I try to keep costs down as much as possible and under $100. As long as you charge someone, be it users or advertisers, you should make some profit if your costs are only $95. So here is my bare bones list of things I pay for to make No CS Degree and No CS OK happen:

Ghost: $35/month

Ghost is a very easy blogging software to use. Unlike Wordpress there aren't a tonne of plugins to install or maintain. Everything just works. I could have got the $5 plan where you host Ghost on Digital Ocean but I wanted to just let someone else take care of things when there is a traffic spike etc. When I was starting out I asked Pieter Levels what blogging platform I should use and he suggested Ghost. Some things I like about it:

  • built in SEO tools so you can set a meta title and description that is a good length
  • a preview of how each article will look on social media
  • it's an open source non-profit (it's good to have someone challenging Wordpress. Monopolies aren't good.)
  • It's simple and I don't have to install a tonne of plugins

Sheet 2 Site: $35/month

I use this for my job board, No CS OK. It's really easy to use as it means you can use any Google sheet as the back end of your website. Andrey has made templates like job boards so you just need to add your own design and content. It's an extremely quick and easy way to test ideas. I'm learning Django at the moment so I can make my own full stack websites with the features I want but this is an excellent place to start.

Some things I like about it:

  • Great support from Andrey whenever I get something wrong, haha
  • Dead simple - just add data to a google doc
  • No code - easy solution to making a job board or other sites

Mailchimp: $25/month

I was initially on the free plan but eventually if you have enough subscribers and send too many emails you get a message saying you need to pay. I may go to another email provider at some point but at the moment I haven't had any really scary bills like some people share. Mailchimp is also very simply for beginners to use and it's what I am used to so I will keep using it until the bills get too high.

Some things I like about it:

  • Very simple to send emails
  • I am used to the editor now for making things like landing pages
  • You can automate welcome emails

Total: $95/month

Yes, a grand total of $95 is what I spend each month to make my websites work.

So far I've made over $1000 in February so that's already a profit margin of more than 90%. My best month so far was December when I made $2,117 so in that month I made over $2,000 profit. Even if I have a really bad month like in January when I made $225 I still came out ahead by $130.

I hope you can take from this that it really doesn't cost a lot to run an online business. I wasn't even paying for Mailchimp originally as I was on the free tier so my initial costs were even less. I was using Zapier for a while for $20 a month but I've cancelled that now as I've changed how I get subscribers on Ghost.

As long as you charge customers you should be able to make a profit with costs of $100. As I outlined in my Indiehackers podcast episode, my clients are either newsletter advertisers or bootcamps and I can charge them 3 or 4 figure sums so I'm expecting to always make a good profit from No CS Degree . 😎💰

p.s. I saw a great post from Pat Walls about what he spends money on each month for his Starter Story website so I figured I do the same for No CS Degree. Read his post here.