Blogging tools and resources for beginners

blogging tools and resources for beginnersWhen you first start building a website, the amount of information available can be very intimidating. You may be persuaded by excellent marketers that you need to purchase all kinds of tools and resources that are not really necessary.  I thought you might like to take a look behind the scenes and find out which tools I used to help me get started.

I found that many of the resources and tools I needed were free. Of course, it was possible to upgrade to a paid version later.  I am still using many of these resources, although I have upgraded to paid versions of some of them now. I like being able to sign up for free and upgrade later because it helps me to test and see how useful a resource is before I upgrade.

I will update this list as I continue to discover more helpful tools and resources.

(Please note that a few of the links below are affiliate links and I receive a small commission that helps me keep this blog running. You do not pay any more if you buy this way).

Domain purchase and hosting

As a premium member of Wealthy Affiliate, I am able to host my websites  and this is included in my Premium Membership Fee of $47 a month. I have peace of mind knowing that my websites are monitored 24/7 and are backed up daily.

Starter members get two free websites. These SiteRubix websites allow you to experiment with building a website. If you’d like to find out more about what you get as a starter member and a premium member, read my Wealthy Affiliate review.

I am also able to purchase domains directly from Wealthy Affiliate.

I would not have been able to get my website going, find out how to get traffic and learn how to make money from it without the help of the Wealthy Affiliate community.

Themes

Free WordPress themes

WordPress offers many free themes. I began by using the free version of NatureSpace which is a multipurpose theme. It is minimalistic, fully responsive and retina ready so it can easily be viewed on any device. It wasn’t long before up upgraded to the paid version which gave me more flexibility.

Paid themes

Many bloggers seem to use the Genesis ‘framework’ – a platform on which WordPress developers create child themes. Buying one of these custom child themes does have the advantage of a solid code base.

Organisation

Evernote

This works like a filing cabinet for me.  Whenever I find articles of interest, tips, ideas I store them in Evernote. I can keep them organised so it is easy to find exactly what I want.  There is even an iPhone app that gives you mobile access to all your documents. Free signup.

Dropbox

I use Dropbox to store all my files and to share large files. It’s very simple and I use the free plan. I also back up my website to dropbox once a week, using the WordPress export tool. Recently, I was really thrilled that I had backed everything up to Dropbox as my laptop computer was stolen. When I had my first laptop stolen, I lost all the research I had been doing for two years for a book. Free signup.

Writing and research

headline word balanceTitles

http://coschedule.com/headline-analyzer is a tool that helps you to write better headlines. All you do is enter your chosen title and you will be given a score based on how many uncommon/common, emotional or power words it contains. The idea is to get above 70%. It also gives you character and word count, what type of headline you have written and you can see what your title will look like in the Google search results.

www.title-generator.com/index.php. If you are completely stuck for ideas, you can use this tool. You just enter your main keyword and it will generate numerous titles.

Content ideas

Buzzsumo. I use the limited free version to research blog post ideas. I just type in a subject or a phrase and I am able  to see what is doing well on social media channels.

MOZ Content. Another great tool for coming up with content ideas.

Google Alerts  I have created alerts for different keywords so I can monitor trends in my niche.
The #1 Writing Tool

Grammarly

Reading a post full of grammatical errors and spelling mistakes is enough to make you click away as fast as possible. Grammarly is far more than just a spell checker.  As an ex-English teacher my grammar is fairly good. However, Grammarly has provided an insight into some common errors I still tend to make. I tend to leave out commas in some crucial places! Every week I receive a report card showing me how many words I have written, how many mistakes I have made and much more. Not only does Grammarly pick up your errors but it teaches you at the same time,  helping you to avoid making the same mistakes over and over again.

Keyword Research

I use a free keyword tool that I have access to with my premium Wealthy Affiliate membership.  It provides search volumes and the competition, so that you can understand how difficult or how easy a term is to achieve a first page rank for that term.  There are many other features that make this a tool worth its weight in gold. As part of membership of Wealthy Affiliate I also received 30 free searches in Jaaxy, a paid keyword tool offered by Wealthy Affiliate.

Wordstream has a free keyword tool. You get 10 free keyword searches up-front, then one free keyword search per day going forward. You can email the full free keywords list of suggestions to yourself for free.

Design tools:

Canva

This is an easy to use image creation program that has made creative design easy for me.   Canva has a free signup but you pay a dollar if you use their images. They do provide a limited number of free images.  However, you do not have to use their images and can easily upload your own. You can create images quickly and it helps that they have optimized templates for most social media platforms.

Pixteller

This is another tool that allows you to make creative posters, banners, social media covers and quotes in seconds. I like the fact that you can easily change text size, font and all the other elements after choosing to ‘repix’ an image from the many that are available for use.

Designfeed

Sign up for a beta account and create your designs. I am still testing this one out but I do like the speed with which one design can be resized to fit all social media platforms at the click of a button.

Cooltext

Easy logo creation.

All of the above tools offer free signup.

Free Image Sources

If you can take your own quality photographs, you are ahead of the game. However, just because you aren’t a photographer does not mean you can’t have beautiful photos on your blog. Here are my top 6 sources of free images, released under a Creative Commons CCO licence. This means you can download, modify and use them freely without any attribution.

  1. MORGUEFILE 2.  UNSPLASH   3. PIXABAY     4. PEXELS  5.    GRATISOGRAPHY     6. HIRESSTOCK
    (Click on the images below to take you to these sites).

tea with lemonfree imagedog image

free photosfree imagesstrawberry in water

Plugins

All in One SEO Pack

I use All in One SEO Pack to automatically optimize my site for Search Engines. It saves you much of the hard work. Some people prefer to use Yoast but I find that All in One SEO is simpler to use and just as effective.

Pretty Link Lite

Create, shrink, re-direct, and track links from your website. This plugin makes it easy to manage affiliate links and track clicks. You can create, shrink, re-direct and track links.

WP-Spamshield

Blog without having to be concerned about receiving spam.

Video

screencast-o-maticScreencast-o-matic

Sign up for a free account and you can start recording. There are many tutorials to help you get started.  This is a handy tool for recording screenshots and sharing them with friends or colleagues for a number of different purposes. With just a few clicks, you can start recording your screen, and once you’re satisfied with your video, you can upload it directly from there.

You can make short tutorials and visual presentations, communicating with your audience as you demonstrate.

Email Marketing

Sumo Me

SumoMe is my social media promotion plug-in. It also has a number of features that allow you to collect subscribers to your websites. As they opt-in to being part of your network, you are able to keep them up-to-date on new content,  reviews, product releases,  and more.

Mad Mimi

I use Mad Mimi to create, send, share and track email newsletters online. When it comes to putting together e-newsletters it is very straightforward and it is one of the cheaper options.

Affiliates

Shareasale

If you are wanting to find ways to make money on your website, Shareasale is easily my favorite affiliate marketing platform. They have a wide range of merchants for you to join up with and the approval process is straightforward. Some merchants will auto-approve you and others will want some information first about how you are going to market their products. You can market anything from clothing and accessories to computers and games.

Amazon

The Amazon Associate Program is the official affiliate program for Amazon. This platform allows bloggers, and affiliate marketers to earn money. You can promote any of the products by sending your readers to Amazon through your affiliate link. When the reader makes a purchase, you earn commission on the sale.

I hope you found this post helpful and if you did, don’t forget to bookmark it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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