Ready to invest in your blog but unsure where to start? Investing in tools for your blog’s success is an excellent way to streamline your strategies, grow your blog traffic and eventually earn money for all of your hard work. But the first step is recognizing that you need to spend a little to get a little.
So, you’ve come up with a blog topic that you’re excited about, you’ve written a bunch of awesome articles, and now you’re waiting for the traffic to come flowing in. Where is everyone? Don’t they want to read what I have to say?
The truth of the matter is that blogging is not as easy as people suggest. You can’t just write a cool article, make a graphic, hit Publish and attract thousands of enthusiastic readers (if only it were that easy!). That is why most blogs don’t succeed. Many people give up on them when they don’t see the results they want fast enough.
If you want your blog to flourish and if you want to eventually make passive income off it, you need to not treat it like a blog. You need to treat it like a business and invest in it.
You have to spend money to make money.
This is a common saying among entrepreneurs for good reason. It is incredibly difficult to make money in any business without investing a bit of your own money in it; whether in supplies, advertisements, employees/outsourced freelancers, products or other business expenses. And often, you have to wait a while before you even break even on your investment and start seeing a profit.
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When I started my first blog it was mostly just for fun. It wasn’t until I was about 6 months in that I realized that I had any interest in treating it as more than just a hobby – that I would like to make money off it. I invested in so many tools and resources that my mind was numb with an overload of information; good information (for the most part), but A LOT of it.
In the past few years, I have purchased multiple blogging and blog monetization e-books and online courses to learn as much as I possibly can about driving traffic to my articles and earning passive income. Some offered extremely invaluable strategies, while others… not so much. Not going to lie, I have made some educational investments that felt like a waste of my time and money. But that’s part of the learning process, right?
That’s why below I have included my top 3 favorite blogging-related eBooks and courses so you don’t have to waste your time and money looking for the best.
If there is just one bit of advice we can offer new (and seasoned) bloggers, it’s that you need to be willing and able to put in a little extra if you have any hope of it evolving into the money-making blog of your dreams. Let me remind you, blogging is NOT a “get rich quick” side hustle. It takes time, patience, trial and error and a whole lot of commitment.
But, to make your way toward high traffic, dedicated readers, and eventually income… you need to invest in your blog!
Here are 6 investments you should make in your blog to help speed up its growth – all tried and tested by yours truly! Trust us, they’re WORTH IT!
1. Get A Unique Domain & Go Self-Hosted
First and foremost, if you want to monetize your blog, you need to go self-hosted. This means creating a site that does not live on something like WordPress.com, Blogger or Squarespace. Self-hosting allows you to have complete control of what happens on both the back- and front-end of your blog. It gives you so much more control over your site’s functionality and customization. And it is a requirement if you want to monetize.
We would HIGHLY recommend self-hosting your blog with BlueHost. I like using Bluehost for a variety of my websites because it is not only safe but extremely reasonably priced. Not only are they a reliable host but they are one of the top choices among bloggers for 2019 and they are the #1 recommended web hosting by WordPress.org. When choosing your host for your new blog, it’s important to go with a company that’s easy on the pocket and trustworthy.
In conjunction with your host, you should have a domain name that is unique to your brand. When you set up your blog on WordPress.com, for example, your domain probably looks something like:
http://themillennialbull (.) wordpress (.) com
Get rid of that .wordpress by getting yourself your own domain and connecting it to your blog’s new home on Bluehost! Plans are as low as $3.95 (hella cheap, BTW). If you’re starting from scratch, learn how to start a blog here.
One of THE best ways to create a dedicated readership is by growing your email list, so investing in a kickass email service provider is a must! Your email list should not be neglected. You should cultivate it from the start in order to capture as many email addresses as you can throughout the life of your blog. Your email list is yours, and yours alone. These are people who have visited your blog before, liked what they saw and wanted to keep in touch with you.
We personally use ConverKit for our email marketing and 100% recommend it to anyone looking to grow their email list, get dedicated readers, sell products and services, and more. We have been using it for years (for both of our blogs and for many of our clients who are also obsessed with it!) and love it.
ConvertKit is THE most popular paid email service provider for bloggers. It starts at $29/month which may feel like a lot but it’s for good reason and is worth the investment. Sure, there are free options like MailerLite and MailChimp (both of which I have tried), but honestly… they don’t hold a candle to ConvertKit and I will never switch back.
You can grow your email list fast by using ConvertKit, creating multiple opt-in opportunities in various formats throughout your blog. You can segment and tag your subscribers based on interests and forms, you can create landing pages for freebies and products… there is SO MUCH you can do! And it is so user-friendly!
My favorite way to edit my blog posts is with Grammarly! If writing isn’t your strongest skill, but you still want to write about the things you love, you can use a tool like Grammarly to proofread your work before you publish! And if you’re a natural-born writer, chances are you still make writing errors from time to time. It’s super easy to make mistakes when writing, and sometimes difficult to catch them when you’re proofreading your own work.
Grammarly is the best online grammar checker helping pretty much anyone be a good writer. It makes critical spelling and grammar checks to make sure your work is error-free! It comes with an awesome browser extension (working with both Windows and Mac) so you can refine your writing in real-time on any of your favorite sites, including WordPress and Gmail. Best of all, the basic version of Grammarly is TOTALLY FREE.
But you’re going to want the premium version!! It comes with even more amazing features that I actually upgraded to almost immediately – totally worth it in my opinion. With premium, you get advanced checks for punctuation, grammar, context, and sentence structure, as well as vocabulary enhancement suggestions, genre-specific writing style checks, and a plagiarism detector that compares your work with over 16 billion other web pages. Upgrade, you SERIOUSLY will not regret it.
4. Educational Materials
We are big on education, especially when it comes to the ever-evolving world that is blogging. We have purchased a TON of blogging eBooks and courses to learn as much as we can about blogging strategies and affiliate marketing. With all that time and money spent, we have narrowed down our favorite eBooks and courses to share with you. This is so you don’t have to weed through all of them, wondering which products you should choose (‘cause let’s be honest, there are a ton of options):
Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing
Michelle Schroeder’s course, Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, is the ultimate resource for bloggers who are new to Affiliate Marketing. Michelle is the queen of blogging, consistently earning $100,000/month off her blog. How does she do this? Well, her blog income is pretty diversified, but a huge source is affiliate marketing, for which she is a master. Through her course, we learned a great deal about blog monetization. Some of the information we already knew from our own researching but others we were reading for the first time, which is helping us as we continue to earn extra cash from our own blog.
We would HIGHLY recommend taking her course if you are interested in and serious about blogging to earn money. If you truly want to take your blog to the next level, this is totally and completely worth the investment. You get a whole lot for your money including:
- How to find and apply for affiliate programs
- The rules of affiliate marketing (disclosure, requirements, etc.)
- How to get your readers to convert
- Strategies to promote your affiliate links
- Much, MUCH more!
Carly from Mommy On Purpose is amazing! So many courses preach teaching you something new about Pinterest that you haven’t already heard, and then they don’t, but Pinteresting Strategies actually does. This course was awesome because you learn in-depth strategies about manual pinning (strategies that earn Carly 200k+ pageviews a month!).
While we are strong believers in scheduling pins (more on that in a sec), we also follow Carly’s tips when it comes to manually pinning our content to fully maximize our potential reach. She dives deep into the “Pinterest Algorithm” to teach you how to master this crazy complicated search engine. We walked away with a lot of valuable information that we have used since we bought the eBook over a year ago. Snag your copy of Pinteresting Strategies here.
Carly also sells a course called Affiliate Marketing for Beginners which you can access here.
Megan from LoveFamily Health stays totally up-to-date with the latest Pinterest algorithms to keep her students in the loop with the trends as they happen. With Pinterest Ninja, you will get an in-depth explanation for optimizing your Pinterest profile and pins with keywords (SEO people!), how to design pins that get clicks, and much more!
With this course, you can also get a list of Facebook groups and Pinterest Group Boards by niche that are still accepting new contributors. This is SO helpful because it can be really hard to find group boards that aren’t closed!
5. Traffic & Income Tracker for Bloggers
Spend less time recording data and more time creating content that sells!
Income reports are now easier than ever, with our traffic, income and expense tracker for bloggers. Our Traffic and Income Tracker for Bloggers allows you to record all data related to your blog’s growth and bottom line to keep careful track of what you are spending, what you are earning, when you are earning a return on your investment, and how your traffic growth correlates with your revenue.
We are all about efficiency. We like to spend less time on the small stuff and more time creating content and making decisions that increase our bottom line. If you have plans to blog for profit, which we are assuming you do since you are reading this article, you need this tool! If you really want to see those numbers soar, you have to keep proper track of your data.
Learn more here.
We are obsessed with Tailwind. Like I said, we are into the manual pinning strategies taught by Carly at Mommy On Purpose (see Educational Material above), but we also feel very strongly about scheduling pins. Using both strategies is the best of both worlds!
To us, Tailwind is one of the most important and necessary investments that you can make as a blogger, if you want to see a lot of traffic on your blog… and quickly.
With just 4 weeks of using Tailwind on our new blog, we managed to reach 4 million people. How’s that for proof of investment?
Tailwind is a smart scheduling platform which allows you to map out your Pinterest strategy. Not only can you schedule out hundreds of pins in advance (and at the best time of day as per your specific users!), but you’re given a wealth of analytical information to help you understand your audience. If you’re into numbers like us, this information is a gold mine for blog growth.
Looking for relevant, high-authority bloggers to share your content? On Tailwind, you will find the cream of the crop. Need to grow your blog traffic FAST? Tailwind Tribes are where it’s at! Learn more about how to boost your traffic using Tailwind Tribes here.
7. Stock Photos & Creative Content
No, not free ones! High quality visual content is a must if you want people to click to your blog! Quality paid stock photos stand out against a sea of mediocre free photos. They are eye-catching, they are unique and they, well, sell.
It’s important to use photos that are paid because it lessens the chances of you using the same photos as 1,000 other bloggers within your niche! Our favorite websites to get our photos and other creative content are:
These libraries have an awesome variety of photos, and they are regularly updated with fresh content!
No, time is NOT free! You MUST invest time and energy into your blog if you are serious about taking it to the next level. If you have made it this far in this article, hopefully you now understand that blogging requires more work than most think.
If you want to make the transition from a hobby blogger to a money-making blogger, or if you are just starting out and are creating your very first blog, know now that you need to be willing to invest time. Time is what will set you apart from the rest. We knew that if we devoted our valuable time to this blog, our efforts would speak for themselves in the long run. If you can commit to that, you will succeed. We believe in you!
I know that it can feel a little stressful to invest in your blog without knowing if you will make your money back. Trust me, we have been there! But the fact is that if you want your blog to flourish, it needs a little TLC & M (money, lol). We truly believe that if you invest in these tools, your blog’s traffic (and your bank account!) will grow.