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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131 Comments

  1. September 19, 2016 / 9:08 AM

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

    • September 24, 2016 / 8:01 PM

      Totally agree, Chelsea!

  2. September 19, 2016 / 9:22 AM

    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!

    • September 21, 2016 / 9:28 PM

      Thanks! I hope you find them helpful!

  3. Kathleen Brown
    September 19, 2016 / 9:31 AM

    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

    • September 21, 2016 / 9:28 PM

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

  4. Chrissa - Physical Kitchness
    September 19, 2016 / 9:51 AM

    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!

  5. Siedah
    September 19, 2016 / 10:24 AM

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

  6. September 19, 2016 / 11:29 AM

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

    • September 21, 2016 / 9:30 PM

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

  7. Courtney Patterson
    September 19, 2016 / 11:52 AM

    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!

    • September 21, 2016 / 9:30 PM

      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%!

  8. September 19, 2016 / 12:47 PM

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

    • September 21, 2016 / 9:30 PM

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

  9. September 19, 2016 / 12:59 PM

    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

    • September 21, 2016 / 9:31 PM

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

  10. September 19, 2016 / 1:05 PM

    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

    • September 21, 2016 / 9:31 PM

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

      • September 26, 2016 / 10:28 AM

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

  11. September 19, 2016 / 1:16 PM

    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!

    • September 21, 2016 / 9:33 PM

      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!

  12. Tara Berries
    September 19, 2016 / 1:17 PM

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

    • September 24, 2016 / 8:02 PM

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

  13. September 19, 2016 / 1:37 PM

    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

    • September 21, 2016 / 9:35 PM

      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.

  14. September 19, 2016 / 1:47 PM

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

    • September 21, 2016 / 9:35 PM

      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!

  15. September 19, 2016 / 1:50 PM

    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!

    • September 21, 2016 / 9:36 PM

      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!

  16. September 19, 2016 / 2:37 PM

    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!

    • September 21, 2016 / 9:36 PM

      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!

  17. September 19, 2016 / 3:46 PM

    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.

    • September 24, 2016 / 7:20 PM

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

  18. Elizabeth Johnson
    September 19, 2016 / 3:49 PM

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

  19. September 19, 2016 / 4:33 PM

    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!

    • September 24, 2016 / 7:20 PM

      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!

  20. September 19, 2016 / 8:40 PM

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

    xoxo, Jenny

    • September 24, 2016 / 7:20 PM

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

  21. September 19, 2016 / 8:41 PM

    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….

    • September 24, 2016 / 7:21 PM

      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!

  22. September 19, 2016 / 8:53 PM

    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!

    • September 24, 2016 / 7:21 PM

      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!

  23. September 19, 2016 / 9:02 PM

    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.

    • September 20, 2016 / 10:57 AM

      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!

      • September 20, 2016 / 4:27 PM

        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.

    • September 25, 2016 / 6:00 PM

      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?

      • September 28, 2016 / 12:14 PM

        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.

  24. September 19, 2016 / 9:02 PM

    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?

    • September 24, 2016 / 7:21 PM

      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).

  25. September 19, 2016 / 9:10 PM

    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!

    • September 24, 2016 / 7:21 PM

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

  26. September 19, 2016 / 9:13 PM

    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!

  27. Robert Stukowski
    September 19, 2016 / 9:21 PM

    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?

    • September 25, 2016 / 6:00 PM

      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!

  28. amotherworld
    September 19, 2016 / 9:27 PM

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

    • September 24, 2016 / 7:21 PM

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

  29. Allison Ellzey
    September 19, 2016 / 9:34 PM

    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!

    • September 24, 2016 / 7:21 PM

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

  30. snappedbygracie
    September 19, 2016 / 9:42 PM

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

    • September 24, 2016 / 7:21 PM

      I hope you find them helpful, Gracie!

  31. September 19, 2016 / 9:54 PM

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

    • September 24, 2016 / 7:21 PM

      Yay! I hope you love it as much as I did!

    • September 24, 2016 / 7:21 PM

      Thanks, Sharon! Do you have a favorite?

  32. Heather Gullett Denniston
    September 20, 2016 / 2:14 AM

    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!

    • September 24, 2016 / 7:21 PM

      Thanks, Heather! Do you have a favorite?

  33. September 20, 2016 / 5:50 AM

    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

    • September 25, 2016 / 6:01 PM

      The blogger to-do list never ends :)

  34. Julie Mason
    September 20, 2016 / 8:09 AM

    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!

    • September 25, 2016 / 6:01 PM

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

  35. September 20, 2016 / 9:01 AM

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

    • September 24, 2016 / 7:21 PM

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

  36. Tram-Anh Tran Poprik
    September 20, 2016 / 9:22 AM

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

    • September 24, 2016 / 7:55 PM

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

  37. September 20, 2016 / 9:30 AM

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

    • September 24, 2016 / 7:21 PM

      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!

  38. Michelle Lynn
    September 20, 2016 / 9:36 AM

    Great advice! Very helpful for new bloggers.

  39. DrDaisy Sutherland
    September 20, 2016 / 10:00 AM

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

  40. September 20, 2016 / 11:42 AM

    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!

    • September 25, 2016 / 5:58 PM

      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!

  41. September 20, 2016 / 11:57 AM

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

    • September 25, 2016 / 5:58 PM

      Thank you! Those are all great tools!

  42. Follow My Gut
    September 20, 2016 / 12:19 PM

    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

    • September 25, 2016 / 5:58 PM

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

  43. September 20, 2016 / 1:24 PM

    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!

    • September 25, 2016 / 5:51 PM

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

  44. September 20, 2016 / 2:08 PM

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

    • September 25, 2016 / 5:51 PM

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

  45. September 20, 2016 / 2:48 PM

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

    • September 24, 2016 / 7:54 PM

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

  46. September 20, 2016 / 2:56 PM

    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!

    • September 25, 2016 / 5:10 PM

      Auto-renew is a lifesaver!

  47. September 20, 2016 / 4:48 PM

    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!

    • September 25, 2016 / 5:09 PM

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

  48. Emily Bendler
    September 20, 2016 / 4:52 PM

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

    • September 24, 2016 / 7:54 PM

      Thanks, Emily! Coschedule really helps with saving time!

  49. September 20, 2016 / 5:41 PM

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

    • September 25, 2016 / 5:08 PM

      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!

  50. Rachel Golden
    September 20, 2016 / 6:46 PM

    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 :)

    • September 25, 2016 / 5:09 PM

      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!

  51. September 20, 2016 / 7:20 PM

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

    • September 24, 2016 / 7:29 PM

      Yay! I hope you like them!

  52. Sami Mast
    September 20, 2016 / 8:22 PM

    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

    • September 24, 2016 / 7:28 PM

      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!

  53. September 20, 2016 / 9:09 PM

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

    • September 24, 2016 / 7:28 PM

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

      • September 24, 2016 / 10:19 PM

        Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing is my fave so far.

  54. September 20, 2016 / 9:38 PM

    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!

    • September 24, 2016 / 8:01 PM

      So true! Investments really make all the difference.

  55. Beth Shankle Anderson
    September 21, 2016 / 12:07 AM

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

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

    • September 24, 2016 / 8:01 PM

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

  56. September 21, 2016 / 9:54 AM

    Those really are great investments!

    • September 24, 2016 / 8:01 PM

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

  57. September 21, 2016 / 10:05 AM

    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!

    • September 25, 2016 / 5:07 PM

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

  58. September 21, 2016 / 2:19 PM

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

    • September 24, 2016 / 7:59 PM

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

  59. Anvita - TheBellyRulesTheMind
    September 21, 2016 / 10:36 PM

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

    • October 2, 2016 / 1:09 PM

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

  60. September 22, 2016 / 8:54 PM

    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!

    • October 2, 2016 / 1:10 PM

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

  61. September 22, 2016 / 10:47 PM

    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.)

    • October 2, 2016 / 1:09 PM

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

    • September 24, 2016 / 8:02 PM

      Thanks, Molly! It’s saved me so much time!

  62. Tessa Lynn
    September 26, 2016 / 1:35 AM

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

    • October 2, 2016 / 1:09 PM

      Thanks, Tessa! Tailwind is such a great tool!

  63. AJMoneyMatters
    November 20, 2016 / 7:01 AM

    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 :)