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I know what you are thinking, ‘blogging for beginners… I have seen this before’. And yes, that’s true. There are lists and lists of posts that you will find on Google or Pinterest expressing to have all the answers for beginner bloggers. The truth is, no post will have all the answers but this one will try.
From experience as a beginner blogger myself a year and a half ago, I have sifted through what works and what doesn’t. (Updated August 7th, 2019: I am now 2 and a half years into blogging and all of these resources still hold up. However, I am still experimenting in some areas and learning every day.)
Finding what worked was harder than finding what doesn’t. I really didn’t have that time to waste but I did it anyway. That is why failure is so important, you have to fail a couple times before you can succeed.
Through my failures and successes I have narrowed down some of my favorite resources that helped me create and maintain a profitable blog myself.
Pin it for later!
Blogging For Beginners: My Top Blogging Tools & Resources
There is too much information out there about blogging, blogging resources, blogging courses and especially blogging for beginners. Most of it is biased because of all the affiliate programs for blogging tools and resources that people are receiving commission for when you click and purchase them.
And you will see that I am an affiliate for some of these resources I discuss below, but I also discuss resources that I am not an affiliate for. All the products, tools and resources I discuss I personally recommend. Because I want you to have as much advantage as possible starting out on your blogging journey so you can see the same successes I have!
Bloggers are one big community, and we help our own.
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Hosting & Setup
Bluehost: When you are first starting your blog, you don’t want to spend a fortune on hosting and neither did I. Hosting your blog on Bluehost gives you a free domain, free site builders, free 1-click WordPress install, 24/7 support and all for only $2.95 a month.
Yes, I do also recommend using WordPress for your blog as it is the easiest open source platform to use from my experience. Don’t know how to use it? No problem, Bluehost will walk you through every step of the way as their support team is very helpful (isn’t that a relief). Or you can get started easily on your own with this step by step guide: How To Create A Self Hosted WordPress Blog.
Themes & Design
Creative Market: I love using Creative Market to find cute graphics, stock photos, fonts, plugins and themes to incorporate into my blog. I also love the weekly freebies they send straight to my inbox. There is something for everyone on Creative Market.
Elegant Themes: Elegant themes is the number one theme provider in premium WordPress themes, in my opinion. Their Divi theme is out of this world and completely changes the way we build and maintain blogs by making everything 100% easier. I love this site.
Picmonkey: I use PicMonkey and Canva for editing all the images, graphics, pinnable images and featured images on my blog. I switch between the two to keep the cost low ;). I mostly use Canva for my printables though.
Unsplash: Unsplash is the best free stock photo website I have found and use for most of my featured images and pinnable images on my site. I first go to this site to pick out the images I will use on my featured and pinnable images and then import them into Picmonkey for the editing process. I am always able to find high quality and clean looking images that flow well with the look and feel of my blog and content.
Related posts: How To Create A Beautiful Blog Using Free WordPress Themes
Writing, Editing & Communications
Grammarly: Without this tool, every other sentence you read on this blog would be completely butchered. Grammarly is an extension I installed onto my Chrome browser and automatically spell-checks and grammar-checks ANYTHING I type. I love it. Oh and did I mention, it is 100% free!
Convertkit: I use Convertkit for my email list and is the best email marketing platform I have worked with. I tried all of the free options and absolutely hated them. They were complicated and a hassle to use. To me, staying productive with my blog is very important as I also have a full-time day job. Convertkit has made it very simple to manage my email list and keep an open on-going relationship with my readers.
Coschedule Headline Analyzer: A good headline is what makes others want to click through and read what you have to say. A bad one can cost you traffic, shares and search results which is what you DO NOT want. This headline analyzer is great for coming up with the perfect headline so people will want to read your content.
HARO: HARO stands for ‘Help A Report Out’ and is a platform for both journalists and sources. I use HARO to communicate with both sources and journalists. As a journalist, I can put out requests to sources for expertise to include in my articles (giving them credit of course). As a source, I can respond to other HARO requests asking for my expertise. Because of HARO, I was featured on Time Money, Business Insider, Skillcrush, and USA Today. If you want to get your name and your new blog out there, HARO is a must and it is completely free.
Social Warfare Share Buttons: I use to have Shareaholic and trust me when I said I loved Shareaholic. However, I was blown away when I found Social Warfare. Social Warfare share buttons are so sleek, easy to use, and don’t slow down my site. If you are looking for the perfect social media sharing buttons for the ultimate social media marketing tool, check out Social Warefare.
Tailwind: I use Tailwind for scheduling all of my pins to Pinterest, managing my Pinterest and participating in Tailwind tribes. Tailwind is a great way to manage your Pinterest, monitor profile performance, see board and website insights, inspect pins and use tons of more features to help you be as successful as possible on Pinterest. When you use my link to sign up, you will get a free month of Tailwind to try it out!
Pingroupie: An amazing free Pinterest Group Board Directory that lets you search through current group boards on Pinterest to join. It is sorted by category and also shows you stats of the board such as followers, average repins, etc.
Pinterest group boards have become such a popular and effective strategy to growing both your Pinterest reach and views but also your click through traffic from Pinterest. You have to be careful with what groups you choose to join, always pin 1 from the group board for every pin you add and always pin within the category of the group board or everyone ends up getting the sh** end of the stick due to Pinterest’s algorithm. This is why I love Pingroupie for choosing the best ones to join. I also have a couple of my own group boards that I have created that you can join by clicking the links below and following the directions.
Frugal and Thrifty Living Tips – Group board for frugal and thrifty living niches.
Blogging 101– Group board for blogging niches.
Remember, you must be following me on Pinterest in order to be added to these boards. Follow me here!
Related posts: How To Make Money With Pinterest
Facebook blogging groups and mastermind groups have become so helpful for me not only in the beginning stage of my blogging journey but especially as I grow my blog and network. There is no other helpful blogging for beginners resource than these groups. Mastermind groups and blogging groups are where you can get in touch with other bloggers and discuss strategies, ideas, collaborations, and so much more.
Here are a couple of my favorite blogging groups and mastermind groups:
- Blog Growth 101 from yours truly, me! Get support from fellow bloggers to help grow your blog, improve your strategies and increase your income.
- BTOP Ultimate Blogging Group from the guys of Breaking The One Percent and DollarSprout.
- Boost Your Blog from Helene In Between (one of my favorite travel bloggers and fellow former Ursuline Academy Alumni).
- Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing Group from Michelle at Making Sense of Cents. This is one of the most helpful groups I am a member of and the only way to gain access is if you purchase her Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course which is 100% worth it and discussed in more detail below in the monetization section.
If you want to build your own community, check out this resource for the best free and paid forum software.
SEO – Search Engine Optimization
Google Webmaster Tools: When you first get started with your blog, have an organized site structure with some content added and have all your branding in place with a site that is ready to go, then go to Google Webmaster Tools to submit your sitemap. This tells google to crawl your site so you can be found via the search console. Check back periodically for any errors you may need to correct in the search console as well as monitor your site’s Google search performance.
Moz: Moz is the SEO head honcho. It is their algorithm that controls your Domain Authority or DA and your Page Authority or PA of your blog. These DA and PA metrics say how likely it is you will rank in search engines on a scale of 0 – 100 based on a a variety of factors. Their site provides tons of resources for learning SEO, tools for researching keywords and keyword recommendations, shows you how much search volume there is for a given keywords and how easy or hard it is to rank for that keyword, shows you what keywords your competitors are trying to rank for and seriously, tons more tools.
Semrush: Semrush has completely changed the way I create content. Semrush is like an SEO miracle software sent from above. This online software does in depth domain analytics, keyword analytics, performs gap analysis, has a writing assistant, topic research tool and lead generation tool. It shows you who your competitors are, what they are ranking for and gives you templates for how you can out rank them. They also have a keyword magic tool I am obsessed with and the best site audit tools I have come across. You can sign up for their free trial here and see for yourself.
YoastSEO: YoastSEO is one of the best blogging tools and resources and the perfect blogging for beginners WordPress plugin. It is kind of like an ‘SEO for Dummies’ guide plugin that shows you how your posts are doing in both readability and SEO coverage. This plugin also shows you recommendations on how to improve your readability and SEO on the post or page you are on.
Related posts: Idiot Proof SEO: How To Improve Your Google Rank
Google Analytics: Link your site up immediately with Google Analytics as soon as you want to start measuring your site traffic, interaction, engagement, audience, etc. The easiest way to do this is by first adding your site to Google Analytics and then installing the Google Analytics for WP Dashboard plugin. It is completely free, of course. If you need more of a step by step explanation, check out Google Analytics For Newbies.
Google Alerts: Google Alerts is great for getting notified when your domain or name is mentioned on the internet. You can get alerted for any phrase really. You just create a new alert for whatever phrase or word you would like to get alerted for (I have one for my site name, one for my domain name and another for my full name). This is great for finding out when or if you have been featured on any big sites or just to see what other content you are being linked in.
PageSpeed Insights: This tool is super easy to use, all you do is enter your domain name and Google tells you the speed and performance of your site and what exactly would need to change in order to improve. Your blog’s loading speed and usability is especially important because having a faster blog will lower your bounce rate and provide a better user experience.
Monetization – Ads & Affiliate Marketing
Mediavine: For ads, when I finally reached 25,000 sessions at the beginning of 2018, I applied to Mediavine and was accepted. If you are not familiar with Mediavine, it is not an ad network. Instead, it is a group of publishers who joined forces to work directly with ad exchanges and advertisers to get the most money for their ad inventory. This change has more than doubled my ad income since switching from Google Adsense. To read about different types of ads to display on your blog, check out Frustrated With Google AdSense? Try These Top Alternatives.
Making Sense Of Affiliate Marketing Course: When I first started this blog I was confused with how people made money on their blogs, scratching my head wondering why money wasn’t piling into my Amazon affiliate account. Then I found this course that helped me put together my affiliate marketing strategy. This course has tons of step by step guides, lists of affiliate programs to join, how to join them, how to market affiliate links effectively so you actually make money and so much more including free perks like additional lessons to boost your affiliate marketing strategy and grow your blog effectively. It also includes lifetime access to the course and free Facebook mastermind group. Without this course I truly believe I wouldn’t be making almost $2000 a month, and my blog is just over 1 year old. (Update March 2019: I’ve now surpassed $3,000 a month with my blog.) If you invest in any courses for your blog, this is the one to invest in!
Affiliate Window: A number of the affiliates I promote throughout my blog come through Affiliate Window or AWIN. Affiliate Window is a great and easy to use affiliate network to help boost your blog earnings. Along with access to hundreds of affiliates through the platform (in all niches), they also have an amazing referral program of their own. Once you get access to the platform and refer any new signups, you get $30.
If you need help getting started with affiliate marketing or don’t even know what it is, read my The Fail-Proof Guide To Get Started With Affiliate Links.
A couple of other affiliate marketing platforms I use, but are not limited to, are:
What are some blogging resources you recommend for blogging for beginners? We would love to hear from you in the comments below!
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Daniella is the creator and author of iliketodabble.com. When her wife Alexandra and her aren’t globetrotting or playing with their 7+ animals, they are hustling and working towards a future of financial freedom.