Note: The following contains a few affiliate links all denoted with (*). If you sign up for services through these links (and eventually pay for their services), I will receive credits towards my account with the company. I appreciate your support! And it doesn’t hurt to increase your blogging karma. 🙂
As we near the end of 2017, I’m just reaching my 7-month anniversary of blogging. After all this time, I can’t believe how much Be Simply It has changed. It started as a baby website with sketchy graphics and a free WordPress theme. I didn’t have any guidance or idea of what I wanted to do with it or where I wanted to go. But after months of research and a bit of self-discovery, I made Be Simply It into the budding seedling that I hope to grow and nurture in the coming years.
If you have a small blog, you don’t need hundreds of dollars to spend on services when you’re just starting out. There are plenty of free (or nearly) free services that you can use to grow your blog. And there’s a plethora of blogging knowledge available so you don’t need to spend money on courses right away. These are just a few of the resources, tips, and tools I’ve used over the course of my blogging journey to grow my small blog without breaking the bank.
You Don’t Have to Break the Bank to Grow Your Blog
When I started to shape Be Simply It into what it is today, I didn’t know what was worth spending money on. It seems like everybody and anyone out there has some product or service to sell–and many of them are great at marketing them. While most bloggers are out there to help, I still felt a lot of blogosphere pressure to buy things, sign up for stuff, and use affiliate links to purchase products that I might not even use or like.
As a broke college student, I definitely don’t have extra cash to throw at my blog. I spent months recovering from paying for my (awesome) hosting service* and theme. Oh gosh, it was stressful! If you’re recouping from the expense of initial blog setup or simply need to keep costs low (holla), don’t feel like you can’t grow your small blog! This is exactly the time that you can get away with free and inexpensive services because (1) there’s a TON of free blogging resources out there and (2) your blog traffic and social media followers aren’t big enough to need an expensive plan for different services.You don’t have to spend $$ to blog. Grow a small blog without breaking the bank! Click To Tweet
Find What Works for You & Don’t Give Into Blogosphere Pressure
Resources: Find Your Favs and Stick with Them
Over the course of my blogging research, I found multiple bloggers who blog about blogging and business ownership. I found a couple I trusted and a couple I didn’t. I found a couple I connected with and a couple I didn’t. In the end, you’ll find your favorite bloggers whose words and perspectives resonate with you.
Once you find them, try to stick with them. Not only will you receive consistent advice, but you’ll keep your head from spinning with too much information. It’s easy to go crazy and over-saturate yourself with the widespread wealth of blogging information out there. But when you’re just starting out, it’s better to stick to a trusted few to keep yourself from overloading. That’s not to say that you can’t ever expand your sources or learn from others outside your usual circle, but it’s easier to start with a few trusted sources and build from there. Find two or three bloggers you love and trust. Then stick with them to streamline your sources of advice.
My favorite blogging references are
- Think Creative Collective for their saucy personalities, honest opinions, and attentiveness to their readers
- Startup Camp for his consistently useful and practical advice
- White Oak Creative for her down to earth nature, amazing design advice (and example), and thoughtful perspective on blogging as a job
Tips: Advice That Shaped My Perspective
Over the course of my blogging journey, these are some of the most useful realizations I had that shaped my blogging perspective.
1. You’ll be working for free for a long time
Blogging isn’t a make money quick job. You have to work hard and clock a lot of hours to start making money from blogging. It’ll definitely be worth it in the end, but it’s not something that will necessarily explode overnight. That’s why I adopted my long-term blogging strategy.
2. Don’t compare your blogging journey to someone else’s
There were so many times that I would read articles about bloggers who went from making $0 to $100k in a year or 0 to 4,000 followers in two months. While I certainly read their articles with the lure of the headline in mind, I also caught myself comparing their blogging journey to mine. None of us are the same. We all have different home lives, jobs, niches, and blogging strategies that it’s absolutely unfair to compare each other. Save yourself the heartache and frustration. If you read an article that advertises explosive growth, read it for the techniques and not the results.
3. You can always learn
It’s easy to get caught up in your own world. Sometimes I’d spend so much time hiding in my site, I didn’t bother to learn from other bloggers. Not that I ever thought that I was too good or knew everything, but sometimes we think that blogging means only working on our stuff. Don’t be a hidden away blogger. Engage with, learn from, and support other bloggers. Eventually, that blogging karma will come back to you. You’ll become that much more respected in your field of expertise and hopefully make some friends along the way!
4. Don’t give into blogosphere pressure
Quick story: I wanted to buy a $30 class from some amazing bloggers because I heard raving reviews and it was promoted really well by its authors. But even though it was “only” $30, I definitely couldn’t afford it. So I steered clear and put it on my list of things to possibly purchase once I’m making some money.
You’ll have so many bloggers who constantly promote their own stuff. They spam you with referral links, promote their products and articles, and simply don’t give you honest and useful information without strings attached. It can be easy to trick yourself into thinking that you need to sign up for a million different services, pay for tons of classes and coaching, and spend all of this money to improve your blog.
Don’t feel like you have to give into blogosphere pressure. If you read about a free trial and you’re interested in signing up, definitely use a blogger’s referral link to pass on some great blogging karma. But don’t feel pressured to pay for a service with an affiliate link or buy anything out of pressure on part of the author or promoter. While many bloggers are honest (and most believe in what they’re promoting), always do what’s best for you and your financial situation. If you feel like you’re being pressured into buying something, sleep on it and ask yourself if it’s actually worth that amount to you and the dollars you have.
Tools: Under $5!
Social Media Scheduling: Buffer
I use Buffer to schedule my posts to Twitter and Facebook. With the free account, you can schedule up to 10 posts in your queue. I spend 5-10 minutes a couple time a week to fill up my scheduler with posts and Buffer does the rest.
Instagram Planning: UNUM
UNUM is a great app to plan your Instagram feed (iPhone and Android). You can fill up your tiles to preview the visual appeal of your posts. I use it to layout my quotes for the checkered pattern on my feed. Check it out! UNUM also lets you write captions. I’ll spend 20 minutes a week making images and captioning them so I can effortlessly post throughout the week.
Upgrade: I recently started using Later*. This app is a HUGE upgrade from UNUM. You can write your captions from the comfort of your computer, tag your photos, and keep soooo many more photos in your queue. You can also easily tag photos for future reference and save your captions with a breeze.
Photo Editing: PicTapGo!
To pair with UNUM, I use PicTapGo! to edit the photos I take on my phone. Since I can’t afford a camera or editing software, PicTapGo! is a great, affordable alternative for iPhone. They have some great filters to polish off the look of your quick phone photos.
Pinterest Scheduling: BoardBooster (omg lifesaver!)
BoardBooster was the biggest game changer for me! It absolutely exploded my Pinterest viewership. I completely attribute my pageview growth to BoardBooster. I set my Best of Be Simply It (exclusive pins from Be Simply It) board to loop re-pins throughout the day. I also set up a few boards to schedule my pinning to my boards and group boards. It just takes a few minutes every week to schedule pins and BoardBooster takes care of the rest for me! It’s seriously a Pinterest lifesaver. Speaking of passing on the blogger karma, you can try it for FREE for 30 days with my affiliate link*! I would absolutely appreciate your support and I’m sure it’ll explode your traffic too!
Once you’re hooked like I am, you can continue with a small plan for just $5 a month. Completely affordable for my broke college student budget. But again, only sign up for the paid service if it works for your financial situation.
Note: You can also sign up for a free 30 day trial* of Tailwind. Tailwind is another popular scheduler for pins that optimizes the time of your pins. However, I didn’t continue my trial because the paid plan was a bit pricey for me. But the free 30 days is definitely worth it! Give it a try here*!
If you have a small blog, this is exactly the time to stick with free and affordable plans. You don’t need to break the bank to grow a small blog. Stick with what you can afford for now and there is plenty of time to spend money later. Once you start ranking in some income, you can re-evaluate your spending choices for services then. But until that happens (for both of us!), keep things affordable with these great tools and resources!
If you found this post helpful, be sure to share it with your blogger friends!