This Blogger Resource Guide is designed to walk you through the best tools and services to jumpstart your brand new blog, or take your existing blog to the next level. Grab a strong cup of coffee and dive right in!
The Blog-Building Blogger Resource Guide
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Starting a Blog
If you’re looking for detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to start a blog from scratch, head to this blog post.
If you’re interested in making money from blogging, getting a self-hosted WordPress.org blog is a must. (You can read about the differences between WordPress.org (self-hosted) and WordPress.com (not self-hosted) here.) These web hosts come highly recommended from a number of bloggers—including me!
I’ve used Bluehost from the beginning—and they are absolutely fantastic! If you’re not a big tech person, their 24/7 customer service is a real lifesaver. Bonus? Their plans are super affordable at under $4 a month, plus you get a free domain name.
Another popular web hosting choice, Siteground also offers low monthly prices and a great tech support team to answer any questions you may have. However, their plans do not include a free domain name like Bluehost.
Need help picking out the perfect domain name for your blog? This post is for you!
If your web host doesn’t include a free domain name, you can purchase a .com domain from Namecheap for under $10/year. (But honestly, you will save a little bit of cash if you go with a web host like Bluehost that includes a free domain name. That’s one of the main reasons I started my blog with them. Because #broke.)
Building Your Blog
1. Free WordPress.org Themes
When you’re just starting out with blogging, it’s 100% okay to use one of WordPress’ free themes. (Get frugal, y’all.) They have tons to choose from. Just make sure you go with something with a white background and that looks clean, such as Kale, Anissa, or Juliet.
There are so many cute WordPress blog themes on Etsy. I purchased my current theme from a great little Etsy shop— City House Designs. You can browse through more WordPress Themes on Etsy here. Always check out the customer reviews before purchasing.
Elegant Themes is home to the Divi Theme—which is currently the most popular premium WordPress Theme in the world. It’s pricer than the other options, but if you’re a professional blogger, the Visual Page Building and Drag-and-Drop theme features are life. Once you’re able to financially invest in an amazing theme for your blog, Divi is it.
1. Yoast SEO
Yoast is freakin’ amazing for Search Engine Optimization (aka upping the likelihood that your posts will show up on Google). Get it. Start using it on every post. (I use the free version and it’s absolutely perfect for beginners.)
2. Google Analytics
In the early stages of blogging, getting page views and visitors to your blog is a top priority. Google Analytics will help you see how you’re doing. These numbers will also come in hand if you start applying for sponsored blog posts down the road, as brands are usually interested in how many unique visitors visit your site each month.
3. Sassy Social Share
Once you get your 7 essential social media accounts for new bloggers set up, you’ll want to start sharing them with your readers! Sassy Social Share is a super cute and easy way to get your share buttons on your blog.
4. Contact Form 7
A super simple way to get a basic form on your blog. I use it for my Contact page so folks have an easy way to reach out. All messages are sent directly to my email for me to review and respond to—easy!
5. WP Super Simple Speed
A plugin that just helps your site load a little bit faster. Install. Activate. Keep it updated. (That’s pretty much it. It does the rest of the work for you.)
If you plan to monetize your blog with affiliate marketing, PrettyLinks is an ABSOLUTE must, y’all. Learning about Pretty Links (and how to use it properly) was one of the best things that I picked up from Michelle Schroeder-Gardner’s amazing course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. I’ve seen my affiliate income increase steadily since taking the course—truly worth every single penny if you’re completely clueless on affiliate marketing (like I was). If that sounds like you, you can enroll in for Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing here.
I have all of the heart eyes for Canva, y’all. For brand new bloggers, this tool is an absolute dream. The free version comes with all kinds of great templates so you can easily create a logo, formatted images for your blog posts, and social-media-specific images—most importantly, some really beautiful Pinterest-worthy images.
There are lots of great spots to buy beautiful stock photography, but these are my favorite sites that offer free stock photos—perfect to use until your blog is really generating some steady income!
MailerLite is the perfect email tool for brand new bloggers, or those who are just starting to grow your email list. It’s completely free up to 1,000 subscribers!
When you’re past the “just starting out phase” and are ready to get serious about growing and nurturing that email list—ConvertKit is the way to go. It’s a financial investment with plans starting at $29/month, so I would recommend waiting until you’ve earned some blogging income before purchasing a plan.
If you’re just getting started but are feeling a bit lost, learn about the 7 Social Media Accounts to Set Up Immediately After Starting a Blog. A great starting point! Then come back and dig into these resources.
The ultimate Pinterest schedule, in my opinion. Tailwind keeps my Pinterest account actively working away, even when I’m busy on other projects or caught up in mom life. You can sign up for a free Tailwind trial here.
Another great Pinterest scheduler with budget-friendly plans starting at $5/month. You can sign up for a free trial with Board Booster here.
Twitter is one of the best social media platforms to automate. Hootsuite let’s you schedule tweets in advance, which frees up your time to work on other projects. You can sign up for a free Hootsuite trial here.
Recommended Social Media Reading:
When you’re just starting out as a brand new blogger, one of the best resources you have is other bloggers. Once you get the framework of your blog set up with the resource above, and you’ve written a few posts—it’s time to connect!
One of the best ways to meet other bloggers is through Facebook Groups. They are a wonderful way to connect with like-minded folks, a safe place to ask questions, and a free way to share your content.
Different Facebook Groups serve different purposes. Some are “advice” groups, where you pose questions. Some are “promotion” groups, where you and other members help promote one another’s work. Some fall somewhere in between. Always make sure to read all group descriptions thoroughly and follow all rules completely before jumping in.