Got Big Dreams? This section of our site is just for you. Here you will find a library of Go-To Business Tools, Blogging Tips, Affiliate Program Selection and more. Resources that will Show you what You Need To Start a Blog. And help you take your Blog or Socials to the NEXT LEVEL!
How to Start a Blog
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Start A Blog Business Toolkit
These are the best Blog Tools, Shop Tools, Online Business Programs and Teachers out there. (Almost) Everything we’ve used so far to build our blog, shop and socials is on this list. From clarifying our bran and choosing a theme to developing a business mindset and creating SEO-rich content that gets found on Google.
If you are ready, dig into the resources below to get the tools you need to create the online business you’ve always wanted. Or you can take our 6-Day FREE How To Start a Profitable Blog Email Course that walks you through the process step by step.
Want to Dig a Little Deeper? If you’re serious about putting in the work, investing in yourself and learning the tips and tricks make sure to sign up on the form at then bottom of this page. We’ll be sharing new tools and tips as we find them.
Who doesn’t love FREE? We love WordPress.com and have to admit, it is where we started. Back when we were trying to decide if we could afford to travel a gazillion places and have a travel blog, we had our very first blog on wordpress.com. Its a great way to get started, but you aren’t allowed to get access to important plugins and you’re not allowed to use affiliate links or sell anything. So, while you can’t make money through wordpress.com, it’s an ok place to start if you’re just figuring things out. Instead we recommend jumping in with Bluehost below.
The leading blog platform on the planet wordpress.org is the place to be for streamlined code, thousands of available themes, tons of plugin integrations and the best of everything. If you’re looking to make your blog into more than just a hobby, wordpress.org is what you will need. You can choose this platform by signing up on Bluehost.
Bluehost is a fantastic hosting service, especially if you are a beginner. With a cheap per month rate and great customer service, we worked with Bluehost to create our site, migrate our site to a server that could handle more traffic, help us with uploading themes and so much more! Sign up for Bluehost at 3.95/ month to get your blog up and running!
Recently we had to move to Siteground because our site needed more space and more speed. With over 100k visitors a month and almost 500 posts apparently this was the logical next step. Another stellar hosting provider, it’s definitely a little pricier. But with amazing customer service and tons of security features and a cdn integration with Cloudfare, it made the most sense for us. Check out Siteground.
If you haven’t checked out Creative Market this is one place where you will find the best-streamlined themes for your blog. If you’re looking for a certain look like a blog with a recipe feature or a travel map, check here first! We love that they work with artists to make work available and that they run sales regularly. Check out Creative Market for any of your design needs.
While a free theme can get you lots of places, sometimes springing for something that will be more on-brand for you is worth it. We use a LyraThemes theme called Kale Pro on this blog. And while we have edited it like crazy, and really pushed its capabilities to the max to do what we need it to do for us. Things like menus, Pinterest buttons, updates, font edits, etc. have all been possible through guidance from the LyraThemes support gurus who walk us through options whenever we go to them with a “how can it get it to work like this” question. If buying a theme, be sure to read the reviews… because, in the end, you’ll want to know you have a good team to support your blog growth as you move forward.
Need to know how to do something? Anything? Grab two free months on us over at Skillshare for all things creative, writing, photography, business building, etc. At one point in your blogging career, you will realize you need to upgrade your skills. You can do that with tons of free (and paid) videos that will help you on your way.
Need to get an idea of what your competition is us to? Or what keywords you’re ranking for? It’s important to set up realistic business goals based on your strengths. Find out where you rank and how people are finding you with Alexa’s website tool.
SEO doesn’t have to be complicated. We use the Yoast SEO plugin on our website to make sure that every post is working for us. Frankly, Google doesn’t care what you’re writing about. But it does care that you write it correctly. Yoast SEO shows you what “correct” looks like so that you can get your blog seen. You just install this as a plugin on your wordpress.org site.
A few months into our blogging journey we had been doing everything that we were “supposed” to. EVERYTHING. We were posting consistently, marketing like crazy, writing good SEO-rich content, and still traffic was low. Why? After using SEMrush, GTmetrix and other tools, we learned- we weren’t fast enough. As a travel blog our content is all about photos and links to everything that was slowing our site down. No one wants to wait 11 seconds for a page to load. Thankfully we found WPspeedGuru Alexei who specializes in making your site load lightning fast. As a result, Google Likes You, Traffic Finds You and People Like You. Win. Getting our site speed fixed was seriously the secret formula to going from 65 hits a day to 2000 hits a day. There are a bunch of site speed plans to choose from, tutorials and Alexei will walk through all the changes he makes to your site setup and why. If you’re serious about making money with blogging. Grab this essential service on WPspeedGuru.
We use SEMrush to learn more about our blog. What’s working, what’s not. Where errors show up, where the site loads too slowly, and where content needs tweaked. They also have a full marketing platform, just in case you need a little help. Grab a 7-Day Pro Trial FREE here. Whether you’re tackling the keywords you’ll need to catch Google’s eye, learning SEO from the leaders in the industry or testing out your site for traffic speed, SEMrush will get you where you need to be. Think you might need an SEO audit? Head to SEMrush to see all your options.
Google Analytics may seem a little intimidating, and yes, it kinda is. BUT, if you’re hoping to know your most visited posts, how many people visit your website, and who is linking to and sharing your content, then you will need to create a Google Account and set up Analytics.
We use a cocktail of sophisticated plugins on our website that makes it run pretty seamlessly. One of these plugins is Smush by WPmudev. If you’re using lots of photos in your blog or shop, they are the first thing that will slow everything down and cause customers and readers to find their content elsewhere. Smush will compress your pictures so they take up less space, load faster and still look amazing. You can grab a membership to Wpmudev with a free 30 day trial to check out all their tools! Or head to your wordpress plugin page and find the Smush plugin.
We have used Mailchimp since we started collecting emails as part of our marketing strategy. Ranked as the #4 Software Company of 2019 ( behind only Google, Adobe and Slack) you know you’re getting an amazing quality product. With Award winning Support you know that they will have the answer to every question you can’t figure out. It’s by far the most comprehensive email marketing platform on the market. and you can use it for FREE until you reach 2000 subscribers. So it’s perfect for getting started. Sign up for Mailchimp.
Mailmunch Forms with Mailchimp
Mailmunch Forms for Mailchimp is a plugin you install on your blog that integrates with WordPress and Mailmunch and Mailchimp- so you’ll have to have accounted for all those. Our saving grace with many of our landing pages and signup forms on our blog site, shop site, and on socials, is that almost all our forms are made in Mailmunch. And Mailmunch can integrate with many, many email marketing platforms. So, in the event you move from one email marketing platform to another, if you have used Mailmunch you won’t lose any of those forms and landing pages you spent all that time creating.
We love photography and take pride in the photos we share on our blog. But, we also have to travel, in order to get those photos, and create things, to take pictures of. If you’re just starting out, there’s no shame in using other people’s royalty-free stock photos. Check out the list of resources we use.
- Lightroom: Available through Adobe Creative Cloud, there is a professional photographer’s lifetime of tools available in this platform.
- Lightroom CC for mobile: If you’re looking for something simple, just download the Lightroom CC app and check out our Mobile Photo Presets for easy ways to edit your photos to blog perfection.
- Royalty-Free Photos : UnSplash and Pixabay
Video Editing Tools
These days, you need a video for everything. Every platform, Every social. As such, we tend to use whatever in-platform or in-software tools are available. But, if you’re looking to learn the ropes of something better, and kick things up a notch, head to https://www.veed.io/tools/video-editor. We like this platform for the wide array of tools, including Adding Subtitles to Video, and Video to Text capabilities. Both of these are often needed to pass certain accessibility requirements.
Blog Courses & Teachers
- Suzi Whitford at Start a Mom Blog Blog by Number Course
- Elite Blog Academy
- Melyssa Griffin Entrepreneur and Blog Extraordinaire
Using Pinterest to Drive Traffic to a Blog
You need Canva. Whether you’re creating Pinterest Pins, Instagram Stories, or the header for your Blog, Canva can do everything you need it to to make sure your business is on-brand. Sign up for an account here.
As the ABSOLUTE must-have tool for all your Pinterest dreams, without spending your life on the computer, you will need Tailwind. Our business goal is to create the kind of business that works for you while you’re on vacation. We can do that with Tailwind. New members get one month free through this link.
Pinterest Traffic Avalanche
The absolute STRONGEST Pinterest Class out there, Pinterest Traffic Avalanche by Lauren and Alex over at Create and Go, is absolutely necessary for blogging success. The course is continually updated every time Pinterest changes an algorithm or Tailwind adds a new feature. Implement every suggestion in this class and you will see results! Grab the class here Pinterest Traffic Avalanche by Create and Go.
Using Instagram to Drive Traffic to a Blog
With the ever-changing landscape of the Instagram algorithm, be aware that Instagram is first and foremost a social media platform for community building. While this tangentially helps you grow a blog or shop because the trust you build with followers is important, using it to drive sales, or visits to your shop is a strategy you need to change as the algorithm changes. But your main goal on this platform should be social engagement, not necessarily sales, or traffic. That said, here’s what we’ve used to up our Instagram game.
Instagram for Success
One of the first bloggers we began to take cues from is Helene in Between. Thankfully this travel blogger also finds time to create helpful courses for others to navigate the ever changes waters of marketing tools. Helene’s Instagram for Success by Helene in Between is a great course we’d recommend if you’re just getting started or need a new strategy to try out.
Samantha English Marketing Academy
Our other favorite guru in the Instagram/ FB space is Samantha English. If you are focusing on Instagram to bring in the money for your blog or shop, Samantha has an amazing way to keep those algorithm changes from killing you. With a surefire 5-step sales funnel that works and updates on every single algorithm change from both Instagram and Facebook, you can get ahead by getting on this girl’s email list, and taking a few lessons or signing up for her master course. Check out Marketing Unleashed for Facebook and Instagram.
How to Start a Blog Resources
Hopefully, this list of resources gives you someplace to start. We’ll be sharing more tips and strategies as we create them. While this is still a work in progress, we hope to be sharing tips and strategies via email over the coming months for those looking to elevate their online business. So make sure you’re on our resource email list.
Ready to Learn what it Takes to Start a Shop? Check out our Shop Resource Page!