Okay, so I start a blog, but then what? What do I do and use to build my blog and grow? How do I make it look professional? How do I comply with the law? And what do I use for security? Oh, and how do I monetize it? With this article I’m planning to answer these questions and help you, a beginner blogger, figure out what you need in this journey. So if you’re starting a blog and don’t know what you should do/use next, this is for you! Below, you’ll find some blogging tips, tools, and resources that will guide you through the first stages of creating a blog.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure for more information.
You might also want to read about the mistakes you can and should avoid when starting a blog.
This page is meant to help you find useful resources you may need in your blogging journey, as well as what other bloggers use for their websites.
Blogging Tips And Resources To Get Started
When you want to start a blog and earn money from it, you have to think about self-hosting. For this, you need a web hosting company.
Not that long ago, I was doing my own research about which hosting company to go with. After hours of reading and reading, I decided SiteGround was the best solution for me, a beginner blogger who plans on being serious about this.
I pair SiteGround with WordPress.org. (WITH WORPRESS.COM, YOU CANNOT SELF-HOST YOUR BLOG).
If you want to learn more about the difference between hosted versus self-hosted websites, as well as how to get started with SiteGround, read my post How To Start A Blog With SiteGround Hosting.
Why do I recommend this hosting company?
- 24/7 professional online support
- Affordable prices for what they offer:
- Free Email Address for your domain (which I recommend you create for your blog/website to appear more professional)
- Plugins for whatever you wish to have on your blog
- Free SSL Certificate (you need it for security and credibility reasons)
- Free automatic daily backups
- You can monetize your blog with affiliate links and ads
- Fast loading speed
- Easy to install WordPress.org
#2 Studio Mommy Blog Theme
After you install WordPress.org, you will need a theme for your blog. If you don’t know exactly what you want, that’s okay. You can always change the first theme you select. But should you get a free theme or a paid one?
When I started my blog, I read somewhere that a high-quality paid theme is better for SEO and you basically need one after a while. But honestly, I don’t think it’s completely true in all cases. What’s important is that your theme is optimized for phone visualization, allows you to customize your website, and has good customer support (which yes, many free themes don’t have).
I bought my theme from Studio Mommy shortly after installing WordPress, but it’s okay if you go with a free theme from the beginning as well.
Why Studio Mommy?
- They have feminine, classy, elegant, and professional-looking premade templates
- Customer service
- Mobile responsive
- “Back-to-Top” Button
- Category Page
- Subscribe Page
- It is easy to navigate through
- SEO friendly
- You’ve got four beautiful blog themes you can choose from for a very reasonable price (it’s definitely worth it if you’re a beginner like me)
- They offer you tutorials to install the theme and make it look like the demo.
- If you don’t want to spend time figuring out the installation process, you can pay for their theme installation service (it’s what I did because, honestly, you’ve got so many other things that need your attention).
I have the Kylee More theme, and I am absolutely IN LOVE with it!
You should know that it is required by law that your blog has certain legal pages. It’s also in your best interest since I’m assuming you want to avoid lawsuits that could cost you tons of money, or content theft and violations.
I have the Starter Legal Bundle which includes the three legal pages you HAVE to have on your blog in order to comply with the law:
- Terms And Conditions
Be careful though with the free templates for these pages! The thing is, with these kinds of services, you get exactly what you pay for. What professional do you think works hard to create something like this and then gives it for free? Can you imagine how much time and knowledge it takes to create legal content that protects your online business?
A free template might not entirely cover your website legally or it may come with hidden fees! Also, copy-pasting someone else’s pages IS NOT okay. You need a license to use this content. It is someone’s intellectual property!
Okay, so why Amira’s Legal Bundles?
- They are PROFESSIONALLY written.
- Amira is an experienced and successful lawyer and blogger who knows what she’s doing.
- They are super easy to customize in accordance with your niche!
- You can get them at a very reasonable price, considering what it would cost if you’d hire a lawyer.
- You save A LOT of time and can focus on writing and growing your business.
- She updates the content when new laws apply.
This is an email marketing tool. It is preferable you start a mailing list, even if you don’t have views or subscribers yet.
Why do you need to invest in starting an email list?
Because this is how you build TRUST with your readers! Your subscribers are usually your loyal readers. You can keep in touch with them, and build a relationship. This is how you can make more sales. Your loyal readers know that what you recommend is good quality.
I started with HubSpot, but I just couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out how to create a “thank you for subscribing” email. Then I found Selena from Her Tailored Blog, who helped me with setting up my newsletter with ConvertKit.
What convinced me to switch were the prices (free until you reach 1000 subscribers), and the fact that a lot of bloggers use it and are satisfied.
Here you can read how to set up your ConvertKit.
#5 Create Branding Elements (Logo, Tagline, Favicon)
You want your blog to look beautiful and professional, don’t you? Then you’ll need a logo, favicon, and tagline.
I sincerely recommend Selena from Her Tailored Blog. I mentioned her above as well. She’s a Blogger and a Website and Canva Designer. In other words, she knows what she’s doing. She also created my branding elements.
You can contact her through her blog, let her know what you need, and she’ll discuss the details with you.
What’s a Gravatar? It stands for Globally Recognized Avatar. It’s that round, small picture next to your name.
To be honest, it’s not essential to do it right from the beginning, but it will make you feel like you’re one step further once you set it up. It helps your image and credibility.
Essential Plugins To Install On Your WordPress
I try to use only the plugins that are essential for my blog and being at the beginning of this journey, there aren’t that many. This is because the more plugins you use, the more they slow down your website. Readers don’t like that. Neither does Google. Thus, it will affect your SEO.
#7 All In One SEO
This is the plugin I use to optimize my content. You can either use All In One SEO or Yoast SEO or Rank Math.
Optimized content leads to more traffic to your website.
AIOSEO makes suggestions so that you can write a proper title, meta description, headings, and subheadings, as well as other aspects that improve your overall on-page SEO.
All of its functions may seem intimidating at first, but you’ll discover it’s actually easy to find your way around it.
Like most plugins, AIOSEO has a free and a pro version.
If you need help installing it, here’s a video tutorial on how to set up All In One SEO correctly.
MonsterInsights is a Google Analytics plugin. How does it work?
Once you install it and activate it on your WordPress, you can then connect your website with Google Analytics.
All the relevant statistics (such as page views, country, referral links, bounce rate etc.) can be seen right in your WordPress dashboard. Just click on “Insights”.
As usual, they offer a free version, as well as a premium one.
#9 Wordfence and Change WP-Admin Login
I recommend these two for security reasons. Wordfence protects your site from hackers by blocking malicious IP addresses and alerting you of any potential security issues (for example, a login from a different IP address, or plugins that need to be updated). It also sends you security reports, and from the “Tools” menu you can see if someone tried to log into your WordPress.
Change WP-Admin Login also makes it harder for someone to hack into your account. Most hackers know that the login URL for a website is “the website/wp-admin”. This plugin, however, allows you to change the login URL to something else.
#10 A cookie plugin
I use CookieYes | GDPR Cookie Consent to show that my website complies with the EU cookie laws, but there are other plugins that go with WordPress. Just go to Plugins- Ad new and search cookie plugin.
Blogging Resources And Tools I Use To Write
As you probably know, it’s important to write something people actually look for online. You can post the best blog post according to your SEO plugin, but if nobody or very few people are interested in that subject, you won’t have views, you won’t make sales, and you won’t make money.
So what you need is to find the right keyphrase or keyword to rank for. The ideal is to have a high search volume and a low difficulty rank score. But this is easier said than done. Since you’re a beginner and your site doesn’t have authority, don’t go for words that are impossible to rank. Try words/phrases that are under 40 difficulty rank score. This can also mean choosing keywords that don’t have a high search volume (for example 400 searches per month).
I use KeySearch, which is an affordable tool. I pay $17.00 per month but go check their site to find out more about the prices.
You might have heard of Grammarly. It’s a tool used for correcting grammar, spelling, or punctuation mistakes. It also detects the tone of your writing.
If you have a paid subscription, such as the Premium one, you can benefit from many more features, such as tone suggestion, full-sentence rewrites, and generating and proofreading citations.
What’s more, if you have a Premium or Business account, you can detect plagiarism. Basically, Grammarly verifies your work by checking it against 16 billion web pages.
If you want to learn more about the advantages of using Grammarly, just take two minutes to watch the video below.
So if you’re convinced you need this amazing tool, CLICK ON THE BANNER BELOW to try Grammarly for FREE!
Blogging Tips and Tools for For The Images
#13 Haute Stock
Haute Stock is a premium marketing membership created for women entrepreneurs. Your membership grants you access to high-quality stock photos, customizable templates, designer branding elements, and monthly marketing guides. However, the subscription costs more than $100 per 3 months, so if you can’t afford this, don’t worry! There are other AMAZING resources that are affordable. See Canva below!
Why did I choose Haute Stock?
- Feminine, beautiful, high-quality stock photos
- You have the option to filter the results by brand colors
- If you want, they can assign someone to select your photos for you
- Literally everything that they have to offer. For instance, photos, templates, marketing guides, instaquotes, etc.)
- You can use their products on your blog, website, or social media (including Pinterest)
- PLUS, It helps with the SEO (paid stock photos are considered high-quality and not everyone has them, which is what Google likes about them)
For example, here is a comparison between the quality of an Haute Stock image and that of an Unsplash image (free stock photos)
Haute Stock photo
Unsplash image (the text was added by me to use it as a featured photo)
Quick update: although I love Haute Stock, I decided to take a break from their subscription and use the money for courses. Even so, I get to keep using the photos and other resources I’ve already used or saved to my computer.
This is a compression tool. All your images have to be compressed before being uploaded to your website.
This is because a large file slows down your site. As mentioned before, you don’t want that because neither readers nor Google appreciates it.
In addition, Tinypng is super easy to use and allows you to compress up to 20 images per day for free.
Canva is a designer’s heaven! In case you haven’t heard of Canva, it is a graphic design platform that you can use for free or with a paid subscription. Either way, you can create social media graphics, templates, presentations, posters, videos, and SO MUCH MORE.
In my case, I use it most frequently to create Pinterest pins.
What’s more, they offer a wide variety of templates, stock photos, elements, fonts, colors, and videos. You can also use different effects, though keep in mind some of them need you to have a paid subscription.
You can even edit images and make a few adjustments, such as cropping and resizing.
As you can see, the things you can do with Canva are limitless.
Another great feature is that they have the sizing for lots and lots of templates and posts. For example, Instagram posts or stories, Pinterest pins, logos, Facebook covers or stories, videos, resumes, infographics, and so much more.
Or there’s the option to create a custom size for your design.
Finally, you can sign up with a free account and take advantage of their free trial for the premium subscription.
Try CANVA for FREE here.
Of course, if you have any questions, you can contact me using the Contact Page in the main menu bar.
Have a productive blogging day!:)