Tools I Use To Run My Blogs.
When it comes to buying things, I am the opposite person of what I used to be 10 years ago, an impulsive buyer.
As I aged, I became an “ala carte” person, LOL. That means, as much as possible, I only get what I need. It reminds me of one of my eldest sisters who would always say,
“Do I need this? If yes, buy it. If not, wait until you can afford it.”
In running my blogs, I try to keep my cost low. When I was just starting out, I was a one-man show. I had to work 8 to 10 hours everyday, for 6 months to 1 year, as if it was my full time job - learning (Amazon) affiliate marketing from scratch, writing contents, promoting them, then repeat.
Nowadays, I already know the process, but I still make time to learn something new everyday (learning doesn't stop). I also already have a writer/VA who helps me produce 3 articles a week, although I still work, but not as hard as before anymore.
Before I enumerate the cost of running my blogs, I would like to be completely transparent. I am affiliated with these products (I’ll put an asterisk so you’ll know). This means that I would earn a “reward” or a commission from these companies should you decide to purchase their products or avail of their services. I urge you not to spend money on any of them, unless you need or afford them.
These countries cannot sign up for free: Bangladesh, Egypt, Ghana, Pakistan, Kenya, Morocco, Tanzania and Vietnam. They need to avail of Premium membership for Wealthy Affiliate access.
These 3 countries cannot join at all, even as paying members: Senegal, Turkey and Nigeria.
I used the $19 promo on my first month, then switched to the monthly rate of $49/month until I can afford the yearly membership which significantly reduced the cost.
Of the many features of WA, these are the main things I used/are using inside the Wealthy Affiliate platform:
Online Entrepreneur Certification Course* - A training where I learned Amazon affiliate marketing from scratch. Output: https://firsttimeparentguide.com/
Affiliate Bootcamp Course* - Another affiliate marketing training with more advanced stuff in the end part (like paid Ads, etc.) Output: this blog.
SiteRubix* - This is where I host my websites.
Jaaxy* - This is what I used for finding past keywords for my past blog articles. Since my free training is using the Ubbersuggest tool (which I only started using months before I started my free course to verify its reliability), I still use Jaaxy to verify Ubbersuggest's results. While there are higher tiers in the plans, I only use the free “Jaaxy Lite” which is already included in the WA membership. From lesson 1 onwards of my free training, I use the Ubbersuggest free tool.
These are the top 4 resources I highly encourage you to utilize once you decide to blog for a living. Training + hosting + keyword research tool, all in one price. $19 on the first month,* $49 monthly afterwards (or switch to yearly to save cost).
An add-on that the Wealthy Affiliate platform has is the “Site Domains” platform. You can purchase your domain name inside WA for USD14 per year (should you need a 2nd domain). A domain purchase is already inclusive of Privacy protection and SSL certificate. Sorry, BIG words. LOL. It only means that nobody on the internet will know your address and phone number, for privacy purposes. Your site will also have a padlock beside its name to show your site visitors that your website is safe to browse.
The ASA2 plugin generates more than 50% of my Amazon affiliate marketing income. This is not for beginners, though. You need to be accepted to the Amazon Associates program first before you can have access to Amazon's API (and can therefore use the ASA2).
License for 1 website is $59 per year. Renewable at 30% discount.
I used to have 5 licenses at $119/year. However, since Airbnb paused their affiliate program for almost a year now (and I only use 2 licenses - 1 for firsttimeparentguide and 1 for Airbnb blog), I will only be renewing for 1 license when it expires since I will not be needing it for my 3rd blog anymore.
It's free to join.
This is what I use to receive my monthly income from Amazon US, Amazon Canada and Amazon UK. You can do bank transfers and they also have a prepaid debit card that they can send to you for free.
I am currently using the $14.99 plan. 500 contacts, 6,000 e-mails per month.
When starting out (just collecting e-mails), a free plan is already good enough.
I am a late bloomer when it comes to e-mail marketing. In my first two blogs, I didn't do any e-mail marketing at all. I only started automating e-mails for this blog since I need to send one lesson at a time.
Now, below are the platforms I decided to use, but are not necessarily needed when you are just starting out. I’d like to think of them as “investments” since they make my life easier. I usually have a "shopping" list of what I want to avail next, should I find it a "need" instead of just a "want."
Remember when I said I am now an "ala carte" person? LOL. The next two tools I use are purchased one-time, but come with free unlimited future updates.
You can re-use the Genesis framework + theme for your other websites. No need for an additional license purchase. Unlimited future updates is already included, too.
As your site gains more visitors, you would want to upgrade your "brand" and customize things in your website for achieving some goals not easily done with free themes.
Genesis Framework + Magazine Pro: $99.95; Smart Passive Income Theme: $33.71 (I got a customer discount since I had a previous purchase).
While there are thousands of free WordPress themes, the “support” behind them can be limited.
For example, the author of the free theme you are using one day decided not to make any updates anymore. If that happens (which can also not happen), you are left with an “outdated” theme, one that can possibly not go hand-in-hand with the updates of the other plugins (stuff you put inside your blog as helpers to work behind the scene).
For my firsttimeparentguide blog, I use the Magazine Pro theme.* Since I can re-use it, I also use it for my not-so-active Airbnb blog.
For this blog, I use the Smart Passive Income* theme.
Thrive Themes is a membership platform, but you can also buy their products ala carte. Since I like to keep my cost low, I am not a member. I only bought two of their products - the Thrive Architect and the Clever Widgets. I only started using some Thrive products when my blogs were already earning.
Thrive Architect (1 site license): $67; Thrive Architect (5 licenses upgrade): $37. Clever Widgets (1 license): $39. I only buy as I need it and sorry, I'm stingy like that, LOL.
While they also have Themes (which I have been tempted to buy), I met Genesis and Studiopress first. My current theme setups still work. Since I can also customize my existing setup using the Thrive Architect plugin, I do not find the need to switch themes.
These are the Thrive products I use:
Aside from the obvious aesthetics and drag and drop function of the Thrive Architect plugin, the “Symbols” function is what I benefit from the most. My other blog has hundreds of Amazon product reviews: Product 1 vs Product 2. Product 1 vs Product 3. Product 1 vs Product 4. And so on…
So every time I have to change something in Product 1 (photo, links, text), all I need to do is access one file (Product 1 symbol), update it, and all my reviews containing the Product 1 symbol will automatically be updated. It’s a time-saving feature I wish I knew before.
I use the Clever widget to customize what I show in the sidebar. “Relevance is always the key to conversion.” It means, if my article is about a car seat, for example, I can choose to show something in the sidebar which is related to a car seat, and not the generic things you can see in all your site pages.
I purposely did the layout with so much things going on, just for the purpose of showing you a glimpse of what Thrive Architect can do (on a drag and drop basis).
The next two platforms are optional. As you grow your business, you may need to create videos or graphics to have a stronger "brand." Just bookmark them for future references.
The free plan is already good enough when starting out. You can record a video for 15 minutes straight, and edit/export it for free (and upload it on YouTube).
It's not just for free images, graphics and templates. You can do a lot with the free plan!
To be honest, I have been using the free plan only since I started blogging. I use templates for Pinterest and for featured images in my blog posts.
When I started my YouTube channel, I became addicted doing easy motion graphics with Canva. I am a busy mother and I really appreciate how I can output a 30-seconder full motion graphics video in an hour from scratch just using Canva's graphics, animation and audio, too!
Becoming a Pro member (since you can do more with Pro account) in my 4th year of blogging is a way of giving back. I've used their platform for so many years for free, and it's always good to give back when you can. :)
My #1 Recommended Starter Package: Wealthy Affiliate
When just starting out, I believe you only need the Wealthy Affiliate. You can upgrade your business as money comes in.
Cost For Running 1 blog (eligible for up to 10 websites):
$495 for 12 months, 495/365 days = $1.36 a day.
Can you think of a business that you can run for $1.36 a day?
I run an Airbnb business, and it certainly costed us a lot before we were able to "launch" it. Maintaining it is definitely not $1.36 a day. Covid19 pandemic caused our Airbnb income to stop. Blogging income continues, pandemic or not.
Bonus: Once you can afford to outsource contents using your income from blogging, you don't have to work as much.