My recent post about my top cheap hobby ideas and suggestions has been fairly successful, and has inspired me to post this follow up article about one of the suggestions that has been occupying much of my time of the last six months: blogging. Let’s look at running a blog as a hobby.
Blogging as a hobby
Blogging has most of the hallmarks of a good frugal hobby. If you have a computer and an internet connection then you can start a blog. There are a number of free services that let you host your blog on their hosting, like blogger, tumblr and wordpress. They are fine if you’re starting out and have no plans to advertise, but can be more limiting if you want your own domain name and have complete control over what is on your site.
We will look at more of the pros and cons of blogging later on. For now, know that blogging can be a great hobby when it comes to releasing steam, writing, connecting with like minded people online and expressing yourself. If done right, you can earn from blogging too. Like hydroponic gardening we spoke about earlier, blogging is another hobby that pays while you have fun.
How much does Blogging cost
Given how cheap domain registration and hosting is, it’s definitely worth considering hosting your own blog so that you can control every last aspect of your site. A typical .com domain name costs around Rs.1000 ($14) per year, and hosting can be had for as little as $7 per month with perks like unlimited domain names, unlimited data transfer and unlimited data storage.
On the other hand if you are not bothered about getting a domain on your own name, then it can be totally free. Just get yourself a free subdomain from WordPress.com or Blogger. Something like myawesomeblog.wordpress.com will cost you nothing in terms of domain name or hosting.
There are a number of hosting options currently available such as Godaddy, bluehost etc. WordPress is the most popular option for blogging software if you want to go down the self-hosted path, and for good reason. It’s extremely flexible and customization – there are tons of free and professionally built themes to choose from, and updating is really easy.
The Littlesaves.com site is using WordPress hosted on a Digital Ocean droplet which costs me $53 per month for hosting and another $15 per year for domain name. This works out to about $816 per year for me to run Little Saves (Rs.60K). This is for the more advanced users who have more traffic and are tech savvy.
Positives to blogging as a cheap hobby
- The ongoing costs are no more than about $200 per year for a fully hosted site with your own unique domain name. If you don’t care about being on your own domain name, it can be a totally free hobby.
- It’s a great way to learn more about a passion or hobby in another area. For me, I’ve learned a lot about financial independence and personal finance and probably wouldn’t have learned the same lessons as quickly had I not been constantly thinking about how I could write about a particular topic
- It keep you accountable. If you’re interested in a blog to document your progress towards a particular goal, like I am as I move towards financial independence, the feedback you get from readers is invaluable as a source of motivation. More than half a dozen times, I’ve reconsidered a purchase because I didn’t want to include it in my monthly FIRE Progress update.
- It can lead to a relatively passive income stream. I generally don’t like referring to blogs as being capable of producing ‘passive income’ because by and large they are a lot of work to maintain and update. The income from them at barely anything to talk about. In the case of Littlesaves, I get about $20 per month from advertising which covers about 40% of hosting alone. But it is income nevertheless and they are less intensive compared to a full time job, and you can go at your own pace. Theoretically, you could build a site and then let it run on auto-pilot, while continuing to receive a small amount from adsense into the future – or hire someone else to write for you. Generally, they take quite a bit of active participation to get them to a point where they regularly provide any income at all.
- You can remain anonymous.
- You can update your blog from anywhere in the world, and unlike another hobby or job, you’re not tied to the one physical location.
- You can run more than one site without them being connected, and the loss is minimal if any one site doesn’t work out.
- You meet a great number of very passionate people who have similar interests, and particularly in the personal finance niche, there is a real sense of camaraderie.
- You can say whatever you like about whatever subject you like, and if you do so for long enough, you’re bound to find a group of like minded people and readers. The internet is a weird and wonderful (and huge) place, and if you’re persistent and entertaining, your blog can be a success almost regardless of its focus.
- Be your own boss. Only you edit your work, choose when you write and what you say. I’ve found it to be a very motivating and liberating process.
- You gain a number of very transferable skills, like copy-writing, social media management, editing and marketing.
The negatives on running a blog
- It takes considerable effort to regularly update a blog. I found it hard to work a full time job, run this blog, give time to my family and do all the other things I want to do in my spare time.
- Pressure to keep writing
- Minimal profit early, potentially for ever
- Can be disheartening to not get any feedback
- Difficult to know if you’re on the right path
If you think you’d like to write regularly about a topic you’re passionate about and think it’d help you stick to your goals – try writing a blog. It can be really cathartic, and doesn’t have to cost anything if you’re not sure you’d like it. If you start the next Get Rich Slowly, then you could retire in a few years, too!