With over four years of blogging under my belt (and three years of blogging to pay my bills), I’ve learned a lot about financing a blog. When I started Pretty Opinionated, I was often discouraged because I’d read blogging advice telling you to spend more money on this and that. I had NO money to put into it, I was trying to build it so eventually I’d be able to afford my rent! Now that Pretty Opinionated is doing pretty well, I want to share what I’ve learned about financing your blog. Namely, what you REALLY should pay for, what’s super nice to pay for and what you can do yourself.
Financing Your Blog: What You REALLY Should Pay For
I’ve prioritized these based on what I feel is the most important.
- Your own domain: I bought Pretty Opinionated right away rather than testing the waters on a freebie site. If you are serious about turning your blog into a business (or even making a little extra money), you absolutely NEED to buy your own domain. It’s cheap, don’t worry. You can find coupons for GoDaddy if you’re registering for the first time. Just be prepared to pay full price later, they don’t give coupons to repeat customers anymore apparently. My mom spent hours arguing with them about this and is looking into other options, so I’ll update you if I find a cheaper one. I think I pay about $19 a year for Pretty Opinionated.
- Good hosting: For the love of gods, do NOT get cheap hosting. The minute one of your stellar posts goes big, the entire site will come crashing down. Now, you can start with lower tiers of hosting, but the bulk of my monthly blog expenses go to Site5. My mom has a reseller hosting account with them. I pay the $115 a month because my site takes up the most resources. You can get good hosting packages for less than that, although you should think ahead and make sure your server can handle your future load.
- Design: This one totally depends on your own abilities to either design your own site from scratch or make use of one of the better themes for customizing on your own. Right now, I use Catalyst (outdated) and I do everything myself. I’m thinking of switching to Elegant Themes’ Divi, because again, you can do a lot on your own. I’m also fortunate because my mom designs websites for a living, so I have 24/7 free tech support when I get stuck. You may want to pay for someone to design your entire site or just a cute header.
- Some sort of social media scheduling. Whether you choose Buffer, CoShedule, HootSuite or whatever else there is out there, I highly recommend spending a few bucks a month on one of them! They let you schedule your social media posts so you’re not tied to the computer. There are free versions of Buffer and HootSuite, but I prefer CoSchedule. It’s like $10 a month and lets me schedule everything right in the post editor page. When I finish this post, I’ll schedule it out to Twitter, Facebook, etc in seconds and be done with it. I can also grab the links right from this page.
What’s NICE to pay for:
- Pinterest scheduling: I didn’t have the extra money in my budget until recently to pay for Tailwind, but since I decided to splurge on it, I’ve seen my repin numbers soar. You can either spend $15 a month or $115 in one shot for the year. I did the second because it unlocks unlimited pins and saves me $30 a year. There are other Pinterest schedulers out there, but Tailwind is by far my favorite because they have a ton of data about your Pinterest analytics.
- Various memberships: Just about everything out there has a “pro” version, from Triberr to PicMonkey. You can get by on the free versions for quite a while. I do recommend paying the $4.99 a month (less annually) for PicMonkey, unless you already have favorite photo editing apps on your tablet or PC.
- An assistant. I JUST hired a VA three weeks ago to help with Facebook chore threads and it’s a huge load off my back. The cost of this can vary depending on the VA and how much you need them to do.
- Advertising: If you have spare money left after all that, you can put it into things like Facebook ads, promoted Pins and what not. I rarely do this. Occasionally I’ll pay $5 to boost a Facebook post through their ads, but I rely on my own social media networking through blogging groups for the most part.
What you can do yourself:
Here are a few things that you can do yourself that you don’t really need to pay for, in my opinion:
- Writing: Sure, it’s nice to hire a team of writers to write your content, but unless you want more of a magazine site, you can do all the writing yourself. After all, it’s YOUR blog, right?
- Graphics: If you need a stock picture (like I’m using for this one), there are a zillion sites that have free ones. Check out Ellen’s post on where to find free photos for commercial use for ideas to start with. Then use your favorite photo editing programs to add text or other elements to them to make them more your own. Or just take your own pictures!
- Plugins: Unless it’s a super stellar premium plugin with a load of options you can’t get anywhere else, you really don’t need to buy plugins. For every paid plugin, there’s at least 10 out there that do something really similar. You just need to decide for yourself how much you REALLY want that extra little touch that the paid version offers.
- Interacting with readers. Virtual assistants are great for the basics- scheduling, chores, etc- but interacting with your readers is something that you should do on your own. Otherwise, they’ll never get to know YOU versus someone pretending to be you.
- Pretty much everything else!
I’m sure there are more things out there that you may want to pay for versus what you can do yourself. If you can think of anything I missed, let me know and I’ll tell you whether I pay for it our outsource it!
For more finance-related topics visit a few of my favorite blogs: