Running a blog is no joke and if you want to do it right then you will need some high powered tools in your belt to make everything run smooth and go fast.
Some people try to go bootstrap and get by with free themes, cheap hosting and no premium tools but what the soon find out is that they spend far too much time and energy manually doing things that could be done in seconds with the right tools, I personally would rather spend that time creating more content for my readers.
Here is a list of the top tools that I personally use to keep my blogs running like a finely tuned racecar (I would never recommend any product that I do not use myself)
Domains can be purchased from just about anywhere these days, seems like every-time you turn around there is a new domain registrar popping up looking for your business.
Many of these off the wall domain registrars have one thing in common, they all typically offer you a crazy low intro offer when you buy the domain and then bend you over when its time to renew.
I have fallen for these tactics once or twice but now I have 2 go to places to get all of my domain names.
Both are safe and reliable, they have consistent pricing and amazing customer support.
Chose one of these two and you cannot go wrong.
Godaddy – probably the biggest and baddest of all domain registrars, their customer support is first class all the way and the promotions they run are crazy stupid, I normally can pick up a .com domain for a year for less than $5 but be careful of all the up-sells you don’t need and expect the price to renew your domain after the first year to double.
NameCheap – I recently started using NameCheap and have to say that I am really impressed with their customer support and user friendly interface. I feel that NameCheap is a lot easier to use than GoDaddy although GoDaddy is pretty straight forward as well. What I like about NameCheap is they provide the first year of WhoIs Privacy protection for free then just charge you a couple bucks for each additional year, you will pay a little more for the domain at NameCheap than GoDaddy on most days but when you factor in the price of privacy protection and renewals, it all balances out.
This is probably one of the most important decisions you can make when getting your new blog/ website live on the internet.
Choosing the right hosting provider is so important because if you go strictly on price you may soon realize that you really do get what you pay for and the $2 a month hosting plan with really terrible customer support and low bandwidth allowance may not have been the best way to go.
Go with the one of the big names on this one, it may cost you a dollar or two more a month but trust me, if your site is constantly down and there is no one who will provide you with any support, is it really worth saving a buck?
I have a lot of sites and am always testing different hosting companies, my all time numero uno hosting provider is Hostgator.
Hostgator – I have been with them since day one when I published my first site online 4 years ago, I have never had 1 problem that the live chat support could not walk me through in a matter of minutes and you never have to worry about their reliability, they are truly the best there is, my opinion of course.
Not really anything else to say about hosting providers except there are some other good ones out there including BlueHost, GoDaddy hosting and I just started using Hostnine for some of my local lead generation sites and really like them so far.
There are so many WordPress themes out there its amazing that anyone ever settles on one, including myself.
I am always looking at new themes and seeing if one would better fit my needs, I strongly urge you not to do this as it takes away from your focus to deliver awesome content to your readers, I just wish I would listen to my own advice.
When it comes to themes I like simple, clean and very minimalist so the visitor is not distracted by everything going on on the page and can really focus on the content.
Take this blog for example, very simple, nothing fancy what-so-ever and that’s the way I like it.
When it comes to themes, there are only two that match exactly what I am looking for:
Genesis Framework by StudioPress – while there are a ton of child themes you can add to get the look and feel that matches your preferences, Genesis is super user friendly, SEO optimized and mobile responsive, I really like this theme.
(Next35.com is currently running Genesis Framework with the InSpyr child theme but will soon be getting a face lift with a custom Genesis child theme that will make my blog truly one of a kind 🙂 )
Thesis by DIY Themes – If I was not using Genesis I would definitely be using Thesis which I use on several of my other blogs. Thesis is an amazing theme because it can be customized so many ways to look however you want it to, I actually chose Genesis because I spent to much time customizing things that didn’t need to be changed on Thesis just because I could.
Autoresponders are the way to build your email subscriber list and really build lasting relationships between you and your readers so ensure that you chose a good one.
If you are just getting started and not getting any traffic yet this may not be that important of a tool but when you start getting descent traffic to your blog make sure that you have your autoresponder in place so that people can join your email list and have your email followup series in place to constantly remind them to keep coming back to your site.
I personally user Aweber – hands down the best there is and most user friendly on the market.
SeoPressor – hands down the best on-page optimization plugin on the market for WordPress. I have been using SeoPressor for about 2 years and have really seen my ranking skyrocket since installing it on my blogs. This is the one tool that I cannot live without because it lets me know instantly how well I have written my blog posts before I publish them.
IFTTT – If This Then That – is a free service that syndicates your content to all of your social media channels on auto-pilot so all you have to do is set it up and forget about it, anytime you publish new content, upload a new video, post to Facebook, IFTTT will instantly share those updates on the social channels you setup so you do not have to which will add good backlinks coming back to your blog, did I mention it was FREE!!
If you ever want anyone to see your blog and read your content then you must target the right keywords and when it comes to finding the perfect keywords to create your content around there really is only one amazing keyword tool on the market.
Long Tail Pro – the only keyword tool I will ever use to help me find the perfect keywords to target. Long Tail Pro will not only tell you basic information like how many searches per month a keyword gets, how much you can expect to pay if you run a CPC campaign for that keyword but it will also show you how competitive the keyword is, if the exact match domain is available, the top 10 search results and so much more.
Market Samurai – I bought the lifetime access to Market Samurai when I was first getting started and really liked it until I found Long Tail Pro, I still use it for competition analysis all the time, it is a pretty awesome tool as well for analyzing keywords.
Other Tools I Use
Camtasia – I use Camtasia for screen recording all of the videos I make. This is by far the best screen recorder on the market and editing your videos is a piece of cake with this awesome software.
VideoMaker FX – I use VideoMaker FX to make all of my animated and whiteboard videos, these videos are super easy to make and are just as powerful as a screen recorded or live video.
YouTube – I host all of my videos for free on YouTube, why pay for something if you don’t have to and YouTube is one of the most popular websites on the internet so you can really drive a lot of traffic back to your site with your YouTube videos.
If you have any questions about any of these tools or if you need any assistance is using them, leave me a comment below or contact me here.