August 10, 2015 49 comments

If you only have $X to invest in your business, what should you spend it on?

by Regina

What to spend your money on each month as you invest in your business.
We’re going to play a game I’m sure you’re more than familiar with . . . I’m talking about none other than the $10 • $20 • $30 • $40 • $50 to $60 • $75 • $100 Game of course.

Not only is the name of this game super short and easy to say, the game is also pretty simple. Basically, we answer the question >> if I only have $10 or $20 or $30 (and so on) to invest in my business each month, what are the best places to invest it?

Some friends and I played this game on Periscope the other day, and a super smart lady named Donna suggested that I put this material on the web elsewhere so that more of us creatives could benefit from our discussion. So, let’s get to the $10 • $20 • $30 • $40 • $50 to $60 • $75 • $100 Game. And don’t you dare go thinking up a more clever name for this thing. That took me like 7.5 hours to come up with.


If you have $10 to invest in your business each month, try:


Hosting ($5 – $8)

At $10/month, it’s time to own a custom domain name and have professional hosting. You can opt for Bluehost (if you’re going with WordPress) or the basic Squarespace plan. If you decide on WordPress, you can definitely upgrade to different hosting later, as your traffic grows, but I love what Bluehost offers for the price, and I still use them for many projects even today.

Google Apps Email ($4 – $5)

Oh, and to round out your move to a more professional online presence, not only can you own your own domain name and hosting account, but you can also get a nice, custom email address such as you@yourcoolnewdomain.com. And there’s no need to use something horribly unfunctional for your email platform if you’re used to using the highly awesome Gmail app. Just grab Google Apps for Work for $4 to $5 per month.

Your business email client will look and function just like Gmail, so you’ll have access to extra “Labs” that allow you to enable things like “Canned Responses” (so you can easily insert a pre-written script to people when you find yourself needing to respond with the same information to multiple people).

To enable Canned Responses or any other Labs, head to your settings in the top-right portion of your Gmail app when logged in, then head to Labs and scroll through the available options.

Enable Canned Responses in Gmail

Enable Canned Responses or other Labs in Gmail

Free Stuff You Can Try Out

There’s a lot you can do for free while your $10/month goes to the items above. You can be on the free MailChimp plan, the free Calendly plan (if you need to schedule calls/appointments with clients), the free Buffer plan (so you can schedule and queue social media posts), and you can also use Wave Accounting for free.

Psst. There’s something else super cool you can do for free >> join Jen Carrington and myself for our fortnightly (every two weeks) FREE online workshops meant to help you humanize and monetize your brand. We have one coming up soon–so, you know, check it out.

ScrappyHour with Jen Carrington and Regina Anaejionu


If you have $20 to invest in your business each month, try:



In addition to all the free things above, and the $10 you’re already spending on hosting and email, it’s time to add another useful item for $10 more per month . . . to bring you to a total of $20. Choose from one of the items below, based on your business and audience needs.

Buffer Awesome Plan ($10)

With the Buffer Awesome Plan, you can now add up to 100 posts to your Buffer queue + you can even connect your RSS feeds to your Buffer account–making it even simpler to share blog posts.

MailChimp Paid Plan (starting at $10)

With a paid MailChimp account, you’ll unlock extra features such as Automation (so you can send out super helpful emails as soon as someone subscribes; you can even set up whole email courses), Delivery by Time Zone (so everyone can get your email at 9 a.m. no matter what time zone they’re in), and chat and email support with the MailChimp team. That’s pretty epic in my opinion.

More Free Stuff You Can Try Out

If you’ve been working on your business for a while, you’re probably running into the need for graphics of some sort quite frequently. Try Canva or Pixlr to create images on your own.


If you have $30 to invest in your business each month, try:



Now you don’t have to choose, you can add everything in the $10/mo scenario + everything in the $20/mo category. So yeah, time to grab both–

Buffer + MailChimp

More Free Stuff You Can Try Out

If you’re starting to take on customers or work with freelancers or independent contractors, you may need documents signed. Check out the free HelloSign plan to collect quick eSignatures from others.


If you have $40 to invest in your business each month, try:



When you can add an extra $10 or so per month, consider one or both of the options below.

Adobe Photoshop ($10)

It’s how I make my blog post templates, my book covers (which I plan to talk about later this week), and 99% of the graphics I create online. If you plan to do graphic design as a profession, you’ll likely want to invest in and learn Adobe Illustrator and/or Adobe InDesign, but if you want to be able to #StayScrappy and whip up your own blog and social media graphics in one of Adobe’s “simplest-to-learn” software programs, then Photoshop is for you my friend.

Stock Photos ($3+)

It might be a good time to start investing in paid stock photos (or perhaps start investing time in learning to take your own photos). Wait Regina, why can’t I use all the lovely free ones available? I’m not forbidding you from doing so, but if you’re on the Internet enough (as many of your audience members might be), you’ll start to notice the same photos used over and over and over again, everywhere. To stand out, invest a little time and/or money in less common photos (like those from Stocksy, pictured below)–or in ones that are completely original.

Stocksy photos are beautiful

Even More Free Stuff You Can Try Out

If you want to manage multiple Instagram accounts, upload photos from your computer or phone, and easily plan + manage your upcoming Instagram posts, then Latergramme is your jam. You can schedule your phone’s app to notify you when it’s time to post something specific on Instagram. You can open the app, and within a few seconds, post your intended image to your Instagram account. It won’t post it for you, but it’s the closest thing to it that I’ve found so far.


If you have $50 – $60 to invest in your business each month, try:


Calendly ($8 – $10)

If you’re tired of back-back-forth-and-forth emails between you and a client trying to schedule a call or a free consultation, allow Calendly to help. You can create a personal page, where clients can pick from your multiple meeting types and select a time that you have pre-specified as acceptable. Clients will get automated reminders (no more silly excuses for missed calls) and will be able to easily integrate the meetings with their Google Calendar, iCal, or Outlook calendar app. Epic!

Calendly makes client scheduling so much simpler.

Basecamp ($20)

Instead of 212 emails being exchanged back and forth over the course of a 1-month freelance project you do for a client, why not keep everything (files, communication, client decisions, feedback, etc.) in one organized place with Basecamp? Honestly, as a client of a designer, and as someone who is being “Basecamped” as we speak . . . I highly recommend and love this software. I always know where my project stands, and I always know if my designer, Jamie of Spruce Rd., needs anything from me. P.S. She’s the best.

Even More Free Stuff You Can Try Out

If you’re not quite ready to commit to Basecamp, or if you simply want to try out another amazing project/team organization software, then check out Asana.


If you have $75 to invest in your business each month, try:


Typeform ($25)

If you happen to want to create beautiful forms that you can use as questionnaires, surveys, or even as registration forms from which you can take secure credit card payments, then check out Typeform. You’ll be able to send automatic emails to your clients when they finish a form, you’re easily able to export all of your results, and you can even set up additional actions so that your respondent’s email addresses get stored on a specific email list. Typeform is the best.

LeadPages ($25+)

If you want to create simple, functional, and attractive opt-in boxes (like the one pictured below) that you can use to register people for events or collect signups for your email list and deliver automatic freebies, then LeadPages is a great tool for you to consider at this point.

Not only can you create “LeadBoxes,” but you can create whole registration pages, opt-in pages, webinar pages, and even thank you pages for people who take a specific action.

You can use LeadPages to create beautiful signup forms, landing pages, and thank you pages.

You can use LeadPages to create beautiful landing pages and thank you pages.

You can even use LeadPages to create custom 404 pages for your website (if you use WordPress). A 404 error happens when someone tries to visit a link that doesn’t exist (maybe you changed it, maybe they typed it wrong, maybe they do too many drugs Starburst candies and typed byRegina.com/flipperthedolphin instead of byRegina.com/bio). Well, have no fear, my friend. Even your 404 page can convert people into believers. I’m using mine to give away a free eBook while making new ninja friends for my weekly emails.

byRegina 404 page and free eBook

Even More Free Stuff You Can Try Out

I’m sure it goes without saying . . . which means I’ll take the time to say it anyways, but having cloud storage for important files is super useful. Check out Dropbox. They have free plans and 5 TB plans for insane-o’s like me.


If you have $100 to invest in your business each month, try:


Upgraded Hosting ($25+)

When your site starts to have a lot of content or starts to get a lot of traffic, you’re going to want a solid hosting plan that can handle everything without slowing your site down. Managed hosting, my friends.

When you want to relaunch your site with a completely new theme or feature, but you don’t want your current site to go down even for a minute, having a “staging site” (where you can test out all your changes and publish to your live site in one click) is clutch. Managed hosting, my friends.

When you run any type of website where your site is your business, your livelihood, your resume, your everything, you don’t want downtime or hackers to hold you back. Managed hosting, my friends.

I personally love and use WPEngine (who is having a special for free migrations from your current host–amazing–as well as 20% off monthly and annual plans), but you can also check out companies such as Media Temple and Flywheel, which all have managed plans for WordPress.

WPEngine is the best managed hosting for WordPress that I've found.

Even More Free Stuff You Can Try Out

If you occasionally need to get on the phone or text with clients, and you’re not quite settled on letting them have your actual cell number, then check out Google Voice as a way to get another number that forwards to your phone. It’s pretty epic for business owners.

So, tell me all about it . . . did I miss some of the tools you can’t live without? I’d love to hear about them . . . or anything else you want to tell me about in the comments below.


Photo: (c) Chelsea Victoria

49 responses to “If you only have $X to invest in your business, what should you spend it on?”

  1. Sasha-Shae says:

    Excellent tips. I was just watching the replay of the blog is not a business neither is etsy periscope. I totally need to finally grab my copy of the EpicBlog. I just got your Small Biz manual and right off the bat its power packed!

    I’m in the process of completely rebranding my blog and iterating the changes that needs to happen. Any solid advice for rebranding an existing site and how to best do it especially when it involves a name change and domain change?

    Thanks Regick!

    • regina says:

      Yay for your rebrand. And thank you for the comment. Honestly, some of the best tips I’ve seen are ones that Jessica of JessicaSays.com wrote into her guest post on this site–along with the freebie she has linked from there.

      I’d say to check that out and see if it helps.

      P.S. Thank you for grabbing a copy of the book. I really appreciate it.

  2. Amy Maricle says:

    HI Regina:

    I caught your periscope on this while I was on a long car ride with nothing else to do. What a great use of my time. I learned so much. I use the free version of Buffer, but I can see that I need to up my posting game given what you had to say here. Thanks as ALWAYS for being such an amazing amazo-s teacher.
    Amy

    • regina says:

      Amy, thank you for always tuning in and being so ridiculously encouraging. I had fun catching your scope the other day as well. What a view you were showing us.

      • Amy Maricle says:

        HI Regina:

        Aw, it’s easy to be ridiculously encouraging because you are ridiculously fun, witty, informative, and amazing. I learn so much everywhere I find you. Thanks again for Blog 2 Profit. It was amazo-s and I loved it!

        Also, you totally made my day when you tuned in for my scope. So glad you enjoyed that gorgeous NH view. I’ll try to bring some more next week from Maine while I’m on vacation.
        Cheers,
        Amy

  3. I’m so glad you made this into a blog post because I had a hard time remembering the things you mentioned in the Periscope that I wanted to check out.

    Maybe I’m not looking in the right place, but on Stocksy the most affordable photos were $10 for the small size. Is there a way to pay for photos for a year or something that’s a little more cost effective?

    • Rebekah says:

      Try Dollar Photo Club. $10/month and the images are high resolution. I have used them as full-page covers and they are beautiful.

    • regina says:

      Hey, thank you for being on the #scope the other day. I would recommend Fotolia.com or checking out Dollar Photo Club (as Rebekah so kindly shared) for images. I also really like CreativeMarket.com for affordable images that are also beautiful.

  4. Great post, Regina! I’m loving Go Independent so far 🙂
    You can also hook up your custom email to your regular Gmail account for free in your Gmail settings. I have it set up with my regular Gmail so I can send and receive both personal email and business email in one spot. It’s pretty handy.

  5. Dani says:

    ::deep heavy sigh:: I don’t know why I even come to this site. You always put me on to some new site, app, tool or program that my slow ass has to spend time figuring out.
    Ugh.
    ok well, thanks. I guess.
    PS I do think calendly is gunna be a life changer for me tho.

  6. Charlene says:

    Wow…this list is amazing! I was searching high and low for something like TypeForm and you just made my day! 🙂

  7. Becca says:

    Yes, yes, yes! I use heaps of these! Typeform is on my list of things to check out. I have Leadpages and didn’t realise about the 404 pages – that’s a to do for tomorrow haha! I realised today that I already have managed wordpress (woops!) and I have a Fotolia subscription but will check out Stocksy! Another tool I really love is CoSchedule. I have been paying for it for a while and not using it properly, but it really is awesome. Especially now that I’m trying to get on top of my content and have more prepared in advance.

  8. Ohhh yay! I was bummed that I missed the scope on this so thanks to Donna for being my hero! Wow I just love how your mind works Regina. The way this is laid out and written is pure brilliance.

  9. Stephanie says:

    i couldnt see the whole Periscope either (as it kicks me out regularly of your longer ones, any plans to upload them on a page for An easier replay by the way) so I’m so glad you wrote this post.

    Two comments
    1) – I second the recommendation for Coschedule. It has a template for tasks that you can apply for each post and it sends you reminders when they are overdue.
    – if you rely a lot on Pinterest, Tailwind is the best app I found so far for managing your presence

    2) love Jamie from Spruce Rd. Even contacted her for some work but she’s already pretty busy with full brand work so I couldn’t use her for limited services. I think I recognised her style in some of your recent worksheets? A full collaboration between the two of you is going to be awesome. Can’t wait to see more.

  10. Ife says:

    Hey Regina,

    I noticed you had Thrive Themes installed before (I was enrolled in one of your classes). Is there a reason why you prefer landing pages over Thrive Themes or do they do different things?

    Dalu!

  11. Hey Regina, just watched your scope – yay well done for getting this post up! Hope you’re in bed sound asleep now??

    I’ve been seriously considering paying for Mailchimp as I’d love to start a free email series and I need the automation for that – I’m reluctant to spend $10 a month when I’m not currently making and money from my site but I have to tell myself it’s all part of the plan!

    You have been totally ON IT all over the internets lately – cannot wait for your workshops with Jen!

  12. Brittney says:

    I love how you broke all of this down. I’m currently doing the $10/month plan just might take it up a notch!! Thank you for this!

  13. This is such an epic roundup post! Loved watching you share this on Periscope! 🙂

  14. Tenns says:

    Regina, this is such an amazingly helpful post. I’ll definitely be referencing it as I grow and invest in my business even more. Some of the resources I’m familiar with, but others are completely new and will be so helpful. Thanks so much for enlightening me!

  15. JaneTravis says:

    Thanks Regina, great blog! So many resources out there to choose from, it can be overwhelming! Recommendations are always great. Thanks x

  16. Thank you for sharing, interesting tips! I’ve already pretty much exhausted my minimal monthly budget for my blog, but when I do have more to invest, I’ll make sure to check back with this article. Thanks again!

  17. Hi Regina,
    Thanks for these great tips! So far I’ve invested in professional hosting and I’m considering investing in a Mailchimp professional account. There are so many great resources out there that it’s difficult to choose.

  18. Allison says:

    Ohhhhh yesss I like this game! 😀 I’ve been dying to try Lead Pages because opt-ins and the like are the bane of my existence and they make me want to punch a pillow! lol. But seriously. And I’m excited to check out some of these other resources too …

    Thanks for sharing! 😀

    xoxo
    Allison

    http://www.wonderlass.com

  19. Great tips, Regina! I do use some of the apps that you’ve suggested and they are pretty sweet and truly helpful. Superb investment for business owners like us

  20. Andrea Wilson says:

    Thank you so much! Just curious, what/who do you recommend if you need your current site updated/overhauled? I think that is easily one of my single biggest upfront expenses.

    • regina says:

      Andrea, if using Squarespace, I’d check out Nesha Designs. If using WordPress or just in need of a rebrand, I’d check out Jamie of Spruce Rd.

      • Andrea Wilson says:

        Thank you Regina! One more question. I remember you saying you used a Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920. Well, I put the item on my Amazon wishlist (mostly to remind myself to buy it later), but it looks like someone bought it for my birthday (August 15). Yikes! Ask and you shall receive.
        What type of tripod do you recommend?
        Thanks!
        ~AWW
        P.S. I’m learning a ton from you, and I keep telling my peers in my ICF coach training class to check you out. 🙂

  21. Kim E says:

    Regina –
    This beats any Top 10 list I’ve ever seen. Thank you so much for sharing. What I really love, besides all the great tools, is that I can incorporate this directly into my business plan. Of course I want to do everything right away. This helps me prioritize and saves me from spending/wasting hours playing with fun new toys/tools I really don’t need to be worrying about right now.

    Keep up the amazing and inspiring work!

  22. Betty says:

    Really great ideas here!
    Oh and I love the freebies you shared I will make sure to join your workshop asap 🙂

    Betty | http://www.inspiremeland.com

  23. Love these resources! And I especially love your great use of the 404 Page!!

    Thanks for all you do, Regina!

  24. Kimber says:

    Great tips Regina! So many are scared to invest in themselves to go forward.

  25. Donna says:

    The information that you originally gave us in the ‘scope was SO valuable, so I’m super happy that you posted it! Thanks so much! Right now, I’m watching the replay of today’s ‘scope about your new website launch. Your site looks amazeballs!

  26. Lauren says:

    Hello Regina!

    (Ignore the above comment, my computer went spazzy all of the sudden!)

    First off, thanks for the list! It was extremely helpful, and I’ll be looking into these companies and services soon. I just have one question:

    What is the difference between regular webhosting and managed hosting?

    I am hoping to move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org, and to do that I will need a webhost. I have planned on using Green Geek, as it seems like the perfect fit for me right now. But know I’m wondering if that would be the right decision. My site doesn’t get a lot of major traffic right now, and I can always switch later. What would you recommend?

    Thanks!

    Lauren

  27. Camille says:

    Hi !

    I wanted to join the #goIndependent group, so I registered and I thought I was done, but now I can’t access the facebook group or the website, because I should have registered there yesterday… I feel so stupid and would have loved to join you all 🙁

  28. Ally says:

    Has anyone tried scheduling instagram with hootsuite? Just found out that is an option for scheduling instagram posts.

  29. Allison says:

    Okay I think I already commented on this fabulous post BUT I just wanted to say that I LOVE YOUR NEW SITE DESIGN! WOO HOO!!!!

    The end. 😛

    xoxo
    Allison

    http://www.wonderlass.com

  30. Megan says:

    So many great tips here, Regina! It’s great you shared free options + various expense amounts. I just recently started using Leadpages and love it.

    Megan
    http://www.eagerentrepreneur.com/

  31. Andréa says:

    After freelancing for 1.5 years, I finally started investing into some of these products! I don’t know what I’d do without Buffer lol.

    I also started using Calendly (free version) too and it rocks. I’m so obsessed with how easy it is.

    Great post with tons of great info!

  32. Joan says:

    This is an awesome blogpost. Extremely helpful for upcoming entrepreneurs like myself. Definitely maximizing the free apps and building on my brand through my website and social media. Periscope is the dopest free marketing tool and I found you there.

  33. Stephanie says:

    Regina this is a lifesaver! I’m just starting my business and I love that you broke things down into different price points. Calendly is going to be super helpful for me and it’s great there’s a free version. Awesome post!

  34. Samirah says:

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

  35. Just what I need! Thank you for sharing all these very valuable tips! My blog needs some TLC and these are so motivating!

  36. Jen says:

    Love these tips! This is exactly what I need because my friend and I are looking at starting a site together but we both had someone else set up our initial sites. I wanted to ask you if you have any recommendations for getting a logo at a budget friendly price?

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