A decade ago when I started this blog, I had no idea where it would take me. I was simply looking for a place to share some of our family stories. 10 years later, it has brought us into a whole new lifestyle we never imagined possible.
I would love to say that I hit the door running and everything has been easy going ever since I began this journey in 2007, but that has not been the case. I took some breaks in the beginning when life happened, but have been going strong for the past 7 years now. Over the course of my blogging career — yes, it is a career for me — I have been able to learn a lot about the industry. I have read a large pile of books, attended a number of blog conferences, and taken more courses that I can count.
Blogging Tools and Resources
I have tried 4 different web hosts, countless WordPress themes, and a variety of other blogging tools and resources along the way. Therefore, I want to share my favorites with you so that you can continue to grow your blog.
Blog Design & Hosting
First, you need a blog. Somewhere to host your content and a nice design to accompany it. Starting off on a free host is what most bloggers do, but you may want to look at being self-hosted as you begin to grow your readership. You have full ownership of everything on your blog and more monetization capabilities in some instances. Thus, let’s begin listing blog design and hosting resources:
Genesis Framework — The Genesis Framework empowers you to quickly and easily build incredible websites with WordPress. Using child themes, you can easily customize your blog to fit your brand’s needs.
StudioPress — The home of the Genesis Framework and a large library of incredible WordPress Child Themes to help you get the look you want.
Restored 316 — I have personally used 5 of these absolutely beautiful premium themes. At the time of writing this post, I am currently using her Savory Theme. The only reason I keep changing the theme is because I fall in love with each new one as they come out and I can’t help myself. Her feminine WordPress themes are definitely worth the look! (Coincidentally, I have also used her themes for my husband’s blog, so they are very versatile and easy to customize).
Logojoy — You need a brand and, therefore, a quality logo maker.
NameCheap — Most marketers will tell you that you need a domain name to be taken seriously. I do believe I agree with them. With NameCheap, you can register your domains for as little as .88¢
WiredTree — The customer support I receive from my current web host is excellent and one of the main reasons I stay with them. Not to mention, I have very little downtime outside of issues I have created when trying to “fix” something I own. (I am a complete DIYer).
WP Engine — If you are looking to host 1 to 150 sites, WP Engine can give you all the space and power you need.
WooCommerce — Finally, if you planning on selling items to your readers in the form of printables, crafts, ebooks, shirts, etc. WooCommerce is a WordPress plug-in that helps to make the process easy and seamless.
List Building & Automation
One thing I wish I knew from the beginning was the importance of an email list! When you realize that people prefer to email with you than talk to you, or talk to you on social media, then you will know how important it is to maintain email marketing connections. Plus, when you run a small business, there is only so much you can do yourself.
MailChimp — I have used MailChimp for over 5 years. I love the easy newsletter design tools and have had no problems with my newsletter so I tend to stick with what works.
ConvertKit — After hearing great things about ConvertKit, I recently signed up to understand why everyone was raving about it. There are many excellent features to help you grow your lists and readership. The only drawback I found was the lack of design features, but it is built to be a powerhouse in the newsletter delivery service.
Vertical Response — Turn your blog visitors into email subscribers,then create, send, and track emails and social posts that look great on every device.
OptinMonster — A powerful customer acquisition and lead generation software for marketers that uses an easy drag and drop builder.
CoSchedule — CoSchedule allows you to build the perfect social schedule, through a drag-and-drop calendar, right in your WordPress dashboard. Everything you need for scheduling social shares is compiled in one place helping to streamline your efforts.
Tailwind — Pinterest is undoubtedly one of the biggest referrers for most bloggers. Tailwind helps to make Pinterest (and now Instagram) scheduling easy!
Hootsuite — Share and schedule posts from your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn accounts all from one app.
Post Planner — Find, plan, and post better content to boost your reach and social media engagement today with Post Planner’s social media scheduler.
Graphics & Images
There is absolutely no doubt that people are visual. The images and graphics on your site will make a difference to those stopping by. Do your best to make your blog aesthetically pleasing. Stock images and a few graphic design tools will become your best friend.
FreePik — Find free vector art, illustrations, icons, PSD and stock photos for using on your blog and social media accounts.
GraphicStock — Find a huge selection of stock photos, graphics, design elements, templates, and more! Plus, there are never any limits or caps to what you can download.
Creative Market — Buy and sell handcrafted, mousemade design content like vector patterns, icons, photoshop brushes, fonts and more at Creative Market. Excellent source for fonts and mock-ups.
Font Bundles — I *may be* a font hoarder and can never seem to have enough. Font Bundles has an incredible selection of free fonts that I adore, not to mention they consistently have amazing font bundles at unbelievable prices that you won’t want to miss.
Canva — Looking for an easy way to design like a graphic designer? Canva makes design simple for everyone. Create designs for Web or print: blog graphics, presentations, Facebook covers, flyers, posters, invitations and more.
Creative Live — Watch free live classes with their digital catalog of high-quality creative education for students, professionals and artists worldwide.
The Blog Village — Step-by-step videos that lead you through website creation and maintenance, applications in the Adobe Creative Suite, and real world tutorials like how to shoot great video and photos.
Facebook Growth Course — If you want to grow your Facebook page like a pro, Rachel is the one to show you how to do it! Her methods are tested and proven, plus she’s full of energy and fun to learn with. Watch for her Facebook course to open and make sure to join the Facebook Group to take your page to the next level!
Ebooks — There are so many pieces of reading material out there on the subject and I don’t think I have even skimmed the surface with ebooks. Search Amazon and you can find books on every blogging topic out there. I have a short list of ebooks for bloggers that may help you get started.
Additional Tools & Resources
If you want to be a success at digital marketing, you have to wrap your head around the fact that content will always be king. In fact, a lot of the digital marketing tactics you see today have actually been practices for many generations — before digital was even a dream. Remember, content is always king and then everything else follows. Additional tools and tips include:
Printable Blog Planner — get organized with a printable planner to help you keep track of your blogs stats, posts and finances all in one spot
Wave Apps — our absolute favorite accounting software
Grammarly — for proofreading
Clkim – shorten, share and monetize your links
Ninja Forms — easy and powerful WordPress form creation plugin
Watch this page for more as I come across the newest, freshest blogging tools and resources to share with you!