Blogging, as far as hobbies go, is a relatively inexpensive one. Find a free blogging service, sign up and off you go! It doesn't cost a penny (or is that a nickel now in Canada?).
But as many of us know, blogging can bring with it new opportunities and even the chance to earn some income. And suddenly, we have to think about more than just putting up a post with a recipe in it.
Blogging doesn't have to be expensive but there are a few areas that you don't want to skimp on - especially if your plan is to grow and potentially earn money. Here are 5 places where free isn't necessarily a good idea:
1. Buying a Domain Name
Buying a domain name like www.myamazingfoodblog.com from a company like GoDaddy can cost as little as $10-$20/year and it's worth the expense. Using the myamazingfoodblog.blogspot.com isn't necessarily the most professional way to go. And if you want to have a self-hosted blog now or in the future, you're going to need a domain name. As more and more people join the on-line space, unique domain names become harder to come by. Don't wait a year or two only to find yours is taken. That brings up more problems and potential expenses.
2. Spend an Hour With An Accountant
If you're going to be earning income, go see an accountant or bookkeeper. Even if you won't use one regularly, it's worth it to have a consultation. They can actually help you SAVE money by telling you about potential deductible expenses or credits you can apply for that you may not even know about! Ingredients, hosting fees, travel costs, dining out, camera equipment, home office space - all may be potential deductions. It will likely cost you $100/hour but find one who understands the on-line space and get some advice so you stay on the good side of the CRA or the IRS.
3. Buying a Premium Theme or Template
You may not be able to afford to hire a web designer to create a custom blog for you but, professional design can take your blog to the next level. An affordable option to hiring a designer is purchasing a premium theme for your Blogger or WordPress site.
Your blog design won't be unique but, you'll have the benefit of a professionally designed space that takes into account a functional menu, fonts and colours that are pleasing and that make it easy for users to read and interact with your content, and a layout that's easy to navigate. Those are all things that will make sure your readers keep coming back!
Free themes can be a minefield and can have malicious code placed in them that can make your blogging life difficult. Resist the urge to go with something free. Spending $30-$80 for a premium theme can save you a lot of time and potential embarrassment. Some great places to start are Elegant Themes, Woo Themes or Theme Forest.
4. Keeping Your Blog Safe - Backing Up and Monitoring
The NUMBER ONE RULE OF BLOGGING IS... things go wrong. It's not if, it's when. And they will go wrong at the worst possible moment. WordPress gets hacked. Hosting companies have security breaches. I've had clients whose sites have been compromised or whose hosting companies have had major data losses. I have had people who aren't my clients at all come to me in an absolute panic that their blogs have been ruined. It's even happened to me personally. It happens all the time. And fixing it can be very, very expensive.
Security for your blog is an entire post in itself but, take the basic steps. Use a backup plug-in or service that backs up your database and your theme files. I like Backup Buddy but there are others.
Sucuri.net is great monitoring service. For $90US/year they will monitor your site, clean up any hacks or malicious code and help you get off and stay off any blacklists. They'll also help you get back in Google's good books if you do have an security issues. (they don't replace backing up your files though - that's still your responsibility!)
5. A Professionally Designed Logo or Designer Consult
Hiring a designer can be expensive. But a professionally designed logo can be a very good investment. It doesn't have to cost a lot but, a professional designer can help you create a logo that will work on-line, in black and white, in print, at a very small size and at a very big size. They can also make sure it's in all the file formats you may need over the course of your blogging journey (a JPG won't always cut it). And they can make sure it effectively communicates who you are and what your blog is about.
Can't afford a logo or custom blog design? A little known secret is that most designers will happily sit down with you for a 1-2 hour consult. They can answer all your questions, make suggestions about layout, navigation, colours, fonts, plug-ins, hosting and more. Expect to pay between $50-100/hour for their time. Make a list of questions about blogging and setting up/laying out a blog before you meet with them to make the most of your time with them.
None of these tips are terribly exepensive on their own but together, they can add up. But they're important because all of them can either save you money, prevent you from spending even larger amounts of money to fix costly problems, or help you grow and earn money.
Come back tomorrow to learn about 5 ways you can save money on your blog!
5 Areas You Shouldn't Skimp On When it Comes to Your Blog, was written by FBC co-founder Melissa Hartfiel. Melissa is a freelance web designer and photographer at Fine Lime Designs by day. She lives and breathes CSS and HTML. By night she writes Eyes Bigger Than My Stomach as well as being the all round FBC design & technology gopher.