Blogging is essentially a free hobby, however there are times that you might consider investing a little cash into making it the best it can be. There are free versions of tools you can use, of course, however sometimes it pays a little to upgrade your workflow.
When you think about making small investments for your blog, what you’re really doing is trading your time for a more streamlined solution. Any service that is able to speed up your workflow should be a welcome one so you can spend more time on creating content, and less time fiddling around with everything else. Here are a few services and products I’d recommend as great investments for your blog:
Mailing list provider
If you haven’t started growing your own mailing list, get on that right now! There are many reasons that you need a mailing list, and choosing a reliable mail provider is key. You can usually sign up for services like MailChimp or MadMimi and will receive a free trial which allows you up to a certain amount of subscribers. When it comes time to upgrade, don’t start counting your pennies! If you’ve been using your mailing list regularly, you should know what a great tool it can be for promotion and connection. I personally use MadMimi for my mailings because I love their customer service and the prices are competitive!
Domain name and hosting
By now you should know that obtaining your own domain name is essential if you want to appear like a serious blogger. Registering a domain name is cheap and is only an annual cost. I bet you spend a dozen times the cost of a simple yearly domain name on coffee or lunch every month. The point is: having your own domain name pays off. It is a part of your online identity and what people will associate with your blog.
Web hosting is necessary if you want to upgrade your blog from a free service to a more reliable and professional option like WordPress. It’s a small monthly fee which, again, compares to a cup of Starbucks, but actually ends up benefiting you in the end!
There are tons of free tools you can use, like Buffer or Hootsuite, that allow you to schedule social posts and stay on top of your social game. If you use these regularly, consider upgrading to the pro accounts for more features and options.
Design and branding
Not everybody is a web or graphic designer. Maybe you aren’t, and that’s totally fine! You could spend hours trying to customize your own blog and create your own branding in an attempt to pinch a few pennies, or you could save your time and get a pro to do it for you. There are many options when it comes to blog design. You can hire a designer for a totally custom job (which will cost more) or you can try installing a pre-made theme. There are tons of great graphic designers on sites like Creative Market that have all areas of branding covered. This is one thing that you should really invest in for your blog.
Photo editing software
Maybe you’ve been getting by just fine with a free online photo editor or PicMonkey, but let’s face it, if you plan on making this blogging thing a regular gig, you really should just invest in a professional suite of tools like Photoshop and even Lightroom. Adobe makes it super easy to get both now, in a special Creative Cloud package that is only about $9.99 a month. There are countless tutorials online which will help you easily learn the ins and outs.
Books and courses
The more you can learn, the better. Think of it as your blog education. There are tons of great books out there link Blog Inc., How To Blog For Profit: Without Selling Your Soul, WordPress To Go, SEO Step-By-Step, and even my own Blog Wonderful eBook or Get Noticed course.
Whatever you choose to invest in, just remember that it is for the growth and well being of your blog. Cutting corners if you are trying to turn your blog into a business could end up costing you valuable time and effort that could have been better spent elsewhere. Sometimes you need to take the plunge and see your investments pay off!