Sharing my Blogging Resources list of tools I recommend to new bloggers. I use a combination of free and paid tools on my site. Here is a glimpse of how I’ve set up my blog and the tools I eventually decided where the best fit for The Urban Kitten blog.
I’ll assume those of you reading this post have already purchased your domain name and secured your social media handles.
If you still need to purchase your domain name, a great place to check is namecheckr.com. You can search for all the social media platforms at once, saves a ton of time. I highly recommend you do a social media check first since its always desirable to have your blog name and social media handles match.
The recommendations below may include affiliate links.
I’ve either used the services in the past or currently use them on my blog and recommend based on my personal experience with these tools.
WordPress sites are hosted or stored, on computers called servers. When someone wants to visit your site, they type in the domain into their browser. Their computer will then connect to the server and your webpages will be delivered to them through the browser.
I prefer to keep my domain name provider and hosting provider separately, it’s so easy to point your web address to another hosting provider. As an example, I purchased my domain through Namecheap and use the Siteground as my hosting provider. In the future, if I want to change hosts I just go to Dreamhost and point to the new provider.
The following are the hosting providers I’ve used and recommend for a self-hosted WordPress site.
Bluehost ~ I started the blog on Bluehost and it is certainly an affordable option for those starting out.
Siteground ~ My current host and I’ve been happy with the service. They sometimes have a wonderful promotion with a prepaid discount. I signed up for three years on the GoGeek plan and so glad I did.
I started out using free themes and moved up to paid themes. I’m currently using the Glam theme from Restored316 which is built on the Genesis framework.
Genesis Framework ~ Don’t let the idea of using a framework with a child theme scare you. Read the documentation before you start fiddling around, trust me. I use the Genesis framework on this site with a custom child theme.
Glam Theme by Restored316 ~ I changed to the Glam Pro Theme because I wanted something pretty and although my pipdig theme was nice, I felt like a change. The themes from Restored316 are so feminine and fast. I was able to set everything up without trouble, again it’s important to read the documentation before you start tinkering.
Pipdig Themes ~ Before I changed over to Glam I was running Aruba Nights from Pipdig and this theme also runs on the Genesis framework. When I was setting up the theme I had a couple of questions and the customer service was outstanding.
This is a whole industry and way beyond my expertise, but what I can say is that at the very least think about your style and what you want to convey to the reader. Pick you typefaces and colors and use them consistently across your blog and social media.
Here are some reading recommendations:
A plugin is a piece of software that can be added to a WordPress website to add functionality..
Akismet Anti-Spam ~ I first thought that Spam wouldn’t be a roble, OMG was I wrong. Now that I use the Askimet plugin , no more spam. I highly recommend this plugin. The cost is $5 a month and in my opinion, it’s well worth the price. the plugin. They also offer a free plan with some restrictions, if your blog is a hobby and your not running ads, the free plan might be an option for you.
Short Pixel ~ This is my favorite image optimization software, so easy to use and they have a free plan to optimize 100 images a month. I also love that I can purchase a one-time credit for $9.99 to optimize 10K images.
WP Rocket ~ This is a caching and optimizing tool that allows you to speed up your site load times and enhance overall performance.
We use a variety of tools aimed to make our website run fast, keep it online, and keep things running smoothly. Out of all of these options, hosting your mailing list offsite (not directly in your WordPress blog) would be my top recommendation.
Mailchimp ~ I started out with Mailchimp and continue to use them for my email marketing. My email list is small and Mailchimp offers a free version which is outstanding. They have an easy RSS-to-email feature, which is what I use to send blog post updates to subscribers.
RocketCDN ~ These are content delivery networks and currently am not using one, I have done some research and as soon as my traffic picks up a bit more I’ve decided to go with RocketCDN which is part of WPRocket as an added subscription.
Google Analytics ~ It’s a free tool and must-have for tracking your site traffic and stats.
Yoast SEO ~ Yoast makes it simple to create a sitemap and helps to improve your on-page SEO. Other tools in the pro version identify orphaned pages, broken links, and handles setting up redirections. Start with the free version which may be enough for the new blogger.
Ahrefs ~ Ahrefs is a SEO keyword search and analytics tool This is pricey for a site that doesn’t generate income like mine, but I wanted to invest in the future of my blog so I bite the bullet and signed up for the Lite plan which is $99 a month. By far the most expensive part of running my blog. Over the year I tried SEMrush and Moz and
Ubersugggest ~ All good, but Ahrefs and Ubersuggest are the simplest to use with Ahrefs having powerful reporting and research tools. If you are not wanting to spend the money quite yet I recommend giving Ubersuggest a try, they have a free version and the pro version is affordable.
Many of these tools offer free trial periods and the ability to do a very limited keyword searches for free. Sign up for the trial and try them out, then make an informed selection on what works best for you.
Basic Photography Tools
Lightroom ~ For photos, I primarily use Lightroom 6 which is the last stand-alone version of the software. Sometimes I like to edit on my phone so I subscribe to the mobile version of Lightroom for $4.99 month and it syncs with my desktop version. The monthly subscription is an amazing deal and ensures you’re always up-to-date with the latest software.
Picmonkey ~ For Pinterest and social media images I use the Picmonkey Pro version for $12.99 a month. Canva is another web-based editing tool that many also like, however, I prefer the interface and tools on Picmonkey.
The only reason I have a DSLR is because of my Food blog, but for The Urban Kitten I mainly use my phone to snap any images I want to share or use on the blog.
Other Valuable Resources for Research.
Blogging Conferences in 2020
It may be challenging to go to a blogging conference in 2020 since this year has been filled with shutdown and social distancing. Some conferences are adapting and offering a virtual experience. In any event, no pun intended, here are two conferences I’ve attended in the past and found them to be motivating, informative, and all-around a great experience.
More Blogging Resources