Below is a list of expenses I recommend are worth investing in and some to avoid when just starting out with your blog or online business.
Where to spend money in your online business when just starting out #blogandbusiness #fitfam Click To Tweet
I’ll admit that when I first starting blogging, I didn’t want to spend a dime on my blog. I figured I could throw up some blog posts, set my old school camera timer and run into place for a pic, and share things on social media… and brands and clients would come running to me in no time.
We all know that is NOT how it works.
The online world has changed so much over the past few years – and continues to do so. Gone are the days where fitness pros can just post workout pictures and videos to Instagram and become “famous.”
Information is everywhere. Anyone can google a workout or pictures of fit people in the gym. People want more – and they expect MUCH more!
As health and fitness professionals and bloggers, not only do we need great content but a brand that stands out, an attractive website, active social media channels, an email list, free content to collect email addresses, systems to deliver results without running ourselves ragged… the list goes on!
So many start ups fail because they come out of the gate spending a bunch of money on things they do not need… right away.
It is so easy to sign up for all the latest and greatest with the best of intentions to start making money. And before you know it, months roll by and your expenses are tallying up while your income is minimal – or none.
So, where do you start?
How do you know what to spend money on and what expenses you should avoid when just starting out?
After years of blogging, wasting money on some things, and wasting time on things I should have just paid someone to, below are my recommendations.
Expenses worth investing in RIGHT NOW
You really cannot get around this one. If you are a blogger – and want to be taken seriously – don’t use wordpress.com after your domain name. Buy your domain name (and hosting service) from a company like Bluehost (affiliate link). The cost is minimal – about $12-$18 a year for a .com or .org name.
The difference between blogging for fun and getting serious is going self-hosted.
Think of the domain name as your address, the hosting account as the house you live in, and the theme is how you decorate your house (we will get to that).
There are many companies that offer hosting services. I highly recommend BlueHost (affiliate link) – I use them and am very happy with their services. The prices are reasonable and customer service is great. If you have any questions, you can live chat them pretty much anytime.
BlueHost also offers an affiliate program. So if you do decide to use BlueHost, help a sista out and please CLICK HERE to sign up so I get credit! And then go create an affiliate account for yourself!
You might like: How to start a freakin’ awesome self-hosted blog on a budget
Honestly, these are the only two things I think you REALLY need right away. You can build a pretty decent website using the free wordpress themes. Once your website or blog is up, create some social media accounts and start connecting with people!
While you can get by for a while with just the above, I do recommend spending some money on a few other essentials…
Expenses worth investing in ASAP
Site Back Up
You can use a free back up plug in but they take more manual effort and require you to save the back up to something like Dropbox.
A plugin such as BackupBuddy or VaultPress costs just a little money but is a 100% managed service. You get support, malware scanning, and it is a pretty fool-proof setup. When I spoke with Katy Widrick, she highly recommends VaultPress. The small investment is totally worth it once you get your business up and running.
Pretty and Customizable Website Theme
Your blog or website is typically the first thing someone goes to look at when they are learning about you and considering if you are worth investing their time or money in. You only have a few minutes to capture a viewer’s attention when they land on your page, so you want to make it memorable.
Many bloggers use the Genesis framework and then plug a theme into it. Genesis framework is basically like the make and model of your car, it’s just the basic frame. The theme is what makes the car pretty and snazzy.
Search Etsy for themes. I bought mine from Studio Mommy and it was on sale for $12! Most themes are anywhere between $20-$50. Once you buy the theme, you can download it to your computer and then upload it to the theme section on wordpress.org. It is that easy.
And some (like mine from Studio Mommy) come with the Genesis framework! So that will save ya $50-$60 right there!
Logos, headers, ebook or program covers, etc.
Let me start by saying you can totally do this stuff for free in Canva. But, if you are not the creative or artistic type, spending a few bucks on a logo or header is probably well worth your time and money.
You can check Etsy again for plug and play type logos, headers, and fonts. Or, pay someone $5 on Fiver to design something just for you.
I used Fiver for my ebook cover and was very happy with the results. It was something that would have taken me hours to do myself, so it was well worth the $5.
Marketing – Facebook Ads
Facebook ads are working right now. You do have to invest a little time and money into them to get clicks and sales, but they have proven to work really well.
I will say, I think this is one place you have to spend money to make money. However, the cost for Facebook ads do add up fast and if your ads are not converting well, it can end up costing you more money than you are bringing in.
This is why I say it is a GREAT tool, but not something I think you have to implement right away if you are not familiar with Facebook ads. Give yourself time to learn and understand how they work and come up with a strategic plan before throwing a bunch of money away on them. Get familiar the Business Manager in Facebook. Try different text and images in your ads and see what works best.
Business Development and Growth
I asked a couple of the business Facebook groups I am in what they feel is important to spend money on when just starting out. Aside from the website domain and hosting services – business development, growth, and coaching were highly recommended!
Business Development is the ONE thing I pay for on a continual basis for my business (aside from website stuff).
Almost every successful entrepreneur I have come across online has invested in themselves and their business with a business coach. This can cost thousands though, which obviously, when you are starting out, you probably don’t have.
I invested in Nicole Culver’s Blogger to Business Membership Group last year and it has been worth every penny. Since it is a group setting – not one-on-one coaching – the cost is much less than hiring a personal business coach. While the program is more affordable because it is a group setting, Nicole is VERY present, approachable, and helpful to each individual. She knows our businesses and who we are.
I HIGHLY RECOMMEND a program like this if you are looking to take your business to the next level but cannot afford a business coach just yet.
Expenses that can wait
Paying for a fancy automated email service like LeadPages and ConvertKit will certainly make your business run more smoothly and your life easier. And the bigger you grow, the more you will definitely need this.
But for now…. I think this is one place that you can put in a little extra time in to and save a lot of money. Mailchimp is free up to a certain number – 1,000 I think – of email addresses and it works JUST FINE.
You might like: How to Offer a Freebie on your Blog and a Mailchimp Tutorial for Beginners
Social Media Schedulers
This is an interesting one because many people love social media schedulers (Hootesuite, Buffer, Taliwind, etc.) and swear by them.
Here is my take: I think posting real time or using the FB page post scheduler actually reaches more people and really doesn’t take all that much more time.
Note: The one place that the investment may be worth it is Pinterest. A scheduler that can rotate and re-pin pins at various times – especially to group boards – has worked really well for many bloggers. However, you could set aside a few minutes a day and totally do this yourself.
I know Buffer offers a free version with limited features. I used it for a while for my FB page, FB groups, and Twitter – but the engagement was very low and it took just as much time to schedule posts into the Buffer scheduler as it would for me to just set aside a few minutes a day to post to each social media channel.
We are lucky that we live in a time where we all have smart phones and they work pretty darn well for photos and images. Unless you are a photographer, no need to waste money on fancy camera and video equipment when you can use your iPhone and natural light to get some pretty great shots.
Professional Photos and Head shots
I think clean and professional photos are a MUST in a business, but they can cost a pretty penny.
There are plenty of sites that offer free stock photos for bloggers and small businesses. One of my FAVORITES is Ivory Mix (affiliate link) because she also does health and fitness inspired photo packs every now and then.
You may like: Where to find free and stylish stock images for your #girlboss blog
As for head shots, instead of paying a bunch of money right away, you could try to swap services with a newer, local photographer. Offer them your health and fitness services in exchange for a few head shots and a review on their website.
What expenses did you invest in or plan to invest in when starting out?
Anything I missed that you think it totally worth it?
Photo cred: Ivory Mix