To be a successful blogger, you have to invest money in the seven core essentials that lead to a blockbuster blog. Unfortunately, many newbie bloggers are either afraid to spend the money or waste their money on things they do not need.
Before I get into the seven core costs, I would like to tell you a story.
When I was 17 years old I decided I wanted to start my first business selling water filters door-to-door. There was one catch. I had to come up with $1000 to buy my distributorship and the first ten water filters. I saved up my money from working a summer job, and I was able to afford the $1000 startup cost a few months later. I ended up selling all ten water filters, but it took a lot of effort. After six months, I opted against taking on any more inventory, and I went back to focusing on high school.
I tell you that story to give you a little perspective between the finances and the efforts that go into starting other income opportunities. Out of the 20+ businesses that I have started in my lifetime, there is nothing that comes close to the small financial investment that blogging requires.
Let’s take a look at the basic and advanced level costs associated with running a blog. This is assuming you already have a computer.
Basic Blogging Costs
Domain name – $10/ year
Hosting – $100/year
Premium Theme – $50 one-time
Basic blogger costs amount to $18 a month.
Advanced Blogging Costs
Online Courses and Education – $800/year
Email Marketing – $250/ year
Canva for Featured Images and Infographics – $300/year
SEMRush Keyword Research Tool – $1200/year
Advanced blogger costs amount to $250/month.
If you feel that your finances are too limited to run a blog, then you should get some perspective. If a 17 year old boy in 1990 can come up with $1000 to sell water filters door-to-door, then a newbie blogger should be able to find $18 a month to cover the basic costs.
Common Mistakes Bloggers Make with the Core Costs
There are five common misappropriation of finances that I see played out with bloggers time and time again. These mistakes can torpedo any chance of ever achieving financial success as a blogger.
#1 They do not want to spend money even for the basics
I am sure you probably have never seen the movie I’m Gonna Get You Sucka, but I am still going to share a scene that illustrates this better than anything else I could say.
Here’s the scene… A skinny little comedian that no one had heard about at the time, by the name of Chris Rock, walks into a mom and pop restaurant. He walks up to the man that owns the restaurant and asks, “how much for an order of ribs.” The owner says “$2.50,” and Chris Rock says, “that comes to what… 50 cents a rib.” Chris tells them he will take one. The owner tells the cook to make an order of ribs, and Chris Rock says, “I just wants one rib.” The owner and cook look at each other, shaking their heads, as they put in an order for one rib.
Then Chris asks, “how much for a Coke.” The owner says, “it’s 1 dollar.” Then Chris asks for him to help him out by letting him just get a sip of a coke for 15 cents. The frustrated owner tells him his cups cost 15 cents alone. Then Chris says, “how about you just pour it my hand for a dime.” At that point, the owner reaches over to grab him and tells him to pay him for the one rib and get out of his store. Then Chris reaches into his pocket, pulls out a large roll of bills and says, “do you have change for a hundred.”
Here is the video clip of the scene.
This is how I feel when a newbie blogger contacts me on Facebook to ask me for the best free theme to use on their blog. I always come back with the same answer by letting them know that they should make the one time $50 investment in a premium theme. More than half of the time, they come back and tell me they do not have the money to buy a premium theme. The irony is that their Facebook feeds are loaded with images of eating out at restaurants and drinking Starbucks coffee.
I understand financial problems better than anyone. I was nearly $500,000 in debt when I was finally healthy enough to start a business. Even at that low financial point, I borrowed the money I needed to buy the tools, that would give me the best chance to succeed. That was two years before I discovered blogging. It was a brick and mortar business, and the startup costs were well north of my current blogging costs.
Ideas for Covering the Basic Blogging Costs
If you feel that you do not have enough money to cover the basics, then here are a few ideas for coming up with the monthly $18 to run a blog.
Eat ramen instead of fast food five times a month.
This is how I was able to get by during my first year in college.
Sell furniture and clothes on craigslist.
This is an easy way to finance the first two years of basic costs.
Sell jewelry and collectibles on eBay.
Jewelry and collectibles are real easy to ship, and people on eBay are going to pay a premium for both of these.
Just stop buying Starbucks altogether.
The average Starbucks customer spends $24 a month, and the loyal Starbucks customer spends $75 per month. Just stop it. If it is not Starbucks, then it might be something else. We all have some type of guilty pleasure. Make a commitment to take a break from it for an entire year. By then, your blog will be paying for itself.
— Brandon Gaille (@BrandonGaille) September 27, 2017
At the end of the day, if there is a will, then there is a way.
#2 They spend money on things they should do themselves
The flip side of not spending money to cover the basics, are the bloggers that spend money on anything and everything.
Here are a few common examples that I see…
Hiring a website designer to set up their blog and theme.
Let me tell you the story of one of my clients. They came to me for help in building their organic Google traffic through their blog. During the first consultation, they told me they had spent $3,000 on the design of their website and blog. The site looked like it was designed ten years ago. It was dull, and it was not even responsive. On top of that, the design company used their own code, which made it nearly impossible for any changes to be made.
Every time I hear someone tell me they spent $1000 on a WordPress site design, I just cringe. Most major hosting companies allow you to set up your WordPress site with just one click. From there, all you need to do is upload your theme and spend a couple of hours customizing it. The average premium theme is going to look like a $10,000 site, and it will be fully responsive to every type of device.
If you do not learn how to use a theme in WordPress, then you are going to severely limit your chances of having success.
Paying for people to write your posts from the beginning.
These wanna be bloggers just want to get the money without having to do the work. These stories all end the same way. They spend thousands of dollars outsourcing their writing to Fiverr, and they wonder why they are not making any money two years later.
If you are starting the Huffington Post with millions of dollars in seed capital, then go ahead and invest in some top notched writers. The reality is that you are going to need to be comfortable with writing 10,000 to 25,000 words a month. After twelve months of writing, you will become an expert in your niche. This is going to enable you to get speaking gigs, start your own podcast, and to create an online course that brings in some serious money.
— Brandon Gaille (@BrandonGaille) September 27, 2017
Buying backlinks and low end SEO.
I will tell you the same thing that I tell everyone else that comes to me for advice about hiring someone for SEO and backlinks. Unless you are paying over $1500 a month for content and link building, then you are at the very least wasting money. At the worst, your site is going to be penalized by Google.
It amazes me that there are still 1000s of people, every month, that go to Fiverr and spend $5 to $20 on services that promise 400 backlinks and a top Google ranking. Please do not spend your money on this junk.
The only time you should even spend money on a reputable SEO company is when you are bringing in over $25,000 in monthly profit. The best way to do SEO is to take a course from someone who has a proven track record. My online course reveals every tactic that I use for my sites and for my clients. When you are finished with my course, you could start your own SEO firm and charge clients between $25,000 and $100,000 a year.
The chart from Website Magazine shows the average monthly retainer for SEO services is close to $5000.
#3 They cut corners on the core tools
The most common newbie blogger corner cutter is..WordPress.com Instead of WordPress.org.
Most of the time these bloggers are not even buying their own domain name. Unless your name is Seth Godin, you can not succeed at blogging without your own domain name.
The most common advanced blogger corner cutter is.. Using the free Adwords tool instead of SEMRush for keyword research.
The free Adwords tool is designed to help advertisers find keywords to use in their advertising campaigns. The world of paid Google search is completely different from organic Google search. This is like using a spoon to dig a ditch.
There are occasions where some of my new students of my course just can not afford paying $99 a month for SEMRush. In the keyword module of my course, I show them how to complete two years worth of keyword research in less than a month. This allows them to use my special link, that gives them a month free of SEMRush, so that they can use the right tool to plan out years of blog posts. Many of these students see the value of the tool during the free month and go on to pay for it on a month-to-month basis.
#4 They go out and buy an expensive camera or video camera
This is something that I see way too often with newbie food and travel bloggers. They figure they need a serious camera to be able to take exceptional photos for their blog and videos for YouTube.
If you have a smart phone, then you already have an expensive camera for taking pics and videos. The phones of today have better quality images and videos then most of the high end cameras from just two years ago.
If you are going to spend money on making better pictures and videos, then invest in a couple of low cost accessories to improve stabilization and audio quality.
For audio quality, I suggest a nice lavalier lapel microphone package. PowerDeWise sells a great package on Amazon for $22. You will get a professional grade lavalier microphone with an omnidirectional mic, which is perfect for recording YouTube videos or running a Facebook live session. It comes with a 79 inch extra cable. This will allow you to film yourself sitting down or teaching on a whiteboard.
For picture stabilization, I recommend a simple aluminum smartphone tripod. Amazon has plenty to choose from, which come with a universal smartphone mount. I bought one sold by Acuvar for $14. As long as you are not outside in a windy environment, this simple tripod will do the trick.
#5 They fail to invest in education
Once you have your basics covered, the next investment you need to make is in your blogging education. Most bloggers have a degree or spent a year or two in college. Those past college costs range from a few thousand to ten thousand dollars and more. This is usually a blind general education, which many of us do not use.
I personally spent $20,000 on my liberal arts education. It was not until the last year in college that I read an article listing out the top 10 jobs held by liberal arts majors in 1997. The number one job was a shoe store manager. At that point, I realized that I was on a straight path to becoming Al Bundy from Married with Children. That article was the final nudge I needed to start looking into a plan b as an entrepreneur.
The best way to be successful at anything is to find someone who is a success and copy what they do. Twenty five years ago, the only choice I had was to read a book or pay for an in person seminar at a major city. In my twenties, I read and listened to over 1000 non-fiction books. I also went to see Tony Robbins and walked across fire.
My Proven 5 Step Process to Becoming an Expert at Anything
In my forties, I found a simple path to becoming an expert and achieving raving success in a matter of two weeks.
Here is my process…
Step 1: Identify experts, with an online course, that have achieved greatness in the area that I want to master
You always want to make sure that you are finding experts that have a proven track record. The last thing you want is to buy a blogging course from someone that gets less traffic than you do.
I always show analytics screenshots from my blog.
Step 2: Eliminate the experts that do not offer a Facebook group with their course
The Facebook group is going to allow you direct access to the expert and to everyone else that bought the course. Anytime you have a question or perplexing problem, you are going to be able to get an answer and help in less than 24 hours.
Step 3: Eliminate experts that do not have a podcast
Stay away from buying courses from experts that do not have a podcast. If they do not have a podcast, then you will be buying their course blind.
Step 4: Listen to several episodes of each podcast to see what kind of value they deliver and choose your favorite
I buy a couple of courses every year for my own ongoing education. Before I buy a course, I always listen to several episodes of their podcast. This allows me to hear the teaching style of the expert. It also helps me identify if the expert delivers actionable advice or fills the episode with meaningless fluff. My experience is that a fluffy podcast will usually have a fluffy course.
Step 5: Buy the course and binge watch the entire course within 7 to 21 days
Let’s me take you down memory lane one last time…
When I was in college I quickly found out that the short summer session courses were easier to make an A in. During the fall and spring semesters, I would go to a Psychology class once every Tuesday and Thursday for an hour. In the summer session Psychology classes, I would go to each class for an hour Monday through Friday. Because I was immersed daily lectures, I did not even have to study for the weekly tests. This learning technique is called immersion.
When I buy an online course I immerse myself in the material. I watch 2 hours of video modules each day, and I spend another two hours applying what I learned. By the end of two weeks, I am the new expert in that area.
Step 6: Ask questions in the Facebook group
When I wanted to start a podcast, I went through all of these steps and signed up to the Podcasters Paradise course. After I binge watched the course, I had a template for podcasting success. Anytime I ran into a speed bump, I went into the course’s private Facebook group to ask for help. I still find myself, almost two years since I bought the course, going into the Facebook group to get some pretty incredible advice.
And the same goes for my own Facebook group for my online course.
The bottom line is this…
Do not limit yourself to Google searches for your blogging education. This can hold you back from having success for many years to come. With that being said, now is the perfect time to sign up for my course. I just finished an entirely new version of the course. The new version has all of my newest strategies and tactics, which has doubled the amount of content in the course.
Although millions of people visit Brandon's blog each month, his path to success was not easy. Go here to read his incredible story, "From Disabled and $500k in Debt to a Pro Blogger with 5 Million Monthly Visitors." If you want to send Brandon a quick message, then visit his contact page here.