Someone once told me “Smart investing is the key to success”.
Incredibly true words! Holds true in every facet of life, be it business, career or choice of partner. After all, you reap what you sow. If you sow nothing, nothing is what you get.
But hey, don’t worry. I know most bloggers start with a small capital. You can’t afford to spend hundreds of dollars on a marketing campaign or a product launch. It’s unrealistic.
Good news is that you don’t need to invest a lot. Small investments, if done in the right place, can yield high rewards.
How about 10 $?
Definitely affordable, isn’t it?
I am sure you have 10 $ to spare. It’s a small investment. Wherever you live, if you have a self hosted blog, I am sure you can afford spend this much.
Now, the BIG QUESTION? Where to invest your 10 $?
You don’t want to spend it aimlessly like a guy in his first day at the stock market.
Worry not. That’s what I am here to share. Here are the 9 smartest investments that you can make as a new blogger.
Build a brand with a custom logo
Personal branding is one of the most important aspects of professional blogging.
If you want to make it big, you must build a brand for yourself. Something your readers can easily associate you with.
Getting a custom logo is the first step in creating a brand image.
But, why does the logo matter so much?
Because, as you know, visual cues are much stronger that textual ones. It is much easier to remember a design than a piece of text. You can easily pull it back from your memory. A well designed logo provides this essential visual cue, which sticks in the mind of your user.
That is why top brands spend big bucks to create unique designs that customers can associate with. Think the Nike logo or Adidas logo.
You can easily get a great looking logo from fiverr. Fiverr is good for these kinds of deals. Otherwise, you can run a logo competition on one of the popular web marketing forums like digitalpoint. People will come up with their entries and you can choose the one you like.
Give a quality feel to your blog with a premium theme
Think of your blog as your home. I’m sure that you try to keep your home well decorated so that it leaves a good impression on your guests. The same idea applies here.
Online visitors are your guests.
To leave a good impression, you need to provide an efficiently running and attractive looking blog. A first time user must “sense” quality in your blog. A premium theme is essential for this quality feel (contributed by looks, color combination, speed, uniqueness and features).
You may be wondering “do I really need a premium theme? There are so many free themes out there. Surely there are a few which are as good as premium ones.”
Even if you manage to dig out an efficiently coded and functional theme, there are two problems.
Firstly, it’s free. That means a large number of bloggers would be already using it. There goes your uniqueness and brand value.
Secondly, free theme developers cannot provide the dedicated support that a premium theme developer can.
But you need dedicated support. With the constant updates of WordPress and plugins, compatibility issues and feature breakdown can happen anytime. Dedicated support is very handy in such situations. In fact, most premium developers would assist you in minor tweaking of the theme to suit your needs.
So it is always better to get a premium theme. Unlike most free themes, premium themes are coded efficiently resulting in better performance. You’ll also get full technical support from the developers.
While you may have to spend a little more than $10 to get a premium theme, it is well worth it. Most developers come up with offers from time to time. Keep your eyes open.
If you want value for money, Mythemeshop is the place for you. They have a large collection of premium themes and provide lifetime updates and support for any theme you buy. They keep coming up with special offers when you can buy a theme for as less as nine dollars.
If you really need a premium plugin, invest in it
This is an interesting one.
WordPress repository has 37,000+ plug-ins. A huge number. Makes you think why one would actually need to get a premium plug-in. Why waste hard earned money?
I understand your feelings. In fact, I’m a big fan of free plug-ins. For most premium plug-ins, there are more than adequate free alternatives available. I would never suggest you to go for premium plug-ins when there are free alternatives available.
But there are exceptional situations, where you would feel the need to spend on a premium plug-in.
Situation 1: You are using a free plug-in and finding it to be very useful. The paid version of the same plug-in provides certain features, which you think would be beneficial for your blog. You find value for money in this deal and decide to go for the upgrade.
Most freemium plug-ins are monetized like this. Developers provide you with a free version. You can use it as long as you want.
If you need further features, you’ll need to buy the premium version. A small fraction of users, who find the plug-in to be really useful, would go on to buy the premium version. This is a win-win situation for both parties.
Situation 2: You need a plug-in for a specific purpose. But there are no adequate free alternatives available. In such a situation, you have to spend to get what you want.
Again, Mythemeshop has a few useful plugins available on the cheap. I snapped up the WP Subscribe Pro plugin under 10 $ (during an offer). It’s not as feature rich as the high end premium plugins but it’s value for money.
The idea is simple. As long as free plugins are doing the job for you, stick to them. But if you find a premium plugin that you think is really useful, don’t be afraid to spend some money. Sometimes, those little added functionalities can do wonders for a blog. For example, WP Subscribe Pro improved my conversion rate to a good extent.
Get a custom feature box
If there is something I have learnt from my first expert roundup, it is that a blogger should never ignore the email list. Start building your email list from day one. No exceptions.
And to build an email list, a feature box is your best companion. Few things come close in terms of conversion rate.
The reason why a feature box does so well is because it occupies the most valuable real estate of blogging. The most sellable spot. How can a user miss the area above the fold? It’s right in front of you!
All you need to do is put in something for “instant gratification”. An e-book, a free report, a mini guide. It’s up to you. IMPORTANT: Whatever is it you are giving away, it MUST be useful to your user. Be helpful to your users and they will turn into loyal readers. Try to trick them and they’ll never come back.
To maximize the conversion rate of a feature box, it is important to fully integrate it with your theme. There are a few plug-ins available, most of them being paid ones (although Plugmatter has a limited functionality free edition).
But even if you can afford a paid plug-in, I would still suggest you to go for a custom coded feature box. Unlike the template based ones, a custom coded feature box will look much more natural with the theme of your blog. Moreover, you will have option to customize it as you deem necessary. Isn’t that a better deal than plugin based ones?
In short, a highly integrated feature box will give you a higher conversion rate. So, if you have some spare money, get someone to custom code the ideal feature box for your blog. If not, use the Plugmatter free version. It’s much better than not having a feature box.
Get a custom landing page
Feature boxes work great, but if you want even more power, then there is something you can try. You can try a custom landing page. Unlike a feature box, a custom landing page would use the whole page to try to convince a user in subscribing to your blog.
There are two ways you can use a custom landing page.
A high-risk strategy is to redirect first-time visitors from your homepage to a custom landing page. This is achieved by using a temporary redirection. In the landing page, encourage your first time visitors to subscribe to your e-mail list. Pitch your benefits, provide an instant gratification and do whatever else you can to persuade your visitors in subscribing to your e-mail list.
This is high-risk because many users would like to read your blog first before subscribing. By asking your users to subscribe first, you may drive away a lot of visitors. But again, the conversion rate can be very high, depending on the quality and content of your landing page.
Another way to use a custom landing page is to funnel targeted visitors. For example, you can convert targeted traffic coming from a guest post. Direct the traffic from the guest post to a custom landing page containing content related to the guest post. By offering related content, you would dramatically increase the opt in rate compared to a link back to the homepage of your blog.
But as I said, a custom landing page is a risky business. It is like a sales page. Professional copywriters spend days trying to perfect their sales page. So, if you want a landing page, get it professionally custom designed. The positive impression provided by a professionally designed custom landing page can have noticeable effect on your conversion rate.
Create a professionally designed infographic
You must have noticed that infographics are the “in” thing these days. Most bloggers are following this trend. The great thing about infographic is that they can convey a lot of information in an easy to digest, pictorial format. It is much easier to go through an infographic compared to a post, and naturally, visitors love it.
But the best thing about infographics is that they are extremely shareable. If you have a quality infographic, you can expect to get a large number of shares.
And thanks to platforms like Pinterest, it is now possible to attract a large number of visitors from your shared infographic.
So what are you waiting for? Choose an interesting and popular topic, and get a fantastic infographic designed by a professional.
If your infographic is really great, you can even offer others the opportunity to use your infographic. Of course, ask for a linkback in return. This is a nice way to gain some relevant back links.
Promote your best posts on facebook
From time to time, you would come up with some extra special posts. These are the ones where you put in much effort to make it the authority on the topic, like a pillar post. I know; it takes a lot of effort to write these epic posts, but they are worth it.
These are the candidates for going viral.
Why not give them the extra push they deserve?
Promoting a post on facebook is one of the best ways to do it.
You can spend as little as you want and the return on investment is great. Just make sure you put the right number of zeros in the amount box (don’t put 100 $ in place of 10 $). Otherwise you may end up spending 10 times your budget in no time.
Facebook provides you with numerous ways to promote your blog. I will tell you the easiest option.
Easiest way to promote your post is to boost it. The best thing about Facebook promotion is that you can specifically target your audience by many parameters, such as age, gender, location, behavior, interests and so on. This allows you to spend your money only on those people whom you expect to provide a return on investment. You can optimize your campaign for engagement (likes and shares), clicks or impressions.
Next time you write a pillar post, end it with a nice incentive to get people to sign up to your email list. Then boost your post on facebook.
If you manage a good conversion rate (better optimize it beforehand), you can quickly rack up your subscriber count at nominal cost per subscriber. With the right combination (of content, incentive, ad, targeting and campaign strategy), this is one of the best ways to quickly increase your email list. Try it.
Buy a book on productivity to be super-you
Time is what we want most, but what we use worst – William Penn
This is something most of us are guilty of. We do not utilize our time efficiently.
Really! The best bloggers do not have 48 hours a day.
If you check the work hours of an average blogger and a top blogger, you will find that both of them work more or less the same amount of time. So, how does someone manage to do double or triple the amount of work you can do. The answer lies in productivity. Some people have mastered the art of being productive. They use time efficiently.
But don’t worry. It is easy to be productive. In fact, I used to be a master of time wasting and procrastination. I could never meet my deadlines during my school and early college days. But thanks to a few enlightening books (which I received as gift), those days of dreading the deadlines are over.
The reason I specifically recommend books on productivity is because blogging is a multitasking job. You have to manage so many things and you can really lose track of your time if you are not careful. Books on productivity can really help you.
If you feel like you are not being efficient enough or you are a master of time wasting (like I used to be), please get a few books on productivity and read them. It can be a life changer! You’ll get so much done and you will also be able to unleash your true potential.
Here are a few books I would recommend, and you can get them on Amazon for less than $ 10. Also take a look in your library.
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity – The classic.
How to be a Productivity Ninja: Worry Less, Achieve More and Love What You Do – A great book that focuses on prioritization and the alternative tactics needed to deal with today’s information flooded world.
Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time- Focuses on the idea that you should complete the most difficult task in the beginning. Great read.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People- Another Classic. Must read for every aspiring entrepreneur.
Productivity : Maximise Your Productivity, Increase Your Productivity and Achieve Success (100 Ways to Improve Your Productivity and Stop Procrastination)- Short but super effective tips.
Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind- Haven’t read this one but have heard good things.
Form the solid foundation with keyword research
Last but not the least; you should never underestimate the importance of proper keyword research. It creates the foundation of you blog. Why?
Because you need organic traffic.
While email list subscribers are undoubtedly the best quality traffic, organic traffic is still and will continue to be a very reliable source of traffic.
It is the key for the continuous growth of your blog. How?
Because new users need to find your blog in the first place before you can convert them into loyal subscribers.
So how does keyword research help in getting organic traffic?
Here is the thing. You may have the greatest writing skills, but without having a targeted strategy, you risk going nowhere. You simply can’t target a broad keyword like “blogging” and expect to get good rankings. The competition is too fierce in such keywords.
This is where keyword research comes in. Simply put, keyword research provides you with a set of keywords which are feasible to rank for. Most of these are the so-called “long tail keywords”. Individually, each long tail keyword may have low search volume but taken together, long tail keywords form a considerable part of total organic search. Having a list would definitely help you in using these keywords in your posts and getting better SERPs the smarter way.
Moreover, keyword research reveals the audience preferences and allows you to come up with new post ideas. You will also get an idea about how much money advertisers are putting in particular keywords and how profitable they can be.
Now there are two options. First option is to do it yourself. You can try Google keyword planner but it’s not very useful to get a list of profitable long tail keywords. There are other tools like Long Tail Pro, which work great, but they cost a lot (monthly fees).
The smarter option is to get someone with a proper tool to do it for you. Again, Fiverr is your friend. There are plenty of people offering Long Tail Pro and similar services. You just need to provide some seed keywords (eg. Blogging, winter fashion, low carb diet) and they will do the rest. Make sure you read the gig details (detailed information on what is offered in the service on Fiverr) and order from a reputed seller. I have seen a few reputed sellers offering Long Tail Pro generated 8000 keywords list. Do a bit of searching and you will find the right offer for you.
So, what do think of these ideas???
Actually, don’t think so much. Give it a try and let us know how it goes. I am quite sure you will get value for money. Good luck.
As always, I believe in Commenter’s Power. I am sure you have more ideas cooking in your brain. Feel free to share with me and your fellow users. And, obviously, share it if you like it. I am betting on you.