It can be difficult to determine which blogging resources and tools are worth the time and money when starting a blog. Here are twenty I’ve found indispensable.
(This post contains affiliate links. If you click on a link and purchase the item, I will receive a commission at no extra cost to you.)
When I was starting a blog, there were so many things I didn’t know. Most of all, I wasn’t sure which products or plug-ins I should be using. Here’s a list of everything I use to keep Self-Sufficient Kids running smoothly:
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 special 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 at intervals. It also makes pinning very easy!
Hootsuite – I use the free version of Hootsuite to schedule to my Twitter and Google + accounts.
Later – Think of Later as not only a way to schedule Instagram posts but also as your Instagram coach. Later puts together frequent posts and videos with tips to help bloggers make the most of Instagram. I wish I had known about Later when I was starting a blog!
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
Adobe Stock – Although using Adobe Stock can often be slow and frustrating, it’s the easiest and best source of photos on any topic. Also, in the past year, Adobe has added more photojournalistic images to its subscription service which is a plus.
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.
Lightroom – Adobe Lightroom is an excellent tool to perfect photos: adjust lighting, exposure, white balance, 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 is a good choice when you’re starting a blog since accounts with 2,000 emails or less are free.
Active Campaign – Once you’re ready for a more robust email marketing service, Active Campaign is an excellent choice. Features such as tagging and email automation can help target specific customers. And even though the features of Active Campaign seem endless, it’s still easy to use.
Leadpages – One of the best ways to collect emails is to create deliverables such as printables or 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.