I am a big believer in investing in my blog.
When I put money into my blog, I am telling the universe that I believe in what I am doing. And spending money on a few key things has helped me stand out in the blogging world, save time, and build loads of relationships I wouldn’t have otherwise.
Here are 5 investments I am so glad I made. (Some of them contain affiliate links, but you can trust that I am only suggesting these products because they have made such a difference for me in my blogging journey.)
1. Upgrading to a self hosted website ($60/year).
Getting a self-hosted website, as opposed to building your blog on Blogger or WordPress.com, is the first investment I am so glad I made.
I started my first self-hosted website back in 2012. It was a blog about academic writing called Nail That Paper. I wrote it for about 3 weeks, and then realized that I couldn’t sustain a blog about academic writing because I wasn’t that interested in it, and people weren’t paying for it.
Even though that first blog didn’t really take off, I am still glad I went with self-hosting. Why?
Self-hosting was the first step to creating a legit website as opposed to a free blog. It allowed me to upload as many images as I wanted, and to use plugins on my blog. That blog didn’t grow much, but it was a stepping stone to learning how to create a blog that really stood out from the crowd.
If you are considering switching to a self-hosted blog, consider this:
1. Having your own URL makes you look much more legit.
2. You can use plugins with self-hosted WordPress blogs, and not with WordPress.com
3. You have more options when it comes to monetizing your blog.
4. There are thousands more themes to choose from with a self-hosted blog.
I recommend going with Bluehost. Check out my tutorial on how to move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org.
2. Buying a premium WordPress theme. ($60)
I’m not going to lie. Browsing through premium themes on themeforest.net makes me drool.
Every theme allows you to do so much more with your website.
I geek out over the ability to completely customize my blog’s colors and to add pretty little boxes to my pages.
The theme I use for this blog is called Enfold. (Affiliate link) I’ve used it to build many websites, and I absolutely love it. It has a unique drag and drop interface, and allows you to display your blog posts in lots of cool ways (like that little area on your right where you can see all of my blog post images…)
Why am I so glad I went with a premium theme?
Because it allows me to create a blog unlike any other. I’m not limited to the small number of theme presets offered by many of the free themes out there. And in the crowded blogging world, it’s essential to create a blog unlike any other.
Also, there is outstanding support, so if I ever run into an issue with my theme, I know I will have help resolving it within 24 hours. (This isn’t the case with all premium themes, so even if one looks great, do your research before purchasing.)
3. Using Pixelmator for graphic design. ($30)
Pixelmator is a graphic design program for Macs, and I use it for every single graphic I create for my blog. It only costs $30, and is worth every penny. In fact, I’ve considered switching to a PC before, and one of the main reasons I won’t is because of Pixelmator (kind of crazy for a $30 app, right?).
I love Pixelmator because it’s much easier to use than Photoshop and costs a tiny fraction of the price.
It also allows me to do so much more than I can do with Canva, like using my own fonts, creating a custom palette, and more.
The best blogs you see have gorgeous, unique graphics, and Pixelmator is my go-to tool for making all of mine.
4. Managing my email opt-ins using LeadPages. ($40/month)
LeadPages is one of the priciest things I pay for in my blog. And for months after I started using it, I scoured the web looking for a cheaper alternative that was as good, but I couldn’t find one.
LeadPages allows me to include opt-ins on every blog post without my having to make a brand new Mailchimp list for every single lead magnet (or opt-in gift) I create.
I HATE setting up new lists in Mailchimp. You have to make the list, create the form, set up the welcome email, and then make a new page for your confirmation page.
This whole process takes hours. And it’s not exactly a user-friendly experience. Plus, you end up with different lists for every freebie, which can be a big pain when you want to email everyone about your latest blog post.
All I need to do now is create a new LeadBox in LeadPages (which takes about 10 minutes), write a welcome email that includes a link to download my wonderful freebie, and then embed the LeadBox into the post. (Click here to see what I mean.)
The whole thing takes less than an hour, and I can have all of the signups pointed to the same list, which means I can write one email and get it out to everyone at once.
Click here to learn more and purchase LeadPages. (Affiliate link.)
5. Boardbooster ($5/month) and Tailwind ($120/year) for auto-pinning on Pinterest
My blog traffic tripled from 1,000 page views a month to 3,000 in less than 3 weeks by honing my Pinterest strategy. (If you want to read about it, click here.)
But then it more than doubled again within a month after I started using Boardbooster and Tailwind.
Boardbooster allows you to create secret boards and then cycle through all of the pins on those boards and pin them onto group boards. It is super cheap ($5 gets me 500 pins). Now I can pin my new post to a secret board just once and know that it will be re-pinned dozens of times without my doing anything.
Tailwind lets me schedule my new posts to be pinned at regular intervals, and it also auto-creates a schedule for me based on when my pins are most likely to be repinned. I can also use it to schedule out other pins and build my Pinterest following.
Both of these apps have been instrumental in building up my blog traffic, AND saved me hours and hours of time.Check out 5 tools @DanielaUslan uses to help her blog stand out and build her audience.Click To Tweet
You may be sitting here, thinking, These investments sound great, but my blog isn’t making money. I don’t want to put money into it until it does. And all of this is so expensive. Isn’t blogging supposed to be free?
I get it. Believe me. For a “free” hobby, blogging isn’t cheap.
That’s why I don’t consider it a hobby.
Paying for each of these things – hosting, a premium WordPress theme, Pixelmator for graphic design, LeadPages for list-building, and Tailwind and Boardbooster for Pinterest strategy – has given me more flexibility to build a blog I love, freed up time, and given me the tools to get more eyes on my blog and build relationships.
They’ve ultimately brought me closer to having the blog I’ve always wanted. And to me, that’s money worth spending.