I began blogging in 2004. You could say I have a little experience.
I’ve started blogs, and let them die. I’ve begun blogs that seemed like a good idea, only to rebrand them later. And I’ve launched blogs and sold them.
The blogging tools and resources below are the ones I use and recommend. Please note that some links are affiliate. I would love for you to use them, as a ‘thank you’ for sharing the wisdom I’ve gathered through the ages. (18 is ancient in blog years!) But seriously, the wee bit I earn helps me continue to learn more- and share it.
I am not going to write a lot about each tool, but am happy to answer questions you may have- just drop an email to jody@halsted(dot)biz
I publish all my websites on WordPress. Not the free .com version, but the ‘I’m really serious and investing in my business’ .org version. It’s free, but you do need to purchase hosting & URL.
My largest sites (which bring in the majority of my income) are hosted at Performance Foundry. (Who also did the amazing redesign in 2019!) Performance Foundry is managed WordPress- they handle all updates and my monthly hosting fees include 1 hour of tech support each month. It’s not cheap hosting, but it is well worth the cost if your website is your business.
My smaller sites are hosted at MediaTemple. I’ve never had a problem with my sites going down or corrupting. The Grid hosting is an affordable way to begin. Use this link to get 20% off your first month of service.
Don’t forget to purchase SSL through your blog host! Many will set it up for you, or assist you in the process.
I usually purchase my URLs through GoDaddy. Prices are comparable to other outlets and, as it’s where I began, I like to keep everything in one place.
I use Sucuri for virus protection and full daily backups on my non-managed sites. It’s not cheap, but it has saved my websites more than once. Think of it as insurance for when the worst happens. And it will.
Speaking of backups… Your computer should be backed up in two locations. (Yes, you should have a backup for your backup!) I use a 6T external hard drive and cloud storage from Backblaze (use this link to try one month free!).
Deanna Garretson, the Design Chicky, has designed 3 of my websites.
Social Media Tools
Pinterest is often my #1 referrer to my websites- there are months it even beats Google! I use Tailwind for scheduling at optimum times and amounts. Tailwind works closely with Pinterest and follows the API rules- which is incredibly important. Get a $15 credit when you use this link.
I use Later for scheduling my business Instagram posts. Though I’ve tried other apps, this is the one I came back to for 2 reasons- a great phone app for iPhone and Android and the linkin.bio feature which makes it possible to link each image to its own article or web page.
Sprout Social is my sharing platform of choice. With it’s combination of business and personal account setting, inclusion of all major social platforms, and top-notch reporting, it has been irreplaceable for targeted social sharing.
For my evergreen post sharing on Twitter, Facebook, and Linked In I use Smarter Queue. The requeue feature is stellar, and the ability to easily set sharing across multiple accounts at one time is such a time saver! Use this link for a one month free trial.
SEMrush is a big investment but the results it can bring to your business are mind-blowing. Analytic reports, keyword tools, deep link analysis, project tracking. Once your website begins to earn a little money this is an investment, even for a short term, that will pay off. Click here for a free 7 day trial.
To get the most out of SEMrush quickly I highly recommend the SEMrush for Professional Bloggers course from Sunstone University. Lesli Peterson has nearly earned guru status when it comes to her knowledge of SEO. She is a highly sought conference speaker on the topic and she shares her knowledge here, fully. This course will change the way you blog.
To gain insight into how readers use and interact with my website I use CrazyEgg, a website optimization tool that offers visual reports and helps you analyze your website visitors.
Other Business Tools
I use MOO for my business cards. They are impressive and memorable. Not to mention fabulous quality.
I shoot the majority of my photos with an Olympus E-PL7. I like the size of the micro 4/3 camera and the ability to change lenses. My favorite lens is the 14-150mm telephoto. It rarely leaves my camera as it is a terrific all-around lens.
I adore my GoPro Hero 5. The voice commands and touch screen make this so easy to use. (Amazing compared to my old Hero 3.) It also has the ability of shooting video and photos simultaneously- a terrific asset if you are active!
I tote my camera gear in a Kelly Moore camera bag. I love the Woodstock backpack, but there are loads of styles for men & women.
To keep myself on task I use a Bullet Journal. Very ‘low tech’ but it’s the most flexible system I’ve found and it’s the only one I’ve stuck with.
I also have a massive yearly calendar from NeuYear beside my desk. I prefer the Monday first dating, love that months don’t abruptly break, but blend into the next, and purchase the dry erase version so I can make changes when necessary.
Invest in Education
Productivity/ Time Management: Tell Your Time: How to Manage Your Schedule So You Can Live Free by Amy Lynn Andrews
Pinning Perfect by Blog Clarity is the best Pinterest course I have taken. Hands Down
Get my Guide to Reviving Old Blog Posts – free. Make your past content work for you!