Today, I’d like to share with you our favorite blogging resources.
If you’re just starting out, you’ll find this list invaluable, as it’ll save you time and provide all the essential tools you need to have a great looking and functioning blog.
By the way don’t get hung up on the technical details.
Although you can easily set this up yourself, I will give you a super cheap solution to have someone else do it for you, if you’re how should I say it… uhh technically challenged.
Ok, here we go.
Blog Hosting We Love
By far, THE best hosting company we’ve EVER had is…
Now I’ve personally used 4 different hosting companies in the past, and this one is by far my favorite. I’ve been using them for the last 3 years.
They have fast, reliable, and friendly 24/7 support. And believe me you need it. If something goes wrong, as it has for me in the past, their tech team works around the clock to help you resolve any issues.
As far as which plan to use, if you’re just starting out, their Baby Plan will work just fine. It allows you to have multiple domains, which means you can host a number of websites under one plan. And it’s all under $10 a month right now.
Don’t go for their most basic plan, because there you’ll only have 1 domain you can host. For an extra couple dollars a month, you have the option to host as many websites as you want.
One of my favorite things about Hostgator, is it’s run on a cPanel dashboard, which has something called Fantastico.
This will allow you to build your blog in literally 5 seconds with one click of a button.
They also have VPS and Dedicated Servers, which are great for when you ramp up your traffic and will need a lot more space and a faster server. These are more expensive options, but not something you need to start with.
Plugins are important to make your blog more effective.
Most plugins are free, but there are some premium ones which we use as well.
Awesome Free Plugins We Love…
Here’s the list, and you can simply click on the Add New Plugin in your WordPress blog dashboard and type the name.
WP Super Cache – speeds up your blog.
WordPress SEO by Yoast – Best SEO plugin for WordPress.
Ad Injection – Allows you to put ads on your blog and control them site-wide from one interface. You can put ads for your own products, affiliate programs, or even sell space on your blog.
Akismet – helps detect and remove spam.
Google Analyticator – Google Analytics plugin, connects to your Google Analytics account for you to track everything.
Twitter Facebook Social Share – adds most popular social buttons on your posts and pages.
WP YouTube Lyte – Quickly embed YouTube videos into posts and pages.
Bulletproof Security – One plugin designed to secure your website from hackers.
WordPress Backup To Dropbox – Great way to keep your blog backed up. Make sure you do this and schedule regular automatic backups of your database.
There are many others out there, but these are the important ones to have for best performance. You don’t want to load up too many as well, because with each plugin you slow down your blog.
Awesome Paid Plugins We Love…
There are a couple of paid plugins I’ll recommend which are very useful.
This cool plugin let’s capture more visitors and turn into subscribers on both your blogs and static websites with a stylish and customized popup.
Automatically Convert Keywords Into Money Making Affiliate Links
Also manage, track, cloak and shorten unlimited number of affiliate links from one central location of Maxblogpress Ninja Affiliate.
Themes We Use And Recommend…
Your blog comes with a free theme, and there are plenty out there.
After trying a number of them, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s best to use a premium theme.
Now if you’re on a very limited budget, it’s NOT that important right now. You can use a free theme, and it’s just fine.
But premium themes are a lot more robust, giving your blog a nicer, more professional look and feel.
Our Top 3 Favorite Blog WordPress Themes
We have several blogs in multiple niches and we use one of these 3 on almost all of them:
WooThemes – This is the theme of choice for Matt Crystal, Director of Operations at Magnetic Sponsoring.
Genesis – This is Tim Erway’s favorite framework. He uses Genesis themes on several blogs he owns.
Thesis – Out of these 3, Thesis is the most technical one, but also my favorite.
Woo and Genesis provide you with lots of options and customization you can do right from your dashboard, to give your blog a great look and feel.
Thesis gives you a platform to build literally anything you want. The only thing is, it’s not a push button thing. You’ll need someone who knows PHP to add code to your blog. They do have a great forum with lots of support, and I’ve pretty much figured out what I needed to make Thesis look exactly like I want to. You can also hire someone from their forum to do that for you.
If you don’t mind getting a little technical, this is a fantastic theme. Or you can hire someone to do that as well.
If not, then stick with the other two which are great and aren’t nearly as technical.
The ONLY Choice For Marketers Who Want To Quickly & Easily Transform Their Blog Into A Sales System
Here’s one more theme to use on a blog when you want to create slick squeeze pages and sales letters.
Building Your List
There are lots of options when it comes to choosing an autoresponder to build and manage your list.
The one I recommend for our industry, and the one most people use is Aweber.
Another option if you’re in a non-business opportunity field is iContact.
There are others, but we recommend these two.
You can also try them for a month and get a feel for it before committing to one.
Keep in mind that, once you choose the autoresponder, it’ll be hard for you to switch later, because most will require for your list to reconfirm if you want to move them over to another company, and you’ll end up losing a chunk of your subscribers. You can do it, but it’s a hassle, so it’s best to choose one and stick with it.
Also, no matter what service you use, always keep a backup of your list!
Seriously, your account can be shut down at any time for any reason without any notice, and poof, you’re out of business.
Although it’s never happened to me, but I’ve heard some nightmare stories.
There are a few more things I’d like to share about list building and autoresponders, kind of best practices, but I’ll save that for tomorrow.
This ought to get you started.
Pay Someone Else To Do It
One last thing I want to share is the resource I promised if you want to outsource your blog set up.
Before I do, let me tell you my personal feelings on this.
When I started online I knew NOTHING about websites, blogs, autoresponders, or even what HTML is.
But what I decided to do, is to learn how to do a lot of these things myself. Not because I enjoy doing anything technical. I really don’t. But I found that it’s a lot easier to hire someone to do something, when you know exactly what needs to be done.
Plus if I ever need to tweak something quickly, more often than not, I can do it myself.
Today there are plenty of video tutorials, there’s a ton of stuff on YouTube on how to set up every single thing I’ve shared in this post, and in my opinion it’s worth a few hours of your time to learn this.
It’s kind of like, if you own an oil change station, you don’t need to change the oil yourself, you can hire a mechanic for that. But you should know how to change oil and what the engine looks like at the very least.
It’s not difficult at all, and if you spend a couple of hours to learn this stuff it’ll save lots of time and frustration in the future.
With that said, here’s a fantastic resource you can go to and hire someone for FIVE BUCKS to set up your blog, embed videos, or almost any other small service like that.
I’ll give you one more place I’ve personally used a lot, where you can find pretty much any kind of technical help. From the basic blog set up to the most advanced web design, graphics, coding, etc…
NOTE: Before you hire anyone, make sure to check their feedback and any reviews. I never hire anyone who doesn’t have good reviews for similar type of work.
For small jobs I also never pay anything upfront.
To be honest I was hesitant to hire my first person for some reason. But I once spent two hours on the most stupid thing and still couldn’t get it to work properly. Which is when I decided to try this, and found someone who did it for $10 and had it done in less than an hour.
I even found a graphic designer from Philippines that will work wonders in Photoshop for $5. But don’t ask me for his name, because I’m already keeping him pretty busy.
Ever since then I’ve been outsourcing as much as I possibly can. Even when I know how to do it, but don’t want to spend the time.
Ok, that’s it for today, I’ll have more great tips for you tomorrow.
P.S. I’d love to get your feedback on this and if you’d like to get more tips like these or anything else you’d like to see us write about to help you grow your business.