Table of Contents
Resources for Bloggers
Namecheap is my choice for domain registration. I’ve been using them for a few years. They offer good service and price-wise they are one of the cheapest (maybe the cheapest) in the industry.
Education and Training
Superstar Blogging is the course platform founded and developed by Nomadic Matt, offering a variety of courses aimed at beginning, intermediate, and advanced bloggers. The course I purchased, and have lifetime access to, is The Business of Travel Blogging. It’s well written and organized. You don’t have to be in the travel blogging niche to benefit from what you’ll learn. Divided into 10 weeks/units, it’s self-paced, so you can take it slow or speed through like a demon. The nice thing is, you can go back anytime and review any or all of the units.
- Week 1 – Setting Up and Getting Started
- Week 2 – Building a Brand
- Week 3 – Writing Content
- Week 4 – Mastering Social Media
- Week 5 – Networking like a Champ
- Week 6 – SEO
- Week 7 – Newsletters
- Week 8 – Affiliate Marketing
- Week 9 – Creating and Selling Products
- Week 10 – Partnering with PR, Brands and Tourism Boards.
MailChimp: Up until recently, I was using Feedburner to notify subscribers when I posted a new blog post. It worked fine for me, but Google no longer supports the service, so I’ve moved to the FREE version of MailChimp. I’m not sure if I like it or not, but it’s free up to 2000 subscribers, so I’ll try it for a while, and hopefully, once I’m beyond the learning curve I’ll be able to use the service without too much grief. If you decide to use Mailchimp you should create an email address with your hosting company. MailChimp does not like free mail servers like Gmail, Yahoo, etc. I set up an email address with my hosting company SiteGround and even then I had difficulty verifying the email address. I finally downloaded and installed the free plugin MailChimp for WP and found that to be much easier than trying to do the set-up directly through MailChimp.
NordVPN is the VPN I have been using for the past 2 years. It’s easy to download and install, and they usually offer excellent pricing plans. Because many countries block sites, I always travel with a VPN installed on my laptop, smartphone, and tablet. I use it at home, too. Many of the wifi networks I use when I’m out and about are public, and can easily be hacked. I was hacked in a coffee shop when I lived in Seoul and had to fight a $500.00 bill with my Phone/Internet company. I eventually managed to get the charge reversed, but it wasn’t easy.
With NordVPN I never have a problem accessing sites at home or on the road. Be aware, sometimes a site will block all VPNs, so when I have a problem getting onto a site I logout out of NordVPN and try again. That usually works. However, at least for me, this doesn’t happen too often.
Plug-ins (My favourites)
I am not a coder and I dislike trying to add or delete code on my site. A good plug-in can rescue me from that misery every time. All of the plugins I’m currently using are free. They may have PRO versions, but at the moment I’m not using any PRO versions.
My favourite free WordPress plugins:
- Akismet to block spam
- EWWW Optimizer to optimize your images
- Ginger EU Cookie Law to make your site compliant with the EU cookie law
- Google Analytics for WordPress by Monsterinsights access your Google stats easily from your website dashboard
- Loginizer to help fight against brute force attacks
- Mail Chimp for WordPress to simplify your Mail Chimp set-up
- WP GDPR Compliance to easily make your website compliant with the new EU Internet laws
- WP Front Scroll Top allows your readers easily scroll up to the top of any post or page
- Yoast SEO to help rank your site in the search engines
- Ultimate Shortcodes to add buttons, lists, etc.
You can find all of these over at WordPress plugins.
SiteGround has been my web host of choice for the past 4 years, and I’m happy with their product and service. During the past two years, the site has experienced zero downtime, and it’s fast loading. I transferred this site from another hosting company and it was easy to do. When I need service I use the chat function and find the reps to be knowledgeable and helpful. On the odd occasion when a rep can’t solve my issue he/she will refer it on to a supervisor.
I currently subscribe to the Grow Big Plan. For first-time subscribers, the price is $5.95/mth (a 60% savings). If you really want to save money, lock your subscription in for 3 years, paying in advance. This is the most cost-effective, and I love knowing that I’m not going to see a price increase or a bill for three years.
Included in your subscription price are:
- Free Site Transfer
- Free Website Builder
- 24/7 Support
- SSD Storage
- Free App Installs
- 30 Days Money Back
- Free Email Accounts
- Free Auto Daily Backups
- Unlimited Traffic
- Free Cloudflare CDN
- Free SSLs & HTTP/2
- Unlimited MySQL DB
- cPanel & SSH
There’s also a 30-day money back guarantee.
To make your site look good you need a solid, well-coded theme. Industry experts recommend a framework + child theme configuration, which maximizes security, efficiency, SEO, etc. Finding themes is easy, but choosing one can be daunting. After searching and researching for quite a while (and trying out more than few themes) I have recently moved to:
Genesis from StudioPress is regarded by many in the industry as the standard for a WordPress framework. The framework is solid and efficient, with security being a top priority.
FoodiePro, also from StudioPress, is the child theme I run on my Genesis framework. You might be wondering why I would use a theme designed for food sites for a travel blog, right? Although it’s marketed to the food crowd, it’s a minimalist theme that can be easily adapted to any niche. I love it because it was easy to step-up and easy to tweak and change, too. StudioPress provides excellent documentation/tutorials for both Genesis and FoodiePro. There’s also a community board where you can post theme related queries.
I’ll be updating this Resources for Bloggers page from time to time, so do check back.