Have you recently started a blog? Noticed it is an expensive endeavor?
Here’s the part of blogging that both calms your nerves and creeps you out at the same time: the money. You see blogs everywhere getting free samples, free trips to check out companies, free products and they have sponsored posts left and right. If they can do it, you can too, right? It seems so easy!
Here’s the dark side of blogging- we make things look easy. It’s kind of a disservice to our readers, because we are painting beautiful pictures of our lives and crafts (c’mon, would you want to read about me if I told you I am perpetually a hot mess, worrying about what to make next or how to organize my fraternity-worthy house?) but what we don’t show you is what we do to get these gigs- what we did to build readers, how we created our brands and how it actually cost us money to do it.
First off: you can MAKE money blogging. You can also SPEND a lot of money blogging.
When you first start out, especially as a craft blogger, you will have a high overhead, and very little payoff, if any.
Paint, glue, paper, fabric, sewing machine- not to mention blog hosting, theme fees, graphic design… they cost real money. And coming up with posts all the time usually equals spending money all the time. It is very easy to get carried away and swept up trying to keep up with other bloggers. Throw in the opportunity to go to blog conferences where you can meet companies and “big” bloggers, trying to get sponsor attention, etc. and you can easily spend a ton of money on something you just wanted to do as a hobby, or turn into a business.
Since I haven’t yet been approached by my utility companies (shoutout to Xcel, Centurylink DirectTv and the town of Johnstown, CO- if you want to trade free power/internet/TV/water/trash service for articles you feel free to write me anytime, mmmkay?), I have to stick within a very, very small budget.
I am blogging to help pay for our expenses- not create more. But sometimes that is easy to forget. So today we’re going to look at how you can keep your blog boat from sinking in debt- and make the money you do receive go further.
Use what you’ve got.
You’ve seen a lot of big bloggers with the newest craft tools- die cutters, designer fabrics, fancy cameras and designer jewelry/accessories to match. First off, know they bought a good deal of that themselves. Secondly, what was given to them was in return for a LOT of work on their part. Companies know you are looking at big, popular blogs and see their shiny new tool in action. They know you’ll want it if you see it more often- so they get it out there. A lot of craft companies dont have huge budgets like other brands, so they rely on the relatively inexpensive marketing they can get through blogs.When a “big” blogger gets product, they often put far more work into promoting it than it is actually worth in retail value.
Don’t spend all of your money stocking up on fancy equipment. Sure, I have a cricut and a cricut cake- and I’m dying for a silhouette. I have lots of unused fancy fabrics, scrapbook paper and paint. But to be perfectly honest, the blog posts I have done that bring me the most traffic are from crafts made by simple items- fat quarters, glasses I turned into vases, etc. People will flock to your blog for YOU- not your craft supplies- so don’t get caught up in the game to get more. Just be you- and be sure to call out/tag companies when you do use their products. It can start great relationships!
You might also have noticed their snazzy blogs on WordPress. While I help design blogs, I often advise blogging newbies to NOT pay for web hosting when starting out. Start a free blog on Blogger. Post often and grow your audience. Get some adsense ads. Once you make more than $10 a month in ad money, you can look at setting up web hosting (that will cover your hosting expense). The truth is, you can be a “big” blogger on the Blogger platform. You can even have your own domain name for under $10 a year. DON’T waste your money on a site until you know you are in blogging for the long haul, and you will make it back quickly from ads.
I do also have a fancy camera. Now this is one that is a good investment- but also because I have two kids, and love photography. You don’t have to have an expensive camera to take good blog pictures. I have some blog posts on photography tips for any type of camera- it can be done. But if you’re really into photography, you might want to look into a DSLR. Or you can enter to win one here!
Use your coupons!
Most craft companies, fabric stores and Etsy shops offer coupons from time to time. Do your research and time your purchases to big discount times. Like them on facebook, sign up for newsletters- do what you can to connect with your favorite brands.
I shop a lot at Jo-Ann Fabrics, and I downloaded their coupon app. I also signed up for email coupons and mail coupons. I will wait until big holiday weekends (4th of July, Memorial Day, Black Friday) and do big “craft hauls” on those sale days. What isn’t on sale I can buy with 40-50% off coupons, and they also usually offer a 10-30% your entire purchase on those weekends as well. I have literally saved $180 and spent $80 on such weekends. They really, really pay off!
Find great, affordable software.
I have the full Adobe suite- completely out of luck. My husband has it for his consulting company. It is awesome- but completely, 100% not affordable for your average blogger. If you are a teacher or student, you can get an awesome deal on the entire creative suite- more than 1/2 off- but for everyone else, you can find high quality, low cost or free photo editing, text and design options.
Every graphic I used on this page was made on my iPhone. I used backgrounds from cuptakes frames and cuptakes, and overlayed text with phonto. You can find them both in the app store here:
You can also use the photo editing tools in G+, picmonkey, get free fonts on dafonts or font squirrel, or even look around to find another blogger who is willing to help you with designs for a low price. There are many stay at home moms turned designers to turn to!
Now- you might also be tempted when offers for free supplies come across. We’ll talk about that next week.
What are your favorite crafty money saving techniques?
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