Guest Post by Najah Schwartz
When I was thinking about starting a blog, I had so many ideas just waiting to come to life. I spent two whole weeks researching Pinterest “How To Start Up Your Blog” posts left and right. I was especially interested in what it took to create a successful (and cute!) blog that wouldn’t I be embarrassed about. Some of my favorite blogs had beautiful layouts and eye-catching graphics that I wanted on my own site. Because nothing in this world is free anymore, I dug deeper to see how much I would need to invest. After tallying up the total I was discouraged that the price tag was nowhere near what I had in my bank account. Let me be honest, I’m broke!
As a newly married gal and college student, I’m ALWAYS looking for a way to save money. I didn’t want finances holding me back from becoming a blogger. I gave myself a budget of $100 to use to create my blog. Once I released my site, I was floored by how many bloggers came to me and expressed how professional my site looked, I can only imagine their faces when I confessed I did it myself. If you want to start your blog and don’t have a lot of money to do so I have some super easy tips that will help you out. I present to you, "The Broke Girl’s Guide To Blogging".
Creating Your Platform:
So how did I do it? First I needed to find a workable platform to host my blog on. I looked through all of the options and it ultimately came down to WordPress or Blogger. I have dabbled in coding and website development back in the day but the thought of putting together a custom layout on wordpress with plugins, and such was low key stressing me out. I wanted a no-fuss blog platform that was easy to use, and had the capabilities of customization, and Blogger provided that. No hate on WordPress, it just wasn’t for me. I took myself over to etsy and purchased a user friendly custom Blogger theme for five buckaroos and installed that bad boy myself. Took me about three hours to get pages named, social media linked, and my first blog post up! For a while I stuck with the free web hosting while I was building my blog up with posts and putting my name out online. For those of you out there who think that you can’t have a blog with a free domain name tagged to it, it’s ok! I personally feel that it’s more about the content; if you have something good to read that I want to know about, I wouldn’t give a hoot what your name is! Focus on quality content, and a personal domain name will come in time. I waited about two months before I actually switched from the free domain Blogger provided to my fancy new one. Since I use Blogger, owned by Google, I naturally purchased my domain from them for $12 - it covers 12 months of use, so it's basically like paying $1 a month for a year. I haven’t had any issues with it, and it synced with my site perfectly! To add it all up I set up my blog for (so far) $17, cha-ching!
Make It BeYOUtiful:
I know what you’re thinking. “Ok Najah, I set up my site and that’s cool… but how do I make it look cute?!” Patience, young butterfly. I got you. The problem I faced, along with a lot of other bloggers, is the lack of funds for a professional camera and editing software to create images that would look beautiful on my blog. I did a little bit of internet sleuthing and discovered two sites that I absolutely cannot live without now. I get my pictures for my blogs from stocksnap.io that has tons of high-quality images that are guilt free to use. Professional photographers give photos to this site for bloggers and website owners to use royalty free! This is a great alternative for those of us who don't have fancy DSLR cameras yet. For those photos, I use another free program for blog design called Canva, to create blog topic graphics to post on social media. You've probably heard of it but it is literally my holy grail for creating cute blog graphics for FREE. Of course, you'll need an eye for design but you seriously can't beat the price. There are some templates provided that will jump-start you for any graphic you are looking to design. The best thing is you can upload your own photos to put your own style in creating everything from Twitter headers to a book cover. Still keeping track? So far my total for blog set up is still $17since these two programs were no purchase necessary.
Sharing Yo' Stuff:
Let's talk about marketing. Now this one was a bit easier to set in place because it's all one big DIY project. You could pay a pro but I found that most of the well-known bloggers create their own marketing strategies, so we can do it too! I love Twitter and found that involving myself in Twitter chats and connecting myself with blog promotion accounts has boosted my readers, credibility, and online presence. I do work a part time job in addition to blogging so I unfortunately can't be on my favorite social media sites 24/7 but I did however invest in an awesome platform called Buffer that can automate your blog posts for you for only $10 a month. I schedule my post a day in advance full of links to my blog posts and subscriber list, and they are ready to go! I don't ever have to worry about still staying engaged on my platforms because content is always going out for me, I love it! I recently took part of the #snapstylesell challenge that Abagail and Emylee put together to give my Insta a facelift, it was looking real raggedy y'all! I live in an apartment with some not so cute scenery around me but it's amazing what a little light and some props from the craft store get you! I spent a whopping $60 on props (whoops!) to use on my instagram photos. I probably would have spent less than that but everything looked so darn cute! I got everything from a mason jar (for those adorable iced coffee photos) to a white faux fur rug to do the perfect flat lay photography on. I promote my blogs with instagram photos taken with my phone. I'm happy to say that my feed is looking better with a cute theme and better looking photos with just a few easy steps!
Building An Empire:
The most recent project I have been working on has been setting up my subscriber list to get my tribe in formation. At first I was only using the email subscription service that came with my blogger account, but I didn't like that one very much. I switched over to MailChimp not too long ago (using their free account of course) and paired it with a service called Privy to help automate, and run my emails. I currently have two campaigns set up that connect viewers of my blog into subscribers of my weekly emails, and cost me free ninety-nine for both of those programs. If you are looking for resources or a coach to help guide you in the right direction but can't afford the hefty price tag there are literally OODLES of blogging coaches out there who hold regular webinars, chats, Q&As, and giveaways to their books and services all the time. Of course I love the ladies of the Think Creative Collective as well as Melyssa Griffin, Maya Elious, Mattie of Mattieologie, and Kaya Hollatz just to name a few. I have signed up for their free resources dozens of times to gain insight on how to build my brand for the better. Now don’t get me wrong, I believe quality is best! If you have the means to go all out for your blog, do it! But if you're like me who didn't want the struggle of finances to limit your dreams of becoming a blogger than this post is most def for you, girlfriend. You can blog on a dime, I did it myself for a grand total of $87. You have all the tools you need, so stop the shenanigans, and go create something beautiful.
About the Author
I’m Najah, a blogger passionate about her life, and being young and married. My heart is in the home where I blog daily about home organization, personal inspirations, and all things marriage. I started writing, and published my first novel “On The REAL” at the age of 16, and was an avid student of academic English, back in the day. After getting hitched on March 25, 2015, I felt inspired to share my story with other women who are walking a similar path of wanting to create a home worth living in, and combined my two loves into one. I now live my dream of sharing tips and resources with the everyday young women, slingin’ lady-like grace all over the internet. I’m 21 years old and I live in sunny Las Vegas, NV with my amazing husband Brandon. I like my lattes full, and my laptop charged-living each day with a grateful heart.