As you probably know, there are bajillion and one ways to build a blog these days. Everyone has an opinion on what’s best—including me! Feel free to contact me with questions about anything not listed below! Yes, some of these links are affiliate links. I’ve tested the bajillion resources out there. Rest assured I stand behind every one of these recommendations!
If you’re serious about blogging, WordPress.org is the blogging platform option. Why? For starters, it’s about branding. As the leading blogging platform, WordPress.org allows you to create a professional, stylish and easily customizable blog. This differentiates you from the hobbybloggers and establishes a credible online presence.
WordPress.org is also most compatible with the myriad of social media plugins, interactive widgets and tools. Want your readers to spread the word about your content? WordPress.org is the only blogging platform to consider.
Don’t go downloading from WordPress.org just yet. The software is free and included with most economy hosting packages. WordPress.org has become so powerful, many sites (including this one) easily house their main website and blog together.
- DIY: Recommended for those who are eager to learn cutting-edge technology. (See hosting section for next steps)
- Hire it Done: Recommended for those who prefer professional help with setup, branding, design and training.
Simply the fastest and easiest way to set up a WordPress site. Unlike other hosts, Page.ly only hosts WordPress sites. After years of duking it out with general hosts who don’t always “get” WordPress, I fell in love with Page.ly quickly. I’ve test driven many sites/blogs using Page.ly and recommend them hands down over other hosting options. They install the software for you, conduct nightly backups, automatically update your software and help you focus on what matters—creating content that builds your online audience! Check out Page.ly yourself.
Bluehost makes installing WordPress easy and doesn’t bombard you with the upsells and confusing interfaces like other leading hosts (who shall remain nameless). I’ve test-driven several sites on Bluehost and find their ease-of-use to be refreshing! If you know the basics of hosting, Bluehost is a great choice.
Thesis Theme is easy to use, customizable and will have your site reflecting your brand quickly. Although there are plenty of free themes out there, Thesis is perfect for newbies because it offers a stellar support community and constant upgrades. Many free themes “leave you hanging” after install. Thesis is the real deal.
Headway Themes offers flexibility, easy set up and great support. Another great choice as it doesn’t require you to know much code in order to set up a professional site/blog.
Although there is a boatload of plugins for generating submittable forms for your WordPress site, I finally stopped wrestling with them and turned to Gravity Forms. It was worth every dime with all the time it has saved me since. Now when I want to set up a form on the fly for a promotion, event or just to interact with visitors, I forego the agony and set it up in minutes with Gravity Forms. Click here to visit Gravity Forms.
Imagine an SEO coach alongside you as you write each blog post. Scribe analyzes each web page or blog post and tells you how to tweak your content to get better search engine rankings and more traffic. What I love more than anything, is that Scribe optimizes your copy AFTER you’ve written it. Otherwise, you’re articles begin sounding forced, inauthentic and contrived. Scribe helps you keep your real, while keeping your traffic up!
- Dynamic Headers – Instant upload of your customized, branded blog/site header.
- Social Sharing Plugins (blog post) – Make sure your content can be easily shared by others.
- Akismet – Don’t waste time with spam comments. Askimet is like your blog’s bouncer-blocking spam at the door.
- This list will continue to grow!
- Feedburner – Best way to optimize your RSS feed
- Google Analytics – Don’t blog in the dark. Learn about what’s working and not working. Google makes it simple.
- MailChimp – Mailchimp is totally free for lists below 500 subscribers. Best of all, MailChimp is integrated with social networks as well as WordPress, Twitter, Salesforce and more. Just as WordPress is the “futureproof” blogging platform, I see MailChimp as the futureproof Email List Builder and Manager.
- Picnik – Don’t fret about knowing Photoshop. Picnik is perfect for non-graphic artists who need to edit images and photos on the fly!
- This list will continue to grow!