It’s a Blog Life…
Ever thought about starting a blog? Or maybe you already have a blog but want to take it to the next level. Below you will find all the tools and blogging resources that I use to ensure my blog runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
Some of these links may be affiliate links, which means that I might receive a small commission if you click through and decide to try them yourself, but it won’t cost you any more 😉
1&1 WordPress Hosting
If you want your online space (blog, shop, website, anything really!) to have it’s very own .com address (or any other variation like .co.uk, .org etc) you will need to pay a web ‘host’. I’ve found 1&1 to be the cheapest offering payment options monthly as well as yearly. I’ve always been impressed by their customer service, and they’re great at tweeting me back when I need them.
WordPress is an amazing platform for blogging. Once you have your domain WordPress.org installed the options are endless. I had no idea that creating, customising and managing a fully functional website could actually be this easy until I started.
There’s such a huge vault of blog themes you can use, plugins to optimise your site and create the feel you’re after. To be honest, I learn something new about WordPress and what it can do almost every day. I get hugely excited about new tools and plugins that will enhance my site (although be careful not to go nuts on the plugin front, too many can break your site – eek!)
I can’t speak for other blogging platforms, as I’ve only ever used WordPress. But I couldn’t think of a reason I’d ever want to move.
My PC was actually a gift (of sorts) from my Mum (No, I’m not 12!) She’d upgraded, but the PC was less than a year old and she didn’t want it to go to waste. It has a huge screen, and all it’s operating power is held within the screen, which means no bulky CPU tower thingy. More room on my desk for accessorising 😉 It’s also touch screen and the sound is amazing (great for watching
Do you ever see bloggers on Twitter and social media all the time and wonder how the hell they have enough time?! They’re probably scheduling a lot of that interaction. For a long time I thought I didn’t need something like Social Oomph, but as soon as I gave it try I knew I’d never look back.
When it comes to blogging, the only way to truly get your work out there and seen is to shout about it from the virtual rooftops. That’s where scheduling comes in. Social Oomph allows you to create queues of recurring posts with or without images, which means you can sit back and let the schedule do your shouting for you.
Before I started using SocialOomph, I was probably spending around 2-3 pointless hours a week scheduling posts using free software (like Hootsuite, which is great if you have the time), now I spend that time writing posts and being way more productive than I ever was. My queues never run empty, and I get to focus on the fun bits of engaging with others on social media.
The editorial calendar makes the usual uninspiring list of posts and drafts on my WordPress dashboard actually look like something I can work with.
It lays all my posts out in calendar format so I can easily see what gaps I need to fill, what kind of content will work well, and can plan in advance. I can create drafts with pretty much 1 click too.
Sometimes all it takes to inspire a post is to stare at my editorial calendar for a minutes. I can see what I have and haven’t written about for a while, and what’s coming up too.
Writing posts should always come from your heart, and echo you as a person. For that reason, Yoast can become a bit of a stumbling block for some, because you start to feel like you have to ‘green light’ everything. That’s not true, though, and the Yoast plugin is amazing when you can step away from that school of thought.
Yoast gives you the best tips, tricks, hints, and prompts to make sure every post you write is as best optimised for search as possible (so you get found in internet searches, like Google) which is called SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
More than anything, the plugin just helps me not to forget the basics. Because I forget everything.
What was I..? Whatever, just get Yoast.
Boxzilla (free plugin)
There are loads of free plugins for putting your opt-in (the thing(s) that get people to sign up to your mailing list) as a pop-up on your site, but Boxzilla works pretty well for me. It integrates well with Mailchimp, and has lots of customisable settings to control when the pop-up shows on your site
I have to admit, I thought long and hard about joining the inner circle given our budget restrictions these days. But I can hands down say that being a part of this amazing community, plus the access to all of Aby’s amazing courses is by far the best money I spend each month (except maybe my phone bill :-))
Aby is a fount of amazing, practical and actionable blogging knowledge, and the community offer so much, even if it’s just a kick up the bum when you need it!
Mailchimp allows you to collect subscribers email addresses so that you can send them even more of your amazing work.
Sending out weekly emails is a great way to keep your audience engaged, share exclusive content, and gain new readers.
It’s totally free until you each 1000 subscribers, and even then the cost isn’t astronomical.
Mailchimp allows you to fully automate email sequences to new subscribers and schedule emails in advance which works amazingly well for me. You can add all your own branding and content so that your emails always feel personal and relevant.
I can’t go on enough about Canva – its a completely free online editing and creation tool which allows you to create templates for almost any type of image you can imagine.
I’ve used it for A4 PDF’s, social images optimised to exactly the right size for each platform, booklets, posters, and even a magazine.
For a (very) small fee you can unlock even more stock images and branding controls if you need to.
The tailwind app and chrome plugin allows me to schedule content for Pinterest and the forget about it. I find Pinterest one of the most time consuming platforms to work with, and before I used Tailwind I (naively) basically ignored it.
Pinterest is absolutely amazing for blog traffic if you get your posting right. For me, needing to pin up to 30 times a day at regular intervals just wasn’t cohesive with mama life. Tailwind gives me the ability to spend an hour scheduling for the week ahead and then forget about it.
Tailwind has just introduced the ability to schedule and pot to Instagram, too. I’m yet to decide if I’ll continue to use the service for Instagram after my free trial, as it doesn’t (yet) allow you to add Instagram’s own filters to your posts before scheduling.
What can I say about my phone? I literally couldn’t live (or blog) without it. I currently use an Apple iPhone 7 (although I’m planning to switch to a Samsung Galaxy Note 8 this year), and I use it to take all my pictures, for apps like the WordPress app to blog on the go if I’m pushed for time or away from home, and for a thousand other apps that make blogging life as well as mama life more manageable.
There are a thousand apps you can download for blog life a few that I use daily are;
- Social platform apps (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest)
- Content sharing app (StumbleUpon, Flipboard)
- Photo editing apps (Canva, Hype Type)
- Organisation apps (Asana, Google Docs, Gmail)
- Automation apps (Mailchimp, IFTTT, Tailwind)
- The WordPress app, obvs!
If you can think of anything I’ve missed, please do let me know! I’m always up for giving new things a go. Maybe I’m missing a trick!