Blogging Tips, Tools & Resources I Use
I began blogging in 2004.
Before blogging was considered a business model.
You could say I have a little experience.
I’ve started blogs, and let them die. I’ve begun blogs that seemed like a good idea, only to rebrand them later. And I’ve launched blogs and sold them.
The blogging tools and resources below are the ones I use and recommend.
Please note that some links are affiliate. I would love for you to use them, as a ‘thank you’ for sharing the wisdom I’ve gathered through the ages. (I am a blogging dinosaur, a member of the OOG – old old guard LOL) But seriously, the wee bit I earn helps me continue to learn more- and share it.
I am not going to write a lot about each tool, but am happy to answer questions you may have- just drop an email to jody@halsted(dot)biz
I publish all my websites on WordPress. Not the free .com version, but the ‘I’m really serious and investing in my business’ .org version. The framework is free, but you do need to purchase hosting & URL.
My largest sites (which bring in the majority of my income) are hosted at BigScoots.
BigScoots is managed WordPress hosting – they handle all updates, answer all my technical questions quickly, and assist when I can't quite figure things out myself. It’s not cheap hosting, but it is well worth the cost if your website is your business.
My smaller sites are hosted at MediaTemple. I’ve never had a problem with my sites going down or corrupting. The Grid hosting is an affordable way to begin. Media Temple also offers affordable managed hosting.
If your hosting doesn't include it don’t forget to purchase SSL through your hosting company! Many will set it up for you, or assist you in the process.
Not sure what SSL is or why you need it? Read this article from Hubspot.
You can purchase up renew your domain through your hosting provider.
I usually purchase my URLs through GoDaddy, mainly because it is where I began all those years ago, and I like to keep all my URLs together.
I use Sucuri for virus protection and full daily backups on my non-managed sites. It’s not cheap, but it has saved my websites more than once. Think of it as insurance for when the worst happens. And it will.
Speaking of backups… Your computer should be backed up in two locations. (Yes, you should have a backup for your backup!) I use a 6T external hard drive and cloud storage from Backblaze (use this link to try one month free!).
Deanna Garretson, at Hello Chicky, is my recommended blog designer.
She also offers tech support and assistance for busy bloggers. Be sure to mention my name when you chat with her!
Social Media Tools
I use Later for scheduling Instagram. Though I’ve tried other apps, this is the one I came back to for 2 reasons- a great phone app for iPhone and Android and the linkin.bio feature which makes it possible to link each image to its own article or web page.
Later can also be used for scheduling to Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Sprout Social is my sharing platform of choice. With it’s combination of business and personal account setting, inclusion of all major social platforms, and top-notch reporting, it has been irreplaceable for targeted social sharing.
For evergreen post sharing on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn I use Smarter Queue. The requeue feature is stellar, and the ability to easily set sharing across multiple accounts at one time is such a time saver! Get a free extended trial with my link .
For years my emails were Powered by Mailchimp. It is a great place to begin building an email list due to it's free account (up to a point). It is also a terrific platform if you have multiple websites and/or emails that you send from and want to keep everything in one location.
I am slowly moving my small email list to Flodesk. If you like beautiful emails this is the service for you. It is also very easy to use (I may move my larger lists here as well. Still testing.) Flodesk does not have a free trial but you can save 50% on your monthly fee when you sign up with my referral link.
Another terrific option is Feedblitz . It has a 15 day free trial, very attractive templates, and terrific customer service.
For large lists with loads of opt-in freebies, funnels, and products ConvertKit is the marketing platform of choice. I recommend opting into this platform before you get too big – and then take your time to really understand it. There are a LOT of moving parts – but once you get it set up it takes your email marketing to a new level.
SEMrush is a big investment but the results it can bring to your business are mind-blowing. Analytic reports, keyword tools, deep link analysis, project tracking. Once your website begins to earn a little money this is an investment, even for a short term, that will pay off. Use my link for a 7 day free trial.
To gain insight into how readers use and interact with my website I use CrazyEgg, a website optimization tool that offers visual reports and helps you analyze your website visitors.
Other Business Tools
I use MOO for my business cards. They are impressive and memorable. Not to mention fabulous quality.
I shoot the majority of my photos with an Olympus PEN. I like the size of the micro 4/3 camera and the ability to change lenses. My favorite lens is the 14-150mm telephoto. It rarely leaves my camera as it is a terrific all-around lens.
I adore my GoPro Hero 5. The voice commands and touch screen make this so easy to use. (Amazing compared to my old Hero 3.) It also has the ability of shooting video and photos simultaneously- a terrific asset if you are active!
To keep myself on task I use a Bullet Journal. Very ‘low tech’ but it’s the most flexible system I’ve found and it’s the only one I’ve stuck with.
For annual goal setting I use the Inkwell Press Goal Setting Inserts. Each pack has 12 goals – I prefer to do focus on 3 goals each quarter. It's more manageable and focused.
I also have a massive yearly calendar from NeuYear beside my desk. I prefer the Monday first dating, love that months don’t abruptly break, but blend into the next, and purchase the dry erase version so I can make changes when necessary.
Invest in Education
I offer blog coaching, one-on-one, for those who want to focus on specifics of their own websites and creating a business from their blog.
To get the most out of SEMrush quickly I highly recommend the SEMrush for Professional Bloggers course from Sunstone University. Lesli Peterson has nearly earned guru status when it comes to her knowledge of SEO. She is a highly sought conference speaker on the topic and she shares her knowledge here, fully. This course will change the way you blog.
Pinning Perfect by Blog Clarity is the best Pinterest course I have taken. Hands Down