6 Investments Worth Making for Your Blog

Over the past few years blogging has evolved quite a bit, and today, there are so many incredible tools and services out there to take advantage of to help you grow (I wish these were around when I first started)! Several people I’ve chatted with offline have asked about starting a blog, resources, etc., so I thought I’ll pull together a helpful list for those of you ready/gearing up to take your site to the next level.

Whether you’re a newbie or seasoned blogger, here are 6 investments worth making for your blog.

Looking to grow your blog? Here are 6 investments worth making!

Blog Design

Having a blog design is incredibly important. You can a template for as cheap as $10 and as expensive as hundreds or thousands of dollars. I recommend starting out at the lower end and paying more as your blog grows, if you’re able to invest in it. For reference, this is my third design since launching Small Towns & City Lights in 2012. So just because you have a design now doesn’t mean you’re stuck with it for life. You can find more affordable options on Etsy, or from my favorite, PipdigCost: $10+ total

Domain Name

Buying your own domain is super easy! Whether you’re using a free platform, like Blogger, or a paid/self-hosted platform, this is the very first thing you should do if you’re ready to get serious about blogging. I originally signed up for mine through Google (since I started out using the Blogger platform), but you can also renew your domain through your hosting provider, should you decide to go that route. Cost: $10/yr.

(Self) Hosting

While you can absolutely run a FREE blog, moving to self-hosting was important for me because it means legally, I own my own content. Another way to look at it? It’s taking your blog to the next level. There are several different companies that provide hosting for a monthly fee, but Bluehost has been my go-to since making the move from Google’s free platform, Blogger, a few years ago. I did experience some downtime issues with the company for a short time, but it seems like the kinks have been worked out. Cost: $5.95+/mo.

CoSchedule

Sure, you can manually schedule social media posts or even use free schedulers, but using CoSchedule helps to save SO much time when it comes to promoting your posts on social media. You can also manage/view your editorial calendar, and see how your post is doing in terms of social shares. Plus, there’s a plugin that integrates perfectly for WordPress users! Cost: $15/mo.

Tailwind

One of my newer favorite investments is in Tailwind. This tool allows you to schedule pins and re-pins in advance (and at optimal times), which is a HUGE time saver. The analytics are also pretty stellar and shows you a look at followers, specific pins, domain pins (from your site), and more. Cost: $119/yr.

Courses

There are SO many courses out there on blogging related things, it can be a bit intimidating. One of the best? Melyssa Griffin’s Pinfinite Growth. The course introduced me to several strategies and provided tools that have really helped drive traffic to my site by using Pinterest, a site I hadn’t thought much about utilizing to promote my site. While it’s certainly the biggest upfront investment I’ve made (you can also purchase in monthly installments), it’s been an invaluable resource!  Cost: $397 total

What are some of the best investments you’ve made for YOUR site?

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  • I think having a nice design is huge. I changed my design a year ago , it was expensive but sooooo worth it.

  • Great tips. I learnt some of these, the hard way too, especially the ones on design, domain and hosting. I will now try the others out too!

  • Kathleen Brown

    Being new to blogging I realize my design needs some help. Great suggestions on how to get good themes at a good price. I will be checking this out. Thank you

    • Thanks for reading, Kathleen! I hope you’re able to find the kind of design you’re looking for!

  • Chrissa – Physical Kitchness

    I really should invest in coscheduling. I feel like I’m always hustling to get my stuff on social media and it stressed me out!

  • Siedah

    I totally agree Rachel. Especially Tailwind is worth it! :)

  • Liz

    I really need to look at Tailwind, I’ve been toying with it a bit but it might be time to bite the bullet

    • I love it! It saves me so much time promoting on Pinterest!

  • Courtney Patterson

    Blog design is essential. There are too many affordable options for someone to NOT have good blog design. I’ve been considering Tailwind for a while now and just need to take the plunge. GREAT post!

    • Thanks, Courtney! I totally agree about blog design. You should definitely give Tailwind a try – they have a free trial if you want to test it out before jumping in 100%!

  • Great tips! Definitely checking out some of those scheduling/pinning platforms.

    • Thanks, Lacey! Being able to schedule things in advance is amazing!

  • I couldn’t agree more! I just finished my free trial with Tailwind and need to make a choice for that but, I think you convinced me! LOL

    • Thanks, Hava! I think it’s totally worth it. It’s such a huge time saver and really helps you use Pinterest effectively!

  • I am a HUGEEEEE advocate for investing in thy blog…for sure. And I couldn’t agree more with these! Although I use a few different options that do the same thing, all are so important (+ worth it!)

    Coming Up Roses

    • Thanks, Erica! Which tool(s) are your favorite?

      • Boardbooster, HootSuite, and Evernote are a few! <3

  • I absolutely agree, especially with having you own domain and having a clean easy-to-follow design are vital to any blog.

    My blog income in not enough at this moment to afford paid apps, but I use a pretty good option called Buffer to schedule social media posts. It provides pretty much everything I need for now, though they do have a paid version.

    Joyful Savings recently posted this article you might enjoy: Hacks You’ll Absolutely Love!

    • Thanks for reading, Jacky! I’ve heard great things about Buffer too. There are a lot of helpful resources – free and paid – that bloggers can use these days!

  • Tara Berries

    I have been thinking of investing in Tailwind and Coschedule to grow my blog.

    • Both are fab tools to use! I’ve saved SO much time by having both!

  • I love this list. I just recently switched from WordPress.com to a self-hosted domain through Bluehost and I am so glad I did. I’ve heard a lot about using Pinterest to grow your blog. Is the cost of Tailwind really worth it?

    Sara
    http://www.thelegallybrunette.com

    • Thanks, Sara! I’ve found Tailwind to be incredibly helpful. For me, it’s worth it! Not only can you promote your pins and see analytics on how they’re doing, but you can also schedule other pins. If I didn’t use it I’d just have clumps of pins only when I could be on the site live.

  • Great reference for new bloggers! Definitely info I learned over the years.

    • Thanks, Shannon! So many of these weren’t around when I started so it’s nice to be able to automate things a little more now!

  • Self-hosting as been the biggest investment for me so far, but I am definitely interested in looking into Tailwind as I’ve heard great things about it!

    • That was my first big investment + design! Tailwind is wonderful! They offer a free trial so you can test it out before fully committing too!

  • I love tailwind but I think it is time for me to look into co schedule. I basically do everything live.. and I need to get that time back!

    • Coschedule is fantastic! It’s so nice to be able to do everything on one dashboard and then not have to think about it again. It really is a huge time saver!

  • This is such a great list! I am definitely one to use free programs when you can but I definitely agree that there are some investments worth making for your blog.

    • Thank you! Freebies are definitely great, but sometimes splurging a little on something really makes a big difference!

  • Elizabeth Johnson

    These sound like really great tools! Thank you so much for sharing these!

  • These are all so important! I have never used co-schedule or tailwind. I have heard great things about each of them though! I may have to take a look into them very soon. Also I love the fact that I own my blog. I want to do the Pinfinite course but it is a little expensive. I will have to save up money for it!

    • Thanks, Mistle! You can do monthly payments on PG if it’s easier for you. I learned that you just have to make investments one at a time – it can get expensive fast otherwise!

  • Pinfinite Growth is awesome! I use Boardbooster over Tailwind but I think I’m going to look into potentially getting Tailwind again.

    xoxo, Jenny

    • Glad you like it too, Jenny! I haven’t used Boardbooster yet, but I’m really wanting to try some of their features out!

  • I definitely stand behind the domain name, self hosting, and tailwind! I haven’t paid for a design but I do think I’m getting closer to that everyday….

    • Thanks, Katie! Domain was the first investment I made and then design (but nothing crazy)! Most of these you have to do one step at a time or it gets pretty pricey fast!

  • Glad to hear Pinfinite Growth was a good investment for you– at this point I’m not too interested in monetizing, but that could change!
    Great list, lady!

    • Thanks, Rach! I don’t use PG much for monetizing (I guess affiliate links would be the only thing since I’m not selling anything), but it’s helped me with strategies to drive more traffic to my site!

  • I agree with all of these and I’ve done them all except for the courses. I haven’t bothered investing in any of them because I am seeing continual growth already. If it ever lags I might do it but I haven’t bothered yet. I just dropped CoSchedule for Edgar and I’m loving it! It’s more expensive but it’s only been a day and it’s already worth it.

    • Hey Ashley,

      Thanks for trying out CoSchedule, although its sad to see you go! We’re always looking to improve so I’d love to here what you’d like to have seen in order to stay!? Thanks much!

      • Hey Ashton,

        I love CoSchedule but I am a team of one (I don’t have a VA or anyone else working alongside me) and I just found myself running out of the time needed to sit down and schedule out my social media all of the time.

        MeetEdgar lets me build a library of categorized content and say post (this category) on (this day) at (this time) and it just does it over and over and over again. When it runs out of content, it recycles it. If CoSchedule did that I’d have stayed but I just can’t sit down and schedule posts. It’s that time-saver that made the difference.

    • Thanks, Ashley! I’ve heard a little about Edgar but don’t know too much about it. Is there a big price difference or is it just what they have to offer?

      • It’s both. Edgar just went up to $79 / month but you can create a huge library of content and it will recycle it over and over. Your own blog posts, other people’s content, tips, quotes, etc and connect up to 10 accounts. It’s really amazing and 100% worth it.

  • The biggest investment I’ve made is a blog theme an domain name. I don’t know much about self hosting. When you talk about you owning your content vs. being on blogger, does that mean Google owns your content? Should that become a concern only when you decide to monetize your blog?

    • Those were my first big ones as well! I started out on Blogger and didn’t know too much about self-hosting either, but yes, using Blogger means legally Google owns your content. The freaky thing is if Google decided to shut the Blogger platform down (which is very unlikely), everything could potentially just disappear. That really lit a fire under me to move to self-hosting (I have a tendency to worse-case scenario things, lol).

  • Dia

    I couldn’t agree more! Don’t go cheap on your blog, don’t over extend but invest. I started using Buffer and it saved me so much time!

    • Exactly! I think starting with one and working your way to others is the way to go!

  • I remember when I made the switch from at blogger address to my own domain name–I felt SO fancy and official! :) That’s been the best $10 I’ve spent yet on my blog! Eventually, I might like to buy a fancier template for my blog, but I love to tinker with the coding on the free template I have now, so it’s part hobby and part necessity. I adore Pinterest and it’s one of my biggest referrers, so I’ll have to check out that course you recommend!

  • Robert Stukowski

    Self-hosting is great. I prefer GoDaddy as they offer a variety of hosting solution for regular text blogging, podcasting, and vlogging. Much better than Blogger. Is Tailwind Instagram compatible?

    • Tailwind does have an option to pin IG posts, but I haven’t done too much with that feature yet. They do offer a free trial though!

  • amotherworld

    I haven’t heard of Tailwind, will have to check it out… then again I haven’t spent much time lately on Pinterest.

    • It’s incredibly helpful for getting your posts out there in front of more people!

  • Allison Ellzey

    I need to look into Tailwind and it’s a goal of mine before the end of the year to move to self hosted! I’m on Blogger right now!

    • It’s a great tool, Allison! I hope your transition to WP goes well – you’re going to love the platform!

  • snappedbygracie

    thanks for sharing the tips, always looking for new ways to reach a larger audience. Cant wait to check out these sites !

  • I just signed up for Pinfinite Growth and I can’t wait to learn and grow my blog more!

  • sharon wu

    These are amazing investments! Thanks for sharing xo, sharon

    http://www.stylelullaby.com/personal/how-i-blog-everyday/

  • Heather Gullett Denniston

    I use all of those except the last one and I have her on my short list. I would fully agree that these are the most important!

  • I really need to get on top of scheduling my social media posts! It’s on my to do list somewhere… right underneath making an editorial calendar haha

  • Julie Mason

    I use all of these except the ones involving Pinterest. I just don’t understand getting onto other boards. I am told I have been sent invites, but can’t find them. Help!

    • Have you checked your messages tab on Pinterest? That’s usually where they hide :)

  • I need to take some courses!! My attention span is just NIL!

    • I know the feeling, haha. The good news is it’s totally self-paced, and most of the videos are pretty short!

  • Tram-Anh Tran Poprik

    These are great tips! I will be looking into the co-scheduling and the course you suggested for sure. Thanks so much!

    • Thanks! I hope you find them as helpful as I have!

  • I honestly haven’t tried Tailwind because I tend to neglect Pinterest :( Worth the cost?

    • I think so! I was the same way with neglecting Pinterest but now I can just set aside a few minutes and schedule pins for the entire week – I’ve seen a pretty big difference!

  • Michelle Lynn

    Great advice! Very helpful for new bloggers.

  • DrDaisy Sutherland

    Thanks for sharing…these are all a must have for new bloggers :)

  • I’ve heard of Tailwind, but never looked into exactly what it does – I’m really curious about it now! Thanks for sharing! Great list! I mentally thought “check… check…” as I went down – haha!

    • Thank you! They help you manage your pins and analytics for Pinterest. It’s a great tool! They offer a free trial – you’ll have to try it out!

  • Great advice for new bloggers! My best investments were my hosting company, Hootsuite, and Photoshop. Thanks for sharing!
    xoxo, erin | sandsunandmessybuns

  • Follow My Gut

    I’ve used a few of these and totally agree that the majority have to be done in order to have a successful blog. But I didn’t know about Tailwind and think that’s such a creative idea. Thanks so much for putting me on to that, gotta check em out!

    Danielle | http://www.FollowMyGut.com <3

    • Thanks, Danielle! I hope you find it as helpful as I do!

  • This is so spot-on! I’ve made a lot of these investments, and I’ve been thinking about adding Tailwind. You might have convinced me!

    • Thanks, Lola! They offer a trial so you can always test it out before jumping in!

  • I am obsessed with Tailwind! I have been wanting to take some courses as well, but haven’t made the plunge yet.

    • Isn’t it the best?! Are there any courses you’re eyeing up to take in the future?

  • I’ve been looking into different scheduling programs so I am def going to look at Coschedule. These are all great though :)

    • Thanks, Kara! It’s a great tool, I think you’ll love it!

  • I’m on Blogger so I can’t relate to some of the plugins for WP, but yes to design and auto-renew for domain names!

  • I love these tips. I really need to work on hosting my own site. I still use blogger and I KNOW I need to make the transition, it’s just hard to commit!

    • Thanks, Kristen! I felt the same way, but after making the switch, I’ve never second guessed it. You’ll love WP!

  • Emily Bendler

    This is a great list. I use most of them already, but might have to add coschedule!

    • Thanks, Emily! Coschedule really helps with saving time!

  • These are all great!! I’ve been considering the Pinfinite course so I’m glad to hear you found it so beneficial!

    • Thanks, Kelsey! PG has been a great resource for me! You’ll have to let me know what you think if you end up investing in it!

  • Rachel Golden

    Once I get my feet under me financially I really want to purchase my own domain name! I know its not super expensive, but it’s one of those things I haven’t convinced myself I can afford just yet. I also really want to sign up for classes! I took the 7 day Pinterest email course from Melyssa Griffin and I REALLY liked it! I’ll have to look into some of her other stuff :)

    • So glad to hear that, Rachel! I hope you’re able to secure your domain soon – it’s only $10/yr., so less than $1 a month! Melyssa’s courses (both free and paid) are SO valuable! Glad to hear you enjoy them too!

  • Ooooh – Tailwind and Coschedule are two new ones for me … can’t wait to check them out. So happy you shared! Thank you! :)

  • Sami Mast

    I’ve been looking into self hosting, but I just haven’t bit the bullet on it yet. I keep hearing opposing reviews on BlueHost so I’m not sure where to host mine! Wish there was a definite list of the best hosts!

    xo
    Sami
    http://www.theclassicbrunette.com

    • It’s tough to say. When I first moved over BlueHost was the big one everyone recommended. I had quite a few downtime issues with them last year, but they seem to be back on track now!

  • Trying to get in on more courses. I love a good course!

    • They’re great! Do you have a favorite you’ve taken so far?

      • Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing is my fave so far.

  • I noticed once I started caring a little more about my look for my blog I got more readers.. and just felt better about my blog!

    • So true! Investments really make all the difference.

  • Beth Shankle Anderson

    I totally agree with your suggestions! I haven’t tried Tailwind, but I’ve heard great things!

    Beth || http://www.TheStyleBouquet.com

    • Thanks, Beth! Tailwind has been great for me so far – you should try the free trial!

  • Those really are great investments!

    • Thanks, Angie! I’ve definitely found them to be!

  • I’ve recently started using Tailwind and I love it. I haven’t seen a huge increase in blog views yet, but I’ve heard good things :) Great tips!

    • Thanks, Suzanne! Glad to hear you’re loving Tailwind too :)

  • great tips, I’m still new at this n this is helpful :)

    • Thank you! I hope you’re able to try some of these out!

  • Anvita – TheBellyRulesTheMind

    I am trying our Tailwind and so far i love it. Next on the list is coschedule

    • Yay! So glad to hear it. I hope you like Coschedule too!

  • Great tips! I’ve heard such great things about tailwind, and I think it would be worth it considering the value Pinterest has in bringing traffic to your blog!

    • Thanks, Cara! It absolutely is. I didn’t start utilizing Pinterest too much until this year and it’s helped so much!

  • Great suggestions! I use CoSchedule and honestly don’t know what I would do without it. (The folks who run it are great people, too.)

    • Thank you! Coschedule has been incredibly helpful for me too!

  • Great choices! I have yet to look into co-schedule but I’ve heard great things!

    Keep smiling!
    Molly | http://www.stylemissmolly.com

  • Tessa Lynn

    All great things to invest in, I totally agree. I’ve been considering tailwind.

  • AJMoneyMatters

    I’m only 6 months into blogging but keep reading that Pinterest is such a useful tool. Definitely something I want/need to look into! Thanks for the tips Rachel :)