Blog Essentials!

 

There are lots of people out there that love blogs (ours included, i hope!) and think they would love to start their own blog. It can seem daunting, especially if you don’t know a lot about technology/internet, so I thought it would be helpful if shared the products and services that I use with my blog. The list will be continually evolving as I find different  resources that are worth mentioning.

Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and I will earn a commission if you purchase through those links. I use all of the products listed below and recommend them because they are companies that I have found helpful and trustworthy. Please let me know if you have any questions about anything listed below!

The Basics

Hosting and Domain Registration (your www.___.com)

GoDaddy has been my go-to for hosting and domain registration for the past three websites I’ve run, including for this one, Le Gym Online. Why? Because it’s the world’s #1 domain name registrar. I’ve never had any problems with my website being down or getting hacked over the past few years. They also offer an easy way to set up several custom email addresses and host your WordPress site. It’s also amazingly affordable, and the perfect place to start.

How to design/make your website

WordPress is traditionally a blogging platform but you can create any type of website you want FAST with thousands of available “themes”. It installs as an app on your hosting account (like GoDaddy) and you can customize it from there. I have my recommendations for themes right below. WordPress also has free themes available if you’re not interested in purchasing a “premium”(premium means you gotta pay!) theme right away. But PLEASE do some research and check the theme’s rating before you apply it to your blog–you don’t want to spend time customizing it  only to realize that it doesn’t have a feature you really wanted.

Our current theme

Newspaper – We wanted a little more organization than a traditional blog and wanted articles from different categories more visible to our readers so we switched over to the Newspaper theme a few months ago. We love it! They also have a great forum and very detailed documentation.

Our previous themes!

U Design – This is the theme that I used for this blog for a few years it was beautiful and a great “starter” theme! I love the streamlined look and the colors were customized based on our logo. There are several other amazing features and I’ve used this theme for three different websites…including for a business, portfolio and this blog. It’s very versatile and well worth the money I spent! Their support forum is amazingly helpful-they are always very quick to respond to any questions I have about the site.

Elegant Themes – Another popular source for premium themes. They are super beautiful themes!

E-mail platform 

As a blogger it’s important to connect with your readers and keep them updated on new posts and other important updates. You can’t always rely on social media to do it for you because not everyone will be checking your page for updates. You also never know when a social media site goes “out of style” and you loose all of your followers (like Myspace). MailChimp is a free platform (up to a certain amount of subscribers/emails) and does a great job of making that really easy with templates.

 

Photo Editing 

Adobe Photoshop – Photoshop isn’t cheap or super easy to use, but once you’ve mastered the basics and start figuring out the more advanced techniques it’s an amazing tool! If you’re interested in getting it they offer a free trial. If you’re still a little hesitant on purchasing the software you can always purchase a month-by-month subscription until you know you’re ready to purchase the software outright.

For free photo editing check out PicMonkey.com!

WordPress Plugins

Once you have wordpress installed you can go to the plugins section (on the left side menu) and click “Add new”. Type these names in to the search box install, then activate!

Floating Social Media Icon – This plugin for the little floating social media links when you visit our site. I like that it catches your attention as you scroll through the blog.

Akismet – Spam comments stink! Akismet is a like a comment guard, making sure that no spamming comments get through to your site.

Yoast SEO – The plugin that helps you improve the SEO for each individual page and post.

Instagram Feed – The plugin for the live instagram feed you see on our right column of our blog pages.

WP to Twitter – Twitter is a fast paced environment — but people are on there to kill time. So what better way for them to check out your blog! This plugin automatically tweets whenever a new post is published.

Limit Login Attempts – A simple but important plugin to increase the security on your WordPress blog. This plugin limits the number of times that someone can enter in an incorrect password. It’s amazing how many people try to hack into Pinch of Yum every day.