I’ve always believed that anyone with enough willpower and internet savvy can start a business with zero startup capital.
I often hear people in the business world talking about how they can’t even get started without that $100,000 in seed money, and that just seems crazy to me.
There are too many awesome small businesses you can start with practically zero overhead. Blogging and digital products are a few good examples.
For a long time, I was passionate about running my own businesses with no overhead - using free software, free tools, and DIYing every single little thing.
Hell, I wouldn’t have even spent $1.99 on an ebook I was that hardcore about free.
When I first started blogging I was afraid of making monetary investments, such as using a paid blog, because I was anxious I wouldn’t be able to make any money and wouldn’t be able to cover those expenses.
Over time I’ve come to realize how even tiny little micro-investments in your business can add up to a big return (in profit, sanity, and time saved).
Making micro-investments in yourself and your business can be a major factor in success.
Micro-investments can mean anything from paying for hosting and your own custom domain, spending a bit more cash on a custom logo, opting into the paid version of apps and software, or taking a course to improve your skills.
Even putting $5 or $10/month into something can make a big impact!
These micro-investments (most only cost a few bucks a month) can come back to you in more income, more productivity, and more profit.
So if you have a bit of cash to invest in your biz - no matter how tiny - read on.
This post will clue you into some micro-investments you can make in your company that will make your life easier and your business or blog more profitable. Seriously, skip dinner out one night, and invest in your blog and business. You’ll be glad you did.
(RELATED: If you want to know which products I use to create, sell, and market my own digital products, you can get my free tools and resources guide right here.)
PassionFruit advertising system for your blog ($3 - $9/month): If you want to monetize your style, food, or other blog by selling private ad space to businesses you love, Passionfruit makes it super easy. Passionfruit integrates into your blog, schedules ads and accepts payments.
Kindle eBooks (usually 1.99 - 3.99): I recommend Blogging for Profit, The $100 Startup, Blog Inc. etc. Many bloggers have inexpensive eBooks available on their blogs for purchase, and if you like their work and find value in it, why not see what goodies they have to share in their book?
BlueHost: Once you’ve decided to host your own website, you need reliable hosting.
Graphics for your Blog: Blog elements, graphics, themes, fonts and more from Creative Market ($5 and up).
Plug-ins: Widgets and scripts for your blog or website from CodeCanyon ($5 and up).
Upgrade from free to premium version of your apps and software, invoicing, and billing.
DPD: I use DPD for my digital product sales and affiliate tracking. I love it. They don’t take a percentage, which is really important once you start making big bucks (you don’t want to be giving away 5%, that would add up real fast). I pay $10/month and am excited to pay my monthly bill because it really is so affordable for the features and service you get. That link is an affiliate link, meaning I get a small commission if you decide to use DPD too.
MailChimp: There is a free MailChimp option, and it is great! But if you want certain features like autoresponders, automation workflows (great for courses) and want to take your newsletter/email marketing up a notch, the paid versions have those abilities. You pay based on the number of subscribers you have, so you can start for around $10 - $15 and grow from there.
Squarespace: For $8/month I have a beautiful website that sells my core products, and design is a breeze. I know most people use Wordpress, but I really prefer Squarespace. I recommend it to anyone looking to start a nice-looking blog, website, e-commerce store, or portfolio on a budget. No coding required to create something professional and effective. Their unlimited e-commerce solution is much more affordable than the popular Shopify, and has similar features.
Buffer App: This is a MUST-HAVE for Social Media management - If you’re tired of doing every single aspect of social media all by yourself, you need a management system that works. Invest in your sanity, people!
Hootsuite: Another social media management solution. Same as Buffer but different features, compare to see which is right for you. I use Buffer.
Find Your Niche: My eBook, Find Your Niche, really gives you the foundation you need to have a blog that actually makes money. It is absolutely imperative that you have a niche. This eBook shows you how to find yours. Here's what one of my readers said about Find Your Niche:
CraftLaunch: This service provides custom websites for your Etsy shop. If you already have a moderately successful Etsy shop you’re probably thinking about how you can make your own place on the internet with a custom website.
Having your own website is key to branding. But selling the same listings is logistically difficult, the thought of re-doing everything makes you want to pull your hair out. And if you sell vintage, you know that depth of inventory is an issue (what happens when you have the same one of a kind item listed in two places, and it sells out? Yikes!). CraftLaunch is a customizable website that just integrates your Etsy listings into it’s e-commerce platform, making that super easy. So if you want your own website in addition to your Etsy shop, without the headache, check it out. For the flat fee of $15/month you get unlimited pages and listings.
eBooks and information products: Very specific, super niche ebooks and products are one thing I do invest in. You can also check out "real" published books, I paid $10.99 for the kindle version of #GIRLBOSS. Some info-products are bullshit, but you can usually tell because the websites just scream “scammy” and the reviews seem a little too positive. But some of these books and video series can be really informative if you’re just starting out. If a blogger or author that you trust is selling an eBook, video tutorial, or How To Guide, it is worth checking out.
Books are one of the best investments you can make!
Scrivener: This a software program for writers. The perfect investment for giving you the motivation to write that eBook you’ve been thinking about. Good for non-fiction, fiction, blog posts, and more. Scrivener usually costs $45 but you can find it on sale pretty often, so keep an eye out for a discount.
Freshbooks Accounting and Invoicing: Especially good for tracking time and consultants/coaches who need to bill clients.
Zoho Invoicing Software: Same as above.
Paid Stock Photo Subscription: If you know you need high quality images you can use on your blog, there are a bunch of resources available for an affordable monthly fee. I love Death To The Stock Photo.
Satori: This is an app for coaches that need a management system for booking, scheduling, billing, and more.
Call Recorder: I use Call Recorder to record my Skype calls with clients, and to record video interviews. It costs $29, a one-time fee.
White Background for Photography: Up your product photography game and invest in a professional white backdrop or a lightbox, depending on your product. Why oh why did I wait so long to buy a professional backdrop? When I was doing my Etsy shop full-time, It made my vintage fashion product photos look 100 times better and sales soared thanks to the new look. If it makes your products look better, invest in it now!
Craft Fair, Farmers Market, or Flea Market: Want to make connections with potential customers and get yourself out there? Get yourself a table and set up a pop-up shop at a relevant event for the day. You can find Vintage Markets, Farmers Markets, Antiques Markets, Rock and Roll Flea Markets, Record Sales, and much more if you look in your area. The table investment is usually around $30 depending on your location. Even if you don’t sell many things, hand out business cards and chat with potential customers about custom orders. I was terrible at events like this because I carried very high end items that people didn’t splurge for on a whim, and I would do better online. But friends of mine make a month’s worth of income in a day.
Wistia: I use Wistia to host my videos for courses and webinar recordings. It costs $25/month, but you can get a discount if you purchase a year’s subscription up front. I compared all of the professional video hosting solutions and Wistia really had the best features.
PSST - I created this easy reference for you to Pin! PIN IT!
Evernote Premium: I love Evernote and I use it every single day for my business. If you’re becoming an Evernote power user, consider getting the added functionality of the Premium version - which is $45/year (so only about $4/month).
StitchLabs Inventory Management: When I first started my Etsy business I had maybe 50 - 70 pieces at a time. When that number grew substantially, managing inventory became a real logistics issue. StitchLabs integrates with many sales channels like Etsy, eBay, Shopify, Amazon and more. If you’re selling through multiple channels it seems like a fantastic tool. The Professional option is $45/month, with other options for more robust businesses.
LeadPages: This is probably my favorite tool on this list. And honestly, if you can only afford ONE investment in your business, make it LeadPages. It will help you grow your blog and business by making it super simple to grow your email list. I also use it for webinars! Since buying LeadPages, I’ve made back my investment 100x and I couldn’t be happier. You can get the basic LeadPages package for $37/month, or just $25/month if you pay for the year up front. So worth it!
There are a bunch of full LeadPages Tech Trainings in Your First 1K.
Premium Wordpress Theme: Once you’re hosting your own website, you’ll want a Premium Wordpress theme to make your website or blog look amazing. Don’t use the stock ones if you have the funds to buy a fantastic and unique theme. There are so many independently published themes available from Themeforest and independent designers that you should take advantage of! My friend Sarah has some great themes!
Custom Logo: Having a nice logo is a keystone to your business or blog branding. You can have a designer (or 99Designs or a million other websites) create a few different logos for you to choose from. This is a worthwhile investment!
E-Courses and some coaching to enhance your skills and improve your business: Investing in yourself is always a good idea. Take a course in product photography, business, branding, or accounting. If the skills you learn will help you stand out, make sales, and make your business amazing, it’s a good investment. Many people offer courses and tutorials for less than $100.
Screenflow: I use Screenflow to create screencasts and edit video. It’s one of those things that you use all the time once you’ve actually purchased it. You can create tutorial videos, and also record yourself doing your business tasks so that when you go to hire help or an assistant, they have a library of tutorials about how you like things done. Screenflow costs $99 as a one-time fee.
Blue Yeti Mic: I use my Blue Yeti Mic to record all professional audio for podcasts, webinars, screencast tutorials, and more. I also use it to record demos for my band! It’s a great, inexpensive tool for $129.
Shopify account: If you’re going balls to the wall with an e-commerce business, or expect to sell many products through your blog or website, check out Shopify. They have customizable themes and many features. It's more expensive than Squarespace, but many people swear by it. The Basic package is $29/month, while the more fully featured “Professional” is $79/month.
Photo Flash Stand Studio Kit - When I wanted to make my product photos look amazing, I invested in the flash stand studio kit. You really need ideal lighting for product photography, and this kit made it so I could get professional photos indoors if I had to. Now, I use my light stands and kit for lighting videos, webinars, and photoshoots. You can get one on Amazon for about $70.
Expanding Inventory: Once you’ve made a few sales, you might consider expanding your inventory. When I first started selling vintage clothes online I sold mostly inexpensive items that didn’t cost a lot to buy - like sunglasses that cost $0.50 and sold for $50. When I became more confident in my buying and selling skills, and had the capital to invest, I’d purchase items that cost me $50 - $150 if I know they are worth much more than that (a Chanel handbag for example - where $150 is pennies compared to it’s $6,000 price tag). If you’re ready, invest in some inventory, but don’t spend money that you couldn’t afford to lose.
“The best investment I have made in my business”.
That’s what my Your First 1K students are saying about this course. And it’s because this is one of the most comprehensive, no-bullshit, step-by-step courses for bloggers and entrepreneurs out there. I show you the strategies (the what) AND the tech tutorials (the how) you need to get your first 1,000 email subscribers and make $1k from your first product in 60 days or less. Everything from guest blogging, to product creation, to pricing to launching - it’s ALL covered in detail.
You can join Your First 1K right here (It's what we call "evergreen" - meaning you can start the course right now!).
Find out why my students are saying “This is the ONLY e-course I will EVER NEED.”
My students are doubling their lists, getting their first 500 subscribers in a matter of weeks, and hitting their first 1K by implementing just a few of the strategies and techniques in the course.
Which micro-investments will you make in yourself and your business in the next few months?
How much can you invest and what will you put it towards?