Bloggin’ on a Budget? Here Are Some Free Resources & Strategies to Being a Badass Blogger
As you may be able to tell, I just started my blog. Within less than a week of starting and adding different social media strategies, I have already seen improvements. However, these improvements didn’t just come to me, I had to do the research. I’m not lying when I say I learn something new each and every day.
Being someone who has a full-time job and just got out of college, I understand how it feels to not to have time to do what you enjoy. As I write this, it is nearing midnight and although it’s way past my bed-time, I made a commitment when I started on my blog and I know I have to follow through.
Maybe it’s due to the fact that I’m still stuck in the mentality of a student, but lately, I’ve just been wanting to learn.
The more I got into researching blogging techniques and strategies it finally just *clicked* and I knew this was something I wanted to do and best of all – something I knew I could do.
And you know the best part? So could you.
But I don’t have any money!!!
Remember when I said I’m a post-grad? Yeah, I also just moved cross-country with my boyfriend and we just made our first month at our new apartment. So… yeah, I’m sure you can imagine where my money priorities are at – and it’s not for a hobby.
I knew I wanted to start a blog and the time was now, but how could I possibly let myself put almost $100+ towards a hosting and domain? Did I need all those courses and paid monthly sites that other bloggers recommended?
The answer was no and still is. I realized this the moment I stopped looking at my blog as a hobby, and more as an investment.
Not only is my blog an investment, I also needed to be smart. I needed to do my research and boy, did I. Which leads me to…
Do your own research
You might be thinking, “Well, duh!” but seriously! Doing your research and looking at tips, advice, anything(!) that different bloggers will give you allows for a much better understanding on the direction you want to be going in with your blog.
When I was figuring out what platforms I wanted to choose for my hosting and domain, I kept seeing similar sites – HostGator, BlueHost, SiteGround and the list goes on! When I would go check out to see the final price, I would just think, “Man, these bloggers really gipped my shit!”
I would see a lot of others talk about many of these sites, but would rarely ever mention the full price. Keep in mind, most hosting sites have you pay for the whole year. Yes, you get certain benefits and features, but you can really use any hosting site as long as it works with your chosen platform – mine is WordPress, for example.
As I was doing this research, I wanted to make sure I was getting the best price for what I was looking for. Like I said, your blog is an investment and for sure, you can spend nearly $200 for hosting and domain but wouldn’t you want to spend less and use the difference for products you’ve been dying to talk about on your blog? Or maybe a course you’ve been dying to try.
Whatever direction you’re going in, you want to get the best price for what you want out of your blog.
Before I move forward, let me show you something…
What you see above is what you’d be looking at if you’re going with sites similar to what I mentioned above.
But let me show you something else… with research, looking at my options, and talking to people I knew were knowledgeable to WordPress and hosting sites I was able to get both my hosting and my domain for a year at:
Yes!!! Less than $20!!! For authenticity sake, I am showing you the invoice I received after purchasing my first hosting and domain! Do you know how excited I was!?
Compared to the sites above with higher prices, they are all the most basic plan and offer a full year of hosting and to keep ownership of your domain.
Plus! There are no add-ons in the prices above and I was able to get just that for less.
When my sister told me about NameCheap, it was mostly just for my domain. I figured I would get my domain for a couple of bucks on one site, and use another site for hosting. I was prepared to spend at least $80 on hosting and domain – which honestly, compared to those prices above, really isn’t that bad.
But I wanted to make sure I was getting the best deal for what I was looking for and NameCheap gave me just that.
The reason I found this so cheap was because I researched before I bought. I made sure I was looking at all my options and once I realized that I could use WordPress with this site, you know I was hooked!
When I was looking at prices for Namecheap, I checked out with my domain and noticed that one of the add-ons offered was for a value plan of hosting that was discounted from $38.88 to $9.88!!!
That’s $10 to host your site for a YEAR!
So yeah, please do your research. You’ll love yourself for it!
Enjoying this read? You may also want to check out: 5 Things Every Successful Blogger Does Before Clicking ‘Publish’
Look for free themes
I’m sure you might not believe this, but yes – you can find a badass theme for cheap if not free.
I went on the hunt for free themes because I really just wanted something to start, to kind of figure out the format I wanted and start pushing out content.
Of course, I looked through sites and sites of Google results claiming they were offering free WordPress themes (a lot of them were not what I was looking for, to say the least.)
But I didn’t stop looking.
My hunt then went over to Pinterest.
I spent most of my day off looking for the perfect theme and keeping my fingers crossed that I could find it for free.
Right before I figured I should probably settle for a cheap blog, I found what I was looking for.
I came across PremiumCoding and found a pretty neat list of ‘Lite’ WordPress themes.
What this means is that you’re not getting the full effect of the blog, you’re essentially getting the template itself and you have to follow the instructions and build out your site to make it look like the demo.
If you click on any blog you like, you’ll see that they compare what the Lite version offers versus the premium version.
Of course, you’re going to get much more for the premium version (even web support) but you do have to pay for it.
It’s a bit of a gamble, take the time to build and essentially learn the ins-and-outs of your site, or pay about $40 for a theme and an extra $30-$35 to have someone build it, maybe even add in plug-ins and web support.
At this point, I was exhausted and really contemplated just putting in the $70-ish and having someone take care of it for me. Heck, I was about to just make my sister do it for me.
But then I decided I’d take on the challenge.
It’s OK to Do It Yourself
I’ve always wanted to learn code. I used to dabble with a teeny-bit of HTML back in my MySpace days (anyone else? lmao.) and figured what else could go wrong?
Let’s just say, after downloading the Lite version for the theme of my choice, I got to work and didn’t stop working on my blog up until three days later.
There were so many mistakes I made and so much time I wasted, but I felt accomplished once I was done.
Once I got my blog to look exactly like the demo, I was so incredibly proud of myself!
Yeah, it took me basically three days.
Yes, there were tons of moments where I’d get stuck for hours to then only find out the solution was right under my nose.
But I did it and I’m in love with my site.
Given that you have the time and patience with yourself, you can do it, too!
Most of these themes you’ll find online come with step-by-step instructions on how to download and customize your theme to get it to look exactly like the demo.
Be patient and take your time.
Once you go through all the work of building out your website, you’ll realize that WordPress and coding isn’t as daunting as you might have thought it was.
Granted, I’m not going to compare myself to Mr. Robot, but I did feel much more knowledgable and comfortable with this platform after I built out my own site.
Not only that, but I’m now confident that if something goes wrong with my site, I can go in and fix it.
Yeah, I’ll definitely invest in a paid website and even eventually pay for someone to help me with more complicated factors any website-owner will run into, but for now I have a beautiful theme that will allow me to build my brand and…
Focus on My Content
After reading other bloggers experience with making blogging their full-time time and main source of income, I was floored to say the least!
How is it possible for someone to make that much money from just writing?
Months ago when I first thought about starting my own blog, I thought of it as daunting and scary to learn how to post content that will attract others and that would also interest me as the writer.
I was excited, but I also didn’t know where to start.
I felt inspired from my current job and felt like I could do for myself what we were doing for our clients.
I started doing a little bit of research here and there, but in addition to working, I was also in school finishing my last semester and had other things to focus on.
So I just started writing.
Not so much to make money or to gain views, but to see if this was something I really wanted to do and dedicate my time to.
I needed to know if this was something I could really make money off of.
As I began writing, I focused on staying on schedule and before I knew it, I found myself excited to think of new ideas and implement the little amount of marketing strategy I knew at the time onto my blog.
Fast forward to after my move, I began spending a little less of time off from writing posts and focused my energy on absorbing as much information I could.
I learned everything I could *for free* on starting my blog, gaining followers, and eventually monetizing my blog.
I’m telling you guys, knowledge is powerful and we have the power of technology to find our answers at the tap of a finger.
I found Pinterest to be my main source of research, much of the information I know now are from different bloggers who would post their recommendations and their own experience on this site.
This knowledge allowed me to focus on my brand and on the type of audience I wanted to attract.
Remember – our blogs are an investment and we are investing in ourselves because we know what we’re talking about and we want to share our knowledge with as many people as possible.
I wanted to make sure I knew and understood everything everyone else was doing and how they were succeeding so I could implement bits and pieces that I liked from different bloggers into my own site.
Being able to go in with this mindset, allowed me to have a plan. I knew what I needed to do to start, I had an understanding on the direction I wanted to go in, and I made sure I brainstormed as many blog topics as possible and added to my list as I went.
The majority of my knowledge was formed within the last month.
The more I researched, the more I understood!
I looked at the bloggers I aspired to, from beauty to fashion to lifestyle and focused on what they were all consistently doing. I focused on what the bloggers giving advice on starting your own blog were consistently telling their readers.
I absorbed as much as possible – connecting with followers, being active on social media (especially Pinterest), and everything under the sun I just took it all in and made notes on what I wanted to implement on my blog along with what I wanted to share with others.
I wanted to create an authentic blog that would allow me to share my favorite fashion styles to current skincare routine while also appealing to those who want to learn more about budgeting, organizing their life, and just adulting in general because that’s what I looked for in others’ content.
There are reasons why I follow particular bloggers and social media influencers, because I enjoy their content and I would love to be able to create similar content.
All of this research and honing down on what I wanted out of my blog made me realize, in order to get what I want I needed to start writing.
Not only did I need to start writing, but I needed to understand my priorities. Which were authenticity and community.
The focus of my blog is to connect with others and really be able to make a difference in someones life, whether it’s sharing skincare dupes that will *actually* help your skin to best practices when trying to pay off your student loans.
While I wanted this, I also wanted others to come to by blog and really enjoy their experience and what I had to say.
This means that I would need to prioritize different topics, make sure I pick the right images, phrase my titles correctly, and most importantly for me as an English major, ensure I have little to no spelling errors and grammar mistakes.
Don’t you hate it when you’re reading a blog and you pick out a typo? It might just be me but for some reason, I’ve always had a keen eye for pointing out spelling errors in others work.
It’s hard to point out every error in your own work because that’s just how our minds work. Something about having fresh eyes look at your work is important.
Sometimes we don’t have that but drafting and re-revising your drafts at least twice will help you get better as you go.
I’m so particular to the point that I’ve use sites like Grammarly to send my emails. Yeah, extra – I know. Let’s deal.
Before we go, I’ve got one more tip for you!
Be a Social Media QUEEN!
Yaaaas, girl! Since realizing I wanted to start my blog just a couple of weeks ago, something I noticed that was extremely common amongst successful bloggers is that they were extremely active on social media!
Which then means we get to be extremely active on social media, too!
Being someone who has always hated certain media platforms (asides from Twitter, amirite?) it took me a little while to get into it, but once I did – I was so excited!!
It makes so much sense.
I can’t remember when it clicked, but when it did, I was just shook by the fact that I could gain traffic from Pinterest by simply re-pinning *which I already was doing* just not actively, if we’re being honest.
In addition to this, I could also work on building a community through Instagram!
What I noticed a lot of other bloggers who were promoting social media as a form of gaining traffic say was to focus on a few platforms at once which I totally agree with.
Being someone who is fairly familiar with these platforms and just actively chose to ignore them in the past, it was pretty easy for me to get hooked to the idea.
I also now feel less guilty spending hours on Instagram or Pinterest, cause technically now I’m working!
Whatever social platform you use, whether you start off with just one – try not to get in over your head.
What I mean by this is, don’t do more than you think you can handle.
I had started off with Pinterest because I knew that once I started my blog, I’d want to eventually start using this platform as a way to gain traffic.
With that being said, I didn’t really understand the algorithms and analytics that were featured.
I also thought I needed more Pinterest followers but I’ve recently learned that it’s not the the amount of followers on Pinterest that matter but the amount of viewers.
Once I found this out, I quickly got back into Pinterest and made it a point to go on every single day and re-pin as much as possible.
While I was learning more about Pinterest, I kept on seeing bloggers talk about sites like Tailwind and BoardBooster. I figured, this is what I need, that I’m going to have to invest in paying for a monthly membership to gain access to features like automatic posting and joining Tailwind tribes (although I didn’t really understand what that meant *exactly* at the time).
So I did what I knew best, I researched. To my own surprise, I saw others giving advice on this, too. Although most recommended Tailwind and stood by it, I found one blogger that stood out. (I’ve been racking my brain trying to find the source, but I can’t remember! *sad face*)
They wrote about how they saw better results in traffic from manual pinning compared to using sites like Tailwind or BoardBooster.
After a talk with my boyfriend, who basically tells me exactly what I’m thinking, I realized that doing it myself will be a better investment than paying others to do it for me.
Plus, I have the time.
Now with not being in school and literally lazying around if I’m not working or exploring our next city, I have so much time – might as well use it wisely and go on social media!
From what I’ve seen online, people have recommended to re-pin as little as 10x a day to as much as 40-60x a day. I’ve honestly even seen 80!
After seeing this, I totally get why people wouldn’t mind spending a few bucks a month to have a site automatically do the work for you, I totally do.
Re-pinning 40-80x a day is extremely time consuming, but if you choose to do it yourself you are not only familiarizing yourself to the platform you are also in control of your analytics.
If something goes wrong, you’ll know! You can stay relevant, save money, and be in complete control.
Once I finally understood the platform, it’s been easy-peasy since!
Just as an example of what being in control looks like, let me show you what my current Pinterest analytics look like:
Given that I just recently started pinning consistently every single day at least 40x a day, give or take since Sunday, November 12 to Monday, November 20 – this isn’t bad at all.
The truth is in the pudding and once I saw my stats sky-rocket like this, I knew I couldn’t stop what I was doing.
Guys, I’ve only launched my blog just a few days ago and started working closely with Instagram and Pinterest a week before that.
This is just within a week of implementing my own strategy and being consistent.
Analytics with Pinterest can be confusing and you may not get it right the first time – I know I didn’t, but don’t stop looking for answers to your questions.
The chances of coming across someone’s blog with a similar experience and insight on how to resolve the issue at hand are very likely!
If I’ve been able to get this far within a week then imagine where I’ll be two, three, even six months from now!
As I go on, I plan to add features like a newsletter and freebies here and there, and I’ll do it with the confidence that I know what I’m talking about and love what I’m doing.
Looking for more advice on how you can succeed as a blogger and start making money online?
Keep me bookmarked and make sure to join my mailing list so you can stay up-to-date with my journey to leaving this corporate lifestyle and reach my goal of being my own boss!
I would love to hear your success stories, or even moments that weren’t so successful but allowed you to learn from it. Let’s start a conversation down below, I’d love to hear from you!