When it comes to running a successful blog, you may have to spend some money. If you have your own blog mainly to express yourself and you’re not into getting followers, making money from advertisements, getting any press or gigs from it, then you may not need to read this post. But if one of your many blogging goals is to reach the largest audience you can and run your blog like a business, then this post is for you.
When to Save
Setting up your blog. There is no need to pay someone to set your blog up for you. If you’re using a free service like wordpress.com or blogger.com, it’s already so simple (and free!) If you are creating a domain name through a hosting service, choose one that has an automatic install (and is included in the price- NOT an added cost). Like I mentioned above, I used Bluehost for this and use wordpress.org. There are so many tutorials out there you can find from a simple Google search on any help you need setting up your blog, changing the way it looks, etc. Yes, it will take some time, but it will save you some money.
Your blog’s design. I’m no graphic designer and don’t have much experience, but I taught myself Photoshop through tutorials and trial-and-error. And guess what? Although my blog design isn’t as amazing as that of a professional designer, it gets the job done. If you have no experience with graphic design (other than how to spell your name in MS Paint), then you certainly can reach out to someone to make your header image. I say save the high-end designs for when your blog is extremely popular (I’m talking “A Beautiful Mess” popular). .
Special link-ups or promotional opportunities. I don’t think you should ever PAY to get your blog post posted somewhere. I see lots of bloggers doing it, but it’s just not my thing. If your content is high quality and interesting, people will view it. By paying money to include your post in a round-up with 20 other bloggers all copying each other isn’t going to make your blog stand out. I’ve heard first-hand from friends who have participated in these promotional things before that the return is very low. They only see a spike of traffic on the one day and no return readers from it. If you work hard for many months on your blog, brands and blogs should be asking YOU for your content- not the other way around.
When to Spend
Advertisements. When you are first starting off as a blogger, I think small advertisements are a wise choice. Find a blogger you look up to who you think has a similar audience as you and check out if they take advertisements. Usually you can get a small button to your blog listed on their sidebar for $5-$15. The more popular the blog (
or bigger the ego of the blogger), the more expensive this will be. Some blogs charge upwards of $100 for a month of ad space. I say look for “ad swaps”, where you and a blogger display each other’s ads, to start out with. Don’t plaster your blog all over the place- be selective. And check your stats! If you aren’t getting any extra traffic or readers from it, don’t do it again in the future. Look for bloggers who form relationships with their sponsors, including tweeting their blog posts, including them in a post on their blog, etc.
Domain name. The first thing I did when I set up my blog was register my domain name. I chose a “.com” version and made sure it was available. The rates are fairly cheap, usually between $10 and $15 a year. Your blog will appear MUCH more professional with a .com instead of .blogspot.com or .wordpress.com. It’s also memorable, easier to type and less to remember. And at such a low price, why not? Skip going out to lunch with friends or cut down on your Starbucks intake for a week and you’ll have the money for an entire year!
Hosting services. Having used many forms of blog platforms in the past for leisure, work and internships, I know the differences in them. I’m a huge advocate of wordpress.org. This is a paid version of wordpress.com, but it lets you customize your blog’s look, run advertisements, and much more. It also arguably has the best SEO benefit- meaning it’s the best platform for your blog to be found on search engines. I find that blogs using wordpress.org or another self-hosted platform appear far more professional. It’s also SO easy to use and there is a large help section/amount of tutorials on their website. I highly recommend upgrading, and the $100 or so a year is worth it in the long run. You’ll most likely make back the money in affiliate links, advertising, etc. It’s worth saving up for!
What are the things you think bloggers should save and splurge on? How much money do you typically spend a year on your blog?