I wish I had known about all the tools and resources for new bloggers when I started my first blog! I got my site all set up, then learned of all the OTHER things that need to be done like setting up your email marketing, making a blog post schedule, and so much more. I sort of did things backward, but now I can share with you what I learned that would have made my jump into the blogging world so much easier!
BE SURE TO PIN THIS FOR LATER!
Please note this post may contain affiliate links and ads, read my full disclosure here.
TOOLS AND RESOURCES FOR NEW BLOGGERS
If you are literally just beginning, you might want to check out How to Start a Blog Beginner's Guide where I break down the steps to actually creating your first blog, including my horrible experience with my first web hosting service and why you should go with SiteGround for your hosting. You can also check out GET YOUR BLOG ON which literally walks you through all of the steps for launching a blog and more!
CHOOSING A THEME
Once you've selected a host and installed WordPress, you'll definitely want to choose a good theme that you can brand for your niche. I won't list them all here because there are so many, but I did put together a pretty good list of places that offer the best themes so you can browse through them until you find one that works for you. Once you decide on a theme, you will also want to find some great stock images to use on your blog and for promoting your posts on social media. Don't worry! There are lots of places to find really great FREE stock images to use until you can afford to upgrade to a paid subscription!
Depending on the theme you choose, you will also need to install a few (free) plugins to help optimize your site. Some themes come with some plugins already installed so just check to see. These are the plugins I suggest installing before you start writing and launch your blog (don't worry – they are all free). From your blog dashboard, select “Plugins” from the left sidebar, then search these names and install.
- Yoast SEO – This is your all-in-one SEO tool.
- Really Simple SSL – Makes your site SSL proof
- Nofollow Checkbox – Adds a checkbox to the pop up for inserting “nofollow” links which are required for affiliate links
- WP Smush– Reduce file size – very important when adding images and other large files to site to keep it from slowing down
- Google Analytics for WordPress – You will need a Google Analytics account, but this provides the ability to view your analytics right from your dashboard without having to go to the GA website.
These are not free but definitely worth the investment! The look of your affiliate links and how you present your social share buttons really does make a difference!
- Social Sharing Plugin – Make your share buttons highly visible and place them in more than one place! I'm currently using the free version of Shareaholic. With these, you can customize the buttons to look a certain way and also place them above and below content, as well as one that scrolls with the page. Make it as easy as possible for them to share your content!!
- Pretty Links – The Pretty Links plugin makes your affiliate links look less like spam and more like a link on your blog. With so much fraud and identity theft, many people are hesitant to trust web addresses that are a bunch of jumbled characters (which is what affiliate links typically look like! You definitely want to check them out!
- WP Tasty Pins – The Tasty Pins plugin makes it super easy to add your Pinterest text to each image that you upload and also enables you to easily “hide” an image on your post. Having the correct Pinterest text is important for ensuring that the description that you want to show up when someone pins your image actually shows up. Check out WP Tasty Pins now!
Aside from these important plugins, you can also find plugins to do all sorts of stuff. There are plugins for adding an Instagram widget, Pinterest widget, bible quotes, and so much more. As you get more comfortable in your dashboard, if there is something you wished you could do, simply Google “WordPress plugin to ….” and several should come up. Always read the reviews on them to be sure they won't cause other issues to your site.
** Tip – Make it as easy as possible for people to share your content! Place your social sharing buttons at the top and end of posts, as well as have a floating set of buttons. Also, make sure they can share it on whatever platform they use – not just the ones you have accounts on. Even if you don't have an account with Stumbleupon or Twitter (or whatever), other readers do and you need to make it easy for them to share it there.
TOOLS FOR EMAIL
Don't wait to begin building your email list! Have your system in place before you publish your first blog post so you can begin capturing them from day one.
MailerLite – I use MailerLite for my email marketing. Having an email program is imperative to growing your subscriber list and getting your content viewed. There are many email programs out there but I love MailerLite because it is absolutely FREE until you reach 1000 subscribers. It is super easy to use and integrates smoothly into WordPress themes. Sign up now for your FREE subscription so you can get a jump on creating emails and newsletters for your subscribers!
Convertkit – This is another awesome email marketing service. This is actually the better option for email if you can afford it because it offers so many additional features to help grow your email list and turn subscribers into customers! Try ConvertKit now FREE for 14 days!
OptinMonster – Having a great Opt-in program enables you to easily create subscriber buttons and boxes that integrate seamlessly into your blog. OptinMonster works perfectly with MailerLite and enables me to create beautiful sign-up forms that match the color scheme of my blog and place them in strategic places throughout my site. You will notice in this post, the boxes to sign up are created to match my theme and color schemes. All this was accomplished through MailerLite and OptinMonster! I've visited so many blogs in which I could not find a button or box to subscribe! These opt-ins also enable you to offer free downloadable items to subscribers without them having to leave your page. Make it easy by using a great Opt-in program. Sign up now for OptinMonster!
**TIP – Provide more than one opportunity for visitors to subscribe! In addition to having a “Subscribe” button or box in your sidebar, provide another opportunity at the end of the post (in-post optin) and also find something you can give our reader in exchange for providing their email such as a downloadable template, access to a resource library, etc – but make sure it relates to the post and your audience!
AFFILIATE MARKETING HELP
Generating income is a major factor in the decision to start blogging. I don't believe in the “if making money is your primary goal for blogging, you will be disappointed….” For most people, the intended goal – making money – is a huge factor in your discipline and dedication to the job! I always hear other bloggers say “it takes a while before you will start earning any money and that is just a big fat lie!
Most of the affiliate programs you will want to sign up for are managed by a central hub such as ShareASale. Get signed up for them all now so you can more easily sign up for the particular programs later. I put together a full list of affiliate programs that I am currently using and having great success with. The hubs are listed at the very top of that page, followed by some specific ones that I have great success with.
OTHER TOOLS TO GET YOUR BLOG STARTED WITH EASE
Grammarly – Grammarly is a tool that EVERY blogger, writer, social media influencer, etc should be using. This is a grammar/spelling checker that you install as an extension on your browser. It is absolutely free so sign up now and install it on your browser!!
Canva – Canva is another graphics editing program. The basic plan is free and they have upgrade options. I'm using the free Canva for my graphics and Pinterest pins.
Blog and Pinterest Graphics – It is really important to “brand” your blog. That means using the same colors, fonts, and graphic designs throughout the blog to maintain consistency. There are several places to get free stock images until you can upgrade to a paid subscription.
Ok, let's talk about Pinterest! If you don't already know, Pinterest is a goldmine for most bloggers, regardless of their niche. Many new bloggers don't understand the importance of optimizing your images and posts specifically for Pinterest (or how to do it). I had used Pinterest for personal pinning of DIY and cool stuff but I never realized how important and beneficial it can be for bloggers to get their content out! I wasn't seeing much productivity with my pinning at first so I went ahead and took a few courses on using Pinterest for a blog. Let me tell you, there are a LOT of them and some are quite expensive! In the end, they had some of the same information but each one was also missing something that the other one covered. As you can see below, I DID have major success with increasing my blog traffic. I also tremendously increased my blog income at the same time (and my subscribers more than tripled in less than two months! Be sure to follow me on Pinterest while we are here talking about it!
MY BLOG TRAFFIC INCREASED
Not only did my pins gain increasing views, but so did traffic to my blog! You can see the tremendous spike in blog traffic (below) which correlates to the pinning success (above).
PINTEREST FOR BLOGGERS & BUSINESS
Since there are so many courses out there – some charging outrageous prices (like literally $300), I decided to put together my own comprehensive course, but make it more affordable than what others were charging because I know that most bloggers just don't have hundreds of dollars to spend on a bunch of different courses! If you want to start making REAL money with your affiliate programs – both from your blog and through Pinterest – you should definitely consider taking this training! Within a week of implementing some of these tips and strategies, I began seeing results (that you saw above) with those awesome emails saying “you made a sale” from my affiliate programs! This course covers basic AND advanced strategies for Pinterest affiliate marketing PLUS how to harness the power of Pinterest to increase your blog traffic, subscribers, and income! You won't find a lower price for the amount of information in this course! Check out Pinterest for Bloggers & Business and you won't be sorry! This is the one investment that will pay for itself right away! ENROLL NOW and get 1/2 off with code BIZ50 at checkout!
If you are getting started on Pinterest, join my Girl Bosses Rock Beginners Group Board! This is a great way to start getting your content out there.
Or, you can join one of my Tailwind Tribes! (click any one below to join)
Christian Living (anything related to Christianity and Christian living)
TOOLS FOR SCHEDULING
I'm now managing two separate blogs and each of them is tied to several social media accounts. I could spend every day (all day) just posting to social media! I couldn't even imagine having one blog to manage AND have kids or a second job without some sort of scheduling tool! I use HootSuite for my Twitter and Facebook accounts, and Tailwind for my Pinterest scheduling. I literally spend a couple of hours 2-3 times during the month scheduling out everything for the next 3-4 weeks. This is especially helpful in allowing me family time on the weekend or if we wanted to plan a family trip.
HootSuite – HootSuite is another scheduling program for use with Twitter and Facebook. If you plan on using those social media outlets to get your content out, HootSuite can save you a ton of time with its bulk-load option. I've got my Twitter and Facebook posts scheduled out 2-3 weeks at a time. Not all of these are blog posts. It's important to keep your followers engaged by posting other stuff too such as motivational quotes, “coming soon” posts and other types of content. HootSuite is free to join, and with upgrades, you'll get more resources to use. I'm currently using the free version.
Tailwind – Tailwind is a scheduling program to schedule your Instagram posts and Pinterest Pins. It is FREE TO JOIN and has Tribes, which are similar to group boards, to help get your pins out there without having to sit and manually pin all day every day. I usually spend about 1 hour twice a week scheduling my pins and sharing others' pins from the Tribes. THAT'S IT! That leaves me so much more time to work on creating quality blog content. Sign up now (for free) with my referral link and get $15 towards an upgrade to use later!