I began blogging in 2004.
Before blogging was considered a business model.
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. The framework is 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.
Performance Foundry is managed WordPress hosting – 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. Media Temple also offers affordable managed hosting.
Don’t forget to purchase SSL through your hosting company! Many will set it up for you, or assist you in the process.
Not sure what SSL is or why you need it? Read this article from Hubspot.
You can purchase up renew your domain through your hosting provider.
I usually purchase my URLs through GoDaddy, mainly because it is where I began all those years ago, and I like to keep all my URLs together.
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, at Hello Chicky, is my recommended blog designer.
She also offers tech support and assistance for busy bloggers.
Social Media Tools
I use Later for scheduling Instagram. 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.
I also use Later for Pinterest. Though it’s not as easy as Tailwind, I just couldn’t justify the cost of TW with Pinterest’s ongoing changes.
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 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! Get a free extended trial with my link https://smarterqueue.com/?ref=8iy
Though it’s not the newest player in the arena, my emails are Powered by Mailchimp. I have remained with the monkey because I have multiple lists, utilizing half a dozen different emails & social connections, and MailChimp handles all them them on a single account.
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.
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!
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
Momentum (March – September, 2021)
Designed to facilitate my Mastermind clients over the busier summer months, Momentum welcomes anyone who wants to see their blog grow. The program features monthly topics with actionable weekly tips to help your blog become stronger.
3 levels of Momentum – Arise, Ascend, and Aspire – all include a private group, actionable weekly tips, and a monthly group call. Ascend and Aspire have additional benefits, including one-on-one calls and prepared SEO keyword reports.
Midwest Mastermind (begins in October 2021)
When you are ready to take your blog to the next step and grow to a business, this 6 month program goes deep into the steps to help your web views surge, guides you to create a product your readers want, and provides accountability throughout the process.
I also offer blog coaching, one-on-one, for those who want to focus on specifics of their own websites and creating a business from their blog.
Coaching is available in 30 and 60 minute sessions.
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.
Pinning Perfect by Blog Clarity is the best Pinterest course I have taken. Hands Down