Welcome to the Blog Essentials on a Budget series! I know money can be tight when you're just starting out building a blogging business. So, this series will show you the best things to spend your money on that will make the biggest impact. Throughout the series, we'll explore different budget points and where your focus should be for each one.
Today we're going to explore the $10 blog essentials budget. That means we'll explore what you should be spending your money on to build your blog that will only cost you about as much as the cheapest subscription to Netflix. You may not think you can get a lot at this budget, but there are some important things that you can do.
So, you have $10 to spend on blog essentials, what should you buy for your blog?
Quickbooks - online accounting software.
Gumroad - helps you sell your products, goods, or services
Why I recommend Quickbooks
If you're running a blogging business and spending and making money, you need a way to track it all. When I first started out, I didn't have a lot of expenses. I just used an excel spreadsheet to track everything. And, it worked for the moment.
But as my blog started to grow, I started having more transactions. Things were consistently coming in and out. Tracking it manually was time-consuming and I needed something that could easily handle the volume of transactions that I had.
Quickbooks does just that.
If you connect your bank account in Quickbooks, it automatically tracks income and expenses for you. It inputs the information from your bank account directly into the system. You don't have to do it manually!
Why is this so important?
It decreases the chance that you miss something. If you forget to record $1,000 of revenue for your blogging business, the IRS isn't going to be real happy about it. You need to track every transaction.
The fact that Quickbooks can do this for you, is a game-changer. And, they also have an app! It allows you to easily track blog expenses by allowing you to take a picture of your receipts to easily add them into your transactions.
Quickbooks also allows you to add someone on your account. This makes it really easy when tax time rolls around and you need to provide an accountant with all of your income and expense details. All you have to do is add them on the system and they have access to pull everything they need.
Or, if you DIY your taxes, you can link Quickbooks with Turbo Tax to make it super easy.
What is Quickbooks good for?
Obviously, Quickbooks is great for recording your income and expenses. But I also love that it allows me to run reports that allow me to see what my business is looking like. They have set reports that you can run, or you can create your own. It can basically provide me with a health report of my business.
If you want to give Quickbooks a try, you can get 50% off the first 6 months with my affiliate link here. That would bring your expense down to only $5/month for the first 6 months.
Why I recommend Gumroad
There are a lot of steps that go into creating and selling online products. It can get really overwhelming!
Gumroad is a software that takes the hassle and headache out of processing payments and delivering digital products. Here's how it works:
Say you create an e-book. You've spent a lot of time writing it, editing it, and getting everything just right. But now you have to figure out how to sell it. You could put it on your website and allow people to send you cash or checks, and then email them with the product once you have their payment. But let's be serious. That's not going to work in 2019!
Instead, when you set up Gumroad, it accepts payment for you. Your audience can pay with things like a credit card or Paypal. Once Gumroad processes the payment they automatically deliver the product for you.
You don't have to do any of it manually.
Why Gumroad instead of another option?
There are plenty of software options that you can choose from. SamCart is a great option that helps you sell your products, but it's pretty expensive. When you're just starting out and working with a tight budget, you probably shouldn't be spending that much.
With Gumroad, you can start for free or use their $10 plan. When you sell a product, they take a cut out and then you get the rest. They're managing your payment processing and delivery of the product, so that's how they get their cut. But it's pretty affordable when you're just getting started.
How do I start selling on Gumroad?
Using Gumroad is simple. You just upload your product, set the price and enter the description and details. Then, you can attach it to your website. When someone wants to purchase a product, they input their payment information, name and email. When the payment is accepted, Gumroad automatically delivers the product.
You only have to set it up once and it's pretty hands-off. Then, you place it on your site and you're done. You don't have to stay on top of your email to make sure people are getting what they order.
Other features I like on Gumroad
I also like that Gumroad allows me to run reports. I'm a numbers person. I love to see the numbers and with the reports from Gumroad. I can analyze the statistics to see how the product is doing. This helps me see if I need to make any changes to keep my product selling well.
One of my favorite things about Gumroad is that they allow the option of an upsell. This isn't something that every software option allows you to do. An upsell is when someone is purchasing a product and you offer them something small before they checkout. Here's what it looks like:
Someone is purchasing one of your e-books for $9. As they are getting ready to checkout, you offer them a worksheet that goes along with the book for an additional $5. This allows you to increase your revenue per transaction from $9 to $14 if they choose to purchase the book.
The final thing I want to mention is that Gumroad allows you to email your past customers. So, if you wrote an updated version of your e-book and wanted to provide it for free to everyone that's already purchased it, you easily can.
Do bloggers have to pay taxes?
We discussed taxes a little in the Quickbooks section, but I want to touch on it again.
You need to pay taxes as a blogger. It's just like any job or any business. If you make money, you need to report it. How much you have to pay in taxes is going to depend on a lot of different things. And, as you start making more money, you're going to want to make estimated tax payments.
That means instead of waiting until April 15th to pay in the taxes you owe, you'll estimate the amount of tax that you think you'll owe and split it up over four quarters.
For example, at the end of each quarter in 2019, I'm paying a portion of the tax that I think I'll owe for the year. Then, if I end up making more than I anticipated, I can pay in a little more at the end of the year. Or, if I overpaid throughout the year, I'll get a refund.
And, Quickbooks lets me know what my estimated tax payments should be for each quarter. This helps you avoid paying a big tax bill with a penalty once tax time comes around.
What can you write-off as a blogger?
Let me start with a disclaimer: I'm not an accountant or legal professional. It's important that you check on the tax laws in your area. They differ from state to state. The best way to figure this out is to talk to a local tax professional.
With that said, you have to pay taxes on the money you make, but you can also write off your expenses of blogging. This is one reason that it's helpful to use Quickbooks to track your cost of running a blog. The cost of blogging is going to differ for each person. It will vary based on your blogging budget.
Typical deductions that bloggers can claim include:
Memberships (like the cost of the Blogging Business Club)
And, if you have a dedicated office space at home, you can typically write off a portion of your utility bills. But, remember to talk to a tax professional first.
What can I blog about to make money?
Let's backtrack for any of you that are still at the start of your blogging journey. Before you think about accounting software and selling online products, you need to know what you want to blog about. Luckily, the choices are pretty much endless.
But the trick to growing a successful blogging business is choosing a niche. You don't want to just blog about whatever pops into your head. If you want some help thinking about possible blogging niches, you can read my blog post, 160+ Blog Niche Ideas that Aren’t Boring.
And, if you're wondering if it's actually possible to make money blogging, here are some other blog posts that you might be interested in:
How do I set up a blog to sell things?
Once you decide what you want to blog about, your next step is getting everything set up. This can feel overwhelming when you're just starting out, but don't worry!
I created a Bluehost tutorial that will walk you right through what you need to do in my post, How to Start a Blog in 2019 So You Can Work From Home. And, you don't have to come up with everything from scratch. Here are some of my favorite templates: Blogging Tools and Resources
Come back for more budgets for blog essentials
So, there you have it. My $10 blogging budget. If you missed the first post of the blog essentials on a budget series you can check it out here. I shared my recommendation for a $5 blogging budget. Keep your eyes out on the Allison Lindstrom YouTube channel and the blog to see future blogging essential recommendations for different budget points.