Here are my best blogging resources. When I first set up this site, these are some of the plugins and services I considered essential and I added these first. As time allows, I’ll write a bit about each and link to the article here.
Fiverr – my go to place for graphic design, book covers, small tech jobs, video intros, sales copy – you name it, there is someone on Fiverr who will do it for $5. Struggling with what should be a simple blog update or coding? Why waste 3 hours when someone on Fiverr can have it done for you by the end of the day for $5. It’s the price of a good coffee – just do it!
PicMonkey – easily edit photos and make great graphics and collages for your site. Ideal for creating the perfect Pinterest images and featured images for your site, but can also be used to create blog headers and Facebook covers too.
Graphic Stock – there is no doubt that using professional images and photos on your site and in your pins etc can get you more traffic, more sharing and more money! But usually, stock image sites are expensive at $49-$99 a month or more. Check out THIS VOUCHER to give you 83% off an annual membership at Graphic Stock making it $99 a year. Essential for success!
Board Booster – wow, this is amazing for increasing your Pinterest traffic and repins. I saw a huge and immediate spike when I started using their Looping tool to bring back old pins and make them new again. Full article to come on this in the future, but don’t wait, sign up and start using this now.
Tailwind – the preferred Pinterest scheduling tool for many bloggers. Get a 1 month free trial of their Plus service from THIS LINK. Unlimited pinning, quick and easy to use drag and drop scheduling, and easy to repin to multiple boards all within Pinterest itself with their in-browser app. Get your group boards pinning under control!
Mad Mimi mailing list – my favorite email list provider. Excellent service, and the cheapest option for larger lists. Start off for free for your first 100 contacts then grow in tiers from there. Flexible and easy to use with lots of options. Starting and growing a newsletter list should be one of the first priorities on your site.
GoDaddy – for the best prices on domain names and hosting. I use GoDaddy for all of my sites and am delighted with the 99.9% uptime guarantee and the excellent technical support you can get by email or phone call.
To Do Ist – your online to do list that you can access from anywhere. Set yourself tasks for today, tomorrow, next week, next year and then make then recur if that’s what you need. Free too. Can’t get better than that. Great time management tool and never forget what needs to be done and what your priorities are.
Gleam – my favorite resource for social and newsletter sign up boxes and bars. Also have great options for running giveaways, better than Rafflecopter I think. Helps to drive more followers and more email subscribers. Articles on these to follow.
Grammarly – makes you a better writer by finding and correcting up to 10 times more mistakes than your word processor. Make your blog articles, ebooks, status updates and emails more readable by eliminating spelling and grammar errors that your usual spell checker won’t find. [Read my review here.]
BlogVault – the ONLY backup for your WordPress site that I recommend. I use this personally after a LOT of research into the backup options available and am delighted with it. It is not free, but after my research, I decided that with the free options being so unreliable, and with no support if things go wrong and you want to restore, I believe my content is worth investing in. 2 minute set up, one click restore with excellent support.
MyThemeShop – I use their Point Pro theme on my group of crafting websites. Great customer service, excellent versatile and fully loaded premium themes. If you need something, you will certainly find a theme, and maybe a plugin, here that will suit your site perfectly. And if you try it and don’t like it, there is a 30-day money back guarantee too.
StudioPress Themes – Get the website of your dreams. If you want a premium WordPress theme based on the popular Genesis framework, then StudioPress is for you. Unlimited world-class support forum – essential if you are a beginner to WordPress. There are so many beautiful, or business like themes to choose from.
Elegant Themes – pay once and get access for all of your sites and to all of the themes and plugins plus support for 12 months. You simply can’t beat it. Check out the Diva theme – very impressive easy to build custom pages you’ll love!
DropBox – the ideal way to share files online, save important documents or even make files and printables available to download for your readers. Save your backups here too. Anytime you need space online to save or share files, DropBox can help.
Money – making resources
ShareASale – the affiliate network where I earn most of my money. Almost 4000 advertisers to chose from – you are sure to find many that will appeal to your readers. Easy reporting, vendors usually have multiple banners to chose from, and easy to set up the custom Deep Linking to promote individual pages and products. Check out this article on the best ShareASale merchants to sign up with.
CJ.com – affiliate network with a wide variety of merchants. You might find something here which fits well with your audience.
Affiliate Window – UK based but with international appeal. Top Brands in USA, Canada, UK, Ireland and Europe. If you ever use or link to Etsy, then this program is through A.Win as well as many of the top US and UK retailers and all the best household names. When I signed up they were charging $5 as part of the identity verification process, but this is paid straight back as your first commission payment. Highly recommended.
Escalate – the easiest Ad Network to run. A good range of advertisers across many interests. Can be paid on Pay per Click, Pay per Conversion and a few Pay per Sale. Very easy to use, the advert banners are available in a number of sizes and are visually appealing, and the customer service from their personal account managers is excellent. If you are new to blog advertising, I highly recommending starting here.
Infolinks – true passive income. Set up once and forget and enjoy a steady increasing income stream from subtle (or less subtle) keyword advertising. Lots of advertising options such as in-fold, interstitial, in-content, keyword tags and in-frame background ads. Good customer service and support. Another good place to start and especially if you have a site that suits a heavy-ads format.
Plugins (WordPress only)
Social Warfare – the best social sharing plugin. Glorious and fast social sharing buttons, popular posts widget, click-to-tweet and best of all, force the correct images and descriptions for social sharing such as Pinterest and Facebook. Don’t waste someone pinning your content and using a poor image and no description – rock it with the pinnable image and description of your choice – every time!
Reply Me – emails your readers automatically when you reply to the comments they left on your articles. Great little tool to keep the conversation going.
Yoast SEO – fully featured SEO plugin that sets the standard. Lots of features but easy to set up. Reminds you to be cognizant of keywords as you draft your articles, add in your images and create links both internally and externally. NOTE – The updated version now includes Open Graph, which overrides the alt text in your images for Pinterest.
Broken Link Checker – tidy up your site by finding, removing or repairing all the broken links in your content. The plugin emails you when it finds a broken link for you to repair or remove.
Akismet – for spam control. Protect your blog from comment and trackback spam. Akismet takes care of it all for you automatically with very few false positives. Much better than asking users to login to comment, or complete a captcha.
Content Views – automatically populates your posts or pages with content according to the category. Keeps your site fresh and organised with a minimum of work. I use this plugin on the various blogging advice pages to auto-populate the thumbnails when I publish new articles. Saves so much time!
GA Google Analytics – simple way to add Google Analytics to your site. Add in the UA code from your analytics set up to the box in this plugin and it’s done.
UpDraft Plus – free backup to Drop Box, Google Drive or other places of your choice. I’m using this one in conjunction with the Blogvault plugin because so far I’ve not tested it’s restore system, but if you want a free rather than paid backup – go for this one.
Editorial Calendar – keep your posts organised and scheduled on the right dates. Gives an ‘at a glance’ overview of what’s coming up. Drag and drop to arrange up upcoming scheduled and drafted articles.
Pretty Link – makes short cut links for your affiliate links, external links and things you link to often. Change it once and it changes all the links on your site. Makes it neat to share links on social media too. Some of the links on this page have been created this way.
Magic Action Box – the perfect way to increase your website sign-ups and increase your subscriber list. Create beautiful custom sign up and share boxes and forms, add them to posts and pages, or your sidebar. Integrates with all mailing list suppliers – there’s a free version, but the upgrade to the paid version is worth its weight in gold for newsletter sign ups, contact us boxes, viral sharing boxes and ‘click here’ affiliate link boxes.
Other resources and training
Facebook Growth Strategies – if you want to grow your Facebook page like never before, get thousands of views, likes, shares, comments and sales as a result, then this is THE course you need. Simple to follow formula will help you create highly engaged FB pages that convert like crazy – even if you don’t have a blog! You need this!
Building a Framework: The Ultimate Blogging Handbook – from a Girl and Her Blog. Very well reviewed and respected handbook for bloggers of all levels. 35 chapters with optional extras such as interviews with top bloggers and instructional tutorial videos.
Tasty Food Photography course – essential if you are running a food/recipe/cooking/health blog, but it’s also just a really good photography course in its own right that is suitable for bloggers in all sorts of niches. If you want to take/edit/create the best photos possible for your site and products, and use them on Pinterest to leverage huge traffic – you need to take this class to learn how to do it. Well worth investing in.
Focused Blogging Conference – you can’t beat the format of this conference. Ever been to an in-person event, been inspired, taken lots of notes and made a list of things you mean to do – only to get home, get stuck into your backlog and work and never make those things happen. This conference is different. At the end of each session, the speaker and other blogger mentors will help you right there and then to make changes and improvements to your site before you even leave the room! If you want to network, really learn and then actually implement these ideas, then this is the one conference I recommend.