Blogging Resources

I thought it might be useful to put together a page listing my blogging resources, my so-called ‘tools of the trade’. I often receive emails and messages from people asking for advice on my blogging tools and resources so this page aims to collate all of that information in one place.

I have made it as comprehensive as possible but will continue to add to it over time. Please do bookmark it for future reference and I hope it helps.

Enjoy my blogging resources!

Disclosure: Some, but not all, of these links are affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase through this link it will not make any difference to the cost to you but it does mean the service provider will pay me a small percentage of the sale for making the recommendation. Please know that I personally use and recommend all of the following, I have found them useful and helpful. 

BLOGGING RESOURCES

BLOGGING

WordPress – The world’s number 1 web platform. It has been a dream to use – it’s easy to customise with themes, and the plugins make it super powerful and versatile platform.

Themeforest – I have created several blogs now and nearly always find the best premium themes over on Themeforest. They are super-affordable at around £30 – £50. I  have used the Hickory theme on this blog and currently use Valenti here and on my Awesome Wave blog.

Thesis Theme – I used this theme from 2011 to 2014.  I chose to pay for a premium theme for the extra capability and functionality. It served me well for over 3 years.

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HOSTING ETC.

Krystal Hosting – Since moving all my sites over to Krystal I have experience very little downtime, outstanding support and they are UK-based. In my experience you get what you pay for and Krystal is worth it knowing that my websites are in safe hands. Krystal have a range of packages for great value, the lowest starting at only £2.99 a month. I have hosting for about 8 sites so I use a larger package.

123-Reg – I buy all of my domains through 123-reg and have used them since 2011. I’ve found their help documents really useful in the past and they send regular reminders when your domains are up for renewal.

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IMAGES AND PHOTOS

Photoshop – I use photoshop to resize and edit all of photographs. Sometimes it will be a simple resize so that the image is the correct width for my blog. Other times I might adjust the levels and sharpness of the image. I know it can be a little pricey but Adobe have started to offer some really affordable monthly plans which are great if you want to get to know this incredibly powerful tool.

Canva – I use this online tool to create graphic images. There are loads of templates and options to customise the layouts. I adore this site! At the moment it’s still in Beta so you need to apply to join or get an invite. Canva has the occasional glitch but it’s worth being patient for.

Flickr Creative Commons – A great place to find images for your post with the permission you need. Some photographers allow certain usage of their images, depending on the type of creative commons license. So you can use a photo safe in the knowledge you are not infringing on anyone’s copyright.

Death To The Stock Photos – One of my favourite finds. Each month you receive a fresh pack of stock photos to use completely for free. They are rather hip and much better than you usual stock photo fare.

Picmonkey – Another great free online photo editing tool and a huge blogger favourite.

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MAILING LIST AND NEWSLETTERS

Mailchimp – A great free tool (for the first 2000 subscribers) for managing your emailing list and sending out newsletters. Mailchimp underwent a revamp and the new dashboard is really easy to use. You can set up a subscription form in minutes. I currently use it for my Rosalilium newsletter.

Aweber – In the past I have used Aweber for running my e-course and the Awesome Wave mailing list. It’s a powerful and versatile mailing platform with the options to set up a number of autoresponders etc. Their support appears to be fantastic and their blog provides loads of inspiration on how to make the most of your mailing list.

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ADVERTISING

Google Adsense – I have dabbled with hosting advert slots on my blog served by the Google Adsense advertising network. It ticks along nicely and I’ve been happy with it. You can sign up as soon as you start blogging if you want to, there is no minimum traffic criteria. The income generated is relative to the traffic you have.

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AFFILIATE ADVERTISING

Skimlinks – It is so easy and enjoyable to use Skimlinks. You simply set up your account, add the code to your site and voila! Any links you naturally share on your blog, that are on their merchant list, will be converted to affiliate links. It’s a simple way to monetise your blog.

Affiliate Window – Another affiliate network. Once your site is approved you can search for relevant merchants to your blog, apply to join their affiliate program and then share either their affiliate link or use a banner ad in your sidebar.

Reward Style – Similar to Skimlinks but mainly geared towards the fashion community. They have some great widgets for displaying at the end of posts (see here for example) or in your sidebar, sharing your outfit ideas or wish lists.

ShopStyle Collective – a recent addition, ShopStyle is another fashion-led affiliate platform. I like that this platform works on dynamic affiliates so the return is based on both traffic and conversions.

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ANALYTICS

Get Clicky – I LOVE GetClicky. It’s probably one of my most used tools in blogging and working online. My everyday favourite for keeping an eye on my traffic. GetClicky is much easier to use than Google Analytics, the dashboard is easy to navigate and I find the stats are much more reliable. I have to pay for a premium account as I have about 5 sites I manage. I have been using Getclicky for over 3 years  and the service has been excellent. It is free to use for one site, hoorah! And if you need to upgrade to manage more sites it’s easily done.

Google Analytics –  I recommend having at least two analytics installed on your blog or website as data can sometimes be unreliable. I installed Google Analytics first but found the data a little skewiff at times. So I use both this and GetClicky to keep an eye on traffic, searches, demographics and trends. Google Analytics is definitely the better program for demographics.

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SOCIAL MEDIA

Buffer –  This is a great program for adding articles and post from around the internet to a ‘buffer’ which then sends them to your chosen social media channel. Great for regular social media sharing and give out some blog love.

IFTTT – Another awesome FREE tool. I love sharing this with people. I use If This Then That recipes, as they call them, to automate cross-promoting on social media channels. For instance, when a new blog post is published on Rosalilium the title and link will be posted as a tweet on my twitter feed.

TweetDeck – I now use TweetDeck for managing my Twitter accounts and for hosting chats. It’s faster and easier to use plus a great listening tool.

IconoSquare – This is a powerful Instagram tool to help you analyse and manage your account.

Social Bro – In the past I have used the Social Bro as a Chrome App but you can also use it as web-based program. It helps me analyse my twitter account with features such as tracking follower growth, finding out who follows or unfollows, who I have yet to follow back. It analyses when is the optimal time to tweet for maximum engagement. You can also monitor hashtags and keywords … the features are (almost) endless.

Hootsuite – I use Hootsuite on both my phone and laptop for managing my social media channels. It particularly useful for following hashtag conversations (hello blogger chats!) and scheduling tweets.

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PRODUCTIVITY TOOLS

Gmail – Oh, gmail … where would I be without you. I do love using Gmail as my email client. I’ve been using Gmail since the early days, and whilst I don’t enjoy the new tabs option (although I’ve managed to alter the settings on that for now) it is so versatile to use. I can also add my business email addresses to gmail so I have everything all in one place.

GoogleDocs/Drive – Along with my gmail account I use a host of other Google products which prove most useful. I use Google Docs/Drive for document hosting. I create ‘word’ and spreadsheet documents directly on my Google Drive and I even use the app so I can access the files on my phone when I’m out and about.

Evernote – I use Evernote for on-the-go notetaking on both my phone and laptop. They sync to my account which is grand.  You can label and organise your notes nicely in Evernote. I also use the webclipper chrome app to easily bookmark and save articles of interest to my Evernote account.

Rapportive – This is a nifty little add-on to your gmail which allows you to see the social channels connected to the person you are emailing. It’s a great way to build rapport, see what they did there?! And get to know the person you are emailing. This is so useful if you want to up your blogging game and work on your network of contacts.

WordPress Editorial Calendar – Probably my most valued and favourite WordPress plugin. It will change your life, it’s free and super easy to use. I recommend it to anyone who will listen.

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IPHONE APPLICATIONS

Afterlight – I edit the majority of my iphone photos through the Afterlight app. Unlike the native instagram filters which I find can be a bit heavy, with Afterlight you feel like you’re enhancing a photograph rather than hiding it. You adjust the transparency of filters and play with various levels of brightness, contrast, saturation, sharpness etc. I think it’s brilliant. It is only IOS at the moment but I believe they are launching an Android version this year.

Snapseed – Great for adding HD effects to photos and a bit more drama to travel photos.

Picfx – Sometimes I will use this app for photo editing. It offers some lovely dreamy filters and the bokeh layers are rad. This is an IOS only app.

Phonto – I use Phonto to add basic wording to my photos. It’s a simple but effective app. It’s available on both IOS and Android.

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I also do one-to-one blog coaching via Skype or Google+ Hangouts (or in person if you live in Birmingham). Email me at elizabeth (at) rosalilium (dot) com if you’re interested.

Hope you find my blogging resources useful!

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