Congratulations on starting your journey towards sharing your passion with the world while bring in some extra income while you do it. Throughout this whole process don’t forget that your focus needs to stay on sharing that passion and zeal with your readers – don’t let all the work behind the scenes consume you to the point where you forget why you started in the first place.
And its that goal that drove us to start this page – letting us share with you the most important resources (at least in our mind) to get you back to doing what you do best – sharing you.
The following resources may or may not all be relevant to your business. No worries – just skip those. And other resources you might have already implemented (the exact one or even an alternative). No matter what, review the list and we hope that some might help you at whatever point you are in your journey on creating your own website.
Domain Name and Hosting
As we’ve shared before, having a reliable host that seamlessly integrated with WordPress (especially one that is recommended by WordPress.org) is an integral part of your business. Check out Bluehost where you get 1-3 years of hosting (not to mention FREE registration of your domain name for the first year) for as low as $3.49 per month through this special discount link.
Design Your Site
You really can design your own site from the ground up. One of the first steps is to choose your color scheme/palette you wish to use. Consider checking out a tool like COLOURlovers to find a color and design a palette. Plus you can use Paletton to find other palette colors (based on color theory) to help you find those perfect colors. Finally, don’t forget our recommendation to find 2-3 other sites you enjoy to study and learn from their design principles with the goal of applying some of those principles and ideas to your own site.
Your list is the heartbeat of your business. Consider using MailChimp as they provide free service for up to 1,000 subscribers and a small monthly fee for those that want to have full customer service. Their autoresponders do require a small monthly fee, but we hope you’ll see that building the brand loyalty with your reader (by having an email delivered to their inbox every few days) is worth it.
Design your images
We’ve used everything from Adobe Photoshop CC to Gimp as they both provide very robust functionalities for editing your images. However, for someone that is looking for an easier (yet still very functional) process, check out PicMonkey as a great alternative. PicMonkey is free and has some great functionality. But for an annual fee of $33, you will get the paid subscription which gives you many more features. Since we live in a visual world and your pictures on social media is the main attraction to your article and your site, we highly recommend investing $33 each year to take your pictures from stellar to great. Don’t forget how many tutorials you can find on YouTube to help you through using these tools and more.
Akismet – Helps to avoid spam in your comments. We’ve had various levels of success but when the service is down (even temporarily) we all the sudden see a ton of spam come through meaning it must be working.
Some type of SEO plugin – We use All in One SEO Pack (pro version) while others use Yoast SEO. Review the options and see which will work best for you.
Contact Form 7 – Allows you to add a contact form to your page.
Duplicate Post – If you plan to have very similar posts (e.g., a weekly post) with minimal changes, this plugin allows you to generate a “new post” with identical content of the one you originally selected.
Google XML Sitemaps – This is probably one of the most critical plugins as it submits a sitemap (think of an index in the back of a book) and informs the search engine that you have new content on your site, ready and waiting for the search bot to come index your website.
Image Widget – This is a simple plugin that will allow you to add images to your widgets (on sidebars, header and footers) without having to know HTML code.
You’ll see the standard WordPress install is pretty basic and lacks aesthetic appeal – so add a theme by clicking “Add New” under Appearance > Themes. There are free themes (some have better functionality than others so make sure you find the one you want) and some themes will better work for different types of website (e.g., some themes are designed better for recipe sites, others for newsletter type formats, etc). If you want to invest in a theme right away, you can as it will give you more functionality combined with a consistent look and branding from the beginning, but realize that often these premium themes can be more difficult to setup.
Consider the following, most popular “premium” themes:
The Thesis Theme for WordPress
Genesis Design Palette Pro
We started our site with a free theme and did our own DIY design with logos and initial design. Then we upgraded to a paid theme with some minor professional custom designs. Since then, we have been through a third site redesign which was a full custom professional design. As our online business grew, so did our need for a more professional look and layout. You can of course do these things from the beginning if you choose to invest in them.
When you want a professional logo or header – get one for $17
- LogoNerd offers $17 logos. Great deal for new bloggers!
Join Affiliate Programs to Start Earning Money
- Amazon (recommend anything on Amazon and get paid
- Escalate Media (lots of great offers to share and get paid)
- Savings.com (this will cover most retail)
- Commission Junction (individual store and retail programs)
- Viral Tag (Pinterest PinIt Button Plugins for your blog to share with others)
- Zaycon Fresh (Nationwide, High Paying Meat Co-Op company)
- Educents (great site for mom blogs, homeschool blogs, kids activities blog)
- Share A Sale (individual store and retail programs)
- Impact Radius (individual store and retail programs)
Join Influencer Networks for Sponsors to easily find you
(note: some of these require a minimum social following, if you don’t have that yet, reapply when you do)
We will be expanding this list as we continue teaching expanding our own knowledge of the best tools and resources for starting a website. We would love to have you share any other resources (as a comment below) that you come across as well.