Starting a blog can seem overwhelming.
Choose your name.
Buy your domain.
Decide where to host your site.
And then after AALLLLLL of that actually write and put out a blog post.
But then there is Instagram and Facebook Business and do you really need an email list?
Phew. It can be a lot.
Don't worry, I've been right where you are my friend, trying to decide what programs to use, what platforms to buy, and how much money I should actually spend on all of this.
You can spend a lot of wasted time researching and trying to find the perfect platform for you, and that's why I wanted to show you the EXACT programs and platforms I use for my blog and business and what I've found works best for me.
Don't let the idea of having it all perfect before you start, keep you from actually starting. Just remember to start small and go from there. You can always change, you can always adapt, just find what works or doesn't work for you and start taking steps forward.
Because the key is to start, always.
Here we go.
Wix is my go-to for hosting my blog, website, and store. I was sold on WIX from the get-go because of its "what you see is what you get" easy to use format as well as having everything in one place.
I don't have any coding nor graphic design experience and without hiring someone, this was the easiest and cost effective choice for me.
GoDaddy is what I use to purchase my domain name. What I like about GoDaddy is that they are so well known, you can almost always find a tutorial or solution if you have any questions about connecting your website and domain.
MailChimp is the email marketing service I use for my weekly email (hey, you can sign up here to be a part of it!). They have a free plan (that's what I use) up to a certain amount of emails sent per month.
If there's one thing you should jump on board with as soon as you can, it's building an email list. It's one of the best and most effective ways to connect with your audience and it's the one thing you actually own. Social media is a great way to share your work but you don't actually own your accounts. If the Facebook empire were to disappear, all of your followers would too. No matter where you're at in your blogging journey you want to start growing your email list asap!
Grammarly is an online grammar and spell check platform. I use it to check my blog posts and email drafts before I post and send them out. I just use the free plan and it works great for what I need.
INSTAGRAM (BUSINESS ACCOUNT)
Almost everyone is familiar with Instagram. I use mine to connect with followers and show up and share my work almost daily (Add me on Instagram here!). If you're going to be using Instagram for your blog or business, I would encourage you to change yours to a business account.
A business account gives you insights into your followers and keeps track of specific account activity to help you understand your effectiveness.
Just keep in mind that in order to make your Instagram a business account, you must first have a Facebook business account (see below).
Planoly is an Instagram visual management platform. I juuuussstt started using the app because to help plan my Instagram posts and schedule them ahead of time.
I like to batch work my Instagram posts so I don't have to think of what I'm going to say every single day and Planoly is the app that makes this happen. Seriously, I highly recommend looking into using Planoly if you're using Instagram to promote your business or work at all!
Linktree is tool that helps promote various links to feature more of your work. I have mine linked in my Instagram bio and send people there when I want them to click on something. It allows me to have various links featured and gives my viewers an opportunity to see the different content that I've produced.
I made a separate business page on Facebook for my blog (Add me on Facebook here!). I mostly feature my Instagram posts as well as any links I think that will be helpful to my viewers.
I created a business page for two reasons, 1) because I needed one to create my Instagram business account and 2) I knew that if I ever wanted to sponsor posts to be seen by more people, I'd need a business account and I didn't want to have to scramble. I figured if I was posting on Instagram already, I could share the same things to my Facebook business and grow from there if I needed to.
I'm just getting into Pinterest but I keep hearing it's one of the main ways to drive traffic to your blog. I bought Jenna Kutcher's Pinterest course to make sure I did it right. I can't wait to learn more and dive in head first! (Stay tuned to see what I learn.)
I'm a part of the Amazon associates program and share Amazon affiliates. I create unique URL's that promote certain products I'm really excited about on Amazon and if someone makes a purchase, I earn a small commission.
I broke it all down in this blog post Everything You Need to Know About Amazon Affiliates.
Lightroom is an editing program that I use to edit the majority of my photos. Because I mostly use my phone to take photos, I just use a preset I created on the Lightroom app and use that for Instagram and my blog. We pay for the Lightroom program (among others) on our computers, mostly for larger editing projects, but I downloaded and use the free version on my phone.
Canva is a graphic design tool website. I LOVE this program. Again, it uses a drag and drop format that makes a non-designer like myself able to make some really cool content.
They have a whole collection of themes to choose from and adjust to fit your style. Whether you need thumbnails for your blog post or free stock images, Canva should be on your list of programs that will make your life easier.
Stripe is a technology based company that allows individuals and business to make and receive payments online. I use this in conjunction with my hat sales.
I was pretty hesitant and unsure of what the credit card payment process would look like and feeling confident about trusting any ole business online, but Stripe takes care of some of the biggest companies in the world and my experience has been nothing but easy.
ShippingEasy is a platform that allows businesses to print discounted shipping labels. Again, I use these in conjunction with my hat sales and haven't had any problems. I have my own shipping materials and use Shipping Easy to prepay my shipping labels so all I have to do is drop off the boxes at the post office.
That wasn't so bad, right? Blogging is great because you can change or adapt as you grow and need to. You can start small and take advantage of the free programs and as you grow, maybe start paying for some plans.
All of these resources have companies that do similar things but these are what have worked well for me. Don't hesitate to do your own research but make sure you keep moving forward with things. It's so easy to get caught up trying to make everything perfect, sometimes (almost every time actually) you just have to go for it!
Let me know what you think about the programs and platforms I use and if you have any questions about any of them. I'd love to let you know more about my experiences!
Happy writing my friend,
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