I’ve been blogging since 2008 and have been helping other bloggers who use self-hosted WordPress since 2010. That’s why I thought it would be helpful to create a blogging resources page for other Baby Boomer bloggers. With these tools, you can easily learn how to start a blog and find your voice online successfully. You may even want to bookmark it for your reference and convenience. Hopefully, it will help you avoid making mistakes you will regret. Rebecca
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I’ll earn a small commission if you decide to make a purchase. I’ve personally used each product myself and found them valuable for my business. If a product appeals to you, I’d appreciate it if you would use my link. If not, that’s fine. Enjoy!
There are several free blogging platforms out there, but, if you are serious about starting a professional blog, I recommend using WordPress. It will give you way more freedom and options to take your blog to the next level and beyond.
Blogging Resources – to get you started on the right foot
- WordPress.org: This is the self-hosted version of WordPress which is the #1 Blog platform out there today. It’s different than WordPress.com, (hosted by WordPress) which has several limitations. The software for WordPress.org is free to use as well but you will need to purchase a hosting account to install it. (This will cost you somewhere around $100 or less per year) You can then install WordPress using your hosting account’s one-click installation program. There are thousands of WordPress themes and plugins that can be integrated with self-hosted WordPress and they can perform practically any function you can imagine.
- Free StudioPress Themes with WP Engine Even though there are thousands of free WordPress themes available online and at WordPress.org, I prefer using a premium theme. StudioPress is my favorite site for WordPress themes because they have clean code, excellent support, are attractive, and are super functional. They’re powered by the Genesis Framework. I trust the integrity of StudioPress and all the themes are constantly updated for emerging technology. Whenever I have to work on a site that isn’t running a Genesis theme, I find it frustrating. As far as I’m concerned, there isn’t anything else that compares or is as reliable.
- Elegant Themes – The Divi Theme is hugely popular because it’s extremely flexible and has a unique builder plugin. It takes a bit of practice to get used to, but once you get it down it’s easy to use and requires no code. You can design the layout of your website and place items exactly where you want them to be displayed. (Just a caution about themes with builder plugins like Divi: If you decide you want to change themes, there is a little more work involved to transfer all your content over. You will need to backup and copy certain sections beforehand. Otherwise, the Divi theme gives you a multitude of options.)
Your hosting account
Although I buy many of my domains (Website addresses – URLs) using GoDaddy (a popular site for domain registration) I don’t recommend that you use them for hosting. I’ve seen too many instances of websites not being kept up to speed with changing technology.
- Bluehost: I always recommend Bluehost as a hosting account and in all the years I’ve been using it for myself and my clients, I’ve been extremely satisfied. The interface is easy to use and they don’t clobber you with up-sells. Bluehost’s customer service has always outstanding for me. If you have more than one website, I recommend the Bluehost Pro account. It will allow you to put an unlimited amount of domains on your account and have unlimited emails. Bluehost also integrates a service called Cloudflare that helps speed up your site and prevent hackers. I recommend Bluehost’s pro-backup system that costs about $20 per year. You never have to worry about restoring your site if something goes wrong. It’s well worth the small amount of money you pay for the service.
- WP Engine – This hosting company provides managed WordPress services that include upgrades, troubleshooting, monitoring, security, and server-side optimizations. It’s a little more expensive than Bluehost so if you are just getting started, it may not be for you. However, if you have a big site or a big business and want Mercedes service, it’s where you want to upgrade.
- MailChimp: MailChimp is an effective email marketing service that’s free for the first 2000 people on your list. They offer opt-in forms, broadcast emails, and RSS campaigns. For a small monthly fee, you can also add an autoresponder. The only issue with MailChimp is that they don’t allow you to put affiliate links in your email, but they have a great sense of humor.
- Aweber – Aweber has been around for years and has always been reliable and easy to configure as an email service. It is compatible with all email apps and offers customizable opt-in forms, autoresponder, RSS-driven campaigns, and follow-up messages.
- Optin Monster – Create awesome optin pop-up boxes to build your email subscription list. It’s easy to format and install and works as an app from a 3rd party site.
Social Media Marketing
- Tailwind – The only Pinterest approved pin scheduler. It is an app that lets you pin at optimal times for the best engagement. Click on an image you like and schedule it or save it immediately. You can also join Pinterest tribes to help you share your pins. It will give you pin recommendations every time you share on Pinterest to help build your audience. I have found that of all the social networks, Pinterest brings me the most blog traffic.
- 40+ Genuine Places to Get Free Blog Content for Your Site – This page has excellent resources for bloggers looking to add or repurpose their content.
Videos and Screenshots
You can increase your reach and traffic when you make videos. If you aren’t afraid of being on camera, go for it. It’s fun.
- TechSmith – Two tools I don’t want to be without are Camtasia for making amazing videos and Snagit for creating screenshots, editing photos, and recording short videos. It’s the best software out there and it’s fairly simple to use. You can create videos in a snap using Camtasia and send them directly to YouTube, Vimeo, or save the file as soon as you’re finished editing.
- GoPro – Get the best shots especially if you love adventure with a GoPro camera. It’s amazing for landscape and huge wide shots. You can even use it with a drone.
- Zoom – Host webinars, record and download video and audio, host conferences, meetings, and one-on-ones with your clients using this easy to use the software. I love this site!
Schedule Time with Clients
- ScheduleOnce – I don’t know what I would do without my ScheduleOnce online scheduler. Clients can book meetings with me at times that work for both of us. It integrates into my Google Calendar (as well as several other calendars) and also, my Zoom account. You can also create a link or button to put on your website or your email so clients can book you directly from there.
- Paypal: Whether you want to get paid (with a custom button) or you want to pay someone else, it’s essential to have a Paypal account. and it’s free to sign up. Be sure to upgrade to Premiere, which is also free.
- Freshbooks: It’s a professional way to send out invoices if you are running a small business. You can easily set it up to match your company’s branding and it offers options to get paid. Send emails via email or snail mail. Freshbooks also tracks expenses. It’s perfect for a business owner who wants cloud-based invoicing software that’s simple and attractive.
- Waveapp – This is another easy way to request money, send invoices and pay someone else using your smartphone or computer. It will also import your banking information so you can keep track of your business expenses.
Images & Photos
- How to find free images for your blog – This is a good resource on how to learn the best ways to use images.
- Big Stock Photo – For licensed stock images I always go to Big Stock Photos. You can purchase a package of 25 images for $49 that you can use for blog posts or social media shares.
- Pixabay – Free images for bloggers.
- Fotosearch.com has an extensive collection of royalty-free stock photography, clipart, illustrations, and stock footage.
- MorgueFile – Also offers free images
- PicMonkey – Edit photos, resize them, and add text for free. I’ve been using this program forever for blog photos and to tweak my Instagram shots. Even though you can sign up and use it for free, I love the Pro version because it has so many great options.
- Canva – Create social media graphics using templates and images. It’s free to use. If you use their images as opposed to your own, you pay only $1.
- GoGraph Stock Photography – low-cost stock photography.
- Burst – Free stock photos powered by Shopify that can be used for commercial websites.
- Unsplash – Truly stunning free images, attribution not necessary.
- Pikwizard – Over 100,000 Free images on this site including plenty with people. You can use their design wizard when you download to enhance your image.
Important for bloggers – Make sure to create a gravatar.com account and attach your headshot to your email. That way your photo will show up in comments, on guest posts, and other places on the Internet rather than a blank or weird avatar. It adds a personal touch and is essential for branding. Sign up for free with your WordPress.com account. (also important even if you use self-hosted WordPress. It helps to power some WordPress plugins like Jetpack and Akismet)
If you have an active blog and are getting traffic, you can promote products from other companies and earn an affiliate commission. It’s free to sign up for an affiliate program and you get paid when someone purchases a product you promote. These are some of my favorites.
- Amazon Associates – This is one of the easiest programs to get started with, especially for affiliate beginners. Join Amazon’s associate program using your Amazon login. You can add text links, or create ads and widgets.
- Google Adsense – Make sure you have a Google account – (Gmail) You can apply for an Adsense account, add a code to your site, and ads will come up automatically. You can also block certain content that you do not want showing up on your site.
Generally, your revenue from Amazon or Google will be tiny but adds up over time. Some bloggers make a living using both.
For more income and the ability to apply for companies you love to do business with, the affiliate programs below give you more options and income opportunities. These are some of my favorites.
Expert blogging advice
How to Start a Blog by Jon Morrow – I’ve been on Jon Morrow’s email list for years and he also has the latest advice on how to make the most of blogging. He has grown three blogs to a total of 200 million visitors and $50 million in revenue. And you thought blogging was only for hobbyists! LOL
How your site performs is important and will affect your Google ranking. Here is a great article on how to optimize your site for speed.
To learn how to start a blog or for blogging services, please contact me:
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