Not only is starting a business scary, sometimes there is risk involved. The beauty of online business is that there are so many tools to get you started that are absolutely free to use. If you are juicing all the free tools, that's awesome. Been there, done that. Super helpful.
However, sometimes you just need to bite the bullet and start investing in yourself and your business if you want to see growth and results.
Before I started She Builds back in December 2015, I was a use all the free tools type of girl. I knew when I started this site I was going to need to financially invest in it if I was going to take it seriously and if I wanted any type of return to come out of it. Not balls to the walls, throw my life savings into it type of investment. But I needed to give a little to get a little, you know what I mean?
Today I am going to share with you exactly how I am growing my business and how I am doing it in under $50 per month. The first services I invested in, and then how and when I added on more and more paid for services.
Let’s get started.
THE PLATFORM - $12/month
Most of the blogs I previously authored were on the Blogger platform. Blogger is owned by Google and free. It worked for what I was doing. But I knew that if I wanted to build a sustainable business, this was going to be the first bullet I needed to bite. The swallow wasn’t too hard though! Squarespace is amazing. This was my first investment into She Builds.
Before Squarespace though - let’s go back a few years to a time when I thought I wanted to get into developing niche sites. Creating niche sites and monetizing it is a popular way many male online marketers make their money, and I thought I wanted to do that too. In fact, after paying for my $100+ in hosting fees, Genesis framework and themes I created several sites I thought I could painfully write enough content to drive traffic to and monetize with ads, or a small digital product. Short story, it was a fail. When that first year was up I had just started a recipe blog since those posts were my most popular ones on my free blogger site. I paid for one more year of hosting and after that didn’t pan out I realized Wordpress wasn’t for me.
Enter in the beauty that is Squarespace. It’s like a breath of fresh air. Well worth the minimal investment that is $12/mo if paying monthly and $8/mo if making one yearly payment of $96 and some change. Squarespace takes care of all the coding for you and gives you the tools to design a beautiful website in minutes. I love that you can “trial” different site themes and even personalize it before you decide if it will work for your business and before it is live. If you haven’t tried Squarespace you should definitely give it a go. Squarespace offers a 7-day trial so that you can try before you buy.
PRODUCTIVITY - $5/month
Nothing says professional like an email address with your own domain. In my experience with hosting platforms is that the email functionality, frankly, sucks. If they were graded on user friendliness they would get a huge “F”.
By the time I went live with She Builds in January 2016, I invested into getting a professional email address with the premise of you gotta give to get. I wanted to have a professional appearance that would give my brand a boost right off the bat, and I wanted to be seen as a trusted source that cares about the appearance of her business.
This is why I love Google Apps for Work. You can have a professional email address with your own domain, and use it on Gmail - which further translates to easy access on your mobile device. Yes, yes and yes. Other features include video and voice calls; integrated online calendars; 30GB of online storage for file syncing and sharing; online text documents, spreadsheets and slides; easy to create project sites; security and admin controls; and 24/7 phone and email support. Again, for $5 a month. That is a crazy good deal.
EMAIL MARKETING SERVICE - $10/month
When I first started out with She Builds I used the free MailChimp plan for my email service. At the time, I was sending out my free quotes ebook manually every time I received a new subscriber. Also - for my content upgrades, the link to the upgrade would be in the post-submit box after the reader entered their email address right in the blog post.
In April 2016, as I was gearing up to launch my email course, Build Your Branding Infrastructure, I knew I needed to start paying for my email marketing service so that I could create an automated email sequence to send out to my students. After weighing different options, features and benefits I decided to stick with MailChimp. I’m sure as my business grows and needs change that I will switch to a more robust email system. But for now, this works for my needs and my budget.
PINTEREST SCHEDULING - $15/month
So I used to spend all day on Pinterest. Seriously. I had a Google sheet that tracked each post I published, what Pinterest boards I wanted to pin them too and would color code the cells to know which boards each article was pinned to. Then I would randomly select a few throughout the day to pin as I saw fit. Can you say time-consuming?
Thankfully, there are services you can pay for to schedule your pins for you!! Even better, you can pin a pin to multiple boards and space them out over a set time that you choose. Hello, productivity!! Since May 2016 I have been using Tailwind to schedule my pins and I love it. It helps me stay active and spreads my pins out at optimized times throughout the day. Every couple of days or so I’ll add new pins to the schedule and then I’m set a week or two out! It works like a charm, and you should definitely take advantage of their trial (no credit card needed).
Total Spend? $42/month
When I first started She Build I would spend $17 per month. Now I’m up to $42 per month. Am I making any money from my business? No, not right now.
Will I see a return on these investments eventually? That’s the plan!
As I build more and more trust with my list I will start to offer paid digital products, and then we’ll see how this whole online biz dream pans out.
If you’re reading this and you’ve invested monies in the beginning without a guaranteed return I’d love to hear your story in the comments below!