I’m a penny-pincher. So let’s just say when it came into actually taking my blog seriously, I started teaching myself how to shift my mindset and make calculated investments.
I shifted my mindset to be open to spending money (intelligently) in order to make it.
As my “first year of blogging” milestone approaches, I’m reflecting on the investments I’ve made, and how far they’ve taken me.
To start a brick-and-mortar business, you need capital. When it comes to blogging… you can start that blog for as little as $50 or $75. And the more you’re able to invest, the further you can take that dollar. It’s the sad truth. Like when you pre-purchase hosting, you can typically buy up to three years at a ridiculously low cost.
Take advantage of these deals as often as possible because you can take your dollar further. Simple.
Disclaimer: For what it’s worth, I am NOT a financial advisor or expert. These are investments I’ve made for my own blog (unless otherwise mentioned). Don’t take this advice as financial advice – just recommendations based on my own experience.
1. Your Own Domain
At the very minimum, purchase your own domain. This domain will be the foundation of your online presence.
It’s the start of how people will remember to find you, connect with you, and eventually refer traffic to you! If you want to create an online presence, just make the small investment in your blog.
Your domain is your URL, like “myblog.com”
Here are my 3 favorite ways to purchase a domain online:
- Namecheap: marketplace for affordable domains (I bought RerouteLifestyle.com from Namecheap)
- Siteground: $14.95 per year (with purchase of hosting plan)
- Bluehost: free (with purchase of hosting plan)
- WordPress: Free or Payment Plan
When to Invest: When you start your blog.
Protip: Once you purchase your domain name, reserve that username on all social media platforms.
If you haven’t thought about it, consider website hosting next. When you invest in hosting, you also make that investment in being able to customize your website.
Whereas one year ago, buying a hosting plan was ~soo spooky and intimidating~, now I see it as a necessary investment. Choosing a free host (like WordPress.com or Wix) really limits what you can do in terms of customization. Investing in hosting truly opens up a lot of ways to customize your blog.
Why? You don’t need to be a WordPress developer to design a blog. There are tons of plugins and themes available that will help you design your website and achieve your goals.
- Siteground: $3.95/mo for your first host
- Bluehost: as low as $2.95/mo for your first hosting plan (if you pre-purchase for 3 years)
I personally use Siteground, although I have clients who use Bluehost.
When to Invest: When you want control of your blog and/or want to monetize it.
3. Premium WordPress Theme ($25+)
Right after I purchase, domain and hosting, I found a WordPress theme.
I’m a penny pincher, so I was on the prowl for a beautiful WordPress theme that didn’t break the bank. My first theme was less than $30 from Cityhousedesign on Etsy.
- Divi by Elegant Themes
Now, I use Divi by Elegant Themes and L-O-V-E it. Not only is it easy to customize, but your purchase also comes with multiple licenses for the time period you buy it.
When to Invest: Right after you purchase hosting for your blog.
4. Pinterest Scheduler ($5-$15+ per month)
If you want to drive traffic to your blog, learn Pinterest. Pinterest gives smaller bloggers the opportunity to compete – even without growing a following.
After you set up Pinterest, consider a Pinterest scheduler. A scheduler allows you to put Pinterest on autopilot, so you can focus on other tasks (growing a social media following elsewhere, creating content, etc.).
I use both Tailwind and Boardbooster to schedule my pins.
- Boardbooster: (as little as $5/mo) What I love about Boardbooster’s campaign feature is that it literally puts Pinterest on autopilot. After you set it up, it’s good to go!
When to Invest: After you’ve joined Pinterest group boards.
- Tailwind: (between $10-$15/mo) Tailwind offers super in-depth Pinterest analytics (BEST on the market), interactive Tribes (to increase your exposure), and smart scheduling (based on when your audience is most engaged).
5. How to Create a Viral Pin ($47)
This is HANDS DOWN one of the best investments I’ve made for my blog.
You read every blogger say it: “Pinterest was the game-changer for my blog.” It can change your blog’s game, too.
- Pins work for you 1 week after posting…1 month after posting…1 year after posting.
- Pinterest is the ONLY platform where you can drive traffic with ZERO followers.
Even after I took this blog full-time, I got lazy about promoting. I needed to focus on other aspects of my business, like offering services. But Pinterest ensures I get consistent traffic to my blog.
I attribute a lot of this traffic to the course, How to Create a Viral Pin.
- After taking this course, Reroute Lifestyle’s Pinterest tripled its average monthly viewers.
- With barely any other promotion, Reroute Lifestyle’s average daily traffic has grown, too.
- This course offers insight on Pinterest strategy + psychology.
It’s one of those course you’ll feel you severely underpaid for, yet you better put all this newfound knowledge into action.
When to Invest: As soon as you start using Pinterest for your blog
6. G Suite for Business ($5/mo per user)
I’ve been a fangirl for Gmail since it was an invitation-only email service provider (not sure if I seem super hipster, or super old, here).
Naturally so, I find it pretty incredible that you can connect your business email addresses to the entire Google Suite.
Plus, your first 14 days are free!
When to Invest: As soon as your budget allows.
7. Convertkit ($29/mo for your first 1,000 subscribers)
I bought ConvertKit about 9 months after I started blogging. And I honestly felt like I bought Convertkit too late.
Sometimes I would quit in the middle of building automations in Mailerlite. Other times, I would avoid going into Mailerlite because I knew updating an automation would bring a colossal migraine. You couldn’t edit emails easily, or when you did there was just too much clicking.
- Edit content.
- Return to automation editor.
- Click another email I want to edit (in the same automation).
- Find the small button that says “Edit” and click that.
- Wait for the page to load.
So if you are sick of waiting for your browser to load yet another page, consider ConvertKit.
Just remember: Mailerlite is the perfect platform for beginners to learn whether or not they can send out regular newsletters, what to send in every newsletter, and how to build an income with automatic emails.
ConvertKit is for the blogger who knows what to say and how often. A blogger who has an email marketing plan (more, or less). If that sounds like you, I recommend trying ConvertKit.
- Super easy to create automations and sales funnels
- Customizable opt-in forms, landing pages, and pop-ups
- Seriously – email marketing made easy!
When to Invest: When you understand how to use a sales funnel to make money from your mailing list.
8. Courses + Ebooks for Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is one of my favorite ways to make money blogging. I consider it one of the easiest ways to start making money blogging.
- You’re promoting someone else’s product or service, so you save all the time it would take to create your own.
- Some affiliate programs come with the option to track specific links and their performance (this is called deep linking).
- You can use affiliate marketing to learn about how your audience engages with certain products/services, and what they like/dislike.
If affiliate marketing goes over your head, and you want to skip part of the learning curve, I’d recommend purchasing an ebook or course on the topic.
The She Approach’s Affiliate Marketing Bundle ($57): A great bundle for beginners that helps bloggers monetize their online presence with affiliate marketing. The bundle includes access to an ebook, video tutorials, and case studies that tremendously help you master affiliate marketing. *Disclaimer: I personally haven’t bought this bundle yet, but I have bought other products from Ana and love what she has to offer! It’s an affordable alternative to Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.
9. Taxes (approx. 20-30% of income)
I’m obviously not a financial advisor. But once you start making money blogging, you’ll probably have to pay for taxes in one way or another.
But how can you get your taxes in check so you’re not losing sleep over lost money come tax time?
My solution: Qapital (and it’s totally, 100% free).
Qapital is a smart way to save – and in this case, it’s a smart way to save for taxes.
- Start by connecting your business bank account to Qapital.
- Then, add a “rule” to your bank account. My rule is for every deposit to my business bank account, 30% automatically gets saved towards taxes.
- Qapital holds your savings in a Wells Fargo Bank account until you’re ready to pay those taxes!
- Then you can easily transfer money to your bank account.
If it’s free, how do they make money?
They make money from standard transaction fees on their totally optional debit card. (Their debit card is free to use, too!)
When to Sign Up: Once you open a business bank account.
10. Outsource Some Work
Some of the best investments I’ve made have been outsourced work.
- It’s SO helpful to have a second opinion.
- Sometimes, you need to outsource so you can focus on profit-driving tasks.
DON’T JUST HIRE ANYONE, AND DON’T JUST HIRE SOMEONE BECAUSE THEY’RE “CHEAP.” HIRE HELP SO YOU CAN FOCUS ON TASKS THAT FUEL YOUR CREATIVITY AND MAKE YOU MONEY.
If you need guidance on the next step, hire a coach or consultant. Or, if you know what you need to get done, but need a second hand who knows her stuff, hire a brand manager or virtual assistant.
Remember that business is about making calculated investments. So if you feel like a lost puppy spending your days wondering why you’re not seeing blog growth… it will really pay to get a second opinion. Hire a blog strategist who can:
- Look at your blog + your goals
- Provide advice on aesthetic improvements + social media strategy
- Help you shift your attention to tasks that matter
- Give you direction to make money blogging
When to Invest: When you feel like you need a seasoned sounding board or mentor. Or, you want to focus on profit-driving tasks and outsource some work.
Where do you want to take your blog?
What do you want to accomplish with your blog this year? When’s the last time you thought about how you were going to achieve your goals? Even if you have a big goal, break that sucker down into smaller goals to achieve throughout the year.
For me, the biggest step was learning to make strategic investments for my blog.
HOW CAN THIS INVESTMENT MULTIPLY THE DOLLAR I PUT INTO IT?
It’s a shift in mindset.
Okay, bloggers! My favorite part of the discussion happens in the comments. What’s one thing you’ve bought and LOVED?! Or, what have you been thinking about purchasing? What’s stopping you from making the purchase?