One of my favorite parts of growing a blog has been how affordable it is. When I started blogging almost two years ago, I didn’t have the budget to put much money into my blog. It was just a hobby! As my blog has grown, along with my blogging income, so has the amount of money I put back into my blog. Luckily, blogging as a hobby is still as expensive or affordable as you want it to be. If you’re interested in continuing to grow your blog, here are a few blog investments I recommend making.
*There are affiliate links in this post. I may make a small commission if you purchase, with no additional cost to you.
Whether you’re planning to blog to make money or just as a hobby, I recommend purchasing your domain name. It’s a small investment, less than $15 per year, and buying it from the get-go will ensure that when the time comes that you do want to monetize your blog, you aren’t stuck in a situation where someone else has purchased your domain.
When you decide you’re ready to make the leap from one of the hosted sites, such as Blogger or WordPress dot com, you can go ahead and set up your self-hosted site. It took me 9 months after I started blogging to move to a self-hosted site because I wasn’t quite ready to make that investment, but I was thrilled when I did! You really see such a huge difference when you have your own site and can utilize the plugins and literally endless styling options of a self-hosted WordPress site.
There are quite a few options to choose from for your host. I currently use Bluehost*, and it’s what I would recommend for bloggers starting their first self-hosted site. It’s incredibly easy to set up, it’s very affordable for their lowest-priced plan, and it’s easy to get ahold of a customer service representative if you’re having any technical issues.
Theme and Design
The next blog investment I would recommend is a theme and design for your site. If you’re a pro at web design and coding your own site, then by all means go for it. But if you’re like me and are definitely not a pro, I would hire someone or purchase a pre-made design. I did a lot of research before making the leap to a self-hosted site, and ultimately decided to purchase the Genesis Framework* for Very Erin. I would recommend it to anyone! It has really made running my site a breeze.
As for designs, the options are endless. You can hire a designer to do a custom theme for you, which is likely going to be pricey (I’ve never done this so I can’t say just how pricey.) You can also purchase a design off Etsy for as low as $15. For a more middle of the road option, I chose to purchase a design from Pretty Darn Cute* designs. The designs are all feminine, simple-to-use themes that run with the Genesis Framework. The technical support is great as well, and I’ve snagged a few more of their designs during sales, just in case I want to use them in the future.
Email Marketing Platform
The great thing about this investment is that you really aren’t required to invest anything until you’ve surpassed 2,000 email subscribers. And by that point, you’re probably earning at least a small income from your blog! MailChimp is my current email provider, and I think it’s the best option for beginners and those who just aren’t ready to start paying. I’ve also know a lot of bloggers use ConvertKit (which I’m planning to switch to in the near future.) It’s more expensive, but you’ll get significantly more for your money!
Social Media Scheduling
If you’re going to be marketing your blog on social media, I promise a social media scheduler is worth the investment. The number of hours you could spend on social media without one are literally endless. It’s such a time suck, and I would rather not have to type a Facebook post 4-5 times per day each time I want to post. Luckily, there are free options that aren’t too bad. For the basic social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Google+) your best options are Hootsuite* or Buffer (unless you’re okay with investing considerably more.) Hootsuite and Buffer both have a free option and a paid option, they’re both simple to use, and they both have a Chrome extension that makes sharing from your blog and other insanely easy. If you want to stick with the free option, I recommend Hootsuite. Buffer really limits the number of posts you can schedule with their free version. If you’re willing to invest the $9/month, I would go with Buffer. I love their upgraded plan!
You’ll also want a scheduler for Pinterest. And there are quite a few options here as well. My favorite tool for Pinterest is BoardBooster. There are a few different ways to use it. You can schedule pins. You can loop pins back onto the same board. But my favorite way to use it is to regularly have my content repinned from my blog Pinterest board to group boards I’m a part of. I used to do this manually with Buffer, and it would take me at least an hour each week. This accomplishes the same thing for $5/month (though they do have a free trial!), and it takes me zero time. Totally worth it.
I’ve also heard great things about Tailwind, though I haven’t tried it myself. For a free option that is similar to Tailwind, I use Ahalogy which will schedule pins for you at optimal times. I spend a few minutes each day finding pins to add to my scheduler and I’m spending significantly less time on Pinterest than I used to.
Luckily, there are an infinite number of free resources online to help you build your blog. You could certainly grow a successful blog without paying for any education. However, I guarantee that you’ll be able to grow faster with the help of eBooks or eCourses that really target the area you want to improve. My absolutely favorite book I read as a blogging resource is How to Blog for Profit Without Selling Your Soul* by Ruth Soukup (she’s the blogger over at Living Well, Spending Less.) This book is helpful regardless of what stage you’re in of blogging. I’ve actually read it three times and I have gotten something out of it each time.
If you’re ready to make a bigger investment and purchase an eCourse, there are tons of options, depending on what your goal is. A little research will show you plenty of options. The one eCourse I have purchased is Book Boss*, taught by Abby and Donnie Lawson. I chose this one since I’m currently writing my first ebook, and felt this course would bring me the greatest return on my investment. I’m only a few modules into the course, but loving it so far.
When it comes down to it, time is the most important investment you’ll make for your blog. This includes the time spent research and educating yourself, the time spent planning and designing your site, the time spent writing and promoting content, and the time spent networking with other bloggers. Luckily, many of the investments I listed above will allow you more time to focus on parts of blogging that will truly help exponentially grow your traffic.
Alright friends, I know that was a ton of information. You certainly don’t have to run out and make all of these investments today (because that would be pricey), but all of them are something to keep on your radar as you enter different stages of your blog. If you have questions about specific resources I mentioned or any I didn’t, I’m happy to answer questions in the comments or by email!