Ah, the elusive stock photo. Well, stock photos aren’t elusive. But awesome ones that you haven’t already seen 10000 times can be. I’ve managed to find a few go-to sites where I find almost all of my photos. Here are 10 places to find stock photos for your blog.
I’m a sucker for a good girly/styled stock photo. Put some pearls on a gold Macbook and I’m there. But even if your needs are a little more advanced than mine, these sites will have you covered.
10 Places to Find Stock Photos For Your Blog
Bloguettes is my absolute favorite. I love almost every one of their pics and I use them constantly. And they’re not too overused!
Love Haute Chocolate. You see her stuff everywhere, but it’s because it’s that good.
Pink Pot (aka Creative Convex) has fabulous girly stock photos. And you can get big bundles, too!
Creative Market is full of stock photos. Pretty much whatever you want, you could find there.
Same goes for Etsy. People put fabulous stuff up there.
Pixabay is my favorite free source for stock pics. Yes, some are way over used, and yes, some are terrible. But I’ve also gotten some really good ones there too!
Unsplash is another great free source of pics.
Same goes for Kaboom Pics. All free!
Wonderfelle has great girly styled stock pics, and I don’t see them in too many places. Score!
SC Stock Shop
More great girly pics from SC Stock Shop!
When I first started blogging, I would just write my post, hit publish, and be done. Not so much anymore. Now I have a whole list of things that must be done before and after publishing each blog post. Things to get your post noticed on your blog, on the internet, and on social media. “How to promote your blog” is a major topic. But this list will help.
Do not consider your job done once you write the great content. Not that great content isn’t important. Obviously writing killer content is the first and best thing you can and should do. But, assuming you’ve got that taken care of, these are the other things you should do to make sure that your blog post is optimized for success.
The Complete List of What to do Before and After Hitting Publish on Every Blog Post
Before Hitting Publish:
Once you write your content, there’s a lot to do before you can hit publish. There’s a lot that goes into a blog post, besides the blog post. Knowing how to promote your blog includes knowing what to do BEFORE you hit publish.
Make sure that you’re using headings in your post. (As I am here). It makes the post easier to read. People are likely to skim the post, so headings make it easier for them to do so and find what they want, keeping them on the page for longer. You can set headings right in the toolbar above where you type your content:
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Use Grammarly to proofread
I use Grammarly (affiliate link) to proofread all my posts. I love this tool. It catches everything, from dumb typos to advanced grammatical mistakes. You can install an extension on Chrome that will catch things automatically for you. Or you can copy-paste your post into the Grammarly site and proofread it that way. Either way, it’s a win.
Use your categories and tags
Make sure to set your categories and tags. This is a simple step, but it’ll be a nightmare later on if you realize 100 posts later that you should have been categorizing everything. So do it on every post and save yourself a headache.
Set up Yoast SEO
You should be using the (free) Yoast SEO plugin. It’s the easiest way to SEO-optimize your site, without knowing anything about SEO. Aside from doing a bunch of stuff on the backend, it will also tell you in each post what needs to be done to make it more SEO-friendly. So you can fix it in advance.
Here’s what I need to fix before I hit publish on this post:
Create blog images
Create a featured image for your post, at the very least. And maybe some images to go in the post too, if appropriate. I like to use branded featured images, rather than just random stock photos. I create these on Canva, which is free, easy to use, and basically my soulmate. If you know how to use Photoshop, you could of course use that. Other options include Stencil, Pic Monkey, and Snappa (affiliate link). But whatever you use, make sure you’re creating great branded images.
Get your free “What do Do Before and After Hitting Publish” Checklist! Get your checklist
Create social media images
You also need to promote your post on your social media networks (more on that below). So create images using the same tools I just mentioned. Branded images are a good thing.
Create a content upgrade
Every blog post should have a content upgrade. Ideally, it should be an individualized one, specifically for that blog post. But if not, one of your more generic ones will do. But make sure that you’re offering it in your actual blog post (more on how to do this below).
I use Beacon to create my content upgrades and I love it. It’s really easy use to use and the PDFs look great. For examples, check out my resource library (you can get the password right here). You can also use Photoshop, Apple Pages, Canva, or Google Docs.
Create a Leadbox for your content upgrade
To insert my content upgrades into my blog posts, I use Leadboxes, which are a feature of Leadpages (affiliate link). After I create the content upgrade (see above), I create a Leadbox, which is basically a pop-up connected to a button. The pop-up offers the content upgrade. Then I insert the button into the blog post. So when someone clicks it, they’ll get the pop-up. When they insert their info, ConvertKit will automatically send them the PDF (more on this below). It works beautifully, and I use it in pretty much every blog post.
And oh by the way, if you want the PDF guide for THIS blog post, just click this Leadboxes button: Get your checklist.
Create a ConvertKit form
To integrate your Leadbox with ConvertKit (affiliate link), you need to create a form in ConvertKit. This creates a sign-up form, but you don’t use the actual form, you just use the integration feature. You hook the form up with your Leadbox, then you tell ConvertKit that anyone who signs up for that form should get an email attaching your content upgrade. Upload your content upgrade to ConvertKit, and you’re all set.
After Hitting Publish:
Check it over
Always go look at the post and make sure that everything looks the way it should. Sometimes something just gets lost in translation. Better to realize it now than a month from now. Knowing how to promote your blog definitely involves knowing what to do after you hit publish.
Load your content upgrade into your resource library
If you have a resource library (which you should), you’ll want to upload your new content upgrade to your library. You can get the password to access my library right here. You can create your own resource library using Essential Grid (affiliate link), which I love.
Load it into Edgar
Once you’ve published and have your link, you’ll want to load it into your social media automation tool so that it’ll get promoted on Twitter and Facebook. I use Meet Edgar for this, and LOVE it. I load everything into Edgar and then it just gets recycled on a promotion cycle over and over again.
Even though I’ve loaded it into Edgar, I like to tweet it right away too.
Post it on Facebook
Same with Facebook. Put it on your page, or in your group.
Post it on Instagram
And it also goes on Instagram. I create a promotional image just for Instagram, and then I caption it with something about the article.
Make sure that you’re using your pinable image and that it gets onto as many board as possible.
Put it in an email
If you have some kind of a weekly newsletter, you might want to send out the link to your new article. I only do this with particularly exciting articles, but some people do it for every article on a weekly basis. Up to you.
Get your free “What do Do Before and After Hitting Publish” Checklist! Get your checklist
Boom, there you have it. That’s the looong list of things I do before and after every blog post to make sure that it is optimized and gets promoted properly.
What do you do before and after you post?
Are you using Canva to make graphics for your blog and social media? If you’re not, you’re missing out. Unless you’re one of those magical people who knows how to use Photoshop, in which case, I salute you. But, if you’re like me, and Photoshop is a no-go, Canva is the solution. And, it’s free. Knowing how to make graphics for your blog is a big part of blogging. Canva is a huge help.
Here are 12 ways that I use Canva for my blog, my social media, and my business.
One: Pinable Images
Perhaps most crucially, I use Canva to make my pinable images for every single blog post. As we call know, Pinterest is crucial, and you’ve got to have a good pinable image for every post.
Two: Blog Post Featured Images
I generally make featured images that coordinate with the pinable image.
Three: Twitter/Facebook Images
I use Canva to create Twitter and Facebook images to go along with blog posts or other promotional posts. Posts with a graphic tend to do way better on social networks, so this is pretty important.
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Four: Instagram Images
I promote on Instagram all the time. And almost all of my images get made on Canva.
Five: Sidebar Images
I use Canva to create graphics for my sidebar to promote particular blog posts or lead magnets that I want people to know about. These go right in my sidebar, with a link to the Leadbox for whatever it is I’m promoting. For example:
Six: Twitter/Facebook Covers
My cover images and board covers are all made on Canva. Important for branding.
I also use Canva to create my icons and favicons for blog or Facebook profile.
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Eight: Teachable Graphics
I’m currently in the process of creating a new course on Teachable (so excited about that, btw)! It’s called Break Into Blogging and it’s going to be awesome. But, more to the point, I create the Teachable graphics with Canva.
Nine: Lead Magnets
I usually use Beacon for my lead magnets nowadays. But, before I discovered Beacon, I used Canva.
Ten: Blog Background Images
Now that I’ve switched to Divi theme, I need lots of background images to make it look all pretty.
Eleven: Blog Images
I also use Canva on my homepage to add “featured areas.” Like this:
Twelve: Landing Pages Images
I use Leadpages allll the time. And sometimes I need images for it. So, you guessed it:
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So, there it is. Twelve ways that I use Canva (basically every day) for my blog, business, and social media.
How are you using Canva?
How much time do you spend running around on Google trying to find the right tool for this and that? Well, look no further. I’ve compiled the ultimate list of resources for blogging bloggers everywhere. If you need it for your blog, it’s most likely on this list. So, have at it.
The Ultimate Blogging Resource Guide
Updated: December 8, 2016.
Note: This post contains affiliate links. That means that if you buy something through one of these links, I get a small commission. There is zero cost to you, but it helps me fund Blogs by Becca. I appreciate your support!
Click here to get The Ultimate Blogging Resource Guide! GET YOUR GUIDE!
ConvertKit: All email services can send automated emails and keep track of your list. So, obviously ConvertKit does this. But what makes ConvertKit so awesome is its automation features. You can automate everythingggg. Create rules that say “When someone clicks on the link to this Pinterest article, they’ll be tagged as ‘Interested: Pinterest’ and they’ll get a special automated series about my Pinterest course.” Or, “When someone signs up through this form for my 10 Tools/10 Tips/10 Days course, they’ll automatically get 10 days worth of emails from the course.” Everyone in my list is tagged multiple times based on how they signed up and what they’re interested in. And they get specific emails based on that. I could go on and on. Love it.
Mail Chimp: I’m not a big Mail Chimp fan. But, it is free for up to 2000 subscribers, so that’s not a bad thing. And a lot of people swear by it. I’m not one of those people, but to each their own.
AWeber: AWeber doesn’t seem to have the star power that ConvertKit and Mail Chimp have, but I actually like it. I use it for my second blog. It’s not as straightforward as ConvertKit, but it does have a lot of the same features. Between the two, though, I’d go with ConvertKit.
MailerLite: I’ve never used MailerLite, so I can’t vouch for it either way. But, I include it because I’ve seen a lot of people that really seem to like it. Also, it’s free for up to 1000 subscribers. So, consider it an alternative to Mail Chimp if you’re just starting out and/or are on a budget.
OptinMonster: OptinMonster has tons of options for opt-ins, including welcome mats, notification bars, pop-ups, inline posts, and more. It’s all very customizable. And I like the success messages that come with it, some of which allow for the automatic download of a lead magnet. What I dislike about OptinMonster is that it does not store the email addresses, so I always get nervous that something will happen with the intergration and I’ll lose emails. Not that that’s ever happened. But, my nerves are my nerves.
Leadpages: Second only to ConvertKit, Leadpages is my favorite blogging tool. Use it to create super customizable landing pages OR to create pop-ups that can be used to deliver content upgrades in individual blog posts. I use it literally every day. All of my signups for thinks like courses and webinars are on Leadpages (see here or here). And I use the Leadboxes/buttons feature to deliver all my content upgrades in individual blog posts. Such as, right here: Click this snazzy little button to get the PDF version of this Ultimate Blogging Resources Guide! GET YOUR GUIDE! (No really, that’s not just an example. Do it). For real, I use Leadpages for everything. I do not know how I would blog without it.
(No really, that’s not just an example. Do it). For real, I use Leadpages for everything. I do not know how I would blog without it.
SumoMe: SumoMe comes with 10 apps. A few of which I honestly don’t use. But about half of which are opt-ins, which I totally do use. Welcome mats (my favorite), notification bars, pop-ups, scroll boxes, share bars, and image share buttons. All super useful for opt-ins and social sharing. The free version is totally doable, but if you really want to kick it up a notch, go for the Pro version, which has waaay more design customization features. Their Pro welcome mats are my favorite thing.
Convert Plug: I like the look of the Convert Plug opt-ins a lot. I used it for a while when I was using X Theme (it comes with the theme, along with a ridiculous amount of other cool plug-ins). I am no longer using X Theme, so I stopped using Convert Plug. But I do like it.
Magic Action Box: Lots of customizable “boxes” to be made here. Pop-ups and inline posts, mainly. I find that it has a pretty unique look, which I am a fan of.
ConvertKit: CK is an email provider, not an opt-in provider. But, I mention it because I really do like their forms. They’re super simple, so if you’re looking for some super flashy thing with all the bells and whistles, CK forms are not for you. But I like to mix it up with a mix of the simple and the not simple, so I’m a fan of these. I love ConvertKit anyway for all its email features, so I’d be using it regardless, but I really do like the forms.
Bloom: Bloom comes with the Elegant Themes package, which includes 80-something themes (including Divi) and a bunch of plug-ins. It’s a good source of your standard opt-in options.
Leadpages: See above. I love, love Leadpages. I use the landing pages for all kinds of sign ups. Courses, email courses, webinars, plain old email opt-ins. Also thank you pages and live webinar pages. It’s one of my number one tools, for sure. Highly recommend. Here are a couple examples: here and here.
Instapage: Instapage is another landing page provider. I have never used it, but I’ve heard good things on Twitter (for what that’s worth).
Bluehost: I use Bluehost and I like them. I can’t say I’ve never had a tech issue, but I’ve always been able to resolve the issues with their live chat.
Inmotion Hosting: I’ve never used the rest of these hosting providers. But these are the ones that I’ve heard good things about on the internets.
Host Gator: See above.
Site Ground: See above.
Asana: I use Asana for my task lists and I’m a big fan. It’s technically made for team projects, and I’m the sole member of my team, but I find that it works just fine for one person. Make task lists, calendars, projects, etc. It’s a great organization tool. I used to say that Trello might be better because of its boards features, but a few weeks ago Asana came out with essentially the exact same feature. So, now Asana has them beat (sorry, Trello). And, it’s free.
Trello: I was a Trello fan until I started using Asana. I really like the boards way of organizing things. And I still like Trello. But, Asana has so many other task lists features. So, if I’m only going to use one (and it doesn’t really make sense to use more than one), it’s going to be Asana. That being said, I still like Trello, so we can still be friends if you like it better.
Evernote: Pretty much the ultimate note taking app. It does basically everything. I use it to keep track of all my random little notes throughout the day, both for the blog and for all the random “life stuff” that comes up.
Click here to get The Ultimate Blogging Resource Guide! GET YOUR GUIDE!
Google Analytics: You really have to use Google Analytics. As far as I know, there is no second option. It’s free, and it’s just what everyone uses to track their analytics. So, use it.
Iconosquare: Instagram analytics. I love this thing. It tracks every imaginable kind of Instagram analytic. Followers, media posts, what filters you’re using, unfollowers…everything. Now, Instagram analytics are probably not a matter of life and death. But, I love them, Iconosquare is not very expensive, and I find that it helps.
Sprout Social: Sprout keeps track of Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and Linked In. It has very cool analytics. But, it is not cheap (I believe it starts at $60/month). They do a free trial, which is why I’ve used it. But I won’t lie–I do not pay for it.
Buffer: Buffer is a social media automation tool, but they also offer social media analytics.
HootSuite: Similar to Buffer, it’s a social media automation tool that also offers analytics.
Google Adsense: Paid Google ads. Pretty much speaks for itself.
Outbrain. Paid content ads that go on other websites.
Taboola. Similar to Outbrain.
Social media networks/places to share your posts:
Facebook: Obviously we all know what Facebook is. Create a Page for your blog, and maybe a related Group.
Twitter: Again, you know what Twitter is. Go tweet.
Instagram: And I’m sure you’re on board with Instagram. You can read my 7 Tips to Rock It here.
Pinterest: You know what Pinterest is, and if you’re like me, you’re obsessed. Read How to be Perfect on Pinterest right here and start strategizing for your account.
Bloglovin’: If you haven’t heard of Bloglovin’, it’s basically an RSS aggregator for blogs. It’s good to have your blog on there because you can get followers and therefore readers. It’s free and easy to sign up, so no reason not to.
Google Plus: As far as I know, Google Plus is far less popular than Facebook or Twitter. Still, it’s got a real presence. I don’t use it personally, but plenty of people do. So go for it if you’re looking for something new.
Flipboard: Flipboard is one that you might not have heard of. It’s kind of like Pinterest, except only for articles, and instead of “pinning” you “flip.” You create “magazines” with your favorite articles by “flipping” articles into the magazine. Other people can flip your articles into their magazines and/or follow your magazine. If your social sharing sharebar allows you to add Flipboard, always a good idea to do so.
Snapchat (get the app): Snapchat is the hottest thing out there right now. No longer is it just for rambunctious 17 year olds. It now has legitimate business purposes.
Reddit: To be honest, I don’t really use Reddit. But once in a while one of my posts will get on there, and it will go nuts for a few days. Add a Reddit button if you don’t have one.
Stumbleupon: Stumbleupon gives people basically random articles based on their interests. Add your articles in there, and someone may stumbleupon them. Once in a while I’ll have something get hot on there and I’ll get some clicks from it.
Quora: Quora is a forum for Q&As. People ask all kinds of questions. If you can answer something with one of your blog posts, do it, and it may get clicked on for ages.
Medium: Medium allows people to share all kinds of articles. Most will probably never get noticed, but if you hit it right, you could hit it big.
LinkedIn: LinkedIn, is, of course, the professional social network. I don’t use it for blog purposes (I do use it for my “real job”), but some people seem to love it.
Slideshare: Slideshare (a LinkedIn product) allows you to post slidedecks on all sorts of topics. If one gets popular, you could see a ton of hits from it. I haven’t had one go really viral, but anecdotally I’ve heard that it can happen and can lead to major traffic.
Social Media Tools:
Iconosquare: Iconosquare is an Instagram analytics tools. It allows you to see pretty much every kind of analytics you could think of for Instagram–followers, unfollowers, media posted, likes, comments, etc. You can also follow and unfollow people on there (manually, not auto-spam). I use it all the time.
Meet Edgar: Meet Edgar is an automated tool for Twitter and Facebook posting. You create a content library with all your tweets/posts, and then Edgar puts them out at scheduled times. The cool and unique thing about Edgar, as opposed to some of its competitors, is that it recycles the tweets/posts. So once it’s done them all, it starts back at 1. So you have very little work to do after initial set up. All I do is add any new articles in, which takes all of 10 seconds. The rest is on autocycle, so I spent almost no time worrying about Twitter or Facebook. Thumbs up.
Tweetdeck: Twitter scheduling and monitoring.
Buffer: Post on Twitter and Facebook, and kind of remind yourself to post on Instagram. Also has analytics.
Hootsuite: Similar to Buffer.
PostPlanner: Schedule posts on Twitter and Facebook. And also find content to post.
Sprout: Sprout has amazing analytics on pretty much any Twitter or Facebook subject you could ask about. Expensive, but, great analytics.
Board Booster: Board Booster is a Pinterest automation tool. You pin your pins at your leisure to “secret boards” and then Board Booster takes the pins from the secret boards and puts them on your real boards on a set schedule. So that way you’re pinning a few things all throughout the day, instead of pinning 100 things at once and then nothing for 3 days. It also has a feature called “looping,” which takes your old pins and re-pins them, giving them another chance to be seen. Also included are analytics, and a cool feature called “Pin Doctor,” which analyzes all your pins and checks for things like broken links that can make Pinterest mad at you. It’s a great automation tool.
Tailwind: Tailwind is the alternative to Board Booster (or Board Booster is the alternative to Tailwind, if you prefer). It’s also a Pinterest automation tool. You pin things to Tailwind, and then it disperses them on a set schedule. It’s got analytics, and lots of ways to view your pins and what’s happening with repins, clicks, etc. Another great automation tool.
For a full article on plug-ins, see The Ultimate Plug-in Resource Guide. Lots of detail there!
“Fun Stuff to Add” plug-ins:
Essential Grid: Create photo galleries or stream your Instagram. Or, create a resource library to share all your content upgrades. Check mine out to see what I mean. I love Essential Grid. One of my favorite plug-ins, for sure.
Inline Related Posts: Puts related posts throughout your content. A good way to get more clicks.
Slider Revolution: Very fancy slider plug-in. Create amazing sliders with photos and videos and text and animation and pretty much any other thing you could also for.
Democracy Poll: Good for creating polls for people to vote on things. Not the most essential thing on the planet, but a fun feature.
Envira Gallery: Create gorgeous photo galleries.
WP Instagram Widget: Adds your Instagram stream to your sidebar or footer.
Contact Form 7: Creates contact forms. Not super exciting. But you need a contact form, and this is pretty much the gold standard.
“Make Your Blog Run Faster and Better” Plug-ins:
EWWW Image Optimizer: Optimizes your images to make your blog run faster and smoother.
Akismet: Anti-spam plug-in. Yay for no more spam.
BackWPup: Backs up your blog. Important, for obvious reasons.
W3 Total Cache: Makes your blog run faster by doing all sorts of techie things. That’s my best explanation.
Thirsty Affiliates: Organize your affiliate links. SUPER useful if you have a lot of links. Or even if they’re not affiliate links, you could just use it for regular links.
Google Analytics: Installs the GA code onto your blog so you don’t have worry about doing it right.
Pinterest Verify: Installs the Pinterest verification code onto your blog. I fight with this thing every time, so this one is useful.
Maintenance: Puts up a “coming soon” type page in place of your homepage. Useful if you’re launching, or if you just need to take your blog down for maintenance for the day.
Social Sharing Plug-ins:
SumoMe: See above. Share bars and image sharing buttons.
Cresta Social Share: Another share bar. Allows for a lot of customization.
Social Warfare: Very popular share bar. Lots of customization.
Simple Social Icons: Put social icons in your sidebar.
King Sumo: King Sumo is the ultimate giveaway plug-in. I warn you, this is probably the most expensive thing on this entire resource list. But, if you want the best of the best viral giveaways, this is where it’s at. Aside from the fact that it’s easy to use and looks great, the advantage of King Sumo is that it promotes social sharing. It generates a unique link for every subscriber and tells them that for every friend that signs up through their link, they’ll get an extra [3, 5, 10, whatever] number of entries. So it encourages people to share your giveaway on Facebook or Twitter or whatever, getting you more entries and more subscribers. It also integrates perfectly with most email providers (including my fav, ConvertKit, so you’re covered there). If you entered my Organized Blogger Bundle giveway, that was the work of King Sumo. I also like that it creates an entire page for itself, as opposed to just being embedded on a normal page.
ContestFriend: If you want a free alternative to King Sumo, ContestFriend does more or less the same thing. But, it looks a fraction as nice. So, trade offs.
Gleam: Gleam is another giveaway platform. This one is not a plug-in, rather you sign up on the website. You can host all kinds of contests and giveaways, including Instagram photo contests. I have not tried doing so yet, but I hear good things.
Page Builder plug-ins:
Beaver Builder: Claims to work with any theme. I haven’t really tested that theory, but the little that I have played with it, it’s very easy to use.
Visual Composer: I find VC kind of hard to get the hang out, but some people really like it.
Divi (Divi Theme): I’ve just started experimenting with Divi. So far, so good. I like that you can type right on the page and drag sizes around. I haven’t used it a ton yet, though.
Cornerstone (X Theme): I used Cornerstone when I was using X Theme, and I really liked it. I found it very easy to use and customize.
Notification Bars Plug-ins:
WP Notification Bar: Probably the best notification bar out there. It can do a huge number of things, including links, buttons, countdowns, social buttons, and more. And it’s all customizable with colors and buttons and whatnot. The downside is that there’s a yearly fee. But it looks and functions great.
Bug-me-bar: Bug-me-bar’s main coolness is that it changes colors. I love that it changes colors. The reason I don’t use it, is because you can’ t put a button or a fill-in field on it, just links. So it’s not super functional. But I do love those changing colors.
Note: SumoMe and OptinMonster also have this capability (see above in the opt-in section).
Welcome Mat Plug-ins:
SumoMe, LeadPages, and OptinMonster all have this capability. See above.
Yoast: There are other SEO plug-ins, but I’ve never really hard anyone recommend them. Yoast is really where it’s at. It both works behind the scenes and prompts you to change things in your post to up your SEO. It’s easy to use, and I’ve really never heard a bad thing about it. A must-have.
Themes (places to buy):
There are any number of places to buy themes, but here are a few of my favorites.
Creative Market: Creative Market is kind of like Etsy, but for things like themes and fonts and other electronic things. It’s got really, really great stuff from independent people. I’ve seen tons of great themes on there, and have purchased from them in the past. I love browsing on there and do it all the time (probably too much).
Etsy: We all know what Etsy is. But you may not have known that they also have themes. Well, they do. Check it out.
Theme Forest: Theme Forest has a huge number of paid themes. A lot of the biggest and most popular themes can be found on Theme Forest, including my current theme, CheerUp (which I love, by the way).
Elegant Themes: Elegant Themes has a package deal where you get like 87 themes for one low price. Now, you don’t need 87 themes. But the price is low. And you also get all their plug-ins, including Bloom. And most importantly, it includes Divi, which is their big theme. The other themes on there I’ve never really looked into. But Divi has a big following. I’ve experimented with it a little bit myself, although haven’t actually put it up on a live site yet. But I like it.
Blu Chic: Feminine themes. I like them a lot.
A Prettier Web: More feminine themes.
Studio Press: Very popular themes.
Woo Themes: More popular themes.
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Lead Magnet Creation:
Beacon: This is what I use to create my lead magnets. It makes it really easy to create, and I like the look a lot. It’s not THE most customizable…it only really has a few looks. I don’t mind this because I want all mine to look the same to establish my brand. But if you want 100 different looks, this wouldn’t be for you. Check out my resource library to see examples of Beacon in action.
Apple Pages: Pages can be used for tons of things, but lead magnets are one of them. It’s pretty easy to use, and there are tons of customizability options.
Google Docs: Not the most extensive tool on the planet, but very easy to use. I use Google Docs for all my Word docs and love it. I don’t use it for lead magnets just because it doesn’t have that many graphic options, but if you want something simple (and free), you totally could.
Photoshop: We all know what Photoshop is. I’ve never been a Photoshop person (not because it’s not awesome, but just because I lack the skills), although I did just sign up for a class, so maybe there will be good things in my future. This is not going to be the easiest option by any menas, but if you know how to use it, you could create amazing lead magnets on here.
Canva: Free and easy to use. I do not use Canva for my lead magnets, mostly just because I like Beacon so much. But I use it for pretty much all my social media and blog graphics. Love it.
Online course creation:
Teachable: Teachable is, as far as I know, the king of online course creation right now. Almost every course that I have taken has been on Teachable and people just swear by it. It’s got a great platform, is very easy to use, allows you to have wide leeway with your salespage, and has very competitive rates both for monthly plans and for the cut they take. Sign up for their mailing list because they offer a ton of super helpful blog posts and webinars (probably too many, I get a lot of Teachable emails…but they are really helpful!).
Thinkific: Thinkific is an alternative to Teachable. To be honest, I don’t know anyone who uses it, and I don’t think I’ve ever taken a course on there. I’ve explored a little and it seems pretty similar to Teachable, but Teachable definitely has the upperhand on brand recognition and all that jazz.
Udemy: The big thing with Udemy is that they offer a marketplace (Teachable and Thinkific do not). But, if they help you advertise and that’s how your course gets sold, they take a big cut. They also cap the course prices, which Teachable and Thinkific do not. I wouldn’t personally create on Udemy, but I guess it’s popular for a reason?
Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing: This is not an affiliate program. Rather, it’s a course on affiliate marketing. And it is awesome. If you are going to get into affiliate marketing, I HIGHLY recommend this course. The teacher, Michelle, makes over $50,000/month with affiliate marketing. So, she knows what’s up. It’s extremely useful, and totally changed the way I do things.
Share a Sale: Affiliate network with lots of companies.
Commission Junction: Same as above.
Click Bank: Same as above.
Amazon Associates: Easily convert anything on Amazon to an affiliate product. Super easy to use and not a lot of hoops to jump through.
Note many individual companies just have their own, so always Google it too. And there are lots of other big programs. These are the few that I’ve used.
Canva: I use Canva for almost all of my blog and social media graphics. It’s SO easy to use (and believe me, when I say that, you know it’s true…I lack all design skills). And it’s free. Cannot say enough good things about Canva. Extra points because it automatically sets the sizes for Instagram posts, Pinterest graphics, etc.
Stencil: Similar to Canva. I find Canva a little easier to use.
Snappa: Similar to Canva, again. I’ve just started using Snappa, but so far I like it.
Magic Mockups: Creates mockups of pretty much whatever. So put your blog on that iMac screen and be one of those cool people.
Photoshop: You know what Photoshop is.
Piktochart: Create snazzy infographics.
Google Hangouts/YouTube Live: I only list this one because (a) it’s free, (b) it’s (relatively) easy to use, (c) it embeds in Leadpages, and (d) it’s the only one I actually use. I definitely do not pay for my webinars. Highly recommend checking out Google Hangouts/YouTube Live (it used to be Google Hangouts and now I think they call it YouTube Live? But it still says Google Hangsouts in some places. Either way, same thing).
Stock photos (free):
Pixabay: Huge variety. I use this one a lot.
Death to the Stock Photo: Has some interesting stuff.
Split Shire: Same as above.
Unsplash: Same as above.
Stock Snap: Same as above.
Kaboom Pics: Same as above.
Pic Jumbo: Same as above.
Stock photos (paid):
Bloguettes: I love Bloguettes. They’re feminine photos, mostly, but more unique than what you’re probably thinking of. I use them a lot on this site.
Shutterstock: Huge. They have everything.
Adobe stock photos: Same as Shutterstock, pretty much.
Haute Chocolate: Girly, feminine photos. Love them.
Click here to get The Ultimate Blogging Resource Guide! GET YOUR GUIDE!
WHEW. Did you make it through all that?! If you did, you are a rockstar. And you are definitely ready to rock your blog out. Good luck, and let me know how it goes!!
Blogging is hard. Like, really hard. And non-bloggers don’t really get that, because it doesn’t seem hard. But, dude, it is. And if you’re new at it, you’re probably looking around like “OMG, what do I do next?!” You need some top tips for new bloggers.
Well, I have a few answers for you. Now, I could write a good-sized treatise about this topic. So I can’t give you everything you need to know in one blog post. And honestly, if a blog post is purporting to tell you everything about a topic like this…you may want to look for another blog post.
But, I do have ten tips to get you started. If I had to pick just ten things that I wish I had known the day I started my first blog, this is it. So here you go, your Top Ten Tips for Top New Bloggers:
Note: This post contains affiliate links. That just means that if you click on an affiliate link and purchase the product or service, I get a small commission. There is zero extra cost to you, but it helps me fund Blogs by Becca. I appreciate your support!
One. Use WordPress.ORG.
WordPress.COM and WordPress.ORG are NOT the same. I repeat, WordPress.COM and WordPress.ORG are not the same. You should be on WordPress.ORG. There are not a lot of times that I will tell you “You must do X to be successful.” But this is one of those times. WordPress.ORG gives you WAY more options. Most premium themes to not work on WordPress.COM. And almost no plugins work on WordPress.COM. So if you want your blog to look and feel professional, and you want to have basically any extra features, you need WordPress.ORG.
WordPress.ORG is free. But you will need to sign up for a hosting provider. This is not a huge deal. Plans start at like $3/month. So it’s a minor investment, with MAJOR payoffs. I use Bluehost and like them. But there are plenty of other options too, so you can always Google “best WordPress hosting providers” or something to that effect and find your options.
If you listen to me on one thing, listen to me on this: use WordPress.ORG instead of WordPress.COM. If you’ve already started on WordPress.COM, it’s fine. You can switch. So don’t worry.
(This tip assumes, of course, that you are on WordPress in the first place. If you’re on Squarespace, then that’s it’s own thing, and nevermind. If you’re on some other platform besides WordPress or Squarespace, you might want to reconsider).
Two. Put a content upgrade in every blog post.
Aside from using WordPress.ORG, this is my second best tip. You must give people value in EVERY post. You must give them value if you want their email addresses. You must give them value if you want them to come back. You must give them value if you want them to open your emails. You must give them value if you want them to purchase your products. You must give them value.
Now, a plain old blog post can absolutely have value. And it should. You should not be relying purely on content upgrades (or “lead magnets,” if you prefer) for your value. I hope that you get a ton of value just from reading this post. BUT, if you want to really jam-pack your content with extra value, use a content upgrade.
A content upgrade can be pretty much anything that you can put into an email. So, a checklist, a worksheet, a resource guide, an e-book…anything that you can PDF, can be a content upgrade. Now, of course you want to keep it on brand (so you’re not going to see me promoting a content upgrade about a turkey casserole recipe…because that’s not what I blog about…and because boiling water is truly a little bit beyond the limits of my cooking skills). But as long as it’s within your niche, the sky’s the limit. Get creative. But always provide value. My content upgrades are going to be things like the “How to Use Leadpages Checklist” or the “Ultimate Plugin Resource Guide.” Because that’s what I blog about. But yours can be anything. If you’re a recipe blogger, maybe include a grocery list that goes along with the recipe that you’re writing about. Make someone think: “Wow, I can just download this thing and I won’t even have to think about what to pick up at [insert your local grocery store]!” And if you’re a graphic designer, or someone with some set of unique skills like that, include something even beyond a PDF. For example: Pinterest templates. I will always fall for the Pinterest templates. Because I have the design skills of a drunken squirrel. So I need them. And I’m glad to give you my email address in exchange.
Which leads me to my final point on this topic. Don’t just give it away. Make sure that people give you their email address in exchange for the content upgrade. This is the number one best way to get quality email subscribers. People like and want free stuff. They will give you their emails in exchange for a good content upgrade. They will not give you their emails just
Here’s an example. I’d be remiss if I weren’t offering you a content upgrade with this blog post, right?
So, click here and get the Top Ten Tips for Top New Bloggers Guide! GET THE GUIDE
Three. Use landing pages
I’ll admit, when I started off, I had never heard the word landing page. I had probably been to a million of them, but I never knew that it was as thing. But, it is, and you should use them.
A landing page is basically a plain and simple page, separate from your blog, that asks people to do something. Sign up for your list, register for your webinar, buy your product. Whatever it is. But it asks them to do one thing and only one thing. It’s separate from your blog, so there are no distractions. They can’t get to your blog, there’s no header offering them 6 other things to click on, they can’t head over to your Twitter. It’s sign up for [my thing] or exit. And they work. Separated from distractions, people are a lot more likely to focus on your offer and sign up for whatever it is you’re asking for.
Here are a few examples of mine: here, here, and here.
So, how do you create these magical things? I use Leadpages. Aside from figuring out what I want the copy to say, the entire creation process takes me about 3 minutes. It’s super fast, super easy, and super customizable. There are dozens of templates that you can choose from, so you’re not just starting with a blank screen. And you can customize pretty much every element. It also creates the page on its own unique URL, so you can just tweet/post/whatever that link. And there’s a plugin that actually allows you to put the URL on your own blog, so it can become something like blogsbybecca.com/10-tools. You can even use the plugin to make your Leadpage your homepage. So, for my new course, Break Into Blogging, instead of designing an entire new website, I just bought the domain breakintoblogging.com, made a Leadpage, and set it as the homepage. And voila, my very own course website.
You can also use them for extra things like thank you pages (the page someone goes to after they submit their email on the Leadpage), or even to host a webinar. So, basically for everything.
So, if you have some kind of offer (even if it’s just trying to get people to sign up for your email), I’m a big fan of using landing pages to get it done.
Four. Create quality graphics for your blog AND social media.
This is something I skimped on majorly in the beginning. And not because I don’t like a good graphic. But because I am terrible at anything in that realm. Like, really, really bad. I have zero graphic design skills AT ALL. The idea of Photoshop terrified me. I’m just now coming around to the idea of using it, and just signed up for a course on it last week (we’ll see how that goes).
But, having great graphics for your blog and your social media accounts is super important. People are just way more likely to click on something when there’s a good graphic to go along with it. It’s one of the easiest things you can do to boost your promotions.
So, if you’re awesome and you know Photoshop or Illustrator or some other advanced tool like that, then go for it. But, if you’re on my side of the coin, I highly, highly recommend Canva. And extra points: it’s free.
Canva allows you to create pretty much any kind of graphics, and it’s super easy to use (and if I’m saying that, you can believe that it’s true…I have an advanced degree from the University of Michigan and I am a smart and successful woman…but I am not ashamed to admit that I cannot properly design any kind of graphic to save my life). I use it for almost all of my graphics: featured images for the blog, Pinterest images, Twitter posts, Facebook posts, course graphics…you name it, it was probably made on Canva. Here are just a handful of the things I’ve created on Canva, but believe me, there are about 100 more:
The other thing I love about Canva is that it automatically sizes everything for you. So you just select “Instagram post” or “Pinterest image” or “Facebook cover” and it will automatically make it the right size. One less thing to Google. Two thumbs way up for Canva.
Five. Invest in Pinterest.
When I started blogging I essentially blew off Pinterest. My memories of Pinterest dated back to when it first started, circa early 2012. I had just finished grad school and was getting ready to move to Chicago and rent my first “real apartment.” So I used Pinterest to pin stuff I “needed” like purple ottomans. Not really an essential business tool.
But, it turns out that Pinterest is CRUCIAL for blogging success nowadays. You can get more traffic from Pinterest than from just about anywhere else. Google it, and you’ll find tons of people telling you that Pinterest is far and away their number one source of traffic.
So, do not ignore Pinterest. But also, pay attention to your Pinterest strategy. Pinterest is not really like the other social networks. The point is not to get followers. And it’s really not intuitive. You can’t just sign up and get the hang of it just because you’re a millennial (and I say that as a fellow millennial… I think…the late 80s count as millennial still, right?)
I could write a whole course on this topic. And in fact, I have written a five-day email course on just that. So if you’re new to Pinterest, feel free to sign up for that right here. It’s free, and there’s no secret paid Pinterest course at the end. It will help you get the basics set up so that you can utilize Pinterest to its fullest capacity right off the bat. And, it will show you how to automate it using Board Booster, so you’re not spending 12 hours a day pinning things. Not that that wouldn’t be lovely.
Six. Have multiple opt-ins on every page.
Secret time: You should have around 5 opt-ins on your homepage. (This is not actually a secret, it’s readily available on Google). For real. I know that sounds like a huge and spammy number, but it’s true.
Here’s the thing. People will not hunt down your opt-in. even if your blog post is legitimately awesome, the next thought in your reader’s head is not “Gee, I wonder where her opt-in is, I better go find it so I can get on that newsletter.” It won’t happen. So they need to be seeing that opt-in all over the place. Use different types (welcome mats, sidebar forms, footer forms, notification bars, inline posts, etc). And put them in a variety of places.
If you have one form in your sidebar that just says “Sign up for my newsletter,” you are missing out. Very, very few people will sign up for that, if they even see it in the first place. You need to be offering them value (see Tip 2), and you need to be doing it in a variety of places.
Here are just a few examples of mine. But get creative. Use tools like SumoMe, Leadpages, OptinMonster, or Bloom. Or one of the zillion others out there. But do it, and it now. Growing your list should be one of your number one priorities, and opt-ins are essential to that strategy.
Seven. Keep your brand consistent.
Your brand is important. Really important. You may think that it’s not, because we’re talking about a blog, not a Fortune 500 company. But it still matters. People need to know what you’re about. And that means that your brand has to (a) exist and (b) be consistent. If your colors are blue and orange on Tuesday and pink and purple on Thursday, how are people going to recognize your stuff on Pinterest? And more importantly, if you’re blogging about travel hacks this week and breastfeeding tips next week, then who is it that’s supposed to read your blog?
People need to know what they’re going to get when they click on your page. Things like colors and fonts help them recognize and remember your brand. And things like tone and topic set the whole shebang up. So you need to have a brand, and it needs to be consistent.
Pick 2-3 colors and 2-3 fonts. That’s going to be your general look. But more importantly, decide on a concrete topic and a concrete tone. Your blog needs to be about something. You need a niche. So pick it, and go with it. Think about who your ideal reader is. What does she want to accomplish when she clicks on your blog?
Be consistent. It’s ok to re-brand once in a while if your brand isn’t working. But it shouldn’t be an every other week affair. People need to know what they’re going to get when they click on your blog. It’s important, and it’s why they’ll come back.
Eight. Start your email list on Day One.
When I talk about the importance of email lists, I’ve had so many people say something like “Yeah, I get it…but my blog is new/I barely get any traffic/no one is going to subscribe yet…so I’ll wait.” Guys, this is wrong. Start your email list today. I don’t care if you barely get any traffic or if you don’t think anyone will subscribe. You never know who your first/next subscriber will be. Every day that you go without having an email list set up is a missed opportunity. You do not need to be #1 on Google to have an email list. Do it today.
Your email list is crucial. There is no better way to promote your blog and your products than via email. It’s personal and it’s direct. And no one can take your list away from you. You can post something on Instagram, and no matter how dedicated Susie Q is to your blog, she just might not see it. If you send Susie an email, she will see it and if she wants to open it, she will.
So you need to set up your list and you need to get opt-ins on your site ASAP. There is no benefit to waiting. If you want to do it for free, you can. There are services like MailChimp that cost zero dollars.
So if money is the obstacle, then go with a free service. That’s ok. But, if it’s in your budget–I use ConvertKit. ConvertKit does all the normal mailing list stuff. You can add people to lists and send them automated emails. Any service can do that. But what really rocks my socks about ConvertKit is its “automation” features. You can set “rules” for all kinds of things and tag and segment your subscribers in so many useful ways. You can say something like “Everyone that signs up for this Pinterest course will be tagged as ‘Interest: Pinterest’ will get the course automatically” or “Everyone who clicks this particular link in an email will be tagged as ‘Interest: Instagram’ and will get special emails in the future whenever I post about something Instagram-related.” The options are endless. It’s also super easy to set up automated emails. So, for instance, if you have an email course, like my 10 Tools 10 Tips 10 Days course, you set it up one time and never touch it again. After I wrote the 11 emails for the course (the welcome email + the 10 day course), I just set up each email, told ConvertKit to send them one day apart to everyone who signs up through a particular form, and boom, that’s it. I haven’t done anything but watch my numbers go up since. Every single person on my email list has one or more (usually more) tags, telling me exactly how they signed up and what they’re interested in. And my emails go out like clockwork without me having to do anything at all after initial set up. So, thumbs up for ConvertKit.
Bottom line: Whether you use ConvertKit or some other service with fewer features, you need to set up your list ASAP. It doesn’t matter that you may only get a small number of subscribers. We all started at zero. No one will know. Don’t worry. Just do it.
Nine. Automate your social media.
Social media can be SUCH a time suck. Even if you actually enjoy it, which I sometimes do, the amount of time that it takes out of your day is ridiculous. That’s what automation tools exist, and that’s why you should be using them.
There are tons of options for pretty much any social network. But my favorites are Meet Edgar for Twitter and Facebook and Board Booster for Pinterest (Instagram, I just do manually, sorry to say).
Meet Edgar will take your library of tweets/posts and send them out on a set schedule. That’s not terribly exciting (although it is incredibly time-saving). What IS exciting about Edgar (aside from the fact that he’s an octopus) is that it never deletes your library. So, enter a tweet/post one time, and it will cycle over and over (unless of course you choose to delete it). This is perfect for blog posts. Every time I create a blog post, I just go into Edgar and draft a tweet/post with the link. I drop it into the blog post category, and it’s there for good. Edgar will cycle through every one of my blog post tweets on a schedule that I set. And when it sends out the last one, it’ll reset and go back to the first one. So I never have to redo that same promotional tweet/post again. Time-saving=huge. So much of what you can tweet/post can be repeated. There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel every time. I have no idea exactly how much time Edgar saves me, but I’m guessing the answer is one billion hours.
And then there’s Board Booster. Board Booster will send out your pins on a set schedule. You can pin whenever you want, you just do it to “secret boards” that Board Booster creates for you instead of pinning to your “real boards.” Then Board Booster takes the pin from the secret board and repins it to the real board on a set schedule throughout the day. So, pin whenever you have time, but they won’t all go out in a huge chunk, they’ll be spread out throughout the day so that more people see them. And then there’s “looping.” Board Booster will “loop” your pins for you, meaning that it will repin old pins from your boards over and over. So your pin from six months ago can get picked up again by someone new. It’ll also use “campaigns” to easily schedule pins to go out to group boards, so you don’t have to worry about that either. Pinterest could easily take up hours a day if it weren’t for Board Booster. Through Board Booster’s combination of features, I send out a little more than 100 pins a day. That would take SO long if I were to actually sit down and find 100 new pins per day. I’d have to quit my day job and stop paying my rent. Or something. Board Booster = life saver.
Automation tools like these can save you so much time. And they can get your stuff in front of more people, thanks to their scheduling features. I highly recommend using automation tools like these whenever you can, instead of trying to do it all by hand.
Ten. Invest in good courses.
Online courses are it right now. And there are a million of them out there. So don’t just throw your money at whatever course you happen to run across. But, that being said, a truly good course can be a game-changer. There are a lot of things that I struggled with, that, when I finally took a course I ended up saying “Wow, this has changed everything, and why did I not just invest a little money earlier and learn this?”
I’m not saying that you can or should take a course about everything. Google is there for a reason. But it has it is limitations. You cannot learn everything you need to know on Google. And even if you could, do you really want to? The information is spread out over 2398734968 different sites. You’ll spend SO much time hunting it down. A quality, well-taught course from a good instructor who really knows his/her stuff can really be a gamechanger.
Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing is a good example. Can you Google “what is affiliate marketing” or “how to use affilliate links”? Of course you can. And you’ll get tons of results. But you’re not going to get a course with 8 modules taught by a blogger who makes over $50,000/month with affiliate links. You’re not going to get something that walks you through exactly what she does and how she does it. You’re not going to get a system and a strategy for how to utilize these methods yourself.
So, don’t go out there and buy 17 courses. But, if there are certain topics where you really do need help, look and see what kind of courses are out there. It really can be worth it. And I wish that I had realized this sooner.
So, those are my top ten, absolute best tips for top new bloggers. If I had known these ten things the day I started, I would have gotten off to a much better start.
Haven’t clicked to get the Top Ten Tips for Top New Bloggers Guide yet? No need to scroll. Just click right here and I’ll send it to you right away! GET THE GUIDE
And if you’re looking for something more in depth than this (like, a lot more in depth), check out Break Into Blogging. Break Into Blogging will take you all the way from beginner blogger to total boss. It’s a total how-to guide, complete with a ridiculous number of tech training videos that show you exactly how to get things done. Check it out, and if you sign up for free info today, you’ll lock into a special VIP earlybird price, available only to early subscribers. Good deal, right?
We all know that I love a good WordPress theme. Love, love, love. So in an attempt to convince myself not to chance my own theme every other day, I present you with this roundup of seven (more) feminine themes for lady bosses.
Are you selling online courses? You might want to check out Course Lady from A Prettier Web. It’s specifically designed to give the reader all they need to know about your course, including your instructor bio and student testimonials. A good option if you’re not using something like Teachable (which is what I use for Break Into Blogging).
Jacqueline is designed for coaches and entrepreneurs, but also has space for a blog. I like the overall look. And the integrated sign up for works with both Mail Chimp and ConvertKit, which you don’t see too often. Seems like a good option, especially if your blog is secondary to your biz.
They’re billing this one as being for lifestyle bloggers, but I don’t see why any blogger couldn’t use it. I like the top slider with all the blog posts, and I also like the sleek looking menu bar with social buttons. Plenty of white space as well. Thumbs up on this one.
Amelie has a somewhat unique look, having the sidebar on the left and an interesting gallery look for the blog posts. I’ve never been a huge fan of the left sidebar, but it I’ll admit that it does look good here.
Food Blog Theme.
Not the most creative of titles, but if I had a recipe blog I’d be totally into this one. The overall layout is somewhat unique and it has special spots of ingredients and other specialized food blog must-haves. I like this one a lot, and I kind of wish I could cook.
Fashion Blog Theme.
From the makers of Food Blog Theme, not surprisingly, comes Fashion Blog Theme. Again, I like this one a lot. It does a good job of showcasing photos and has a unique layout. Thumbs up.
Isabelle is ultra-girly, so if you’re into that, check it out. I like the pink and the swirls and just the overall look. If I had a lifestyle blog of some sort, I could see myself using this one.
So, there you have it. Seven more girly themes to drool over. Am I missing any? Tell me in the comments!
I’ve spent so. much. time. running around the internet looking for “the best this” and “the perfect that.” Sometimes, there is no best. But, sometimes there is. Here are my top ten resources for blogging. The ones that I feel no blogger should live without. Without further ado:
Top Ten Resources for Bloggers
Want the full PDF guide? Just click here!
Leadpages creates “Leadpages” (landing pages) or “Leadboxes” (pop-ups). And it is awesome. It has fantastic templates for landing pages, and I love the simple look of the Leadboxes. Once you spend 5 minutes poking around, it’s very easy to use. And you can use it to automatically send lead magnets/content upgrades, which is fantastic. I use it all over this site. If you’re clicking on something around here, it’s probably leading you to Leadpages. It’s not free, I believe it’s $25/month. But this one is well-worth the investment. I would not go without. To see an example of a Leadpage, click here.
ConvertKit is hands-down my favorite email service. I’ve tried AWeber and MailChimp and ConvertKit blows them both out the park. It just has incredible functionality. They advertise that’s built by bloggers, for bloggers, and honestly, it’s so obviously true. It really is like it is made for me. You can create sign-up forms and automatic emails, of course, as you can with any program. But it’s so much more than that. The best thing about ConvertKit is its ability to tag and segment users automatically. You can say “Anyone who clicks on the Pinterest Challenge link in this email will be tagged as ‘Interested: Pinterest’ and anyone tagged as ‘Interested Pinterest’ will receive these 5 emails about Pinterest.” Or, “Anyone who finishes this series of emails will lose the tag ‘New Subscriber’ and get the tag ‘Existing Subscriber.”‘” And on and on and on. It’s so, incredibly useful. I’ve been converted to ConvertKit, and I can’t imagine I’ll ever switch.
Btw, here’s an example of a ConvertKit form:
Boost your biz
Do you want to get all the latest and greatest blog and biz boosts straight to your inbox? Heck yes, you do!
Canva is my dream come true. It’s a graphics program, and it is so freaking easy. Secret: I have the design skills of a vision-impaired, drunken monkey. Like, maybe. So, when I started blogging and realized I was supposed to create Pinterest templates and Facebook headers and all that jazz, I was up a creek. I actually have started to learn how to use Photoshop, but I”m still not rocking it. Enter, Canva. Canva is so incredibly easy to use, and the graphics look amazing. And 100000 extra points because it has automatic templates in the all the exact sizes that you need (Pinterest graphics, Facebook headers, etc etc). And, it’s free! They do have a paid program that gives you some extra features like the ability to save your brand colors/fonts, and the ability to “magically resize” one template into another size. But if you don’t want to pay, you can get 95% of the features for free.
I love, love Creative Market. It’s a little bit like Etsy, but only for stuff like WordPress themes and social media graphics and fonts and email headers. They have amazing stuff from real people, and it’s usually pretty cheap. I’ve gotten themes from there that have been great. I’ve spent so much time just wandering around looking at all the pretty things. Go check it out.
OptinMonster is, not surprisingly, another opt-in provider. I love them because their graphics are great and it’s super easy to design. My favorite opt-in monster feature is the ability to automatically add an opt-in to the bottom of every post. So you just create it once, and then never have to worry about remembering to insert it again. You can also use it for sidebars, footers, pop-ups, top bars, and on. Here’s one example:
Asana and Trello are organizational tools. The short version is that you create task lists for you (and your team, if you’ve got a team). Which I know doesn’t sound like the most exciting thing in the world. But it’s honestly improved my organization so much. You can create as many “projects” as you can want and then create “tasks’ within those projects. Assign the tasks to a specific person, create a due date to put on the calendar, and check them off as you go. I use it for content calendars, social media reminders, and all that kind of stuff. I also have projects for non-blog stuff like my real job and personal projects (i.e., do the freaking laundry already). Trello works similarly to Asana, it’s just laid out a little differently. I used to be a Trello evangelist, but I’ve recently started using Asana and I think I like it better. But either one is great. And both are free unless you need fancy business upgrades, which you probably do not.
If you’re using Pinterest (which you should be!), then you need one of these tools. Both are automated tools that do your pinning for you at scheduled times. You select your pins as far in advance as you want, and then Board Booster or Tailwind do the actual pinning throughout the day. That’s the basic functionality of both, but there are some differences. The actual way you pin is different, and they have some different tools. For example, Board Booster has the “Looping” tool, which recycles your old pins and repins them so that stuff is always getting seen. Tailwind, for example, has the Tribes feature, which is a group that repins each other’s stuff. So, they’re a bit different, but both are good. I use Board Booster, but I’ve tried Tailwind and I really like it too. I wish I could use both, but clearly that makes no sense. Tailwind is $120/year, and Board Booster is from $5+ monthly depending on how much you pin. Here are a couple screenshots:
First, let me say that Iconosquare is NOT one of those spammy “auto-follow/auto-comment/auto-like” Instagram tools. I do not use those and neither should you. Iconosquare is an analytics tool for Instagram, and it is awesome. It provides pretty much every kind of analytics you could think of for Instagram. Followers, media posted, likes, comments, unfollowers. You name it. I love, love it and use it constantly. It has a free plan, but also has a pretty cheap upgrade plan if you want way more features.
Essential Grid rocks my world. It creates grids (duh). Meaning, photo grids, or PDF grids. Use it to create amazing photogrids of your Instagram stream or your portfolio. Or use it to make a Resource Library that shows photos of your PDFs and then links straight to the download (click here to see that bad boy in action). Here’s one example, but there are SO many different skins and way to use it.
Oh, Grammarly. Grammarly is a tool to automatically check your grammar and spelling. And it catches sooooo much. It has a Chrome extension, so just install that, and then it automatically checks things for you. It allows you to auto correct when you screw up, and points out your mistakes. It’s great for blogging, but also just for regular emails and whatever else you’re writing. Honestly, it catches about 1000 things a day for me, which is maybe embarrassing, but true. I just spelled embarrassing wrong, but it caught it. You can also copy and paste posts (or whatever) on the website and have it check the whole thing for you. Thumbs way up.
Want the full PDF guide? Just click here!
As a follow-up to yesterday’s post about How to Be Perfect on Pinterest, I wanted to show you how to truly brand your board covers. So I went ahead and did it myself this morning to show you. Voila:
All of my board covers now match, are on brand, and look great. And guys, it’s super easy.
Here’s what you do:
Step One: Create the cover.
I use Canva for this, and that’s what I’m going to show you here, but if you want to use Photoshop, go for it.
If you haven’t heard of Canva, it’s super fantastic. Canva allows you to make fantastic graphics for your blog and social media, and it is SO easy. Like, really, really easy.
Go into Canva and create a blank template with the size of 217 px x 147 px.
Then, rock and roll. Make your graphic however you’d like. You can use plain or patterned colored backgrounds, images, shapes, text, whatever you want. I chose to use a polka dot background, which I recolored to my brand colors, added text in my brand font, put that line underneath, and then used “Shapes” to find the heart for the top. I saved that as a template, and then I just recolored it in three different styles. From then on out, I just changed the text on each one, and bam, you’ve got board covers.
These are mine:
Step Two: Pin them.
Go into Pinterest and pin each image onto the applicable board, just like you would a normal pin.
Step Three: Change your board covers.
Click edit (the pencil on top), then click “Change board covers.” Your new cover should be your most recent image, so it should pop up right away. Since it’s the exact right size, you shouldn’t even need to adjust it. Click save, and you are all set!
Now you have a beautifully branded Pinterest profile!
P.S. Do you want the complete 12 step guide to be perfect on Pinterest? Click right here and it’s all yours!