Page updated on January 22, 2020
Need help starting your blog? Here is a list of products, services, and blogs I use and read to help get you started on your blogging journey.
Starting your blog
I have been using Siteground since 2004, and I have had 0 issues. I mean it, seriously, 0 issues from their end. The one time I did have a problem, it was one that I caused myself. I “oops-ed” my htaccess. I submitted a ticket, and I was helped right away by their epic support. Not only did he fix my error, but he also walked me through the steps he did to fix my oops.
Any time I have ever had any questions, they have gotten back to me within 5 minutes. I cannot say enough about the support I have received from them over the years. I also use Siteground for domain names.
If you click the link and sign up, I will get a free month, and you will get 60% off, with packages starting at $3.95 a month.
Once you have your hosting, you can download and install the standalone version of WordPress. WordPress is not just for blogging; you can use it as a content management system (CMS) and build a non-blog website using static pages. If you are on Siteground, you can install WordPress onto your space with a click using their control panel.
Every website should have a CDN (Content Delivery Network). Speed matters. If you are with Siteground, they have a toggle you can switch on in your control panel to put your website on Cloudflare. You then create a free account on Cloudflare to manage other options you can not control in the Siteground control panel. Their support is top-notch; if you have any questions or need help, they are quick to respond. Cloudflare also has an extensive knowledge base for you to find your issue before the need to contact support arises.
Not sure what a CDN is? Read Why use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) at GTmetrix for more information.
MailChimp is an email marketing software. You can manage your subscribers, send newsletters, create landing pages, and automate your marketing.
Another MailChimp benefit if you are starting out with a mailing list:
If you have 2,000 or fewer subscribers, you can send up to 12,000 emails per month absolutely free. No expiring trial, contract, or credit card required.
You will need a valid psychical mailing address no matter what email marketing software you use. If you do not have an office you work out of that you can accept mail at, I suggest you get a P.O. Box. After dealing with a stalker, I DO NOT recommend you use your home address. Your address will show at the end of every email you send out. Stay safe, folks!
Photoshop and other programs
I use Photoshop for most of my graphics. Gimpshop is another option if you cannot or don’t want to pay for a program like Photoshop. Gimpshop is based off of the free program Gimp, coded to add functionality that Photoshop offers and uses Photoshop brushes, filters, and plugins. Gimp and Gimpshop are open source software, and you can get them free.
Canva is a simple to use drag and drop free graphic design tool that is browser supported. You do not need any graphic arts skills to use Canva; the learning curve is not as steep as the programs mentioned above. Even if you are a Photoshop Goddess, the ease of Canva makes creating graphics quick and easy.
Another benefit of Canva is that they keep up with the ever-changing sizes of headers for Social Media such as Facebook and Twitter. Canva has templates for many platforms waiting for your creative brain to come in and make them your own. Canva has a large selection of stock photos you can use, some for free and some for a fee.
Education Blogs About Blogging and Courses
- Ultimate Guide to WordPress Functions and Theme Anatomy – From Blogging.com. Before you start “digging under your hood,” head over to their website and ” familiarize yourself with the basic anatomy of a WordPress theme.
- First Site Guide – How to Start a Blog in 2018. This page has changed since I originally included their link entitled “An Intro to Blogging.” Never the less, the update is still informative and useful. The new guide goes into detail about why you should blog, discovering your niche, and step by step instructions to install WordPress.
- 259 West – One of my favorite blogs about blogging and life. Fran has a lot of awesome tips, talks about her life, and is an Army wife!
- Wonderlass – Wonderlass is owned and operated by Allison Marshall. She helps bloggers and creative entrepreneurs to start an online business, stand out and grow their income online. She has free courses, YouTube videos and a wealth of blog posts brimming with helpful information.
- Pat Flynn’s Build Your Own Brand – A Free 5-Day Challenge to Help You Build a Brand and Website You Can Be Proud Of. Pat Flynn is a wealth of information for bloggers. He has a podcast, a YouTube channel, a plethora of articles, and more courses just waiting for you to check out.
- Cloud Living – Founded by Tung Tran, Cloud Living “Helps you start, grow & monetize profitable websites.” The website includes informative posts, and they offer a free course. While I am mentioning Tung, I would be remiss if I did not direct you to The $10K Challenge: Building a Profitable Authority Site From Scratch that he started Feb 2018. His challenge has been both interesting and inspiring.