If you’re thinking of setting up a blog – or you’re a blogger looking to improve your online space – there are several investments you can make to ensure you blog is the best it can possibly be. You don’t necessarily need to spend a lot of money to have a great blog. Instead, spend a little bit of budget wisely to put together a blogging kit with all you need.
Here are seven of the most important investments you can make for your blog to keep you organised, inspired and on top of your blogging game.
If you’re serious about blogging, you need to get your own domain name. Not only does it look more professional than a .blogspot.com or .wordpress.com address, there are also practical benefits to having your own domain name. You can set up a custom email address, and there are great SEO benefits – many brands look for blogs with strong Domain Authority scores when it comes to collaborations, and you need to have your own domain in order to get an accurate ranking for this. If you need a domain on its own, try 123 Reg. I’d recommend combining it with hosting as well (see the next point!), in which case you can get great deals with free domains and cheap hosting through BlueHost.
In order to get the most control over your blog, I’d recommend moving over to a self hosted platform, such as WordPress or Squarespace. I use WordPress and can’t recommend it enough – it makes writing blog posts super easy, plus you can add in plugins, access powerful SEO features, create or install responsive themes, use increased security features and lots more. WordPress itself is free to download, so all you’ll need to pay for is the domain name and hosting space. I use BlueHost to host my blog and would really recommend it – it’s reliable and cheap, working out at around $3.95 per month with a free domain included.
Another one of the most important investments you should make for your blog is a well-designed responsive theme. Having a good design makes your blog look more professional, and it also makes it more user-friendly for visitors. As many people use mobile phones or tablets to view blogs these days, it’s really important to make sure your theme is responsive so your blog will look good on all platforms. I headed to Etsy for my theme and then did some customisations myself. Etsy is great for pre-made themes, and many designers also offer custom design services if you fancy having a completely unique template created just for you.
When it comes to blogging, your photos can be just as important as your writing. There’s no need to rush out and buy a top of the range DSLR, but make sure you have a camera that can take good quality photos. Depending on what you’re photographing, sometimes your phone’s camera is perfect – but I’d also recommend investing in a “proper” camera too, whether that’s just a point-and-shoot or something a little more advanced. I’ve used the Panasonic Lumix G3 for years and I love it. It bridges the gap between point-and-shoot and DSLR. It has changeable lenses and powerful features but it’s still nice and compact for taking out and about.
Photoshop Editing Software
To go along with your camera, I’d recommend investing in some photo editing software. Although there are free programmes like Pixlr available, if you want access to all the features you could possibly need then Photoshop is your best bet. I use Photoshop for everything from cropping and resizing images to colour correction and creating text overlays. One of my favourite features is being able to download or create actions, which are basically like filters, so you can edit lots of photos for a blog post without having to go through all the individual steps over and over again. Adobe Creative Cloud currently offers a photography package which includes Photoshop and Lightroom for £8.57 per month, and I think it’s well worth the investment.
Social Media Scheduler
I used to be absolutely rubbish at sharing my own content on social media (despite being a social media manager…), but since embracing scheduling tools this has become a lot easier. I’ve noticed an increase in traffic and interaction, so spending an hour or so every week to schedule in links to new posts – and re-sharing old posts – is definitely worth it. I use Hootsuite which is a great all-rounder, and Buffer is a good option too. Both offer free versions which you can use to try out the platforms, and then upgrade to the paid version if you need access to more features.
It’s always good to have some notebooks handy so you can jot down ideas as soon as they strike. Whether you opt for a traditional paper notebook or go digital with an app like Evernote, make sure you have somewhere to store all your blog post ideas and inspiration. I have a blogging folder on Evernote and within that I have various notes including future blog post ideas, links to items I want to include in wishlists, snippets of posts I’ve started writing up and inspiration I’ve saved from posts I’ve read and loved. Again, Evernote offers a free version but it’s worth investing in the pro version if it’s something you use a lot.
Which investments have made the biggest difference to your blog?