Over years of building blogs and websites (and through a lot of trial and error..) I’ve found a set of tools and resources that have become my Go-Tos!
I use these for setting up blogs, getting traffic, managing lists, and generally keeping things running.
I’m sharing this list as a quick resource guide to the tools I love and would recommend to most people. But I also know that what may work best for me might not always be the best fit for everyone. That’s why (as I create them) I’ll be posting links to various tool reviews here after the tools I use myself.
Learning and Courses
I want to start this list with leaning and courses because as you start blogging or putting together your website, you’ll probably run into a decent number of things you find don’t know how to do (at least that was the case with me).
One of the great things about the internet though is that if you don’t know how to do something, someone out there does! And more than likely has put together a great course about it.
I’ve often gone ‘back to school’ so to speak and signed up to learn how do new things or use a new or different tool. You can learn a lot of things by searching Google and reading blogs like this, but for those complex, specific things or things you really want to take a deep dive on, these are the best resources for really learning.
Hot Tip: These sites have courses in a wide array of subjects, not just about blogging!
Hands Down if you’re building a blog that you will be publishing to regularly, WordPress is what you want to be using.
It’s the publishing tool that now powers a full 30% of websites across the internet! (according to Venture Beat). Think how many websites that is..
I use WordPress (and thousands of other people do to) because it’s free to use and it’s the easiest publishing platform for written content like articles and blog posts. It allows you to draft written content directly in the dashboard and hit publish or schedule a post to publish in the future.
The other great thing about WordPress is that it has a big ecosystem of plug and play options to change how your website looks and behaves (called WordPress plugins). I love this because I can get my websites set up just as I want them to look and add in special elements quickly.
While WordPress itself is free to use, To get a website live on the internet, you’ll need to sign up for what’s called a hosting provider.
(Hosting providers are the actual web servers that the website lives on, so when someone types your website name into Google or Bing it’s those servers that actually respond and send the website to their internet address so they can see it.)
I’ve tried and used a number of different hosting providers and have found that generally you get the quality that you pay for..
For First time bloggers, I would recommend BlueHost. For more advanced bloggers and blogs with a lot of traffic already I would recommend Flywheel or WP Engine. Here’s why..
For first time bloggers I always recommend BlueHost. They offer one of the cheapest hosting plans you can sing up for, and it’s a great, low risk way to get your feet wet with blogging and see what you can make happen!
Their basic plan starts at just $2.95 per month (as of the time of writing) so for really a small amount you can sign up and get started right away.
Note: I generally recommend them to first time bloggers because of the price and ease of setting up your site to get started, but it’s worth noting there are some drawbacks to cheap hosting providers..
The main reasons for this are that they offer better site speed to make the websites faster to load, and I believe they’re better equipped than most to host sites that get a lot of traffic. (You can always start off with BlueHost or another host, and then transfer your site to a Flywheel or WP Engine later if you find you need more than the cheaper hosting provider can offer.)
Flywheel’s other strong point is that they have a great for their suite of tools if you have multiple websites to manage.
WP Engine is generally considered fastest and most secure hosting (outside the enterprise level like WordPress VIP..) but it is pretty pricy unless you have a site that gets a lot of visitors. I generally use WP Engine only for sites that have a big traffic base that I can’t afford to have the site go down.
Email List Building & Management
There are a lot of Email Service Providers out there with great tools to build your email list and keep the emails flowing. People who join your email list are considered the most valuable and loyal followers because they’ve gone the extra step to put their email name into a form and tell you they want more of your information.
I like ConvertKit the most to keep in touch with these people because they have great automation tools that allow you to set up a series of emails that get sent to new subscribers.
I’ve used a number of email management tools including Mailchimp and Aweber (the big ones) but find ConvertKit to be by far the easiest to work with!
Get their free ebook on email marketing strategy here: Free ConvertKit Ebook or:
To be honest, domain name companies are one of those things that don’t think matter that much who you go with. In my experience, they generally all offer the same or similar service.
Social Share Buttons on Blog Pages
This is often one of the last things people think about when starting a blog and getting all their social networks going. But it’s actually one of the most important things..
The Social Warfare share buttons on blog pages (like the ones you see floating at the bottom here) have always been my go to for social sharing. I love them because they’re highly flexible about where you can place your buttons on the page, and they’re really easy to set up.
I recommend going for the Pro version as one of the first things you upgrade on your site because it allows you to set a custom Pinterest share image so when someone clicks to pin your page, they can get a fully optimized Pinterest image you’ve pre-loaded for them. The Pro version also has a lot of custom styling you can add to your buttons and offers a lot more platforms you can have share buttons to like Reddit and Tumblr.