Resources and tools for blogging
Since I launched this blog, I have learned such a great deal about blogging and I’m so glad I finally took the plunge and got it going.
Recently, I started earning a side income through this blog. You can read my recent income report here.
Blogging is not hard, but I found the time before I launched this blog the hardest.
There was so much to think about in terms of choosing hosting, themes, social media marketing and much more (along with the all-important task of actually writing content).
So, if you’re about to start a blog or just launched one recently, THIS is for YOU.
I’m going to be sharing all of the resources that have helped this blog to grow (faster than I expected) and to go from a brand new blog to a profitable online biz.
You will notice, I have also included other options you might be interested in based on my knowledge of the popular services and resources for bloggers.
And of course, I’ve also listed FREE products and services you can use because I know investing financially as a beginner blogger is tough when you don’t know how it will go.
As always, I’m here to answer any questions and help you out in any way that I can. Enjoy!
This post contains affiliate links. See full disclosure policy here.
Platforms & Theme Frameworks
If you haven’t already, the first thing you will want to do is choose a platform for your site. WordPress.org is my number one choice for building a self-hosted site.
For a theme framework, I use Genesis Framework by Studio Press.
Pin It for Later!
I started off with Bluehost because I found it to be one of the most popular hosting services at the time that I was looking for hosting.
I have recently heard some bloggers complaining that Bluehost’s customer service is poor. I have had a few issues addressed by Bluehost through their 24/7 live chat support, and to date, they’ve been super helpful and prompt. So, I speak highly of them.
I also love the fact that Bluehost gives you:
- a FREE domain
- 1-click WordPress install
- 24/7 live chat support
- 30-day money back guarantee
Another reason I signed up with Bluehost was for their super cheap pricing, in comparison to other hosting providers such as Siteground.
Plus, I did not want to invest more than a few dollars a month when I first started out, because I just didn’t know whether I would enjoy blogging and stick with it at the time.
Well, the fun part starts here. Choosing a great theme is one way to create the unique look of your website and to customize everything as you wish.
Currently, I use Simply Charming Theme by Restored316 Designs, which I absolutely love.
Restored 316 have a huge range of WordPress themes that are mobile responsive (you want that!) and plenty of options also for those looking for a clean, feminine design.
I also love StudioPress Themes since they have a huge range of well-optimized themes, perfect for building a money-making blog.
Stock photos & graphic design
High-quality images are a must-have for promoting your content on social media, especially for Pinterest.
Eye candy pins along with quality content on Pinterest is like having a magic wand for increasing blog traffic (seriously!).
And to do that, you need great images, your choice of fonts and a little bit of work to find your favorite look and design.
Here are my recommendations (free as well as paid). You can also use your smartphone or digital camera if you are good at taking photos and editing them. I don’t have the time to do that, so stock photos it is!
For graphic design and editing, I love Canva and PicMonkey. They are both very easy to use. Canva is free (unless you decide to upgrade to their Work plan), and PicMonkey is paid but allows you to do a bit more.
Affiliate Marketing Programs
These are the affiliate programs I absolutely love and the first three I have listed are suitable for almost every niche.
These affiliate programs are all free and easy to join. Clicking on the links below will take you straight to the corresponding affiliate sign up page.
Email Marketing Systems
Creating an email list should be one of the top 10 things on your to-do list as a newbie blogger. I wish I had started an email list right from the start. It’s such a great way to learn about your readers and connect with them.
ConvertKit is one of the most popular email marketing systems and for good reason. I recently switched to ConvertKit (on my second website) and it is amazing how intuitive it is to use!
Pin Scheduling for Pinterest
If there is one thing I have learned, it’s that as a blogger, you wear so many hats. It’s quite hard to find time to do everything in a day, and scheduling your pins on Pinterest is one way to save time on promoting your blog.
Tailwind is an amazing tool for scheduling ahead of time. You basically set it and forget it. And it’s quite easy to use.
I went from getting about 40K monthly views on Pinterest to over 1 million views per month within 5 months. Yep, it blew me away! And as a result, my blog traffic also saw a huge increase.
With a new blog, you really only get traffic from social media in the beginning until you start getting organic traffic (which can take 6 months to a year). I get 80% of my traffic from Pinterest so I wholeheartedly invest in all things Pinterest at the moment.
While you’re here, the best tip I can give you for increasing Pinterest traffic (and clickthrough rate) is to find out how your pins and boards are performing.
Then, use that information to guide what kinds of pins you should be pinning and which boards you should prioritize.
One of the best features of Tailwind is their detailed statistics to help you analyze your Pinterest account.
Blogging & Pinterest Training
Dare to Conquer Membership
Dare to Conquer is a unique blogging membership site by Paul Scrivens (Scrivs), who makes over $70 000 a month through multiple blogs. He teaches you how to use Pinterest for driving traffic to your blog, how to increase organic search traffic, affiliate marketing, and basically everything related to building a profitable blogging business.
BONUS: Scrivs is always updating all of his teaching materials and is always actively involved in the Slack community to answer questions for members. I find this membership an absolutely invaluable resource and I’ve noticed a huge leap in my growth as a blogger because of it.
One more thing – Paul offers extremely helpful, actionable advice for bloggers at all levels. Even if you never buy any of his courses, I highly recommend reading some of his eye-opening posts on the truth about making money blogging, and more!
If you haven’t started promoting your content on Pinterest, then you are missing out on free traffic (and loads of it). For new bloggers, Pinterest is a great platform to bring in traffic faster (much faster than ranking on Google which can take up to a year).
But you’ve got to know how to use Pinterest to drive traffic and how to optimize all your pins, boards and profiles for maximum results. My absolute favorite training in regards to Pinterest for growing blog traffic is Pinteresting Strategies by Carly from Mommy On Purpose.
Carly drives over 300K pageviews to her mommy blog every month. Her Pinterest strategy is one that I wish I had known about earlier (to save me all the hassle!).
Within a week of implementing Carly’s strategies, I saw my daily pageviews go from 300 to 600, and I still get over 1K views daily.
(Quick update (October 2018): my pageviews continue to increase – currently the blog receives over 75000 pageviews). It feels great to reach that number and be able to qualify for Mediavine.
So of course, I highly recommend Carly’s Pinteresting Strategies eBook. She’s also just updated it recently to accommodate the recent powerful algorithm changes on Pinterest.
Other amazing tools I recommend
Yoast SEO – This plugin has a free version and it’s an awesome tool for writing neat SEO-friendly content. It makes life so much easier.
Social Warfare – Social media sharing is a must if you want to boost your blog traffic. Social Warfare is a great plugin that allows you to create attractive social media icons and buttons making it easier to share your amazing content.
And that’s it for now. I hope you found my roundup of the ultimate resources and tools for new and aspiring bloggers helpful in some way.
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