It’s hard to believe I’ve been blogging since 2008 and make passive income from it to supplement my retirement. If you have a blog or want to start one, whether you are a Baby Boomer or an aspiring blogger of any age, I’ve created a list of blogging resources that I love and use.
You may want to bookmark these blogging resources for your reference as I update them frequently. Hopefully, it will help you avoid making the blogging mistakes I did when I first started out.
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.
- Godaddy – I buy all my domains at GoDaddy because they are affordable and reliable.
- StudioPress Themes – 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.
- Elegant Themes – The Divi Theme is hugely popular because it’s extremely flexible and has a unique builder plugin that’s easy to use and requires no code once you get used to it. 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 purchase all my domains (Website addresses – URLs) at GoDaddy because they offer affordable rates and services, I don’t host my sites there.
- Bluehost: I always recommend Bluehost as a hosting account. In all the years I’ve been using it, 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 otherwise you can start with the basic plan and upgrade when needed.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- FlexClip – Create marketing videos and family stories in minutes with this simple program.
- Zoom – Host webinars, record and download video and audio, host conferences, meetings, and one-on-ones with your clients using this easy-to-use software. I love this site!
Schedule Time with Clients
- OnceHub – I don’t know what I would do without my OnceHub 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 – This is a way to send out invoices that look professional 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 will also track 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 for entrepreneurs to request money, send invoices, and pay someone else using their smartphone or computer. It will also import your banking information so you can keep track of your business expenses.
- Venmo – This is a very cool app to safely share payments on your phone. I’ve used it selling furniture, at garage sales, and even taco vendors. All you need to do is connect your bank account and you can send payments and transfer your money received instantly to approved merchants. You are given a profile address like @rebecca-olkowski and that’s all you need. No personal information is shared.
- Zellepay – This is another banking app. You can enroll on your online bank account like Chase or Wells Fargo. Then all you need is an email address or mobile number to transfer money into another person’s account or receive it yourself.
Images & Photos
- How to find free images for your blog – This is a good resource on where you can find images that are not copyright protected.
- 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.
- CanStockPhoto – Stock photography with no sign-up required at affordable rates.
- 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 has a free version but the paid version gives you amazing options. I use their platform constantly and even had gorgeous business cards printed out and mailed to my home.
- 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.
- DesignCap – This site can help you create infographics, email headers, social media graphics, presentation slides, recipe images, and more in minutes.
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 in 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 credentials. (also important even if you use self-hosted WordPress) It helps to power some WordPress plugins like Jetpack and Akismet)
Affiliate marketing and ad networks
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.
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.
- 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. Just FYI, they have cut commissions substantially for affiliate marketers.
- Linkshare – by Rakuten
- CJ Affiliate
Using a script or plugin that you install on your blog, you can run targeted ads on your site without thinking about it. Ad networks generally pay less than affiliate relationships unless you have major traffic. You also don’t have a personal relationship with the brands that come up, like you may with an affiliate, but can control categories you do not wish to appear on your site.
- 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. Or you can place scripts in particular places on your site so that ads only appear there.
- Ezoic – When you have traffic over 10,000 page views you will find you will make more money than with Adsense by using Ezoic. It can be implemented with the Ezoic WordPress plugin, through Cloudflare CDN, or by name server integration.
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 and blogging resources to help you 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 to backup your WordPress site – There is nothing so frustrating as losing the work you did on your site because of a glitch. Here are some insights into how to best backup your site.
- How to create a membership site – Find out how to create a community on your blog and monetize it.
- How to increase your website traffic – Tips on how to bring more visitors to your site and build an audience.
- The best WordPress Themes for Blogs – Here are some other suggestions for WordPress themes from a very reputable source, QuickSprout.
- How to Speed up WordPress – The speed of your site makes all the difference in your success as a blogger.
- 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