Let us face it, most bloggers are cash-starved freelancers and wannabe digital nomads. This include wannabe digital nomads who left their jobs (& other such cliches), or new kids who simply dread the very prospect of going to a job. TBH, I personally left the job not to “pursue my dreams” but simply because I hated it (& the boss hated me too). Nevertheless, the blog has kept me afloat over the years and allowed me to avoid mu cubicle nightmares. When I started it, I did spend the basic amount on domain and hosting, which is unavoidable. But apart from that, I spent nothing on it for many years. However, ultimately if you want the blog to grow, you should treat it like a business, i.e., invest a bit on it. Even a small but strategic spend can help you a lot. So, here are a few things where you can invest your first $100 or so.
It is no secret that speed is a major factor in SEO nowadays. A slow loading website kills user experience, which in turn pushes you down the SERPs. If you are using WordPress, there are many free plugins available for various speeding up procedures such as browser caching and image optimisation. But as far as I have seen, the free solutions don’t drastically change the performance. So, it is a good idea to go for a paid speeding plugin that can drastically improve site performance, which eventually leads to better leads. Recently I spent a bit on a premium caching plugin WP Rocket and that also took care of the images and the codes and I noticed some visible improvements on speed test results. So, this is one investment you should surely consider.
This is a tricky one. No, I was never an Instagram fan but it is highly popular and brands are looking at your instagram numbers to judge your popularity and you can earn as an influncer if you have decent following. With all the recent debate about fake “influencers” and bot followers, any talk of Instagram investment is seen suspiciously. However, it does not have to be so. Primarily the trick in Instagram is increasing your own reach and visibility. One way to do that is to find people in your niche and manually engage with them but that will be ungainly and time-consuming. This is where your you can use a service like Social Network Elite. You can tell them what to target and provide them a few hashtags in your niche and they will do automated engagment on your behalf. These will be real people and once you get visible to them, you can expect to have some real interaction with them. This helped me grow from 3K to 5K in one month. However, I must mention here that their system can also unfollow people who follow you back. I know a lot of people do this but I don’t think it is a nice thing to do. I don’t mind following genuine people rather than developing a fake follower/following ratio. But the good news is that you can also ask them stop the follow-unfollow feature and continue with the rest.
Keyword research has been there for a while and most people use various Google tools for free. However, I feel that over the years these free tools have become more and more opaque. Even google analytics nowadays have a lot of hidden data due to privacy settings of the individuals, making it practically ineffective. This is why, if you can afford, it is a good idea to invest in a good keyword research tool. Most of these tools such as SEMRush, Long Tail Pro, Keysearch, etc also offer additional options for competitors research. You can see where they are getting on me and what keywords they are targetting. While they can be expensive, what I suggest is to get them for a limited time. If you find this process too complex, you can try something like SEO One Click that takes care of the whole process for you.
Hosting is the first and only expense only initial blogging years, as I mentioned already. I used affordable shared hosting for a long time. But a good host is also essential for performance and speed of the site. A poor host can have more downtime, keep coming up with errors, and destroy your page speed. Frequent downtime can also affect your search rankings. This is why, if you can, you should go for premium hosting that dedicates better resources to your site and offers more effective customer service and consultation. Yes there are costs involved in it. However, a lot of hosts offer great discounts during the Black Friday- Cyber Monday period in November. So, you may want to save up, plan, and target that time of the year for your investments.
WordPress themes have made web design very easy. Even many free themes look great nowadays, if you do your research and find the right one. Still, the premium wordpress themes still have a lot more to offer. Every feature that you wish you can have on your free theme is probably already there in a premium theme. Also, as far as I have seen, they don’t cost much nowadays. $30-$70 should get you some really good options if you really want to turn your blog into a sleek and professional website. You just need to know what to look for. For example, I think for a blog, magazine style themes work the best. Just browse the magazine section in Themeforest and check the demos.