Blogging is extremely overwhelming. There are so many resources to use that it can become a whirlwind of information, making it difficult to even get started on your blog. You can spend a ridiculous amount of time learning about blogging and it is never ending. New research on social media, SEO, and monetization come out every day. I would know this because I am a research junkie. Once I get started on a topic it’s hard to stop me.
A lot of times this research can be contradicting. Some techniques work for some bloggers and those same techniques might not get you even one page view. You have to find what works for you, but finding what works for you often is a game of trial and error of what has worked for others. This post is about the resources that have worked for me.
I want to be able to share with others what I have used to propel my blogging career or what I recommend based on things I have learned from my fellow bloggers. I do not know everything and I have not tried everything, but these are a few of them that I have tried and grown to love.
Bluehost- I want to start out by saying that I have never used Bluehost, BUT I have many many friends who have started out on Bluehost and love it. I hear that not only are their hosting services great, but their customer service is top notch. Which is a MUST HAVE for bloggers. When signing up you get your first domain name for free. I started my blog out with Dreamhost and if I could go back and do it all over again I would choose Bluehost.
Servously- My year long contract with Dreamhost is up this month and after hours of meticulous research, I have decided to switch hosts to Servously. The reason for this is not easily explained, but here is a video with the founder of Servously on what to look for in a host and why your blog keeps crashing. If you don’t do anything with this post besides watch this video I will be happy because it is a game changer for blogs who are looking to expand their reach. I will come back to this post after I switch hosts and update you on my success (because I know it will be a success) with Servously.
Genesis Framework– In my opinion Genesis is a must have for serious bloggers. The theme comes optimized for search engine traffic, which is amazing because SEO is already complicated enough. You can read more about the benefits of using Genesis here.
Here are the 10 bestselling Genesis Child Themes. You do need to purchase a child theme along with the Genesis framework.
- Foodie Pro Theme (this website…so my personal favorite and highly recommended)
- Generate Pro Theme
- Parallax Pro Theme
- Executive Theme
- Lifestyle Theme
- Modern Blogger Pro
- Metro Theme
- Magazine Theme
- News Theme
Foodie Pro is the only child theme I have ever worked with so I cannot say how well the others will work out, but many other bloggers do use them and I have not yet heard a bad word about any of them.
Askimet– This plugin blocks spam comments on your blog. I installed this plugin on day one and have never once had an issue with spam.
Broken Link Checker– This plugin helps you keep up with links on your blog. If you ever change the URL of a post or one of your affiliate links stops working they will let you know so that you can get it fixed ASAP. I don’t want people to come to my site only to be frustrated by links that go nowhere.
Limit Login Attempts– Another way to protect your blog is to limit the amount of attempts that someone has to login to your account. This will keep the hackers away. I currently have almost 4,000 blocked login attempts…and they weren’t me.
Shareaholic– These are share buttons so that your readers can share your blog posts on various social media channels. There are several other plugins that do this, but I use Shareaholic because I love the look of the buttons and the share count feature.
SumoMe– This plugin is amazing and is packed full of awesome features for your blog. Personally I use SumoMe to gather Facebook likes with the bar on the top of my screen and collect email addresses with the popup. This is only 2 of many features they offer.
Yoast SEO- This makes SEO a breeze. YOAST will hold your hand and lead you step by step through making each post as optimized for search engine traffic as possible. This is probably my favorite plugin.
PicMonkey– I use this program to edit my images. The pro version has so many great features.
Canva– Another program I use to edit images.
Deposit Photos– A place to buy Pinterest worthy images.
Big Stock Photo– Another place to buy Pinterest worthy images.
Hotjar– If you are looking to dig deeper with your audience and understand what exactly they want from you and what they don’t like that you are already doing this is what you want to use. Hotjar allows you to analyze your audience through heatmaps, recordings of what your visitors do on your site, polls, surveys, and MORE. Here is a podcast from Food Blogger Pro where they interview the founder of Hotjar and you can learn how to use it to its full potential.
MailChimp– I use Mailchimp to gather email subscribers, send out my weekely newsletter, and send readers my free ebook. It’s easy to use and is free through your first 2,000 email subscribers.
Board Booster– Trying to keep on top of the Pinterest game is almost impossible without help. There are a lot of Pinterest automation programs, but Board Booster has features that the others don’t. The looping tool is my favorite which revives your old content my repining it to the same board it is already in. In a time period that you decide, Board Booster will then delete the less popular pin so that you don’t have 50 of the same pin in one board. Try it out at 100 pins per month here.
Training & Books
Blogging on the Side: Where Passion Meets Profit– Fantastic book, written by fantastic bloggers. If you want to begin monetizing your blog this is a great place to start.
The Unofficial Tax Handbook for Bloggers– I can’t emphasize this enough read this book as early as possible in your blogging career. If you are going to make money from your blog you need to know how to keep track of your income and expenses for tax season. There are TONS of things that bloggers can write off on their taxes, but you can’t do that unless you keep track of it starting now. Read this book to make sure you are doing it the right way!
BlogPreneur– This is a course that changed my blogging career. I can’t speak highly enough about it. The month after I finished this course I got my highest monthly page views EVER, my first affiliate sales, and dominated my social media reach. These ladies are the biggest and best help I could have ever wished for.
Affiliate Window– There are a lot of companies that run their affiliate program through Affiliate Window, but my favorite is Etsy. I love their small shop, handmade vibe and they have EVERYTHING you could ever need to link to. When you sign up, Affiliate Window requires that you go through a security feature where you pay $5 to ensure you aren’t a spammer, but don’t worry Affiliate Window gives you the $5 right back. It does not cost to advertise with them this is just a security feature.
Amazon Affiliates– This allows you to earn commission on any product you talk about in your blog posts.
Grove Collaborative – Not only do I love ordering household products from them, their affiliate program is hugely beneficial for both the blogger and the person who signs up.
P.S. When you become an affiliate you get free stuff 😉
Share A Sale– They host a wide range of companies to become an affiliate for. My favorite is Shutterfly.
Google Adsense– They are the only ad network I have ever worked with and it is super simple to set it up on your blog.
Sponsored Opportunities- read this post to find a list of my favorite influencer networks.