Before you start filling the internet with killer content, you’ll need to set up a blog (surprised?). Having personally gone through numerous websites and experimented with countless blogging tools & techniques, I’ve come up with the following resources that I found to be the most effective and user friendly.
These resources are enough for you to establish, manage, monitor and grow your online writing business. I will, however, keep reviewing this list regularly for any better replacements or additions.
Note: Some of these resources may contain Affiliate links and if you purchase these products/services through those links, I will earn money as well. However, that does not make them any less credible. I only endorse products/services that I’ve either personally used or have very strong recommendations from my trusted contacts.
The Basics – Setting Up Your Website
I’ve been using the web hosting services of Hostmonster since 2007 and have never felt the need to even consider any other hosting service. I have more than half a dozen websites hosted with Hostmonster and have never encountered any major problems. Their features and services are great but it’s their customer support that has made me a loyal user and an active advocate. Whenever I’ve faced any issues (rare downtimes, security, renewals etc.) their staff has swiftly resolved taken control and restored order. Certainly one of my strong recommendations.
WordPress is probably something every blogger would recommend. To call it a revolutionary tool would be an understatement. With WordPress, you can take complete control of your website without any dependency on a specialized web developer. WordPress offers an almost unlimited range of plugins and themes that are more than enough for any blogger to start his website.
Whenever I need a WordPress theme for any of my websites, I head straight to Themeforest. It has great themes for almost any kind of website from all major theme development websites. Some of the themes that I really like are Sahifa, Udesign and Simplog.
- WordPress Plugins
There are just too many to list over here. However, there a few that I have always found very useful.
- All in One SEO – An easy and effective plugin to get your basic SEO requirements fulfilled
- Google XML Sitemaps – Creates and submits your sitemap to major search engines
- WordTwit – Automatically Tweet your posts
- Digg Digg – A useful floating social media sharing widget
- Fast Secure Contact Form – Great plugin to create contact and sign up forms
- Contact Form to Database – An extension to the above, get all your form entries in a database
- WP Page Numbers – An old but useful plugin that gives your website easy pagination options.
Social Media & Web Analytics
- Google Analytics & Webmaster Tools
There are no better tools to track your website traffic and performance than Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools. Once you are done with setting up your website, adding a Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools account should be your first priority. It’s very simple to use and gives you priceless insights to your website audience and their preferences.
AddThis is the most convenient way to integrate all the necessary social media ingredients into your website. You can simply hand pick ready to use social media plugins and apply them to any segment of your website.
These plugins vary from social sharing widgets and icons to browser extensions and popup bars, and can be used to swiftly direct your visitors to your most valuable content.
On top of these plugins, AddThis provides a detailed analytics report that gives you the exact picture of your most popular content and its sharing patterns.
I am a huge fan of Buffer because it has made it very simple for me to manage all my social media accounts from a single window. You can use Buffer to schedule Tweets and Facebook updates for the whole week.
This awesome tool gives you video recordings of every visitor that come to your website. You can see exactly how your visitors behave and take corrective actions much more effectively.
Emails & Mailing List Subscription
I hope you use Gmail as your email service. But if you don’t, you should immediately switch. Apart from being the safest and the most reliable service around, Gmail gives you a single Id access to virtually unlimited Google services. So I would immediately make the change if I were you.
Yesware is a very useful Gmail plugin that lets you track all your emails. Once you install Yesware, the moment anyone opens your emails, you will get instant notifications about it. It also gives you useful details about the origin of the email reader and whether he has clicked on the links in your email or not. I find this very useful specially when I contact propective clients.
Easily the most useful email list service out there. It offers great all round features that you need to build, manage and grow your subscription base. You can get a one month trial for $1 only!