5 Investments Worth Making For Your Blog

September 10, 2014

Like any business, blogging requires you to invest some to get some. Even if you aren’t running your blog as a business, I still believe it’s important for you to put a little time and money into it. You want it to be the best representation of you otherwise you might as well just keep it private (or write in a diary?!).

5 Investments Worth Making For Your Blog- Sometimes you need to invest to get more. Tips on where you should spend your blog budget. // thehealthymaven.comTruth-be-told, the start-up costs for a blog are nothing compared to most businesses or even standard websites. In fact, you can fairly quickly earn back the money spent.

I’ve narrowed my list of investments down to 5 that I believe should be a priority when looking to decide where to spend your blogging funds. They are not necessities in order to blog, but they certainly help in expanding your readership beyond your Mom. So without further ado, here are 5 investments worth making for your blog.

Buy your domainWhat does this mean? Instead of or, I OWN the url I bought my domain for two years for $12.99 through GoDaddy. Yes, it is that cheap. So pay up and buy your domain name.

purchase self-hostingI initially started blogging on Blogger but had I known THM would eventually become my job, I would have definitely started it on and self-hosted right off the bat.


What the heck is self-hosting? The #1 question I get, so let’s break it down.

Self-hosting: using an external host or server to run your blog. This is confusing because people think that self-hosting means that you are personally hosting your blog, but in fact it is referred to as self-hosting because you are NOT using free websites to host your blog for you. You are seeking out someone else to do it.

Did I just suggest not using the free option? Yes.

How come? Because using the free hosting available on sites like Blogger or (not to be confused with WordPress.ORG which requires you to self host) limits you in a lot of ways. Mainly, you can only use the basic frameworks available to design your site (not a whole lot of individualization), limits the amount of storage space you have and prevents you from maximizing your ability to monetize.

Self-hosting on the other hand allows unlimited storage space, all sorts of individualization, and the option to earn revenue from your blog.

I use Bluehost for self-hosting THM and I love it. Their website is easy to navigate, their customer service is always available and they are very affordable. They cost between $4.95-$6.95 a month depending on how long you sign up for hosting. They also throw in your domain name for free if you haven’t purchased it already!

I HIGHLY recommend self-hosting with Bluehost and using as your blogging platform right off the bat if you’re just starting a blog. I’ve written a post on How To Start a Successful Food Blog Today which walks you through the best moves for getting your food blog up and running. But if you already have a blog, there are tons of tutorials out there on how to make the switch. DO IT.

buy a themeOkay so you’ve actually listened to me and you’ve purchased your domain and hosting for your new blog. Now you want to make it beautiful. Unless you are a genius or amazing with code, I suggest you take the easy way out and buy a theme. Themes determine the layout of your blog. While WordPress does come with some basic themes, I really do recommend investing in one you like. Why? So your blog doesn’t look like every other blog out there. Many people stick to the basic WordPress themes and while they may do the trick, nothing about them tells me who you are as a blogger.

Before purchasing as theme, find out how difficult it is the make basic changes to it, like font and colours and adding in your own header. If you’re looking for something very specific, then you may want to contact a web designer. Otherwise, finding a theme that suits you and only needs a few tweaks is probably your best bet.

*I use the Foodie Theme which is a child theme of the Genesis Framework. You need to purchase both Foodie and Genesis for Foodie to work. They can be purchased as part of a package on the Foodie Theme website.

Sign-up for MCRemember when I posted this video on the importance of growing your email subscription list? (p.s. remember when I didn’t post part #2…working on that!). Well I wasn’t kidding. If you haven’t started focusing some of your attention on growing your email subscribers, start now. One way for you to do this is to upgrade from the standard Feedburner or WordPress email service to a more professional-looking service like MailChimp.

Mail-chimp emailsThere are many email subscription services out there, but I like MailChimp because it was SO basic to set up, they have tutorials on everything and it is super reliable. Better yet, the first 2000 subscribers are free. After this number the prices jump depending on how many subscribers you have. It starts at $15.99 per month which isn’t cheap but the quality of the email is worth it for my subscribers.

invest in a good cameraI’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. If you’re looking to up your blogging game then you must focus on improving your photography. Food or not, people eat with their eyes. As much as I wish I could tell you that you can take great pictures with your phone, I would be lying. Maybe you’re an iPhone prodigy, but I know I could never get the pictures I shoot without my DSLR.

This is the camera gear I use:


Now I don’t believe that an editing software like photoshop can make your bad pictures look good, but if you’ve got the camera but say, your lighting wasn’t great during the shoot, having an editing software absolutely makes a difference.

I know what you’re thinking, “but I can edit my pictures on PicMonkey or iPhoto”. Yes, you can but it is not the same. Imagine being able to edit minute details of a picture and make changes like highlighting objects in the foreground without touching the background. It’s pretty sweet.

I use Adobe Photoshop CS6 to edit my pictures and I highly recommend investing in the Adobe Creative Cloud. You can purchase it for a monthly fee of $9.99.

BonusThis is by no means something you have to do, but if you’re looking for a very specific design for your blog then sometimes it is necessary to outsource. For me, the time and energy it would have taken me to figure out how to code and design certain elements of my blog wasn’t worth it.

I highly recommend my web designer, Julie from Deluxe Designs who did a fabulous job with THM.

*This post contains affiliate links from which I could receive a small commission if you sign-up. Regardless, I stand behind all of these products and services and truly believe they are essential in helping to build The Healthy Maven. Thank you for supporting me in THM as a business!

Like this post? Check out some of my other posts on blogging as a business!

Do you agree that you need to invest some to get some? Have you ever invested in a business, blogging or not?


Join 10,000+ members of the THM Community to get access to exclusive recipes, healthy lifestyle tips and behind-the-scenes news from our team!

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  • Reply
    Arman @ thebigmansworld
    September 10, 2014 at 5:25 am

    Dude you are a machine. I feel like you just told me this.

    Such good points and can’t believe we both started on blogger. Worst idea ever. Big props to the mailchimp advice- tried setting it up this weekend and got distracted by nutella crepes. Worth it.

    I’m investing in the wood business when it’s up and running 😉

    • Reply
      Amanda @ Diary of a Semi-Health Nut
      September 10, 2014 at 11:58 am

      lol if only someone had told me NOT to start on Blogger! Was on that nonsense for three years before I bit the bullet and made the switch!

  • Reply
    meredith @ The Cookie ChRUNicles
    September 10, 2014 at 6:14 am

    Totally agree. I switched from to within seven months. I don’t regret starting out on the free platform though – it gave me a chance to see what I was going to do with the blog before making the investment. I definitely recommend a web designer. I didn’t hesitate on that aspect because I am just not techy enough to get it done right myself!

  • Reply
    Kelly @ Kelly Runs For Food
    September 10, 2014 at 6:34 am

    Such good points! I can’t believe it took my almost a year to switch to self hosting. I was super intimidated to do it, then one wine-induced evening I bite bullet and I’m so glad I did.

  • Reply
    Michele @ paleorunningmomma
    September 10, 2014 at 6:39 am

    Just signed up for mail chimp yesterday! Glad to hear you recommend. Also glad in bluehost right from the start. Great advice here, very much appreciated!

  • Reply
    September 10, 2014 at 7:24 am

    AGREE AGREE AGREE AGREE AGREE!! To all of these.

  • Reply
    Jen @ Bagels to Broccoli
    September 10, 2014 at 7:56 am

    I agree and have managed to do all of these…except for the DSLR bit. My husband has a really nice camera, though, so I just use his ;).

  • Reply
    shashi @ runninsrilankan
    September 10, 2014 at 8:09 am

    Awesome tips – thanks lady! Yes – most definitely, I feel time and money invested wisely can help immensely!
    I won a Cannon T3 and I must say it has helped immensely with my photos and also helps I am my own graphic designer 🙂

  • Reply
    Amanda @ Positively Amanda
    September 10, 2014 at 9:11 am

    Such great tips!

  • Reply
    September 10, 2014 at 9:56 am

    LOVE all these tips! I’m looking into [hopefully] buying myself a nice camera for my birthday next February, so Ive been shopping around 🙂 I need to get my blog re-done as well, but Im still trying to figure out what direction I exactly want it to go. All I know is I love doing it, and want that to shine through to my readers!! 🙂

  • Reply
    Amanda @ .running with spoons.
    September 10, 2014 at 10:08 am

    Definitely agree about the need to invest! And in the long run, the amount I’ve had to spend on Spoons is really nothing compared to what I’ve gotten back. Worth it! I also think it changes your mentality a little bit and helps you take things more seriously. Great tips, lady!

  • Reply
    Kirtley Freckleton @ The Gist of Fit
    September 10, 2014 at 10:29 am

    Thanks for sharing! I would LOVE to get a web designer, hooooly cow. I’m not ready yet, but I hope to in the future!

  • Reply
    September 10, 2014 at 10:52 am

    This is an amazing list. I haven’t looked into my e-mail subscribers (whoops) but seriously should do that soon. Self-hosting was the best money I have spent yet. Ugh I should get a Cannon Rebel 3Ti or whatever and return my G16… or should I just keep it to travel? Let’s chat about this tonight. Loveee you xoxoxo

  • Reply
    Dixya @ Food, Pleasure, and Health
    September 10, 2014 at 10:56 am

    im purchasing the lens as i type this post..

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      September 10, 2014 at 10:57 am

      You’re going to LOVE it! Message me if you have any questions when you first start playing around with it 🙂 Ah so happy for ya!

  • Reply
    Nikki @ will run for pizza
    September 10, 2014 at 11:37 am

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! I’ve asked Sarah over at Sweet Miles lots of questions, and between picking her brain and your brain, I know what I NEED to do. It’s on my to do list. I’ve been scared of an problems that might come up when switching to blue host & .org. I’m so scared everything will be lost or something. (Technology hates me and does things that IT people (my hubby, haha) even wonder how or why I got it to do something.) BUT! I know that’s what I need to do. I was waiting until I could blog FT, but why wait?!

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      September 10, 2014 at 9:22 pm

      Bite the bullet Nikki!!! I promise you won’t regret it. Check out Bluehost for self-hosting. They have amazing tutorials on how to transfer your blog and their service representatives are awesome. If you have any questions, let me know! I honestly don’t believe you can start blogging FT if you don’t have these things in place already. Keep at it, lady! xoox

      • Reply
        Nikki @ will run for pizza
        September 11, 2014 at 11:55 am

        Ok. so question for ya. If I – I mean, uh, WHEN I – get on, I know I’ll get the Genesis framework and child’s theme…my question is: once I buy a theme, when your self-hosted, or whatever, like that, can I still make changes and tweaks to the theme?? (Once I know the coding and stuff…..because I’m learning all that on my own so that I CAN make changes like that!)

        • Reply
          Davida Kugelmass
          September 11, 2014 at 7:53 pm

          Yup! Some themes have editors built in so you can very easily make changes. Most will offer quick changes like fonts, colours etc…but may require some work on the back-end (i.e. coding). If you’re looking for something very specific I recommend hiring a designer. If you’re pretty set on a theme but just want to change some basic things like the header, colors, fonts etc…you shouldn’t have a problem easily making the changes on the wordpress dashboard without any coding involved! Hope this helps 🙂

  • Reply
    Amanda @ Diary of a Semi-Health Nut
    September 10, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    Such a great post and I’m with ya on most of it! I use Julie too..she is amazing! Always answers my questions even though she is probably shaking her head like “does this girl know ANYTHING about websites??” –no Julie, I do not.

    I have been thinking about switching to Foodie…but maybe only because so many food bloggers use it. Do you know why Foodie is better than say the Child Theme?

    I’ve also thought about upgrading MailChimp but only because I want to use the autoresponders…I have nowhere near 2000 subscribers..ha!

    Lastly, I’m STILL using picmonkey! Even after signing up for a trial of photoshop cloud. I must have a fear of change or something..or maybe I want to prove I can edit photos just as well with picmonkey?

    Pinning this and waiting (not so patiently) for your second e-mail subscribers post!!! Get on it girl!! 😉 😉

  • Reply
    Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious
    September 10, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    Good stuff as usual lady! I’m so glad I did many of these upfront when I started my blog. And Julie is OMG amazing! I just bought my camera a few weeks ago. I have good lighting but none of my pics look good. Way better in my iPhone. I have no idea what I’m doing wrong???

  • Reply
    Alexis @ Hummusapien
    September 10, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    This is like the bible of blogging!! Or the torah? Fabulous tips!

  • Reply
    Hillary | Nutrition Nut on the Run
    September 10, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    I am just getting started with Mail Chimp — sending out my first newsletter this weekend and I’m pumped!!

  • Reply
    ambrosia @ figandpie
    September 10, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    What is the difference between and .org? I currently have a account with my own .com ( so I pay for that website name. Not sure if I should switch?

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      September 10, 2014 at 1:07 pm is where you blog is hosted on the free wordpress server. As I mentioned above, this limits you in some ways but it can be a good option if you’re not sure about how committed you are to blogging. If you want to stick it out for the long haul, I recommend transferring your blog to and hosting with bluehost. This will allow you to make far more individualizations to your blog and monetize your blog.

  • Reply
    Nicole @ Foodie Loves Fitness
    September 10, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    Agree with all of your tips! I’ve done all of these things except focus on my email subscriptions using MailChimp – whoops. I use MailChimp for work so I already know to use it, so I should get on that! The other thing I’ve been meaning to do is buy white & black tents for food photography. I definitely think that my pictures have gotten better with my learning Photoshop, having a decent camera, and just figuring out what works and what doesn’t… but I need some props!

  • Reply
    Sam @ Better With Sprinkles
    September 10, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    It took me about a year of blogging before I switched to self-hosting – I wish I had done that earlier. And I still need to actually buy a theme…the free one will do for now, but I’ll have to make the switch soon and see what I can find.

  • Reply
    September 10, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    SOOO I’m with Gigi right now, and I opened your page and said to her, “DO you read The Healthy Maven?” and she goes “YES, READ ME HER POST today!” SO I did, AND she was like, “done, done done.” So basically you’re legit bloggers. BOOM.

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      September 10, 2014 at 3:04 pm

      You and Gigi are together?!?! STAAAAAAAP I’m so jealous!

  • Reply
    September 10, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    Well, I’m happy that at least I’m self-hosted and own my domain name. Now I need to work on the other things!!!

  • Reply
    September 10, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    You are my hero, Davida. I can learn so much from you, yet I can not believe how lazy I am. 2 years and still no self-hosting. At least I bought the domain, yay! 🙂
    Need to start and get my hands on that stuff.

  • Reply
    Chelsea @ Chelsea's Healthy Kitchen
    September 10, 2014 at 6:36 pm

    Great tips here girl!

    I can’t believe I waited until last summer to buy my own domain name and go self hosted… I should have done that years ago! And I should get on some of your other tips too, like buying a theme and working with a web designer. One of these days!

  • Reply
    Kim @ BusyBod
    September 11, 2014 at 6:37 am

    What do you mean I can’t take beautiful photos on my iphone??? *insert shocked face* Kidding. I would LOVE to invest in a real camera. It’s not even the money that stops me… it’s the camera. It’s so intimidating! All those acronyms and words that I don’t know what they mean. I feel like I would need to devote lots of hours I don’t have to learning how to use it and then even more hours to learning how to edit photos. Maybe it’s not really as bad and confusing as I think? It’s definitely something I want to take on long term. I feel like I would post more workouts if I didn’t have to deal with the frustration of mediocre phone photos.

    P.S. I may start beginning all of my posts with “dear diary” because that’s hysterical (and actually maybe this rambling, thinking out loud comment belongs in there)

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      September 11, 2014 at 7:56 pm

      best.comment.ever. Could you please start all comments as “Dear Diary”?? In return I will write all responses as “Dear Kimby” LOL. Yeah I’ll admit I was overwhelmed when I first got my camera but that’s because I was expecting to be a professional photographer in a day! Yeahhhhh clearly that didn’t happen. I’m actually happy I got my camera before starting a blog because it gave me about a year to play around before I even starting taking pics of food. But eventually you get the hang of it. Don’t ask me any technically questions though cause I never bothered to actually learn the science, I just practiced and then practiced some more 🙂

  • Reply
    September 11, 2014 at 7:03 am

    Alright let’s make a deal. You handle my technical blog stuff and I will organize your life. Cool? Cool. Great, now that that’s out of the way.

    Great ideas, and one day I will put them in play but likely not until I have more time. I value my sleep (you’ll understand in 11 years) and what that does for me on a health level more than getting these things into play. Although I keep expecting a day to open up (like the weekend) where I can fritter away the hours doing these thing but it never actually happens or when it does, I get a fraction accomplished of what I had intended to do. Sigh. Such is life.

    With that, I believe I am officially caught up with you my dear (no more posting now). It’s been lovely spending the morning with you and my cup of coffee. Have a great day.

  • Reply
    Jodie @ SourceONENutrition
    September 11, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    First, thanks for all of the tips and advice…I have so much to learn! I did have a “web designer” who actually suggested blogger over wordpress, saying it was better in regards to analytics, google rankings, blah blah blah. In actuality I would say it was due to a lack of experience with wordpress. What they actually wanted to do was a weebly site and then blog on blogger, but I demanded that it all be in one place. Anyways, will have to learn more and get all of this worked out and just the way I want it 🙂 Thanks again!

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      September 11, 2014 at 7:51 pm

      Yeah wordpress can be a bit tricky at first so some people feel more comfortable designing a site on blogger. If only wordpress could be as easy because there’s so much more you can do on it! Eventually you will get there 🙂 Rome wasn’t built in a day after all!

  • Reply
    September 11, 2014 at 10:55 pm

    Check check check!! Bluehost is great! I also think the bonus web design helps if you are busy and don’t really do well with computer programming…. Ahem.. Me!

  • Reply
    She Rocks Fitness
    September 14, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    I have done all of them above, except for the camera. She Rocks Fitness is my business and I have learned that in order to make money you need to spend money. Great tips!

  • Reply
    Tiff @ Love, Sweat, & Beers
    September 14, 2014 at 9:00 pm

    I agree about having to spend money to make money, but I’m hesitant to do it with the blog. 🙂

  • Reply
    Cara Blak
    September 16, 2014 at 3:33 am

    Fabulous investment tips. These tips make sense. All the investments discussed here are worthy. Want some updated business related investment tips. Any help?

  • Reply
    Nora (A Clean Bake)
    September 19, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    This is a great list of tips, Davida! Thanks for putting it together!

  • Reply
    Alex @ Alex Runs For Food
    September 22, 2014 at 10:10 am

    If I could go back and change one thing it would be to self host right away from the beginning! It was super easy to switch over to self hosting from but it would have been better to do it from the beginning.
    ALSO something that I figured out because I also use Genesis and The Foodie Theme…. it is cheaper to purchase the Genesis Framework and then purchase the foodie theme through them. They give you a discount on their website on all themes after to purchase genesis 🙂

  • Reply
    September 24, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    Wish I would have seen this post when I was starting my blog. It would have take a lot of guess work out of it for me. Great post!

  • Reply
    Linda @ Fit Fed and Happy
    September 24, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    Okay I have several questions:

    There are way too many themes out there I like. I can’t choose one and if I were to choose one I feel like i have to make the right decision or else everything falls apart!

    Also, how do I move my wordpress subscribers to mailchimp? Why is mailchimp better? Each time i update my blog WordPress automatically sends a notification and I don’t think mailchimp can do that.

  • Reply
    Ashley @ A Lady Goes West
    October 8, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    Hi! I’m new to your blog and love this post. I wish I had gotten more serious about my blog as soon as I started it, but it took me a long time to take the steps to self-host and purchase a new theme. I use HostGator and I’d love to hear more about how you do your newsletter and emailings to readers, because that’s an area I haven’t addressed yet. Thanks for the blog knowledge!

  • Reply
    Terrence Hebel
    December 19, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    this is great guidance! Camera is definitely the biggest investment of them all.

  • Reply
    December 22, 2014 at 5:58 pm

    You are fantastic!!!
    I am just beginning my blogging journey and this is so very helpful. I even checked out per your request. I cannot thank you enough. I have a few questions and was hoping you could help as I am brand new to blogging. I just started blogging as you can see from my website . I had started with because I had not known the difference between that and I did know enough to use bluehost but now I am concerned that I should be using Does it make a difference now that I am on bluehost? Am I suppose to be blogging from bluehost’s wordpress domain or wordpress. I am so very lost. If you could take the time to help me out I would REALLY appreciate it. I cannot wait to tell others to read your very helpful post.

    Thank you again. You are wonderful!
    Have a very Merry Christmas!

  • Reply
    ماشین لباسشویی
    December 31, 2014 at 4:25 am

    Hi Davida,
    I really enjoyed reading your article.
    Thank you and Happy holidays!

  • Reply
    January 20, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    Thank you so much! I will looking for my first theme to work with and your info really helped. thank you!

  • Reply
    January 23, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    Not only themes ! but a blog looks sweet with a custom design as well ! Throw in responsiveness with custom flat imagery and you have yourself an eye catching blog with great retention! BUT yes you do need a web designer for that . Cheers to those who are bloggers cum designers ! Great post !!

  • Reply
    February 7, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    Excellent tips! I’ve been blogging for 2 1/2 years and still haven’t done all these! Guess I’d better get to it! Pinning to Pinterest!

  • Reply
    February 9, 2015 at 7:31 pm

    I couldn’t agree more with investing in a theme – I purchased the Genesis Lifestyle Pro theme and haven’t looked back. I’m also in the process of working with a web designer after I tried to make some tweaks myself and shut my whole site down *whoops*. Fantastic list of things to invest in… sometimes it’s a good thing to spend a little money on your blog.

  • Reply
    Yenesia Morales
    February 26, 2015 at 11:15 pm

    Thanks for the tips. I have hosting with godaddy and use the wordpress themes. I always thought having my own hosting was a better idea and Im glad I made that choice. My next investment will be photoshop. I don’t know much about it but I know I will learn. I know I have to do better with my pics.

  • Reply
    October 14, 2015 at 6:05 pm

    Does Bluehost work with Or I’ll have to change to .org first? Thanks!

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      October 14, 2015 at 6:52 pm includes a free hosting service so you wouldn’t need to purchase hosting from bluehost. If you’d like the benefits of self-hosting then you’ll need to switch over to and purchase hosting from bluehost. You’re able to make the switch easily when you sign-up for Bluehost!

  • Reply
    October 5, 2016 at 9:59 am

    I’ve never seen your blog before, saw this post on Pinterest. After spending hours reading about blogging I had figured out a lot of the stuff you just posted, BUT you could have saved me hours if I had read this first! Great job breaking it down! I’ve read and heard of good things from both bluehost and siteground. Still trying to figure out what differences there are. I don’t have my blog up yet, but I bought the domain a few days ago. I will be I’ll be sure to check back in when it’s up and running (and sooner if I decide to go with bluehost or any of your recommendations). Thanks!

  • Reply
    December 28, 2016 at 10:24 am

    awesome article. thank for sharing this with us.

  • Reply
    January 10, 2020 at 4:45 pm

    When I first started my blog I couldn’t really find my way to shape good articles in this vast virtual space. Over the years I learned a lot, from writing interesting articles, to SEO, how to market and build strong pages and most of all, how to build and grow an audience. Investing in a blog is like raising a baby, you don’t know everything from the very beginning, you learn along the way, so does a blog grow bigger and stronger and soon or later people notice your web presence, therefore your virtual work will attract sponsors ready to collaborate for handsome $$$$

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