How to decide which blogging tools to invest in when you're on a budget
Should you really invest in that blogging tool? Find out how to pick the most useful tools for your blog or small business and stay within your budget.
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Ever look at someone’s list of blogging tools and resources and think “Do you really need all this extra stuff?“
Honestly, I can’t say I have personally but people have asked me before.
I guess how much you need depends on how much time and patience you have. A lot of the tools I use are automation tools, which means i’m not logging into every social platform every time I need to post.
You could spend lots of time doing mundane things on your own just to save a buck, but when it comes down to it, time is the most precious resource you have. Your blogging efforts can make you more money but they can’t make you more time, so you need to spend it efficiently.
On the other side of that though, having 93204392489302 tools can get real expensive real fast, especially if you’re on a limited budget. So what you really need to know is which tools are actually worth your money (and the time it takes to learn how to use them).
How to decide if a blogging tool is worth the investment
Whenever you’re thinking about purchasing a new tool, besides deciding if it fits in your budget, you should think about how useful it is.
Will it replace a task that you already spend a lot of time doing? – Saves you time so you can work on other stuff.
Does it allow you to do something you couldn’t have done before? – Increases effectiveness of your overall strategy.
Is it necessary in order to grow or increase your earnings? – Enables you to do basic things that you need in order to do business or will help you scale whenever you’re ready without any blocks.
Will it lead to more traffic? – Increases potential for more subscribers, sales, shares.
Will it lead to more sales? – Makes you money or at least pays for itself.
If you can say yes to all or even some of these, chances are that your purchase is worth the investment, ESPECIALLY if it’s going to lead to more money that you can put back into your business to keep making even more money.
Yup, it’s cyclical. The goal is to eventually have some left over for yourself instead of having to put every cent back into your blog/biz.
Finally, ask yourself this:
Do I need to something else first in order to make this tool work? – If you do, focus on that “something else” before investing in this tool.
For example, if you don’t have a product to sell yet, purchasing Deadline Funnel, a tool to add urgency to your sales funnel, wouldn’t make much sense.
When you’re on a budget, it’s important to focus on the tools that will help you out NOW rather than later.
16 resources I wouldn’t want to run my blogs without
I realize that even with those guidelines above, you still might not quite understand what all you really need, especially if you’re just starting out.
So below, I’m listed the resources I use that I wouldn’t want to run my blogs without. Even on a really tight budget, I do everything I can to make sure I have always access to these tools.
Many of these are free, others have amazing referral programs and I don’t have to pay for them thanks to that.
While you may not be able to take advantage of referral programs from business tools due to the niche you’re in, you can find other affiliate or referral programs you can promote and then use your earnings to pay off your expenses.
Even so, you should create a resource page on your website where you list everything you use just in case someone in your own audience wants to try their hand at running their own website, just like you!
Blog platform & hosting
WordPress – WordPress is the software I use to run all my blogs. This software can be run on your own web host, which is called self-hosting, or you can use WordPress.com, a freemium version of WordPress that has some limitations but is good for those who are just getting started and aren’t sure if they’ll become serious with their blog.
If you know you want to be a full time or at least a little bit more than a hobby blogger, I suggest going self-hosted because it’s much cheaper than purchasing a plan through WordPress.com.
I use Cloudways as my host, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re thinking of starting your _first _website. There are some technical things that will probably make you give up on starting a site if you have to deal with them on your very first time.
With my blogs, I mean business! As someone who has worked exclusively online, blogs and websites play a big part in my marketing. Now with creating my own blogs, these are some of the tools I use to earn money and sell products fairly passively.
Share-a-Sale – An affiliate network with thousands of programs for you to join and promote.
Teachable – I use this to host my big online courses. I like Teachable because for a small fee, they’ll handle VAT tax and affiliate payouts, something I would REALLY not handle myself and would probably need to hire someone else to do it anyway.
MemberVault – Easily create a gamified membership site. Their free plan holds up to 50 users, but you can use that as incentive to actually monetize your MemberVault. I’m thinking of using it to handle paid offers for this site.
Tailwind – I currently use Tailwind for all my Pinterest promotion. Pinterest is a great way to bring traffic to a new or old website, especially if you’re still working on learning SEO.
MiloTree – MiloTree adds a little pop up to your site that asks people to follow your social media profiles or subscribe to your email list. It works with any website, not just WordPress.
ActiveCampaign – This is the email marketing platform I use for highly customizable emails and tracking. It is a little bit difficult to get set up at first, so you may want to try ConvertKit instead. If you know nothing about how email marketing works, you may end up setting up ActiveCampaign the wrong way.
SmarterQueue – This tool is exactly what it says it is – smart! I love the way SmarterQueue allows to me easily set up variations of social content for Instagram, Facebook, and now Pinterest. It may become my top pick for Pinterest scheduling soon but I want to experiment with it more first.
Elementor – This is a page builder for WordPress. I use the Pro version to have access to all the available features. This actually saves me money because Elementor Pro can replace other tools like form builders and pop up creators, landing page builders, and urgency timers that otherwise have a monthly fee to use.
Study up on how to use popups and bars on your site, how to create landing pages, and how to use urgency timers in your sale funnels and you’ve just saved a ton of money. Lots of templates are included as well, so you can use those to save time on the studying if you don’t want to build your own.
Airtable – This is a hybrid spreadsheet and database platform that I prefer to using Google Sheets. The referral program on this is pretty solid, so I can access Pro features for free.
PLR products – PLR is content you can rewrite and use to create content for your website or to sell to your audience. It’s been really useful when I’m stuck on ideas or I need some guidance while trying to get my words out when writing about certain topics.
Illustrator (or Affinity Designer or Canva or RelayThat) – I need something to create graphics in and my preferred choices are Adobe Illustrator and Affinity Designer. I’ve actually been using Designer a lot more because it saves faster when I have lots of stock photos in a file. It just seems to handle linked files better.
For those of you who aren’t designers, you can try easy-to-use apps like Canva and RelayThat. Canva is free, so that seems like a no-brainer there, but RelayThat is super powerful if you need to create lots of graphics or plan on really improving your Pinterest strategy.
Grammarly – Grammar and spell checker that you can use as a standalone app or to automatically check as you’re typing within your web browser. I do okay with just the free version of this.
Envato Elements – I will literally not eat just so I can pay the monthly fee for this. I use Elements to download resources for so many projects. I can’t tell you how much I love this.
Hands down the best deal ever if you need stock photos, fonts, or music and sound effects. It’s also the ultimate resource for those who use Adobe programs.
There’s something here for pretty much every creative project and it’s only $33 per month or $198 per year. Monthly downloads are unlimited so no need to worry about using credits or whatever either.
What are your favorite resources?
I wanna know what tools you can’t live without!
Tell us some of your favorite blogging, content creation, or marketing tools in the comments.