If you are a new blogger, or even if you have been blogging for a little while but haven’t quite figured out this whole blogging thing, maybe this page FILLED with blogging resources will help you! I know how easy it is to get overwhelmed when starting a blog. You start reading all kinds of resources and very quickly fall down a rabbit hole of information. Before you know it, your brain is going in 17 different directions and you feel more defeated than motivated. You may even feel like giving up before you’ve even started! DON’T DO THAT!
Instead, take a breath and try and focus on one thing at a time. If you go through this list of resources and feel overwhelmed, try to just pick one thing and focus on that. Whether it is starting an email list, or working on pinterest graphics. Take the time to learn one thing WELL, and feel confident in it before you move on to the next (some advice I need to take seriously myself)!
Disclaimer: Some links used in this post are affiliate. I only ever share what I myself have personally used or LOVE.
It’s true, you can absolutely start blogging for free, with platforms like WordPress.com or Blogger. However, if you are going to invest any money at all into your blog, this is where it should be. Do yourself a favour and self-host. (Don’t worry if you are currently blogging on another existing platform. Siteground makes it really easy to transfer over and at no additional cost!) It gives you so much more freedom when it comes to designing and customizing your blog to make it EXACTLY how you want. Not only that, but one of the biggest perks of self-hosting is getting your own individualized domain name. HUGE PLUS!
SELF-HOST I USE AND LOVE AND RECCOMMEND:SITEGROUND
I personally use Siteground to host my blog and cannot say enough great things about them. When I started a blog years ago in a different niche with Bluehost, and while they weren’t too bad overall, they did not stand out the way Siteground does. I did my research, and after being on the fence for a while, I chose Siteground to host my blog because:
- They have faster loading speeds and can handle more traffic ✓
- They are safer and more secure ✓
- Their customer support is the BEST OF THE BEST! ✓
- **AS I was writing this post I lost all access to my media library and photos (my own doing). I immediately linked up to their online chat and within a minute was being helped! The problem was fixed in about ten minutes and my anxiety has since returned to normal levels.
NEED HELP CHOOSING A DOMAIN/BRAND NAME?
Check out NameChk ! You can search for available domain names that you are thinking of AND they show you if the same name is available across different social media channels. This is a great tool to use if you are still in the beginning stages and don’t have a blog/domain name yet! 🙂
I don’t know about you, but for me, choosing a blog theme is one of THE most fun parts about setting up your blog. That being said, it is easy to spend hours and hours trying to choose your favourite. Been there. Done that. My advice is to try your best not to get too caught up in searching for the perfect theme, because ultimately you have the luxury of customizing almost everything now that you are self-hosted! WordPress has endless free themes to choose from! So don’t feel obligated to purchase a theme right off the bat. You can always purchase one and switch it over later! It sometimes involves some tweaking, but it would be worth it!
MY CURRRENT BLOG THEME: FOODIE PRO
When I started my food blog years ago, I thought about using a free theme, but I wanted something super customizable. So I thought what better theme for a food blog than Foodie Pro? This theme is built on the Genesis Framework and you can purchase it through StudioPress. I thought about purchasing a new theme for Little Miss Mom, but I loved Foodie Pro so much I decided to keep it even though I no longer have a food blog. It is workable for just about any blog niche!
SOME OTHER GREAT RESOURCES FOR BLOG THEMES:
Creative Market: Lots of themes & tons of templates for blog/biz related content!
Just Free Themes: Free WordPress themes selected predominantly for bloggers!
Pretty Darn Cute: Feminine WordPress themes
Does the word plugin kind of freak you out? I’m not going to lie. I still wrestle with which plugins to use. I hate having so many activated it starts to give me anxiety. So I usually only want the best of the best and what I REALLY think will benefit my blog. My list is always changing and evolving as my blog does, but here are some of my must haves and favourites!
Akismet Anti-Spam – The BEST way to keep spam out of your blog ✓
Add Signature – Add a custom signature to the bottom of your blog posts ✓
Backup Buddy – You MUST MUST MUST backup your site! ✓
Coming Soon Page & Maintenance Mode by SeedProd – Comes in handy while you are doing work on your blog or in the process of setting things up ✓
Contact Form 7 – A simple contact form. If not this one, make sure you have a way for people to contact you on your site! ✓
Google Analytics for WordPress – Keep track of how visitors find and use your website. Valuable info! ✓
Instagram Feed – A great plugin for sharing your Instagram feed right on your blog! Super customizable ✓
Jet Pack by WordPress.com – Helps with site design, traffic growth and security ✓
Pretty Link – Create custom URL’s to make them look, well, more pretty! ✓
Simple Facebook Page Plugin – Show your Facebook page on your site ✓
Simple Social Icons – SO important to display icons linking to your social media feeds ✓
Social Warfare – Maximize your social shares ✓
W3 Total Cache – Improves the speed and user experience of your site ✓
Yoast SEO – Helps you improve SEO to rank higher on Google ✓
Plugins Specifically for Themes with the Genesis Framework:
Genesis eNews Extended – Not necessary, as Genesis provides an eNews widget, but allows easier use of additonal mailing services
Genesis Simple Edits – Lets you edit post meta and the footer area of your theme ✓
When I started blogging a few years back, I didn’t even give a second thought to growing my email list. Rookie Mistake. Now, after lotssss of reading and research about how other bloggers are so successful I have come to learn how important this actually is! So, I signed up with MailChimp. It is FREE up to 1000 subscribers. I have found there to be a bit of a learning curve when it comes to using MailChimp, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t get the hang of it right away!
Melyssa Griffin has put together a GREAT tutorial that really helped me understand how to use MailChimp.
BLOG GRAPHICS & PHOTOGRAPHY
So, what good is having a well set up blog if no one is finding or reading it!? One of the crucial elements of having a successful blog is promoting it. You need to put it out there for people to find! And many of us are very visual people. So having great images and graphics on your blog that can be shared across all social media platforms is ESSENTIAL!
My GO-TO resources for creating beautiful graphics is CANVA. I am OBSESSED with it. They do have a paid version with access to more features, but the free features are plenty to work with! I am working on putting together a whole post on how to make the most out of Canva and can’t wait to share it with you!
Another awesome resources for blog graphics:
PicMonkey – Also great! But as of recently you need a paid membership to save or export any of your work. They have a 7 day free trial you can take advantage of though!
You may start to find that a large part of creating graphics and compelling content is having super awesome photographs. I personally recommend investing in a quality camera if you don’t already have one. I have been using the Canon Rebel T5i for a few years and I take all of my blog photos with it! But let’s be real. If you don’t already have one, it is quite a large investment to make upfront. Is it worth it? Totally! But, if it is not a purchase you can make in the near future, consider some of these awesome websites for great quality FREE stock photos to use when creating beautiful graphics.
Some of my favourite stock photo websites:
Unsplash – I LOVE this website because there are thousands of free downloadable stock photos in high-resolution and they include a search bar so you can really narrow down what you are looking for.
Pexels – Another great website with tons of images to choose from ALL FREE!
Burst – Created by Shopify for entrepreneurs to use for their websites! Have to provide an email for the high-res photos.
StyledStock – If you are looking for more feminine styled stock photos they’ve got you covered!
blogging & SOCIAL MEDIA
As just mentioned, a huge part of getting more traffic to your blog is actually sharing your content and promoting it through social media. Now, this can seem overwhelming because there are so many social media platforms. Where do you even begin?! What I have decided to do, and what I recommend, is to start with only focusing on two major ones before branching out to other platforms. I would suggest Facebook and Instagram.
- Create a Facebook page for your blog &
- JOIN FACEBOOK GROUPS FOR BLOGGERS! This is a great way to get your blog content out there and increase traffic to your blog. I wish I had started doing this sooner! Here are some great groups you should consider joining to help grow your blog audience. The support in these groups is fantastic!
- New Bloggers Support Group – Bloggers Helping Bloggers
- Boost Your Blog – A Group of Bloggers Supports Eachother
- Mom to Mompreneur – Grow Your Blog, Make a Biz and Raise Kids (For any fellow mom bloggers!)
- Pinterest Group Boards|Pinterest Repins|Pinterest Followers|Traffic – Pinterest Marketing & Exchange of Group Boards
- Instagram Engagement & Support Group – Elevate Your Posts
- Boost Your Blog – Tips, Community & Strategy to Help Grow Your Blog **One of my favourites!
- Boss Girl Bloggers – Be Your Own Damn Boss
- Grow Your Blog – A Facebook Community That’s All About Reciprocation – Boost Posts – Drive Traffic – Gain Followers – Grow
- BlogStart – Where Bloggers Grow
I have only recently started thinking more about using Instagram for blogging purposes rather than just for fun, but I have seen many bloggers grow a very large following on Instagram and it has huge potential for gaining traffic to your blog and landing sponsored posts. So it is now something I am definitely going to put some effort into!
PERFECT YOUR PROFILE ✓
- Use a profile photo consistent with other social media bio photos and your blog bio photo
- Use the Instagram for Business features which include adding your blog and contact info to your profile!
- Also include who you are and what you do in your profile
TAKE COMPELLING PHOTOS ✓
- Instagram is all about the photos! Whatever your focus, make sure to take high quality photos with lots of appeal to your target audience.
CREATE A CONSISTENT THEME ✓
- If you pay attention to some the most successful Instagram accounts you will most likely notice a consistent theme to their feeds. The content they are posting is always relevant to their brand (not something unrelated), and there is usually a similar edit to each photo.
- I LOVE VSCO app for editing Instagram photos. Play around with some edits and when you find one you like make sure to apply it to all of your photos! *It also helps to try and take most of your photos in natural light or outdoors.
- Some other great editing apps are; Snapseed, Lightroom CC & PicTapGo.
- I think the most important thing with Instagram is engagement! If you want likes and followers and comments on your posts you need to actively like and follow and comment on other peoples posts! ✓
blogging & PINTEREST
WHAT PINTEREST ACTUALLY IS
You may have noticed that I didn’t include Pinterest in the above section about social media. There is a reason for that. Pinterest IS NOT a social media platform. For some reason it gets lumped into that category, but it is not created for social engagement. It is a search engine!! We use Pinterest like we use Google. And if you use it right, and effectively, it can be your greatest source of traffic to your blog!
I’m sure if you have started your blogging journey, you have already done some reading up on Pinterest and you have probably seen many posts about using Tailwind and/or Board Boosterto help you maximize your time and pin more efficiently. I personally have not tried Board Booster yet, but I did use the free trial of Tailwind and found it verrrry helpful! That being said, I have yet to pay for it. It is on my list of things to do, but so far I have made the time to pin manually and have had much success doing it! Until I feel more of a need for Tailwind I will hold off.
So don’t feel like you MUST subscribe to one of these services in order to be successful on Pinterest, because you absolutely don’t! I only have 1000 Pinterest followers at the moment and I still manage to get over 350,000 monthly viewers. You just have to put the effort in! Would it make your life a bit easier? Most definitely. But it does not need to be something you do immediately.
THIS has been my greatest resource and source of blog traffic and it cane absolutely be yours too! Pinterest group boards are where it’s at! If you don’t have a large following on Pinterest and want to make sure your content is reaching a lot of people, contributing to group boards is the way to do it. Incase you aren’t sure, a Pinterest Group Board is basically a board that someone has created that allows for multiple contributors. Some group boards have thousands of followers, so if you can become a contributor you will be able to reach all of those people! Amazing, right?!
HOW TO JOIN GROUP BOARDS
- Find them!
- There are websites like PinGroupie that you can use to help you find group boards in your niche. OR,
- You can look at some of the people you follow (because they are generally already in your niche) and search through their boards to see which group boards they are following.
- Request to be a contributor
- Normally, there will be instructions in the group board bio about how to join. It usually involves following the board and the board creator, and then emailing or messaging them to get an invite to contribute.
Don’t be discouraged, because you may notice that many boards you want to join are “closed to contributors.” It sucks, but there are tonssss more out there! One of the Facebook Groups I linked to above, Pinterest Group Boards|Pinterest Repins|Pinterest Followers|Traffic – Pinterest Marketing & Exchange of Group Boards, is perfect for finding current group boards accepting contributors!
If you do find one you want to join and need to send an email to request an invite, try using a template like this:
ALSO, consider starting your own group board! 🙂
MANY people want to make money blogging. And why not? It requires a lot of hard work, time and effort on your part. There is no harm in wanting to profit from blogging! Although if that is your sole reason for starting a blog, the chances of you being successful are much lower. Why? Because at the end of the day you need to be EXCITED and PASSIONATE about blogging and what you are blogging about! That is where you need to start. If you are excited and passionate about what you are blogging about, the rest will flow very easily. Your content quality will be that much better and you will love blogging every single day!
How to Make Money Blogging
This is a blog post all on its own, and I will expand on it in the future, because as of right now I am like most of you. I am new to blogging and still learning the ins and outs of everything. I have yet to venture down every path in which many bloggers make money blogging (sponsored posts, creating sellable content etc..), but as a new blogger how can you? You do have to start somewhere though! And so far I have found these two ways to be the BEST option for new bloggers to make some money even with a new and fairly small blog.
Not everyone wants ads on their blog, and that is totally fine! But, if you are interested in using ads as a way to make some money blogging:
- Sign up with Google Adsense! Once your blog is up and running and you have some quality content on the go you can get started with Google Adsense.
An affiliate program is a great way to start making some money from your blog, whatever your niche! I blog a lot about mom related topics, and I often refer to products I have used and love. Those links direct the reader to where they can purchase those products, and if they do I make a small commission from it. How great is that?
Here are some awesome affiliate programs to check out:
- ShareASale – A one stop shop for tons of merchants you can sign up with!
- Amazon Affiliates – A great affiliate program to join because they have SO many products
- Siteground – If you ended up hosting with Siteground you can also join their affiliate program 🙂
- VigLink – Automatically links your content for you & has a ton of merchants
- Target – so many products to link to and up to 8% commission!
When I got started, I looked around for a good quality course I could invest in to help me start my blog and get things going. I purchased the Blog By Number Course and it helped me A TON. It is definitely geared towards moms looking to start a blog, even though it has valuable resources for everyone. But if you are a new mommy blogger looking to get started this is one of the best resources you will come across! 🙂
Just like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, it can seem overwhelming. There is so much information to consume when it comes to starting a blog, but like I said earlier, try to take it one step at a time. Before you know it you will have a fully functioning blog with great content, killer graphics, and even some passive income!
I hope these tips and resources will help you to get started! 🙂
If you think I left anything out or would like some more information on anything listed above please feel free to comment below!