When you start blogging, it’s so overwhelming. If you dive into blogging with the hopes of monetizing pretty quickly, it’s even more crazy. I’ve been a blogger for over 6 years now and I’m here to share my experiences with you around courses, groups, networking, and more. This a free list of blogging resources for you to pour over and take whatever you need in this moment.
Which website platform to choose?
Let’s start with the basics, the website is number one. It’s the thing you own and have (almost) full control over. I think most would agree that the two main choices are WordPress.org, Wix.com and Squarespace. While I’ve used WordPress (that’s what this site is on) and tested out Squarespace for a blog I never launched, I haven’t used Squarespace extensively enough to give too much of a review, but it is worth looking at for a one-stop shop of a website! WordPress can do a lot, but at some point, we all need a little help with it. I’ve never used Wix, but I know some have their site there and want you to know the options.
You’ll want to start with finding a theme for your website on WordPress. There are free ones and then there are pre-made ones you’ll pay for. For everything, there is an option to hire someone to build one for you. I started with a free theme, and then went to a paid version to get features I wanted. Even now, there are tweaks I’d like to do, but I’ll hire someone soon to do them.
I have a few friends that figured it all out on their own, attended YouTube University (it’s a joke because you really can find everything on YouTube), and edited their own CSS code or created their personal theme from the ground up. That’s just not me. But, maybe it’s you?!
There’s no one right way to do this. Figure out what you want and how you work, and go for it. I’m more of the type to hire an expert so I can spend my time on other things, like creating the content for the website.
Courses to take to be a better blogger
The Blogger Course
Monica from The Travel Hack is the woman behind The Blogger Course (affiliate link). She’s one of the original travel bloggers but has been in the travel sphere for quite a while and really knows her stuff.
The Blogger Course will get you in the right headspace to make your blog a business. It covers the basics of everything you need to know so you can get started well ahead of the curve. Most of us took years to get this amount of knowledge and insight, so paying a little bit now to be able to skip the next 12 months of figuring it out for yourself, is well worth it.
There are a lot of resources on affiliate marketing, and my two go-to recommendations are from Passive Income Superstars and Digital Nomad Wannabe. To start with the basics, start with their free courses/challenges. You’ll learn the basics and have the base to grow and learn more if you want.
Here’s the FREE 5-day affiliate marketing course from Passive Income Superstars. Don’t forget to join their Facebook group for more good info!
Here are a ton of FREE resources on the Digital Nomad Wannabe website. Yep, there’s a Facebook group for this stuff, too!
Michelle, the woman behind Making Sense of Cents is one of the top people in the industry and has been around for ages. She has a lot of great resources on her Making Sense of Cents available for everyone and I also feel confident to recommend her course called Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. She makes about $50,000 a month in affiliates, and has been doing this, and teaching others for quite a long time.
My friend who does exceedingly well with affiliate marketing suggested the course by her friend, Amanda of A Dangerous Business. She explains how to find the right programs, and how to implement affiliate links into posts, and still create helpful content for your readers.
I highly recommend you start with the Make Traffic Happen website. There are a few FREE resources that you should take in to understand the basics before buying their products. But, one you have the basics and you want to take the next step, their course and/or e-books are worth the investment.
Other courses to take
The courses I mentioned above cover very key points to becoming a successful blogger (in the terms of gaining traffic and making income). These aren’t the only courses you should be open to in order to grow your skills. Once you get comfortable with your topics, writing, and putting together blog posts, think about upping your writing skills, learning to network in your industry, take notes from the best photographers, find the best ways to pitch (if that’s something you’re interested in).
As I come across more courses that I think will help you, I’ll add them here. While I haven’t signed up for SkillShare yet, I plan to in the next month and they have lots of options to help you elevate your work.
Other blogger resources to help build your success
A blog doesn’t exist in a vacuum. A least, not if you’re trying to actively grow your audience. It’s okay! We all need a little help in figuring out the right way to get our stuff seen and to make it look the best. That’s what this section is all about. The tools to know how to frame your posts, how to let people know about them, and how to make them look spectacular.
Answer the Public
Let’s start off with a FREE tool that’s super quirky and super helpful. Answer the Public is a website that helps you figure out what people want to know about a particular topic. I promise you that you’ll see results you weren’t expecting. This has so much information and gives direction to your content. For being a free tool, it’s incredibly powerful.
To fully take advantage of SEO, you’ll need some tools and I think Keysearch (affiliate link) is one of the best ones. It helps you figure out what to write about, which keywords to use, and even lets you do some competition analysis. That’s always fun!
This is one thing I renew every single year and has changed everything for me. It even has a section for YouTube keywords and since I have a YouTube channel that’s key for me. If you invest in one thing, it should be this.
Whether you love or really hate Pinterest, it can help you get traffic to your blog, it’s worth looking into and investing some time into. While I don’t think you need a course for Pinterest, take a look at pins that do well and find your own way to do something similar so your pins get seen. This also means you may want to shoot vertical photos in addition to landscape in case you want to use them in pins. You can always stack landscape photos to create a pin, but it’s always great to have options!
Whether you’re creating pins, special thumbnails for your blog posts, or trying to up your social media game, Canva (referral link) is the go-to platform to create social media images. It’s easier than Photoshop and InDesign and you can share and collaborate directly through the platform. You can get a lot for free, but upgrading gives you some great options like more folders to organize and the ability to resize something you’ve already created to fit a different dimension.
If you do end up using Pinterest, you may want to invest in Tailwind because it helps you schedule your pins if you create in batches (which really helps with time!) They also give you access into insights and pick the best times to post on Pinterest.
I believe every blogger needs some kind of photo editing software. I pushed back hard against using Lightroom because I thought it would be too hard. It’s very intimidating! But, especially now, there are free tutorials from some of the best photographers out there. I know there are free options that people use, but if you’re regularly editing photos, it’s worth getting Lightroom to grow your skills, but also to get more creative with your photos!
What else do you need to know?
Probably a lot. My best advice when growing as a blogger is to keep learning! Watch a ton of YouTube to learn what you need to know. Network with other creators. Get a blogger buddy so you can bounce ideas off of. Go to conferences where you’ll be inspired and learn a ton. Keep a notebook or digital notepad available all the time to write down ideas.
It doesn’t matter what niche you decide to jump into, if you want people to relate to you, you’ll have to be true to yourself and write from the heart. Yeah, SEO seems to get in the way at times, but it doesn’t have to. I have blogger friends who are SEO gods in my eyes and their personality shines through like crazy, even in the “boring” guides.
This is just a start! This isn’t a full, complete list of everything you need to know. It’s just too much to cover in a blog post, and that’s why there are plenty of courses! 🙂 But, I wanted to give you somewhere to start because I’ve been asked how you start a blog. It’s overwhelming and the key is to take it one step at a time.
If you want to book a consultation, I have a consulting page you can check out to see if it’s right for you.
A lot of people ask if the blogging world is oversaturated. Well, it’s pretty darn saturated, but that does not mean you won’t be successful. The great thing about blogging is that every person brings something different to the table. Think about how many times certain movies or songs have been redone. It’s the same movie or lyrics, but someone else put their own spin on it, and people usually love it!
Dive in and I wish you the best of luck!