When you start a blog, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out what to purchase at the beginning and what can wait.
If you want to be frugal and scrappy about starting a blog (which I completely recommend!!), this post will walk you through exactly what you need to purchase when you’re starting out—and what can wait.
The Only Two Things to Buy When You Start a Blog
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1. Web Hosting
A self-hosted site is one that you own and operate. Because you own and operate it, you can monetize it however you’d like. If you’re self-hosted, you need someone to essentially “put your site on the internet”. That someone is a web host.
There are only two web hosts that I recommend to bloggers: Bluehost and Siteground. I’ve used them both. I love them both. Easy to use. Wonderful 24/7 customer service. You really can’t go wrong with either one.
For brand new bloggers, though, I whole-heartedly recommend Bluehost for one big reason: they include a free domain name and will be a little bit cheaper for you up front. When you’re just starting out in blogging, being as frugal as possible is always a smart idea. If you decide to go with Siteground, you’ll have to purchase a domain name separately through a place like Namecheap.
You can sign up for web hosting from Bluehost here, and web hosting with Siteground here. (If you need help with starting your blog from scratch, my step-by-step guide will walk you through the entire process from start to finish.)
2. Pinterest Scheduler
Pinterest was by far the number one source of traffic for my entire first year of blogging, hands down. It’s also one of the top ways that I made money during my first year blogging, thanks to being able to sell products from cute Etsy shops.
The big key to making Pinterest work for your blog is to have an active Pinterest account. This can take a few months to really build, so when you start your blog, it’s imperative that you also start a Pinterest account—and start using it on a daily basis.
While you can (and should!) be manually pinning on Pinterest periodically, it can be time consuming to be on the app throughout the day, every day. That’s where Pinterest schedulers come in.
Tailwind and Board Booster are Pinterest schedulers that help keep your Pinterest account active throughout the day. You can easily select pins and schedule them to your boards. I like to sit down at the beginning of each month and spend an hour or so scheduling all of my pins for that month. That way, no matter how crazy my schedule gets, I know that my Pinterest account is staying active and generating traffic to my blog.
They great news? You can actually get started with both Tailwind and Board Booster for free, as they both offer free trials. After that, just pick which monthly plan works best for you. (They start as low as $5/month on Board Booster and $9.99/month with Tailwind.)
Purchases That Can Wait
WordPress.org has a tons of free themes that will work perfectly when you’re just starting out. Just go with something with a white background that looks clean, such as Kale, Anissa, or Juliet.
Down the road you purchase a more professional theme from ThemeForest or Etsy (City House Designs is wonderful AND affordable), or go with the Divi Theme from Elegant Themes—currently the most popular WordPress theme in the world.
Mailer Lite is a wonderful email service for bloggers—and it’s completely free up to 1,000 subscribers. Once your blog grows you can look into investing into ConvertKit (the gold standard of email services for bloggers), but don’t feel like you need to purchase this service in the beginning.
Graphic Design Tools
Canva is your new best friend. There’s a wonderful free version filled with templates for logos, social media posts, and those oh-so-important pinnable Pinterest images. You can always invest in the paid version of Canva or another graphic design tool like PicMonkey later on.
Blogging courses are everywhere nowadays. Please, please, please be thoughtful about how you invest in blogging courses, as they can be pricy if you just start randomly purchasing.
There are two that I can personally recommend as “worth the money”: Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing (a complete guide on affiliate marketing + access to an incredible Facebook group that is a wealth of knowledge and support) and the Genius Bloggers Toolkit from Ultimate Bundles.
The Genius Bloggers Toolkit is only available a few times a year, but you get access to tons (and I mean tons) of blogging courses for under $100. In 2018, the 2017 course will be available for a flash sale from May 14-15, 2018, and the new 2018 course will be available from October 10-15, 2018. To get an idea of what the course looks like, you can take a peek at everything offered in the Work From Home Bundle.