One of the biggest challenges I face as a blogger is overcoming the fear of spending money. I always want to do it myself without paying. There must be a post online about it somewhere to show me how to do it for free, even if it takes me 10 hours to do it.
Sometimes, DIY is the way to go, other times it is a better use of time and talents to let the experts handle it and devote your time to other tasks.
Here are a few ways I have wasted dollars trying to pinch pennies in blogging.
Some of the links below are affiliate links and I may receive a commission for any purchases made through the links, at no additional cost to you.
CSS, HTML, Action Hooks and Headaches
One of the big things I refused to spend money on was a theme. I spent hours (days, months) trying to get free themes to do exactly what I wanted and not what they were pre-programmed to do.
I scoured support forums, copied and pasted and tweaked. Eventually, I learned quite a bit about CSS (Cascading Style Sheet - the code that makes your site look pretty) HTML, action hooks and more.
But, that was time I could have been spent writing posts, trying to get sponsored posts or promoting affiliates. For the price, I would have been better off buying a theme so I could get personalized support, and/or paying someone to do the back end for me.
If you are curious, this blog actually uses a free theme called Graphene, which is very customizable. They have a paid version available with even more customizations. For That Recipe I chose Foodie Pro, a paid theme based on the Genesis Framework. And it was worth every penny!Do you spend money on your blog or try to do it all for free?
Themes, Plugins and Hosting: Why can't you all get along?
Transferring to a new host by myself? Getting plugins to play nicely together and not lock me out of my site? Fahgettaboutit! My technology lessons ended with CSS and Action Hooks. If I never have to go back into CPanel again I will be one happy blogger.
Most recently, I tried to switch to https by myself and took down my entire site in the process with some kind of endless loop. Don't ask me how I managed that. I have no idea. Somehow there was an errant punctuation mark... or something like that.
I now happily pay my host anything extra he wants to fix things for me. Shout out to Brendan and his crew at Infinus Technology. (no affiliate link, he is just awesome and the pricing is amazing).
Lights, Camera, Action: Photography and Video Production
In blogging, especially food blogging, photography can make or break you. Dark, blurry, uninspired photos will be skipped over on Pinterest.
Setting up a professional studio for photography and videography can cost thousands of dollars. Heck a professional camera can cost that much. I am still getting by with my beat up $200 point and click for now, along with my phone camera.
The big challenge has been lighting since my kitchen sits on the east end of our house. Light flooding through the windows in the morning and then dark in the afternoon/evenings. So, much fun in the winter. While I could move my food around the house for still photos, videos increasingly became a challenge. I tried some make shift lights, and got by for awhile.
Finally, this week I sucked it up and spent about $50 for this light kit.
Even lighting at last!
Other photo related items I spend money on:
- Canva, the free version is great, but I have 3 blogs so I needed to have the greater flexibility in the paid.
- Adobe Creative Cloud, I use Photoshop, Lightroom and Premiere weekly and got a nice discount thank to my educator husband.
Sanity Saving Schedulers
There are some good free options in the scheduling department, but I spend in this area too. My mother was just trying to figure out today why I was online at a strange hour. The reality is I only spend about 30 minutes on social media a day. But, I have posts scheduled throughout the day.
CoSchedule serves as my content calendar and also posts my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and G+ posts for me. I sit down once a month to schedule out blog and social media posts for both blogs, plus other tasks like recipe videos for my clients as well as email newsletters. The ReQueue feature saved my bacon last week by automatically scheduling and reposting my cache of previous social media posts for me when I was too sick to get off the couch.
But, Tailwind has been the real game changer for me. As my Pinterest traffic goes, so does my website traffic. A quick glance at the jump in my blog traffic will show you when I started using Tailwind. I schedule once a week then Tailwind pins 20-30 pins a day, spread throughout the day. Just the way Pinterest loves it.
The best things in life may still be free, or at least frugal
But, I don't spend for everything. I am still DIYing quite a bit like:
- my photo backdrops are the table, counter top or homemade (here's a post full of frugal backdrop ideas).
- props are what is in the house, thrift store finds, dollar store, etc.
- free stock photos for non-food related posts (click here for a great list of sites)
- free music for videos (check this article for the legalities and a resource list)
- scheduling Facebook reshares of others' content within FB
Blogging tools worth the price for this blogger.
Time is money, but spend wisely
I still hate spending money, but more and more I am realizing that to make money on the blogging thing I need to invest in some tools.
If your blog isn't growing the way you want it to, you could throw around a lot of money on bells and whistles, but will it increase traffic and ultimately revenue?
Right now, I want you to pull out a piece of paper, or open a Word document or note program and jot down the answers to the following:
- How are you spending your "blogging time"? Write down the different tasks (write post, images, research, etc.) and calculate how much time you are spending on them.
- What are the top 3 challenges preventing you from moving to the next level of blogging?
- What classes or programs or apps are available to help you blog efficiently and move to the next level?
- What is driving the biggest traffic to your blog? What social media channels aren't worth your effort?
- How much money are you willing to budget monthly for blogging?
Hey, look! You have the beginnings of a plan and budget. Get those free tools working for you right away and prioritize your spending on what is going to give you the most bang for your buck. Before you know it your blog traffic and income should start increasing.
Dorothy Berry-Lound says
Very interesting - the main area I have wrestled with is spending money on automated postings. I am reaching the point where I think I have to bite the bullet though my reluctance has partly been my niche (art). I am currently researching where will be the best area to focus on.
Clearissa Coward says
I always thought I had to make money before I could spend money. But that is not always the case, so I set aside a personal budget to invest in my blog and vlog. So I started with the big ticket items. A new blog, which cost because I had to pay someone to build it and a camera that works. So I purchased a used camera from a great little camers shop here and it looks all fancy but now I have to learn to use it. 🙂 And now I think it is time to actually purchase an editing program because the freebie I've been using is simply not cutting it.
Any suggestions? And with that comes the music.
I am not a full-time blogger but I would love for my blog to look and feel like I am and that is where I get discouraged. Also, vlogging is very time consuming and sometimes I have to choose between the two. I wish I did not have to do that. After a full day at the office and staying in my office at home until the wee hours of the morning, I begin to wonder. So I guess my next investment in a few months will be a scheduler. Hopefully that will help to put me on the blogging map.
Great article and it gave me somethings to consider.
[email protected] says
Audrey, you are exactly right. You have to know when to spend for right things. Time is money and expertise is time saved. I've probably spent more than I should, but I'd rather focus on content, photography than learning code or developing a theme. But I'll save money on DIY projects any day!