As bloggers, we are extremely fortunate that our business is supported by so many amazing tools and companies that offer services completely gratis. Everything from having your site hosted to creating a newsletter feed and using various forms of social media, like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest can all be utilized without spending a single penny. Pretty amazing, right? With all of the free options, however, there may come a time when you decide to take your blog to the next level and may need a larger range of choices that can only be provided by shelling out some extra bucks.
For me, when I started to manage multiple Twitter and Facebook accounts, as well as bring on interns and freelancers to help, I needed something to organize, schedule, provide stats, and streamline the process, so I started paying $5.99 per month for Hootsuite. Mind you, when I started using it, it was free, so once the company kicked in a monthly fee, I was already hooked and loyal to their platform, deciding that it would be easier to just stick with them, instead of browsing around for similar services that may still be free. I also felt like I was able to take advantage of the system thus far, and if it's a service I truly appreciate and find useful, I wouldn't mind paying a few dollars for it.
Below I've shared some fellow blogger buddies' responses in order to gauge where members of the blogging community send their dollars when it comes to digital tools and devices, and in which regard they decide the good old free version of things is totally sufficient.
Invest in a Good Piece of Equipment
Katy Atlas of Sugarlaws says:
“A good SLR is the best investment you can make in a fashion blog, and if you're successful, it will pay for itself over and over. I also spent the first year of my blog using those $7/month hosting services and having constant outages every time my traffic peaked or I posted a video. Since then, I've been very happy with Media Temple's shared grid service, which is only about $20 a month.“
Get An Extra Set of Hands
Felicia Walker Benson of ThisThatBeauty says:
“I currently use WordPress and like the functionality, and in terms of investing dollars into “blogging-related equipment,” I have invested very little to-date and utilize low, to no-cost services. I feel my resources are better spent on actual administrative and editorial support. For example, I have an Associate Editor who helps to manage TTB writers, wrangle assignments, field emails and inquiries, and helps oversee my editorial calendar. She's worth every penny!”
Consider a Premium Newsletter
Karen Klopp, of What2WearWhere says:
“In picking and choosing what to spend our time and money on, I have been very pleased with Scribe SEO, a WordPress plugin that is very helpful with search engine optimization, and Mailchimp, a paid online service for our our weekly e-newsletters. Of course, the success or failure of any blog is dependent on its content and ability to engage its audience, so a major portion of my time is spent on fresh and lively posts.”
Gauge Your Social Media Needs
Aly Walansky of ALittleAlytude says:
“I use WordPress, and I do all the admin stuff myself. My brother works in IT so if I ever have any drama, I am lucky enough to have him to turn to. I also do TONS of Twitter parties, and I've considered investing in some of the Twitter platforms with tons of bells and whistles – but honestly, my Tweetdeck (FREE), has always been just fine for me – even when I've been managing six different twitter accounts at once!”