Want a helping hand with growing your blog?
I’m sharing the blogging resources that have helped transformed my blog into my full-time job.
There are lots of great blogging resources out there but it can be difficult to weed out the ones that are really worth their weight in gold from those that are a huge waste of cash!
Having wasted my money on far too many things while trying to grow my blog, I hope this post will help you zero in on the stuff that can actually help and save you some precious pennies.
Before I get to the resources that will help grow your blog, I want to chat about a few things that I don’t recommend spending huge amounts of cash on at the start.
Related post: How to start a money-making blog
This post contains affiliate links.
Resources to avoid when growing your blog
Expensive and slow plugins
There are some plugins that can really help your site, and a lot that ultimately will just slow it down and cost you money.
Think twice about the plugins you install on your website and whether you actually need them.
One example is the Yoast plugin. There’s a free version and a paid-for version. For the purposes of SEO, you don’t need to pay for the all-singing, all-dancing version of Yoast to get good Google traffic. You can do that simply by following the best practices for SEO.
Some plugins, such as ones that help reduce size of images and speed up your site, are well worth investing in.
Others that add a lot of weight to your blog will simply slow the site down and provide a less user-friendly experience.
So before permanently adding any plugins to your site, think about whether you really need them, check the reviews, ask blogging experts in blogging forums what they think and test the plugin’s impact on your site speed.
Related post: Ultimate SEO checklist
Loads of blog themes
Do you get shiny object syndrome when it comes to a new theme for your blog? Me too!
Every time I thought I had a WordPress theme that I loved, then I saw something else that looked cooler.
The thing is though they cost around £50 per theme and actually your user isn’t going to keep coming back to your site just because it looks pretty. They will keep coming back because the content is awesome.
Your site does need to have a few aesthetic and practical things going for it. You do want it to look professional and have a site structure that makes it easy for people to navigate.
But every time you change theme, it costs you money and if you’re treating your blog as a business then you need to control your outgoings. So think twice before you buy a brand new theme just because it looks pretty.
This is also largely because some themes can seriously slow down your website, and a slower site will get less traffic. Google prefers to refer traffic to sites that have decent site speed (you can check your site speed in Google Page Speed Insights).
Plus a faster website makes for a much better user experience.
So find a theme you love, and stick with it. We will talk more about blog themes later in this post.
I really recommend the BluChic WordPress themes, they’re beautiful and built for speed.
Tons of props and stuff
It can be particularly tempting when you’re trying to grow your Instagram following to fork out a ton of cash on clothes, props and flowers that make your pictures prettier.
When you’re bombarded with images from successful accounts with nice clothes, home decor and stuff, it’s easy to assume you need to try and emulate this to be big on the platform.
The trouble is everything you spend is taking money away from your profits.
Try not to get carried away with buying a whole bunch of stuff to place into your images, because ultimately this won’t help you grow your Instagram following. That will happen with time and engagement with the Insta community.
There are some props that are worth investing in for your blog, and we will get to those in a minute.
ALL the courses
I am going to recommend some courses in this blog post, but there are so so many out there and honestly a lot of the information that can help you is available for free online (we will get to that shortly).
When you get started out in blogging you will probably come across post after post from bloggers talking about how this “one course” was a game changer for them.
Again, courses can be really valuable but every penny you spend on a course is money out of your profits. Treat your blog like a business from day one!
Remember that there’s only so much time you actually have, so buying all the courses you see is a huge time commitment. Read up on what the course contains and ask fellow bloggers for a review of what they thought of the course.
The best blogging resources for a money-making blog
Whether you’re just starting out or trying to increase your blog earnings, one of the first things to get right is your hosting for your blog.
I’ve mentioned above that the speed of your blog is really important.
If your blog loads up quickly then your user is more likely to stay on your site. If it’s slow to load, they may click away before even getting to the end of your blog post. This sends a signal to Google that your blog isn’t popular with users and can hit your rankings.
Site speed is impacted by several key things including:
- Your host.
- Your blog theme.
- What plugins you have running on your site.
So to start on a steady foundation, find a great blog host that will provide great speed for your site.
When you’re just starting out you may want to consider BlueHost, which is super good value for money at only £2.95. It’s perfect for when you are just working to scale up your blog content and grow your blog and want to keep expenses down!
Other hosting companies that get great reviews for speed and customer service include Agathon and BigScoots. However these companies are a little more expensive, and maybe something to look at when your blog is turning over a little more cash for you.
A super fast theme
As I mentioned above, your website theme has a huge impact on your site speed.
A theme that looks pretty and professional and claims to be “responsive” is not necessarily going to be a fast theme.
For a good WordPress theme recommendation ask around fellow bloggers on blog groups on Facebook.
Astra regularly gets amazing reviews from bloggers for speed. There is a free version and a paid-for one with more options for customisation.
BluChic is also extremely popular with bloggers. The themes are gorgeous and easy to use, plus their customer service is excellent.
My theme on my parenting blog is Trellis and was purchased from Mediavine, who put the ads on my site. It’s caused my site speed to skyrocket. My only issue with it is that it’s not particularly pretty and doesn’t have a ton of customisation options.
BUT since I installed it my Google traffic has really grown. I’ve been doing other things as well which will have helped, but I’m sure my website speed has really helped with this.
Images are essential for your website. While you may take some great pictures yourself, and this is especially important if you have a food blog, sometimes stock images will work better.
You can get free stock photos from sites like Pixabay but the choice is quite limited.
I like to get my stock photos from Shutterstock and DepositPhotos. Shutterstock is quite pricey but has brilliant choice – basically whatever you can think of they have a picture of it.
DepositPhotos is great because they run a sale every now and then where you can buy a bundle of 100 stock photos of your choice for $39, or around £28.
While we are on the subject of photos, taking your own pictures of products for review or dishes for recipe posts is made much easier if you have some pretty backdrops to set them.
It could be that you have a lovely kitchen table or kitchen surface that lends itself really well for flatlay photography and you don’t need backdrops.
You could make your own DIY backdrops with a plain sheet but it’s easier, in my experience, to use vinyl backdrops that you can lay flat on the floor near a window to take advantage of the natural light.
I bought my backdrops from Capture by Lucy. They are great quality and she has such a lovely range of styles for you to use!
They are fab for food bloggers or if you want to photograph products for review on your blog.
I do not know what I would do without Canva! It’s a graphic design platform where you can create social media posts, graphics for your blog and free printables for your audience.
I use it most for my Pinterest pins, and what’s great is the free version has everything you need!
Canva has templates you can work from but these days I tend to create my own designs. There’s such a great range of fonts and graphics you can use to make your designs look really amazing.
I do also use PicMonkey for graphic design, which costs me around £77 a year. I like PicMonkey because it has a few extra effects you can put on your images in the editing process. But if you’re just getting started Canva has absolutely everything you need.
I have about 40 to 50 Pinterest templates saved in Canva and PicMonkey that I use regularly. Once I’ve written a new post all I need to do is open my template, change the wording and add a relevant picture.
Designing Pinterest templates takes time that could be spent writing new blog posts for your site.
You can save yourself time by either using the free templates that Canva provides on its free membership or purchase some.
They’re pretty cheap to buy and there are many bloggers out there who sell bundles of cool templates that you download into Canva and then customise with your own colours and words.
I’ve been using Pinterest templates from Carly, the author of Pinteresting Strategies (more on that course shortly), in the last few weeks and they are amazing!
It doesn’t have to be top of the line stuff, but a good computer and smartphone are pretty much top of the list when it comes to what you need to blog.
Yes you could do without the computer when starting out, but really you will find it so much easier to create graphics, write content and make changes to your website with a decent computer.
Your smartphone is essential for keeping up with social media but the cameras on smartphones are so good these days that you will also use it to get at least some of your images for your blog too.
When it comes to YouTube and vlogging, a proper camera is the way to go. I use the Sony G7X Mark II which has been great and very easy to use. Plus it’s nice and compact for filming on the go.
Free learning resources for bloggers
There are some amazing free learning resources out there for bloggers where you can pick up pretty much everything you need to know about the crucial blogging skills such as:
- Getting started with your blog and what to write about.
- Writing good blog posts.
- Social media.
These are my favourite places to pick up amazing blogging tips. It really is incredible that these places offer so much information for free!
The Income School YouTube channel has an absolute wealth of information about finding keywords for your blog posts, writing great content and blogging strategy.
The team from Income School offers a paid-for course called Project 24 which I have heard amazing things about too. But they offer a ton of information for free on their YouTube channel so start there and check out what they have to offer!
The Backlinko website contains tons of information about SEO. It’s incredibly detailed and constantly updated.
The Moz website is where you can find out your site’s DA, or Domain Authority. Your DA refers to your site’s authority in the eyes of search engines.
It’s based on how many back links you have and the quality of the sites those links come from.
But Moz also contains a wealth of information about SEO, improving your DA and creating great content.
Blogger groups on Facebook
I get so many of my ideas and knowledge just from lurking on blogging groups on Facebook.
There are tons out there and ones specifically for pretty much every niche.
And finally blogging courses can really help you up your blogging game.
Some blogging courses have the added bonus of giving you access to amazing communities, such as Facebook groups, that have a wealth of extra knowledge and support.
The courses that I really rate, have used and would genuinely recommend as being worth the money are:
This course is by Carly, a parenting blogger in the US, and it really is a brilliant overview of how to get started with Pinterest and up your game.
I get tens of thousands of hits from Pinterest every month so it really is a great source of reliable traffic.
Pinteresting Strategies sets out how to make your profile and group boards optimised for the platform and then what strategy to use when pinning.
Easy on-page SEO
This ebook is written by Debbie Gartner who runs a successful interiors blog which gets hundreds of thousands of page views from Google every month.
She shares her strategy for writing great blog posts for SEO purposes in this brilliant ebook. It’s a brilliant, straight-to-the-point guide that will show you how to format your blog posts.
I recently purchased Debbie’s SEO book on back links for your blog and honestly am learning so so much for that book too.
If you buy both Debbie offers a really great discount so check that out here.
Final thoughts on resources for bloggers
I hope this has given you some good ideas for blogging resources that could help you up your blog game.
My ultimate recommendation is you treat your blog like a business from day one and manage your spending on your site. Stick to the stuff you really need that will help your blog to grow and if you’re ever unsure ask fellow bloggers in blog forums on Facebook what they think of a resource before purchasing.