How Much Does It Cost To Run John Chow dot Com?

A question I get asked often is how much does it cost to run a high traffic money-making blog? Most people are able to figure out that John Chow dot Com can’t be hosted on a $3.71 a month shared web hosting plan. As part of my presentation for the Seattle WordPress meetup, I decided to break down what powers my blog and the cost of running it.

I have never released this information before and I’m still questioning myself for doing so. However, I’ve received this question enough times in the past that I think a post about it is in order.

For those who’ve wondered, this is how much it cost to run John Chow dot Com.

Web Hosting: $374 Per Month

My blog is hosted on a Pro Dedicated server at HostGator. This Xeon Quad Core powerhouse features 8GB of DD2 RAM, two 500GB hard drives, 13 dedicated IPs and more bandwidth than I can ever consume. The two hard drives are set up as a RAID 1 mirror – whatever happens to drive 1 replicates to drive 2. Should one drive go bad, the blog can still run.

The Pro Dedicated server is the most powerful server HostGator offers. It’s also the most expensive at $374 a month. Because HostGator has a 20% sale on right now, the first month cost $299. However, if you use the JohnChow25 coupon code, you’ll get the first month for $280.50.

The server is fully managed, meaning HostGator takes complete care of it. This was important to me because I don’t know the first thing about server administration. I just want to blog, I don’t want to take care of hardware.

Content Delivery Network: $20 Per Month

A Content Delivery Network (CDN) is one of the best way to improve blog performance. Unlike normal web hosting, where your content is housed on a single server, a CDN takes the blog’s static content and replicates it through hundreds of servers around the world instead of a single host at one location. This technology makes sure each visitor to your site gets their data from the city closest to them. By bringing your content closer to your readers’ connection point, your blog will have much quicker load times, superior scalability, and guaranteed uptime.

My content delivery is handled by MaxCDN, one of the biggest CDN providers on the Internet. MaxCDN is the content delivery provider for Mashable, Template Monster, BuySellAds and many other big sites and blogs.

MaxCDN charges on a pay as you go plan with no long term contract. They have a special right now. The first 1,000GB of data transfer cost $39.95 (normal price is $99). After that, you pay 9.9 cents per gig. Use coupon code JohnChow for a 25% discount. With prices this low (only $20 a month for my blog), any blog can afford to have their content delivered by hundreds of servers around the world instead of just one.

VaultPress Backup Service: $15 Per Month

In addition to the mirror hard drives, my blog is backed up to VaultPress. Made by the creators of WordPress, VaultPress is the best WP backup solution I’ve ever used. Backups are saved to the Automattic grid (over 1,200 servers in three data centers) that serves over 16 million WordPress.com blogs and 270 million monthly visitors.

The best thing about VaultPress is it’s on the fly and in real time. The VaultPress plugin monitors your blog for changes and immediately backs them up. A full back up of your blog is made every hour. The only downside to VaultPress is the service is in beta and you have to apply for it. Even if you want to pay for it, you might not get it.

Mailing List Service: $249 Per Month

It’s no secret that Aweber handles my blog mailing list. Well, now you know how much it cost. Aweber pricing start at $19 per month (get the first month for $1) and goes up to $149 per month if you have 10,001 to 25,000 names on your list. I have more than that so it cost me even more.

Aweber is one of those bills I like to see go higher and higher. The biggest my list, the more Aweber charges me but it also means the more I make. There has never been a single month in the blog’s history where the list made less than the cost of hosting it. In fact, there has never been a single month where the list didn’t made at least 100 times its cost. Having a mailing list does not cost you money. Not having a mailing list is costing your a potential fortune.

Go To Webinar Service: $499 Per Month

My live webinars, like the one I’m hosting this Tuesday, are handles by GoToWebinar. With GoToWebinar you can conduct unlimited do-it-yourself webinars with up to 1,000 people for one flat rate of $499 per month. If you can’t see yourself doing a webinar for 1000 people, GoToWebinar has a 100 seat plan for $99 a month.

Webinars are something I plan to get more into. You can do things with a webinar that are much harder to do with a blog or email list. I might write a post series on the webinar business model. Then you’ll understand why marketers are willing to pay $499 a month for this service.

Link Tracking Service: $27 Per Month

All my links are cloaked and tracked by a service call LinkTrackr. Not only does LinkTrackr allow me to cloak my links behind my custom short JCLink.me URL, it offers an awesome set of tracking tool so I can see how those links are performing. The upgrade to Version 2.0 adds split testing of multiple URL with one link and conversion tracking.

LinkTrackr plans range from free to $27 a month for the Xtreme plan that I use. The free plan allows you to create ten tracking links using the default LinkTrackr URL. If you want your own custom URL, you’ll have to upgrade to one of the paid plans. The free plan is a good way to test out the service. You can use the free plan for one full year. You can upgrade or downgrade your account at any time, so you can always start small and upgrade as needed.

To try LinkTrackr, simply go and create your free account. If you’re signing up for any of the paid plans, then be sure to use the coupon code JohnChow to get 20% off.

Grand Total: $1,184 Per Month

The above represents the ongoing monthly cost to run my blog. Other miscellaneous expenses include a Flickr Pro account ($47.99 for two years) and an Evenote Premium account ($45 per year). There’s also what I pay Michael Kwan to write my reviews (he used to work for Pho but not anymore). For privacy reasons I can’t reveal how much I pay him, other than say it’s less than the cost of the review.

What I find really funny is most people are shocked when they find out it cost over a grand a month to run my blog. They were expecting it to cost nothing (or next to nothing). I guess everyone is used to the Internet being free. While my blog does cost more to run than the average blog, it also makes a lot more than the average blog. If you look at the blog as a business, then the picture looks amazing. How many $500,000 a year business can run on a bit more than grand a month? I only know one.


128 thoughts on “How Much Does It Cost To Run John Chow dot Com?”

  1. Abhik says:

    That’s pretty low compared to the size and traffic of this blog..

    1. PPC Ian says:

      That’s true! John has created a really high margin business! As a follow-up question, I’d be really curious about how much labor costs go into John’s blog (both his own time and also any other consultants).

      1. d3so says:

        Now, that John’s shared his monthly blog expenses, it’s time he shares monthly income reports! 🙂

    2. A $500,000 per year brick and mortar business would be way more than $1,000 per month.

      1. Yes … on things which he paid also a great source of income for him.

        So this one is really interesting as well.

        1. Abhik says:

          $500,000 from $14,208..
          That’s indeed a great ROI.

    3. Yes it’s.. Very low compare with the size and traffic and the income of this Blog.

    4. d3so says:

      Of course it costs money to run a high traffic blog. I wonder how much it costs to run facebook.

  2. Allen Walker says:

    Thanks for sharing your cost statistics. 🙂

    I’ve always been wondering how much you pay to manage your blog as well. Well, $1000+ isn’t really all that much. 🙂 People pay much more for shop rental fees…

    1. Yes, and they sometimes hardly even make their rent back every month.

      1. Agree with you.. it’s more than 1000% ROI.

  3. Wow… I knew that it cost more than the average blog but had no idea that it cost that much. I guess when you break it all down like that it all adds up. I totally get that alot of folks would be shocked at the cost, but I am sure you gladly pay 12k per year to return 500k. not a bad deal by any stretch of the imagination.

    nice work!
    Brandon

    1. 12K is direct expenses and cost … along with that there are some intangible costs as well.

      But however 500K is very good return.

      1. Abhik says:

        I agree.. Normal businesses with turnover of $500K per year can’t run on that little investment.

  4. I’ve been a reader of your blog about two years, John. This is definitely the question I want to ask you . Compared to the monthly income the blog could generate, $1K per month is not a big deal at all, but totally worthy. The services you listed above are absolutely indispensable for a blog with such high amount of traffic. You really did a great job.

  5. GuidedHelp says:

    You should maybe point out that RAID 1 is not a backup and you cant actually “restore” from RAID 1, your configuration is just 2 hard drives mirrored, so if one fails, the other still works, but if one gets buggy or infected etc, then so does the other, which means that your vaultpress is very important.

    Also, 500gb is an awful amount of storage for even the largest of websites!

    MaxCDN i couldnt agree more with. Should people run speed tests on their website before and after they will see considerable speed benefits, which is not only a plus for the visitor, but also for the search engines.

    When can we see some web stats? I have just run a quick check on the domain and it is getting around 200,000 page views per day (which if the average is 2.5 pages per visit) you are getting around 80,000 page visitors per day, although I would estimate that your visitors are less likely to view 2.5 pages and therefore you are receiving more visitors than that. With a 0.1% conversion rate (which is below average) you should have around 80 conversions per day, which if the average conversion nets you around $20 means you are earning $1600 per day x 365 = around $584,000 per year.

    So now that we know about how much your business costs to run, why not tell us the real figures of how much it makes!

    1. Looks like you have worked out part of that answer yourself, lol

    2. He used to do an Income report every month, but that was long ago.

    3. Abhik says:

      Agree on the last part.. I am also curious to know the traffic stats 🙂

      1. He gave up posting income reports because of advertisers if I’m not wrong. They just didn’t want the numbers to appear lol

  6. fas says:

    And you have not even spoken about the hardware and internet connection you buy to run the blog.

    1. John Chow says:

      That’s for a future post. 🙂

      1. Ante says:

        However you might have mentioned it 🙂

      2. Abhik says:

        Waiting for that.. 🙂

      3. looking forward for your future post!

        1. fas says:

          John I see you buy a new Mac computer almost every year, please enlighten us on that too.

    2. I’m sure he gets a lot of the equipment for free and he promotes it in videos and posts.

      1. Abhik says:

        That’s one of the advantages of being popular :p

  7. thats amazing but im sure you pay a bit more then 1k per month. But for a business like yours, you have to make sure you have the security and backup required. Performance is important thing and im not suprised by your investments.

  8. Kirk Taylor says:

    Great information John. That really puts it into perspective, but I thought your monthly expenses would be much higher than what they are.

    Very promising.

  9. Rich says:

    Good info – I just upgraded to a hostgator VPS (level 4) and have been happy with the performance. I hope that I end up having to pay over $1000/month for hosting etc at some point – it’s a good problem to have!

    1. Don’t want to pay that much until you need it though.

  10. James M says:

    That’s an incredible that your net profit for a year is in the $490k range after such low costs. I’m curious as to where all the profits end up going – reinvest back into this venture or other companies, charities, etc.

    Thanks for sharing all this information. The more people know, the better we all are for it.

    1. PPC Ian says:

      In one of John’s recent posts he said that he’s making really good profits in the stock market these days. So, that’s at least one of the places the money is going. 🙂 And, a very smart decision in my opinion! I guess another portion of the money is going to John’s new home in Seattle area.

  11. Thanks for sharing your statistics. $1,184 per month is big money for me 🙂

    1. Of course it is, but not for someone who makes over $40,000 per month.

      1. LOL that’s right, it’s no more then 10% he spent his money.

    2. Abhik says:

      It’s not only you..
      There are some people who earns much less that what john invest.

      1. And that with a day job, this trully shows the blogging power.

  12. Tony says:

    Thanks for the great info. It’s important to scale your site as your traffic grows so you can deliver fast and reliable content, and definitely worth the costs involved when you start making money!

  13. Hi John

    Thanks for outlining how much all of this costs – your return on investment is really high and to me that is the main thing. There were some aspects in your post like the backup service, that I had not even considered in my own business, (and I should have done) so thanks for sharing all that 🙂

    Peter

  14. PPC Ian says:

    Wow! Thanks for sharing, John! Ive been wondering about this very topic for a very, very long time! 🙂

    1. Abhik says:

      me too 🙂

  15. elie palima says:

    I always wonder how much guys like you pays aweber for a 100k+ list. I thought it costs you guys $900+ a month for it. it would had kept me from building my list because of the cost. lol. now I know it costs cheaper. 😀 thanks for this.

    1. If you have a 100k list, I hope you make more than $900 a month from it.

      1. lol you should be able to make that amount in, say, two days?

    2. Abhik says:

      Right.. If you have a 100K+ list, you shouldn’t worry about how much it takes to manage that.

  16. Greg says:

    Very clear and consice post!
    I just began blogging one yeassr ago.I follow your posts and advuice but have a long way to go yet
    Was traffic slow to start for you and your blog.I do not seem to be able to get past the 600 visitors a day mark.
    Guessw I just have to keep laying them seeds,
    Great info John!
    Best Regards
    Greg

  17. Hotdogman says:

    I am not surprised at those costs-they seem low for a site with this kind of traffic. How long did it take you to scale up to the killer hosting, CDN and WordPress back up? You probably started like the rest of us: eight bucks and a free/cheap host….

    1. John Chow says:

      My blog was alway hosted on a dedicated server. It start life on the TTZ servers and then moved to its own server about a year later. The CDN and Vaultpress were all recent additions.

      1. Hotdogman says:

        Ahh. TTZ. Forgot about that.

      2. Abhik says:

        Which one makes more? TTZ or JohnChowDotCom?

  18. Hungry Dude says:

    arguably your email list is a promotional cost and not technically part of running the site per se. and $500/month to outsource a webinar sounds like a lot- couldn’t you get someone to set it up as a diy on your own hosting for under $6k? probably.

    1. John Chow says:

      True about the Aweber list but I would pay that much even if I don’t send out a single email (Aweber charges based on subscribers, not # of emails sent) so it’s a monthly expense.

      I’m looking at building out my own Webinar system. Just need to get the right people in place.

  19. Padma says:

    Thanks for sharing this information. I’ve been wondering about HostGator versus Amazon EC2 for scaling and performance. I’ve heard some negative things about Amazon, especially that the costs keep growing exponentially with traffic on Amazon.

    This sheds light into the hosting infrastructure, appreciate your article! Content delivery network (CDN) makes a lot of sense when the site audience comes from all over the world.

    Though I’d prefer having the mailing list and autoresponder software hosted locally on my own (hosted) server, reduces cost considerably, and for future purposes I think, would give me greater feeling of control over my mailing list.

    I’ve tried aWeber and it appears very professional and easy to use, but nothing like having the mailing list on my server, just in case. I’m very curious to know why aWeber is your 1st choice here 🙂

    1. John Chow says:

      The number 1 reason for using Aweber is deliverability. I used to host my own list but then find that as much as 1/3 of mailings were being blocked by spam filters. Also, most ISP will limit the number of emails you can send out at once. If you have a big list, it can takes to send all your mail.

  20. Perry Gamsby says:

    John, pretty clever giving us the insight at the same time promoting your affiliate programs for these services. My partner and I are just starting to get into our stride after years of almost making money. We spend a couple hundred a month but the more we spend (wisely) the more we make. I teach a course at community college on the background to running a blog and my students are without exception amazed at how much goes into the thing. They all believed the ‘spend two hours a day with a laptop poolside and make a million’ spiel. Cheers Perry

  21. Ginger Jones says:

    I was happy to see info about Vaultpress. That was new info for me. If it had been available a year ago, I would never have had to pay $600 to get my files cleaned up after a virus attack. For $15/$40 per month to have peace of mind it is a small price to pay.

    Ginger
    AttentionDealShoppers.com

  22. Thanks for sharing your “secrets.” Look forward to your webinar.

  23. Reva says:

    Good Job John Chow. I will try for this

  24. Steve says:

    Thanks for sharing John this was actually a huge help – not for the $ aspect but just listing what you’ve got going on here. You got 2 items I haven’t ever really considered but should be. My site has never been setup as a cash cow but I’m always looking to improve its performance. Thanks again.

  25. Justin says:

    That’s not bad; i thought that you may have an assistant or other people that help run your blog.

  26. Health Blog says:

    Thanks John for sharing your personal info. $374 for hosting only is quite a good amount. But I must say the price is reasonable compare to the job your hosting provider does for the high traffic.

  27. Noor Azman says:

    It’s hard to explain to the new comers. Most expecting to pay next to nothing. The fact is, it is a business. If you want to make money, you have to pay all the expenses up front.

  28. Alex says:

    That’s one good ROI! Even the traffic is high, but is mainly for browsing text and not downloading pictures or videos. Streaming videos also won’t really cost that much when you can always rely on good ole YouTube.

  29. Nisha Stephy says:

    Hello John,
    While going through each item, I was eagerly looking for the exact earning figures from them, but I didn’t see any. Don’t know if you are hiding something from the tax department [lol!!!] but we people from India are a fan of you guy!

    Thanks

    Nisha

  30. John I must say that this was again a killing title.

    Everybody would love to know the answer of this question which you added on your this post’s title.

    So simple one tweet, one update on facebook and email to your subscriber with this title can boost your traffic instantly.

    1. Abhik says:

      I guess he is taking some kind of lesson for creating killer titles 🙂

      1. PPC Ian says:

        That’s for sure! John’s blog is really killer title after killer title. I have been learning a lot! 🙂

        1. Like copyblogger did!! the killer Title

          1. Abhik says:

            In a matter of fact, Darren wrote a few posts on that.

  31. max says:

    Wait, you are only spending $249 on Aweber per month? I thought you had like 100K email subscribers, I am paying like $500 for 40-50,000 subscribers. You must be getting a special deal?

    1. He probably does get a good deal because he promotes then so much.

    2. John Chow says:

      I was with Aweber under the old pricing model. I have grandfathered pricing.

  32. Lakhyajyoti says:

    Thanks for sharing your blog expenses.It’s a huge money for me.

  33. Wow! I didn’t realize that it could even cost that much to run a blog. It’s interesting to see the breakdown of what it’s costing you to run this blog though.

  34. Infoyard says:

    It is very true that if you see blogging as real business this is one of the best one to start with. Best ROI ever.

    but need to apply all the business ethics to it . that is the key point.

    infoyard

  35. Dipesh Patel says:

    Thanks for the inside knowledge. We know how to improve and grow now since you have shared the secret 🙂

  36. hari says:

    Hi John,,,,
    Interesting article.
    You might want to give AMAZON AWS services a try.
    Might save you on hosting and CDN charges, as it can
    be a 2 in1 solution, and is pay per use as well.

    cheers
    hari

    1. John Chow says:

      I was on Amazon before moving to HostGator. While Amazon might be cheaper you have to keep mind that Amazon is self managed. You’re pretty much on your own in terms of tech support.

      1. Abhik says:

        Right.. They are not for guys like me who knows absolutely nothing of server management.

  37. WTF News says:

    thanks for posting this John.. one of my sites is taking off and we’ll eventually need to look at a dedicated hosting solution.

    just wondering, how many pageviews are you getting a day?

  38. David says:

    This is really interesting. It would be nice to know how you started and how the costs for your services grew. If you start a blog you can never afford to pay that amounts.

  39. Thanks for the detailed (and very private) insights into the cost structure of your blog.
    What else are you running onthis server? Having 13 IPs makes me think that it is not the blog and its database alone.

    1. John Chow says:

      The server plan comes with 13 IPs. I’m only using 2. One for cPanel and one for my blog.

  40. Albert says:

    $1,184. Sound interesting. But I could not understand why you are paying for 2 solutions for backup and bandwidth. You have raid in your server so you can stop using the MaxCDN.

    1. John Chow says:

      The CDN is not a backup service. It’s a content delivery service. Without it, everyone has to load my blog from the Pro server, which is located in Texas. The site will run nice and fast for people in Texas but not that fast if you’re on the other side of the world. The CDN puts my content on 100’s of servers around the world to speed up delivery. It only delivers static content so it doesn’t hold the entire blog. You still need VaultPress.

      1. Albert says:

        Hi John,

        Thanks for your explanation. Now I understand the need of CDN. I need to try this in my static websites.

        Anyway put “Notify via email” check box bellow the comment box. I could not find it in your blog. I want to get notified whenever I receive reply for my comments.

        Thanks 🙂

        1. John Chow says:

          I don’t use that because I don’t want to flood your inbox. 🙂

  41. Alexis says:

    That’s not as much as I thought. Very few businesses can have that kind of profit.

  42. Are you planning to make an IPO of Johnchow.com?

  43. if i convert my blog into site means, how much it will take , do you have any idea. pls suggest me.

  44. $1184 per month. IMO that’s huge. Well John, I am planning to get a CDN account for my cloud server. Can I use MaxCDN with my cloud server?

    1. John Chow says:

      You should be able to. MaxCDN has a list of services/hosts they can work with. Also, Amazon has their own CND service if you are with them.

  45. Hussam says:

    John,

    I can’t believe that you said your blog is hosting by Hostgator just to earn some affiliate links via hostgator…

    Well, I hope I am wrong.

    Snap of johnchow.com
    johnchow.com Is Hosted by AMAZON.COM

    * Hosting: AMAZON.COM host the domain johnchow.com
    * IP Address: 75.101.130.147
    * Name Servers: ns32.domaincontrol.com, ns31.domaincontrol.com

    1. @Hussam Why not mention Host Gator? – There’s guys out there that base their whole business on their host gator income. – Recurring Monthly income is VERY powerful in the long term, and a very honest and worthy way to make one’s rent.

    2. Needs to be updated… The blogs no longer hosted over there.

    3. John Chow says:

      I think you’re looking at old data. I used to be on Amazon. My blog is at IP 50.23.29.163
      IP 75.101.130.147, which is my old address, now loads something belonging to Abode.

    4. Fazal Mayar says:

      thats old data Hussam…. hostgator has recently worked with john for a free wordpress installation to its readers…

  46. Jason says:

    Very interesting and thanks for sharing, but you really should check your typos/grammar as it’s quite off-putting and can distract pedants like myself when reading.

    Enjoyed the read and info otherwise, thanks

  47. design flyer says:

    Well thats amazing business. Best of luck for its future..

  48. That’s good info! Hopefully I’ll be at the point where I need that level of support some day. My experience with a brick and morter business would put overhead at 50% minimum so Rock On!

  49. Je Like says:

    It’s really amazing!

  50. @Hussam Why not mention Host Gator? – There’s guys out there that base their whole business on their host gator income. – Recurring Monthly income is VERY powerful in the long term, and a very honest and worthy way to make one’s rent.

    1. oop Posted in the wrong spot.. sorry.

    2. Fazal Mayar says:

      haha you are right Randy. There is nothing wrong to promote hostgator. I think trying to build recurring income as a blogger is really important especial when you start seeing a decrease in income.

  51. I have been wanting to use Vaultpress, partly to give it a review for my website but also to start backing up my blog with it.

    Hopefully I get an invite soon!

  52. Wow, That’s a huge amount of money in my world.
    I thought $80.00 a month was high LOL.

  53. Zoe says:

    Not shocked by the total cost, I’m just surprised that it doesn’t cost more!

    I guess that comes from mindset of running traditional businesses – mine’s manufacturing and retail – and costs are huge.

    That’s the beauty of the internet and blogging. It makes it easier and cheaper for people to have businesses and passive income.

  54. I figured it was $1400. I was close! Nice breakdown altogether though.

  55. I thought it was much more.

  56. Voyeur says:

    You are great inspiration John Chow, i am not into mainstream like i was before but from time to time i read your blog and there is always something interesting to see it. Looks like blog with so much traffic like yours is not cheap to run, but still you make great money from it, and “your ROI” is blasting!

  57. An inspiration indeed. IT sounds vast at the outset, but those may be needed when my blog picks up speed.

  58. At first I thought that’s a lot of cash to run a blog, but like everything else in this world you have to put in if you wish to get out. And it looks like John is getting a good return on his investment.

  59. Actually this is beautiful compared with the size and movement of a blog

  60. Wow, would of suspected a higher amount. I think Silly Bandz may have a similar ratio but that’s just an estimated guess, those things probably cost 1/1000 of a penny to produce. 🙂

  61. that’s pretty low cost if you only by list make over 100x of its cost

  62. christina says:

    it will be higher value which we can’t say because its nice blog with great updates

  63. Chad Nicely says:

    John,

    You never seem to amaze me with the information you release to your readers. I check your blog each and every single day, just to see what your up to. You solved a problem I’ve been having for quite some time, and that was your reivew on Vault Press. Im currently using just the wp-backup plugin, but not feeling so secure. Keep up the good work my friend

  64. DJSophia says:

    Thats so cool…….that JohnChow.com is running at $1,184 Per Month……but that is one of the best blog…….

  65. jasmine says:

    well, i really get shocked john you are running your blog spending $1,184 per month, and earning too great , i like your way, keep going.

  66. its great to hear you are earning a lot

  67. singer divya says:

    i wish you all the best mate.

  68. Interesting. Yet all of those things are needed to keep you business running. Pretty low overhead compared to a brick and motor business. Keep up the good work John.

  69. is it possible to add affiliate links on my own blog. how can i proceed

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