When starting a blog it can become overwhelming (and pricey) with the number of resources available. I’ve listed below the top blog resources I use for Organize Yourself Skinny and Big Boss Moves. These are services I use daily to keep my blog running smoothly and profitable.
Domain Name and Hosting
To own your site you’ll need to purchase a domain and host. A domain name is the name people type in to get to your site. For example, www.organizeyourselfskinny.com or www.bigbossmoves.com are the domain names people type in to get to both of those sites. After you get your domain name you’ll need to purchase hosting. Basically, hosting is the space you rent on the internet for your blog to live. Does that make sense?
Now there are thousands of domain and hosting options out there and everyone has a favorite. Personally, I highly (strongly) recommend getting your domain through Google Domains and using Studiopress Managed Hosting for web hosting. Since 2013 Organize Yourself Skinny has been hosted through Studiopress and now Big Boss Moves is. I’ve been very happy with hosting through them.
Also, please note that I use WordPress for both of my blogs. This is the software used to create blog content. Think of it like Word or Pages for blogging but WAAAY more advanced. Most professional blogs use and recommend WordPress. Good news, Studiopress Managed Hosting automatically installs WordPress for you and takes care of all updates. So all you need to worry about is creating content.
Let’s talk a little about managed hosting. With managed hosting you still own your blog but it comes with more perks (see below) than self-hosted, which is why it’s a little bit pricier. It’s like self-hosted with VIP benefits. My blogs are under the Synthesis plan but if you’re just starting then the content plan would work just fine.
With self-hosted you’re on your own with security issues, traffic surges, SEO, and wordpress and theme updates. Studiopress managed hosting takes care of all of that and more. Not to mention their customer service is top-notch. In fact, that’s what sets them apart in my opinion. Anytime, I’ve had questions or an issue I’ve been able to connect with someone right away. I feel that my blogs are well taken care off using Studiopress Managed Hosting.
Like I said, Studiopress is going to be a little pricier than some of the other hosting solutions. However, if your goal is to become a professional blogger then I strongly recommend you consider using Synthesis Managed Hosting.
Also, keep in mind Synthesis Managed Hosting comes with 24 Mobile-Optimized ready-to-Go Themes. This is a HUGE perk because you’ll need a theme. They included themes that would work great for all blogging niches. So whether you’re a food blogger, DIY blogger, beauty blogger, or anything in between there is a theme available for you.
Another perk to Studiopress Managed Hosting is they make security a priority. Last year my site was hacked because of a hole in a WordPress update and they completely took care of it. I didn’t need to contact 3 different people or pay anything extra. Studiopress found the problem and fixed it within 2 days. Trust me, as a professional blogger, you’ll be thankful there’s a team of people you can count on to fix your site should something happen.
Of course, there are less expensive hosting solutions. For example, many new bloggers start out with Bluehost – that’s what I used when I first started. In my experience, Bluehost does the job for beginner bloggers. It’s easy to set up, includes a domain name, offers 24/7 support, and cost as little as $3.95 a month. So if you’re not ready to pay for managed hosting then Bluehost is going to be your best option. Here’s my step-by-step tutorial for how to start a blog on Bluehost.
Before signing up for hosting I recommend take time to read over both options and choose a hosting options that meets the needs of your blog and budget.
A theme is what makes your blog look pretty. If you signed up for Studiopress Managed Hosting then you have 24 themes to choose from. If none of those work then you can purchase other themes from their website. I’ve only used themes from Studiopress so I can’t recommend others. However, if you want something custom or a theme tweaked then I suggest working with one of their third-party designers. Personally, I love Restored 316 Designs. Big Boss Moves uses their Market Theme and I plan to have them create a custom theme for Organize Yourself Skinny later in the year. The team over there creates beautiful websites geared toward the female entrepreneur.
Email Service Providers
The single most important thing you can do for your blog is to create an email list. Like many professional bloggers, I didn’t take my email list-building seriously until a year or so ago. What a mistake that was! Since building my list, and sending regular emails, I’ve been able to grow my income by leaps and bounds. I will talk more about these strategies in future blog posts, for now I just want to talk about email service providers.
Since starting my blog I’ve used Feedblitz, Aweber, Constant Contact, and Convertkit. Hands down, without a doubt, Convertkit is the best.
In my experience, Convertkit is easy to use and has all the functionality needed to connect with readers. I use it to send simple weekly emails. I’ve ran an email campaign, for the launch of the Organize Yourself Skinny ecourse, with ease. Which by the way 99% of the money I made from my ecourse came from my email list. To put this in perspective my ecourse has made just under 80k in sales and I have 21k email subscribers. When you hear the saying “the money is in the list” believe it.
All my content upgrades (free ebooks and PDFs) are stored and delivered with ease to my readers. I wasn’t able to do this with any of my other email services providers. Honestly, switching to Convertkit was a huge game changer for my business.
Here’s the pricing for Convertkit. I think it’s comparable to other email service providers but even if it’s a little pricier I think it’s completely worth it. Convertkit offers 14-day trial so you can test it out ahead of time. If you’re going to invest in anything for your blog make it email! Trust me, you’ll thank me later 🙂
Social Media Management
Alright, let’s chat about social media – it can be a beast! When I first started, I didn’t use any type of scheduler. It wasn’t the end of the world, but it certainly took a lot of time. Do I think you absolutely need to use a scheduler right away? It depends. If you can afford it then I say do it, I wish I started scheduling sooner because it saved a ton of time. However, if it’s not in the budget then I say wait because you can still work social media without it.
Again, there are numerous schedulers available but these are the two I use in my businesses so this what I recommend.
Prior to Coschedule, I scheduled ALL OF MY Facebook posts right in Facebook. Honestly, I don’t even know how I did that or kept track of anything. Now I use Coschedule. I use it primarily for Facebook but you can use it for Twitter, Pinterest, and Linkedin. Here’s an example of my Facebook scheduling calendar.
Coschedule, let’s me see my scheduling calendar at a glance, keeps track of how often I share a post, and includes metrics on the amount of times a post was shared. They also allow me to create labels for posts to make scheduling easier. Using all the features of Coschedule I’ve been able to create a social media strategy that works.
Tailwind has been a godsend with my Pinterest strategy. Prior to Tailwind I barely shared my content on Pinterest, I know bad! But it was super time consuming to manually pin all my posts. With Tailwind I can schedule all my pins ahead of time. There are other perks too. For example, you can organize boards into groups for easier pinning. Also, Tailwind will let you know when the last time it was you pinned a pin. They also have sharing tribes and other ways to grow your Pinterest reach. I’ve found it very useful in my business. Other bloggers use Board Booster (and really like it) but I’ve never used that service so I can’t speak to it.
Regardless, having a Pinterest presence and strategy is very important to a successful blog. Many new blogs find success solely because of Pinterest so I wouldn’t ignore it. If you can’t manually pin on a regular basis then I would sign up for a scheduler.
These are the top resources I use for my blog. I will update this page as needed with other resources I feel would be helpful to someone starting a blog.