If you’re serious about blogging, you’re gonna need some serious tools.
Here is the ultimate list of blogging resources to start building your empire today.
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First things first, if you haven’t already signed up for my Blogging Basics 5-day e-mail course, here’s your chance to do so. This course goes over the basic foundations of setting up and optimizing a successful blog for the long run.
Did I mention that it’s completely FREE?!
If you ever want to monetize your blog or turn it into a big-time blog, you have to use WordPress.org (the self-hosted version of WordPress) for blogging. It’s literally the only way to go if you’re serious about blogging.
Unless you’re super techy, you’ll probably need some help setting up a self-hosted WordPress blog. This is where SiteGround comes in.
SiteGround is a powerful, yet simple web hosting company (meaning they provide you with a place for your blog to live on the internet). This is one of the most important blogging resources of all, as your blog literally needs it to survive. Siteground makes it incredibly easy to start your own WordPress blog right now for less than a cup of coffee every month.
If you hit any snags, SiteGround has an unparalleled customer service support team, and respond to questions within minutes.
Maybe you’re already an established blogger but looking to upgrade…
SiteGround is also known for their lightning-fast speeds, practically non-existent downtimes, and ironclad protection from unwanted intruders. Best of all, they offer different packages to fit your business’s individual needs (starting at just $3.95 per month).
Whether you’re just starting your blogging journey, or looking to seriously upgrade, SiteGround is the only way to go with self-hosted blogs. In fact, both of my blogs are hosted through SiteGround and I’m one happy girl.
GeneratePress is easily one of the best themes available to bloggers. It’s extremely lightweight, responsive, fast, secure and completely optimized for search engines. I use it on both of my blogs.
The great thing about GeneratePress is that there are tons of options that allow you to customize it exactly
If you want to browse through some other themes, ThemeForest by Envato is a great way to find a hidden gem.
Just make sure to look for the following attributes:
- Lightweight and fast/doesn’t have a lot of “bloat”
- Responsive (resizes to fit mobile screens)
- Optimized for search engines
- Updated often/customer support available
- Several downloads (the more, the better)
- Good customer reviews
While it is possible to go with a free theme, it is not recommended. Themes can easily be exploited by hackers or weigh down your site. A solid theme is definitely something you should invest in.
Must-Have WordPress Plugins
After the Google algorithm update of mid-2018 (dubbed the “Medic” update), website speed is more important than ever. Google is continuously working towards a mobile-first approach, as most website views come from mobile devices.
Furthermore, over half of your visitors will leave your website if it doesn’t load within 3 seconds.
TIP: I strongly advise you to only add the plugins you need. Too many plugins on your WordPress site can quickly drag it down. Look for lightweight options that are continually being worked on and have positive customer reviews.
Here is a list of some of the top-rated plugins (all of which I use on my blogs):
✓ Yoast SEO: This plugin helps you optimize for keywords you want to rank for in Google. The free version works great for most bloggers.
✓ WP-Rocket: Hands-down the best plugin for speeding up your website. It’s super easy to set up, offers
✓ Social Warfare: Adds social media buttons to your blog posts, and “pin it” buttons to your images. The pro version has tons of customizable options, like choosing default images and descriptions for social media shares. This helps you optimize your posts for when other people share them.
✓ Pretty Links: Allows you to make your affiliate links look prettier and less spammy. Also helps you track and easily modify your affiliate links.
✓ ShortPixel: Optimizes and compresses your images to speed up your website.
✓ Anti-Spam: As people start to notice your blog, so do the spammers. This will make it so you don’t have to deal with it.
✓ Wordfence: Likewise, hackers will also notice your site. Keep it protected with a Web Application Firewall (WAF) and unrivaled security scans.
✓ Skimlinks: Monetizes non-affiliate links by turning them into affiliate links when applicable.
✓ Insert Headers and Footers: Allows you to add code to the headers and footers of your site. Useful for setting up things like Google Analytics without adding another plugin.
✓ Simple Basic Contact Form: Lightweight, and easy-to-use plugin to add contact forms to your website.
✓ WP YouTube Lyte: “Lazy loads” embedded Youtube videos so they are only called when clicked on. Can drastically speed up your website if you have multiple videos.
TIP: WordPress comes stock with a plugin called “Jetpack” that offers extra features for your blog. This is one of the heaviest plugins and most features are unnecessary (the others can be replaced with better blogging resources). I advise you to delete it.
Clean, professional images and unique fonts are a must when creating your brand. Here are some tools that make that process so much easier.
✓ Canva: This is a FREE image editing software that you can use at canva.com or by downloading the free app on your phone. It makes it
✓ Adobe Creative Cloud: Creative Cloud is an excellent way to use the Adobe software for a low monthly cost. Photoshop, Lightroom, Illustrator, InDesign, Flash, and AfterEffects are all included in this package. While I use Canva for most of my images, there are times that Photoshop is necessary.
✓ Envato Elements: This is a
✓ Creative Market: If you’d rather purchase fonts à la carte, this is the place to go. There are tons of affordable font packages. Get something that makes you stand out from the crowd.
✓ Depositphotos: This is my favorite resource for stock photography since they are high quality, have tons of variety and are super affordable. Sometimes they run incredible specials that allow you to purchase images for less than $1.
You can have the prettiest blog and best content on the planet, but the traffic won’t come without the right marketing. Social media marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) are extremely important elements of building an empire.
I’d highly recommend investing into a few of these blogging resources.
Social Media Automation
✓ Tailwind: This is one of the best investments you can make for your blog. It makes it really easy to grow your traffic on Pinterest with automatic pinning, niche-specific tribes you can promote your content in and powerful analytics. It’s one of my top 3 recommendations.
✓ MeetEdgar: Similar to Tailwind, this service allows you to automate your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn posts. Get $10 off your second month if you sign up today.
✓ Buffer: A more affordable option for social media automation but far less customizable. Great option for beginners.
All the pros will tell you that the most valuable asset you can have as a blogger is your email list. This is because it’s completely yours. No algorithm changes will ever drop your traffic and people sign up for it because they want to hear from you.
ConvertKit is the popular choice of most bloggers because it’s so easy to use. It makes it super easy to build powerful landing pages and customizable forms to capture emails for your mailing list. This is something you should start working on from the start.
They also make it stupid easy to automate your emails, which frees up time for you to do other things.
Already established with a different email marketing service?
Keyword research is one of the most overlooked aspects of blogging. It’s all about finding keywords you can rank for with search engines. Once you find the right keywords, you can optimize your content around them.
✓ SEMRush: Although it’s a little pricey, this is easily one of the best blogging tools on the market. It offers a lot more than keyword research but is also one of the best keyword research tools around. Most big-time bloggers I know use it religiously. If you are serious about blogging, this is a tool you should invest in. Use my link to sign up today and get a free 7-day trial!
✓ UberSuggest: This is a FREE website you can use for keyword research that was developed by Neil Patel (more on him in a bit). Many people question the accuracy of this tool, but I still like to run my keywords through it.
✓ Keysearch: While I use SEMRush, I have used Keysearch in the past and it’s a great tool for beginners. It’s much more affordable and gets the job done. Use the code:
✓ Long Tail Pro: This is a product I just recently found out about and it’s pretty cool. You type in a keyword you want to rank for and it provides you with some “long tail” variations of that keyword that are easier to rank for. Super cool.
The best possible advice I can give you is to always continue growing. Education is one of the most important things you can invest your time and money into. Here are some of the absolute best resources around:
✓ TheBlogMillionaire: Brandon Gaille is easily one of my favorite bloggers. He’s a genuinely helpful person and has a gift for explaining things in ways that are easy to understand.
If you’re looking for a solid course to take, this is the one for you. He goes into the exact techniques he uses to get millions of blog visitors each month. Additionally, enrolling in this course gives you access to his private Facebook group, in which he personally interacts with and answers people’s questions every day.
If his course is out of your budget right now, he also has a FREE Podcast called The Blog Millionaire. I really recommend checking it out.
✓ EllDuclos: If you are looking for some bang for your buck, you should totally check out EllDuclos’ Pinterest Ecourse. It’s extremely affordable and will really help you step up your Pinterest game. She also has a Facebook group called Boss Girl Bloggers, where thousands of women work together and support each other’s blogs every day.
✓ Theory of Content: This is another great Podcast that can really help you learn how to optimize your blog for traffic. It’s hosted by the founders of Mediavine (the best ad network ever) and was created to help Mediavine members optimize their sites for revenue. Even if you aren’t part of Mediavine, I promise you can benefit from their advice.
✓ CreateAndGo: This blog is hosted by Alex Nerney and Lauren McManus, a young couple that makes a ton of money blogging. They have some pretty amazing courses about launching a blog, monetizing your blog and my favorite, the Pinterest Traffic Avalanche course. It teaches you the ins and outs of Pinterest and I’m not even kidding – my Pinterest traffic has exploded since taking that course.
✓ Making Sense of Cents: This is the go-to affiliate marketing course for all big-time bloggers. Michelle Schroeder goes into detail about how she makes several thousand dollars per month with affiliate marketing. Her motto is “if you aren’t utilizing affiliate marketing, you’re leaving money on the table.” She makes it really easy to understand and even provides workbooks to help you track your progress.
✓ Simple Pin Podcast: Kate Ahl of Simple Pin Media knows Pinterest better than anyone on the planet. She runs a free podcast that is really helpful, especially if you are just starting out. She provides tons of free tips on how to optimize your Pinterest account and explains what types of seasonal pins will do the best each month.
✓ Neil Patel: This guy is one of the most successful bloggers in the biz, and is incredibly interesting to listen to. He provides super insightful blog posts and always offers a unique view on popular topics. Furthermore, he’s a New York Times Bestselling author and was even recognized by President Obama before the age of 30. You can learn a lot from his blog.
Here are a couple of sweet tools I suggest investing in.
In a visual society, high-quality images and videos are imperative to your online business. They make you look professional and trustworthy.
You don’t need a super fancy camera to take great pictures. I’ve seen some amazing things done with a cell phone. However, achieving good lighting can be a bit tricky sometimes.
I bought this Neewer ring light kit last year and I absolutely LOVE it. Use it to recreate a clean daytime look or even add a warm hue to your images. The best part? Clean lighting with no glare.
Even though you don’t need a good camera to get the job done, it doesn’t hurt to have one. I have a Nikon D3400 DSLR camera that I bought a few years ago and it takes killer pictures. Here are a few examples of pictures I’ve taken with it:
You can find several packages on Amazon that come with different lenses and accessories. It’s the only way to go.
Hotjar is a FREE tool that allows you to place heatmaps on your pages (who doesn’t love free blogging resources?!) Use this tool to see where your visitors click to improve the user experience!
Now that you have the tools you need to succeed, get out there and kill it. You got this!