Advice & Tips for New Bloggers
When you’re starting your first blog it can be difficult to find the best blogging tools amongst the overwhelming information online. There’s so much advice, so many distracting shiny objects, it’s a wonder anyone manages to launch their first blog.
Even as an online veteran, I’ve jumped around trying out new things, (in the pretense of research), while setting up this blog on Simply Hatch. It’s so easy to waste a lot of time.
I’ve pulled together this list of products I use on my two blogs Simply Hatch and Love Life Be Fit, along with a few extra tools that come highly recommended by fellow successful bloggers.
You can follow my advice or spend time finding your own. It depends on what sort of person you are. I originally trained as an Engineer so I always have to dig into why and how something works. I get it if you need to do the same.
If you do follow my advice please note there are affiliate links on this page. That means I get a small commission if you sign up for a product via my link (at no extra cost to you). This helps to fund my product testing and the free content provided on my site. I don’t have affiliate links for all the products on this page. Some of these resources are listed just because I use them all the time.
Blogging Tools & Resources
Here’s the list. Click on the links to speed your way to the section you want!
- WordPress Hosting
- Blog Design and Themes
- Email Marketing
- Page Builders
- Social Media Plugins
- Images and Image Editing
- Affiliate Networks
- Keyword Tools
- Video Production Tools
There are several different types of hosting. Not all blog hosting is equal. You can read my guide to WordPress Hosting to find out more:
Hosting needs to be fast, secure and reliable, plus good support is essential. Choosing your host based on price is a big mistake. Take my 15+ years of experience and don’t do it.
Both of the hosting providers I use have excellent support – the best in the industry. I use WP Engine to host this Simply Hatch site and SiteGround for my lifestyle blog Love Life Be Fit.
A downside to the hosting providers I use is the startup cost for beginner bloggers. So I’ve added in some recommendations for beginners looking for good AND affordable hosting.
Bluehost (Best for Beginners)
Bluehost is the Top Official WordPress hosting provider. They also provide the best value package for a new blogger. Their Basic startup deal includes both a FREE SSL certificate, a FREE domain name and 24/7 support. Plus I’ve negotiated an amazing deal for Simply Hatch readers.
If affordable hosting is your top priority, Bluehost is a good place to host your first blog. They also have a reputation for good site speed for beginner blogs.
Best for Beginner Bloggers
HostGator (Best for Fast Growing Sites)
HostGator provides fast, reliable, secure hosting and are known for their good support. They have a wide range of different hosting plans making them a good choice if you have a rapidly growing site.
They will migrate over an existing site for free and their Hatchling Plan starts at $2.75 a month (instead of $6.95) when you use my HostGator coupon. This includes a free SSL certificate, 1-click WordPress install and for a limited time period, they’re offering a free domain.
Best For Rapid Growth
SiteGround (Best For Intermediate Bloggers)
SiteGround provides Managed WordPress Hosting, taking care of updates, backups and everything that makes the day-to-day running of your blog easier. The support staff are highly knowledgeable and can help out with any WordPress problem. Which is what you need if you have a technical issue at 2 am just before your first product launch. Someone who can help.
I use SiteGround for my lifestyle blog Love Life Be Fit and I strongly recommend them. The downside is cost. There’s no free domain name and hosting costs jump up after the first year. This can be an issue if you’re just starting to monetize your blog. A big plus is they provide site migration for FREE and a lot of bloggers move to SiteGround once their sites start to grow.
Best For Intermediate Bloggers
If price wasn’t a factor in people’s decisions, I would recommend WP Engine to everyone. Their managed website hosting is at an Enterprise level of performance. It’s the go-to solution for businesses with big plans.
WP Engine is a Managed Cloud Hosting solution dedicated solely to WordPress sites. I use WP Engine for Simply Hatch for all the extras they provide, not just for their blazingly fast speed. I can use their staging, take backup points on demand and analyse page performance. These features all help when I’m testing out products.
The pricing does put them outside the level of most beginner bloggers BUT you now have access to the exceptional StudioPress themes as part of the package. If you’re thinking about buying a StudioPress theme or you have an existing business, WP Engine should be on your radar. Their support is amazing.
Best For Advanced Bloggers
Blogging Tools – Themes
There are a crazy amount of FREE themes to choose from. Go to Appearance > Themes > Add New on your dashboard and search to your heart’s content. It’s a fun way to lose a few hours of your time. Look for themes that are frequently updated and mobile-friendly.
The downside of most free themes is they are built to sell products. These can be page builders or to upsell a paid theme. I used to think all FREE themes were limited and then I discovered GeneratePress
GeneratePress FREE Theme
I love this theme! It’s so quick to set up and the FREE version is all you need as a beginner blogger. It’s the theme I use in my Start A Blog Guide video clip.
You can upgrade to the PRO Version and the price is reasonable at just $49. You’ll get access to their library of demo sites and extra modules for customization.
But just sticking to the FREE version is a good move and you can always add in Pro modules if you need them at a later stage.
StudioPress themes really make the most of the Gutenberg editor launched by WordPress last year. (Gutenberg replaced the dated Classic eitor and I’m a big convert). The Revolution Pro theme, used on this Simply Hatch blog is one of their best selling themes. StudioPress uses the renowned Genesis framework. It’s fast, clean, excellent for search engines, secure and fully responsive.
The StudioPress themes are not just technically excellent, they’re beautifully designed with a theme to suit every purpose. Choose a theme that matches how you want your site to look, set up the theme easily with the StudioPress in-depth setup instructions, and make use of their excellent support if you need extra help.
Using the Gutenberg editor you can change the look of your pages without any coding experience. Quite a few of the Studiopress Themes include the Atomic Blocks plugin to easily add beautifully designed sections to your pages. Love it and I use it all the time on my Revolution Pro theme.
These are just a few of the themes you can choose from.
All StudioPress Themes are based on the Genesis Framework, the industry standard for Pro-Bloggers.
StudioPress Premium Themes
Email Marketing Services
Email marketing is one of the most important blogging tools you can invest in. I used to use MailChimp for my last business and it was fine. I had an email list of 25,000 subscribers. I sent out an email once a week with a little bit of text and lots of pictures of wonderful products. Each email brought in several thousand dollars of sales.
So why not recommend MailChimp. There’s a couple of catches. The first is MailChimp does not allow affiliate marketing in their emails.
Yes I know! That’s a real issue if affiliate marketing is a big source of income for your blog. For me it was a deal breaker. Nevermind that you can start using MailChimp for free. (It’s certainly not free when you have a big list, it was costing me $219/month). If you can’t use affiliate links it’s use is really limited for bloggers.
The second catch? MailChimp is so annoying! I find it such a difficult platform to use and their sign up forms usually look so ugly in your blog.
Instead I use ConvertKit. It’s a service designed by bloggers for bloggers and it’s terrific if you’re using freebies to entice people to sign up for your newsletter list.
The only downside of ConvertKit is if you want to send image rich emails to promote your products. You can add images to your ConvertKit emails but it’s not a visual platform. That’s fine for most bloggers but not so much for eCommerce
One option is to use Constant Contact. It’s an easy to use platform, with a range of templates geared around eCommerce. Just right for tiny businesses.
ConvertKit is an email marketing service designed by professional bloggers for professional bloggers. These guys know exactly what you need! ConvertKit is my favorite blogging tool on this list! They really understand your requirements for affiliate marketing and launching products.
Their comprehensive knowledge base will walk you through capturing subscribers and setting up sequences to send the right message, to the right person, at the right time. I’ve used Mailchimp in the past and by comparison ConvertKit is on a whole different level.
Constant Contact could be a good option if you need to send out newsletters for an eCommerce store. Unlike ConvertKit, Constant Contact has a range of templates for promoting products.
It’s an easy to use platform with a drag and drop editor. Create professional looking newsletters quickly and wow your followers.
Constant Contact is known for good delivery for emails – you want to make sure your emails are reaching your customers!
Blogging Tools – Page Builders
My view is the best way to build your pages is using the new Gutenberg editor that comes with WordPress. With plugins such as Atomic Blocks evolving, it’s difficult for page builders to compete.
But Gutenberg doesn’t have a drag and drop editor and that’s where page builders can save you a lot of time. I’ve tried out quite a few different page builders and Elementor is one of the easiest to use. Best of all it has a really good FREE version.
Having looked into the most popular page builders available, the clear winner for a new blogger is Elementor. A big plus is it’s free version.
The free version has 30 widgets you can use to edit your page and a number of free to use templates. You can easily change your fonts, add backgrounds, images and full width sections. There’s no real need to upgrade to the paid version of Elementor Pro although at $49 for a single site the price is reasonable.
My view is that Elementor is one of the cleanest page builders around and will have the least effect on load speed. It’s also less reliant on shortcodes than some of the other popular page builders. This means that if you decide to switch back to Gutenberg at a future date, your text will still be intact and you won’t have to retype your page from scratch.
Blogging Tools – Social Media Plugins
If you want your posts shared across social media – and who doesn’t – you need a social media plugin.
Social Warfare is my preferred social media plugin. I use it on both my sites, Simply Hatch and Love Life Be Fit. There’s an excellent FREE version but you need to upgrade to the Pro version if you want Pinterest Save It Pins on your site (something I strongly recommend for extra traffic).
Social Warfare has been essential for growing my blog traffic and has helped to quickly grow backlinks to my site as people share my posts across social media.
I use Tailwind to schedule my Pinterest pins. It’s an official Pinterest partner and widely used by all top pinners. With Tailwind I can set up my pinning schedule for the week in about 20 minutes flat and I use it to track the performance of all my pins. For me it’s an essential tool that’s helped me quickly grow my Pinterest following.
Images And Image Editing Blogging Tools
Images are essential for any blogging tool kit and one of the first skills you will need to master as a new blogger is image editing. It’s so important to make sure your images are optimized to load quickly on your blog.
I have a FaceBook Live video to get you started. It was my first ever FaceBook Live so it’s not the slickest video! Give my page a like while you’re there!
I use Canva to create all my Pinterest Pins and other social media graphics. There’s a free version that’s sufficient for most new bloggers.
I don’t think a day goes by when I’m not on Canva – that’s how important this blogging tool is!
Here’s a video taken from my Hatch A Blog course showing you how to use Canva.
I used Lunapic in the FaceBook Live session to edit images for FREE. It’s a good online tool and you can also use it to create a transparent background by removing a block colour.
I use PicMonkey for easily removing the background to images to create a transparent background.
While Lunapic provides you with an easy way to remove block colours, PicMonkey lets you cut out the image you want and paste it onto a background of your choice. It’s a really handy tool if you’re taking pictures of products and want to display them on a professional looking background.
PicMonkey is a good way to create these types of images where you need to carefully cut out out the image you want to display and paste onto a better background.
This is the plugin I use with my Simply Hatch site to minimize images.
Unsplash is an excellent source of beautiful royalty-free images.
I’ve been using a lot of images over the summer with my lifestyle blog Love Life Be Fit. I’ve found that whenever I’ve used stock photos from a paid plan my pins on Pinterest have performed better.
In fact all my viral pins on Love life Be Fit have been from paid image sources. I ended up redoing a lot of my images and replacing free with paid just to boost my traffic.
The deal is people get tired of seeing the same images. Now there’s no guarantee the paid images you use will be unique to your niche but compared with free images, which are everywhere, you will have an advantage.
If you want to go down the paid images route, Shutterstock is a good option. You can even give Shutterstock a try for free.
Affiliate marketing is an excellent way to start making money from your new blog. Amazon Associates is the route many people take to give affiliate marketing a try. Once you’ve started to establish your blog you can sign up for affiliate networks such as ShareASale.
The best way to find affiliate products is to search for a brand you know and love and add the word affiliate. However, there are big affiliate networks where you can research products. I use ShareASale just because it’s the network used for some of my favourite brands. It was an easy
Keyword Blogging Tools
Keyword research is vital for any blogger, even when starting out. Pro keyword tools can get really pricey. Fortunately there’s a good FREE tool you can use.
This tool by Neil Patel is free to use and an important aid for new bloggers.
Video Production Blogging Tools
I use the Logitech, C920 HD Pro Webcam for filming my videos and a Blue Yeti USB Microphone for recording sound. Both have been easy to set up. (You need to point the mic straight upwards). I use a stand for my micand this Smatree Adjustable Clamp to attach the webcam to the top of my computer. It means I can angle the webcam easily.
I have a brilliant pull up Neewer Green Screen. I use a green screen because I can’t imagine EVER being tidy enough to have one of those perfect stylised backdrops. Instead, I can just pull up the green screen and start recording.
I use Camtasia for editing videos (warning it’s expensive) but I need to be able to record my screen and I find it an impressive bloggging tool. There are cheaper options Pinnacle Studio 22 seems popular but I haven’t used it.
I got carried away with lighting. It will depend on the type of setup you have. My lights are similar to the ones in this set. I didn’t realise when I bought them that you need to place your lights behind your monitor, so I ended up taking the lightbox off the legs and stacking it on my printer. It works.
I hope you’ve found this post helpful and I’m sure I will be adding to it as time goes on. Any questions drop your comments below.
I’m always on the look out for good tools to use and I’m open to your suggestions!
If you’d like to know more about making money from blogging please explore my site or sign up for my FREE 5-Day Blog BOOSTER eCourse…