Photo credit: Kaboompics
As a blogger, you’re constantly being told to invest in your blog and biz. I totally get that. There are some things that you absolutely have to spend money on if you want to run a professional blog, such as web hosting, and a blog design that fits your branding. But sometimes it feels like in order to have a blog that people will take seriously, you need to spend $$$ on a custom blog design, the latest marketing and analytics software, and other premium products for bloggers. While all those things can help you build your blog, you should never feel pressured to spend money on something you can’t 100% afford right now, especially since most of us teens don’t exactly have hundreds or thousands of dollars to throw around.
Here’s the truth: I spent $80 on setup, and $25 a month after that on Fierce Blogging. Yep, $25 a month. I spend only $18 per month for my other blog, and was able to earn over $1000 in the past 2 weeks from that site. Will I probably end up spending more as my blog and biz grows? For sure! There are always new things I want to purchase and try out but after blogging on a budget for so long, I’ve grown accustomed to finding ways to save money.
Here’s the breakdown of my blogging expenses:
- Blog hosting: $5/ month
- Mailchimp email services: $10/ month.
- Premium blog design: $79 (one time cost)
You’re probably thinking “WHAT? How does that even work?”
I believe that there are only 2 (absolutely bare bones) things you need to run a blog:
- Web hosting: You can even get this inexpensively! I currently use A Small Orange, which has a fantastic range of plans.
- A paid blog design: You absolutely don’t need to spend thousands on a custom blog design yet, but I seriously think that a premium blog design (you can easily get a nice one for $20-100) is a must. How are you supposed to stand out if there are thousands of websites that look just like yours?
I started my first blog on a tiny $1.50/ month web hosting plan and purchased a $20 design.Other than that, I was able to keep my costs to nearly non-existent until the blog grew enough and I upgraded those things. My plan was to start out with a small investment and as my blog and revenue grew, I would be able to add more premium features and expenses. Now, note that this is just the basics for when you start out blogging. As you grow and start earning a little money, it makes complete sense to reinvest into your blog and things like coaching but for now, those two things are all you should need to start out.
But what about all those fancy tech things?
But what about all those trendy features you see on mega-popular blogs? What about the $$$ that you need to spend on software and upgrades and other flashy things? There are some seriously epic things out there that can help you build your blog, it’s true, but there are also some great free alternatives. Besides the costs I shared above (and a gorgeous design my web designer friend built for me for my other blog), I pretty much DIYed my blog.
I spent hours researching free alternatives to all the premium products I was seeing out there, and ended up finding some amazing ones. While the free service was never as good as the $200 pro service, free versions of plugins and software provided the foundation for everything I needed to run my blog. Once I had a foundation, I was able to code, design, and DIY my way to something that worked and looked just as great as the original.
Blogging on a budget like I did doesn’t mean that you can’t run a professional blog. Absolutely not! The professionalism of your blog has everything to do with its functionality, your behaviour, and the type of work you produce. Those are all things that YOU can control. I’m not going to say that doing it all yourself is easy (because it totally isn’t) but if you’re willing to put in the time, effort, and creativity, you can make magic happen (without going broke).
How To Blog On A Budget
When you’re still growing, use pay-on-sale services to sell products.
You don’t need to spend dozens or hundreds of dollars each month on software to help you sell your digital downloads, especially if you’re still growing your online biz. There are actually some fantastic programs out there that only charge you if you make a sale. This is absolutely perfect if you’re only averaging a couple sales a month for a cheaper product, like a short e-book or email course.
Check out these pay-on-sale programs:
Why it makes sense:
Let’s say you’re selling an e-book about how to set up a blog from scratch. You’re selling it for $8 and you’ve got an audience of a couple hundred people. You’re averaging 10 sales a month, and you get 100% of that sale. HOWEVER, you’re being charged $50/ month for the the program that allows you to sell the file as a digital download. That means that your profit is actually only $30 a month. Yikes.
Pay-on-sale services usually take something like 10% of the sale. So let’s say you end up selling exactly 10 copies of your e-book that month. Instead of spending $50 a month and only earning $30 as profit, you actually earn $72 in profit after the program takes their cut. That’s a huge difference!
While you may actually want a monthly plan as your biz grows, it totally makes sense to go with the pay-on-sale service if you’re not earning big money from that e-book right now. There’s no risk if you don’t end up selling a lot either, which is very reassuring.
Use Free Alternatives:
While you can pay for a premium WordPress plugin with lots of cool features, did you know that you can usually get the same features by downloading a few separate plugins? Same results, less money spent. Cool, right?
You don’t need to spend $$$ to grow your blog. There are so many amazing free resources there are out there! Just think about it. Social media is free. WordPress is free. Mailchimp is free. Almost everything that you need to build the basics of your blog is available at no cost. You just need to harness those tools to build your own epic blog.
Let’s talk about some examples:
Free Social Media Management Tools
Free sites for creating blog graphics
Stock Photo Resources:
*check out each website’s rules on how and when a photo can be used, as well as rules on attribution.
Free Photo Editors:
Free WordPress plugins
Do It Yourself (DIY)
If you have any basic design or coding knowledge, there’s a lot that you can accomplish on your own without spending money. I did this a lot for my other blog. At first, I hadn’t even known that monetizing your blog or building a blog biz was an option, and I didn’t want to sink more money into the blog than I had to. I spent hours and hours reading tutorials, experimenting, and reading advice for designers, web developers, and other professionals until I became an expert on the subjects myself.
While some things just need a professional’s help, there are lots of things that you can study and do on how own, like:
Ways to DIY your blog:
- basic coding (html, css, etc)
- basic design elements, like blog post graphics
- email marketing
- social media management
- writing blog posts
There are lots of amazing tutorials and articles full of advice out there. Trust me, Google is your friend for this!
When it comes to blogging, it’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting all the Hot New Tech Things. They’re really cool, I get it, but they’re usually off the table if you’re running your blog on a budget. The truth is that you don’t need to spend thousands and thousands of dollars each month in order to start building your blog and you shouldn’t feel pressured to if you can’t afford that right now. There are so many amazing options out there that can help you manage and run your blog that are, yep, free!
Trust me, you’ve got this.
Download your free 3-page workbook!
Ready to take action? If you’ve read the ideas above and are ready to start cutting down on your blog expenses, I’ve got something perfect for you. You can download your free 3-page workbook to help organize your blogging expenses and create a plan to save money blogging. It’s part of my ever-growing library of free resources for teen bloggerpreneurs that is available exclusively to my email list.
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