Welcome to my Blogging Resources page! This page is an ongoing compilation of resources related to all things blogging that I will add to and adjust based on my experiences. Feel free to bookmark this page for future reference at your convenience.
Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links, and at no cost to you, I will earn a commission on purchases made through these links. The companies and products I have listed below are ones that I currently use (or have used) and recommend because they are useful and helpful. Please do not spend any money unless you feel that doing so aligns with your goals.
When I started blogging I started with Blogger which is a free service but I definitely don’t recommend them if you want to earn any money from your blog at some point. In my opinion (and most other bloggers too), it’s better to just start out on your own domain using the WordPress platform. When you have your own domain you have more control over your content and you’re open to more monetization opportunities as well.
Getting Your Domain
GoDaddy – I have always used GoDaddy as my domain registar and I highly recommend them! Whenever I purchase a domain the only add-on I opt for is domain privacy. Domain privacy prevents people from seeing your personal information (name and address) that you provided during your purchase. Instead of showing your information, it will show GoDaddy’s.
Hosting Your Blog
Once you have your domain you’re going to need a host. A hosting company is what will allow your blog to be available online for others to view. There are a bazillion different companies out there but I’m only going to post about the ones I have experience with.
Hostgator – Hostgator is the first web hosting company that I used and I was with them for about six years. Hosting allows my blog to be available online for others to view. If you start your own blog you’re going to need a host. I started with a shared hosting plan which means I shared the server with other websites. This is a great option for beginners who have little traffic and is the cheapest form of hosting as well. Hostgator bills you monthly and I had very minimal downtime (until my traffic began to grow) and their customer service was always top notch and fast. When you start to get a lot of traffic on a shared server they’ll take your website down at times because you’re using too many resources which affects the other blogs you’re sharing that hosting with. This is totally normal and I decided I needed to make a change in the hosting department.
Bluehost – Bluehost is a very affordable shared web host that currently hosts this blog. Even though it’s also a shared host, I haven’t had the downtime that I experienced with Hostgator. The main difference for me between Bluehost and Hostgator is that Hostgator allows you to paymonthly, Bluehost requires a minimum of one year paid up front. This means the monthly cost breakdown is generally cheaper but you’re locked into hosting for a year! Not a bad idea if you wanna get serious about blogging. It’s definitely an expense that can hold you accountable to really go for it! If I would’ve known about Bluehost when I started, I definitely would’ve gone with it from the start.
When you use WordPress you need to install a theme. Your theme is the overall design of your blog and there are a bazillion of these to choose from too.
The Genesis Framework – Lifting Makes Me Happy runs on the Genesis Framework which has been incredibly easy for me to navigate since I am not a huge “techie”. Genesis is a blogging platform used by some of the world’s most popular bloggers. If you choose Genesis you’re going to want to choose a Child Theme as well. Child Themes are designed to run and perform well on the Genesis Framework.
Free Themes for WordPress – If you aren’t ready to pay for a theme there are plenty of free WordPress themes available to get you started. One tip I have is to read reviews of themes before you download and install them because sometimes they can really mess up your blog or slow it down. You can usually feel good about any theme with a 4 or 5 star rating.
Setting Up Your Blog
If you are completely clueless (like I was back in 2008) as to how to set up your blog, I highly recommend each of the two books below to help you get your first post published! I have purchased both of these books myself and refer to them often. They are GOLD.
How to Blog for Profit Without Selling Your Soul – by Ruth Soukup. This book has everything you need to get started and it also has advanced techniques if you plan on making your blog your business. You’ll learn how to setup your blog, how to increase traffic (and therefore pageviews) and how to get involved with brands who may sponsor content on your blog – which means you get paid for posting! She walks you through other monetization methods as well to help you diversify your blog income. Her newly revised version also touches on social media and how to use it to get more traffic to your blog. I purchased the ebook version of this which is silly. I wish I had purchased the paperback version!
Building a Framework: The Ultimate Blogging Handbook – by Abby Lawson. There are 3 packages available (all include the Building a Frame Workout Handbook) and I went with “The Starter Pack”. This is the most basic one and includes the 209-page blogging handbook, 32 pages of blog binder printables (very helpful pages in here for bloggers) and an easy-to-follow 9-page course outline. If you opt for one of the larger packages you get step-by-step instructional videos featuring other bloggers talking about specific topics and access to the private Facebook group! Since they allow you to upgrade to a larger package at a later date, I’m starting with the basic pack. The videos and Facebook group are very enticing though!
Planning Your Posts
EPIC BLOG: One-Year Editorial Calendar by Regina Anaejionu. This is the best bound blog planner I’ve come across. I purchased this myself last year and it’s been so helpful at keeping me organized and focused as a blogger. (Any other bloggers suffer from serious internet ADD?) EPIC BLOG contains a monthly section with a calendar so there’s room to plan your posts, list your posts, jot down stats, analyze the previous month and a whole lot more.
CoSchedule: This is the tool I’ve been using most recently to plan my posts. I’ve always been more of a pen and paper gal but this thing has me hooked. Note: It did take me 2 free trials over the course of over a year to finally bite the bullet. Stubborn girl I am! This is actually a WordPress plug-in that you can use to plan your posts and also your social media posts – it even knows the best time to schedule. Crazy right? I use this mostly for Twitter and Google+. You can color code your content by subject, you can use their built-in headline analyzer to be sure your headline is good to go and you can edit your posts from right inside the app.
PicMonkey – PicMonkey is a favorite photo editor of mine because it’s easy to use and you don’t need to download the program to your computer. You simply upload your photo (or create one) by visiting Picmonkey.com. They have both free and paid versions. I use the paid version because of all of the different fonts and different edits you can use to create the perfect photo. You can even upload fonts from your own computer. I have a lot of fun playing around with it!
Canva – Canva is my new favorite photo editor and although it has a bit of a learning curve for me compared to PicMonkey, I love that you can purchase images from their library for $1 each. You can create Pinterest-worthy images quickly and easily and if you don’t have your own photo to use, choose one of theirs! They have both a free and a work version. I upgraded to the work version to be able to purchase those images. You can also keep templates of your photos and logos to save time.
(those kitties… hehe!)