No matter what stage you’re at as a blogger, you’re likely always in need of a little direction or a cool new tool to help you overcome a current hurdle. In your search for help, you’ve probably come across some lists of 1001 links. Sounds good. It is not like this? Instead, you probably just walked off that list with 37 newsletter services to choose from even more overwhelmed.
Today, I thought I’d share some of my personal favorite blog resources and links where you can find help. These are all essentials that I personally use and I’ll tell you why.
Self-hosted WordPress is the only way to go if you want to make money from blogging.
If you’re just dipping your toe into the blogging pool, the cost of some web hosting companies can be prohibitive. I suggest starting with an affordable host where you can learn the ropes, get good support, and feel confident in your quest.
Bluehost offers that. Get started for as little as $2.95 per month. That includes a domain name, SSL certificate, 24/7 support, and 1-click WordPress installation. Take a look at my blog why? please post some screenshots and installation tips.
At some point, hopefully, you will need to move to a more solid hosting company. As my traffic increased, I changed hosts twice in the last 10 years. I have now been with Flywheel for four years.
The steering wheel is not cheap! But they offer a great managed service for high traffic sites.
WordPress Framework and Themes
If you’re going to have a great blog, you need a great theme.
I have been using the Genesis framework since it first came out. This framework integrates SEO, security, and performance to make your WordPress site the best it can be.
In addition to the framework, you need a good child theme to get the look you’re looking for. Depending on the site, I’m currently using the StudioPress Authority Pro (this and another blog) and Agency Pro (my freelance site) themes.
I’ve also used Restored 316 child themes from time to time. My direct selling blog it currently uses its retired style theme. If you are looking for a pretty and girly theme, this is the place to go.
Writing is a big part of being a blogger. Here are some things I use to make life easier.
Newsflash: I hate review. Grammarly helps me catch spelling and grammatical errors before posting. It won’t capture everything, but everything helps.
Blogging takes a lot of work. There is so much to do. I love outsourcing small, short-term projects to Upwork. I’ve hired freelancers on the site to help me with everything from writing social media status updates promoting my old content to writing descriptions. Be willing to pay a good rate and be sure to check the freelancer’s feedback and work history.
For ongoing support, I found a great assistant at Time Etc. It took me a while to find the right person, but it was much easier for me to try different assistants through this platform than when trying to hire/fire freelancers on my own. . If it doesn’t work, I just tell them to find someone else for me. I don’t have to deal with it.
Any time someone writes something for you, it is essential that you make sure that it is not plagiarized. This also applies to guest posters. Sometimes this is not intentional, but it does happen. Copyscape has been my go-to for years.
electronic newsletter service
This is your most important marketing avenue. Get a great setup right from the start.
AWeber was my first newsletter service back in the day, and I still use it for my direct sales blog that doesn’t require much tagging or segmentation. It’s easy to use, affordable and affiliate friendly.
If you need a solid setup, I’ve been using ConvertKit for over three years. This service allows you to easily tag and segment subscribers. It’s also much easier to have a large number of lists and forms here than it is on AWeber. And, ConvertKit doesn’t charge you for duplicate subscribers, which can become a problem with multiple subscriptions and lists.
Once you have your service, you need an easy way to install those forms on your site. I haven’t found the forms available in my newsletter services to offer much in the way of flexibility and design, so I’ve been using OptinMonster for over three years.
Check out this ConvertKit pep talk builder list: 3 steps to your first 1,000 subscribers.
We live in an image-driven society. Great images can make or break your blog’s traffic potential. They can also break your bank if you’re using images without permission or the proper kind of permission. Therefore, it is important to source from the right places.
I use a lot of female imagery in my blog posts and on social media. I have memberships on several great sites:
You can also get great tips for taking your own blog photos in the Ultimate Photography Bundle.
When it comes to creating images, Canva is my go-to. I only use the free account, but their templates are second to none.
Occasionally I need to take and edit screenshots. I use PicMonkey for that.
You can’t have a successful blog without traffic!
Pinterest is a major traffic driver for most blogs today. Tailwind can handle not only pin programming but also Instagram. And Tailwind Tribe can greatly increase your reach on Pinterest if you connect with some great bloggers in the same or similar niche.
Your best place to get your blog stats is directly from the source. These are the statistics that sponsors and advertisers will want anyway. Everything you need to know is here. It’s good to learn to move. Google offers a free learning center also.
Custom dashboards can make your analytics life so much easier. And using these boards is very easy. There are many free ones that focus on different aspects of your statistics. This free from Kristie Hill can give you a lot of great information about your Pinterest traffic.
Search engine optimization is certainly included in traffic, but I use so many things for SEO, it’s so important, that I wanted to give it its own category.
This is an affordable keyword research tool that can help you clearly identify the best keywords for your next post. With a search, you can see who ranks high for that term and how hard it would be for you to take over one of those places. It will also serve you alternatives to consider.
SEMRush is a must for advanced bloggers. This site will help you monitor the overall SEO health of your site and see at a glance how your site is moving up the search ranks for the keywords that bring you search traffic. This tool is not cheap, but it is one that I use on a daily basis. Try it free for 7 days.
This is a free WordPress plugin that will help you optimize your latest blog post for the keyword you are targeting. It won’t do the work for you, but it does provide a sort of checklist to make sure you’re optimizing for the right places: post slug, title, images, etc. A premium version is also available.
If you’re having trouble getting your site set up on WordPress, there are some great free blogging resources right at your fingertips.
iMark Interactive has a great free course that will help you learn the ropes of WP. (If you need personalized help, interactive iMark is who I use when I need to fix things.)
When it comes to tutorials for beginners, there’s nothing better than LearnWP’s free videos. Get tons of video tutorials free of charge.
YouTube was a big part of my blogging strategy in 2018. And it really paid off!
This is a really cheap webcam, but it gets the job done. If you’re just starting out, you can do it on a budget.
I recommend investing in a good microphone. I was getting a lot of nasty comments about the audio on my first few videos. This is a great microphone that is very popular with YouTubers.
phone ring light
Who doesn’t want a Diva Ring? I am right? Unfortunately, it’s not in everyone’s budget. And for those of us shooting video in a small space, not everyone has the space. This cute ring light is designed for selfies, but it will give any nearby space a nice glow. And you can get it for around $15.
I attribute 100% of my success on YouTube to search optimization. It is a Google product. People go there looking for things they want to learn about. If you’re not using keywords when uploading your videos, you’re missing out. And TubeBuddy makes it so easy! I love this service.
Editing videos was my biggest struggle. I couldn’t understand the technical aspects of most of the software. I found Filmora quite easy to understand.
Transcription of your videos is another simple but really useful step. Rev.com offers a really fast response time and very affordable rates. I always use this service. Get $10 off your first order with this link.
There are so many blogging courses out there. Here are some of my favourites.
create and go
Unfortunately, EBA is only open for enrollment once a year. If you can’t wait, I also really like the courses that Create & Go offers. They have something for every blogger.
I hope these recommendations help you on your way as a blogger. If you need other references, don’t hesitate to send an email. I am happy to help when I can.