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What Is The Actual Cost of Your Blogging?

What Is The Actual Cost of Your Blogging?

If you believe blogging is free, then you’re probably living in a dream world. Unless you’re a total freeloader who still gets a weekly allowance from his parents, then one way or another you’re paying for your blogging activities. Sure, and are free tools. And even if you pay for your own hosting, software like WordPress, plugins, and other tools are free, right?

Not necessarily. Blogging does have its costs. And these can sometimes be attributed to you, while it can sometimes be carried by someone else. Offhand, one could think of several costs that you can directly attribute to blogging. For instance, here are a few costs that I think I’ve been incurring through the years.

Software costs. WordPress is free, indeed. But the software I use on my several computers is not exactly free. At my home office, for instance, I run one laptop with Vista, which I bought at about $130. Two other laptops one came bundled with Windows XP Home, and let’s say the imputed cost was at about $40 each. My Mac Mini came with OS X Tiger, and at that time, the imputed cost was, I think about $130. That’s a total of $340. I’ve also paid for some other software over the years, but those are not directly related with blogging use. If a computer had a serviceable lifetime of two years, that’s about $14.67 per month for me.

Equipment Costs. I didn’t buy my computers all at the same time, but for discussion’s sake, let’s say every one was bought at the same time. That’s about $2,400 in all (two low to mid-range laptops, one netbook and one Mac Mini), from which I’ve already taken out the software costs. So for my serviceable lifetime of two years, that’s $100 per month.

Hosting Costs. I host my personal sites using mid-range accounts that give me sufficient bandwidth, disc space and allocation for unlimited domains. I pay a monthly subscription of about $20 for these.

Utility Costs. I run my office from home, so I subscribe to residential DSL. And I would say part of my electricity bills would also cover for my home office use. These amount to $60 per month, including the fraction I consider part of my electricity use.

Travel Costs. When you work as a blogger or writer, you don’t actually have to spend money on gas or train tickets to commute to work every day. But one is sometimes invited to attend events, press briefings, movie screenings, and the like. And you get to spend for transportation, food and even coffee, including occasional visits to a WiFi-enabled cafe near my kids’ school. I guess it’s safe to say I give myself an allowance of about $25 per week, or $100 per month.

Yes, I live in a country where cost of living is cheap.

Opportunity Costs. Now this is one aspect of costing that’s a bit more difficult to compute for. Opportunity cost basically refers to the money you could potentially earn or gain if you were doing something else. For instance, instead of earning $2,000 a month from ads on your blog, you could be earning $6,000 per month working as a designer or a developer at a local company. So the opportunity cost here is $6,000 less $2,000, which amounts to $4,000.

In my case, my previous jobs (including corporate and government work) earned me substantially less than what my online undertakings are earning me, and so I don’t think I have lost opportunities. That’s unless I count non-monetary benefits, like free meals during meetings, free coffee, free health insurance, and the like. I could also perhaps count the free use of office equipment, bandwidth, free vacation trips, and others.

I guess computing for your monthly blogging or other Internet-related expenses could help you determine how much net you are earning, particularly if you’re running an online business like blogging, design, consultancy, and the like.

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Costing can even be more difficult if one considers those expenses borne by third parties. For instance, your blog network or your boss could be subsidizing your hosting expenses. Your blog software could be subsidizing their “free” offering with advertisements or sponsorships.

In all, my monthly blogging activities would cost me about $294.67 per month.

I don’t usually feel it’s this big, though since the regular cost I really get to attend to are the utilities and the hosting fees. That’s unless I pay for computer and software purchases on installment basis, which I don’t usually do.

May I ask you, using my methodology, how much are you spending per month? And do you have a better way of computing for costs?

Image credit: flickr/ginnerobot

View Comments (13)
  • Nice article. People often forget to punch in the routine expenses.

    There’s a few problems with your calculations. You assume that the only thing you use your computers and Internet connection for is blogging. In reality, you’d have to calculate a fraction of the hardware, software and DSL subscription based on what portion of your use of these items is devoted to blogging. If you’re reading XKCD, or browsing YouTube, for example, you’re using the computer, are logged into Windows or OS X, and are viewing the website thanks to your DSL connection, but not for the purpose of working on your blog. Also, you don’t need more than one computer for blogging, even though you can use all of them to do so. If there’s more than one on at the same time, chances are only one of them is blogging and the other shouldn’t be counting towards your blogging expenses, unless it’s being used in some auxiliary function (like displaying a reference text, though you could use only one computer and alt+tab between windows). It turns out that even if you do spend most of your “connected time” blogging, you can still get a substantial reduction in your monthly blogging cost, since the hardware and operating systems are the greatest portions of the overall cost.

    And while this amounts to a personal preference (but then again so does the choice of what blogging software and domain provider you use, as well as what kind of hardware you buy), you can buy a PC without Windows pre-installed (though you can’t get a Mac without OS X) and install a free operating system, like some flavor of Linux, BSD or Solaris. This would slice off the imputed cost of bundled software, not to mention (for me at least) the time I’d spend formatting my computer and installing Ubuntu Linux anyways, during which I’d be using up electricity.

    There’s lots of other ways to make small cuts. For example, if you’re really cheap and live at a walking distance from a café with free Wi-Fi, you don’t really need DSL in theory (though the feasibility of this plan is questionable).

  • You got that right, Paolo. I guess I forgot to compute cost as a fraction of how much time I actually devote to blogging. Perhaps I was thinking from the point of view of doing online work, and not blogging, per se. So whether I watch videos on YouTube, read movie reviews or chat with colleagues, these could be related to the work I do, which is write on blogs and help run a network.

    At any given time, I usually have two or three computers in front of me doing different things. One might be uploading files on FTP, one might be for reference, and another would usually run the word processor or the actual blog post window.

    And yes, two of my laptops came without bundled OSes. I bought a copy of Vista for one, though, and XP for the other. At one time or another, I’ve used a flavor of Linux as my main work OS, but these days, it’s just Windows and OS X for simplicity’s sake. I just can’t stop tweaking and hacking on Linux, and it affects my productivity! :)

  • Sorry, I didn’t know you were also a network admin. I guess that makes you blogging cost a lot harder to calculate precisely, since much of what you do must overlap these two activities.

    And not to nag, but my name is Paulo, not Paolo. As awesome as it would probably be to be Italian, I’m from Brazil and that’s how we spell it here.

  • Sorry, Paulo! I have a brother named Paolo. And it was early dawn from where I am when I posted the comment. I guess my dyslexia was getting to me! I actually read your name as “Paolo” the first time!

    And yes, I think it’s harder to compute for the actual cost of blogging this way. Maybe I can also compute for it as a fraction of my total time working on computers and being online. Hey, I’m an economist, but accounting is perhaps one of my worst subjects! :)

  • How about the hours you put into reading blogs, researching and actually writing? Maybe you can compute it by the hour – say $10 per hour. This would reflect the same earnings per hour had you been working for someone else.

    You also forgot the licenses for PhotoShop, Premiere, iWorks, iLife, MS Office, etc. How about other devices such as cellphone bills for 3G, digital camera, scanner, printer, etc?

  • Interesting article though I would suggest making more about the value of your time in this equation, and I don’t mean how much could you earn working for somebody else.

    How much is your time worth?

  • True, these expenses exist. That is why bloggers do everything to optimize their sites, and to be able to earn more than the amount they have to pay each month. However, given that a person is already an internet-addict for some years and then, one day, just decides to try blogging and earn money from it, then he can “ignore” software, equipment, and utility costs. Although these costs are present, yet they are part of a very good investment, as long as one endures well in blogging and online marketing.

  • If you think about it… its all distributed across all computing activities. You use your software for other things too, besides blogging. Otherwise, outsourcing would have cost an arm and a leg.

  • Opportunity Costs. Now this is one aspect of costing that’s a bit more difficult to compute for. Opportunity cost basically refers to the money you could potentially earn or gain if you were doing something else. For instance, instead of earning $2,000 a month from ads on your blog, you could be earning $6,000 per month working as a designer or a developer at a local company. So the opportunity cost here is $6,000 less $2,000, which amounts to $4,000.

    Chances are that if you are running a site capable of generating that much ad revenue, you are already at the point where you could start earning money by writing books and doing other work.

  • I agree with you. The most expensive cost is opportunity cost. The feeling is so uneasy when you start working as a full time blogger. There won’t be a stable income. And, my experience, time seems pass faster when you are working as a blogger. I think time management is more important than other cost management, like software, equirment.

  • Opportunity costs can become quite extensive – so it’s important that we monitor site traffic increases, etc…and see if our efforts are really beginning to pay off. Otherwise – a new approach or technique is needed.

  • I am new to this blogging world. recently started blogging. I will be writing a blog almost twice a week. This article has really helped to understand the cost involve in running a blog.
    Thanks a ton

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