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. I’ll add to it as I find more useful tools, so please check back. 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!
- WordPress.org: This is the #1 Blog publishing platform and what I recommend if you want to start a blog. It’s different than WordPress.com, which has some limitations. WordPress.org is free to use and I use it exclusively. The first thing you need to do is purchase a hosting account. (Most are about $100 or less per year) Then you can install WordPress using your hosting account’s one-click install program. There are thousands of themes and plugins that can be used with self-hosted WordPress that will perform practically any function you can imagine.
- StudioPress Themes: These are my favorite WordPress themes because they have clean code, excellent support, are attractive, and are 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 Genesis StudioPress, 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 little bit of practice but once you get it down it’s quite easy. It allows you to place various sections of your website just about anywhere you want them. (Just a caution about themes with builders: If you decide you want to change themes, there is a little more work involved in transferring all your content over. You will need to back everything up beforehand. Otherwise, they really give you tons of options.)
- Bluehost: I always recommend Bluehost to all my blog clients to use as a hosting account. The interface is easy to use and isn’t cluttered 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. For step-by-step instructions on how to install WordPress using Bluehost CLICK HERE.
- 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
- Milotree – Promote your social media profiles on your blog with MiloTree. An unobtrusive slide-in pop-up appears so people can follow you on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and/or your email list.
- 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 everytime you share on Pinterest to help build your audience.
- 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
- 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 on 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.
- 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.
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.
- Upsplash – Truly stunning free images, attribution not necessary.
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 -which you should be using) because important plugins are powered by it.
If you are blogging you can sell 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.
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.
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