It’s important when growing your blog to make investments accordingly. Certain investments will improve the quality of your blog and content, while others will help you build credibility with readers.
Below are some investments I’ve made in my own blog that have really helped me.
The Must Haves
Custom Domain Name
A custom domain name is one of the cheapest investments you can make and will help tremendously to gain credibility with readers and companies. Make sure that you get privacy protection or your address will be easily found via the WHOIS.
If your blog is self-hosted, you have to buy a domain name. If you blog on the Blogger platform, you will have a domain name like example.blogspot.com and have the option to keep using that or purchase a custom domain. I would strongly suggest a custom domain name.
Pre-made Theme or Custom Blog Design
The look of your site is the first impression readers have about who you are and what you can do for them.
Many bloggers wrongly believe that the only way to change the look of their site is to enlist a designer to build a custom design. While custom designs are beautiful, and probably necessary at some point of growth, pre-made themes and templates can do a beautiful job of replacing them for a fraction of the cost.
Most Blogger templates and WordPress pre-made themes cost between $15 and $60. I’ve got a pinterest board dedicated to each. Check out some pre-made Blogger templates and some pre-made WordPress themes.
The Helpful Tools
One element of blogging that we cannot underestimate is the importance of photos in your post.
While I would suggest creating a pinable image for every post – here are some reasons why your post needs a pinable image – at the very least a photo should be included. In fact, articles with relevant images receive 94% more total views than articles without.
A DSLR camera is going to improve the quality of your photos. This investment borders on absolutely necessary for fashion and food bloggers. The style and quality of fashion and food photos that are re-pinned on pinterest (a huge traffic source for bloggers in these two categories) would be very hard to duplicate with an iphone or point-and-shoot.
That’s not to say that every blogger needs one. In fact, there are lots of bloggers who take beautiful photos with their iphones. Alternatively, you could use stock photos. I generally use a combination of all three, depending on what I need a photo of.
Most DSLR’s come with a kit lens, unless you buy just the body. After I bought my DSLR (I have a Nikon D5100, which is similar to the current Nikon D3200), I tried and tried to get those dreamy blogger style photos with the background all blurry. What was I doing wrong? The answer wasn’t with the camera, it was because of my lens.
After lots of blog stalking and research, I discovered that a lot of bloggers use a 50mm camera for these types of photos. For Nikon, the 50mm lens comes in a Nikon 50mm f/1.8D AF version and a Nikon 50mm f/1.4D AF version.
That wide aperture (i.e. a lower number) is what makes the background blurry. The 1.8 is significantly cheaper than the 1.4 and will do what you need. Basically, the lower that number, the more blurry the background will be. Canon makes similar lenses at similar price points. Here is the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 and the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4.
I was amazed when I put my new lens on the camera and set the camera to “A” Aperture Priority mode, adjusted it to 1.8, and took a photo. Voila! Gorgeous blurry background. The 50mm 1.8 is now the lens that I use most often, although these days I usually shoot in manual mode.
If you aren’t a Photoshop user and don’t plan to be (here’s why you don’t need to learn Photoshop), consider upgrading to the Royale membership for PicMonkey. This will give you more font options and will allow you more overlays, touch up options, textures, and effects.
CoSchedule completely changed blogging for me. I cannot tell you how much time is saved with this amazing editorial calendar and scheduling tool. When I publish a post, I schedule my Facebook at Twitter updates for weeks and months in the future with simple, easy clicks. They’ve got a free 14 day trial. Try it. I guarantee you’ll love it. It’s worth the $10/month per blog that I gain back in time saved.
The Strong Foundation
If you’ve got your blog in a place you want to be and you feel like you need a pep talk, some ideas, or some suggestions, consider doing a blog consultation with another blogger. I know several bloggers who offer them at varying price points.
Blog consultations can focus on several different areas of blogging. Some may evaluate your blog for usability and design. Others may help you strategize for future growth. If you’re at a fork in the road or you feel like you’re stuck in a blogging rut, consider investing in a blog consultation with a blogger you admire.
When I first started blogging, I was super into it. I thought for sure I’d never run out of content, that I’d never hit writers block. Well I did. And the next thing I did was take the Blog Clarity Content Brew course. I absolutely loved it.
I’m certain that even experienced bloggers can benefit from taking blogging courses from other bloggers. To this day (now nearly 2 years later) I still reference the worksheets I got during the Content Brew course.
Now I’m enrolled in Blog Clarity’s Pin Perfect course, which actually starts today. While I feel like I do pretty well on Pinterest (are you following Blog Brighter on Pinterest yet?), there is always more to learn!
What investments have you made in your blog? Which do you think are most important?