I created this resource page to easily reference the services, products, and companies that I use regularly and/or those I know are valuable. This way you can quickly find great products and services all in one place. Save time and money right here, right now!
Disclosure: There are some affiliate links below. For these, I might receive a nominal commission for purchases made through links in this post. Be aware that these are all products I highly recommend. I won’t put anything on this page that I haven’t researched and am comfortable with endorsing to my friends.
This post was updated in November 2018.
- General Resources
- Writing Resources
- Photography and Graphics Resources
- Blogging Resources for Beginners
- More Blogging Resources
- WordPress Plugins (for Blogging)
- Productivity Resources
Let’s get started with some amazing resources to increase your presence as a writer. I struggled with Pinterest and Instagram. I didn’t understand the “formula” for ensuring consistent, relevant posts on these social media platforms. The Tailwind premium program was a game changer for me. I learned so much about social media. It’s not likely that I’ll ever become an expert in social media, but I’ve quickly moved from novice to proficient, with the help of the Tailwind premium program. For a few dollars each month, I have access to a wealth of knowledge and all the tools that I need to improve presence on both Pinterest and Instagram. Here’s a quick video to show you how to do the same. Enjoy!
I love to write and am fairly meticulous about my writing. However, when I am in a rush to finish a blog post or magazine article, I am so relieved to have *Grammarly as my backup. This program includes real-time grammar and spell-checking services with a convenient icon on my Google Chrome browser bar. I use the premium version (and have for several years), but it’s great to know that there is a free version to try it out.
Photography and Graphics Resources
Creative Market is one of several resources that I use for graphics and stock photography. There’s even more on this site, though. Whether you need custom fonts or complex illustrations, they’ve got you covered. Sign up for a free account and you will not only get the weekly newsletter of industry trends, but you will also receive six free graphic surprises every Monday!
TinyPNG is an online tool to reduce the file size for PNG and JPG files. I use this before uploading the image to WordPress. There is a Pro version, but I’ve been completely satisfied with the free version which will compress up to 20 images of up to 5MB each in a single session. For me, that’s enough. The site also mentions products available as WordPress plugins and a recently released Photoshop plugin.
If you are ready to accelerate your traffic and social media visibility, Pinterest is likely an element of your strategy. When I started using Pinterest consistently (and getting amazing results), I decided to invest in Tailwind. *The Tailwind program is a wonderful productivity tool and reduced my work effort by hours each week. Now, using Tailwind, I schedule pins each week in less than 30 minutes and have more time for interaction and reading posts that are in my niche.
Blogging Resources for Beginners
Are you ready to start a blog? Read my step by step action plan For Beginners: How to Start Your First Amazing Blog for a step by step action guide (screenshot by screenshot). It’s easy with Bluehost as your web hosting service. I’ve been using Bluehost since 2012.
As a new blogger, the price point makes it easy for you to give blogging a try…if you find that it’s not your thing, then you are not out hundreds of dollars. If blogging is all you ever want in life, Bluehost has you covered as your blog grows. I’m a happy customer and continue to recommend the team at Bluehost for hosting and domain services.
After you secure your hosting and domain through Bluehost you will need a theme you covered as your blog grows. There are free themes available in WordPress. As your blog grows, you will discover that the paid themes provide significant value for the investment. As a paid theme, I recommend the Divi 3.0 theme system from Elegant Themes.
Hosting – The provider that keeps your blog site engine running
Domain – A monthly or annual expense for your URL. The URL is typed into a web browser (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc) to go to your web page. This is not a real site, but as an example, the domain looks like http://www.myblog.com.
Theme – The layout on display for everyone who visits your blog. There are hundreds of themes. Find some sites that you like and then use WPThemeDetector to learn all about the theme and the site’s plug-ins.
I’m a huge fan of Suzi Whitford’s classes. I have purchased Blog by Number, Theme by Number, List by Number, and eBook by Number. I’m working on an eBook about time management and have another eBook in a draft – specific to crochet blogging and channeling creativity into a profitable business. I’m tapping into my degrees in accounting and marketing, along with 30+ years of corporate finance work and showing you exactly how I apply these skills to a tiny one-person biz, operating from a home office with limited, part-time hours.
If you’re not earning money through affiliate marketing, then you are leaving money on the table. There’s nothing secret about affiliate marketing, but to make money, you will need some skills. Isn’t it the same for any money-making venture?
I tried affiliate marketing for years, but with little to show for my effort. I was beginning to feel lost and stuck. Then I learned that I simply didn’t have the right tools for making affiliate marketing work for me, my blog, and my readers. I started learning. Isn’t that the same for any new skill? Gotta learn something before the benefits come in!
Michelle earns over $50,000 a month through affiliate marketing, and she shares all of her best tips in this course, Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. The title of the course is perfect; it truly does make sense of everything about Affiliate Marketing.
Every successful business relies on metrics and measurements to assess business performance. As your blog grows, you may want to create an income stream with blogging. That’s where Google Analytics comes in. This free online tool will give you critical data about your blog performance, your online audience, and how many people you reach with your site. The word “reach” is a business term for bloggers and social media influencers and represents the blog’s overall influence. Activate Google Analytics early in your blogging activity and you will have valuable data as your blog grows.
A plug in is a little program that can make a world of difference to how your blog appears to the end user (your customer) or even how quickly the blog loads on various devices. For WordPress blogs, there is a nifty website named “WPTheme Detector” that not only displays the theme for a blog but will show you the active plugins. This library will include my favorite plugins, but you will need to experiment a bit with plugins. Some plugins will have code conflicts with your chosen theme and cause unexpected issues on your site. When that happens, just deactivate the plugin and try another one.
Yoast SEO Search Engine Optimization is the process of identifying keywords and searchable phrases that will link your website content to the search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo!, GoodSearch, etc). Yoast SEO is the most widely used SEO plugin. This plugin provides a real-time scorecard (with red, yellow and green lights) to let you know if you have covered the major points needed for effective SEO.
Jetpack by WordPress.com is a swiss army knife offering site security and tools to help you increase online traffic to your site.
W3 Total Cache is another tool that I use on my sites. This plugin improves your site by increasing website speed and reducing download times. It’s a “clean-up” program. When I ran the PageSpeed Insights program (free), I had significant errors and issues. W3 Total Cache was one of the key tools for improving my page speed and load times.
Another favorite plugin is the Google Analytics for WordPress plugin. This tool puts my Google Analytics statistics right in the backend of my site, visible on the dashboard. I capture key metrics in the Google Analytics tool monthly, but this plugin gives me a closer view on day-by-day changes – and is immediately available whenever I log into my blog.
Akismet is a super-reliable (and valuable) plugin. It checks your comments to flag spam and to prevent your site from publishing malicious content. When it catches comment spam, you can review the text to determine if it is acceptable or truly is spam.
Broken Link Checker – So here’s a little lesson about blogging. My Crochet Getaway site is all about crocheting conferences and events. I wrote dozens of pages about times and places for various crochet and yarn activities. I linked these to the event website. Surprise, surprise…after the event, the sites were often canceled, resulting in a broken link on my site. Then I discovered the Broken Link Checker plugin which checks the entire blog for broken links and gives me a list to update (remove links) or change to the next years’ event site.
I had dabbled with WooCommerce as a plugin, but could not quite get it to work the way I wanted, so I deleted it. Fast forward by a year, and I was searching for a way to give away free patterns on my Crochet Getaway site. Thinking ahead, I may someday want to have some fee-based content on the site, too. Easy Digital Downloads was the perfect solution and truly is easy. It was running flawlessly in about an hour. Whether it is printables, documents, photos, e-books, or any other type of media file, Easy Digital Downloads is the answer for new bloggers. Note: There are many e-commerce programs for larger blogs with a lot of product offers. Getting started, this easy plugin may be all that you need to test market your ideas (for free).
Oh, don’t get me started on this one! It’s a real winner! At the beginning of 2017, I decided to focus on organizing my blog activity. PublishPress is promoted as the essential plugin for any WordPress site with multiple writers, but this editorial calendar is ideal when there is only one writer. PublishPress includes organization and productivity tools. The Editorial Calendar has 5 weeks of visible content in a calendar layout. In addition, there are fields to capture thoughts about the key points of the blog post and status bars for keeping right on track.
When I was ready to upgrade my email service (and focus on building connections with my customers), I chose *Convertkit and it’s a decision I’ll never regret. This is not a free service, but the monthly expense has been a good investment in my business. I implemented the program on July 2, 2017. Just 37 days later I had 89 subscribers to my email sequences and broadcasts. I love how easy it is to add opt in freebie items to my blog posts using *Convertkit and the metrics are exactly what I need to keep track of my business growth.
Affiliate Programs for Bloggers
*Amazon Associates was the first affiliate program used to monetize my Crochet Getaway blog site. The blog’s main theme is crochet conferences and seminars, but as I expanded the site to include patterns and yarn selections, I was able to utilize the Amazon Associates program to include affiliate links for yarn and crochet tools. There is no charge to sign up for the program and if the product selections fit your blog audience, you will soon see click throughs and purchases on the Amazon Associates toolbar in your browser window.
*AWIN – Formerly known as Affiliate Window, the Awin.com network has a wonderful WordPress plugin that converts text references in blog posts into affiliate links. How cool is that? I became an AWIN affiliate in the spring of 2017, after meeting their staff at the TBEX (Travel Bloggers Exchange) event in Huntsville, Alabama. The network is huge and I’ve been able to find success with promotion both niche and general products to my target audiences.