If you want to be successful in your blogging efforts – and make an income doing so – you’ll need some help from a community and also by investing in continued education. Thankfully, there are countless tools and resources to help you easily run a tight, efficient, profitable and beautiful blog. Everything from books to e-courses to printables to plugins and more more more are available to help you achieve your dream blog. However, finding those tools doesn’t come easy because there are literally that many resources available.
I’ve discovered most of my tools from fellow bloggers, by attending conferences or listening to podcasts. Not by doing a google search. It’s a saturated market. When I need something right now, I want the nitty gritty of what will work and is worth the time / investment.
Blogging isn’t my main source of income, but it is bringing in a nice side-hustle, which helps keep the blog running. The money I earn from my site is poured directly back into it or into my education, keeping me on top of the latest trends. Learning how to blog didn’t come overnight. Matter of fact, I’ve been blogging for 5 years and it was only in 2016 that I finally hit a 5-figure income mark. This happened because I finally made learning more about the behind the scenes of blogging a priority, got serious, and implemented specific tactics to hit my goals.
This (very long) list of tools and resources isn’t everything I’m using right now. I run a very lean ship. Over time I have tried a few and some of what’s listed are what I am using now. I’ll be sharing my lean tool list with you guys soon. But I did want to compile one post where you could find all of the tools that I have seen with my own eyes, used or can recommend. But it will come down to what works for you in the stage of blogging you’re at. So don’t think this is a list of EVERYTHING you need. It isn’t. Consider this a resource list should you get to a point where you need to find a good tool.
BLOG TOOLS, BACK UP & HOSTING
WordPress This is the customizable platform on which my website lives. Previously, I was on blogger, which is a free google platform. If you’re blogging on blogger, you don’t own a domain or your content. If you want to own your site, content and have a domain name all your own, WordPress is a platform option. And it’s the one most bloggers are on.
Squarespace I’ve not ever set up a site on Squarespace, but have heard glowing reviews. It’s apparently very easy to set up and customize a site…in a day or less.
Instapage This is a service that provides amazing drag and drop style landing pages. Those selling a product online use landing pages, for example. This could be your website, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re planning on having a blog. Think of Instapage as a great way to add a sales page once you have a product to sell or something big to promote.
Leadpages With Leadpages you can set up a landing page and also focus on lead generation. They offer drag and drop features and much more.
RFE Hosting RFE helped me migrate my old site from Blogger to WordPress a couple years ago. After migrating, my site was hosted by them for a period of time. I left because of a service issue, which has since been resolved. They were excellent to work with!
Site Ground This is my current hosting company and they’re great!
BlueHost I’ve never worked with Blue Host but have heard great feedback from the blogging community.
Vault Press This is the plugin I use to not only back up my site’s content but also to keep it super protected. They offer a range of services, including migration – but I use them solely for backing up and security. They have been incredible!
WORDPRESS THEMES & RESOURCES
Pretty Darn Cute Designs This is another great site to find beautiful, feminine themes for your website.
Genesis Framework Understanding the online tech stuff behind the scenes hurts my brain. If all of this confuses you, think of it this way – WordPress is your car’s engine, Genesis is the body and framework of the car, and the theme you choose (like my theme I shared above) is the pretty paint job. Most people with WordPress are operating with a Genesis Framework.
WP Fix It A few weeks ago I discovered a perplexing tech issue on the blog. For some reason, every time the page finished loading, it bounced users to the bottom. After researching for weeks and asking my friends in a FB tech group, and not finding out what the problem was or how to solve it, I had enough. A friend suggested WP Fix It and so glad she did! For $39 they figured out it was due to a couple google ads placed at the bottom of the blog. As soon as I repaired the links, the issue was solved. The service was quick and the tech helping me was very responsive – even over the holiday break!
Genesis eNews Extended This is the plugin that allows you to create those cute sign-up boxes on your landing page or sidebar. Makes creating a fun newsletter community so much easier.
Akismet This plugin protects your blog from comment spam.
Yoast SEO SEO is short for Search Engine Optimization. And it’s EVERYTHING in blogging. You can spend hours, days, weeks, months creating beautiful content but if your post isn’t optimized, how will it be seen / found? This plugin has taken the work out of adding in those important keywords and snippet to your posts. It also alerts you about readability. I love this plugin so much! For something that works as hard as it does, it’s hard to believe it’s free.
Affiliate Marketing For Bloggers: Tips for Maximizing Affiliate Sales and Earning Real Money From Your Blog This is the book that ultimately pushed my blog to finally make real money. I always wondered how bloggers were making an income from their site – an income that allowed them to pursue a career they dreamed about. I was blown away when Tasha’a tips actually worked. This is a MUST READ! She’s also an attorney so she knows a thing or two about doing this correctly / legally.
Reward Style A content monetization platform for top-tier digital style influencers. You may not recognize the name right off the bat if you’re new to blogging, but you may recognize “Like To Know It”. Like To Know It is a program you can join for free. When someone adds a product link to their IG feed, for example, and you like their photo, a detailed e-mail is sent to you that lists the products and where to buy. Influencers receive a small commission on the sale should you buy anything. This is an invitation only platform and took me a while to be invited to join. It’s been a great help in my monetization efforts.
Amazon Associates Love this program! There’s a lot of flexibility given the wide range of products available on Amazon. The commission rates are good and go up over the course of the month dependent on how much you have sold / shipped.
Share-A-Sale Affiliate marketing network
Linkshare Affiliate marketing network
Commission Junction Affiliate marketing network
AdThrive Ad optimization for bloggers. Important: you’ll need to have a minimum of 100,000 monthly page views in order to sign up.
Google Adsense This is where most new bloggers begin because it’s so easy and there aren’t the hurdles of having a large online presence to get approved. Their ads are simple to add to you site and you can easily customize what those ads are.
Link In Profile This great service lets you add links to your Instagram images and send your followers to where you want them to go. You’ll have a dedicated landing page where your suggested links are grouped together with your images. It’s pretty awesome! It isn’t a free service, but there is a free trial.
THE “HOW-TO” OF BLOGGING
What The Tech?: A Guide To Ease Your Technical Blogging Frustrations If you’d prefer keeping your hair on your head, my friend Lesley wrote the ultimate e-book about the technical side of blogging. I am only going to be updating my site’s theme in the coming months because of this book and her great step by step instructions on how to get it all done. Literally, it’s the blogger’s bible!
Building A Framework: The Ultimate Blogging Handbook My friend Abby wrote the cornerstone book to help you start, grow and monetize a blog. A blog you are passionate about. She offers several package options, including one with videos.
GREAT E-BOOKS & READS
ConvertKit This is the e-mailing marketing platform I use. And I use it because it’s the easiest, most seamless product available, in my humble opinion. It’s made sending a targeted newsletters beyond easy! Can’t recommend them enough.
SOCIAL MEDIA SUPPORT
BoardBooster This great service helps schedule your pins, streamlines group board contributions, helps to optimize your strategy and even help clean up your boards. It’s inexpensive and has been a total lifesaver for me!
Meet Edgar This is essentially a social media queue that fills itself. Edgar reuses your best content to bring in more traffic. Edgar keeps those posts you’ve worked so hard on from getting lost in the shuffle.
Buffer This is a great service for scheduling social media content, saves you time, increases traffic and promotes more engagement from your online fans. I don’t use this service, I prefer to post in the moment, but have hear wonderful reviews!
TailWind Social media scheduling and more for Pinterest and Instagram
Launch Your Signature Course If you have plans to create and launch an online course, this is the education you need to get focused and get it done!
Evernote Evernote is where I keep anything and everything digitally. And 100% organized. I don’t keep my images stored here, but I do keep client receipts / files, projects, future to-do lists and dreams, and what I love most is that I can grab anything online using their WebClipper to quickly and easily add it to my Evernote account. And I can access everything from anywhere! I will never leave this platform. Love it that much!
Todoist The one and only to-do list app I use. It’s free and I can schedule items for today, tomorrow or anytime in the future. You can also create categories of lists. Just love this one!
LastPass Securely remembers all of your passwords – across all devices. It’s the only password platform I use and recommend to clients.
Asana If you have a team, Asana is a great way to track projects you’re working on from start to finish. It’s your online team platform for success.
Slack A messaging app for teams.
Trello Project management boards you can use for yourself or with a team.
G-Suite This is Google’s wide range of business services. I have my business e-mail hosted with G-Suite and I love it! For just $5 a month I have a professional looking e-mail address and access to a lot of awesome tools!
Dropbox A great place to store files and images online.
BLOG POST RESEARCH
BuzzSumo With this helpful site you can analyze the content that performs best for any topic or competitor. It can also help you find key influencers to promote your product. Remember when I said blogging is done best in a community? It’s true!
Ulysses If I need to get totally focused while writing without distractions, this is the app I use. Distractions are too hard to deny in this house. Ulysses gives me a pleasant place to write and helps me focus on what I want to say. It keeps everything organized and has a beautiful interface. When I’m ready to export, that’s simple too!
iBooks Author Amazing (and free!) app that lets you create textbooks and just about any other type of book. There’s lots of content add-ons, like diagrams, videos and more to really make your books something special.
Canon 5D I use my cell phone for most of my photos these days, but when I need to pull out the big guns, it’s my Canon. I’ve owned this camera for nearly 7 years and it’s stood the test of time and is totally worth the price tag. I use this for personal and business use.
Canon 24-70mm Lens For pretty much every photo I take for the blog (if I’m not using my iPhone).
Canon 50mm Lens This is for those beautiful, tight close-ups with lots of detail. It’s a fixed lens so there’s no zooming. You have to get real close!
Tripod This is a great lightweight tripod that is compact and gets the job done…without the huge price tag.
Gorilla Smartphone Tripod This is the tripod I use most of the time for Periscope or FB Live videos. It’s super portable and attaches to almost anything.
Smartphone Tripod This is a more advanced smartphone tripod and I occasionally use this from home while working on YouTube videos.
PHOTO EDITING & DESIGNS
SC Stockshop Shay is just the best – hands down!
Haven Conference This is the only blog conference I’ve attended and it’s been an incredible experience. This conference works for me specifically because of the niche I’m in – DIY, home, design. There are other conferences that focus on the crafty side of blogging. Have heard great things about those as well. But can only speak to this experience having attended twice (2015 & 2016). Conferences are a great place to network with bloggers and create partnerships with companies. They are fun but exhausting too.
SNAP! Conference SNAP! is a conference for those in the craft, DIY, party-throwing and handmade goods niche.
Alt Summit Conference This conference is for creative entrepreneurs and stylish social media influencers.
Podcasts are an incredible way to learn on the go. Many I listen to are geared toward entrepreneurs, creatives and bloggers. I’ve shared my very favorite podcasts in 2 blog posts (here and here). Far too many of them to list here so be sure to check out my posts!
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