Perhaps one of the biggest taboos in the hype surrounding building private blog networks is just how expensive they can be!
How much could a PBN really cost?
Imagine you evaluated your niche and decided you needed at minimum 80 strong domains to hit #1 for a head term. You’d done your research and knew that diverse IPs were vital, so you hit WebHostingTalk and hoovered up all the $12 hosting deals. You still needed more, so you raised your limit to $40/year, figuring you’d average out at $25 per year per domain.
- 80 hosting accounts
- Average $25/year
- 80 accounts * $25= $2,000
You also didn’t want to waste your time with low DA domains so you hit the auctions, spending an average $400 per domain.
- $400*80 domains = $32,000
Alternatively, you could pay a service from $30-50 per scraped domain that you can register and add to your network. But don’t forget to add the cost of domain registration and privacy:
- Average of $40 / domain plus $15 for registration and privacy = 55 * 80 = $4,400
You have your domains and hosting accounts, but you don’t have any blogs or content yet. So either you or a freelancer needs to get those sites live:
You value your time at a very conservative $30/hr, and it takes 1.5 hrs to configure a blog. This includes DNS set up and a minimal amount of theme and plugin customisation to avoid footprints.
- The cost of your time: 30*1.5*80= $3,600
You employ a VA to build your sites for you. You settle on $300 a month, but find it takes your VA up to 3 times longer to build a site.
- The cost of employing your VA: 3 blogs a day, 20 days a month = 1.5 months to build your network for $450
The total, upfront cost of your network is between $6,850 and $37,500. The first may make you wince, the second will make you cry! And you don’t even have any content yet..
Want readable content for your blogs? As a bare minimum, you’ll want 2 placeholder articles and an article that links to your site. So you need 3 articles of 500 words each per blog – or a total of 120,000 words
- 120,000 words at Textbroker 4* level is $2,880
- 120,000 words at iWriter is $720
- Using a VA to write content: 8 articles a day, or 160 articles a month. 1.5 months of VA time = $450
The alternative is to use a content mashing and spinning setup. ie SEO Content Machine or Kontent Machine, in partnership with a content spinner such as Word AI or Spin Rewriter.
Together you could expect to pay between $300-500 a year for these tools. These articles won’t pass a manual review but could save in the long term if you plan to post more than 3 articles per blog – and you most likely will.
Is a PBN really worth the money?
Now is a good time to ask: how much is a link worth to you? $7300 for 80 blogs works out at roughly $85 per link.
In some markets, this could still be a bargain, in others this would be an absurd waste of money.
Of course, the majority of people building blog networks aim to link to more than one website. This can reduce the costs considerably. Have 20 affiliate or client sites you could link to? Remember you don't want to link in an obvious pattern, but this could reduce your cost per link to $4.25 + the cost of another article.
The ongoing costs of hosting a blog network
Much of the costs involved in building a blog network are upfront. Domain acquisition is the primary factor, followed by the labour and content costs of building a site. Yet the ongoing costs can stack up.
Not only do you need to consider the costs of domain renewals, privacy and hosting – roughly $40 / year, per website. You also need to think about issues such as deindexing. Assuming you lose 10% of your domains each year and replace them like for like, it could cost 55*8 = $440 per year just to maintain the size of your network.
Cheap hosting has its costs too. Badly managed servers die without a backup. Dodgy 'fly by night' hosts can disappear, go bankrupt or sell their business. This requires you at best to change your DNS servers, at worst to rebuild your site on a new account.
With a larger network, you can expect this to happen roughly once or twice a quarter. Don't forget the cost and time involved in restoring or moving blogs.
It’s also worth noting that most domain names will lose value over time as the links to them drop away over time. This link rot can be due to many things. Other webmasters can realise a domain has changed and pull their links. Linking sites can die off. Links bought by the previous owner can expire. Even the sudden collapse of the previous domain owners’ link network can cause huge link loss. If you want your blog network to hold its value over time you need to think about building new links to your domains. Of course, these too will incur an additional cost.
Cutting the costs
As you can see the costs of running a network can stack up. It is important to weigh up whether it is still worth building your own network or buying your links in other ways. But there are steps you can take to mitigate these costs:
Cheap hosts – or their aggregators such as NoNameInternet and BulkBuyHosting– average out at $25 a year per account. Each account is capable of hosting multiple domains. So if you have many networks for different industries you could cut your costs by putting several blogs on each account.
But we would strongly caution against linking to the same sites from multiple blogs on the same IP. This is a major red flag that could put both your blog network and money sites at risk.
The alternative is to look at other hosting solutions. Using popular CDNs such as CloudFlare and Cloudfront can dramatically reduce costs. This way you only need to operate one hosting account, but setup can be tricky. You must take care to ensure you are not inadvertently exposing any ownership details.
We offer an all in one solution to hosting, deploying and managing your blogs. You can save on hosting, VA fees and your own precious time, from as little as $1.25/site/month. Find out more about our pbn hosting service here
Blog setup and deployment
We have already discussed how expensive configuring your own blogs can be if you value your time at all. Even at a conservative estimate of $30/hr each blog will cost you $45 to setup. The ongoing management and maintenance of your sites can cost even more. Most SEOs worth their salt will charge a much higher hourly rate, from $100-$250/hr - if you value your time you should outsource.
VAs are a cheap solution if you are operating in bulk. Employing a freelancer from a country like the Philipines or India can be as cheap as $300 per month. Bear in mind you will likely need to spend some time to train them to your requirements. You may also find they have issues with extreme weather, public holidays and sickness which can delay completion.
For a smaller network, a good solution is to use one of the many PBN building services that have sprung up, such as PBN Fox or Lightning Blog Networks. Their upfront costs of $69-125 per blog may sound expensive, but beat the time spent training a VA if you only need 10-20 blogs.
Of course, the cheapest way to setup your blogs is to not use a human at all. Our automatic blog hosting and deployment means you can build and host a new blog with the push of a button. All for as little as $1.25 a month.