The top blogging resources that I use for my blog
I have been asked by quite a few people about the various resources that I use to run this blog successfully. So I have put together a list of the resources that I use to run this blog. Many also want to know why I use WordPress.com and not WordPress.org to run and host the blog. So here are the answers and also a list of the top resources I use to run this blog.
WordPress.com hosting. This is the hosting company that I use. Now I know a lot of other professional bloggers use WordPress.org as opposed to WordPress.com because in the past you were not allowed to do certain things when using wordpress.com such as using plugins or uploading your own themes etc. There were also limitations on how you were able to monetize the blog. But this has changed since late last year(2017). Now you can do basically anything on wordpress.com as you can on wordpress.org – provided that you are on their business plan. That is the key and that is the plan I am on.
Why did I choose to go this route when so many other professional bloggers are highly recommending wordpress.org? Well, simply because I hate having to be responsible for site maintenance, backups and security myself! I am not technically inclined enough to deal with code and that sort of thing. With wordpress.com I don’t need to deal with that and instead, I can simply focus on creating awesome content that my readers will love and appreciate. They take care of all that “techy stuff” for me in an excellent way.
I get unlimited storage space so that means I can upload unlimited videos or audio files and photos to my site with no problem whatsoever. Fantastic if you ask me.
I also get excellent customer service support with wordpress.com so if something is not working I can chat with them live! That is a big deal for me and so worth it. So if you are like me and hate the idea of having to deal with site security and so on, then this could be your answer.
The WordPress Business plan also it gives you access to their Word Ads programme which is similar to Google Adsense. I wasn’t accepted at first for Google Adsense, but since I am on the WordPress.com Business plan I got accepted into WordPress Word Ads right away allowing me to earn some money by having them place some ads on my website.
I also get access to all of their premium themes, so if I were to chop and change themes I wouldn’t have to pay a cent extra.
I simply love it! If however, you would like to go the self-hosted route with wordpress.org then I would suggest that you go with Bluehost as a hosting provider. Their plans are very cheap to suit beginners’ pockets. My first blog(this is my second blog) ran on Bluehost as a self-hosted blog and I was pretty happy with Bluehost hosting. It comes highly recommended by professional bloggers. Check out a detailed comparison between WordPress.com( Business plan) vs WordPress.org here.
My blog runs on the highly recommend Genesis framework. It is like a car’s engine, so it needs to be a good one! Can’t go breaking halfway to the destination. Genesis is a must if you are serious about blogging professionally. It won’t let you down.
So if Genesis is the car’s engine then the theme is the paintwork. It makes things pretty. I use a Genesis child theme from Restored 316. Lauren creates beautiful feminine themes. The customer service support is excellent and the themes are affordable and so beautiful. The themes are fairly easy to customise yourself. If I could do it then anyone can since I am a bit technically challenged! Restored 316 is definitely worth checking out.
I use MailChimp for all my email sign up forms. It is free up to 2000 email subscribers making it ideal for beginners. You can also build an unlimited number of landing pages with it if needed, for free. It is easy to understand the platform, and there are plenty of YouTube videos if you get stuck plus excellent information on the MailChimp website itself.
Some photos that I use on the blog I take myself and others I get from stock photo sites such as Pexels.com or Unsplash.com. There are quite a few companies out there with some really nice free stock photos. If you want more variety then you might benefit from a subscription to Storyblocks.com.
If you want to know how the whole blogging thing fits together then I would suggest Abby Lawson’s course, Building A Framework. It is one of the most comprehensive and affordable courses out there. Yes, you can find some of the information for free on the Internet, but in this course, you can find all the correct and relevant information in one place – and from a very successful blogger. There is also a free blogging course by the creators of Building A Framework for those who want some reliable free information but are not financially ready yet to commit to a paid course. Abby has been there, knows her stuff and she’s so nice!
If you can’t afford the Building A Framework course then there is also an ebook by the highly esteemed veteran blogger, Ruth Soukup, called “How to blog for profit without selling your soul”. It covers the basics of blogging and it is super affordable. It will set you on the right track.
To ensure my writing is on point, I make use of Grammarly to ensure my writing is as error-free as possible. It weeds out writing and spelling errors. I’m on their free plan, but if you need something more comprehensive then their paid plan might be the best for you.
If you want to sell a range of products online, whether it is digital products or physical products then you will have a choice of two fantastic platforms – both of which I can highly recommend.
The first one is Woocommerce. Woocommerce integrates with WordPress seamlessly, because it was made for WordPress by the creators of WordPress. It is a plugin and is free to use. It is only when you use the add-ons(extensions) that you might need to pay some money. It is a highly customizable platform and fairly easy to setup. Woocommerce does not automatically come with an SSL certificate – you would need to obtain one elsewhere. This is needed to make sure that when your customers purchase something from your store that their credit card information is kept safe across cyberspace. That being said, if you use WordPress.com to blog as opposed to WordPress.org, then the SSL certificate is not something you need to worry about, because it comes with WordPress.com hosting.
Shopify – I used to have two Shopify online stores so I am a very big fan of Shopify. You pay per month to use the platform, but you really get value for your buck. On the basic plan, you get a complete online store with some nice free themes and it allows you to also sell on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and a whole range of other platforms of choice.
An SSL secure connection is part of the deal as your store will be hosted by Shopify. This is important as it will make shoppers feel secure when they purchase from you online. They need to know that their credit card information is safe. But for me, the best part is the live Shopify chat support, so that if you have problems or a question then you can just go right ahead and contact them to have your problem solved.
The whole shop can be connected to your WordPress blog or you can simply choose to embed certain products into posts or pages. Check out Shopify here.
I personally am using both Woocommerce and Shopify together – each for different things.
I use Canva to create all my Pinterest images, Facebook images and Instagram images. In addition to that, I also use it to design T-shirts for my store and a whole range of other stuff. Canva is a must-have in my opinion. There is a free version, but I am on the paid monthly plan. Canva is easy to use, it works with drag- and- drop functionality.
Social Media Scheduling
Pinterest is very important for getting blog traffic, but most of us, including myself, do not have the time to sit and pin daily. So Tailwind is the answer. It is a pin scheduling tool that does the pinning for you. So once in a while you sit down and schedule a whole bunch of pins at once for a certain amount of time that suits you – be it a month, a week or whatever, then you Tailwind will go ahead and pin those pins for you over that period of time on a regular basis.
Printful is a print-on-demand supplier that allows you to design your own merchandise such as t-shirts, bags, mugs etc. They manufacture the items on an as-needed basis as customer orders come in and then they ship it directly to the customer. I could not do what I do without Printful. It is really easy to use their platform and they integrate with most big e-commerce brands on the market such as Shopify and Woocommerce to name a few.
Fonts, design templates and graphics
If you want a wide variety of different and interesting fonts, templates, themes, graphics, photos and so much more to use for your blog or blog graphics then Creative Market is your go-to place. It has FABULOUS fonts and other stuff creative people would be interested in. Google fonts are nice but pretty basic. There is just so much to choose from at Creative market – gold shiny fonts, script fonts, vintage fonts – the list goes on and on. Plus in additions to the fonts, there is plenty of other templates and designs you can purchase. But want to know what is the best thing about Creative Market? Every week they send you six free products, delivered right to your inbox on a Monday. You can download these and use in your designs. Yeah! That alone is enough reason to sign up to Creative Market.
When it comes to upskilling and learning specific pieces of information that have the potential to increase my knowledge and productivity, Udemy is top of my list. Udemy offers a range of short courses in almost any topic from photography, writing, social media marketing, computer programming – the list is endless. And best of all is that the courses are super cheap, like about $10 kind of cheap. I have used Udemy to learn Facebook marketing, Google Analytics, Writing, how to set up a Shopify store and much more. I am a fan, to say the least! The key is to look at the ratings for each course before you buy and read the testimonials of past students. Courses are often presented by industry experts. Udemy really offers some really great value for money. The courses are self-paced and video-based so you can watch and learn in your own time when it suits you. They also often have sales on courses.
And these the main things I use for my blog. I hope this post was super helpful to you.
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