Congratulations! You finally took the leap and started your own blog! What an exciting time!
At the moment that you hit ‘publish’ on your new website, your mind was filled with dreams, hopes and aspirations of having thousands of readers and making so much money that you could ditch the 9-5. Thirty days later and reality set in. Rather than getting a thousand readers in the first month, you got twenty and rather than making hundreds of dollars, you made fifty. The world of blogging wasn’t anywhere near as easy as you thought it was going to be and the monetary rewards weren’t as lucrative either. It turned out to be a lot more work than you originally anticipated and from your first month’s earnings, the rewards didn’t feel worth it.
Now you’re at a crossroads and forced to make a critical decision:
Option A: Take my $50 and run.
Option B: Continue to move forward and work hard to make my business a success
Unfortunately a large percentage of bloggers choose option A. Research says that 95% of bloggers quit during their first year. For the 5% that choose to keep moving forward, turning a profit requires hard work and often takes a long time to accomplish.
Do you want to earn a profit from your blog?
In order to do so, you must begin by keeping your expenses low. Secondly, you must put systems in place that will attract people to read your blog and keep them coming back for more. This article will help you accomplish both by ensuring that you get the essential blogging tools that you need to make your blog a success at a price that you can afford.
***This page contains affiliate links. Please read our disclosure for additional info.
Essential #1: Website Hosting
Prior to starting your blog, you most likely spent hours researching ‘How to start a blog.’ During your hours of research you learned that the first step to starting a WordPress Blog is to choose a web host provider. What you probably didn’t see anywhere is the warning that All WordPress hosting companies are not created equal.
Most bloggers advise you to choose Bluehost as your web hosting provider, but when I first started my blog, I quickly learned that this is not a wise choice.
Because their customer service SUCKS! If you run into any issues, which the likelihood that you will is high if this is your first time using WordPress, you are likely to experience wait times of up to an hour with Bluehost. Who has time for that? If you’re working a full time job or are a full time mother on top of running your blogging business, then you definitely don’t have time to wait for what feels like all day to get support from your website host.
Save Money on WordPress Hosting with Siteground
After spending less than a week with Bluehost and having a horrible experience, I highly recommend choosing Siteground to be your WordPress Host.
With plans starting as low as $3.95/month and free domain email (i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org) included with your plan, it’s a win-win.
You get a website that loads with super fast speed and you get a professional email address for less than a McDonalds happy meal. Now that’s a deal you can’t beat! As an extra bonus, their customer service is phenomenal. There’s typically no wait time, but even when there is, it’s only a few minutes. I love Siteground and you will too. Check them out for your WordPress hosting needs.
Essential #2: Website Design
After selecting a website host, the very next step is to begin designing your website. In order to do so, you must select a website theme. This is one of the most important and critical steps when creating your blog.
As in life so it is in the blogging world: You Never Get a Second Chance to Make a First Impression.
When someone lands on your website for the first time, you want to make a lasting impact that makes them want to come back for more and eventually become a paying customer. To do this, you must design a website that has a clean, inviting, professional aesthetic.
There are many, many options for your website design, one of which is to hire a web designer to create the entire website for you or to create a customized theme. Depending on which website designer you choose, this can cost anywhere from $100 to $1000. If you’ve thought of hiring someone to develop your website, think again and save that money!
Save Money on Website Design with MyThemeShop
The folks over at My Theme Shop have made designing your website as easy as pie. When I started my first blog Focus. Implement. Triumph! (FIT), I chose a theme developed by a designer and paid her additional money to customize it and design my logo and site icon.
I loved the end product and she was a pleasure to work with, but later I realized that I could have saved a lot of money by doing it myself so that’s exactly what I did with Black Bloggers Network. When developing the website for Black Bloggers Network, I purchased the Architect Theme from My Theme Shop for less than $50 and used Stencil to create the Black Bloggers Network logo and site icon myself.
I was already using Stencil, which only costs $18/month to create all of my social media images (more about that in Essential #4) so there was no additional cost there. Using the Architect Theme to design the BBN website was super easy and when I had a question about how to add a Pinterest button to the homepage, I went over to their support forum, listed my question and less than an hour later they sent me the CSS code that I needed to make that customized change.
For less than $50, I designed a website that I love and received customized codes to make the changes that i desired. The support team at MyThemeShop are truly awesome and with tons of themes to choose from, they really have something for everyone. With premium themes starting as low as $19, purchasing a theme from MyThemeShop is one of the wisest investments you can make to save money.
Essential #3: Email Marketing
One of the keys to having a successful blog that earns you a profit every month lies in your email marketing strategy. As a new blogger, it is essential to your success to have a procedure in place that allows you to collect email addresses from the first day that you launch your blog. This step should not be skipped as it is absolutely vital to your success as a profitable blog.
I learned the hard way that the decision of which company to use for automated emails is key when saving money and earning more profit. When starting Focus. Implement. Triumph!, I was that person described in the introductory paragraph. I came into blogging 100% confident I would attract hundreds of readers to my blog during the first month. After reading several reviews about tags and email sequences, I was convinced that this was a benefit that I couldn’t live without so I decided to opt with ConvertKit for my email marketing needs. I didn’t think that it would be a big deal to spend a whopping $29/month even though I was starting my blog with 0 readers because surely I would reach that magic number of 1000 readers quickly, right?
Wrong! Boy, was I so wrong!
After getting less than 10 subscribers during my first month of blogging, I desperately wanted a refund and wished that I could get that $29 back. I actually attempted to request one, but soon realized that doing so would cause me to lose all of the emails that I created for the FREE email course 7 Days to Win. Seeing no other viable option, I decided to keep it an additional month and pay another $29 while I shopped around for a new email marketing provider.
Save Money on Email Marketing with GetResponse
After a lot of research, I stumbled upon the blogging world’s best kept secret, GetResponse. For half the cost of ConvertKit ($15 vs. $29/month), I was able to continue offering my free email course by setting up automated sequenced messages and was also able to create tags just like I did before. Even better than before, I was able to create the free email course, Affiliate Programs for All, using drop and drag newsletter templates that were very attractive and simple to create.
All of the goodness that is GetResponse doesn’t stop there. The best part about GetResponse is that when you’re ready to move beyond emails and into the webinar stratosphere, you will be able to host webinars with up to 100 attendees using their service. Email marketing and webinars all in one monthly payment not only saves you money, but is definitely a win-win for any blogger!
Essential #4: Tool to Create Stunning Images
As a new blogger you will learn that the quickest way to grow your monthly page views is by writing great content and displaying it through social media. Even though I have found Pinterest to be the best social media source for driving traffic to my website and have successfully grown my Pinterest account to over 2000 followers in 6 weeks.
I have also experienced success with Instagram. Pinterest and Instagram are definitely my two favorite forms of social media and they both require awesome images. To grow your Instagram and Pinterest followers quickly, you must be able to create images that capture the attention of your audience in a few seconds.
Yes, you read that right.
You only have a few seconds to capture their attention because that’s the time it takes for someone to stop scrolling and click on your profile. As a new blogger, I initially decided to try Canva for all of my imaging needs, but what I found was that they required me to pay $1/image to use anything that was unique. Considering the fact that I do not have any photography skills of my own and don’t even own a camera, I knew that I would be using stock photos for all of my images. Since stock photos would be used to represent all aspects of my business, including the website and all of my social media posts, I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t using the same images that could be found on every other blog. To accomplish this goal without killing my bank account ($1/image adds up quickly), I opted to use another provider that I HIGHLY RECOMMEND.
Save Money on a Tool for Creating Social Media & Website Images with Stencil
Stencil has a bank of 940,000+ stock photos that you are able to use with any of their plans, including the FREE plan. Personally, I utilize the Unlimited Plan ($18/month) to create posts not only for Instagram, but for Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and for all of the images that appear on the Focus. Implement. Triumph! Website and on the Black Bloggers Network website. I create hundreds of images per month and I’m able to use any picture that I want for one low monthly payment.
An unlimited plan for $18/month to create hundreds of images is an investment that’s definitely worth it and it saves you a ton of money over paying $1/image. ***Bonus for Instagram Users: With Stencil you can create images for Instagram and send them as a text message directly to your cell phone. This allows you to post the image to Instagram with no additional steps. Create, Text, Post – It’s that simple with Stencil!
Essential #5: Automated Social Media Posting
In the world of blogging, what you’ll find is that the more followers you have on social media, the more visitors you get to your website. In one week I was able to add over 600 followers on Pinterest, but doing so required me to post 25-30 pins per day.
If you’re anything like me, time is your most precious commodity so saving as much of it as you can to spend time with family is extremely important. One sure way to attract more people to your website while saving precious time is to invest in an automated social media posting provider. One popular choice in the Pinterest world is to use Board Booster. I will admit that the low cost of $5 is very appealing, but you know how the saying goes, ‘you get what you pay for.’ In this case, it’s true and I’ll just leave it at that.
Save Money on Automated Social Media Posting with Tailwind
When it comes to saving time in posting on Pinterest, there’s no program out there that beats Tailwind. With Tailwind, I am able to spend 1 hour every Sunday on Stencil creating pins for the week and one additional hour on Tailwind writing descriptions, scheduling pins and going to my Tailwind Tribes to schedule repins. After spending these 2 hours per week on my Pinterest scheduling, I am finished for the week. That’s 30 pins/day (~200 pins/week) and I’m able to create all of the pins and schedule them in about 2 hours. That’s an amazing time saver!
Experience is a good teacher, but an even better teacher is to learn from the advice of others so that you don’t have to waste time and money learning from your own mistakes. Hopefully this article has helped you decide on the best tools to use for your blogging business or has introduced you to a cheaper alternative for the tools that you are currently using. The more money you save on blogging essentials, the more you profit in your blogging business. Speaking of earning money from your blog, have you read ‘5 Secrets to Explode Your Blog Income: How One Blogger Earns $100,000 per Month? This article teaches you the secrets that I learned from the course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing and will help you exponentially grow your blogs income.