More and more people are getting interested in location independent lifestyle, additional online income, side-hustle or just their own personal business. Whatever you may call it, the real cost of starting business online is a no secret and it IS possible to do it when you’re on a tight budget.
When I was 19, I decided to start a self-hosted website. My budget was incredibly tight since I preferred to spend my money on traveling and whenever there was something in my wallet, I purchased the next plane ticket.
And let me get clear, with “tight budget” I mean not having a spare $10 weekly.
While this is an amazing story of how I got into location independent lifestyle and built my own business with no initial investment whatsoever, the real cost of starting business online was crucial and finding out the most budget-friendly way became my quest of the year at that time.
Therefore, I am here today to help you understand HOW much money, in reality, it takes to build your own business.
What are the must-haves for a new online business?
It doesn’t matter what’s your business idea, the starting point usually is the same:
1. First, you create your website. Whether you’ll be blogging, selling your goods or showing off your portfolio, rarely any online business rocks it without a website.
2. Then, you, most likely, opt-in for a personalized email address to people take you more seriously. It definitely was one of my first investments besides the website.
The rest is up to business specifics. In this case, I’ll be reviewing the real cost of starting business online the way I did it. This includes:
3. Building a mailing list. For most businesses, building a mailing list from the very beginning is a really smart choice. Having your own mailing list can help you to sell your products or services, grow your blog and do much more than that!
4. Having easy to use a calendar. To be on top of all of the tasks you’ll now have, having an easy to use a calendar is a must.
5. Scheduling my social media. Scheduling saves TONS of times and it doesn’t have to be expensive.
The real cost of starting business online when you’re on a tight budget
STEP #1 Website creation
– The domain name (starting from $4/year)
– Hosting (around $50/year)
The most budget-friendly option for your business:
Namecheap for a domain. Siteground for a website hosting.
Although it’s not the cheapest in the market, with their price, they’re also offering many additional features for free. Besides that, Siteground service is very trustful. Meaning – you won’t overpay! Your website will be well protected and their support team will help you to solve your problems. NO HIDDEN COSTS.
If you want to learn more about how to start your own self-hosted website, grab my Blog Creation Simplified guide where I’ve shared all one might need to know about blogging.
Yes, it is also possible to create a free website but I don’t suggest going this path. Having a self-hosted site is important for any kind of business. Don’t save on things that really matter. Especially, if the real cost of starting business online is not as high, at the end of the day…
STEP #2 Personalized email
– None or
– Monthly email subscription for $5
The most budget-friendly + functional option:
GSuite. While Siteground offers your email service for free, GSuite is a more suggestable option. It’ll cost $5 per month. Meaning, if you have Gmail account right now and you love its functionality, you can continue using Gmail with your own personalized email. This definitely is the most used option for online business owners.
STEP #3 Mailing list creation
– None at the beginning
– $10 – $30 once your mailing list grows
The most budget-friendly option:
I have tried out various email marketing services. While MailChimp is the cheapest (free for up to 2000 subs), MailerLite is the cheapest in the long run – free for up to 1000 subs and further plans starting from only $10/month.
Besides that, MailerLite is providing free integrations and plugins for an easy to use an option on WordPress and other websites. You can check out more on how to set it up over here.
STEP #4 Calendar
I personally use & love Google Calendar. You can use color-coding, easily reschedule or duplicate tasks. Besides that, it can be synchronized with your phone calendar, email, etc.
Another option is Asana. This is something I’ve used for my client projects but it can be an amazing asset for any online business owner. You can easily create different projects and to-do lists for each, adding deadlines and comments for each task, as well as assigning it to other team members.
STEP #5 Social media scheduler
– None or
The most budget-friendly option:
Facebook & Buffer free plan
The combo of Facebook on-site scheduling for your Facebook page posts and Buffer free plan (10 tweets) for Twitter can be a good starting point! Although social media scheduling is not a must, it’s definitely easier to keep your presence online alive when you’ve scheduled at least several posts per week.
Additional online business costs
Many new business owners are afraid of some hidden costs they might meet. To be honest, any additional cost is just your own personal choice and rarely would be included in the real cost of starting business online.
Here are a few more services I would suggest if you can stretch your budget just a bit more.
WooCommerce for shop on your website
WooCommerce is a free plugin which will function fully at no additional cost. At the same time, if you have any specific features on your mind as a must-have for your shop, you might have to pay for additional plugins. Usually, there’s no need for that.
Tailwind for Pinterest scheduling
Tailwind is a great way to grow your Pinterest with scheduled tweets. If you’re eager to learn more about Pinterest marketing, make sure to check out this article: therandomp.com/blog/my-first-4k-followers-on-pinterest/
ConvertKit for email marketing
Although I prefer MailerLite myself because of its easy integration and many options, ConvertKit is a very popular option for online business owners. It’s a rather pricey email marketing service but goes a long way with their simple user interface, great stats and easy automation systems.
ClickFunnels for landing page + marketing funnel creation
ClickFunnels is an amazing service that’s offering it all: stunning landing page design with full marketing funnel creation leading your customers from point A to Z. Grab your 14-day free trial here.
LeadPages for landing page design
If you’re planning to work on your email marketing, sell all kinds of digital products and want to have an amazing option to build successful landing pages – LeadPages is another great service to subscribe for!
MyThemeShop for WordPress website themes
To have a successful WordPress website, you will need a theme. There are various themes out there for free or offered by default on WordPress. But investing in an amazing theme is definitely a good choice! Read more about WP themes here.
If you’re interested in more services that might be useful for your online business, make sure to check out my Resource page. It includes both free and paid services.
The real cost of starting business online is around $60. The most expensive investment is your website. If you’re rolling with a free website and don’t need a domain name or hosting, you can start with as much as $0.
More useful resources:
- Blog Creation Simplified. Free e-book for those interested in creating their own website but having no knowledge on WordPress, hosting, themes, etc.
- A 5-step guide to starting your own online business. The short version of getting your own self-hosted website.
- How to grow a profitable mailing list? Guide to MailerLite & tips for your email marketing.