Once you set your blog up, there are many resources out there that will help you set your blog up for success.
With tools and plugins, you can add features to your blog including security, social share buttons, email lists and more.
If you haven’t already got your blog up and running, you can quickly learn how to start a blog in 5 steps.
Here are some of the most helpful resources for blogging. Compare the different tools to see which one suits your blog best.
Starting A Blog
You can get a free domain name when you sign up with most hosting companies. If you need another domain name, or want to register one separately, you can do so.
- GoDaddy: Domain names.
- Bluehost: Recommended by WordPress since 2005. Reliable web hosting with over 2 million websites hosted.
Designing Your Blog
WordPress themes change the design of your site and add features. By simply changing settings within the theme, you change the look of your blog without any coding. Many themes come with drag-and-drop builders and visual editors that make designing even easier.
- Elegant Themes: When you join Elegant Themes, you get access to 87 different themes for the price of one. If you get the developer or lifetime plan you also get all of their premium plugins free. They make some excellent plugins that are listed here as well.
- ThemeForest: ThemeForest is one of the most popular marketplaces for WordPress themes.
- StudioPress: StudioPress makes the popular Genesis framework, and themes that go with it.
You can get professional quality photos and icons for your blog at these sites:
- ShutterStock: With 80 million high-quality pictures to choose from, ShutterStock gives you plenty of options for backgrounds, stock photos, and more.
- Flickr Creative Commons: Flickr is a good place to find free photos. Make sure you follow the licence guidelines for each photo.
- GraphicRiver: Similar to ThemeForest, GraphicRiver is a marketplace for designs and icons that you can use on your blog.
- Unsplash: Unsplash uploads 10 free photos every 10 days. Although you won’t find as big a selection as ShutterStock, Unsplash is worth checking out.
- Adobe: With Adobe creative cloud you can get a suite of design software for one subscription. They also offer shock photos through Adobe stock.
Plugins add extra features and functionality to your blog. Simply install the plugin and adjust the settings and you can add security, social share buttons, shopping carts, and much more. As we recommend WordPress, many of these plugins are specifically for self-hosted WordPress.
One of the most important things you can do is protect yourself and your readers from malicious users and hackers. For example, hackers can try to insert malware into your blog, steal information, or redirect your visitors to dangerous websites. These plugins help secure your blog and help to protect it from attacks.
- Sucuri: Sucuri offers a complete website security solution, and will scan and defend your site. Their plugin offers features like a firewall, 24/7 incident response, and continuous website security monitoring.
- iThemes Security: iThemes security offers both free and paid versions. This plugin is trusted by over 700,000+ active users.
Social Media Buttons:
Allowing your users to easily share your content can help drive traffic to you blog. These are some plugins that give you beautiful looking social share buttons with many customization options.
- Easy Social Share Buttons: Easily allows you to add simple share buttons.
- Monarch by Elegant Themes: This beautiful plugin comes with loads of design options and features. The price is a bit high, but if you bought your theme from Elegant Themes, you get it free.
- SumoMe: SumoMe helps you grow your sites traffic with a whole suite of tools including a social share plugin. You can get SumoMe’s plugins free, but if you want to remove their branding, you will have to get the pro version.
Email lists are an effective way to grow your reader base.
- Bloom by Elegant Themes: Showing up again on this list, Elegant Themes has a beautifully designed email opt-in plugin.
- SumoMe Opt-in Box: SumoMe also has a useful email opt-in plug that you get with their suite of tools.
- OptinMonster: Another powerful email opt-in plugin.
Analytic apps show you information on your sites traffic. This is important and can help you make important decisions and improve your site.
- Google Analytics: A widely-used website analytics app by Google.
- Clicky: Similar to Google Analytics, but with more features like heatmaps to see where your visitors click most.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization):
Essentially, SEO is the process of helping your site appear in search engine results pages. There are some effective plugins that help you become more search engine friendly with little effort.
- Yoast: This is a feature rich SEO plugin with a content analyzer to help you write more SEO friendly content.
- All In One SEO Pack: Similar to Yoast, but without the content analysis feature.
Speeding Up Your Site:
- W3 Total Cache: Caching speeds up your site by saving a copy to be shown to your visitors. W3 Total Cache offers many features and is trusted by over 1 million active users.
- Max CDN A CDN (content delivery network) speeds up your site and reduces server load by using a network of servers that are spread out geographically. When a user goes to your website, they use the server closest to their location and get your pages faster.
After spending many hours building your blog, the last thing you want is to loose all of your data because of a mistake or hacker. By regularly backing up your blog, you can have the peace of mind of being able to easily restore it.
- BackupBuddy: The #1 WordPress backup plugin providing easy, automatic backups.
If you need your visitors to be able to contact you, a contact form is a good thing to have. These plugins can also be used for other types of forms that you may need.
- Contact Form 7: This free plugin gives you a simple contact form. Some coding and CSS knowledge will be required to customize it the way you want.
- Gravity Forms: Gravity forms gives you complete design control with their simple form builder.
Selling on Your Blog:
If you want to sell things on your blog, you can use these plugins to add shopping cart functionality.
- WooCommerce: A popular free e-commerce platform.
- Easy Digital Downloads: Like the name suggests, this one lets you sell digital downloads on your site with ease.
- Ultracart: If you need a more advanced shopping solution, UltraCart gives you professional sales functionality.
These tools help correct any errors in your writing.
- Hemingway App: A great free tool that helps you make your content easier to read. The app grades your content on reading level, and gives you suggestions as to what you can fix.
- Grammarly: Grammarly helps check your grammar and helps you make your writing more effective.
Video and Audio Tools:
- Instant Teleseminar: If you need to do teleseminars, webinars, or telesummits, this is a useful tool.
- Screenflow: Allows you to record your computer screen and then editing the video.
- Camtastia: Another screen recorder with a video editor.
Whether you want to grow an email list or sell a product, landing pages are geared towards driving more conversions.
- OptimizePress: Allows you to create landing pages, sales portals, and membership areas from right inside WordPress.
- LeadPages: Easy landing page builder that allows you to build custom, conversion optimized landing pages.
Keyword research is important for finding out what keywords are popular and what the competition for them is like.
- Google Keyword Planner: Google’s popular keyword research tool let’s you see search volume, competition level, and gives you other related keywords.
- Wordtracker: Wordtracker is similar to Google’s Keyword Planner in that it shows you the popularity and competition level for each keyword. Wordtracker also does some of the work for you by showing you what keywords are best to target.
Social Media Management:
It’s easy to waste a lot of time on social media. These services allow you to post to all your accounts from one place, and also schedule your posts.
- Hootsuite: Feature rich social media dashboard with free and pro versions available.
- Buffer: Similar to Hootsuite, with free and pro versions available.
Email marketing can be an effective way of engaging with your readers and building traffic.
- Aweber: Email marketing tools that are easy to use and affordable. Trusted by more than 120,000 users.
- GetResponse: Serving more than 350,000 users, GetResponse prides themselves on being very easy to use.
SEO Research Tools:
Here are some SEO tools that can help you with optimizing your site.
- Long Tail Pro: Find the best keyword ideas for your page with this research software used by over 70,000 marketers and SEOs.
- Market Samurai: Keyword research and analysis tool.
- SEM Rush: A useful research solution that analyses website traffic, keywords, backlinks, and competitors. You can use a limited free version or get the full paid version.
- SEO Quake: If you are using Firefox, Google Chrome or Opera as your internet browser, you can install this handy extension to see a website’s SEO stats while browsing.
Other Helpful Tools
File Sharing and Storage:
- Dropbox: Dropbox is a personal cloud storage service. It comes in handy when you need to store files and access them from another computer, or share files with others.
- ManageWP: If you need to manage more than one blog, Manage WP allows you to control multiple WordPress sites from one location. It also comes with features including automatic updates, backups, and traffic monitoring.
- Editorial Calendar: This free plugin lets you organize and schedule your blog posts in a calendar.
Hire A Designer:
If you need custom designs like logos or icons, you can choose to hire a designer.
- 99designs: Get anything from logos to posters, to full websites designed. Used by over 364,571 happy customers.
RSS Feed Reader:
An RSS feed reader can be useful for getting updates from multiple blogs in your niche.
- Feedly: Organize, read, and share content.
There are many resources out there that will help you create your blog and set it up for success.
Spend some time getting to know what tools are available and what features you can add to your blog. When you know what you need, compare the different features and plans to see which tools work for you best.
If you need help on getting your blog up and running, visit this guide to start a blog.