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Monday, 27 February 2017

BLOGGING | Blogging on a budget

Whether you've been blogging for years or you're just beginning to think about launching a blog, blogging can be pretty overwhelming and expensive - if you allow it to be.

Although the most important part of running a blog is the actual writing and the content, when you start to look at your blog in a more professional sense and try to focus on making it grow more, there's a lot more factors to keep in mind.

One of those factors is cost, even though, essentially, it costs next to nothing to write a blog. However, that's not to say I don't log onto 'bigger' or 'famous' blogs and wonder how the hell it's possible to get to a point like that when I'm so skint. 

The fact of the matter is, people do spend money on blogs.

Sidenote: I've always found it ironic how celebrities, influencers and even bloggers can become so big and earn so much money, only to get given nearly everything for free.

But I digress. I manage to blog on a budget and although my blog isn't hugely successful, I manage just fine without a fancy camera or a social media team and you can too.

Here are some tips to running a blog on a budget.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Blogging | Blogging on a budget

THE DOMAIN
Your own domain isn't compulsory. It took me five years before I finally bit the bullet and bought my own domain but being that I still run my blog on blogger, there isn't a whole lot of difference. The main two differences are of course the name - it does look a little more professional being able to go directly to formidablejoy.com as opposed to formidablejoy.blogspot.com, but plenty of blogs go years and years without their own domain, much like I did. The other difference is DA and PA. Domain and Page Authority is the most common way companies look at a blog's status - the higher the DA and PA, the better. On blogspot (and wordpress too, I think), you don't actually have your own DA/PA and any score shown when looking this up will be a (admittedly high) score for the whole blogspot/wordpress site. When you buy your own domain, the authority is yours and yours only. Until then, DA/PA is pretty much worthless, so if you're at a point where you want to start working with companies, then that's perhaps when a domain is essential.

Luckily, a domain is very cheap. I don't host my actual blog, as stated before, it's hosted on blogger so I pretty much pay for the name only and this is through Godaddy. When it comes to buying a domain, the set up can be a little complicated and time consuming, but the end result is always worth it. My domain costs me just £12.20 per year for two years, which is such a bargain. Of course, the price might vary depending on what you want but really when it's that cheap, there's no excuse not to get at least a basic one. It makes all the difference - when the time comes.

THE DESIGN
A design of a blog also requires upkeep because of course when people log on, you want them to see a clean and stylish interface which is easy to use. Luckily, many blog designs are dirt cheap and you can even buy them pre-made on Etsy. Until this point though, there are still lots of basic but nice free designs available online. Rather than splashing out loads of cash on a sleek design, it's much cheaper to use a free one and teach yourself a bit of HTML to just spruce it up a bit. Besides, the banner/logo is the most important thing in my eyes and even a beyond basic design can look ever so professional with a nice banner. A lot of people pay for a custom one, but I made mine very easily on Canva. Although I'll eventually upgrade to get a designed one, this one suits me perfectly for the meantime. It is definitely not essential to pay money for a sleek blog design when you can achieve the same effect for free just by a little creativity on your end.

THE PHOTOGRAPHY
Admittedly, photography is a tough subject when it comes to considering whether or not to spend money. My blog is just a lifestyle blog so I don't need a fancy camera to focus on particular elements of foodie photos or to take bold outfit photos. If you do intend to create a fashion or food blog where photography can be quite an important element, then putting some money aside for a camera may be something you want to do at some point.

I do want my own professional camera and if I had the money I might buy one, but in no means do I feel it's essential for my blog. Besides, I'd probably just ignore all the complicated settings and instead use it as a normal camera anyway which of course defies the point.

I literally just use my iPhone and I even have a smashed screen right now. Seriously. I don't even have a home button on my phone. IT FELL OFF. There are so many great editing apps that can make a photo seem like it was taken professionally with an expensive camera when really, y'know, you're just sat at home in your jimjams and pointing a phone at an object. Some useful apps include Picfx, Camera+ and LittleMoments (to add cute elements to your photos), and I also find PicMonkey and Canva great to edit once images are on my laptop. I don't make a whole lot of changes, just sharpen an image, brighten it and sometimes mess around with the contrast/blur the background out. Sometimes I edit in instagram too. That's all there is to it, really.

I'll also mention that sometimes a phone is just best to use overall, especially if you use Snapchat/Instagram stories a lot or if you're covering an event on the go. 

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Blogging | Blogging on a budget

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Blogging | Blogging on a budget

PHOTO SET UP
Not everyone can afford to have marble surfaces in their house to use for photo set ups! Setting up for a photo can be so fun and creative, just buy using what you've got around the house. Grab a flower from the back garden, or a cute plaque with some nice wording on. When you've got a day free (and some good lighting!) to take some blog photos, it's a really great way to experiment and make your photos stand out.

Personally, I'm sick to death of seeing the same photo set ups over and over again. 

I use my bed cover as a background a lot of the time because it's so colourful without being overbearing.

One of my favourite tips would be to buy a craft magazine. Craft magazines always come out with cute pull out patterned pages for things like scrapbooking and if you're taking photos of something like a lipstick or whatever, these are absolutely perfect to use for a background. 

Don't be afraid to use photos/photo set ups more than once either. I've used the main photo in this blog post so many times but I don't even care. I don't mean take one nice photo and use it on a weekly basis for months on end, but it helps to take a bunch of versatile photos that can be used multiple times. Try different angles and different objects. Some photos you can use repeatedly too - my general rule is never use them more than once a month.

So there you have it - proof that you don't need to have (or spend) lots of money to have a successful blog. If you're looking at blogging in the long run, you will end up spending money on it eventually and there's nothing wrong with that. But one of the biggest beliefs about blogging is that you need a fancy camera and lots of cash to invest just to be successful = however, you really dont.

What do you think? Do you (or would you) invest money in your blog or do you prefer to use tips like the ones I've mentioned? Let me know.

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