Unbelievably, a blog has multiple moving parts! And creating and running a blog involves many different blogging resources on the back-end to make a blog look, feel and function in the way that the blogger envisions on the front-end.
Are you considering becoming a blogger yourself? Don’t wait. Start today! I took my leap in late July 2012, have never looked back and have loved every minute of this journey!
This ever-changing, evolving list provides blogging resources needed to get a blog up-and-running. Currently, I use the products and services listed below on my blog and have been happy with the results.
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links below are affiliates links and if you decide to make a purchase through these links, I will earn a commission on that product at no additional cost to you. Also, I have personally used the products listed below and recommend them because they are helpful and useful products, not because of the small commission I make if you decide to buy something. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.
Amazon Disclosure: Toot Sweet 4 Two is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.
WordPress – this is the web software used for Toot Sweet 4 Two. All websites and blogs need a web software program to create sites. The software is free – depending on whether you are a hosted site (WordPress.com) or a self-hosted site (WordPress.org) determines whether you will need a hosting company. Toot Sweet 4 Two is a self-hosted site and runs on the WordPress.org software program. WordPress is at the top of my list as one of the most important blogging resources.
Dreamhost – all self-hosted blogs need a hosting company! Toot Sweet 4 Two is a self-hosted WordPress.org site and Dreamhost is the hosting company.
Genesis – this product from StudioPress is the framework of Toot Sweet 4 Two’s design. The Genesis Framework is one of the most popular ones out there and is used by some of the web’s most popular bloggers, like Darren Rowse of ProBlogger and Lindsay and Bjork Ostrom of Pinch of Yum. In addition to a framework, a “child theme” is needed for the overall blog design.
Child Theme – another product from StudioPress, the “theme” is the overall design of the blog. StudioPress offers a wide range of themes to choose from. Toot Sweet 4 Two uses a custom theme.
Free WordPress Themes – not ready to purchase a “premium” theme right out of the gate? A treasure trove of inspiration, WordPress has tons of free themes available if you’re looking to start a blog but need to keep your start-up costs down. Always check the theme’s rating before downloading and installing it on your blog; I recommend choosing themes with a four or five star rating.
Toot Sweet 4 Two, launched in late July 2012, started on a free WordPress theme. Exploring what is available out there, I changed themes about 5 times (it’s fun and easy to do!). By October 2012, I knew I needed to take the leap and hire a professional designer. By February 2013, our new redesign was launched on The Genesis Framework with a custom theme.
Food Blogger Pro – Bjork and Lindsay Ostrom, the successful team at Pinch of Yum, have created a second website, Food Blogger Pro, for those seeking to start a food blog. There are two primary components of the site: the video training and the community forum. With over 250+ video tutorials, the team at Food Blogger Pro leads you step-by-step using visual video tutorials from the first moments of starting a food blog to growing and monetizing a food blog. And, it includes a robust section all about food photography and using a DSLR camera…and more!
The annual fee is worth the investment for the serious blogger, and even non-food bloggers can benefit from the course and I consider this one of the best blogging resources available. Plus, the community forum is an active place where you can go to get questions answered by other food bloggers. Want to know more about Bjork and Lindsay? They are such an inspirational couple that I wrote a post about them once, in my early days as a blogger: Salted Maple Pecan Pie Bars from Pinch of Yum (please forgive the poor photography in this post!).
Mom Blog to Money Blog – this online workshop is for women who have been blogging at least 3 months and want to know everything that Laurie Turk, creator of the series and founder of the site, Tip Junkie, has learned over her 5 years of blogging. Tackling one concept a day, this self-paced workshop is designed so that in 31-days, you’ll understand the process of taking your start-up blog to the next level. I met Lori, for the first time, at a blog conference I attended. A great motivational speaker, her particular segment of the conference was so powerful that it resonates with me still today.
PicMonkey – I love PicMonkey! All the photographs on my site are edited using PicMonkey. Easy to use, PicMonkey offers many of their basic editing tools free of charge. Upgrading to PicMonkey Royale for full access to their broad range of editing tools is available for a small monthly fee or an annual fee. Need help with learning to use this photo editing software? I’ve written many tutorials, which you can access here:
- PicMonkey Basics: Getting Started
- PicMonkey Basics: Edit a Photo
- PicMonkey Basics: Touch Up a Photo
- PicMonkey Basics: Design Your Own
- PicMonkey Basics: Create a Collage
- How to Make a Horizontal Photo a Pinterest-friendly Vertical Photo using PicMonkey
- Oh, The Things You Can Think: 15 PicMonkey Effect to Make Your Photos Pop!
and, many more! Like I said, I love that Monkey and consider this site one of my essential blogging resources!
Tasty Food Photography – written by Lindsay Ostrom, the photographer, recipe-developer and founder of Pinch of Yum (and, with her husband Bjork their newest venture, Food Blogger Pro), this easy-to-read ebook is a “must have” for the budding food blogger. Not only will it help you understand the major component of food photography and food styling, it will help you improve your food photography. The added bonus is that it will help improve your photography overall!
Easy Recipe – a free WordPress plugin that makes your recipe “pretty” and printable. Plus, as the name implies, it’s easy to use! Easy Recipe Plus is the premium version, available for an annual fee, that allows you to choose from several formats and includes your photo in the recipe, plus a couple of other cool features.
InLinkz – used by link party hosts everywhere, InLinkz is a blogging linkup tool and project manager that is easy to use for both the hostess and linky party participants. I developed my “Linky Party Central” page using this tool.
Akismet – Akismet is a spam prevention plugin, stopping spamming comments to your site used by blogs and websites worldwide.
Google AdSense – make advertising revenue on your site by placing ads in your website/blog. Google AdSense is free, but you have to register for an account plus you have to be a blog for a specific amount of time before you can apply.
Google Analytics – Google’s free website tracking and analytic tool. Once your blog is up and running, install it right away to start tracking your traffic. Need help with understanding the basics of Google Analytic’s? I’ve written a 5-part series to get you started, which you can access here:
- Google Analytics: The Basics
- Google Analytics: A Peek into Reports
- Google Analytics: Analyzing and Understanding the Audience Report
- Google Analytics: Analyzing and Understanding the Acquisition Report
- Google Analytics: Analyzing and Understanding the Behavior Report
How to Grow Your Blog – this ebook written by 30+ top bloggers, is 179-pages of tips, tricks and tutorials to grow your blog. Well worth the price!
Blog, Inc. – written by Joy Cho, the creative designer of the award-winning blog, Oh Joy!, this book is an overview of the many parts of the blogging journey from the very basics of choosing your niche and finding your voice to monetization and beyond. Joy’s book it the very first book on blogging that I read. For the novice thinking about creating a blog, this book gives you good information for a solid start.
ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income – written by blogging gurus Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett, this is a must-read for anyone serious about taking the leap to professional blogging. Darren is the mastermind behind ProBlogger.net and Digital Photography School and Chris is the genius over at chrisg.com. This is the 2nd book on blogging that I read before taking the leap and their book shows readers the possibilities for revenue streams via blogging.
WordPress for Dummies – written by Lisa Sabin-Wilson, creative director of E.Webscapes Design Studio, this is a great book to have at your fingertips while you are learning to navigate the WordPress platform and dashboard. This is the 3rd book I read, when starting out. However, I didn’t buy it and start reading it until I actually signed up with a host and downloaded the WordPress.org platform. An indispensable guide to all things WordPress.
Mom Blogging for Dummies – written by Wendy Piersall, found of Woo! Jr. Kids Activities Network, this book covers soup to nuts for the “Mom” blogger. When I started Toot Sweet 4 Two with my niece and former blogging partner, Tiffany, we were considered a “Mom” blog. As the mother of two young girls, known collectively as the Princesses P (Princess P and Princess Sweetie Pie), Tiffany was writing about the joys and challenges of being a mother. So, if you are considering a “Mom” blog, this is the perfect book to buy to help you as you begin your journey.
Food Blogging for Dummies – written by Kelly Senyei, creator of the blog, Just A Taste, this book covers all aspects of food blogging in the classic “Dummies” format. After about 6 months of blogging, I realized that we would have to “step up” our game when is came to recipe development and food photography. So, I bought Kelly’s book! It opened my eyes to the many aspects of food blogging and is a good resource to have on-hand. Semi redundant to “Mom Blogging for Dummies“, you don’t really need both, unless of course, you are going to be both a Mom blogger and a food blogger!
Need help with understanding the ins-and-outs of social media? These “Dummies” books are good reference guides and blogging resources to help you learn the ropes!
Pinterest for Dummies – by Kelby Carr, founder of Type-A Parent and Type-A Parent Conference and author of 5 books. When we started blogging, Pinterest was new and you needed to be “invited” to join! Kelby’s book is a great resource on all things Pinterest, especially if this is a new social platform for you.
Facebook for Dummies – by Carolyn Abram, former Facebook product manager. Again, this is a great book if Facebook is a new social media platform to you and if you are just starting out on social media.
Twitter for Dummies – by Laura Fitton (founder of oneforty.com, a portal for Twitter services), Michael E. Gruen (consultant to start-ups, lending expertise on cutting-edge technologies) and Leslie Poston (founder of Uptown Uncorked, a firm offering training and consulting on social media marketing). Ditto to the above comments on social media books.
LinkedIn for Dummies – by Joel Elad, MBA, coauthor of Facebook Advertising for Dummies. Ditto…
Google+ for Dummies – by Jesse Stay, a software developer and author of 3 social media books. Ditto…
StumbleUpon for Dummies – by Steve Olenski (a contributing writer to Forbes, Business Insider and others) and Nick Robinson (a social media manager in the technology industry). Ditto…
Tumblr for Dummies – by Sue Jenkins, founder of LuckyChair.com and author of several books. Ditto…
Want to stretch your wings further? A few more “Dummies” books of value as blogging resources:
Search Engine Optimization for Dummies – by Peter Kent, an e-commerce consultant specializing in search engine optimization (SEO).
You Tube for Dummies – by Doug Sahlin (author of Building Flash Web Sites for Dummies) and Chris Botello (artist and retoucher, NBC TV).
Beginning HTML5 and CSS3 for Dummies – by Ed Tittle and Chris Minnick, web developers, teachers and authors.
Are you wondering why I’ve recommend so many hard copy books as blogging resources on the many aspects of blogging? Isn’t most of this information available online and possibly even free? I’m sure the answer to the second question is “yes” – there are infinite blog posts on blogging resources out there in the universe, but navigating that universe can be tricky!
I don’t know about you, but I just can’t be “online” all the time! I can’t be sitting in front of my desktop computer screen or reading from my tablet or even from the itty bitty screen of my iPhone all.the.time! Personally, I like to curl up on my couch or in a big chair in front of the fire with a hot drink, especially on a cold, rainy day! Conversely, I like to stretch out on a chaise by my pool with a cold drink on a hot summer day!
Books allow me to do that and enjoy the experience without straining my eyes and dealing with searching online for info and running into roadblocks! Love books – and, they still have a place in our world today!
Check back periodically to see what’s new, what’s been changed and updated on this blogging resources page. After all, we are all changing and growing every day and so is this blog!