Try researching how to get started blogging, and you will almost immediately get pulled down a path of people who want to sell you a whole lot of expensive blogging tools and resources. You need to be savvy and approach blogging with caution, but you really don't have to spend a mountain of money to start a blog that has a chance of becoming profitable.
Somehow I always end up getting signed up for a bunch of newsletters from people who blog about blogging. I innocently buy one interesting looking online business resource, and all of a sudden I'm getting emails from a bunch of bloggers I don't even recognize.
This week, one of those random people who wants to tell me how to make money online sent me an email with her "top recommended blogging tools" and resources.
Let me tell you, I was not born yesterday, and neither was my online business. I started to create my business online in late 2006 - before blogs and bloggers were really a thing. Etsy barely existed back then.
I've been around the block enough times to recognize a blogger scam when I see it.
An article promising to share someone's "top recommended blogging tools" often translates loosely into a bunch of expensive stuff the blogger wants you to buy, so she can make a ton of money in affiliate income. This article I received in my email inbox from a random blogger who I didn't even recognize was full of deception.
I earn a commission for purchases made through links on this page.
To learn more, please see my disclosure.
Here's what the mystery blogger, who somehow got my email address, insists you need to buy to get started blogging:
That's not even her entire list. I've left some off because it was all just too overwhelming.
Of course, few things on her list were free or even inexpensive even though there are free or inexpensive ways to access some of those blogging tools and resources. And a lot of items were not one-time expenses. They are monthly subscriptions you'd need to pay for indefinitely as long as you were trying to build your blog.
I started to add up the cost of the items on her list. When I got to over $3000, I gave up because, honestly, if I had thought I needed to spend more than $3000 when I started my own online business, I would have given up before I even got started.
Certainly, you need to be willing to make an investment of time and money to start any business. But one thing that's wonderful about starting a blog is, if you use the right tools, you can do it effectively with a relatively small amount of money.
I wouldn't recommend starting a blog with no money if your goal is to grow a profitable online business. My understanding is that blogging tools that start out free, end up expensive if you're successful in getting traffic to your blog, or they fail to provide what you need to actually build a blog that has enough readers to make your business profitable.
I don't think that blogger who emailed me her list of top blogging tools and resources was terribly interested in teaching her readers how to get started blogging.
I doubt she cares whether her readers ever build a profitable blog. She certainly didn't warn them that you'd have to get a mountain of traffic to your blog to make enough to be profitable if you let yourself be sucked into the kind of big, recurring expenses she recommended.
I believe her first and only priority in writing that article was to make a big chunk of money in affiliate income for herself when her unsuspecting readers bought her high-priced recommendations.
I'm so grateful I didn't get tricked by that kind of self-serving advice when I was researching how to start an online business myself. I wish I could say I'm brilliant, and savvy, and I would have known better if I had run across terrible advice 10+ years ago, but I don't think I am.
I was just lucky.
I found an effective, affordable online business building resource that worked and delivered on their promises.
How much did I spend on this site the year I launched it?
That's it. That's all I spent for quite a while, and I had everything I needed to build a profitable business.
For $330, I had (and still have) all of the real, essential blogging tools and resources I needed:
They were effective. They were, and they continue to be, instrumental in helping me build the business I have today, and they didn't break the bank.
I do spend more than $330 per year on this site now, but actually, not a whole lot more. Every year at tax time, my accountant grills me and insists I must have more business expenses to write off, but I don't.
I've only increased my spending as my income increased, allowing me to afford some extra, nice to have tools that help grow my business.
I did eventually buy more tools for my online business such as:
But I didn't buy any of those things immediately, and I didn't need to buy them until my online business was profitable.
So, how do you really get started blogging?
The company I use to build my online business is SiteSell (their set of online business building tools is called Solo Build It). I've been with them since 2006, and working with them is the best business decision I've ever made.
Without them, my career as a blogger would have been quite sad and short-lived.
SiteSell offers the most effective and affordable way I know to grow an online business.
There was no need for me to go on a spending spree all around the internet buying site design, and technical support, and domain name registration, and keyword research tools, and expensive blogging courses. It was all right there for me, wrapped up into a single, complete, integrated, and effective package, they call Solo Build It.
I'm not sharing this resource to make a mountain of money from my own affiliate links. Honestly, most of my readers seem to be more interested in selling on Etsy than building their own sites (and that's okay, too!).
I'm sharing it because I have a pretty nice life with a lot of freedom to work when I choose and to drop my work at a moment's notice when my family needs me.
I do believe I have some readers who might enjoy using their crafting skills to build that kind of life and business for themselves.
I've watched with excitement as the online opportunities for craft artists have grown over the years, and I do think using SiteSell's tools to build your own online creative business would be a smart option for some crafters.
Today, craft artists don't have to be limited to selling physical products at craft shows or on Etsy. You can sell your own craft patterns or tutorials, you can teach your craft through online courses that you sell, you can write books about your craft, you can even give away your creative projects and ideas for free online and make money through advertising on your site.
If you prefer a more traditional approach to building a craft business, that's fantastic, too. One thing my background in career advising has taught my is that there are as many different ways to be happy in your career or business as there are people in this world. There is not an all-encompassing right or wrong - just right or wrong for you.
If you think building a different kind of creative business online as a craft blogger is right for you, then I would definitely recommend the tools and resources provided by SiteSell.
Since I made a big deal about other bloggers writing posts full of affiliate links to high-priced products, I thought I should put my money where my mouth is here.
The previous links to SiteSell on this page are affiliate links. However, I would recommend this company whether they had an affiliate program or not. This link is not an affiliate link. If you click through to SiteSell using that link, I do not get a commission.
Either way, if SiteSell helps you build an online business you love as much as I love my online business, then I get the pleasure of knowing I helped someone find the right tools and direction to grow their own business as well as the satisfaction of supporting a wonderful company like SiteSell.