Investments to Make When You’re Starting a Blog

by | Jun 21, 2016

One of my favorite parts of growing a blog has been how affordable it is. When I started blogging years ago, I had NO budget to put toward my blog. It was just a hobby! As my blog has grown, along with my blogging income, so has the amount of money I’ve been able to 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.

 

Blog Investments to Make When You're Starting a Blog

There are affiliate links in this post, meaning I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you. For more information, see my full disclosure policy here.

 

BLOG INVESTMENTS TO MAKE

 

 

Domain Name

 

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.

You can easily purchase your domain when you purchase your hosting. I purchase all of my domains through blog host – Siteground!

Cost: $10-$15 / Year

 

Hosting

 

One of the first decisions you’ll have to make when starting your blog is what hosting company you will choose. Luckily hosting is SUPER affordable when you’re just starting out!

My favorite hosting company and the one I currently use is Siteground. My site has literally never gone down since I started using their services, their customer service is amazing, and they were super helpful when I changed domain names and switched my site to them from a different host. Plus, Siteground plans start at $3.95, which is a steal!

For a full tutorial about how to get set up with Siteground, check out my post on how to start a blog.

Cost: $3.95 / Month

 

Theme and Design

 

Once you have purchased your domain, the next big step is setting up your blog design. The cost of this is really open-ended. Yes, there are free blog designs. There are also people who spend thousands of dollars having a design custom-made. But if you’re just starting out, you probably aren’t ready to make that leap quite yet!

Luckily, there are SO many affordable options when it comes to blog design!

On my blog, I use the Divi Theme by Elegant Themes. I’ve used quite a few different themes over the years. The reason I ultimately chose Divi is how customizable and easy to use it is. Everything is drag and drop, meaning even someone who doesn’t understand code (like me) can totally customize their site however they want it.

Elegant Themes has TONS of tutorials on their website to set up your own blog with the Divi Theme (there is a bit of a learning curve). I’m planning to do a post at a later time sharing how I use it to create my site!

The Divi Theme does cost $89 / year (or $249 for lifetime access), and I know many beginners aren’t going to be interested in paying that much. Here are a couple of my favorite sources for more affordable themes:

Cost: Free – $250

 

Email Marketing Platform

 

Once you begin to gain a following on your blog, you’ll definitely want to be collecting their email addresses! This is a great way of staying in touch with your biggest fans, especially when you start monetizing your blog. Like the other expenses we’ve discussed, there are both free and paid options available for email marketing.

If you’re not ready to pay for an email service provider from the beginning, I recommend MailChimp. This is the tool I used for the first year and a half of blogging, and it’s free up to 2,000 subscribers.

If you’re willing to spend a bit of money right away, I recommend ConvertKit. ConvertKit was built by bloggers for bloggers, so the company understands exactly what we need from an email service provider. It’s SO easy to use and has really powerful automation, tagging, and segmenting capabilities which make it SO easy to communicate with your audience in the right way.

ConvertKit pricing is based on the number of subscribers, and the first tier is $29.

Cost: Free – $29 / Month

 

Social Media Scheduling

 

Promoting your blog on social media is super important. However, you’ll quickly learn that it can be SUPER time-consuming. Honestly, it could be a full-time job all in itself!

Because of that, I’m SO grateful there are scheduling tools that can help lessen the burden. I save SO much time by using tools to schedule and automate my social media posts. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Tailwind – If you can only afford to invest in one tool to help you grow your blog, make it this one. Tailwind is the tool I use to schedule pins on Pinterest. It’s super easy to use – check out my full tutorial here! Basically, it takes me about an hour to schedule all of my pins for an entire month, making the small investment MORE than worth it. Plus you can sign up for your free Tailwind trial here to figure out if it works for you before you commit!
  • SmarterQueue – It’s taken me a while to find the perfect scheduling tool for Facebook and Twitter, and I finally found it with SmarterQueue. Not only can I easily schedule social media posts to promote my latest blog post, but they also have evergreen promotion. Meaning I can add a post once, and it will share it again and again! This is perfect for getting old content in front of your audience again. Plus SmarterQueue is WAY cheaper than most of the other evergreen scheduling tools (it’s only $19.99/month) and you can try it for free before you commit!
  • Planoly – If you’ve been blogging a while, you know that Instagram is SUPER important these days. Planoly is by far my favorite tool for keeping up with Instagram. They have a drag and drop scheduler so you can figure out the best order for your Instagram posts. Then you can write your captions on the app OR on your desktop. The best part is, you can now schedule IG posts to go live automatically with Planoly, rather than getting a notification and having to still manually post! Planoly is great because it’s free as long as you’re sharing fewer than 30 posts per month, and still super affordable if you’re sharing more than that.

If you can only afford to invest in ONE social media tool, I would go with Tailwind. Pinterest has HUGE potential for blog traffic, and I think automating that is the most important.

Cost: $10 / Month – $40 / Month

 

Education

 

When you first start blogging, you’ll spend a lot of time on trial and error and educating yourself with free resources you find online. Once you start growing and are ready to skyrocket your traffic and start monetizing, it may be worth it to invest in some education to help you do that. The options are literally endless, but here are a few of my favorites.

Traffic Transformation: I’ve read countless articles and eBooks over the years that have promised the magic formula for growing your blog traffic, and very few shared any new strategies or ideas with me. Traffic Transformation, however, truly introduced me to some new ideas that I hadn’t tried before. The author shares the best strategies she used to bring her blog traffic from 17,000 to over 450,000 in just a matter of months, and I can honestly say I noticed a difference in my traffic when I implemented the strategies myself. If you’re going to invest in one product to help you grow your traffic, especially if you’re in the relatively early stages of blogging, this is definitely the one to go with!

Strategies Worth Sharing: When it comes to social media marketing, Facebook is definitely the toughest nut to crack for most bloggers. It seems that no matter what you do, the algorithms keep changing to make it harder and harder to get your posts to show up in people’s news feeds. Strategies Worth Sharing is the one eBook I’ve found that has really seemed to make a difference in my Facebook success. I know quite a few other bloggers, including pretty darn successful ones, who have also read the book and have had amazing results.

Pinning Perfect: Out of all of the Pinterest eBooks and course I’ve seen online, Pinning Perfect is definitely my favorite! It gets into the nitty-gritty of creating a Pinterest strategy, down to exactly how many pins to share each, and what the ratio should be of your own pins versus those from other sites. It takes a bit of a time investment to make it through the course and implement the strategies, but almost no time at all to keep them going once you’ve got them up and running!

Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing: This is one of my favorite blogging resources that I have purchased. For my first couple of years blogging, I didn’t dive into affiliate marketing at all. But I knew that lots of bloggers were making great money with affiliates, so I knew it was something I could and should do as well. Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing is jam-packed with information, and the blogger who created it makes over $100,000 per month with her blog, so you know her strategies work!

Six Figure Blogger: When you’re ready to start creating and selling your own products (which I 100% recommend at some point in your blogging journey), this course is definitely for you. This course walks you through creating and selling digital products online and, as the name suggests, making six figures from your blog. FYI – The people who created Six Figure Blogger make six figures per MONTH on their blogs using the strategies in this course!

Cost: Unlimited

 

Time

 

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. Remember, you can make more money. You can NOT make more time!

 

BEFORE YOU GO

 

Now that we’ve made it through that entire list, you may be even more intimidated than you were before. I know, it seems like you could spend an endless amount of money building your blog – which you could! But I’m hoping the other takeaway you got from that list is that so many of these expenses are optional and can be invested in later when you’re making money. Just start small with the absolute necessities and work your way up as your blog gains traction. I will all be worth it in the end!

 

P.S. If you’re ready to start or grow your blog, here are some blogging resources I recommend checking out:

53 Comments

  1. Brandy Burke

    I agree with all of these – they’re the foundation for blogging 🙂
    I couldn’t live without a blog calendar also!

  2. Alicia Hensley

    This is so helpful! Thank you for sharing!

  3. Alanna @ Alanna & Company

    Tailwind and Archie have been my most recent purchases. Having my domain name was HUGE.

  4. Shann Eva

    So much great information! I do own my domain, and am self-hosted, also by Bluehost. As I continue to grow, it’s so great to know about all the other options available.

  5. Courtney Patterson

    I currently use Buffer, which is great. I also purchased my theme and design which made a huge difference in reader response. My next move is to transfer everything over to a .com. I’ve purchased my blog’s name on Go Daddy so now it’s just a matter of getting it all moved over. Great article!

  6. Joules (Pocketful of Joules)

    Each year I go to the BlogHer Conference and it is a great chance to learn so much from other bloggers!

  7. Kate Curtis

    Going to give boardbooster a try! Its not that I send too much time on pinterest, its that I forget to pin my own pins everyday. 🙂

  8. The Cuteness

    Love all of these suggestions. I definitely do these things, and I know a few people who could stand to read How to Blog for Profit Without Selling Your Soul! Haha

  9. Marissa Pedersen

    Great tips! I didn’t do all of these from the start on my blog and wish I did to make it easier.

  10. Jill

    These are great suggestions! I own my domain name but am still on blogger. I need to give those scheduling tools a try!

    Jill
    Doused In Pink

  11. Rachel Ritlop

    Great suggestions! Bloggers can even take care of Viraltags free blogger plan to reduce the cost of social media scheduling!

  12. Christine Everyday

    I have heard so many people say good things about Hootsuite…I really need to consider giving it a try again.

  13. Abby

    Great list! I use- and LOVE- BoardBooster, plus the free version of HootSuite. My next investment will likely be an upgraded version of a social media scheduler.

  14. Ginger Marie

    YAS! this is life. Bloggin isn’t cheap to start but its so worth it.

  15. Mindy Young @ Farm Fit Living

    Good tips! I do all of them with my blog. I’m focusing on my email list right now and I’m almost to 100 subs. I use MailChimp. Another great app I use is Google Analytics. I can check my numbers from my phone wherever I am and see where people are going to most.

  16. The Haunted Housewife

    Another thing to invest in your blog: BRANDING! You can hire a designer for that too; possibly the same person that designs your theme. But I got the book “How To Style Your Brand” by Fiona Humberstone … wow I’ve learned so much about branding and I’m tackling it myself! 🙂 So much fun but time consuming. WORTH IT.

    xoxo, Sam | thehauntedhousewife.com

  17. rileyjoblog

    I think this is right on. I was looking at a few blogs who are still “@blogspot.com” and I just wish I could reach out to them and let them know they should make the switch! It’s really not hard to do and very worth it.

  18. Becky @Disney in your Day

    I have that “how to blog for profit” book on my Amazon wish list, I should buy it soon! And you make such a great point about investing time and how that’s probably the biggest thing. Like so many things in life, an investment of time will usually pay off.

  19. Dia

    Love this post Erin! Great investments for sure. I am so glad i took the classes and webinars I have, they really helped me find my path. I use the free hootsuite and board booster but hope to upgrade to paid soon. My VA is also so worth the investment.

  20. Greta Hollar

    I love your blog tip posts. Always such helpful information!

    Greta | http://www.gretahollar.com

  21. Brittany @ Grace, Love, Life

    Great investments! A few months ago i bought my new theme and it has really made a big difference.

  22. Fashionable Tigress

    Great post. I definitely need to purchase my domain name soon but I dk if I’m ready to switch to a self hosted site just yet. All these others are great as well I’m just not sure they are available on blogger which is why I know eventually I’ll need to be self hosted. Thanks for the info.

  23. @EfabulousHB

    I think the most important thing you mentioned in your article is time. Finding the time to dedicate to your blog is critical to it’s success and your commitment to making it work!

  24. Jennifer Pepple

    There’s so many good points in this post – saving it for later. Time is so important to your blog and it’s one thing I didn’t really realize when I first started my blog. You have to be 100% invested in it. I’m hoping to switch to self-hosted at some point, but it kind of overwhelms me!

  25. Kara

    Once I invested in a good theme and hosting my blog drastically changed and looks so much better! Great list 🙂

  26. Courtney Pies

    These are some great investment ideas to make for your blog. You definitely have to spend money to make money – and a blog is no different!

  27. Miss Angie

    Yes! I agree with all of these.

  28. Kam K

    Such great suggestions. These are totally spot on. I have invested in social media schedulers so far. I guess you need to spend some to gain some. Thanks for sharing!

  29. Libby Boyes

    I’ve been really considering investing in a tool to help me schedule. I feel like it would save me SO much time!!

  30. Pack Your Baguios

    I need to invest in a scheduler! Social media is a huge time expense for me.

  31. Rachel @ STCL

    Totally agree with all of these! I’ve been really into investing in education this year!

  32. Laura Kathleen @LauraAimeVous

    Agreed! Time is the biggest investment I’ve made so far on my blog! I haven’t purchased all of these, but I do think putting a little money into your blog makes a HUGE difference! Thanks for your tips!

  33. Shanna

    Great tips! I have made the decision to take my blog more seriously and have the fall will be purchasing my domain and I am scared and excited all at once. I will be referring back to this post when I make the move to re fresh on the tips!

  34. Hannah Adkins

    I agree with so many of these! Anyone who asks me my tips on blogging, one of my first is to invest in a great layout. It does wonders! Plus having it custom eventually really lets you establish a “brand” so to speak.

  35. Casey

    I really need to invest a bit in a social media scheduler – I’m not nearly active enough on my social media platforms because of the time suck!

  36. Krista Dial

    Curious if you’ve heard of coschedule or used it before? I was an early user with Hootsuite, but gave it up about a year ago…it may be time to reinvest…

  37. Kelsie Kleinmeyer

    This is super great! For the most part, I’ve poured like zero money into my blog, so this is a helpful place to start. Thanks!

  38. Jenny

    Love this, Erin! I have a theme from Pretty Darn Cute Designs and I love it too. This post is so helpful to people wanting to invest in their blogs.

    xoxo, Jenny

  39. Mary La Fornara

    Great information! Social Media is what I have been working on lately, slow and steady.

  40. Kristin C

    Question: I pay for my domain name on Blogger. I’ve long-since dropped the “blogger dot com”, but I don’t pay for anything else. Does that make me self-hosted?

  41. Brittany Bergman

    I totally agree with these, Erin! I am constantly investing time and money into site upgrades and new themes. I also finally started paying for BoardBooster, and it is worth every penny!

  42. Runwright

    Man. You make me want to do stuff. I have been lagging on moving to a self hosted site but this post makes me want to just get up and go do it.
    On my blog today, I am talking about doing vs procrastinating so I think I know now what I have to do.
    http://Runwright.net

  43. Maegan Clark

    Ah. Learning about SEO. It’s helped me TREMENDOUSLY! So many free online resources.

  44. Kristen

    I really need to get on the email marketing train! These are great ideas for how to grow my space! thanks!

  45. Adaleta Avdic

    What an excellent post, with valuable and cohesive information. Thank you for sharing! I’ve been thinking about a Hootsuite, because I really need to get things automatically going for myself! xx adaatude.com

  46. Amanda

    I love this. Time is definitely the most important investment. Anything good takes time. Nice work!

  47. Ariel @ Keys to My Life

    I’m currently on my blogging break until at least August when I move back home, but at that point I’m looking to switch to WordPress! I’m nervous, but excited to move up in the blogging world.

  48. momwithfiveblog

    Very useful and informative post. I think time is the most important because anything good takes time.

  49. Kayla Cruz

    I just started using Hootsuite and I have no idea how I ever lived without it! Great post lady! xoxo, Kayla

  50. Karissa Ancell

    These are all things I’m investing. I probably invest too much in education but I’m hoping it will all pay off eventually.

  51. Bree

    Thanks for the tips! I am quite new to the blogging world but would like to move from hobby blogger to career blogger within 12 months.

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