My personal tool belt to help you build a blog or business online
If you are on my website, you are probably looking for “How to Build a Blog”. I know what it feels like searching the internet for a blueprint that outlines all the resources necessary to setup a blog.
Below are many resources — some FREE and some paid.
I believe these are some of the best resources on the internet to help you setup your blog.
This list is not conclusive but only a starting point for you to start your blog. I will update this page often with more tools for managing your blogging business.
Please note: the products I list, are products that I use and trust. Some of the products that I recommend, will earn me a small commission for promoting. I believe you will be very pleased with their the products.
The Top 3 resources required to Build a Blog
- Web hosting provider
- CMS (content management system) platform,
- a tool for creating and growing your email list
- and service for setting up an automated drip campaigns.
Don’t worry, I will walk you through the process. Let’s gets started.
I will reference the resources as Tools
1st Tool for your Tool Belt – Purchasing a Domain Name
Your domain name is a unique name that no two people own, like a phone number or a social security number.
Try to think of a creative name. If you are going to blog you might want to use your name to build your brand or if you prefer a business name. Domain names are pretty cheap. You can have as many as you like. You can redirect each name to the active url. For example. Lets say you want to blog about flowers. You can create one domain called roses, another lily, and another tulip. If someone types in roses.com they get redirected to lily.com or redirected to tulip.com But keep in mind, you will have to pay for each domain name for the life of the website.
There are several places to register for a domain name. I recommend you use MyDomain because they are very cheap. They provide all kinds of services from web hosting to email to website design.
You can’t go wrong with either company.
2nd tool for your tool belt — Hosting Your Site
For the newbie that is new to technology terms, let me explain what is web hosting. Web hosting is a term used for businesses to provide a service that allows a business or individual, like yourself, to place a website on the internet. They provide the infrastructure/technologies that allows companies to install “software” to create webpages to be viewed by anyone with a public domain name. The software is installed on a server – which is a fancy name for a computer.
Web hosting companies have made it very easy to select a hosting plan, create a website, and connect your domain name to the website. I have gone through this process many time and have created numerous website sites for friends and family. You can do it in 30 minutes. If you need assistance, let me know. There are many hosting companies. You can spend hours evaluating the pro’s and con’s of each one. After a few hours, you will begin pulling the hair out of your head. I have already done the evaluation process. I recommend Blue Host. They are one of the leaders in web hosting and the cheapest, plus you get a FREE domain name.
Another option is WPEngine WPEngine is a web hosting platform that promotes its service for WordPress CMS sites. If you are seeking a provider that does the heavy lifting for you, then go with WPEngine. Here is a snapshot of the different plans — don’t hold me to these prices. It is only a screen shot.
3rd Tool for your Tool Belt – Blog Design
Blog design will be the hardest part of creating your blog, unless you are going to have a professional web designer and programmer design the UI/UX and code the blog or site for you. I can guarantee you, it will cost you a boat load of money. On the other hand…
If you will be creating your blog or business yourself, you might want to consider purchasing a theme template. A theme template is a pre-made design. The layout is already created. All you do is add your specific details, color theme, company logo, pictures, video, and text. I recommend ThemeForest. They offer many varieties of templates – for blogging, eCommerce, business, etc…
Another favorite of mine is Elegant Theme. Elegant Themes provides awesome pre-build blog and website layouts. I have used both of these providers over the years and believe in their quality and customer support. Read more HERE
The theme I am using for this website is by Themify. The theme is called Themify Ultra. It is a simple, clean format. Depending on what your plans are for a blog or business website, whether you are going to sell products or services, they have numerous theme layouts to choose from. There are several tutorials on YouTube that will walk you through the design process.
4th Tool for your Tool Belt – a Logo
If you are a blogger, you may or may not require a logo. I know many bloggers who create cartoon characters or emoji’s as their logo. If you are creating a logo for your business site, you may want to consider 99Designs. Besides logo work, 99Design performs digital work for media and print – everything from art illustrations to sweatshirts to packaging and labeling. They are a great resource to keep in your pocket.
Maybe you are looking to sell products or services on your blog? If you are, then you will need an eCommerce site. An eCommerce site allows for the exchange of money for a product or service. It provides the gateway to receive payment. Payment could be in the form of credit card or Paypal.
Setting up an eCommerce site is quick and easy. If you decide to setup a WordPress site, WordPress provide the ability to install a Shopify plugin that provides eCommerce capability to the website. Read more about Shopify
5th Tool for the Tool Belt for Building a Blog– Blogging Tools
Now that you have your domain name, logo, hosting provider, CMS selected, theme template designed, have your blog or businesses enabled for ecommerce, now it’s time to start building awesome sales and landing pages, membership portals, video and more using OptimizePress. OptimizePress is a marketing platform plugin used for WordPress sites. It provides the ability to create sales pages, landing pages, secure portal for video and membership programs. Many bloggers offer video training and coaching sessions using a self-paced program.
You can read all about OptimizePress.
Building your email marketing list is vital to your success on the internet. Popup Domination is another great tool to help with your marketing campaign. With Popup Domination, you get the ability to create welcome mats, exit popups, navigation signup bar, and many more capabilities. You’ve seen this type of pop-ups like below? They really do help increase subscriber ship.
6th Tool for your tool belt – Email Marketing
Now its time to put in place an email marketing tool to notify your subscribers that you posted a new blog. As a blogger or new business, your goal is to keep your subscribers coming back to your site. The more visitor’s, the greater chance that you sell your product or service. As you continue to grow your subscribers, the more valuable your blog becomes. Each subscriber is worth “X” amount of money.
I use AWeber and highly recommend it to all my clients.
Have you ever signed up for a newsletter then received a notice saying your have to confirm your subscription by click on the link to validate your opt-in? Well, that is exactly what AWeber does. It creates an automated response. I look at this tool as a life saver. The last thing you ever want to receive as a blogger or business owner is a letter from an attorney who is suing you for spamming. AWeber makes the user confirm they opted-in for your newsletter, advertisement, or email. I say it is a must have.
7th Tool for your Tool Belt – Twitter and Social Media Marketing
By now you have your website humming along. Subscribers are increasing organically by the week. Now it’s time to turn up the fire. What a better way to increase your social media presence by than scheduling tweets and/or content across all social media platforms.
Sprout Social The best Social Media management dashboard that lets your schedule and manage all your social media across all social networks in one easy to use dashboard. They offer a 30 FREE trial period. I find Sprout Social the easiest to setup and use.
If you are new to Twitter you might want to consider purchasing Twitter for Dummies from Amazon. This is a great book. I purchased it a few years ago and I learned more than I thought. I pull it out of my library occasionally.
8th Tool for your Tool Belt to Build a Blog – How to Market on Facebook
As you continue the momentum of gaining social media followers on Twitter, it is time to learn how to market on Facebook. Facebook offers a great course “Reach Far Beyond the Basics of Facebook Marketing”. The course is FREE and it is self-paced.
Here is another social media management software product.
Buffer A great simple Twitter and Facebook scheduling app. Free for individuals and very easy to use.
If you will be creating landing pages, promotions, contests or even give-a-ways on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, you may want to consider using ShortStack. It is pretty easy to use — just drag and drop to create your campaigns. ShortStack offers many plans that are based up the number of view and likes.
9th Tool for your Tool Belt to Build a Blog – Screen Capture
Screen capture provides the ability to capture digital imagery of a computer screen and audio from an output device – like a DVR. It basically records every movement and audio you perform on your computer. It provides the ability to create “How to” videos.
Screencast-O-Matic is a great tool. They offer the ability to record for FREE or purchase a PRO plan for $15/yr.
10th Tool for your Tool Belt to Build a Blog – Video Creation
Don’t start getting nervous now. Yes, I’m talking about video creation. The days of creating images and applying text to a marketing campaign to gain users are getting smaller and smaller. Users prefer to watch short video’s on a “How to”. Its time to engage with your audience using video. Pinnacle Software has been in the video editing market for a long time. They offer three options but Pinnacle Studio 20 offers more features.
This is a brand you can really trust, plus they provide great product support.
As a blogger and business owner you will need the ability to capture screen shots. I know what you are thinking, you can capture a screen shot by pressing command+4 on a Mac and by using SnipIt in Windows – very true. Snagit by Techsmith takes screen capture to the next level. Snagit provide the ability to capture a picture even when you scroll, and Snagit can create an animated gif image (animated photo).
One more piece of software you will need to market your product or service on YouTube is TubeTrackr. TubeTrackr provides the tools to help you grow YouTube views, subscribers, manage videos, track performance and YouTube ranking.
There was a product called Tube ToolBox that received very good reviews. I went to the website and notice this post:
I went Tubeassist.com and saw this message
I am pretty confident that TubeTrackr can provide all the marketing resources necessary for you to track and monitor your user engagement.
11th Tool for your Tool Belt – Selling your Products or Services
At this point in time you might be thinking about selling products and services on your blog, website, or on social media – like Facebook. If you are, you will need a service like eJunkie. eJunkie provides the ability to sell digital products, like an ebook, or non-digital products off your site. The setup process is pretty simple. All you have to do is copy some code and paste it into a text box. The code creates a Add Cart or a Buy Now button to your site. The rest of the process is fully automated.
eJunkie provides the payment gateway and works with PayPal, 2Checkout, and Authorize.net.
If you are possibly thinking about setting up an affiliate program, you might want to consider setting up a vendor account with Clickbank. Clickbank is a Global Retailer of digital downloads. Any person or business looking to sell a digital product off their website can sign up to their affiliate program. Plus, it provides the opportunity to list your digital ebook for resell. A little more complicated to setup, but it’s worth considering.
12th Tool for your Tool Belt to Build a Blog – SEO and Keyword Research
Now it time to find out what are the latest keyword trends. Google Adwords Tool is a free tool. You type in a few keywords and the results will be ranked. I use this tool to decide what I am going to write about. By using this tool, selecting the proper words, your ranking will be much higher. You will also see how much competition and volume it has. Plus, it a FREE tool
There are many other businesses that offer keyword search, check out SERPS. They offer a 30day free trial on 3 plans.
Another great tool for tracking and blog ranking is Traffic Travis. This tool evaluates your website/blog and performs a full SEO health, plus you can keep an eye on your competitors, look for clues on why they are ranking better than you, and begin building relationships with other businesses that are “backlinking” to you . It’s a pretty good SEO for beginner bloggers and small businesses.
13th Tool for your Tool Belt – How is my site performing?
Now that your website is humming along, you have your SEO providers in place, now it time to check your work. I’m pretty sure you heard of Google and their product called Google Analytics. Well, its FREE to use. Almost all website hosting companies that provide content management software, like WordPress, provide for the API integration. The API plugs Google Analytics into your website to monitor traffic and provide the analytics for you to evaluate your website. It is a must have for all bloggers and website businesses.
Another great tool is Clicky. Clicky performs like Google Analytics, but it is easier to use. Google Analytics results seemed to be delayed. Clicky allows for the ability to see what people are doing on your website in real time.
13th Tool for your Tool Belt — Outsource Your Work
One thing I have learned throughout my career is to outsource the work you are not capable doing yourself, especially when you are under a time constraint. . For example, I have no experience is graphic design or website design, but I know how to reach out to 99Designs for logo design, packaging design, website design or even business cards.
99Designs provides the portal for a blogger or small or even a large business to submit a SOW (scope of work) detailing your project requirements. All the designers review the SOW, submit their design work, and you select who you want to work with. It’s a pretty cool portal. Check them out 99Designs.
I listed more information about 99Designs above under 4th Tool for your Tool Belt
Fiverr is another portal that allows graphics artists, web designers, video and animation, content writing. It’s a competitive landscape for people to earn your business. Fiverr sells services as low as $5.00.
I have used 99Designs and Fiverr for logo design, video, and graphic works. I have never had a bad experience. Many of these talented individuals are freelancers, as well as established companies looking to grow their marketshare by offering their services online.
14th Tool for your Tool Belt – Building Links
Now that you have gotten into your daily routine of writing your blogs, you will need to submit them across social media. Your goal is to get links back to your website. You can submit them manually to top social bookmarking sites, which is time consuming or your can automate it by using Social Maximizer. Social Maximizer is a social bookmarking service that connects to 410 sites. Think of it as a portal where you create one account, not 410 different accounts to submit your content. Let them do the heavy lifting for you.
Now that you are getting all bogged down with managing your blog or business, finding new content might become challenging. Here is a site called Word AI. WordAI takes an existing article and repurposes it for reuse. In short, it rewrites the article. I highly recommend this software. Today, you’ll have plenty to say. Tomorrow, you will be looking for topics. Just my opinion.
It integrates with CopyScape and WordPress, plus other services as well. Many users say they prefer WordAI, but the cost is a little steep for tight budgets. IMO, WordAI is the way to go in creating top quality spin and spinner rewrite.
15th Tool for your Tool Belt – Website Speed
This is a lesson I learned the hard way. I used high resolution graphics, lets say they were over 3MB each, which may not seem that much. But once you add all the image sizes from small, medium, large and extra large, they can sure slow down your site. One way to keep on top of your website speed is by using a website test resource. Google has one called PageSpeed Tools. PageSpeed Tools analyzes your website performance and provides details on mobile and desktop performance. The software will also point out areas for improvement. You have to try it. Its Free.
Another site for website testing is Web Page Test. Wow! How original. This site was initially created by AOL and now being supported by guess who? Yes. Google. The software is open source – free to use. Web Page Test does provide a great amount of detail to help you improve website performance. This is just a screen shot of some of the details. Its very detailed. Give it a try Web Page Test
Another site I recommend for sites with heavy traffic is Pingdom. They offer a FREE tool that checks your blog/website for bottle necks. Pingdom offers FREE usage of the testing tool, but they offer services that go beyond just running a periodic test. They provide ongoing server, networking, and performance monitoring.
Looking to Improve Your Website Performance
There are several ways to increase your website performance. The first way is by adding a WordPress plugin called P3 — Plugin Performance Profile. This plugin will scan your website, provide a report that lists all the plugin installed, and measure the load times of each plugin. Then, you can decide what actions you need take to increase your sites performance.
Once you determine your website performance issues, you can install W3 Total Cache. This plugin was designed to increase website performance, improve SEO, and user experience.
Another way to increase website performance is by using a Content Delivery Network (CDN). A CDN hosts images and content on various servers in multiple geo locations. The content is delivered to you based upon the closest proximity to the hosting provider. MAXCDN is one such provider. I have used their services for many of my clients. They offer several options based upon bandwidth. I recommend the 100GB/month option. This option provides for 2 websites and the cost is $9/month. If your website becomes the next Facebook, you can always change packages.
Once your site is plugging along, you will want to make sure that all of your blogs are are updating the Pinging services. WordPress by default notifies a pinging service. If I were you I would add this list to your WordPress site. Go to >>Settings>>Writing>>scroll down to the bottom on the page. Under
I might have forgot a few tools, but I will continue to add and remove tools from my tool belt. If you have any suggestions or recommendations on additional tools to add, please share them with me.
If you need any help with your blog or website, I would be happy to consultant with you. Please drop me a note. You can follow me on Twitter by connecting with me. See my link along the side.