When it comes to blogging, a lot of people assume that’s it’s the easiest gig in the world, that involves little to no start-up costs. This is incorrect. It’s true that all you need is a phone with a camera and a computer to start, but coming up with ideas, taking the perfect photo, and writing posts is only one small portion of what blogging actually is. Getting people to actually read your blog isn’t as simple as creating one. Once you set up a basic blog, get into writing, find an audience of people who actually want to read what you write, and realise you want to take things more seriously, you need to step up your game!
The more into blogging you get, the more seriously you’re likely to take it. And if you really want your blog to become something more substantial, a free WordPress plan isn’t going to cut it. The costs of the WordPress.com business plans can look a little daunting, and one common thing I see amongst new and emerging bloggers is “do I really need to pay for this? Is there any way to do this on the cheap?”. So today, I thought I’d compile a list of everything I do think it’s worth spending money on when it comes to your blog. And to be honest – it’s not much!
When you create a blog, most people opt straight for a free WordPress or Blogger plan. This is fine for just starting out, but these are designed to be basic. Whilst I do think Blogger seems to offer more freedom than a free WordPress plan, with the ability to add paid for themes and a custom domain, it still offers very little control of the actual site. If that simplicity suits you, then that’s fine, and it’s perfect when you’re just starting out or testing the waters with a new blog. But a lot of people talk about going self-hosted, and I have to admit that it’s worth it!
Being self-hosted means paying for a web server to host your blog, and getting access to WordPress.org. This offers you complete control of your blog, right down to the plugins you install to make it function. It is not the same as a paid for business plan on WordPress.com. Self-hosting is the first step towards monetising your blog, with the ability to add ads to your page through Google Adsense. Most hosting plans come with extras to make managing your blog a little easier, such as SSL certificates and an email account attached to your blog.
Hosting comes in many forms, from just paying for your spot on the server to a fully managed package. I’ve used two hosts so far, and my best advice is to research before you do anything. When I first went self hosted I wrote this post on everything I learned then, and it stands true today. But most importantly, and not in that post, is this: Don’t get drawn in by a special offer price in the first year! £35 for a year including an email server may seem great, until that year is up, you’ve had no end of problems with the host, and they suddenly want £250 to keep your website going for another year.
I now use and personally recommend Lyrical Host. Lyrical Host is a small and fully managed hosting service that, although a little more costly than other hosting platforms, gives you complete support when it comes to your blog. The plan I use costs £10 a month, and this includes at least 3 email servers, an SSL certificate, 5 free stock images a month for use on your blog, free site migration, no contract, and an option to pay monthly, every 6 months, or yearly. They also share your blog posts on their social media, so what’s not to love?
And you can currently get 10% off your first month of hosting with my code Rachel10*.
A Custom Domain
When on free plans, you are given an integrated url to your blog, something along the lines of “yournamehere.wordpress,com” or “thisismyblog.blogspot.com”. Whilst this is great for finding your feet, it doesn’t let you build your own Domain Authority (DA), which a lot of brands use to judge whether you’re a good fit for a collaboration. It also just makes you look that little bit more professional.
Some hosting plans come with a custom domain included, but others require you to buy one separately. I bought mine outside my hosting, but still with Lyrical Host, and it cost me £11.49 for the year. Again, don’t fall into the trap of getting a cheap domain for the first year and then needing to change when the price shoots up a year later – transferring a domain is an absolute pain!
A Premium Theme
Looking at premium themes can often initiate a “HOW MUCH?!?!?!” response. Yes, £50 is a lot to pay for a theme. But trust me, it’s worth it! Premium themes just look much better in general, and offer more customisation options, meaning if you buy the same theme several other bloggers have, you can still make your blog look unique. Premium themes are also a one off payment, and the theme is regularly updated to match the current update of your blogging platform. You also pay for an individual service, so any problems with the theme, or issues you can’t figure out, are likely to be sorted out by the theme creator if you just ask.
My theme is by Pipdig, and whilst a lot of bloggers use them, I can’t recommend them enough! Not only is my Maryline theme beautiful, it’s super easy to customise, comes with a whole host of compatible social sharing widgets, and lets me add in any extras wherever I want. Pipdig itself is also a fantastic service – any help is just a tweet, Facebook message or email away!
A Decent Camera
There’s no point having a fresh, professional looking blog if your photography doesn’t match. Don’t get me wrong, photography is a skill that takes time to learn and perfect. It’s frustrating, unforgiving, and you don’t want to splash out hundreds on a DSLR with interchangeable lenses if you have no idea how to use it. Most phones have a pretty decent camera on them now, but these offer few options for really perfecting that shot! Once you’ve got your photography style down to a T, it’s time to upgrade.
You don’t need to splash out on a super fancy, professional camera – most bloggers use a mirrorless camera, such as the Olympus Pen cameras, which is less bulky and easier to use than a DSLR. These cameras still offer a more customisation in their shooting to take a better photo than a phone can. Most now have flip out screens too, so you can still get a perfect selfie!
I personally did invest in a DSLR, and got myself a Nikon D3300 a year ago. It was a steep learning curve to learn how to use, but worth it once I got there!
In these photos, the top image was taken on my phone, and the bottom on my camera. You can clearly see a difference in quality! The £350 price tag was worth it, and a camera should be an investment anyway, not a quick purchase.
In my opinion, these are the things you need to spend money on in the long term if you want your blog to be successful. Of course, the definition of a successful blog is very subjective. And although this may look like a lot of money, you need to consider each one an investment. Themes and cameras will last for years, and domains and hosting need to be paid yearly in most cases. So really, it’s not too much to swallow!
Is there anything else you think need to invest in when it comes to blogging? Let me know in the comments below!
Pinterest: @Word of Rachel