This is the latest post in my series on profitable blogging.
Missed the first two posts? Catch up here:
- How to Start a Blog to Make Money – a step-by-step guide to setting up your blog on Siteground
- How to Actually Make Money With Your Blog – an introduction to affiliate marketing, sponsored posts and more
In this post, I want to introduce you to all the sites and resources that really made a difference to my blog!
While it’s relatively quick and easy to set up your hosting and publish your first post, you’ll probably spend a lot of time wondering ‘what’s next?’
Things like finding great stock images, installing plugins and joining affiliate programs are crucial to your blog’s success. But it can be hard to know where to start. There are also things like website builders for blogs that will be discussed as a topic for another post.
I spent a long time investigating these things the hard way – so today I’ve assembled a list of all my must-have blogging resources, so you don’t have to!
Here’s what I recommend you start with:
Mailing list provider
When I started blogging, I had no idea where people were finding all those pretty photos to use on their blog posts and pins.
Luckily I soon realised that you must NOT take any old image from Google! It is essential to make sure that you have the rights to use every image on your site and in your social media images.
Luckily, there are lots of sites where you can find free stock images designated free to use. You can use any image from the below sites with no issues:
Haute Stock (these last two are great for feminine flat lays – very popular on Pinterest!)
If I can’t find the right image on a free stock photo site, I purchase an image from Deposit Photos.
Canva – Canva is the online image editing tool I use to make all of my blog post title images and pins. You can upload photos, add text, filters and other effects. They even have pre-made social media templates which is so useful if you’re not feeling particularly creative. And it’s free!
Creative Market – Creative Market is an online shop for digital creatives including fonts, clip art, social media templates, stock photos and more.
Every week they have six new free resources that you can download and use! There are usually at least two great fonts that I download and use on pins. (You can upload your own fonts to Canva if you have a business membership.) I think it really helps my pins stand out over the sea of identical fonts out there.
Plugins are like little apps that you install on your blog to perform different functions. You install and manage them from your WordPress dashboard.
Techy people often advise us not to have too many plugins, because they can slow our sites down. But some plugins can give us a huge benefit! Here are some of the plugins I wouldn’t be without:
Yoast SEO – helps you improve your posts to rank better in Google searches.
Akismet Anti-Spam – filters out spam comments. I get SO MANY of these and it would be a nightmare to handle without this spam filter!
Cookie Consent – if you’re in the EU like I am, you need to get cookie consent from your readers by law. This plugin does everything for you – set it and forget it.
WP Smush – compresses the size of your images and helps your site load faster.
BackWPup – automatically backs up your site every day so you don’t have to worry about losing your work.
Pretty Links – great for affiliate marketing. Lets you create your own ‘pretty’ version of links instead of long, ugly referral links.
Post Gopher – turns any page into a PDF lead magnet to help you grow your list (see the top of this page for an example!)
I wrote in more detail about affiliate marketing in the post How to Actually Make Money With Your Blog, but here are some of my top all-purpose affiliate programs that should work for most bloggers:
Ultimate Bundles – when you promote an affiliate product, you want to be sure you’re offering good value to your readers. The Ultimate Bundles are the best value around! They are huge packages of ebooks and resources at crazy discounts (like over 90%!) in different niches from homemaking to blogging.
Amazon Associates – everybody shops on Amazon, and you can find products to promote in almost any niche.
Max Bounty – great for survey site referrals and anyone in the make money niche.
Skimlinks – a plugin that turns any suitable link on your blog into an affiliate link. You can pick up commissions from places you didn’t even know have affiliate programs!
Awin – the affiliate partner for Etsy and lots and lots of other great websites.
I host all my sites on SiteGround and I love them!
I’ve used two other hosting providers before (Blue Host and Web Hosting Hub) and SiteGround is by far the best.
Their tech support is amazing, my sites load faster with them, they have free backups, and they’re just so easy to use.
If you want to acquire additional names, I recommend NameCheap.
They have all the different domain extensions you could imagine, they are easy to use, plus, they are cheap!
I have several domain names that I’m hoarding for future sites and I’ve bought them all through NameCheap.
It’s easy to manage your domain names and point them at SiteGround or whatever hosting your choose.
Mailing list provider
The top bloggers’ mantra is ‘the money’s in the list’. I’ve been pretty slow at getting my mailing list sorted, but now I use MailerLite and I’m really happy with it. It’s SO easy to use and it’s free up to 1,000 subscribers! You can run multiple lists and set up automatic emails to go out when you publish a new post.
I’m teaming it with this plugin to help grow my list.
You can also create neat sign up forms within MailerLite to collect email addresses on your site. See my sidebar for an example!
When you start blogging, it can be painful spending money. You have to pay for hosting, maybe a theme, premium plugins… all before you’ve made any money back yourself.
It can be easy to think you don’t have the budget for blogging education.
But in my opinion, not paying for blogging training was the biggest mistake I made.
It took me about eight months of blogging before I started seeing consistent income (and then it was just £100-£200 each month).
I still think that most people who claim to make money in their first month are either lying or very lucky.
But I think I could have started making money a lot quicker if I’d approached my blog more like a business and spent time and money on training.
After I started paying for ebooks and courses and actually applying the knowledge in them, step-by-step, I started seeing more consistent results with my blog.
Here are the courses that actually made a difference for me:
My number one blogging resource, that I would recommend to EVERYONE with a blog, is Carly Campbell’s Pinteresting Strategies.
This ebook only costs $32 and I am telling you without exaggeration that it is the best $32 I have ever spent on my blog.
The book is an exact plan for getting HUGE TRAFFIC from Pinterest. Carly has a unique Pinterest strategy which is based on manual pinning. That means you don’t need a scheduler like Tailwind or Board Booster. It’s more time consuming, but it’s SO effective!
Seriously, these are my Pinterest stats since I started applying this strategy in mid March:
Billionaire Blog Club
If you’re willing to invest more money into your blog, you might consider a full blogging course. I recommend Billionaire Blog Club by Paul Scrivens (also known as Scrivs).
I have taken several blogging courses now and honestly, I found that most of them just say the same thing over and over. They take you through the technical side of setting up WordPress, setting up your Pinterest profile, setting up Tailwind etc. I did all of that and I wasn’t getting the same results. I just always felt like I was missing something.
Well, Billionaire Blog Club tells you what you’re missing.
Scrivs goes really deep into what makes blogs work. He treats blogging like a game, and explains the rules you need to play by in order to win. He tells you exactly what the big bloggers are doing to get crazy page views and sales – even the things they won’t tell you in their own courses.
It’s a really refreshing, no nonsense look at blogging that gives you real insight into how to succeed.
It’s not cheap, but it’s insanely valuable. It works really well with Pinteresting Strategies. Between the two of them, I’m starting to get some crazy momentum going with my blog.
The Billionaire Blog Club only opens its doors a few times a year, but you can take the free 12 day blogging bootcamp (which is incredibly useful in itself!) and get notified when full membership is available.
What resources made a difference to your blog?
Wow, this post has become a super long list of all kinds of resources! But basically, this is everything I wish I knew when I started blogging.
Seriously, get your blog set up with these and you’ll save so much time down the line.
Also, be sure to check out my new post on how I made a full time income blogging in less than two years. I share all the tips, secrets and resources that really made an impact on my earnings!
What other blogging tools and resources do you rely on? I’d love to update this most with more useful tools further down the line, so please let me know!
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