When you’re starting a blog with the hopes of making it a business, the old saying proves true: “You have to spend money to make money.” But most bloggers don’t have a lot of money to spend when they’re first starting out — and the options for spending money are overwhelming. There are lots of gadgets, programs, and products to buy, but which are the best investment?
I’ve been blogging professionally for five years now, and I’ve learned through trial and error which items are wise investments, and which aren’t worth the money. I still DIY a lot of things for my blog, but there are a few things I think are absolutely worth paying for, no matter your niche or experience level. If you’re on a limited budget like I was (and am!), here are a few things I think are worth spending your hard-earned dollars on. I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience.
A Self-Hosted Site
If you’re serious about blogging as a business, you’ll want to “own” your space on the web, versus just “renting” it. I started out on a free blogging platform because it was just that: FREE. However, as my blog grew, I found that platform to be incredibly limiting as far as design and customization were concerned. I was also sobered by the fact that if that blogging platform decided to close down, all of my content and images would be gone. Making the move to a self-hosted blog was one of the best decisions I’ve made, and I wish I had done it sooner. I’ve shared a little more on my personal blog about how I moved to a self-hosted site on a budget.
A cloud storage service is a service that allows you to store your files on the cloud, so they’re accessible anywhere you have internet access.This is great for when you’re working remotely, working between computers, or if the unthinkable happens and your hard drive crashes. I use a service called Dropbox, and I love it because it automatically saves the photos I take with my iPhone to the cloud. There are many options available for cloud storage, and most offer a certain amount of storage free before you start paying for a plan. You can start a 30-Day Free Trial of Dropbox for Business if you are unsure about it for your needs too.
Photo Editing Software
These days, blogging is as much about images as it is about words. Photo editing software is necessary for creating clean, well-sized, Pinterest-optimized pictures for your blog posts and social media sharing. I use the online tool PicMonkey, and pay $33 a year for their Royale service. That’s just one option, though! I know my friend Jill is a devoted fan of Lightroom, and there are several other programs out there. Find the one that meets your needs and use it — but you can’t afford to go without one!
A Great Theme
A designer or developer may not be in the budget, but if your blog isn’t easy to read and user-friendly, readers won’t keep coming back. Making the investment in a clean, neat, and functional theme guarantees that people won’t be turned off by how your blog looks. Like everything else on my list, there are lots of options when it comes to pre-made themes. I am personally a fan of Elegant Themes. For $69 a year, you get access to all of their themes as well as access to their support forums. This is a great deal, especially if you have more than one site!
A Well-Designed Logo
Your blog’s logo or header is like a representative — it communicates something about you and your blog to readers and brands. You want your logo to be clean, professional, and memorable. If you’re not a graphic designer, it’s worth it to pay a designer to get this done. However, you don’t have to break the bank! I recommend looking on Fiverr for a graphic designer with great reviews — for only $5, they can make something awesome for your site. Even if you have to spend a little more, it’s worth it to present yourself professionally.