost?

Getting ready to blog? How much should it cost?

I suspect that if you are reading this post, you’ve begun researching this question. I also suspect you may be pretty confused by now at the range of prices you’ve seen!

Setting up, and maintaining a blog can literally cost zero dollars. I’ve also seen articles by very reputable organizations, that suggest you need to spend about $20,000 a MONTH if you’re serious about blogging. Do not panic. The blogs that I set up will not cost you anywhere near that amount. Nevertheless, I’ll start with something you probably already know, but I’d like to reinforce it.

Setting up a blog is like any other business cost, you generally get what you pay for.

OK, but what should you pay for?

That my friends is the right question! The short answer is, you should pay for no more, and no less, than you need, and you should pay as much as you can afford to while maximizing the value you get for every dollar (and hour) you spend.

To make a bit more sense of that statement, I’m going to make some assumptions, that I’ll lay out now.

  1. I’m going to assume that you are either a self-employed “solopreneur“, or an entrepreneur with a small staff.
  2. I’m going to assume that you are not reading this as a representative of a bigger organization, with say, 60 or more employees. If you are, you have bigger marketing issues than I can help you with. Please hire a marketing manager.

You run your own business. You need to get the most for every dollar you spend on it to make your business successful. Social Media and Blogging are excellent marketing tools for smaller businesses because they offer incredible value. In fact, if your business is still in its very early stages, and you have a lot more time than money, you really can get going without spending any money at all. You will however, need to spend a lot of time learning skills that are not relevant to your business. So what are your options?

  1. Free blog hosting and super-easy setup at WordPress.com, or on Blogger
    First of all, you’re a business person, wise in the ways of the world, right? Free is never free! Setting up your professional blog presence on a free service means your precious blog will be running ads for someone else’s business. The hosting company keeps all the ad revenue, and the advertisement algorithms are probably going to put ads for your competitors on YOUR blog. It doesn’t look professional. It isn’t smart. Don’t do it.
  2. Low cost blog hosting, using your own Domain name (YourBusinessName.com)
    This means taking a totally hands-on DIY approach, and setting up your blog on a reputable shared hosting service like 1and1.com / 1and1.ca, GoDaddy, or BlueHost. This can actually be a pretty good option. It’s the option that I myself use! There is no reason that you can’t do it too. Your monthly costs can be well under $20. Should you go this route? Absolutely, but only if you are very comfortable with the “back end” of the Internet, and understand what web hosting involves. If anything in the previous sentence is even slightly confusing, DIY is probably not for you.
  3. Your Nephew Frank
    You may have a friendly relative that blogs about his fishing trips or her collection of antique costume jewellery. Said relative may offer to set you up with a blog for a few hundred dollars. If you are very, very, lucky, and your relative is a professional blogger with a track record and a nice portfolio, then go for it. Otherwise, think back to what I said early on in this post. You usually get what you pay for. If you take your business seriously, your blog had better make that fact blatantly obvious. Nephew Frank is probably not going to cut it. Sorry Frank.
  4. Hire an Ad Agency or Marketing Firm
    This is a great option. A large or medium sized marketing firm will have a fair sized roster of clients with excellent, visually attractive websites and blogs, with fabulous functionality. A larger firm will have a decent sized staff of professionals that specialize in all of the different aspects blog and social media marketing. Unfortunately, all of this professional service staff costs a lot of money to feed and maintain. The only way the agency can pay for those fancy digs, and fancy young professionals, is by making you pay pay for it all. If your company is big enough to afford a $50,000 Website and $10,000 to $25,000 a month to keep it going, by all means go for it. You will get a great website, an excellent, professional blog, full social media integration, marketing help, advertising support, and all the bells and whistles you deserve for that kind of money. This site offers an honest view of the costs involved in going “all in” on a blog.
  5. Hire a Professional Blog Builder
    Yes, this is where I come in. A blogging specialist can do all the technical chores for you, so that when you’re ready to actually use your blog and start writing articles for it, that’s all you’ll have to worry about. My basic startup package is extremely affordable. For a very low fee (ask me about it) I will register a Domain Name for your blog, get it hosted by one of the world’s leading web hosting companies, set up your blog, create the initial “mandatory” pages (Home, About, Contact, Privacy) and even write an introductory blog post! I’ll also secure your blog against comment spam, and connect it to your Twitter feed for you. I also include full training and support for your first month!My basic package includes all the options you need for a professional looking, highly functional blog that you will be proud to have your clients and potential customers visit. If you want more than “basic” but you’re not ready to use a larger firm we can discuss other options, like purchasing specialized WordPress Themes, adding more pages, high-traffic hosting options,etc. I’m a solopreneur myself. I get you. Let’s Talk.

What do I charge?

Since this article was originally posted, I’ve received several inquiries from people asking what I charge to set up a blog. I have three options available to new bloggers:

  1. Basic Blog Package
  2. Deluxe Blog Package
  3. Custom Blog Package

Price List

 

 

Blogging and SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Google is the king. Bing is the queen. If you don’t keep the king and queen happy you will lose your head.

You’ve had your website for 10 or 15 years. If people search for you by name, they find it. Great!. That’s a very good place to start. But wouldn’t it be nice if people searching Google also found you when they were searching for what you can offer them? I’m thinking that the answer to that question is a very resounding, “yes!”

Hopefully, you’ve already give a bit of thought to SEO – Search Engine Optimization – making sure that your website is set up in a way that makes it easy to find on Google or Bing (or other search engines) when people search for you or what you sell. Also hopefully, you’ve managed to steer clear of the many scammers and charlatans offering to guarantee that you will be positioned at “number one on Google” for an exorbitant fee. I’ll do that for free right now, if your name is Gerome B. Smithson, put it on every page of your website, and name one page, “About Gerome B. Smithson”. I guarantee you that you will be the first result of any search for Gerome B. Smithson. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this blog article show up on the first page of a Google search a few days after it’s posted! Lastly, I hope and pray that your SEO expert didn’t get your website banished from search results altogether by using “dirty tricks” that the search engine algorithms caught on to. And they will catch on.

I’ve talked a bit about optimization. I’ve talked a bit about pitfalls and dangers. Let’s talk about blogs. After all, I build blogs!

How can blogging help your business’s online presence? The answer is simple, but like every easy answer, making it happen will require a little (really, just a little) effort. Search engines all try to deliver the most relevant results to search inquiries. That’s the business that they’re in. How well they do it determines how successful they are. To do it well search companies like Google and Bing spend millions upon millions of dollars developing proprietary search algorithms. Algorithms determine which website will appear at the top of page 1 of a search result, and which websites will appear somewhere on page 27. No one visits page 27, except maybe the sad sack clicking through page after page trying to find her website. Here is an example from this very day:

I wanted to find out if I should use the word businesses, business’ or, business’s for a paragraph in this blog post. I’m writing this particular post in Microsoft Internet Explorer, so the default search engine is Microsoft Bing. I searched, business’ or business’s grammar. Bing delivered two pages of results of websites on the topic of business grammar. Not especially useful as I would then have to figure out how to find my answer in one of those sites. I switched to Google Chrome and made the same query. The first result was exactly what I was looking for, as was the second. Guess which search engine won?

What can you do to improve the odds of your business or professional website being found? How can a small business hope to compete, when even Microsoft sometimes can’t get search right?

Blog. Blogging accomplishes your SEO goals automatically. You barely even have to think about SEO once you start blogging regularly. Your blog helps you be found by keeping you relevant. Search engines prioritize new content. Every post is new content. Search engines look for outbound links. It’s easy to add a couple of high quality links to every blog post. Search engines look for inbound links (other sites that link to you). The more you post, and the better your content, the more likely it is that other people will link back to you. You can help this along by posting links to your blog posts on your Twitter and other social media accounts. Search engines try to prioritize based on how “important” they think a website is. This is a tough one to crack because perceived importance is at the heart of their algorithms, but again good content, frequent contributions, and quality links, are all going to be factors in making you and your web presence stand out in the crowd. Maybe you’ll never get your blog or website to number one on page one of a Google search for “Toronto Lawyer”. But you can might get to page one for a search of “Toronto lawyer specializing in collaborative divorce for seniors”. And if that’s what you do, get busy writing a really good blog article (or two or three), or you’re going to appear beneath this article!

3 things that every blog must have

The “listicles” are everywhere on the Web. 10 of this. 12 of that. 7 of the other. It all becomes a bit overwhelming. Hopefully this short list of only three items will be one of the lists that you choose to read. Because if you have a blog, or are thinking of starting a blog, you will be spinning your wheels if your blog doesn’t include all three of these “must have” factors.

Every blog, no matter the topic, no matter the business, no matter the size of the business, must have these three things to fulfill its function:

  1. Easy to look at
    Your blog must have visual appeal. Visual appeal is necessary for reasons that have nothing to do with how “pretty” or how “fancy” the blog looks. Visual appeal is what makes your blog look serious and professional, and encourages visitors to stick around and read your content.
  2. Easy to read
    It doesn’t matter how good your blog looks, or how good your content is, if it’s too hard to read. Easy to read means that your type (fonts) should be legible, and that your language is clear, concise, and grammatically correct. Avoid spelling mistakes. Avoid typos. Proof read. Ask people you trust to read your posts, and be willing to accept their suggestions. Readability does NOT mean that your language should be fancy or flowery. Choose your words and writing style to suit your audience.
  3. Easy to interact with
    Unlike a static website, a blog is meant to build a community around your brand/service/product. You can’t build a community if the conversation is all one way. Of course having good content that people want to read is of vital importance. It is also vitally important that once people have found and read your content they can interact with it.
    – Include buttons that encourage people to share your content on Social Media like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
    – Include links to your own Social Media accounts
    – Make sure that people can comment on your posts (be sure to take steps to limit comment spam)
    – Include a “contact” feature so people can contact you directly
    – If you have a sales website or separate “brochure” site, link to it.
    – Be sure to include a subscription feature of some kind, so that people can opt in to receiving updates and future blog posts by email.

By making sure that your blog always incorporates these three “must have” factors, you can feel confident that you are “doing it right”. There are many free resources with further tips, and of course, help is also available from Blogs Mean Business (that’s us).

Contact us if you’d like to talk about it.

BONUS TIP:

Content is king. Always blog content that is going to be interesting to your audience and that adds value to their lives.

But I don’t know what to write!

What will you write? You have decided that having a blog for your business or professional practice is a good idea. That’s perfect. Your considering hiring someone to build your blog and get you started. Very good. But… You are reluctant to actually get started because you have no idea what you’d post on your blog once it’s up. That’s a problem.

Don’t worry, you are not alone!
It is easier than you think it is to start blogging.

The reason that blogging is going to be easier than you might have thought is that you already have a head start. How can that be? Your head start is that you already know more than anybody else in the entire world about something. That’s your business. All you need to do is find a way to share that knowledge. And, to make that a bit easier, here are a few tips to get you started.

Blogging Idea Tips:

  1. Answer a question
    It could be a question that a customer actually asked you, or it could be a question that you’d like a customer to ask you. Either way, you have the answer. Share it in a blog post.
  2. Tell a story
    You’ve probably seen this tip before. But what everyone else seems to leave out, are actual story ideas. Here are a couple to get you started. The story of how your business started. A story about a satisfied client. A story about a problem that you solved. A story about how you overcame a hardship. A story about why you love what you do. You get the idea, right?
  3. Ask a question
    We don’t always need to know the answer. Asking a question can be a great way to get feedback from your stakeholders, it’s a great way to open a dialogue with customers, it can deepen your relationships, and hey; you might even get the answer you’re looking for!
  4. Post what you sell
    Whether you sell a product or a service, your blog provides an endless opportunity to describe what you offer, and how it can benefit for clients and customers. This tip comes with a gentle warning though. Be careful not to appear “spammy”. Remember that (just like you) your customers are being bombarded with sales pitches online. Most of those pitches are probably annoying to them. Your goal is always to offer them something of value, never to annoy or alienate them. A sales post should always offer something much more than a sales pitch. It could be a detailed description of a product feature, or a unique (really unique!) buying opportunity, like an annual clearance sale, a product clear-out, or a new product or service.
  5. Post Links and Snippets
    Even with the tips I’ve offered above, it can be difficult to come up with blogging ideas. Chances are good that your customers share some of the same interests that you do. You’re probably on the Web checking out some of those interests every day anyway. Why not post a snippet (a sentence or two, maybe a picture or a paragraph) of an interesting article that you have come across. When you do this, ALWAYS post a link back to the original article on the original website. By doing this you accomplish several things at once. You provide interesting content to your own readers. You also promote the author and website that you linked back to. Done properly this builds their credibility, enhances your own reputation, and makes you a valuable resource and a good “netizen“.

Final Notes:

Blog posting really is pretty straightforward. It can feel a bit intimidating before your fingers hit the keyboard, but once you make those first few keystrokes you’ll be on your way. And remember, don’t forget to promote those blog posts on your social media accounts. Tweet a link on Twitter. Share a link on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Need more help? Contact us.

A blog is critical infrastructure today

Every business needs a blog. Back in the 1990s when Websites were a new thing, it seemed as though everyone in the tech and marketing world was trying to push small business owners into having a website. By the next decade it became clear that any business without a website was simply not going to be taken seriously by anyone besides their friends and families. Having a website became part of the basic marketing infrastructure of every business. You have a phone number, an address, and now you have an email address and web site too. These form the core identity of every business, big or small.

Today those things are simply not enough. Even the smallest business needs to have at least some Social Media presence, and a Blog should be at the heart of that presence. Here are a few of the many reasons that your business should be blogging:

  1. Your customers expect it
    As mentioned earlier, people now expect to see a blog as part of the online presence of the people with whom they do business.
  2. Blogs Build Website Traffic
    Staying visible online is becoming harder and harder. Google is constantly adjusting its search algorithms to deliver the most relevant search results. Blogging is probably the most effective SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tool available to the typical business person.
  3. Blogging makes you an expert
    Notice that I didn’t say “seem” like an expert. Assuming that you blog what you know, and blog what you do, you get a fantastic opportunity to share your existing expertise with the world. You succeeded because you ARE an expert at what you do. Why not let your potential clients know it?
  4. Blogging builds your brand
    Branding is a critical aspect of marketing. Every blog post, and every visit to your blog, is an opportunity to keep your brand visible, and enhance the value of your brand.
  5. Blogging builds community
    Your blog gives you more opportunities to interact with your customers, potential customers, stakeholders, and your community. Unlike your website, your blog is neither a “set it and forget it” brochure, or a virtual storefront. It sits at the core of a community of people and businesses that you want to visit your website, your business, etc. A blog is a center of influence.
  6. A Blog is like a magnet
    Blogging is part of the social media ecosystem. Your social media ecosystem includes your Twitter account, your LinkedIn profile, your Facebook fan (business) page, as well as whatever other online presence you engage in professionally. Your blog is like a magnet in the middle of your online world – it is the nucleus that everything else revolves around.