Starting a blog can be so overwhelming. There are so many little aspects that make up a blog, especially if you want to make a business out of your blog. Blogs can be very profitable, but you have to be willing to invest both time and money to get it there. It’s hard to decide what’s worth investing in and what’s a waste a time. That’s why I’ve created this blogging resources page to help take the guess work out of it!
Below I share the things I feel are worth the investment. I have created a simple format below indicating the things I believe are worth the investment up front with an asterisk. If it doesn’t have an asterisk, then I believe it’s something definitely worth the money. But only after you have begun to generate a small income from your blog.
If you want to turn your blog into business with a part-time or full-time income, I highly recommend reinvesting at least a portion of your income back into your blog. Just like any other business, blogging takes a lot of work, knowledge, and business savvy. The best way to do this if you are on a budget, is to try and generate revenue to put back into your business.
Okay. Enough talk! Let’s get to the good stuff. Here are the blogging resources I have purchased, used, love, and recommend. Please note that I only ever recommend products and services that I have personally used.
Don’t have a blog, but ready to jump in with both feet? Head over here to see my tutorial on how to start a blog!
If you make a purchase through one of these affiliate links, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Please see my disclosures for more information.
If you decide to go with a self-hosted blog (which you definitely should!), you will need to pay for hosting. You can find a detailed step-by-step tutorial on how to set up a blog on Bluehost here.
I know there are many mixed reviews of Bluehost, but I have personally been very happy with the service that I’ve received from them. I feel like they are on top of any problems (which are very rare) that arise quickly and they have 24/7 online chat which I love. (I hate having to all and wait on hold!) They answered all of my newbie questions when I first got started. I think as a beginning blogger, you can’t beat the service and the price.
When you first start your blog, the last thing you are going to want to do is spend money on a site design. However, if you want to attract readers and look like a blogger who is going to be in it for the long haul, I feel that investing in a blog design is very important. Now don’t run away thinking that I’m going to suggest you spend several hundred or even several thousand dollars on a professional site design! I sure didn’t and I would never recommend that to a beginning blogger. However, I do recommend signing up for a theme. Here is what you will need:
Most child themes you will find run off the Genesis Framework. It’s what was suggested to me when I started and I’m so glad I went with it because so many of the “child themes” run off this “parent theme.” Now you are probably say, wait what?! Parent theme and child theme?! You totally lost me!
It works like this: You will need to install two different themes on your wordpress dashboard to make everything work properly. Think of it like this…the parent theme is like the sofa, end tables, and arm chairs. The child theme is the beautiful lamps, area rugs, throw pillows, and wall decor. The parent theme is the bones and the child theme is all of the pretty stuff that makes it look polished! Make sense?
I highly recommend the Genesis Framework for your parent theme.
I purchased my site design from Restored 316 Designs. It was super affordable, customizable, and super cute and feminine. If I do a redesign in the future, I will most likely stick with this company because they’ve been so super wonderful in helping me figure out all of the techie side of things when it comes to my theme.
Just like in anything else you do, I think it’s very important to be constantly learning. Below I’ve recommended the 4 best books I’ve read on blogging and business that have helped me grow my blog.
Please do yourself a favor. As soon as you start blogging (like the day after you sign up for Bluehost), go purchase Abby Lawson’s book Building a Framework. This is hands down the best book about blogging for beginners. It will literally walk you through every step you need to take to start up your blog, grow an audience, and monetize your site. I purchased this book first and I’m so thankful I did. I couldn’t have made it without it. Don’t waste your time researching. Just buy this book and save yourself hours and hours! (Can you tell I LOVE this book?!)
Brittany Ann from Equipping Godly Women grew her Facebook platform in 5 months from just a few thousand to over 100,000. It was incredible. In this e-book, she walks you through every single strategy she took. I’ve just recently read this book and I’m only beginning to implement her strategies. Almost all of her strategies she teachers I had never heard of. It’s definitely worth the small price she charges to get such thorough, yet to the point information.
I read this book just a few weeks after I started blogging. It is a great book on how to build your audience and grow a community. It’s usually pretty cheap on amazon used! Or better yet, check it out from your library for free! 😉
I read this book right before I started my blog in October of 2015. This is the book that inspired me to start my blog. I wouldn’t say this is necessarily a blogging book, but it’s definitely a business book for moms. I love pretty much every product Crystal puts out so of course I’ve got to mention it!
I actually read this book a few years before I even started blogging. Yes, I thought about starting a blog for a very, very long time before I actually did! I was able to snag it for 99 cents on Kindle. I re-read it when I started blogging and, boy was it helpful! Ruth has been blogging for 7 years and knows her stuff. She is amazing at Pinterest and gave me a lot of great information for how to set my Pinterest account up for success. I really think that this book is why I was able to grow my traffic to a decent amount in just a few months of blogging.
Once you start to build up a decent collection of posts, you will definitely want to start using Pinterest. I recommend finding group boards to join (Abby teaches you all about how to do this in Building a Framework so I won’t reinvent the wheel here). Then you will want to save yourself hours and hours on the computer each day by investing in a Pinterest scheduler. Basically what this does is filter out your pins to each of the group boards throughout the day for you. This way you won’t have to sit and hand pin everything. You can be at the grocery store, playing at the park with your kids, or reading a good book while you are essentially driving traffic from Pinterest to your site with a scheduler. I have used and loved the following two Pinterest schedulers:
This the scheduler I’m currently using. It’s great because it takes less time than Board Booster (for me at least). The price isn’t terrible and you will most likely start recouping your investment in this scheduler within a few months of using it if you are utilizing ads and affiliate links at the very least. You can get a free one-month trial of Tailwind using this link.
I used Board Booster in the beginning and am considering going back to them. For me, board booster was a little more time consuming to set up, but I felt like I was receiving more traffic when I used them. You can also get a free one-month trial of Board Booster by using this link.
The day after you set up your blog, set up an email marketing tool. This is the best thing you can possibly do for your blog. I used mailchimp for about 10 months and loved them. Mailchimp is a great email marketing tool to get your feet wet. They have a very simple setup and are user friendly. They also have a free version with a few less features that you can use for up to 2,000 subscribers.
Oh, Convertkit. Friend, if you really want to turn your blog into a business, go with Convertkit. Yes, it costs a little bit from the beginning. But oh my goodness what a difference it has already made in my blog and business in such a short time! Convertkit offers the ability to connect your sign up forms to email sequences, automation capabilities, and the ability to tag email subscribers to different lists. It’s really incredible. I’ve converted to Convertkit and I don’t think I will ever go back!
This is the main ad network that I am currently using. There support has been good so far and they have decent payout for beginning to intermediate bloggers. I definitely recommend using Media.net when you first start out because they don’t have a page view requirement!
I edit all of my photos in Picmonkey first. This is where I crop and resize my images and add any overlays. I use the free version of Picmonkey. There paid service is pretty cheap, but I find that I get everything I need with the free version.
Once I’ve used Picmonkey to edit my photos, I add any text to the photos on Canva. I LOVE Canva. I have also used Canva to create several of the free printables on my site (which you can get access to by signing up for my email list!) Again, I use the free version of Canva and find that it’s enough for me.
Some of the pictures on my posts I take myself. Others are stock photos. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to pay money for stock photos! I like to use pixabay to find stock photos. They are a decent selection and they are completely free.
I have just recently finished Abby and Donnie Lawson’s course, Book Boss which teaches you how to write and launch an ebook. (Hint: There might be more to come from that very soon! ;))
Let’s just say that Abby and Donnie know what they are doing. This course is so comprehensive and easy to follow. It literally walks you through each step to take in the book writing and launching process. If you think that writing an ebook might be in your future, go purchase Book Boss. I promise it will more than pay for itself in the end!
UPDATE 2/17: I’ve found this course to be incredibly helpful with launching any product, not just ebooks. I used it in the launch of my printable pack and I’m also finding it very helpful as I create my first course.
I just recently completed this course from Michele at Making Sense of Cents and it’s really packed full of a lot of great information. I will say that the first part of the course was very beginner. I think this is a great thing for those just getting started with blogging and learning about affiliate marketing. However, I just skimmed this part. I found that the real meet of this course came at the end and within the 6 bonuses Michele offers.
This course from Addi Ganley was fantastic for helping me understand how Pinterest works. I love that she offered three different levels of affiliate marketing so the course was really applicable to everyone. When I first started the course, I began at the beginner level she suggested. As I felt more confident and learned more about affiliate marketing through Pinterest, I slowly added in the intermediate and the advanced techniques and started to see a decent amount of affiliate income because of it. I’m still working on implementing the advanced techniques. This is a great resource whether you are a beginner blogger, advanced blogger, or anywhere in between.
Helpful Business Tools
This is the landing page I use for my Simply Organized printables. I really like the ease of use. It is a little pricey with the cheapest plan at $29/month. But Instapage’s user-friendly platform made it worth it for me. I really like how customizable it is.
This is the payment processor I use for selling my products, Simply Organized and the 2017 Budget Binder. I really debated on what payment processor to use and did a lot of research. I decided on Gumroad because they take care of the VAT tax which takes place on international sales. I didn’t know anything about dealing with VAT so letting home handle that was pretty huge for me. Plus, they do have a free option. Gumroad charge 30 cents per transaction + 3.5% for the cheapest paid option which is $10 a month. This is the plan I have and it’s worked well for me so far.
This the platform I’m using for the courses I’m currently creating. I’m just using the free plan for now. I really like their interface and I’ve found the program to be user-friendly with nice organization. I’ve just started using Teachable, but I’m glad I went with this program for my courses. It gives me a lot of flexibility on how I want to format my courses.