There are about a billion tools and resources out there, and each one claims to be exactly what you need to start and grow your business online. When you first get started, though, most of us don’t have a lot of money to spend each month and need to prioritize.
I’m giving you all the tools and resources that I have used to get my blog started. Some tools and services are worth the investment, but many of my favorites are free. It does not have to cost a lot of money to get your blog started.
Bookmark this page and use it as your go-to resource when you’re ready to start your blog or online business.
Don’t have a blog yet? Check out my Ultimate Guide to Starting a Money-Making Blog in 2019
Start a Blog in 3 Simple Steps
- Purchase a domain name from Namecheap. I recommend that everyone purchase their domain separate from their hosting.
- Sign up for self-hosting with Siteground. You do get a free domain with Siteground if you choose to skip step 1.
- Purchase the Divi Theme from Elegant Themes. This is my absolute favorite theme and it makes it so easy to customize your site.
Divi not for you?
- Purchase the Genesis framework. This is the framework that you’ll need for any of the other themes I recommend below.
- Purchase a fun theme. My go-to’s before using Divi were:
Free Blogging Resources
These are the best free blogging resources to help you get started. I suggest downloading all of them, printing them out, and putting the guides and worksheets into a binder.
- Blog Launch Plan: Turn Your Blog into a Business– This workbook will help you create a business plan for your blog. Define who you are serving, what you will sell, and how you will promote your blog.
- Blog Action Plan + Tracker– The best way to achieve your goals is to write them down and track your progress. Use this workbook to set your goals and create action steps to achieve them.
- Free Resource Library for Busy Moms– Want to start a blog or online business but worried you don’t have the time? Get organized, streamline your life and find the time to do the things you want to do.
I decided that investing in a few courses was essential to my success so that I wasn’t floundering for months just trying to make a few dollars. Here are the courses that I recommend for new bloggers to really accelerate your success.
- Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing– Michelle makes over $50,000 per month with affiliate marketing alone and shares all of her secrets for how she’s done it.
- Ready, Set Blog Traffic– Elna is a freelance writer turned multi-blog owner, and she is a pro at driving traffic to your blog with foundational SEO techniques and Pinterest by auto pinning with Tailwind.
- Pinteresting Strategies– Carly first created this as an ebook (that I bought almost 2 years ago), but she has turned it into a course. Carly teaches the manual pinning techniques she used to grow her blog traffic to 200,000 page views per month within 7 months. This is especially perfect for those who don’t want to invest in Tailwind right away. She also bundles her Pinterest course and affiliate marketing course if you’re looking for a deal!
After setting up your blog or shop, starting an email list is the best thing you can do for your business! Don’t ignore this step just because you’re new.
I’m giving you the 3 most commonly used newsletter providers so you can pick the best fit for your blog or business.
- MailerLite– free up to 1,000 unique subscribers. Includes easy to use automation and email sequences.
- MailChimp– free up to 2,000 unique subscribers.
- ConvertKit– there is no free option with plans starting at $29/month.
If you’re ready to get started creating digital products, ebooks, courses, social media graphics, or Pinterest pins, I use and recommend the following tools:
- Creative Market– if you sign up for their email list you will receive 6 freebies every Monday. I have saved quite a few fonts, photos, and graphics on freebie days.
If you’re looking for stock photos, I am pretty obsessed with LTM Stock! The library is full of bright, feminine photos that work for any niche. You’ll see these stock photos all over my site.
When creating a self-hosted site with WordPress, you have a lot of freedom to customize your site using plugins. I spent hours researching which plugins I needed to make my site user-friendly and give me the analytics I need. Here are the plugins I recommend for everyone as they get started:
- Askimet- Anti-spam plugin that is probably the very first plugin that you will want to install. Spam comments start almost immediately.
- Yoast SEO- The most complete SEO plugin available for wordpress. You can also read my post on SEO for beginners as you start writing your blog posts.
- Google Analytics Dashboard- Gives you the ability to view your Google Analytics data in your WordPress dashboard. You can also allow other users to see the same information or embed parts of the data into posts or as part of your theme.
- Pretty Links Lite- Allows you to shorten long, unattractive links.
- Bottom of Every Post- Adds content to the end of each of your posts
- WP Supercache- A caching plugin that helps your site load faster.
Automation is going to be your best friend as you get started blogging and building a business online. It’s how you’ll keep working even when you’re away from your computer folding laundry and playing with your kids.
Instagram and Facebook are not as keen on automation, so I recommend scheduling your posts within Facebook’s own scheduler. I use the Instagram schedulers below to plan the look of my feed and research hashtags, but I post manually.
- Tailwind– Tailwind is essential to your Pinterest business strategy. Tailwind allows you to schedule your pins so that you are pinning regularly and with purpose.
- PLANN– PLANN is my favorite Instagram scheduling app. It allows you to see your feed before you post to ensure it looks the way you want it to look. The hashtag finder has also been a huge help. I created categories to copy and paste easily to my photos.
- Planoly– Planoly is another Instagram scheduler that allows you to view your feed and organize it before posting.
- TinyPNG– Allows you to compress the size of your PNG and JPG files so they do not slow down your site speed. This is free up to 20 photos per day, and I compress every photo and graphic on my site before uploading them.
- Grammarly– Grammarly is a free writing assistant that checks the grammar within your blog posts. There is a paid version, but I like to use the free version.
- GSuite– This is where I created my email for my blog (Sarah@letstalkmombusiness). It’s $5 per month, but I like having a professional looking email address that is separate from my site hosting for additional security.
Books + Podcasts
- Boss Up! Podcast– Lindsay Teague Moreno gives tangible, no fluff tips for building a business using social media. Her podcasts are short and to the point for busy momtrepreneurs. (She’s also the creator of LTM Stock I recommended above!)
- Rise Together Podcast– Rachel and Dave Hollis really dive into building a business as a couple. I know when I first mentioned wanting to start my own business, my husband had questions. This is a great place to go to get tips on getting your spouse involved.
- Online Marketing Made Easy– Amy Porterfield does an amazing job giving clear, actionable steps for marketing your business online. She also has some amazing courses on course creation.
- Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller– This is my absolute favorite book and one I recommend to everyone.