Below is a list of products and services that I personally use for my blogging business. These are all resources I use on a regular basis. If you are serious about blogging, these are your business essentials. Ones with a dollar sign () indicates resource I’m paying for.
Disclosure: Some links to products and services are affiliate links which I get a commission from if you make a purchase. I only recommend products and services that I personally have bought and got positive results from, and that I feel will help you with your blog.
I recommend you to bookmark this page, as I will update this page with more helpful resources from time to time.
This is where you register a domain name for your blog. If you are establishing your name as your brand, then it wouldn’t be a bad idea to register YourName.com, or YourBusinessName.com. If it’s a niche blog, then try to get a name that’s in your niche (ie. DeepseaFishingTips.com). Dot COM domain names only cost $9.99/year and this is a must-have if you are serious about blogging.
Below I have listed 3 web hosting companies that I’m current using, and have used for many years. Prices vary but expect to spend $5 – $7/month for web hosting. This is a must-have for your blog. I highly recommend Hostgator, or Site5 for starters. LiquidWeb is more expensive, but is a good choice when your blog starts to get a lot of traffic.
Most bloggers can start running with WordPress out of the box. The WordPress support/forum contains massive amount of how-to’s, customization tips, and troubleshooting help if you ever want to get technical with WordPress.
Almost all of my blogs are using one of Nick’s WordPress themes from Elegant Themes. For just $39/year, you can download all of the themes he has ever designed, as well as future themes he releases (about one new theme per month). Check it out. I’m sure you will be impressed.
Email Marketing/List Building
List building is the name of the game when it comes down to marketing your blog and selling products via email. List buildling alone can determine whether your blog will succeed or not. Most blogs get abandoned because they failed to capture the readership. Having an email list allows you to “recycle” your traffic and build loyalty with your subscribers.
This is what I use to build my blog subscriber list, as well as email lists for all of my other websites. The email subscription (a.k.a Opt-in forms) forms you see on this blog are Aweber forms, including the annoying, yet effective “hover” forms that pops over the blog. You can set up Aweber to automatically email your subscribers whenever you have a new blog post, schedule email messages to go out to subscribers (ie. autoresponders) with pre-defined time interval, send an email broadcast to your subscribers announcing a new product, and much much more.
This is a free service provided by Google (well, it got bought out by Google) and many bloggers use it for new blog post announcement. However, the email capability stops there. Compared to Aweber, you won’t be able to do email broadcasts, timed messages, list segmentation, etc. If you can’t afford Aweber right, I highly recommend you at least use Feedburner to build your subscription list, then upgrade to Aweber later. Here is a blog post on how to build your subscription list using Feedburner.
Google Keyword Tool
This is a free tool provided by Google that gives you important keyword metric data, such as search volume, Adwords CPC, competition, and search trend. One common usage of this tool is to research what keywords are being searched in the Google search engine. Once you find a suitable keyword that is related to your blog topic, you can then blog about it, and hopefully have your blog post show up somewhere on the first page of Google (a.k.a. free traffic).
I also use this tool quite a bit to help me find EMD (Exact Match Domain) names. For example, I registered HowToGetAbs.org (the keyword “how to get abs” gets searched 12,000+ times in a month in Google) and a couple of months later received a $1,200 offer to buy it from me.
Another great, free tool offered by Google that helps keep your traffic stats. There are all kinds of valuable marketing data that Google Analytics help you gather, such as percentage of new vs. returned visitors, bounce rate (% of your visit who stays on your page, instead of bouncing off right away), average visit time length (indicator of reader engagement), what browsers your blog readers use, what keywords do people search to get to your blog, etc. Here is a blog post on how to install Google Analytics to your blog.