It’s difficult to figure out which blogging resources and tools are worth the time and money. Here’s a list of 20 that I’ve found indispensable.
When I began my first blog, there were so many things I didn’t know! Most of all, I wasn’t sure which product or plug-ins I should be using. Here’s a list of everything I use to keep Self-Sufficient Kids running:
Content Management & System Framework
WordPress.org – WordPress is what’s called a Content Management System which allows anyone to create a website – even if you don’t know how to code. It’s easy to use and easy to customize with themes and plug-ins. (If you want to customize and monetize your site, be sure to use WordPress.org and not .com)
Genesis Framework – The Genesis framework works on top of WordPress – it isn’t necessary for all WordPress sites but works with a number of themes, including mine.
Siteground – I recently switched from Hostgator to Siteground to host my site. The customer service at Siteground is excellent and the customer portal easy to navigate. And Siteground was recently ranked #1 by Whoishostingthis’s The Best Web Hosting in 2017.
Theme & Design
Restored 316 – My theme – part of what creates the design of my site – is the Tasteful theme from Restored 316. There are 5 color options and other specialization features.
Blogger Boutique – Julie at Blogger Boutique created my logo and customized other parts of the design.
Scheduling Tools for Social Media
Tailwind – Tailwind is a great way to schedule Pinterest pins so they are posted in intervals and don’t flood your follower’s feed all at once. It also makes pinning very easy!
Hootsuite – I use the free version of Hootsuite to schedule to my Twitter and Google + accounts.
Online Classes & Ebooks
Sticky Blogging – This course by Kelly Holmes is excellent. Even if you already consider yourself a writer, Kelly’s course will teach you how to excel at writing online – to keep readers coming back again and again. I can’t recommend this course enough!
Sticky Blogging SEO – This follow-up course to Sticky Blogging will teach you everything you need to know about how to optimize your blog posts so Google will feature them in its search.
Pinch of Yum Food Photography – This photography ebook covers it all! By the end of reading it and following the techniques, you’ll be taking photographs like a pro!
Paid Stock Photos
Fotolia – This is the best option I’ve found for finding high-quality stock photos at a decent price. Canva (see below) also has stock photos available for $1 each.
Photo Editing & Graphic Design
PicMonkey – Picmonkey is full of great fonts and many ways to customize and edit images. I tend to use it in conjunction with Canva.
Canva – Canva is a great easy-to-use tool for basic graphic design – creating pins for Pinterest, images for Facebook or printables for your blog.
Lightroom – Adobe Lightroom is an excellent tool to perfect photos – adjust lighting, exposure, adjust whitebalance, etc.
Disclosure Policy– Learn more about having a disclosure policy and what you’ll need to make known on your site.
Disclosing your affiliate links– This is a great article from Amy Lynn Andrews about the proper way to disclosure your affiliate links.
Email Marketing & Mailing List Resources
Mailchimp – Staying in touch with readers through email is one of the best ways to connect with your audience. Mailchimp makes it easy to get started and is free for the first 2000 emails collected.
Leadpages – One of the best ways to collect emails is to create deliverables such as printables and ebooks in exchange for readers’ email addresses. While it’s a bit on the pricey side, Leadpages is the best way to do this. I’ve tried other solutions and nothing compares to the ease-of-use and versatility of Leadpages.
Site Statistics and SEO
Google Analytics – The best way to track website traffic and optimize marketing, content, and SEO.
Yoast– This WordPress plug-in makes it easy to optimize a post or page for SEO.