I LOVE blogging. But honestly not for the front end of the blogging aspect but what happens behind the scenes, learning the tricks of the trade, how to increase traffic, make site more user friendly, etc. I thought it might may be helpful to share some of the tools and blogging resources that I use to run my blog. So here you go!
*Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links. You will not be charged any extra, I just receive a commission if you decide to purchase. I am recommending these resources because I have used them and found them very helpful in my blogging experience.
Bluehost – Bluehost has been an awesome hosting company to work with. They have fantastic support, are affordable, and a great place to start for the blogging novice. When you reach up to several thousand followers a day, the speed slows down, so you will want to switch over, but until then, Bluehost does a great job.
WordPress Themes – There are a lot of themes (webpage layout) to choose from. Many are free and others come with a price tag. The themes you have to pay for offer a lot more customization and better support. I would suggest starting out and experimenting with a free theme to see what you like and don’t like. I currently am using a free theme called Sugar & Spice. It has worked great for me thus far. With some help through forums and a little bit of coding experience, I was able to customize the design a bit more to my liking. Can you tell it is the same design?! 🙂
Google Analytics – This is a great tracking tool and it’s free. It shows you how many people are coming to your site, what posts are most viewed, where your referring traffic is coming from, etc. Very helpful information if you want to learn about your audience and which type of posts are most popular.
Plugins are awesome elements to add to your webpage to help customize your blog. There are thousands and thousands of plugins to choose from. You can basically say “there is a plugin for that”. Don’t get carried away though, because too many plugins will affect your site’s speed, which is never a good thing. Here are the plugins I use:
Akismet – Filters out spam comments from your blog. Getting blog comments is great but comment spam is no bueno!
Bottom of Every Post – Just what it says. It allows you to put what you want at the bottom of your posts, just once and it will show up on the bottom of every post. I use it for my signature and email subscription option and an ad. It hasn’t been updated for two years, so use it at your own risk.
CommentLuv – When someone comments on your blog, it automatically links up their latest blog post to the end of their comment.
jQuery Pin It Button For Images – Adds pin it buttons to your website, and gives you the ability to upload your own pin buttons if you would like.
Recipe Card – Gives a nice format and easy printing for food recipes.
Shareaholic Share Buttons – Makes it easy for readers to share your content through media buttons displayed at either the bottom or top or both of every post.
Simple Custom CSS – Lets me add css to overwrite my theme’s css so I don’t need to worry about losing any changes when me theme updates.
Visual Recipe Index – Displays posts with just a picture and a title which makes for easy navigation. I use it for my recipes but also for my other main pages as well.
WordPress SEO by Yoast – Helps with making your blog posts more SEO friendly.
Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP) – Puts related posts to the bottom of every post to hopefully attract the reader to visit a few more posts. I had been using linkwithin for awhile, but the posts it displayed didn’t relate to the post at all and it didn’t fit in to my blog as well, it clearly looked like it was a foreign object inserted into the blog.
SumoMe – A free tool that displays a pop up window on your blog to ask readers if they would like to subscribe. I know popup boxes can be annoying, so SumoMe gives you the option of how often you want the box to display. You will receive a little more customization if you opt for a paid account.
HelloBar – Another free tool that displays a bar up on top of your blog. Great way to ask people to subscribe to your blog or follow you on Pinterest or Facebook or really whatever you want.
MailChimp – Email newsletter provider. They have lots of tutorials to get you started They have a free account until you reach up to 2,000 subscribers.
Google Adsense – Really easy place to start earning money. You earn revenue on either a per-click (if someone clicks on the ad) or per-impression (the number of times your ad is seen). Their payment threshold (the amount you have to earn before you get paid) is $100.
Sovrn – I have really enjoyed this ad company. They are a per-impression network with a very clean and easy to understand dashboard. They allow you to price out the ads and do passback ads. You don’t need a big following to get approved, so just like Google Adsense, you can put ads up right away. Their threshold is just $25.
Gourmet Ads – Another per-impression ad company with a very clean dashboard that is easy to understand. They create the ads for you which doesn’t allow you as much control but they are very prompt and helpful. You do need to have some type of food related posts to be considered.
Amazon Associates – This is an affiliate program, which means you get paid whenever someone purchases an item from the business you refer your followers to. For example, when you tell your viewers about an awesome kitchen gadget and they click on the link to Amazon, if they purchase the item or any other item from Amazon within 24 hours you will be compensated for that sale. I have found the text links to be much more successful in referring viewers than the image links.
Websites I Submit Blog Posts To
There are a lot of sites that you can submit your work to and if they accept it, your blog will receive extra exposure. It’s a bit like Pinterest but narrowed down to a specific topic (i.e. food, crafts, etc.). All you need to do it create an account and begin submitting posts. Here are sites I have presented several of my posts to for more exposure:
Blogs I Follow
Even though I blog, I am not much of a consistent blog follower of any one blog. I get tips here and there from different websites but there are a few sites that I found that consistently write great articles about blogging that I would definitely encourage following.
Boost Blog Traffic – There are lots of blogs about blogging but most I have found to be skin deep. Boost Blog Traffic is the meat and potatoes of growing your blog.
Food Blogger Pro – Another site that I am subscribed to that sends practical and useful blogging tips straight to my email.
And there you have it, my complete list of blogging resources, which will always be a work in progress. 🙂