Every blogger has their own unique journey. I started blogging for fun and didn’t see the need to make any investments for it. After it started to grow more and more, I realized that it had to potential to be something more than just a hobby blog.
With so many bloggers out there now, it’s practically impossible to put up a few photos and words and expect to see your blog take off. Today’s post is for anyone that has goals to grow their blog and eventually make a side (or full) income from it.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my own blogging journey, it’s that you need to be willing to put a little extra into your blog for it to blossom. This post shares 7 of the best investments I believe are totally worth making to grow your blog.
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Believe me, I’m a frugal person (with a lot of student loans) so the last thing I wanted to do on my was to spend money on my blog. But I had to get over this mindset and focus on my goals. What did I want for my blog in the next 3 months? 6 months? Year? 5 years? I knew that I wanted to start making an income from it and eventually make it a full-time thing, so that allowed me to come to the conclusion that I had to make a few investments to benefit my blog in the long run.
Okay, Sheila…let’s get on with it!
I have to be frank with you. Investing your time and energy into your blog should be your #1 priority. I have definitely made some sacrifices in my life in order to grow my blog, but I wouldn’t have changed anything. When I discovered my purpose and rebranded my blog, I made the decision to devote every single part of me into it because I knew it would pay off in the long run. Time is what sets a hobby blogger from a “serious” blogger. You set goals and run on a consistent posting schedule. You make time to learn new strategies and build yourself up with authenticity. If you’re willing to commit, you will succeed.
2. Domain Name
Purchasing a domain name was the first big move I made when I changed the name of my blog about a year and a half ago. I bought insearchofsheila.com for $12 (which is good for a year, then you renew) through GoDaddy and had no regrets moving forward. Today I have my domain name through SiteGround which I will get into in just a second.
Purchasing your own domain name is a great way to get your beginner blogger feet in the water as you transition towards a more professional direction. Dropping the .blogspot or .wordpress from your URL will help grow your credibility with readers, other bloggers, and brands!
The point: you’ll get taken more seriously.
3. Go Self-Hosted
Having a self-hosted blog basically means that you own your website and it can’t be taken away from you, even if WordPress of Blogger randomly decided to shut down one day. (Yes, this can really happen.) It also allows you to have more control over the customization and functionality of your site, as Blogger and WordPress.com have many limitations in regards to your blog’s design. You also get a custom email address that makes you look hella professional. Mine is firstname.lastname@example.org!
I self-host with SiteGround and HIGHLY recommend it. Their 24/7 tech support made it a breeze to switch over from GoDaddy and they held my hand while I moved from Blogger to WordPress. I paid $47 for a year of hosting ($3.95 a month) which is their most basic plan. So far I haven’t had any problems whatsoever!
4. Blog Design
While having kick-ass content is certainly a must to build a successful blog, it’s also important to have a clean and eye-catching blog design. Let’s be real: the first thing readers notice when they come to your site is how it looks. I know I’m not the only one that will exit out of blog because it has an ugly design or I can’t find what I’m looking for #sorrynotsorry. Having a clean design will not only make you appear more professional and credible but make people come back again and again!
Whether you shoot your own or use stock photos, your images need to be on point. High-quality photos are a MUST in order to attract and keep readers on your site.
If you’re into photography like me and prefer to shoot your own photos, I suggest investing in a decent camera, lens, and photo editing software.
I recently upgraded to a Canon Rebel T6i and LOVE IT. Beyond taking great images, it also has video capabilities, which was an investment I made since I want to do video content down the road. But my favorite feature has got to be the wifi connect…makes it a breeze to snap a shot and upload it straight to my phone for Instagram!
If you’re just starting out, don’t feel like you need to spend a fortune on gear. There are a bunch of affordable cameras out there, plus your smart phone can do an equally impressive job, given the capabilities of technology these days.
I personally use the newest version of Photoshop to edit my photos, but I’m a photo person. I know the software is super expensive, but there are older versions available online that are free. I actually lease Photoshop and Lightroom with Adobe Creative Cloud for under $12 a month which I justify paying because I use both programs frequently. If Photoshop isn’t your thing I recommend PicMonkey.
Hire a Photographer
Another option is to hire a photographer. If you know someone that wants to improve their portfolio you could suggest having them shoot your photos in exchange for a shoutout on your blog (meaning no charge for you.) Or, you can hire a photographer, which will vary in costs depending on what they charge.
The last and easiest option are stock photos, which can save you a lot of time and frustration if photography isn’t your thang. While there are many free stock photo sites out there, you’re more likely to have similar photos of other bloggers in your niche. Because of that I totally suggest investing in paid stock photos. Membership sites are particularly worth it because their inventory is always changing, especially with the seasons!
Here a few sites to get stock photos:
For more stock photo sites, check out this post from Danielle Ziegler!
6. Email Service Provider
Y’all know I love email marketing, so that’s why I believe in investing in a good email service provider. I personally use ConvertKit and 100% recommend it to anyone that is focused on growing their email list and wants to eventually sell products or services. It starts at $29 a month for up to 1,000 subscribers. This may seem like a lot for an email service, but I prefer having a reliable and user-friendly platform, which is why I spend that much a month on it.
Yes, I know there are free options such as MailChimp and MailerLite but honestly, I’ve tried out both and even considered switching to MailerLite to save an extra $30 a month but…I just can’t do it. ConvertKit is so easy to use and keeps everything organized and hassle free. Plus I just genuinely love the company and what they stand for.
I am big on education. I love learning in general, so I highly recommend investing in tools, courses, books, and membership sites to help grow your blog. I do believe you can learn everything you need to know for free, but it will take you more time and energy to do so.
Trust me, I did it for months. Then I caved and purchased a few ebooks, enrolled in a course, and joined a membership site because I knew it would help get me to where I wanted to be faster and with less frustration.
If you’re committed to turning your blog into a business within the next year, I highly recommend checking out my eBook Blogging with Purpose!
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