Investing in your blog sounds like a major commitment. It’s like the big jump between hobby blogging, and professional blogging. You might have already invested some money into your blog, whether through buying ads on other blogs or boosting your design a bit, but what else is there? What else could possibly be worth more of your money?
As a college student, I am by no means in a place to be throwing a ton of money into my blog, even if I reallyreallyreally want that super fancy Pinterest scheduler that everyone keeps raving about. I think that’s a big reason people spend money on their blog; they see other bloggers investing in something, and feel like if they don’t follow along, they’ll be a “lesser than” blog. Well that’s totally and completely not true! I’ve done my best to find every way to save money, while still presenting what I think to be a pretty dang awesome blog. However, there are a few investments that I believe are worth making, but fortunately, not all of these even cost money! Just a bit of your time and effort if you’re ready to take that step.
1. A Custom Domain
This was one of the first investments I made in my blog, and oh my gosh does it make a difference. Having a custom domain immediately presents a sense of professionalism (not that subdomain blogs can’t be professional, it’s really just the look!). It also ties together the branding of a blog, and prevents another blog from copying your name as easily. That said, if you’re using a .blogspot or other free hosting blog, check to make sure someone doesn’t already have a blog with your name as a custom domain, because if you ever decide to make this investment, you’ll be forced to change the name you’ve spent so long growing! I’d say if you’re looking to make only a small investment in your blog, this would be the one to make. I bought my first domain through GoDaddy, but there are several other great options out there!
2. A Self-Hosted Blog
Choosing to switch to a self-hosted blog can be a surprisingly emotional, stressful, and exciting process. You can’t just decide to do it, and 5 minutes later have one. Boy do I wish. It’s a long and strenuous process, but it is absolutely worth it. I ran my blog through Blogger for almost a year, and I never had any issues, so this isn’t something you should feel pressured to do unless you know you want to grow your blog immensely. I knew that I wanted to keep this blog going for a long time, so switching to self-hosted WordPress was the perfect choice for me. I’m currently hosting my blog with Bluehost (my affiliate link) and love the friendly service!
3. A Beautiful, Unique Design
I say “beautiful” because there can be many interpretations of good design. Some people may say simple and clean, others may say personal and full of character. I do believe that it’s worth investing either some time or money in a beautiful design though, simply because it makes your blog stand out from the rest. Using a pre-made design is great for a while, but as you grow your blog’s brand, you should find a design that’s your own so readers know what blog they’re reading as soon as they visit. There are a few ways you can go at this, and because I’m cheap/don’t have a job/enjoy coding, I decided to teach myself how to design blogs and created this one on my own!
If coding isn’t your thing, look into hiring a designer and developer to create something special and unique. This will require a bit of research, because depending on your price range, there may only be a few people that offer what you want for a low price. If you choose to go this route, try not to be too cheap, because there is a lot of behind the scenes work that goes into designing and developing a blog. It can be kind of offensive to ask someone to give you a discount or change up their packages just so you can save a few bucks, because you’re not paying a business, you’re paying a person just like you!
Related: How To Find A Beautiful Blog Design
4. A Cohesive Brand
Similar to your blog design, having consistent branding will do wonders for your blog. This includes your logo, colors, graphics, social media, and pretty much everything people see that is connected to your blog. As you start to connect all of these together and promote your brand, readers will begin recognizing certain design aspects or names as being part of your blog, which is a huge accomplishment!
I always thought that the logo was the most important part of creating this cohesive brand, but I realized that the only place my logo really appears is on my blog itself. What my readers are repeatedly seeing is my graphics, which is why I’ve decided to invest more time in creating a consistent graphic style instead of investing money in a custom logo. If you just can’t seem to come up with a great media template or logo design, lots of designers have a brand design packages that would be perfect for you!
5. Social Media Presence
Creating a name for yourself on social media can be a huge task. It takes a lot of time and effort to get people to recognize your name and face, but having that social media following will help your blog immensely! Now when I say social media following, I don’t mean having 5,000 followers that you got from a giveaway who don’t actually want to read your blog. While that number is great for showing to sponsor companies, it really won’t do much for promoting your blog. I would rather have 200 followers who read my blog on a weekly basis and enjoy my content than thousands who scroll past my posts!
Time is going to be your biggest investment here, but if you don’t have much of that, there are a few paid options that will help too, like pin/tweet schedulers that do all the posting work for you. If you choose this option, try to spend at least a few minutes a day on your social media accounts connecting with your followers and posting personal things, rather than just feeding them post promotions all day long! I’ve made a few posts about this topic, with tips for growing your blog with Twitter and establishing a consistent social media presence.