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So, you are thinking about starting, or have recently started a blog. Maybe your end goal is to earn a side income or start a profitable business from your new blog. You have a plan, you’ve been doing research, and you’re ready to take the plunge.
Well, let me stop you right there because I want to set you up for success from the start, and there are a few things you will need to know to actually have that success.
Blogging is not a get rich quick type of thing. It takes hard work and in the beginning, a whole lot of time. That is why I recommend you start a blog about something you’re passionate about, rather starting a blog in a niche you aren’t super familiar with, just to make money. Any niche can make money, they just need to figure out what works best in generating an income for that type of topic. Maybe it is affiliate marketing, ebooks, courses, ads, or maybe it is selling services or products.
Related Reading: 6 Awesome Ways to Earn an Income with Your Blog
Whatever way you decide to earn an income from your blog is all irrelevant if you do not FIRST optimize your blog for success. There are a few things you need to have if you are planning on growing a successful blog and generating a blog income.
So today, I want to talk about the top 3 Blogging Investments you need to make in order to turn your new blog into a successful, traffic driving, money-making, kick-ass blog.
3 Blogging Investments That Are Vital to Your Blogs Success
1 | SELF HOSTING
Okay, I know I talk about this a lot on my blog. But the reason I talk about it so much is because it is IMPORTANT.
The only reason I would suggest you NOT have a self-hosted blog, is if you are strictly blogging for fun or as a hobby. BUT, if you plan on monetizing your blog in any capacity, or your blog is a reflection of a business, you NEED to have self-hosting.
If you are wondering why, or what the hell self hosting is, don’t worry, I am going to explain it to you in detail!
So, first things first, what is self hosting?
So, basically when I talk about a blog host, platform, and domain, the easiest way to think of it is this:
Your Host = A Mall (Think Siteground, Bluehost, etc.)
Your Platform = A Store in Mall (WordPress.org)
Your Domain = The Name of Your Store in the Mall (The name of your blog)
So, basically, I use Siteground to host my WordPress Website. I also registered my domain name through Siteground.
So, lets talk about why you need to have a self-hosted blog rather than a free blog.
Self Hosting Gives YOU all the Control
One of the biggest reason I chose to go self-hosted, and also a reason I recommend you should as well, is the fact that you have complete control over your blog. You OWN it.
When you opt to use a free platform, you do not have full control over your blog. You cannot use plugins, which really optimize your blogs potential. Ads can be put on your site without your permission, and they can be random and clash with your brand, making your blog look ugly. Not to mention you don’t receive any income from those ads! You also have very little ability to customize your blog and create the vision you probably have in your head.
If you go with a self-hosted blog, you have access to unlimited plugins to optimize your blog, you have complete control over what is put on your website, and if you choose to use ads, YOU receive the income generated from them. You can also pick from a million different customizable themes and make your blog look and perform exactly how you want it to!
Another big thing with free blog platforms is that they can take down your blog at anytime if you violate their terms of service in any way! Imagine, you work so hard on your blog, and then one day it is just GONE! No thank you!
So basically, if you are a hobby blogger or are blogging just for fun, free blogging platforms are totally fine! BUT, if you want to be a professional blogger, and plan to monetize your blog, even down the road, you really need to go the self-hosted.
You Can Fully Optimize Your Blog with Plugins
I mentioned this in my first point briefly, but to reiterate, you cannot use plugins with a free blogging platform! And well, plugins are the $h*t!
WordPress currently has just shy of 30,000 plugins to help you optimize your blog! If you are like me, and know nothing about code, plugins will be your best friend!
They allow you to customize your blog and make it look the way you want and do the things you want it to do in a very simple and user-friendly way.
There are plugins for everything you can imagine, from adding sharing buttons, to creating email marketing opt-in forms! There is even a plugin that helps you make your posts more search engine optimized, which in return, helps you gain more traffic! Yes please! Am I right?!
You Can Customize Your Blog and Make it Your Own
So, with free blogging platforms, you really don’t have much flexibility with how it looks or what it does. They are not always the most customizable and in all honesty, they all look kind of the same.
But, if you use a self-hosted platform, your ability to customize your blog are literally ENDLESS!
You can do whatever the heck you want to it!
There are so many different themes out there for WordPress it is hard to pick just one! This means that you get to search around until you find the theme that is the best fit for you and your blog!
Once you decide on a theme, you can tweak anything you want, and you can do it without having to use any code at all!
If you plan on using your blog to generate an income of some kind, whether through providing services, selling courses, or using affiliate links, you will want it to look professional and perform in the way you want it to. Having the ability to choose from thousands of themes if a big reason to go self-hosted.
You Look More Professional and Trustworthy to Your Readers
As I touched on in point 3, having the ability to customize your blog with an appealing theme makes you look professional.
But, something else that makes you look professional is the fact that you will also have your own domain name. Self-hosting comes with having your own Domain Name, but a free blog platform does not.
To explain, if you run on a free platform, your website will appear like follows: www.kendrablogs.blogspot.com BUT on a self-hosted platform, my website domain appears as www.kendrablogs.com. In your opinion which one appears more professional? The second one right?
If you were looking to purchase a course or digital product about blogging, which of these websites would you trust more if they showed up in a Google search??
So, again, with self-hosting both your blog overall, and your blogs domain name appear more professional, and will help you to grow your audience and following.
Your Money Making Options Are Endless
In many cases, free blogging platforms limit how you are able to monetize your blog (if they even allow you to at all). In addition to not being able to monetize your site, free hosted platforms will also display ads on your site that you have no control over, and receive absolutely no income from. I don’t no about you, but if I am going to include ugly ads on my site, I better at least be making some money from them!
A big reason I myself, along with many other bloggers I know have gone self-hosted, is because we want to generate a income from all the hard work we are putting into our blogs. And no, you don’t have to be a full time blogger to make some money from your blog! I\m not a full time blogger (yet). I work part time at my “day job”, but I also blog in my spare time and generate a nice little side income from it.
Even if you aren’t ready quite yet to monetize your blog yet, if you have any plans to do it in the future, self-hosting is the way to go!
If you don’t go with a self-hosted blog, you will be missing out various income stream options for your blog!
Going self-hosted is actually super affordable (usually less than $5 / month), and really, the ROI is pretty high if you decide to monetize your blog. A great example is that with one affiliate sale, I earned back the money I invested into my yearly hosting plan. ONE SALE.
Self Hosting Will Help Your SEO
Even if you are brand new to blogging, you have probably heard how important SEO is to growing your blog.
Paying attention to your blog’s SEO can help you rank higher in Google results, which helps people find you and grows your traffic and audience! Clearly very beneficial right?
If you care about your blogs long term success, working on your SEO strategy consistently from day one is a great place to start, and having a self-hosted blog really helps with that!
Basically, having a self-hosted blog allows you to optimize your content for search engines (having access to the Yoast SEO plugin for example!). Google and other search engines will actually put more trust in a custom domain name and a private hosting company than it will in a free blog, which means that in their eyes, self-hosted blogs will usually have better content and in return will rank higher in a search.
Okay, so those are the 6 reasons I believe that Self-hosting is so important, and totally worth the investment as a new OR seasoned blogger. Does it make sense now? Are you on board??
If you are convinced, I have a quick tutorial to get you started with your very own self hosted blog! In just a few short steps we can get you up & running in less than 20 minutes.
More Resources About Self Hosting:
2 | EMAIL MARKETING
The Money is in the list! I am sure you have probably heard that more times than you can count, but it honestly is true.
Building your email list from day one is super important, and I am going to explain why.
An Email List Helps You Grow Your Traffic
Please don’t listen to anyone that tells you to grow your traffic before starting an email list. It should be the opposite!
By collecting email subscribers from the beginning, you can send sneak peeks of your newest blog posts, and start building up a relationship with them from the very start. When you are sending them emails with links back to your blog, you’re giving them a reason to head over and read your latest posts! By having them click on a link to your blog every week or so, you are creating a new follower and someone who will become a return reader. If they are enjoying your posts, they may even begin to pin them or share them on social media, which brings in new readers and more traffic!
An Email List Helps You Build a Relationship of Trust with Your Readers
If someone likes your blog and content enough that they actually decide to subscribe to receive emails from you directly, then you need to take that seriously. Your job is to show them why they should let you keep that special access into their inbox on a regular basis.
So how do you keep your subscribers? You build a relationship of trust with them and provide them with kick ass emails full of value. You should also do things like address them by their first name, ask them direct questions, and share information about your own life.
Your emails should feel much more personal to a subscriber than to someone who is simply reading a post on your blog.
Trust plays a very important role in creating a community of readers who will buy your products or services, click on your affiliate links, and simply become regular readers of your blog. Having an email list is a great way to create and build a community of trusting readers.
An Email List Helps Your Make Money
Your email community should be the group of people who receive that little bit extra from you. This includes things like freebies, exclusive information not found on your blog, a more personal look into your life, exclusive offers to your products and services, etc.
By providing your readers with a ton of FREE value, when you launch a course or product, they are more likely to purchase! Why? Because they know how amazing your free stuff is, so imagine how awesome your paid stuff is!
Whether you sell physical or digital products, or are offering a paid course, an email list is your biggest asset for making sales and filling up your courses. Again, it comes down to that relationship building and that trust factor; your email subscribers have a lot more confidence in purchasing something from you than someone who randomly lands on your website, simply because they have gotten to know you and grown to respect your expertise and knowledge.
Your Email List can Help You Learn More About Who Your Audience Is
Your Email list can help you figure out who your audience is and who is reading your blog. This is an important factor to blogging because if you recognize who your audience is, you can tailor your content to fit the needs of that audience, which will help you gain more traffic, subscribers, sales, etc.
A great way to find out who your audience is, is by emailing a survey to your email subscribers.
Some things you might ask in your survey are:
+ Demographics, such as gender, age, and occupation
+ What their biggest struggle is currently as a blogger?
+ What type of product or course would they find useful?
+ What is something they would like to see you write about?
This helps you gather the relevant information you need to tailor your content and services/products/courses to fit your audience. You can use a service such as Typeform to create free surveys to insert into your emails.
An Email List is a Great Way to Utilize Affiliate Marketing
Once you’ve created relationships and built that trust with your subscribers, you can begin to introduce affiliate links into your emails.
Your email list is 10x more likely to trust your product recommendations and click your affiliate links than someone who just stumbles across your blog post. Just be sure to only promote products you actually use and love, don’t always include affiliate links in every email or send a billion emails about one product, and always include a disclaimer to let your readers know you are using affiliate links.
Want to learn more about affiliate Marketing and how I made $469 in affiliate income with a brand new blog in under two months? Check out this awesome post.
So, as you can see having an email list is super important and beneficial to your blog!I personally use Convertkit to grow my email list and I love it. It is a pretty affordable platform to use, especially with the amount of amazing features you get in return. Convertkit was actually created with bloggers in mind, so they have features like automation, sequences, subscriber tags, and so much more.
I actually created a whole guide to help you understand all the awesome features that you receive when you sign up with Convertkit. You can check it out here.
Other Helpful Email Marketing Resources:
3 | A QUALITY THEME
You will have the option of using a Free WordPress Theme, or purchasing a paid theme. I have used both options, but ultimately found the paid version a lot easier to work with and it obviously had much better features, etc.
There are a large variety of Theme options out there to choose from, but it took me a LONG time to find a theme that I actually LOVE. When you are not super tech-y (like me), having a theme that is user-friendly and easy to customize is key!
There are many free themes out there that are great to use starting out, but often they are very limited in what you are able to change and customize. Personally I think spending a one time fee on a really great theme that is easy to customize is totally worth it.
Take you time and choose a theme that will do everything you want it to for your blog. I recommend finding a theme that is completely customizable, and EASY to turn your vision into a reality. I purchased a theme in the beginning of my blogging journey that was very hard to customize, and would have required me to use code to do so, which I do not have any experience with. So, needless to say, I wasted my money on that theme.
I finally found the Tweak Me Theme by Nosegraze, and I love it. It does everything I need it to, and is SO versatile and flexible as far as designing your blog. You can change pretty much everything you want to match your own vision that you have for your blog. And, customizing is SUPER easy. You can find more details on the Tweak Me Theme HERE.
So there you have it! Those are my top three investments that are 100% worth the money even as a brand new blogger. They will help you in turning your blog into a success and send you on your way to building a blog that generates an income!
What is something you have invested in for your blog that you consider a MUST have? Let me know below!