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Are your blog expenses creeping out of control? Learn the strategies I used to analyze and cut them.
I started off as a super frugal blogger. Since I didn’t have a ton of extra cash, I bootstrapped my freelance writing and VA business. My blog started as an extension to that, and was done on the cheap (low quality hosting, free theme, etc.)
But, then I started to grow.
And that growth brought in some income. Which meant I had a little bit more money to spend.
I knew the importance of investing back in my business, so I started trading some of my money for time.
I started paying for blog images and monthly website maintenance. These were both things I could do. But, they were things that took me a while. So I happily paid for the services.
I joined a paid mastermind group. When I realized that one wasn’t working for me, I left it and joined another, which has been an awesome fit.
The expenses just kept coming, slowly creeping in.
- A subscription to Microsoft Office
- Video conferencing subscription
- Dropbox Pro to save files I was working with clients on
- Books about making money blogging or marketing
- Upgraded theme and website design
- A new logo
- Branding services
- Premium plugins and more plugins
I was shocked at how easy it was for me to spend money on my blog and business.
There are SO MANY people selling stuff that I had to have. I told myself that if I was going to make it as a blogger, I HAD to invest in this stuff…
And my normally frugal nature seemed to take a hiatus. My expenses crept up and up, averaging $600 a month for 2018.
This may not seem like a huge number for you, but it was for me. It was a bigger portion of my income than I wanted to be spending, especially since I wasn’t picking expenses that had a good ROI. My investments weren’t making me more money!
The final straw for me was when I foolishly signed up for an expensive list-growing course on payments. I had the money to pay it in full, but I knew it’d cut my business savings too low. So instead of deciding the course was too expensive for me at the time, I signed up for the monthly payment plan without doing the math first.
By the time I made all eleven of those stupid payments, I’d spent double what the sticker price on the course was…
That shock snapped me out of my spending spree. I realized I was pouring money out of my account but not seeing as much come back in.
It Was Time to Analyze My Blogging Expenses
So I sat down and did what I should have done a long time ago. I analyzed my expenses and decided what was actually needed.
I made a budget for my business.
I reviewed my income and expense tracker for the previous year, and started looking at each expense.
For each one, I asked myself:
- Am I still using this?
- Could I find a different way to do it?
- Is there a cheaper option?
- Why did I purchase this in the first place?
- How is this helping my bottom line?
And I realized three important things.
- Just because I couldn’t afford a particular service any more right now didn’t mean I couldn’t ever have it again.
- I needed to drop the email list of some of my favorite bloggers because apparently I didn’t have the will power to read their emails and not purchase a book/course/whatever. They were too good at copywriting and I felt like I had to have these things or I’d be missing out and never grow.
- Rather than taking someone’s word for something, I needed to do a better job at researching and looking at my options.
Making Changes to Cut Blog Expenses
A secondary goal to this was to eliminate impulse purchases.
If there was a product available, I needed to take time and really think about it. Would this actually help me learn skills and tricks to improve my income?
Or was it just a bunch of fancy copywriting designed to plague my emotions and make me feel like it was necessary?
Could I find any reviews that shed light on negative, as well as positive attributes? Nothing is perfect after all, so there are flaws in everything!
I made it a personal rule to sleep on decisions for at least a night.
Yes, this means I missed out on some “flash” sales or other extremely limited deals. And I’m okay with that.
To help me meet my goal of cutting expenses, I started eliminating services I rarely used, or wasn’t using to the fullest potential.
There are some that I’d like to have again in the future (not having to worry about updating my own websites or plugins was amazing, and someday I’ll pay for that again!)
But, many of my expenses I was able to find a cheaper (or free) alternative.
So just because I’m cutting my expenses doesn’t mean I’m eliminating them completely. I’m just looking at what makes the most sense long term.
Here’s a peek at some of the changes I made:
Changed My Hosting
I originally started with BlueHost, because that’s what some blogger somewhere said I should do.
And it worked for me, for a while.
But once my traffic started growing, my website began failing more and more often. I’d get errors trying to log in to add new content.
So after consulting with someone I trust, I made the switch to FastComet and got a prorated refund from BlueHost. And since I purchased during a year end special, I actually paid less for a year of hosting with FastComet than I did with BlueHost.
And when I renew, the price will STILL BE LESS.
As another perk, FastComet does offer a monthly payment plan if you can’t yet afford to shell out the money for an entire year at once. There is a set-up fee if you go this route, but if you’re really strapped for cash it might be worth it!
Other benefits of hosting with FastComet:
- My website loads faster
- I haven’t had any downtime or gotten any errors
- The service is amazing! My courses site went down and they had it back up and running within minutes of me submitting a ticket. 😀
- Free domain forever!
Another way I cut expenses for my blog was to switch to annual subscriptions as often as possible. Many companies (like Pixistock, which I use for images) offer a discounted price for paying for a year at a time. This can save you a month or two (or even more) of expenses.
So as I saved the money to make the initial payment, I started switching over. I’m still working on this one, because it does take more money in advance.
The Importance of Having a Written Budget for Your Blog
I’ve now had my online business for nearly three years. During this time, I really learned the importance of having a written budget for your blog. Otherwise, it’s too easy for expenses to creep out of control and for you to stand back and wonder where it all went.
Just like you make a plan for your time, make a plan for your money.
And I don’t know why it took me this long to figure this out – we operate our household on a budget. For some reason, I just never thought to do the same with my business.
Whenever you earn money from your business, make sure you are saving for taxes, and for expenses. Do these two things BEFORE you transfer money to your personal bank account.
That way you have what you need, when you need it.
Key Takeaways to Cut Blog Expenses
Using the strategies in this post, I was able to cut my average monthly expenses to $300.41/month. One month it was just under $75 (I had no annual payments come out that month…).
So if you’re like I was, and struggling with out of control expenses for your online business, try the following:
- Make sure you have it ALL written down – look for receipts you might have missed in PayPal, your bank account, etc.
- Analyze every expense
- Decide what you can get rid of
- Do the math and decide what you can afford to continue paying for
- Decide what you want to keep (for me that included ConvertKit, SendOwl, my Google business email account, and my Pixistock membership)
- Switch to lower cost options if possible
- NEVER, EVER, EVER buy a course on credit when you can’t afford it in the first place. Just say no. Or not yet.
- Delete emails from people who are doing hard sells that you have a hard time ignoring. You may miss out on a bit, but your bank account will thank you!
Use Freelance Writing to Cover Initial Blog Expenses
When I first started focusing on my blog, it wasn’t making me any money. I needed a way to see some income so I could invest.
So, I decided to set aside a portion of my freelance writing income to cover my blogging expenses.
If you’re looking for a fast way to increase your at-home income, I highly recommend freelance writing.
I eventually saved up to purchase a course (Gina Horkey’s 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success) but I got started when I was broke.
Here’s a post I wrote on starting a freelance writing business when you’re broke! It can help you generate the income you need to grow your blog.
But, even if you’re earning the money to cover your blog expenses, make sure you aren’t spending too much. Keep your blog costs in check and grow wisely!
Lisa Tanner is a former teacher turned homeschooling mom with 11 kids. She's also a successful freelance writer. Lisa enjoys helping other busy moms find time to start and grow a side hustle of their own.