What does it really cost to start (and run) a blog in the first year?

My blog isn’t quite a year old yet, but for tax purposes I need to figure out exactly what was spent in 2016.

When I decided to blog, I never dreamed that what I spent would matter at tax time less than a year later. As you can imagine, there has been some going through of old mastercard bills. It’s been painful and tedious. No matter what you DO spend on your blog, track your expenses. Do it.


Why an expense report?

At the end of last February, I was researching how to blog on Pinterest. And I landed on this post with a little timer counting down in it. Some blogging course that was only open once per year was available now and going away in less than 24 hours. The thought hadn’t crossed my mind that I should be thinking about spending money to start this blog. I wanted to do it for free.

I have never considered myself the sort of person that can be sold to with a little timer. (Actually, I know for a fact that I am not the sort of person that can be sold to with a timer. Scarcity tactics don’t work on me, and the fact that I even gave it a second glance tells me that God had directed me to that post on that day.)

But never the less, there was a timer, and there was a course and I couldn’t find any other blogging specific courses that promised to be as comprehensive as this one promised to be. So I had to decide fast. I had only been thinking seriously about blogging for a few days, but I was pretty sure that I REALLY wanted to do it.

I considered not buying the course, trying out this blogging thing for a bit, and then taking the course next time it opened. (Which would be a year later.)

All the “how to start a blog” tutorials everywhere promised that it was cheapcheap to start a blog, so I figured I would bite the bullet and pay for the course and it would hopefully be my only real expenditure. (Note that at the time I did. not. have. a. blog.)

I didn’t really notice, then, the complete lack of blog expense reports available.

No one else was talking about what they REALLY spent to set up their blogs – or to run them on a daily basis.

Just as income reports are an invaluable learning too, so – I believe – would be expense reports. So I’ve decided to share mine with you for the first year of my blog’s life. I’ll detail here exactly what this blog cost me in year 1, why I chose to spend on that particular thing, and if it was worth it or not.

UPDATE: I have decided that I will no longer share new income reports on the blog for 2017. Because I understand the value of income reports as a learning tool, I am still sending these reports out to my blogging email list. Get access here:

I don't post these publicly anymore - for many reasons - but I'm making them available to subscribers to my newsletter, because they're solid proof that you CAN hope to earn a decent income with a blog in 2021!
we do not spam, and you can unsubscribe anytime

Related: You can read my blog income reports here
Related: How to start a blog for profit and work from home

Blog Expenses 2016

(Expenses are in CANADIAN dollars and are what I actually paid after exchange. I have not included my internet @ $52.45 / month because we would have paid for internet at this rate regardless of if I started a blog or not.)

Domain and Hosting (initial purchase) – $109.15
Elegant Themes Membership – $95.79
BoardBooster – $32.45
Tailwind – $107.78
Elite Blog Academy – $862.38
Domain and Hosting (made such a mess I had to start over) – $67.45
Madmimi Email Service – $119.86
Making Sense Of Affiliate Marketing – $261.43
Various Ebooks – $82.75
Theme Customization – $358.30
Stock Photo – $6.51
Virtual Assistant – $40.70
Hosting Upgrade (blog became too big for entry plan) – $266.17

Total Blog Expenses 2016: $2410.72

Not exactly cheapcheap. BUT.

If I had known in February that I would have spent $2400 by the end of December, there’s a (very) good chance that I wouldn’t have started. (And I had plenty of opportunity to spend far more – I just chose not to. Also some of those expenses are unnecessary expenses – like that extra hosting cost, the pinterest schedulers, the theme customization etc.)

BUT. Note that almost half – actually, exactly half – $1206.56 is on blog education. I didn’t know the first thing about blogging. I didn’t know what a “WordPress” WAS. I had no idea how to write a post and make it make money. There was no way I was moving forward without blog education. There was no way I would ever have earned a penny with this blog if I didn’t invest in the courses and I books I bought. 

My blog education, specifically Elite Blog Academy, has translated into almost $20,000 in profit for 2016. (Before taxes.) I now work for myself, from my home. I can stay here with my baby and if we have a rough night we sleep in. If I don’t get my work done in the day, I can work in the evening. I LOVE blogging.

If I had never stumbled on that little count down timer last February, I don’t actually know what I would be doing now. Probably dreading every passing day of maternity leave… knowing I would have to leave my baby and go back to work in a few months.

Lena Gott’s Traffic Transformation Guide  is also invaluable to me when it comes to growing my blog!

My plans for 2017

I have seen clearly that investing in a blog makes the blog more profitable. I had originally thought that since my “blog education” spending would go down significantly in 2017 I would be spending far less on the blog… but I’m only one month in and I have plans to spend more. 

Things I’ll be looking at spending on in 2017 include an email collection bar that can integrated with my email provider, a stock photo membership, a new laptop, and possibly more theme customization.

So tell me, did your blog cost you as much as mine cost me in it’s first year running? Or did you manage to create a profitable blog without spending much at all? Do you think blog education is worth it?

blogging tips / blog expense report