I started blogging in 2008 with a free site on Blogger, and segued over to WordPress when I realized I wanted to take blogging seriously. As in, using it as a space to do more than share pics of my kids and make my husband laugh.
Today, it’s so easy and cheap to start a blog on WordPress, that I would recommend bypassing the weird free platforms and scoring your space in the wonderful world of WordPress.org.
Why? There are a few reasons. If you’re reading this, you’re probably wanting to start a blog for more than sharing family photos. If you’re wanting to start a blog for more than sharing family photos, WordPress is the way to go. You’ll come up higher in the Google search pages, you have more control over how your blog looks, and there are all these amazing extras you can only use with a WordPress blog.
Trust me and the sixty billionty thousandy milliony other people who use WordPress. Now that we’re past that, read on for all the extra goodies I use with my WordPress site.
The next technical information pertains to WordPress sites. I’m going to list the resources I use and, and I have to say I have sampled SO MANY blogging resources out there it’s embarrassing.
Technical Blogging Goods
Go with Bluehost if you are just starting out and need reliable, cheap hosting, and I just started a site for my sister that is hosted through them.
I use Techsurgeons to host my current blogs since I am a total badass superstar. They are amazing, and they are in high demand, so sometimes they don’t take new clients. (Another hosting option I have heard good things about is Siteground.)
Themes and Child Themes
You use a theme (think of it like a skeleton) and a child theme (think of it like your skin and clothes) on your WordPress site, and you can customize them and have loads of fun.
Genesis – based on the opinions of everyone I know and respect in the blogging world, if you are going WordPress, use Genesis as your theme. Clean code, fast, good SEO, and great child theme options. They are supposedly the best.
If you don’t give a toot about all that stuff and just want a pretty blog, I love Pipdig.
I have a child theme addiction. Don’t be like me. Anyway, since I’ve tried lots of the pretty Genesis child themes, here are the ones I’ve used and enjoyed immensely.
I use Brunch Pro on Art for Kids and Robots by Shay Bocks (Feast Design Co), but I’ve also used her Foodie Pro theme in the past. She’s just an awesome theme designer.
I currently use a theme by Restored 316 called Darling, and she has some other lovely looking themes that I’m drooling over yet resisting.
I have tried the Creative theme from Pretty Darn Cute Designs and I liked it a lot, but just couldn’t quite get it to feel exactly the way I wanted. I feel like it is better suited for a site with gorgeous photography.
Plugins I Use and Love
Akismet for spam comment squashing.
Social Warfare for social media sharing.
Yoast for SEO and other things you can learn about through their site (everyone should have this awesome plugin).
Simple Social Icons for whichever social media icons you choose to show on your site where people can follow you.
Genesis eNews Extended for getting people to sign up for your mailing list.
That’s probably a good start. You’ll find more that either your theme recommends you use or that you want based on whatever cool things you want to do. Don’t use too many plugins, or your site will be sluggish like I am after a cheeseburger and 3 beers. Mmmmmmm
Social Media Scheduling
I have used Buffer and Hootsuite for social media, and liked them both. I prefer Buffer for scheduling, and Hootsuite for tracking Twitter people/conversations. Currently I’m using and completely ADORING SmarterQueue for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram scheduling.
Pinterest scheduling is Tailwind, all the way! Love the ability to move pins around, shuffle the queue, see stats, etc.
I don’t use the fancy email providers that track everything and do wonderful things, so I can’t speak to those. I use Mailchimp, which is free for your first 2,000 subscribers, and a great email provider. You will like them, and don’t even think about not gathering names for your email list. This is one of the most important things to do when you start a blog, even if you only send a monthly email.
Related reading: I have Made Every Single Blogging Mistake Possible (because I have), and Name Your Mom Blog which is parody, but hilariously, I noticed all the dumb names I came up with are taken.
Extra Blogging Things
Business Cards – MOO! I love Moo so much, and so do most bloggers I know.
Online Store – Shopify I am working on getting a shop set up on here right now, and loving it. I chose it because of all the rave reviews from my blogging friends.
Be an Affiliate – as a blogger, you tend to naturally share the things you use and love. Most brands will have affiliate links you can use to make a small commission when other people buy through your link. Quick tip: don’t abuse this and start recommending everything to everyone just to make money. (People can tell when you’re being legit or sleazy.)
Affilate companies I love: