There is a lot of information about “how to start a blog” online. It is daunting to sift through pages of information as you search for the answers to your blogging questions. I’m speaking with complete transparency and from raw experience as I have put in the hours to teach myself everything that I know about blogging. I will admit I have learned a lot by trial and error, what works vs what is a waste of time and money. I decided to put this list together of the investments I’ve tried that have worked, for those of you that may be skeptical about what to invest your money into as you transition your blog into a business. Each one of these tips has made a difference in the successes I’ve had as a full time blogger and I hope that you are able to take at least one small nugget of information to apply to your own business to prove results!
5 Investments You Must Make for a Successful Blog
Self hosting means paying a web host such as Squarespace or Wordpress to host your blog. When I first created my blog it was as a personal portfolio and I used a free website (blogspot) to host my blog. I didn’t intend for anyone to read it except me and a few friends and I didn’t understand why it was important to spend any money to host my blog at the time. For me, it wasn’t! For my original blogging intentions it was just fine to use a free hosting platform and have a website name with an unprofessional looking “.blogspot.com” at the end, with a messy and poorly laid out template that I chose from their free options on the site. Until I decided it was something I wanted to take on and to make money from, I realized that just like any other business venture, there are important things to invest in when blogging that will help to take your blog to the next level and are essentials in my eyes. Not all of these are monetary investments. I am frugal and don’t make a ton of money, but the small amount I do make right now, 100% goes back into my business and these are the top 5 investments that I make with that money in order to support my blog!
When you pay to self host, you fully own your blog and are able to make customizations to your website that you otherwise would not be able to do. Running your blog on a free platform is the same as having an Instagram blog, ultimately you don’t own your website or content and you have much less flexibility with the layout and look of your website.
Self hosting is the only way to monetize your blog, you are in control of what ads are placed on your blog, you can remove or add them at will. Free platforms, from my experience, are unprofessional looking and companies will not pay you to create content for them on a free blogging platform. If your goal is to make money from your blog these types of sites will ultimately damage your earning potential. Self hosting is one of the bigger investments I make each year, but I chose to use Squarespace to automatically renew my domain and hosting every year, so it’s really easy and I don’t even have to think about it!
Three years ago as a fresh new blogger who knew nothing about owning a website, I have to say Squarespace is one of the easiest and most user friendly hosting sites to invest in. It is very quick to sign up, create a domain and pay for everything in package form. They have beautifully designed templates that you can use and customize to create the exact look you want for your website. There is also an extremely useful “help” section that has answered any and every question I’ve ever had whenever I get stuck on anything Squarespace related. Click here to get started with Squarespace!
2. Website Design
Website design is one of the most important investments you will make with your website. Ultimately, you NEED to catch the attention of your reader within the first few seconds of them landing on your site. Besides content, the look and feel of your website will determine how long people stay on your website, click through articles, use your affiliate links, and increase your ad revenue (if you use them). This can be an investment that you pay for in terms of an actual web designer who you contract to create a beautiful website for you. Or this can be in terms of investing your own time and energy into designing your own beautiful site. Also it is so important that your website functions correctly, images load quickly, buttons route to the correct pages, links aren’t broken, ads aren’t overwhelming your readers, and the colors are cohesive and your site it overall a beautiful and easy page to function. Make sure your page is also mobile responsive for your readers who like to check your blog from their iPhone!
Whatever subject you choose to blog about, the quality of your images that you upload to your social media pages as well as your blog is paramount! Images need to be clear, composed and eye catching. Invest in your photography make sure you’re either using the correct equipment including camera, tripod, lighting, backdrops, or even a professional photographer if you can’t take your own photos. Investing in high quality stock photos is important if you don’t need to include personal photos on your blog. Your photos on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are what will entice your target market to click through to your physical blog. First impressions are everything!
4. Tailwind for Pinterest
I am a new believer in the power of Pinterest! I plan to create an entire post on my Pinterest growth and go into detail on how it has changed the game for my blog, but for now I want to touch on the importance of consistent pinning.
Pinterest is your new best friend. Utilize Pinterest by creating a business account so you can view you analytics, apply for rich pins, claim your blog and social accounts to increase your legitimacy, create some beautiful pins with Canva, and start pinning! Most people say to pin only 20% your own content and 80% other pins, but I do the opposite. I want to increase my blog views so I pin every single image from my website and Instagram and then continue to re-pin the images that get the most saves and clicks.
Tailwind is an amazing tool that automates your pinning, and it’s only $10 a month! Take my word for it, coming from the girl who thought Pinterest was a gimmick only 3 short months ago. INVEST. IN. TAILWIND. This tool allows you to batch pin and schedule out your pins so you can sit back and watch your page views grow with minimal work. Time is money, you’ve heard me say it before! Invest your time wisely, what is your time worth?
Blogging as a hobby is great because if it is something you genuinely enjoy you’ll find time to create and it’s so much fun! As you grow and learn more about the industry you’ll quickly see that creating a successful business from your blog takes a ton of time and energy. Maximizing your time will become a priority and learning to be efficient is a non-negotiable. I still feel like I don’t have enough time in the day to get things done and I think I’m pretty good at managing my time as a full time mom and work from home blogger.
Not only does the actual creating take up a ton of time between emailing with brands and PR companies, planning shoots, shopping for items, pulling outfits/looks, and editing photos, you will also spend a huge chunk of your time researching SEO, and trend reports, customizing your blog and subscription list, replying to emails and comments and engaging with your followers, the list goes on forever! Most days I feel like I’m working from the moment I wake up until the time I go to bed. It’s currently 11pm as I finish this post and I’m not going to bed until it’s completed and scheduled. Time is a huge commitment and hands down the biggest investment you will make in your blog if you want it to be successful.