Blogging Resources

I get questions from my readers quite often about the products and services that I used in my blog.  I thought it would be helpful to create a resource page where readers and other bloggers can use the resources that I find most useful. The list will be updated often as I find different blogging resources that are worth mentioning.Running a blog can be a challenge. These blogging resources are all ones that I use and recommend to any blogger.

Blogging Resources for Home and Garden Bloggers

Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and I will earn a small commission if you purchase through those links. These are all products or services that I use myself.  I recommend them because I find that the companies are helpful and trustworthy. Please let me know if you have any questions about anything listed below!

Getting started with your own Home and Garden blog

Before you can use the blogging resources that I do, you will need to have a blog in place.  If you don’t, I have written a whole article on how to start a home and garden blog. It gives lots of information and a step by step tutorial for setting up a new blog. The tutorial is a good place to start since it walks you through the whole process of getting a domain name, a web host and installing blogging software on your computer.How to start a home and garden blog in five easy steps

Web Hosting

A web host is necessary to store your photos and files. I use A2 Hosting for mine and love them.

I host my files at A2 Hosting.

The company has an easy way to get up and running with your blog and is very affordable. Their up time is amazing and the customer service cannot be beat.  I use a VPS managed server, but they have starter packages that are very inexpensive.  They have a whole host of plans as your blog grows. Find out more about A2 Hosting here.

WordPress

Free Themes for WordPress – WordPress has thousands of free themes available.  If you are not interested in purchasing a paid theme right away, this is a great place to start.  It will allow you to start your blog without spending a lot of money in the beginning. There is lots of research online about the themes and be sure to check the themes rating before you download it and install it onto your blog.  Look for themes with a four or five star rating.

The theme that I use on my blog is a paid theme called Magazine Premium, but they also have a free version as well with a few less bells and whistles.

MailChimp

MailChimp is the email marketing software I use to send the Gardening Cook blog posts to readers by email. I use a type of campaign that is called an RSS-to-Email campaign. Each time that a new blog post is written, it is added to the email. I send it out twice a week to catch readers up to what has been added to the site. MailChimp is simple, powerful, and they also have very good customer support. They even have an account option that’s completely free! Check out MailChimp here.

 

MailChimp logo

ViralTag

Any home and garden blogger knows the value of Pinterest.  It is an amazing platform for sending traffic to your blog. Like all forms of social media, it can also be a huge time suck.  What starts out as a few minutes “just looking around” can end up as hours wasted.  Viraltag is essential for me to schedule my pins so that I have the time needed to actually create content for my blog.  The pin scheduler is worth its weight in gold and is high on my list of blogging resources for a reason – it sames me so much time! They have plans in all sizes and prices and each plan has a 14 day trial. Check out ViralTag here. 

Viraltag logo

PicMonkey

Photo editing is a big part of running a blog.  I use the paid version of PicMonkey. It has a lot of bells and whistles that make it worth the small fee.  They also have a free plan too. You can check out PicMonkey here.PicMonkey Logo

Driving Traffic to Your BlogWord cloud blog traffic

It does not matter how great your content is if you cannot get traffic to come to your blog to see what has been written. These are the main sites that I use to submit my content so that it gets better visibility on the web. 

  • Food Gawker – it’s hard to get accepted but drives traffic well
  • Tastespotting – Another foodie site that takes requires amazing photography
  • Craft Gawker – Are you a crafter? Try to get your projects listed here.
  • Pinterest – Pinterest is free to use and drives traffic like nothing else.
  • Hometalk – This is a free DIY and Garden site and the team will sometimes feature a post of mine for great traffic.

GiveawaysGiveaways

Hosting a giveaway is a great way to get new people to come to your blog.  Some of them will love your content and become regular readers.  Here are a few of the sites that I use to post and promote my giveaways. Most of these sites are free. A few have paid plans or require some form of social sharing in return for a link to your site.

Learning SEO

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is an essential skill that any blogger needs to get their content seen in Google Search.  If you manage to get a blog post to page one of Google, you will be astounded at the daily traffic that comes to that page. I purchased a wonderful SEO course last year called CONQUER the Layers of Search Engine Optimization. The course is self led from 36 easy to follow modules. It teaches you how to create landing pages and optimize old content to really rank with Google.  I can’t say enough good things about the course! It is one of my favorite blogging resources. I have learned so much from using it. Find out all about Conquer here.Conquer SEO course

Blog Planning

Trying to fit everything involved in running a successful blog into one day, week or month can be a challenge. This is where a great blogging planner comes into play. I have used a version of this Blog Planner from My Joy Filled Life for years and love all of the information that it contains. Of all the blogging resources that I have listed, this one will have you churning out content like a pro!

WordPress Plugins

There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of WordPress plugins available to use. These are a few that I use all the time and recommend highly.

  • Easy Azon. Great for adding Amazon Affiliate links easily
  • Easy Recipe.  (I use the plus paid version but there is a free version.)
  • Jamie Social Icons (good for adding your social sharing buttons)
  • Quick Adsense. (Fast and simple way to add Adsense ads to your site.)
  • Yoast SEO (great for leaning basic SEO techniques.)

Analyzing your TrafficGoogle Analytics

Google Analytics is the way to go.  I use it in conjunction with Google Webmaster Tools (particularly their search console) to get in depth analysis of my traffic! Just connect your blog to Google Analytics so you can track all of your stats, set up goals and view your conversions. You can even see visitors in real time, which is super awesome. If you use just one of my recommended blogging resources right from the start, this is the one!

Banner AdvertisingMediavine Advertising

The main way that most blogs earn money to pay for their expenses is through some form of banner advertising.  I have used various providers in the past with so so results.  My current ad provider is MediaVine.  I can’t say enough good things about this company! Their customer service is unparalleled. They look at the whole site as a unit and not just as a way to earn ad income.  Find out more about MediaVine here.

My Newsletter

The Gardening Cook has an extensive library of pages related to all aspects of running a home and garden. Whether you are an experienced gardener or a beginner….whether you are a master cook, or just a novice, I have tried to cover every category for you. . The Gardening Cook Newsletter My newsletter will allow you to catch up on the best in gardening ideas, household and cooking tips and loads of great recipes. It will also give you some inspiration about what to do for the coming weekend. Just add your email address to .  You will receive a confirmation email that can take several minutes to arrive. Once you confirm this, you will be all set up to receive the newsletter. Don’t worry, your email address is safe. I will only use it to send out the newsletter.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small commission from the sale, but the price is the same for you. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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