People blog for all kinds of reasons but for a lot of us, our blogs have become our own businesses and brands that we have created completely by ourselves and if that's not something to be proud of, I don't know what is. Over the years, I've worked my lil booty off to get my blog to where it is today and there are some things that I think really are worth investing in, especially when you are aiming to turn your blog into your own business.
1. A Blog Layout
A professional blog layout is one of the things that really gives off a good impression and investing in a good one is one of the best things I've ever done for Salt and Chic. I'm absolutely terrible with HTML and I know many other people don't have a clue either and a layout created by someone who knows what they're doing is a super easy way to give your blog a bit of a boost - I know that as soon I installed my pretty new layout my mood went up my a thousand points! I get my templates from Pipdig (who I can't recommend enough - so easy and really great prices too!) but you can also get them from other designers, including sellers on Etsy. However, I love Pipdig's layouts because they're simple, neat and easy to navigate. I know people like different things and different designs but I cannot deal with websites or blogs that have bright, gaudy backgrounds, hard to read loopy writing and are set out so you can't find anything. I like my blog to be clean and easy to find your way around whilst still keeping some of my personality, something which I think Pipdig's templates embody perfectly.
2. Business Cards
Again, like a blog layout, business cards just give your blog and your brand a bit of a professional boost. It's surprising how handy they are and although I haven't (yet!) got any for my own blog, there have been so many times where I've left an event or an appointment kicking myself because I haven't had any cards to give out to people who have asked about my blog. I've been looking at Where The Trade Buys business cards and they sound fantastic. You can fully customise the business cards with sizes and finish options so when I know exactly how I want my cards to be set out, I'll almost certainly be heading there to get them printed (plus they price of the cards is so cheap and there's free delivery!)
Anyway, I just think that business cards are fantastic way of drawing new readers to your blog without having to pay huge amounts for advertising. I think they're essential for blog events; you can pass them onto PRs who may check out your blog and match you with suitable collaborations and you can also pass them to fellow bloggers who may otherwise forget your URL or even your name! I'm terrible for this and there have been so many times I've wanted to follow someone on social media whose name I've completely forgotten once I've gotten home!
It's not only just at events that they come in useful though. You can ask if you can place a pile of business cards in some of your local small businesses like cafes and restaurants - the worst they can say is no! I've noticed piles of business cards in hotels and restaurants, especially if they have a bar or desk in the lobby area so it's a great and really easy way to get your blog noticed by a whole variety of people in your area without breaking the bank on advertising. Again like with the blog layout, it's important that the cards reflect your brand and are eye-catching but easy to read at the same time so I'd definitely recommend finding the right balance to get the most out of the cards!
You can read about and order business cards from Where The Trade Buys on their website and get your blog looking professional within a day!
3. A Good Camera
I know that so many bloggers get by without a good camera and some even get by using their iPhones and are totally happy with their photos and that is absolutely fine but for me, a decent camera is a blogging essential. Now, I don't mean go out and spend thousands of pounds on the latest Canon release and another thousand for the matching lens but having a good DSLR and a pretty good lens can take your blog photography to a whole new level. I went from using my really old Nikon camera to using my Canon 700d and I cannot tell you how much my photography has improved. I now have two lenses for it, each which I use for different things, and an Olympus PEN with two lenses and although in total they add up to a lot of money, the investment has been worth it. Alone, each camera isn't too much either - sure, they're more expensive than you're average shopping trip but they are so worth it if you take pride in your blog photography. Photographs are the first things people will look at when they click on your blog and if they're small, fuzzy and dark there's every chance it will put them off reading so I'm all for big, bright and clear photos on blogs.
4. Blogging Essential Tools
Some things are worth the pain in the arse monthly fee for the privilege of using them and there are a few blogging essential tools that I could not live without now. I recently discovered Buffer and let me tell you I have never looked back. You can use it for free and schedule up to ten tweets but if you pay a small monthly fee you can access Buffer For Business and unlock the features of the site and if you're working alongside blogging or away travelling quite a lot, this is a godsend for organisation and keeping your blog promotion going when you might not have the time or the wifi.
Adobe Lightroom is another thing I pay a small monthly fee for and I can't imagine blogging without it. It's much easier to use than Photoshop (because this gal cannot be bothered with learning that) and doesn't ruin the quality of your photos either like a lot of free online programmes do. It's such a good tool if you're a bit of a newbie when it comes to photography and even though I've been well into photography and blogging for a number of years now, I don't think I'll want to use anything else for the foreseeable future.
5. A Domain Name
Having your own domain name not only makes your blog look more credible (bye bye .blogspot.com) but it's also essential for your Google rankings and SEO. DA and all that jazz depends on things like your domain and the length of time it's existed and for such a small change, it has a huge impact on your blog's image. The fee is extremely small for the domain and although setting it up may seem daunting (read: it is a total nightmare) there are step by step guides online which will tell you exactly how to do it and for a few minutes of total and utter stress, it's worth it.
What are your best blogging investments?
*This post is in collaboration with Where The Trade Buys. All words and views remain my own