/ this post is sponsored by Panasonic
This is the kind of post I wish I’d found when I started blogging. I thought you’d find it useful, whether you’re just starting out or looking to invest in your blog after years of working on it, to run through what I’d suggest actually spending money on. There’s ads left, right and centre for ‘the thing’ you need to make your blog a success, so here’s what I’ve learned is worth the extra money in building a blog up so far.
It’s pretty hefty, so brew a coffee, grab some snacks, and enjoy!
So, you’ve taken the plunge and decided to start a blog. Congratulations and welcome to the blogging community! As I’m sure you’re aware, the industry is getting increasingly advanced both in quality of content and in execution of each and every aspect.
It can be pretty intimidating when you’re joining an industry where everyone else seems to know exactly what they’re doing. So let’s clear one thing up:
The world of blogging is wonderfully exciting and completely unpredictable – the number of jobs based within the online world is on the rise and, frankly, no one quite knows what to expect. Or, for that matter, what to do. We’re winging it, because that’s all you can do in such a new world of work!
It often feels like every blogger you see is ahead of the game; they have the latest equipment (they might even have gained sponsorship by the company); their blog layout is super slick; their Instagram and blog photography is flawlessly lit; their flat lays are on point; they somehow know what every single blogging-related acronym out there stands for.
They might have these elements sorted, but they started exactly where you are now.
No matter who you are, you can develop your blog to whatever level you want. I promise.
It’s no secret that the detail and quality of many blogs out there have reached implies the need to spend a lot of money.
Whether it’s purchasing your domain name (website address), a theme you like, a hosting platform (where your blog is stored) or security to save your site from being hacked, the costs adds up really quickly.
I’ve made many a mistake in terms of blog investments and attempted shortcuts, so I wanted to create a post that can help you figure out what is actually worth spending money on, and where you can save a penny or two.
Just remember: there is no rush to get everything straight away. For that matter, there is no need to get anything at all. This is simply a couple of things that I’ve found helpful in my blogging career so far.
Take your time, don’t put pressure on yourself, and remind yourself that, no matter what other people think of your content, as long as you’re happy with your blog, you’re successful already.
Where to Spend
Get something small, light and portable so you can blog wherever.
I use Apple’s MacBook Air (students get 10% off at Apple!) and would recommend it to anyone.
Depending on how photo-heavy your blog is, your camera choice (or lack thereof) should, of course, reflect that.
No matter what, however, I’d recommend – as with the laptop – picking up a camera that isn’t impossibly heavy and takes up a lot of space in your bag. This can be so frustrating, impractical and straining on your back!
My general advice, therefore, would be to opt for a mirrorless camera as opposed to a DSLR. I’m sure you’ve heard a lot of bloggers mention DSLR cameras, which can, of course, provide exceptional photos. In terms of weight and size, however, mirrorless cameras are a lot more convenient.
In short, the DSLR camera has a mirror box within the camera body, which takes up a fair amount of space. However, the mirrorless camera doesn’t use a mirror box. This means that the body of the camera can be built far smaller than a DSLR camera and provide just as brilliant a photo, simply through a different internal camera system setup.
In terms of lenses, I shoot with an 18-55mm lens. It’s the perfect entry-level lens and I’m really happy with it!
Your domain name is what appears in the address bar when people are on your blog. It’s what people type in to find your blog. It’s basically your blog address. It needs to reflect you, the content of your blog, and must be something you love. It’s pretty much always going to be the first thing people learn about your blog, so make sure you’re happy with it!
However, the chances that the exact domain name you want is available (not already in use by someone else for their site) can be few and far between, so you might have to be creative!
The most common site for purchasing domain names is GoDaddy. Their prices are reasonable (just over £10 per year, usually) and, if your desired domain name is unavailable, they’ll suggest lots of other similar options based on your original search.
If you can, use one that ends in .com – it’s generally the best and most efficient option. It sounds good too.
Your blog’s hosting platform is like the storage unit you keep it in within the void that is the internet. Just as you’d pay a company to keep your furniture safe in storage rather than leaving it in the street, it’s a very good idea to pay a company to keep your blog safe! With this, it’s vital that you sort out security.
You don’t want to pour your love, energy, time and soul into something that has even the slightest possibility of getting hacked. You must invest in site security, which should be an option when buying your hosting platform package. It might even be included – make sure to check whether this is the case!
I use Squarespace and it works incredibly well for me – it’s very easy to use when you’re starting out and, as you gain more confidence, moving to self-hosted might become something you’d prefer to try out. Check out my wonderful friend Chloe‘s blog post on becoming self hosted for more information and tips!
Where to Save
Your blog theme
There are literally blog themes out there for £200. If you’re a corporate company, go for it. If, like me, you’re an independent blogger, this just isn’t an option. Squarespace and WordPress offer lots of free themes, and if you upgrade your plan with WordPress, you can import any themes you find across the internet! I’d recommend checking out Pipdig.
If you’re on Wordpress, I’d recommend checking out Elementor, which pretty much allows you arrange each page and post on your site however you’d like. It gives you far more flexibility than any WordPress design customise section does, and I’m loving getting to grips with it!
Photography backgrounds + props
There are plenty of really well-priced background cards and props available out there to incorporate into product photography and flatly on your blog. Whilst I like to keep my photography pretty minimal, I know that Amazon is definitely an ideal place to pick up these sort of things for a reasonable price.
Photo editing sites + apps
Lighting can make or break a photo. There are extremely extravagant (and just as outlandishly priced) ring lights out there, but honestly if you’re mainly doing product photography I’d recommend picking up a mini fill light on Amazon that you can easily set up and use – I’ve heard great things about this one.
Blog Post Planners
I’ve seen lot of ‘Blog Post Planner Print-Outs’ for sale and, honestly, I don’t think it’s worth it. Google Sheets all the way. I don’t want to pay £10 for a document with seven empty columns and ‘MON-FRI’ in the top corner.
Blogging is hella time consuming, let me tell you. A wonderful way. To make sure it doesn’t take up every available second of your day, and to ensure you’re posting as regularly as you’d like, there are apps out there that will schedule posts and tweets for you. Some cost money but, let’s face it, they all do the same thing. I use WordPress’ automatic scheduling option and Tweetdeck, which are free and available to download and use wherever. I use Tweetdeck a lot in particular – it’s great for tweet scheduling so I can stay in contact with my followers over there on a regular basis, without having my phone stuck to the palm of my hand 24/7.
Feel free to comment with your blog links and the kind of content you write so we can find each other and support each other!