The following are tools and resources I have used to build Put The Kettle On, plus another website I’m in the process of building. I have also included valuable tools I use on a daily basis keep my website looking professional.
Some of the following tools and resources include affiliate links, learn more here.
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Setting up your blog.
I 100% recommend self-hosting your blog. This means there will be some minimal upfront fees, however, you will have full control over how you promote your content and make money from your website. For example, Pinterest is a huge traffic driver for bloggers, but I’ve heard people can’t enable rich pins (something you’ll need to worry about later) through 3rd party hosting companies (such as Wix). Also, you will not be able to put advertising on your site without having a self-hosted blog.
What it comes down to is you owning your site and having control to do what you want, which is much easier in the long run!
Here’s what you’ll need to self-host using Wordpress.org…
1. Purchase a domain:
Hover. I have used Hover to purchase my domains for both my websites. They are a reputable company with competitive pricing. You simply enter the name you wish, i.e. ‘myblogisawesome’ and it will show you what’s available.
I recommend going for .com if possible. I live in Canada so have used.ca which was my preference.
Price range: $12.99 – $15.99 to own the domain name for 1 year. Get $2 off your first purchase with this link.
2. Find a Website Hosting Company.
Siteground. As soon as I planned to start a blog, I began researching websites hosts. I have only heard good things about Siteground and the main reason I use them is for their customer service. When I started my blogging journey I felt like a bit of a technophobe and thank god I had support technicians from Siteground to help me figure it all out. Their live chat is fast and the technicians will walk you through EVERYTHING.
Pricing: Starts at $3.95 US a month for one website. Learn more here.
3. Choosing a Wordpress Theme.
A theme is your website design. It’s responsible for the overall look and feel of your site from the layout of the pages to your fonts. There are some free themes you can purchase, but they can look a little generic. The theme I use for PutTheKettleOn is from Pretty Darn Cute Design. You can check it out here. See the resemblance?!
Note. Themes are customized using Wordpress plugins. What I love about PCD is their extensive tutorials for each theme + video tutorials + amazing tech support. You can set the theme up yourself or pay to have it done. I set mine up and enjoyed the learning curve, but if that’s not for you they have the resources to take care of it, so you don’t have to!
Pricing. Themes range from $50 to $75 US. Have a look at the themes here.
4. Logo Design
When creating your logo you have two options:
Create Your Own Logo.
For PutTheKettleOn.ca I designed my original logo using PicMonkey. You can get a 7 day free trial with this link. I ended up purchasing their monthly package for just $5.99 Canadian a month. This enables me to have full access to all features including uploading my own fonts, editing and cropping photos and resizing images (this is important to ensure your image sizes aren’t too large when uploading to Wordpress. Large images can slow down the load time of your website, which no one wants). Learn more about Picmonkey features here.
Pay To Have It Professionally Designed.
There are a couple of great options depending on how custom of a logo you are looking for and what your budget is.
Inexpensive: Autumn Lane – Their pricing is VERY GOOD – logos from $17 US 🙂 They provide the hands on, professional service and have 1100 ‘premade’ logo designs that you can customize for your website. Check out their logo designs here. Tip: Play with the filters in the top left hand corner to narrow your search for what’s available.
Premium (at a good price):
You can also work with Autumn Lane to get custom logos. $135 – 190 US.
I also worked with a company called Chapter 2 Creative. One of the owners (Corey Wheeland) also blogs and they designed my current logo for Put The Kettle On. I highly recommend them!
4. Sharing Plugin
Using the right sharing plugin is essential to make it easy for your readers to share your content. I really like Shareaholic. The main reason I went with Shareaholic is I changed my website from HTTP to HTTPS and Shareaholic allows you to keep all your share counts – adding up both the HTTP and HTTPS number. If you don’t have this your numbers will go back down to zero when you switch over.
It was therefore completely worth it for me to make the switch to Shareholic.
I’m also a fan of the customization they offer with their sharing buttons. Create a free account to get started.
Pinterest Marketing Tips
Let me tell you about my love for Pinterest! I was a heavy user for years before I started my blog and since having a blog I’m even more hooked. Pinterest is responsible for over 70% of my blog traffic. It’s a platform that enables me to promote my content which results in daily traffic even when I’m not promoting.
To maximize your traffic from Pinterest you need:
To create ‘pinnable’ images. Definition: Make sure your images in your blog post are vertical, high-quality and have some kind of text overlay.
Here is an example:
Creating Quality Pins.
Here’s what you’ll need.
1. Good Quality photography. Ideally, taking your own photos is best, but you may not always have time for this, so I recommend using some good quality stock photography sites such as:
Creative Market is another great resource if you want to stand out from the pack. I encourage you to sign up to their weekly newsletter. They send you 6 FREE fonts, graphics and/or stock photos every week.
2. Photo Editing Tool. I use Canva to create my pins and Picmonkey to edit, crop and resize photos. Both tools are simple to use and have a ton of fonts to play with. You’ll need to upload your photos to Canva or Picmonkey to incorporate into your image design.
There is a lot of information out there when it comes to understanding Pinterest! In fact, there is so much that it becomes overwhelming trying to piece it all together. Due to this, I took a course called Pinterest Ninja when I was fairly new to blogging. It was created by a fellow blogger (Megan at LoveFamilyHealth.com), a stay at home mom and is generating a 6 figure salary from blogging. Pretty impressive! Her course helps drive quality, long-term traffic to your blog.
You’ll be able to learn how to:
- Set up your business account & set up ‘rich pins’
- Learn how to get access to the top Pinterest group boards
- Get tips to grow your followers organically
- Discover how to dramatically increase your repin rate
- Tips to create pins that make you money
- SEO for Pinterest
- Learn the importance of manual + scheduled pinning strategies
- How to brand and monetize your blog
- Plus a TON more.
**In the most recent update Megan has added a bunch of video tutorials, which make pinning that much easier**
Price: $59.99. This includes all future updates + 100 custom board covers. Get more details here.
For the first few months of having my blog I manually pinned all of my content to Pinterest. This was great, but over time I was getting tired of spending SO much time on Pinterest. I now use automated scheduling tools. This means I spend about 30 minutes per week scheduling all of my pins to my personal and group boards. Once it’s set up, it just goes 🙂
The tool I use:
Tailwind. The big feature here is Tailwind automatically schedules your pins, which you can set up in advance for the whole week or longer. What I love is that Tailwind automatically pins your content at the ideal times throughout the day, which increases your repin rate. Tailwind also has something called ‘tailwind Tribes’ which are groups you can join. The people in these groups pin your pins and you do the same for them. tailwind now also supports scheduling for Instagram.
Its important as Pinterest rewards uses who are active on Pinterest and by active I mean active throughout the day and every day. Tailwind allows you to be a ‘heavy user’ – automatically!
Pricing. You can start a free trial (includes 100 repins to Pinterest) to see if you like it and if so their premium package is $9.99/month. The great thing is no credit card required for the free trial. Start your free trial here.
I’ve always thought of myself as a good editor and great with grammar, however, when you’re writing a blog post in the wee hours of the morning or typing like a mad woman there is bound to be spelling mistakes, commas in the wrong place and other grammar issues. This is where an auto proofreader comes in handy!
You simply add the program to your selected browser and it automatically proofreads your work as you’re typing. It’s different from a typical spell check is it proofreads your writing on all websites across the web (Facebook, Twitter, Wordpress and everywhere else).
Pricing: FREE 🙂 Check out how it works here.
There you have it – my top resources that I use every day to create and maintain a professional looking blog. As I discover and test out new tools I’ll be sure to update the details here.
Good luck on your blogging journey! Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you might have.
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