When it comes to blogging, most bloggers will tell you that they jumped right in and went with it, learning as they went. My experience was quite the opposite. Instead of just diving right in, I spent months scouring the internet, soaking up as much knowledge as I could, doing my best to figure out what words like “hosting” and “themes” meant, and how they were applicable to me, and what essential investments I needed to make in my blog. Over time, my Pinterest was filled with hundreds, if not thousands, of these articles, yet I still hadn’t even claimed my domain.
At the time, I claimed I wanted to be sure blogging was something I would stick with, especially since it can become a huge investment in both time and money. However, as much as I wish they had, those months reading articles could never replace the actual lessons and experiences that come with blogging.
In fact, those months spent reading instead of actually blogging has hindered me and my blog in some ways that I am just now overcoming. Once I finally started my blog, I learned more about myself, my brand, and blogging itself, and the more I learned about blogging, the more I began to invest my time and efforts into it. But even with as much as I read and put into my blog when I first started it, there are still a multitude things I regret not investing sooner.
So whether you’re a newbie blogger or an experienced one, these are the 5 blogging investments that you can’t afford to live without:
(Disclosure: This post contains referral links. Purchases made through the referral links will provide me with compensation at no extra cost to you. I only support products and services that I trust! If you would like more information about my disclosure policy, please click here.)
1) A Great Hosting Service
When researching the steps to start a blog, I quickly realized that my first step would be to purchase a hosting service. The #1 hosting service that came up time and time again was Bluehost; in fact, there were too many blog posts to count that recommended them. Seeing that so many bloggers recommended them, I decided to host my blog with them too. After all, if so many people were recommending them, they must be a great service, right?
One of my biggest blogging regrets is starting out on Bluehost. Yes, they may be cheap and have 24/7 support, but my site was constantly crashing when it was hosted by them, sometimes several times a day. And this was when I was when my blog was just getting started, when I was barely getting any pageviews to begin with! Soon I stopped being surprised when I’d wake up to multiple emails informing me of the different times my site was down during the night. It was extremely frustrating knowing that I was losing potential readers because my site was constantly down.
On one occasion my site was down for several hours (compared to several minutes, like it usually was) and they didn’t even realize it until I called and told them! Only then did they realize there was an issue and got a technician to fix it. Constantly having to monitor my site for downtime when it was so new and barely getting any pageviews was just unacceptable and took up too much of my time. If it was constantly going down when I was only getting a few dozen pageviews a day, how much worse would it get as my site grew?
So after 8 months of constant issues with Bluehost, I finally threw in the towel and transferred my hosting over to Siteground. This is hands-down one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for my blog. My site hasn’t gone down a single time since I’ve been with them, and my only regret is not moving my blog over to them sooner. (Or, even better, starting out with them in the first place!) Not only do they offer similar pricing to Bluehost, but they also offer 24/7 support, automatic back-ups, and many other benefits.
Believe me, after everything I’ve been through, this is the one and only hosting service that I recommend. If you want to get started with Siteground, just click here!
2) An Adobe Subscription
Blogging isn’t just about writing, it’s about creating a visual brand that people are drawn to. This can consist of anything from logos to photos to graphics. While I utilized Canva for a lot of my early design work, I became more and more frustrated with it’s limitations as so many people were using the templates that our designs were getting lost in the crows…including my own. I needed a new platform with more design freedom so that I could create graphics unique to me and my brand.
Besides blog graphics, high-quality photos are also a huge focal point. It’s a good practice to have a few photos per blog post and the push for bloggers to follow an Instagram “theme” is growing more by the minute.
So when I purchased a new, more powerful laptop in April, one of the first things I did was sign up for a free trial of Adobe, just to see if I liked it. Oh, how I wish I had signed up months ago. Now my photos are easier to edit than ever before, and I have so many more tools available to me on the paid desktop version than the free mobile version. Plus, as I’ve spent more and more time learning Photoshop, I’ve been able to create a new logo, graphics, and other visual aids that have helped my blog stand out from the rest.
Want to give Adobe a try? It’s super-cheap and well worth the cost. You can even view a before-and-after comparison of my photos below just to see how amazing it is. Just click here to sign up for the subscription!
3) A Tailwind Subscription
Yes, we’ve all heard the story of how important Pinterest is for your blog. But what would you say if I told you that Pinterest is what provides me with 90% of my blog’s traffic? There’s no doubt about it: Pinterest is what keeps my blog going.
The problem is, I don’t have a ton of time to dedicate to Pinterest everyday, especially at the peak times that my content is most likely to be engaged with. So what am I supposed to do?
Thankfully, there is an AMAZING service called Tailwind that allows us to schedule as many pins as we want*, as far ahead as we want!
(*The monthly plan has a pin limit, but the annual plan is unlimited!)
Tailwind also analyzes the best times to pin your content and will create a “Smart Schedule” for you, so that the pins you queue will automatically pin at the times they’ll receive the most engagement…which means more blog traffic for you!
The reason why I love Tailwind is not only because they’re one of Pinterest’s official partners, but because of how easy it is to schedule my pins, re-arrange my pinning schedule, view my analytics and more. Tailwind also offers Tailwind Tribes, which you can use to share your pins within a smaller group of people to re-pin.
They also just released looping feature which makes re-pinning some of my most popular content easier than ever.
Want to give Tailwind a try? By using my link, both me AND you will get free credit towards a Tailwind plan, which can give us 1 or more months free! Just click here to sign up and give it a try.
4) A High-Quality Theme
When I was first researching blogging, I constantly read about how important it is to invest in a good theme for your site. While I completely agree with this, these articles didn’t answer a key part of the question: where do I find a good theme?
Which meant that when I was first looking for a theme, I didn’t have any good resources to utilize. My first theme took me hours upon hours to find, flipping through pages on a site until I found one that I somewhat liked. It cost $60 and I hated it from the start. While it looked pretty in the preview, it was downright ugly when I customized it to my brand. Within 5 months, I decided that my blog needed a major design update. While I hated to switch the look so soon, especially since I had already spent $60 on my previous theme, I knew it was an investment I needed to make.
This left me with 1 thing to figure out: where do I find a good theme? After all, it had been hard enough to find the first one.
Luckily there is an amazing resource that all bloggers can turn to: Creative Market. After all, they have an entire section dedicated to amazing WordPress themes that the problem isn’t finding one that you like, but which one you will ultimately choose!
The best part is that some themes even have a live preview so that you can get an idea of how the theme will look and feel for your own blog!
Plus, Creative Market isn’t limited to just blog themes. They also offer plugins, fonts, graphics, and more…everything you need to build your blog and brand! They even give out 6 free items each week, ranging everywhere from fonts to templates to presets to stock photos. To check out Creative Market, just click here, and take a look at the banner below to see this week’s 6 free goods!
Powered by Creative Market
5) An Amazing Community that Will Uplift and Support You
The last (and best) investment for your blog isn’t something you need a subscription for. Instead, it’s something you’ll need to dedicate your time and efforts to, but it’s no chore in the end: the amazing blogging community.
Before blogging, I didn’t realize that this community even existed, but the blogging world is full of people seeking to encourage and uplift their fellow creatives. It is within these communities where feedback is received, partnerships made, advice given, and friendships formed. Blogging isn’t a solo journey, and even if it could be, it isn’t one that you want to take alone. “Community Over Competition” is our slogan because by uplifting one, we uplift all of us. Some days–the days where blogging seems to be a dead end and I’m confused, hopeless, and don’t know what to do–it’s the blogging community that gives me the courage to keep working towards my goals. THIS is the investment you need to make in your blog ASAP.
So how do you invest yourself in the blogging community? It’s easy! Comment on your favorite blogs, share their posts on social media, give them a shout-out, message/email them to introduce yourself, tell them how awesome they are, and how much you love their work, participate in a Twitter chat, or join a Facebook group. Such a simple action can make a world of difference in the blogging world. Don’t be afraid to take the jump.
There are dozens of ways you can invest in your blog, and each one is extremely valuable. However, these are the 5 blogging investments you can’t afford to live without. Believe me, you won’t regret it in the end.