We wholeheartedly believe that it is important to invest in yourself, even if you are just starting out. However, we completely understand that not everyone is in a place where they can afford to spend money right away, but that doesn’t mean you can’t move forward with your endeavor. Read on to learn how you can get started with your creative business with little to no money down.
Blogging on a budget
The popular platforms for blogging include Wordpress, Squarespace, and Blogger (Blogspot). Of course, there are many other platforms out there, but these three are definitely the most common, and they are all very user-friendly! Two of these blogging platforms will allow you to build your own website for free (Wordpress and Blogger). With squarespace, you can elect to try a 14-day free trial, and then you’ll have to choose between their personal plan ($12/mo and you can create up to 20 pages, also includes your domain if you select the annual billing) or their business plan ($18/mo with unlimited pages and unlimited bandwidth, also includes your domain if you select the annual billing). The catch with building your website for free is that you won’t have a completely custom domain. For example, if we opted to use Blogger to create Humble & Whole and we went with the free option, our domain would be www.humbleandwhole.blogspot.com rather than www.humbleandwhole.com. The same goes for wordpress. With the free option, our domain would be www.humbleandwhole.wordpress.com rather than www.humbleandwhole.com. And while it is seen as more professional to have a fully custom domain, if you currently cannot afford to purchase one, you should definitely start your blog by utilizing a free builder so that you can get started! The beauty of beginning for free is that you are taking action, putting yourself out there, and beginning to make important connections. Your ideal/target audience doesn’t care about your domain, they want to get to know you and see what you have to offer! And it’s important to remember that you can always upgrade to a paid plan when you can afford to do so.
Design on a budget
After you choose which blogging platform best suits your needs, your next concern is design. How do you want your website to look? What impression do you want to bestow upon your visitors? We believe that every woman is capable of designing her website herself (even with little to no experience). Website builders have really evolved over the years, and it is so much easier to DIY your website now than when we started looking into website building over 10 years ago (geez, where has the time gone?). We are biased and partial to Squarespace. I’m pretty sure Kendra and I are what you would call Squarespace enthusiasts. Squarespace is awesome because through it you can register your domain, and host and build your website. Honestly, you need very little skill in order to have a beautiful website with Squarespace, and that’s why we love it!
But design encompasses more than the actual layout of your website. You’ll also need a logo and coordinating graphics for your blog, podcast, Instagram, etc. A great tool for design that is absolutely free is Canva. Canva is an online graphic design platform through which you can design social media graphics, blog graphics, magazines, business cards, you name it! Canva is also a huge timesaver because you can select templates that are cohesive with your branding, and you can literally make multiple graphics in a matter of minutes. There are other free resources through which you can edit photos and design graphics such as PicMonkey. Both Canva and PicMonkey are great resources that you can use when you’re on a tight budget and you can still create stunning graphics!
Promotion/Marketing on a budget
If you are spending hours producing great content and refining your services, of course you don’t want your work to be in vain. Especially during the beginning stages of launching your creative business, promotion and marketing can be time-consuming. And although this has been said many times before, we will say it again here because this is extremely important. The very best thing that you can do in order to generate meaningful traffic to your platform/website that later turns into an engaged audience is to create content that truly delivers. In order to have thousands of visitors to your platform month after month and to make the purchase of your products or services seem like a no-brainer, you have to create content that is insightful, helpful, and valuable. When you create content that tells people more than they expect and it is valuable (meaning they learned from it and/or have the steps to act on what you told them), you’ve created a gold mine. People are going to share your work, essentially promoting your content for you. Don’t miss our posts on how to create high quality content and the 6 most share-worthy types of content! Once you have that great content down, there are easy ways that you can promote it that won’t cost a dime:
Share your blog posts, podcasts, social media accounts, YouTube channel etc on your personal social media outlets. When you’re just starting out, it’s super encouraging to take a look at your analytics and know that people are checking out what you’re working on, even if they aren’t leaving comments or otherwise directly engaging. So show your friends and family what you’re working on, and you may be surprised at the number of people they can send in your direction who would want to follow you or are in need of your services.
Sign up for Facebook or Slack groups that you know your target audience are in. This is a really great way to get exposure for two reasons. First, by participating in these groups (welcoming new members, answering questions that other members have, and offering encouragement/support), you are positioning yourself as an authority in your industry. Set aside the time to do this regularly and pretty soon people are going to think, “Wow, this woman really knows what she’s talking about!” They’ll feel inclined to click on your name and find out more about who you are. The second reason why it pays to join these groups is because they usually have promotional days when everyone is allowed to post their new blog posts, podcasts, products, etc. Free advertising to your target audience is truly invaluable. Pick one or two of these groups to ensure that you can be active, take the time to engage and be insightful, and you’ll definitely see a boost in visits to your platform.
Coaching on a budget
It’s no secret that having a mentor or coach allows you to reach your specific goals much quicker than working alone. But even if you can’t afford a pricey coaching package, you can still be “coached” and start seeing the results that you want! Pick three (yes, only three!) influencers in your industry and watch what they do closely. When Kendra and I first got into blogging, we learned so much just by paying attention to what top bloggers were doing. I promise that this is so helpful! When you narrow down who you are choosing to learn from (just as I mentioned in The Balance of Taking Action and Consuming Information), that helps you notice patterns, trends, and strategies a lot easier. But if you choose to read 10 blogs a day and join over 5 Facebook groups, all that competing information can drive you into confusion. And that confusion can lead to you not taking any action at all. Pick out the three influencers whose following and lifestyle you would most want for yourself and take notes on the practices/strategies that they seem to implement, and try them out for your business.
It is our hope that you feel confident enough to start your business, even if money is tight right now. You can start to make an impact now, even without all the fancy investments. All you need is the courage to start! Thanks for reading, and God bless you!