“You have to spend money to make money.”
I think we have all heard this phrase, but it’s only lately that I’ve actually taken the time to accept it. I spent the first two years of this blog avoiding unnecessary costs however I could. I used free versions of software and any applications that required money were quickly written off as something that didn’t fit my budget. Rather than assuming I could find a way to afford these things, I immediately decided that they were out of my reach and I had to find a way around them.
Just in the past few months did I realize that if this blog is going to become the professional outlet that I want, I would have to invest in it just as in any business. Once I figured out which blogging tools ranked highest on my list, I purchased either monthly or yearly plans and made sure to both learn how to use them and actually use them to make sure I was getting the best return on my investment.
If I wasn’t sure that I wanted to commit to an entire year, I paid for a month at a time, but so far I have found each one of these blogging tools to be extremely efficient in moving me towards my blogging goals.
Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliate links. I may receive a small commission or other incentive should you decide to sign up through using any of those links. These are all products that I have bought at full price because I believe in their value and thank you so much for supporting this blog!
1. Domain and Hosting
This one I actually did well over a year ago, but it was so important. I started out my blog on Blogger, then migrated it to WordPress.com, and finally decided to go self-hosted on WordPress.org. The costs are certainly not outrageous and the benefit of more creative license is definitely worth it to me. In fact, not starting out self-hosted was one of the five things I wish I had done differently when I started this blog.
After having my site hosted through Go Daddy for over a year, I decided to switch to Bluehost earlier this year and I haven’t had any downtime on this site and the overall experience has been very user-friendly.
CoSchedule is my editorial calendar and social media manager all in one. I first started using it in March of this year with a free two-week trial and after the trial was up I decided to sign up. It streamlined my planning and scheduling process so well that this was the first software that I decided to pay for after domains and hosting.
Since I have written my initial review, CoSchedule has gotten even better with integration of Evernote, Google Docs, and several other upgrades. I would definitely say that this calendar is indispensable to my daily blogging routine. My ability to plan posts ahead of time can sometimes need improvement, but even if I’m slacking on planning, I would have bought it for the social media scheduling alone.
Related: CoSchedule Review
3. VSCO Cam
VSCO Cam is my favorite photo editing app ever. It was one of my five things Friday after I discovered it and I almost never post a photo anymore without tweaking things a bit using this app. The app itself is free and available on iOS and Android, but there are a number of additional filters that are only available through purchase. I spent a couple dollars buying the filters that fit my preferences and overall theme and now they are my go-to all the time.
Note: the app is not the most user-friendly, but I promise once you get the hang of it you’ll be editing beautiful pictures in no time. If you end up struggling with it, there are a number of tutorials online that you can use.
Tailwind is a Pinterest scheduling tool. I’m still planning a full review of it since I’ve only been using it about a month, but so far the results are great. Tailwind allows you choose and schedule pins throughout the day so that you aren’t constantly having to log in and pin. With as many social media channels as there are, it’s virtually impossible to handle all of them without a little assistance.
In the short amount of time I’ve used it, my Pinterest followers have grown by 17 times and Pinterest has become my number two source of referral traffic from its original place of nonexistent. As more content gets pinned, I expect it to move up to the number one source before too long.
I also mentioned Archie in one of my past five things Friday posts and it continues to be very helpful in growing my social media presence. Archie is not a software that buys followers or likes, but rather interacts with other members of Instagram and Twitter based on your specific preferences. You can enter hashtags or locations and Archie will search those two networks for other users employing those tags. All Archie does is like a photo or tweet and whether that user decides to follow you is up to them.
I have heard a number of social media presenters talk about growing their Instagram presence by spending hours of their time searching through hashtags and liking pictures. I’m sorry, but I really don’t have time to do that. I do spend time checking the site to make sure that the pictures I am liking align with my own brand and I will even head over to ones I especially like and leave a comment to start the interaction. For me, Archie simply helps cut down the time it takes for me to find like-minded people to start a conversation with!
6. Professional Themes
Last month I updated the theme of this blog. I went from a free WordPress theme to one from Pipdig. I had been under the impression that redesigning my site would cost me several hundred dollars, but I received this amazing, customizable theme and excellent customer service for $49.
If I want readers and brands to start taking Erin’s Inside Job seriously, it needs to look professional and allow for easy navigation. I only wish I had upgraded sooner!
- If you have a blog, do you spend money on it?
- What types of software/applications do you find most helpful?