Here is my no doubt ever-evolving list of blogging resources and tools I use and adore.
Start a Blog Without Sprouting a Headache
If you are a blogging virgin, think about what you want from your blog, and pick one of the 2 options below:
- Your focus is on blogging, but you also want to sell products: Go with WordPress.org
- Your focus is on selling things, but you want to include a blog: Go with Shopify
The next technical information pertains to WordPress sites. I’m going to list the resources I use and, and I have to say I have sampled SO MANY blogging resources out there it’s embarrassing.
Technical Blogging Goods
Go with Bluehost if you are just starting out and need reliable, cheap hosting, and I just started a site for my sister that is hosted through them.
I use Techsurgeons to host my current blogs since I am a total badass superstar. They are amazing, and they are in high demand, so sometimes they don’t take new clients.
Themes and Child Themes
You use a theme (think of it like a skeleton) and a child theme (think of it like your skin and clothes) on your WordPress site, and you can customize them and have loads of fun.
Genesis – based on the opinions of everyone I know and respect in the blogging world, if you are going WordPress, use Genesis as your theme. Clean code, fast, good SEO, and great child theme options. They are supposedly the best.
If you don’t give a toot about all that stuff and just want a pretty blog, I love Pipdig.
I have a child theme addiction. Don’t be like me. Anyway, since I’ve tried lots of the pretty Genesis child themes, here are the ones I’ve used and enjoyed immensely.
I currently use Brunch Pro on Art for Kids and Robots by Shay Bocks (Feast Design Co), but I’ve also used her Foodie Pro theme in the past. She’s just an awesome theme designer.
I currently use a theme by Restored 316 called Divine, and she has some other lovely looking themes that I’m drooling over yet resisting.
I have tried the Creative theme from Pretty Darn Cute Designs and I liked it a lot, but just couldn’t quite get it to feel exactly the way I wanted. I feel like it is better suited for a site with gorgeous photography.
Plugins I Use and Love
Akismet for spam comment squashing
Social Warfare for social media sharing
Yoast for SEO and other things you can learn about through their site (everyone should have this awesome plugin)
Simple Social Icons for whichever social media icons you choose to show on your site where people can follow you
Genesis eNews Extended for getting people to sign up for your mailing list
That’s probably a good start. You’ll find more that either your theme recommends you use or that you want based on whatever cool things you want to do. Don’t use too many plugins, or your site will be sluggish like I am after a cheeseburger and 3 beers. Mmmmmmm
Social Media Scheduling
I have used Buffer and Hootsuite for social media, and liked them both. I prefer Buffer for scheduling, and Hootsuite for tracking Twitter people/conversations. Currently I’m using and completely ADORING SmarterQueue for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram scheduling.
Pinterest scheduling is Tailwind, all the way! Love the ability to move pins around, shuffle the queue, see stats, etc.
I don’t use the fancy email providers that track everything and do wonderful things, so I can’t speak to those. I use Mailchimp, which is free for your first 2,000 subscribers, and a pretty great email provider. You will like them, and don’t even think about not gathering names for your email list. This is one of the most important things to do when you start a blog, even if you only send a monthly email.
Related reading: I have Made Every Single Blogging Mistake Possible (because I have), and Name Your Mom Blog which is parody, but hilariously, I noticed all the dumb names I came up with are taken.