Everyday, I get a bazillion questions about blogging and social media. I know when I started out that I had a ton of questions so I try to help as many people as I can. I know I really appreciated all the help I received when I started out.
This post is just a resource guide. I will provide links to all of things I use or have used to help grow my blog. Eventually, I will also put together a FAQ post as well.
This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I will make a small commission. Don’t worry, there is no added cost to you.
Blogging Platforms and Hosts
Blogger: I started my blog on Blogger. It is a great way to see if blogging is for you without making a costly commitment.
WordPress: I ended up moving from a free Blogger blog to self-hosted WordPress. I’ll write more about my move if you’d like.
SiteGround: Everyone is going to say their host is the best. I had worked with one other host and I wasn’t crazy about their customer service. So I ended up selecting SiteGround and I am pretty happy so far. I’m not going to make any claims that hosting is cheap. I went with the middle plan and paid about $70 for the first year. Because I couldn’t commit to paying for multiple years at once, I only signed up for one year. Next year the cost of hosting is going to be double since I won’t be getting the special new customer price. Just an FYI. Other hosts include Bluehost or Host Gator
Blog Design and Themes
StudioPress: If you want a website that is super easy to customize and looks great, you need a Genesis theme. I have used the Foodie Pro theme but I would be happy with every theme they offer. They are all just that great.
Yoast SEO: This was the first plugin I installed. This tools helps you with SEO so you can get more traffic from search.
Social Warfare: This is a customizable social share plugin. You can select which social media networks to include and the location of your share menu. I use Social Warfare Pro which allows even more customization of the social share menus but also allows me to control Pinterest images and descriptions.
Basic Photography Equipment
Camera: You can do a lot of your blog and Instagram photography with your smart phone so if you don’t have a camera that is okay.
Reflector: This will help you make the most of the light you already have in your home and takes up almost no space.
Advanced Photography Equipment
DSLR Camera: If you have the money to invest, I would strongly suggest purchasing a nice camera, even if you can only afford to buy one used. Entry Level Nikon D3400 or Canon T6i Mid Level Nikon D7200 or Canon EOS 80D
Lenses: People bash the kit lenses but they will do well for you if you can’t invest in lenses. If you want to take your photos to the next level, purchase a 50mm lens for your camera. I’d really recommend going with the 1.4 so you can take pictures in lower light but the lenses will be considerably more expensive than a 1.8. Canon 50mm 1.8 or 50mm 1.4 Nikon 50mm 1.8 or Nikon 50mm 1.4
Light Kit: When natural light isn’t enough, a softbox lighting kit is your best bet. My set breaks down pretty easily so it doesn’t take up a ton of space.
Free Photo/Video Editing Software
iPiccy: If I need to do basic edits on pictures for my blog, this is the site I use. As of right now, it is free. I love that it doesn’t require downloading anything on my computer.
iMovie: For free video editing software, this is my number one recommendation. I am on a Mac so I don’t have a free recommendation for Windows.
Canva: This online editor is great for creating images like pins for Pinterest, YouTube cover art, or Infographics.
Advanced Editing Software
Adobe Creative Cloud: I’ve been using Adobe Creative Suite for years. The Creative Cloud plans allow you to pick which applications you want to use.
Social Media Automation
Tailwind: I use this to schedule pins so that I am pinning something everyday. I highly recommend Tailwind to people who are new to blogging and/or new to Pinterest. It helped me double my Pinterest following and triple my monthly views. I could and should write an entire post about how to use Tailwind. Update: I wrote that post about Tailwind!
CoSchedule: This scheduler allows me to plan out my content in advance. It also helps me manage my Twitter and Facebook shares for all of my posts.
Email List Management
Mail Chimp, Mailer Lite, Convert Kit: There are many options but these are the three that I am familiar with. Right now, I use Mail Chimp because it does the basics and is easy to use.
ShareASale: This affiliate network has such a wide variety of programs. With everything from web hosting to children’s toys there is an affiliate program for every niche.
I will continue to update this list as I learn about additional tools and resources for blogging. Looking for a particular type of tool? Leave a comment and I will try to find what you need.