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As a new blogger, I’ve made a list of blogging resources for which I am truly thankful. I am of the generation that didn’t get brakes on their first bikes, let alone a helmet. So although I have been around computers since they started up, the Internet was (and, honestly, still is) magic. And I’m a Muggle. Without a helmet still.
How did I get into this?
Pure naivete. I did check out a lot of blogs, and looked into various aspects of the business. In the end, though, I should not have believed that a blog can be started in fifteen minutes. There doesn’t seem to be a good way to do this as part-time as I’d like, either. But it has potential for someone who is heading into retirement and wants extra money. If you like to write, like to help others, and like to learn, blogging’s a good outlet.
P.S. It also helps to be stubborn!
A good foundation.
First of all, a newbie like me needs a lot of support so I looked for a professional web host. I selected Siteground. For only $3.95 a month to start I could get a website with a domain in a system that would grow with me. When I signed up I got a call from them just to say Hi and Welcome. Boy. was that a surprise! Their documentation taught me a lot already. For the most part setting up has been pretty easy.
Siteground has excellent security. I have had no trouble since my startup. They make their own patches, not content to rely on someone else’s fixes, and they don’t wait around. My site loads fast, even on my tablet, and their benchmarked speeds are easily twice as fast as the average web host’s load times. If I were to need tech support, someone would answer the phone right away, not whenever. Or I could get fast responses via chat or ticket. So far most of my concerns were solved with their documentation.
Siteground offers WordPress, which is free, to organize the website into something that works, without having to manipulate a lot of code. Ideal for me, because not only can you figure WordPress out with all the nice tutorials, but WordPress has lots of plugins to help out. WordPress also has plenty of themes, or design schemes, to choose from. Maybe someday I’ll get fancy but for now I am content that it works.
Plugins are little programs to attach to WordPress to add functions to it that you may want. Most are free. The trick is to add only what you need so they don’t bog your site down. A slow site isn’t fun for your readers.
My hallelujah plugin is called, prosaically, Insert Headers and Footers. To find it, or any plugin, you go to Plugins on the left-side menu of your WordPress dashboard, select Add, and put the name or kind of plugin into the search box. WordPress will come up with bunches of them. Pick the one you want, install and activate. It’s that easy.
Anyway, Insert Headers and Footers will let you copy and paste code snippets that connect your site to others into the right places in your website’s brains. This becomes very important when you go to monetize a blog. Or if you’re terrified of code. I actually lost sleep over this issue, so finding Insert Headers and Footers was like a miracle!
Definitely get Google Analytics so you can find out how your blog is doing for traffic. You need to get that and a plugin to mate it up to your site. I use Monster Insights to interpret the data for me.
And to help me with search engine optimization (SEO), I totally love Yoast. Yoast teaches you how to use keywords and other lovelies to make your blog show up on Google and other search engines better. Not only that, but it helps you connect your site to Pinterest.
Speaking of Pinterest…
Of all the social media sites, Pinterest has the distinction of being THE place to promote your blog. Once you have a business account with them and connect them to your site, you can make “rich pins” (enhanced with connections to your site) and use them to promote your work. It’s really an exercise in following directions. If I can do it, so can you. Pinterest has pretty good documentation too.
I am a slow grower at blogging but until I got up and running with a business account on Pinterest I had zero traffic. Now you are reading this. Let me tell you, it feels really good!
Don’t forget the email!
Now, all of this is to get people to read your blog. Hopefully some will sign up to get a periodic newsletter and learn what you’re going to give your audience next. To get that process started I turned to MailerLite. They are quite sharp when it comes to email marketing. Not only that, they are inexpensive for beginners–free till you have 1,000 subscribers–but you can stay with them as you grow. They have features such as landing pages, automated campaigns, and fancy emails you can use to promote products and get more interest in what you are saying. They have a set of comparisons with other mail services on their site that will help you decide what to do.
Bloggers as resources
One thing about blogging is that the blogosphere is a community of sorts. Bloggers don’t compete as much as they might; instead they help one another out. I learned a lot from bloggers when I was considering starting my own. I’m still learning.
Obstacle.co is the blogging website I learn most from. Written by a no-nonsense guy who knows a thing or two, this blog tells you plainly what you need to do to succeed at blogging as a business. He also offers courses and runs the Billionaire Blog Club, a community of bloggers who support one another as they grow their blogs. The Billionaire Blog Club offers courses, books and collaborative discussion groups to members like me. For non-members, courses and books are still available a la carte. Check it out!
Like any business, blogs are subject to laws. My favorite legal blog, Jade Oak, lays out some of the top concerns we should address to blog safely. Jackie is an attorney who also blogs, so she has a valuable perspective on the business. She sells information and templates that help you put together the policies you need to operate within regulations. If you follow her a while you can learn a lot.
I also follow several blogs to keep up with my niche. They help me stay in touch with developments in my area of interest. I learn from their comments sections while I wait for my own to grow, and I try to refine my own little corner of the world. I have commented on their blogs and hope they’ll come comment on mine.
So there you have it. One clueless newbie blogger’s favorite things that go into building a blog in more than fifteen minutes. I love these particular services, sites and plugins because they have been helpful above and beyond expectations. Some have pulled the fat out of the fire for me when I got stuck not knowing what to do. Others just plain work great. I hope you have success with them as I have.
Have you found particular blogging resources you treasure?