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.
To get your blog on the internet, you need three things, 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.
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, and my website is never down. My website 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 if you have issues, you can contact customer support at any time.
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).
My website has 94 blog posts.
I get about 4,000 visitors per month.
My website loads fast.
Is Google Cloud Difficult to Setup?
If you don’t have experience setting up websites, the process is more complicated than using regular hosting.
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.
Your Google Cloud dashboard notifies you of estimated costs and CPU usage. Should your website start using more resources, Google recommends upgrading.
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%.
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 available, Google won’t allow you to create a project.
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.
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.
Once signed in, go to your console.
Here is my Google Cloud console.
Next, create a project.
Give your project a name and select ‘Create’.
After a short wait, you return to the console. Click on the menu to view your projects.
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’ into search and hit enter.
Click on Openlitespeed-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’.
Once deployed, it is time to configure.
Step Four – Configure And Deploy WordPress
This step is essential. Read the usage limits on Google, so you don’t have to pay.
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’.
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.
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.
Next, select the zone. You must choose one of the zones from the Google document.
I selected ‘us-central1-a’.
Next, select the machine type. Again, you must choose a machine from the Google document.
I selected ‘E2’ from the series menu.
Then e2-micro from the machine type menu.
I have an E2 series with an e2-micro machine type.
Let us configure the boot disk.
The Google document says you can have 30 GB on a standard persistent disk.
The default is 10 GB. You can change this to 30.
Leave all the firewall options ticked.
After a short wait, WordPress is 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.
From the sub-menu, select External IP addresses.
Create a name and then click on ‘Reserve’.
After a short wait, ‘Type’ changes to 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.
Next, click on ‘Advanced DNS’.
You need to add two new records.
To add a new record, click on the link.
Copy your static IP address.
Select ‘A Record’. Under ‘host’, type @. Under ‘value’, paste your IP address.
The second record is an ‘A Record’. Under ‘host’, type www. Under ‘value’, paste your IP address.
Once complete, save all 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 on ‘Search’.
Once the update is complete, your static IP address shows on the right.
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.
For a free SSL certificate, return to your WordPress deployment. Select the SSH link.
SSH links you to the server. A popup window appears.
At the bottom of this window, enter your root domain. That is your domain name without the www.
Hit enter to start.
Then verify your domain.
If your domain name points to this IP address, you can install an SSL certificate.
Enter a valid email address.
Confirm your 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.
Finally, it is not necessary to update the system.
Step Eight – Install WordPress
Type your domain name into a browser tab. Select your preferred language from the menu.
Next, complete the required information and then select ‘Install WordPress’.
Once installation is complete, log in using your chosen username and password.
WordPress is ready for you to build your website.
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.
In the popup window, copy and paste the following text.
sudo fallocate -l 1G /swapfile
Then this text.
sudo chmod 600 /swapfile
Now this text.
sudo mkswap /swapfile
And this text.
sudo swapon /swapfile
Now this text.
Finally, this text.
echo '/swapfile none swap sw 0 0' | sudo tee -a /etc/fstab
To check your swap file was created successfully, type ‘htop’.
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 Google Cloud console, and click on the ‘Go to Compute Engine’ link.
Then click on 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.
Confirm you wish to continue with the updates.
There is a progress bar.
Once the updates are complete, you return to this.
You can close the window.
Since moving my site to Google Cloud, I have saved a lot of 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 their usage limits at any time.
How do you host your website? What companies do you recommend? Have you ever used a cloud service before?