I would love to say that I hit the door running and everything has been easy going ever since I began this journey in 2007, but that has not been the case. I took some breaks in the beginning when life happened, but have been going strong for the past 7 years now. Over the course of my blogging career — yes, it is a career for me — I have been able to learn a lot about the industry. I have read a large pile of books, attended a number of blog conferences, and taken more courses that I can count.
I have tried 4 different web hosts, countless WordPress themes, and a variety of other blogging tools and resources along the way. Therefore, I want to share my favorites with you so that you can continue to grow your blog.
First, you need a blog. Somewhere to host your content and a nice design to accompany it. Starting off on a free host is what most bloggers do, but you may want to look at being self-hosted as you begin to grow your readership. You have full ownership of everything on your blog and more monetization capabilities in some instances. Thus, let’s begin listing blog design and hosting resources:
Genesis Framework — The Genesis Framework empowers you to quickly and easily build incredible websites with WordPress. Using child themes, you can easily customize your blog to fit your brand’s needs.
StudioPress — The home of the Genesis Framework and a large library of incredible WordPress Child Themes to help you get the look you want.
Restored 316 — I have personally used 5 of these absolutely beautiful premium themes. At the time of writing this post, I am currently using her Savory Theme. The only reason I keep changing the theme is because I fall in love with each new one as they come out and I can’t help myself. Her feminine WordPress themes are definitely worth the look! (Coincidentally, I have also used her themes for my husband’s blog, so they are very versatile and easy to customize).
Logojoy — You need a brand and, therefore, a quality logo maker.
NameCheap — Most marketers will tell you that you need a domain name to be taken seriously. I do believe I agree with them. With NameCheap, you can register your domains for as little as .88¢
WiredTree — The customer support I receive from my current web host is excellent and one of the main reasons I stay with them. Not to mention, I have very little downtime outside of issues I have created when trying to “fix” something I own. (I am a complete DIYer).
WP Engine — If you are looking to host 1 to 150 sites, WP Engine can give you all the space and power you need.
WooCommerce — Finally, if you planning on selling items to your readers in the form of printables, crafts, ebooks, shirts, etc. WooCommerce is a WordPress plug-in that helps to make the process easy and seamless.
One thing I wish I knew from the beginning was the importance of an email list! When you realize that people prefer to email with you than talk to you, or talk to you on social media, then you will know how important it is to maintain email marketing connections. Plus, when you run a small business, there is only so much you can do yourself.
MailChimp — I have used MailChimp for over 5 years. I love the easy newsletter design tools and have had no problems with my newsletter so I tend to stick with what works.
ConvertKit — After hearing great things about ConvertKit, I recently signed up to understand why everyone was raving about it. There are many excellent features to help you grow your lists and readership. The only drawback I found was the lack of design features, but it is built to be a powerhouse in the newsletter delivery service.
Vertical Response — Turn your blog visitors into email subscribers,then create, send, and track emails and social posts that look great on every device.
OptinMonster — A powerful customer acquisition and lead generation software for marketers that uses an easy drag and drop builder.