How To Start A WordPress Blog On A Budget

In my post, I show you how you can start a WordPress blog on a budget, step by step.

One of the highest costs of starting a blog is hosting. Cheap hosting companies like Bluehost and Hostgator charge about $4 a month. I pay less than $1 a month for hosting using Google Cloud.

You need three things to get your blog on the internet, a domain name, hosting, and a content management system.

My domain name costs $10 for one year. My hosting costs less than a dollar a month, and the content management system is free. I pay between $15 and $20 per year for my website.

To start a blog on a budget. Buy a .com domain name on Namecheap for $10. Sign up for the Google Cloud hosting free-tier option. Finally, deploy WordPress.

By the end of this post, you will know how to start a blog and pay less than $20 for one year.

Start A WordPress Blog On A Budget

In my article, I show you how to reduce your hosting costs using Google Cloud. Google Cloud charges you monthly for resources used. You could be paying less than 50 cents a month with a new website.

Is Google Cloud Better Than Other Hosting Companies?

When I started blogging in 2018, I used Bluehost and Hostgator. Their services and support were okay. My issue with them is pricing and website downtime.

Most hosting companies offer discounts to new customers. When you come to renew, the introductory price is doubled or tripled. I changed hosting companies many times to take advantage of the discounts.

Hosting companies sell server space which means they put numerous websites on one server. Resources are limited and could cause your site to run slow.

Then I found Google Cloud. I pay less than $1 per month. My website is never down and loads fast, too.

When you use regular hosting companies, like Bluehost and Hostgator, setup is easy, and support is available 24 hours a day. Google Cloud does not offer support. Configuration is complicated if you don’t have experience with websites.

You use Google Cloud technology to build websites, the same technology Google uses for Google search, Gmail, Google Drive, and YouTube. But you have to manage everything yourself.

If you prefer simple, hosting for $5 a month is a better option. The technology is user-friendly, and you can contact customer support if you have issues with your site.

How Much Does Google Cloud Hosting Cost?

For new customers, Google gives a $300 credit. The $300 is valid for 90 days. Use this credit to pay for Google Cloud service charges.

In addition to the $300 credit, Google offers a free tier hosting option. The free tier has limitations. Configuration must be correct to take advantage of this option.

For new websites with low traffic, the free tier option is ideal.

After the $300 credit has expired, you continue using the free tier with costs less than a dollar a month.

I signed up for Google Cloud in September 2021. For September, October, and November 2021. I did not pay for hosting. The $300 credit covered all service costs.

In January 2022, I got my first bill for service charges in December, £0.09 ($0.12). Costs are for a static IP address and traffic from selected countries.

Then another bill at the end of January 2022 for services used in January, £0.16 ($0.21).

Google Cloud Payments

My website has 94 blog posts.

Blog posts

I get about 4,000 visitors per month.

Visitors per month

My website loads fast.

Page speed
Page speed

Is Google Cloud Difficult to Setup?

The process is more complicated than regular hosting if you don’t have experience setting up websites.

Regular hosting companies usually have a one-click install option for WordPress blogs. The setup process on Google Cloud has many steps.

On Google Cloud, create a project and deploy WordPress. Once deployed, point your domain name to your project’s IP address. After your domain name and project are connected, install a free SSL certificate. Once the SSL certificate is issued, go to your website URL and follow the WordPress installation instructions.

Once you have your blog, you must occasionally sign in to your project server to check for updates and run them manually.

I checked for updates earlier today.

Updates

Your Google Cloud dashboard notifies you of estimated costs and CPU usage. Should your website start using more resources, Google recommends upgrading.

Recommendations

My estimated charges for February 2022 are 6.87 Thai baht ($0.21). My CPU usage is running at an average of less than 10%.

Google Cloud Dashboard

What Do You Need To Use Google Cloud?

To use Google Cloud to host your website, you need a Google account with a method of payment setup.

Each month Google deducts usage charges from your account. If you don’t have a payment method, Google won’t allow you to create a project.

Methods of payment

When you create a project, Google checks your account. If you don’t have a payment method available, Google prompts you to add one.

Are you ready? Let us start a WordPress blog on Google Cloud.

Step One – Buy A Domain Name

Go to Namecheap.com (Paid link) and enter the name you want for your website. I recommend a .com domain name. It is the most popular choice for websites.

Namecheap

Finding an available name is hard. Select one with no more than three syllables and don’t use special characters. You want your name to be easy to remember.

Check out my ‘How To Buy A Domain Name‘ post for a complete buying guide.

Step Two – Create A Project On Google Cloud

Go to https://cloud.google.com/ and click the ‘Get Started For Free’ or the ‘Sign In’ link.

Google Cloud

Once signed in, go to your console.

Go To Console

Here is my Google Cloud console.

Google Cloud console

Next, create a project.

Give your project a name and select Create.

Project name

After a short wait, you return to the console. Click on the menu to view your projects.

Drop down menu

Select your project.

Step Three – Launch WordPress

On the console, select the hamburger menu. Click on Marketplace. I have marketplace pinned on my menu. You will need to scroll down.

‘Marketplace’ is where you deploy WordPress. There are several versions of WordPress. I recommend Openlitespeed.

Type ‘Openlitespeed WordPress’ and hit enter.

Openlitespeed

Click on Openlitespeed-WordPress.

Launch WordPress

On this page, you get an overview and additional details. At the bottom, there is a cost breakdown of using this service. These costs don’t apply to the free tier configuration.

To start, click on Launch.

Launch WordPress

Once deployed, it is time to configure.

Configure

Step Four – Configure And Deploy WordPress

This step is essential. Read the usage limits on Google’s information page.

I recommend you check the usage limits before you start this step. Google could update the page at any time.

The free tier usage limits are at cloud.google.com. Scroll down the page to ‘Compute Engine’.

Compute Engine

As I write this post, free tier usage allows you one e2-micro VM instance in Oregon, Iowa, or South Carolina. You can also get a 30 GB-months standard persistent disk.

Usage limits

Once you have checked the latest information, it is time to configure your WordPress deployment.

First, give your deployment a name. You can only use small letters, no capitals.

Deployment name

Next, select the zone. You must choose one of the zones from the Google document.

Zones

I selected ‘us-central1-a’.

US central

Next, select the machine type. Again, you must choose a machine from the Google document.

Machine type

I selected ‘E2’ from the series menu.

E2

Then e2-micro from the machine type menu.

e2-micro

I have an E2 series with an e2-micro machine type.

Machine type

Let us configure the boot disk.

The Google document says you can have 30 GB on a standard persistent disk.

Boot disk

The default is 10 GB. You can change this to 30.

Boot disk

Leave all the firewall options ticked.

Firewall

Finally, deploy.

Deploy

After a short wait, WordPress is deployed.

WordPress deployed

Step Five – Reserve A Static IP Address

You do not want your IP address to change. To keep the same IP address, reserve a static IP address.

From the menu, select VPC network.

VPC network

From the sub-menu, select External IP addresses.

External IP addresses

Select Reserve.

Reserve

Create a name and then click on Reserve.

Reserve a static IP address

After a short wait, ‘Type’ changes to static.

Static

Step Six – Connect Your Domain Name

Now you have an IP address. You can connect your domain.

Go to your Namecheap account. On your dashboard, select the ‘Manage’ link.

Manage

Next, click on Advanced DNS.

Advanced DNS

You need to add two new records.

Host records

To add a new record, click on the link.

Add new record

Copy your static IP address.

Static IP address

Select ‘A Record’. Under ‘host’, type @. Under ‘value’, paste your IP address.

A record

The second record is an A Record. Under host, type www. Under value, paste your IP address.

Once complete, save all changes.

Save changes

Record changes take up to 48 hours to update. To monitor progress, go to whatsmydns.net.

Type your domain name in the search box, select ‘A’ from the menu, and click Search.

Whats my dns

Once the update is complete, your static IP address shows on the right.

Updated IP address

I only had to wait fifteen minutes.

You must wait for the records to update before moving on to the next step.

Step Seven – Install A Let’s Encrypt SSL Certificate

SSL certificates ensure your site is secure. Websites with valid SSL certificates get a green padlock in browser tabs.

Secure site

For a free SSL certificate, return to your WordPress deployment. Select the SSH link.

SSH links you to the server. A popup window appears.

SSH

At the bottom of this window, enter your root domain. That is your domain name without the www.

Root domain

Hit enter to start.

Then verify your domain.

You can install an SSL certificate if your domain name points to this IP address.

Issue SSL

Enter a valid email address.

Email

Confirm your email address.

Confirm email address

Now your SSL certificate is installed for your site. To ensure all traffic goes through HTTPS, not HTTP, confirm you want to force a rewrite rule.

Force HTTPS

Finally, it is not necessary to update the system.

Complete

Step Eight – Install WordPress

Type your domain name into a browser tab. Select your preferred language from the menu.

Install WordPress

Next, complete the required information and then select Install WordPress.

Welcome

Once installation is complete, log in using your chosen username and password.

Login Page

WordPress is ready for you to build your website.

WordPress dashboard

Step Nine – Create A Swap File

To ensure your site runs efficiently. I recommend you create a swap file.

Return to your deployment page and click on SSH.

SSH

In the popup window, copy and paste the following text.

sudo fallocate -l 1G /swapfile
Swapfile

Then this text.

sudo chmod 600 /swapfile
Swapfile

Now this text.

sudo mkswap /swapfile
Swapfile

And this text.

sudo swapon /swapfile
Swapfile

Now this text.

free -m
Swapfile

Finally, this text.

echo '/swapfile none swap sw 0 0' | sudo tee -a /etc/fstab
Swapfile

To check your swap file was created successfully, type htop.

Swapfile

Can you see ‘Swp’ and ‘/1024M’? If you can, then you have created a swapfile. Now you can close the popup window and start working on your site.

Step Ten – Check For Updates

I recommend you check for server updates at least once a month.

Go to the Google Cloud console, and click on the ‘Go to Compute Engine’ link.

Compute engine

Then click on SSH.

SSH

The first section informs you of available updates. I have 79 updates.

To start updating, paste ‘sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade’ at the bottom of the window.

Update command

Confirm you wish to continue with the updates.

Confirm

There is a progress bar.

Update progress

Once the updates are complete, you return to this.

Updates complete

You can close the window.

How To Monetize Your Blog

After you start getting traffic to your site, I recommend joining the Amazon affiliate program.

The program is free to join. You can start promoting Amazon products straight away

Conclusion

Since moving my site to Google Cloud, I have saved money. Regular hosting is convenient and user-friendly but expensive.

If you want to keep your costs low, I recommend Google Cloud. Follow my step-by-step guide to start your WordPress blog on a budget. Leave a comment if you have any issues.

When configuring the WordPress deployment, it is essential you read the Google document about usage. Google could update its usage limits at any time.

How do you host your website? What companies do you recommend? Have you ever used a cloud service before?