I’m a resource nut. I love tools, apps, and services that simplify or amplify what I’m trying to accomplish in blogging. So here is my toolbox. These are my recommended tools, products, and services that are either worth an investment, or are incredibly great free resources. These are some of the tools that have helped me to build a top 100 church blog.
I’m building this list as I have time. It’s nowhere near complete yet.
Blogger Training & Education
I’ve spent good money before on books and courses about blogging. Research and skill improvement are an important part of blogging for an income. I’ve selected some of the best books, ebooks, and courses on blogging available today.
Darren Rowse (aka, Problogger) has written an excellent, 31-day workbook that guides you one step at a time toward greater blogging effectiveness. He will show you how to grow your readership, build your community, write more persuasively, and yes, earn an income through blogging.
What is it that separates the millions of mediocre bloggers from the ones who build traffic and achieve amazing results? What is it that propels some onward and upward into fame and fortune while others find themselves struggling just to get a small handful of readers?
If you’re like most bloggers, then you’ve probably been kicking yourself trying to figure out the answer to these questions…trying to find the key that unlocks the large steel doors that are holding you back from the success you’ve been looking for.
This isn’t just another eBook. It’s a 200+ page printed book that will be delivered straight to your house. I guarantee that you won’t regret grabbing this book right away. I even contributed a chapter!
Each of the 13 lessons contains a specific action plan for you to follow each week. This isn’t just about learning, it’s about doing.
The lessons are a combination of text, checklists and video. The course contains over 8 hours of video and 30,000 words of blog-building knowledge and advice.
Other Books & Courses
- Become a Rockstar Freelancer
- A Step-by-step Guide to a Better Blog
- Build a Successful Blog Income
- Become a Successful Freelance Blogger
The Basic Tools for Blogging
WordPress for Blogging
I like to say that WordPress is the greatest thing since sliced PSD’s. I even started a blog about using WordPress for ministry. It’s stable, scalable, easy to install, a theme designer’s dream, and an enormous support community. It’s one of the very best platforms for blogging. There are others, but I’d go with WordPress.
I run dozens of websites on Dreamhost, and my experience has been that they’ve brought me interruption-free hosting, great support, and a package more stable than some more expensive competitors I’ve tried in the past. I highly recommend them – and so does the official WordPress.org team!
Every blogger needs a well-branded, sweetly-designed, fast-loading, SEO-optimized WordPress theme. You can go with free themes available from the WordPress themes repository. You can go with a fully custom blog design. And you can also go middle-of-the-road with a premium WordPress theme or base framework.
My Favorite Sources for Premium WordPress Themes
- Elegant Themes
- Themedy (for Genesis & Thesis Skins)
- Headway Theme
- Mojo Themes
If you overload on WordPress plugins, you’ll drastically slow down the loading speed of your blog, so be careful. But there are certain functions that either should be or can only be accomplished with plugins. When I say should be, what I mean is that some functions of your blog should be theme-independent so that if you change designs, the function carries forward. Here are some of my favorite WordPress plugins.
I use Align RSS Images to do one very simple thing – to correctly align my images in my RSS feed, which makes the name of this plugin highly appropriate. Basically, if I right-float an image in a post, this plugin makes it right-floated in my feed too.
Other WordPress Plugins
- JF3 Maintenance Mode
- MaxBlogPress Ninja Affiliate Plugin
- MaxBlogPress Subscribers Magent
- Gravity Forms for contact forms. Indispensable!
- Popup Domination for mailing list opt-ins.
- OIO Publisher Ad Server to roll your own ad network.
- Simple Adsense
- Subscribe to Comments Reloaded
- Tweet Old Posts
- Twitterlink Comments
- Twitter Tools
- upPrev NYTimes Style Next Post
- W3 Total Cache
- WordPress Editorial Calendar
- WordPress SEO Plugin
- WP JQuery Lightbox
Tools for Twitter
TweetDeck had ceased to be my favorite multi-column Twitter app because of some serious speed and bug issues with it’s Adobe Air version. Then I discovered TweetDeck as a Chrome App and I’m happy again. It has a sweet interface. You can arrange columns any way you’d like. For me, that means a home feed, a column containing all @mentions across all accounts (including Facebook) and another column as a universal Inbox (also all accounts), then a search column or three.
Hootsuite offers many of the same features as TweetDeck when it comes to handling multiple accounts and multiple networks, but it has several additional bonuses that make the new “pro” pricing worth keeping around. I’m a pro member and it’s because of the ability to automatically send tweets from an RSS feed, the ability to schedule tweets in advance (so I don’t annoy you all at once) and see a column of those pending tweets, and the freedom to assign multiple team members to Twitter accounts.
Have multiple accounts you’d like to manage? TweetAdder lets you follow people who follow you as well as follow people by keyword searching or following users who follow another user. It also lets you unfollow people, tweet an RSS feed, space out your tweets, and a host of other things. I use it to manage more accounts than I could ever manage on my own.