The Ultimate Blogger’s Toolkit
Welcome to Xukkhini’s Blogging Resources Page (Update 2018: Now 60+ blogging resources!)
Here I feature the tools you need for your blog to become a thriving and successful business.
When I started curating this content, my goal was simple: share the strategies that have helped me grow my online business.
I have tested all the blogging resources on this page.
They are the leaders in their chosen field and crucial to your success at every level.
What’s more, they will remove hours of wasted effort, frustration and headache.
I want you to use my successes and my failures to reach your own business goals.
1. Build Your Blog / Website
#1 IN BLOGGING RESOURCES FOR WEBSITE AND BLOG HOSTING.
With Bluehost, you can literally have your blog up and running in minutes. Bluehost now features a one-click WordPress install, making it a dream to start a WordPress blog on Bluehost.
Bluehost’s support staff are on call 24/7 and are very sympathetic to the problems of rookie bloggers. Call them anytime, to receive expert, friendly help.
I highly recommend using Bluehost for all your blog hosting needs. Get started today for as little as $3.95 a month.
Here’s my simple, beginner’s guide on how to start a successful blog.
I show you everything you need from registering your domain, to creating your first pages and posts.
Many newbies have used this guide to get their first blog up and running in minutes.
#1 FRAMEWORK TO QUICKLY AND EASILY BUILD INCREDIBLE BLOGS WITH WORDPRESS.
Genesis allows you to take your website to places you thought it couldn’t go.
The Genesis Framework gives you the tools to:
- Tweak your theme’s settings, colors, and content and see a preview of those changes in real time.
- Upload your own logo with the press of a button. Full support for text-based logos for those just getting started.
- Choose from a selection of pre-made templates to build your site: Default, Archives, and Blog Page.
- Build up your site with featured posts, featured page, and user profile widgets that you can set to fit your site.
**Note: I only recommend the Genesis Framework if you’re tech-savvy. In which case, it is THE industry leader. If you’re a complete beginner or prefer a more user-friendly option, try one of the themes below.
The Genesis framework requires a ‘child theme’. And they don’t come more recommended than Foodie Pro.
This highly customizable theme is what I currently use to power Xukkhini.
Sleek, stylish, inspired and the most flexible Genesis theme to date, Foodie Pro exudes a clean, minimalistic design which is sure to impress your visitors.
Creative Market is an entire blogging resource in its own right.
Not only do they provide ready-to-use themes, but also a gold-mine of fonts, graphics, and templates.
Creative Market has all the tools to give your blog the professional finish it deserves.
Sign up now and receive 6 FREE products every week as well as special discounts!
The Corinne Theme is a gorgeous, feminine, modern and beautiful Genesis child theme designed for female entrepreneurs.
With Corinne, your business will shine all across the web.
Available from Creative Market.
Achieve virtually any look with this high resolution, widget ready WordPress Theme.
X-Theme features beautifully crafted, all-purpose, multiple theme designs – Integrity, Renew, Icon and Ethos.
This allows you to choose completely unique designs with the click of a mouse. And with even more themes in development, you’ll have no shortage of stunning, engaging content.
Works equally well for professionals and creatives alike.
This top-rated bestseller has just got better with Enfold 4.1 for 2017
With a drag and drop admin interface, this theme is built for users or all skill level. Its clean and modern design is packed with great features which are all customizable.
Free updates and expert customer support from the friendly team at Kriesi.
More than just a theme, Avada is a powerful design tool.
Its free demos are professionally designed and easily imported, making it one of the most versatile themes on the market.
It’s no surprise that Avada has been the #1 selling theme for more than 4 years with 350,000+ customer.
With multiple layout options for header, pages, blog and portfolio, there’s never been a better way to take control of your online business.
Their visual, real-time drag and drop themes are changing the course of WYSIWYG. Perfect for beginners wanting an easy way to create a professional website.
One of the largest WordPress theme clubs around boasting over 385,000 satisfied customers and 119 themes and 30 plugins.
My Theme Shop is more than a marketplace. It’s a thriving community. And membership gives you access to 16 free WordPress Themes and 9 free plugins.
Signing up also lets you enjoy free video tutorials, bug fixing, unlimited downloads and one-click demo imports.
Oh, and lifetime support for FREE.
Are you a female entrepreneur?
Restored 316 is the TOP resource for premium WordPress themes for the female entrepreneur.
Offering one of the best levels of customer support in the industry, you’ll be joining tens of thousands of happy customers.
Pretty Darn Cute Designs off stylish, modern, feminine WordPress themes for the budding female entrepreneur.
Designed exclusively by Lindsey, who founded the company in 2005.
Experienced and established, PDCD brings only the best to the blogging table.
Bluchic is the brainchild of developer duo, Kathie and Andrew.
Their feminine WordPress themes are guaranteed to elevate your online business into the professional domain and ensure its success.
Sign up today and get access to Bluchic’s exclusive Library of Worksheets, Checklists and Resources, including awesome in-depth posts on setting up your WordPress website and a beginner’s guide to the WordPress admin dashboard.
They’ll also send you a weekly email bursting with blogging tips & tricks, to get you started and grow your business.
Artisan Themes let you build pages by stacking pre-made sections (“modules”) that you can then customize and tweak.
The modules are beautifully compatible, so you can design your blog to your exact specifications, limited only to your imagination.
All this results in a blog that’s modern, sleek and cosmopolitan.
Boasting 80,000+ customers, Themify themes & plugins help you create beautifully responsive WordPress sites, faster and easier than ever before.
Beaver Builder is a WordPress plugin that allows you to easily position images and texts and create columns, tabs, slideshows and more!
It works on the front end of your site, meaning the designs you create are exactly what your visitors will see.
What’s more, Beaver Builder includes templates that allow you to craft the perfect landing page, ‘About’ page and many more.
Just swap out the images and text for your own, hit publish, and you’re done!
Ever wondered what theme a site is using?
Enter its address in WordPress Theme Detector and hit the button. If it’s a WordPress theme, the analyzer will not only display the theme but also what plugins they’re using.
They also provide statistical reports on top themes, popular providers and best plugins.
A great resource to help you model what’s working for other successful bloggers.
2. Email and List Building Services
#1 IN BLOGGING RESOURCES FOR BUILDING YOUR EMAIL LIST
I absolutely LOVE ConvertKit! It allowed me to quickly grow my email list into the thousands after just a few months.
But ConvertKit is much more than just an excellent means of building your subscriber numbers.
It allows you to broadcast a ‘sequence’ of daily emails, send your fans free gifts and incentives, segment your audience by topic of interests, customize your own templates and much more!
Best of all: ConvertKit’s ‘wind-it-up-and-let-it-go’ automation features.
I could not recommend ConvertKit more highly — user-friendly, excellent support staff and highly customizable.
#1 FOR GROWING YOUR TRAFFIC ON AUTOPILOT
I don’t know about you, but I find pop-ups can be annoying.
That’s why I don’t have any on my site, until a new visitor is about to leave.
In a world that’s constantly in your face, Sumo offers a more discreet, polite way to capture emails and build your list.
Since installing Sumo, my conversion rates are insane and I’ve significantly increased the number of daily subscribers.
Sumo is not just about email, however. It’s a complete suite of marketing tools to increase your traffic, signups and shares – all on autopilot.
3. Images to Enhance Your Blog
Upsplash is a FREE image resource featuring the work of photographers from around the world. Simply join for free and start uploading beautiful images to your blog
Another great stock image resource. Huge variety of professional images to give your blog that polished appearance.
#1 RECOMMENDATION FOR IMAGES.
Shutterstock is where I find all the images for my blog. It caters for all budgets and offers a variety of monthly and annual subscriptions.
The real power comes from the focused search results. Ideal for finding the perfect images for your blog post or website.
But why stop at just images? Shutterstock has a huge collection of unique stock video clips.
iStock boasts millions of royalty-free stock photos catering for all your online image needs.
Their gallery not only features photos but illustrations, clip art, videos and audio tracks.
What’s more, iStock offers a choice of subscription plans to suit any budget
Adobe stock is another trusted, paid image resource.
Adobe often run FREE 30-day trials and limited-time offer: Get 10 free Adobe Stock images.
#1 FOR READY-TO-USE DESIGN ASSETS
Choose from a library of 23,500+ independent creators for graphics, fonts, themes, photos, templates and more!
Keep your eyes open for their FREE weekly give-aways and monthly discounted Big Bundles.
4. Image Editing
#1 BLOGGING RESOURCES IMAGE EDITOR
PicMonkey is what I use to design and edit most of my pins for Pinterest. It allows people without any design experience to create images that not only rival those from professional graphic designers, but sometimes surpass them.
Before using PicMonkey, I’d never edited a photo but I quickly learned my way around it in minutes. PicMonkey lets you:
- Add text to images
- Create stunning photo collages
- Make banners for YouTube
- Design and Infographic
- And much more…
Not the creative type? Don’t fret! Step-by-step tutorials show you how to get started and their beautifully crafted templates make it easy to create stuff for your blog in a snap.
Canva is another great option for adding sizzle to your images. You can design with millions of stock photographs and even upload your own. Search among free icons and shapes and gain access to hundreds of fonts.
The world’s largest marketplace of graphic designers. I have used them to create some amazing designs. When your business needs a logo, website design, business card, or anything you can imagine check out 99Designs.
I recommend their 1-on-1 service. You get designs from designers around the world. The best part? You provide your feedback. End up with a product that you’re happy with, or your money back. Give it a test run.
5. Domain Name Generator
Want a domain name that’s both memorable to the eye and catchy to the ear? Wordoid is a free site where you can generate hundreds of inspirational ideas for that perfect domain.
5. Keyword Research
SEO Keyword Ranking is the perfect kit to keep track of potential keywords you’re researching.
The interface is user and beginner-friendly and you receive high quality, detailed analytics.
#1 RECOMMENDED KEYWORD RESEARCH TOOL
Long Tail Pro is easier to use than Market Samurai and more popular than Jaaxy.
It’s the industry leader if you’re looking for an easy way to find the best ranking keywords for Google.
Sort and track, score keyword competitiveness and most importantly, calculate their profitability.
You can sign up for a FREE 7-day trial here.
6. Courses That Actually Work
#1 FOR NEWBIE BLOGGERS
Want to start a blog but don’t know where to begin? Already established but feel like you’re just spinning the wheels?
Elite Blog Academy delivers a proven plan to help you focus on only the most important and game-changing details.
With so much information about bogging on the internet, it’s difficult to know who to trust and what works.
Elite Blog Academy eliminates the guesswork and overwhelm.
Enrolment only takes place once a year but you can join the waiting list here and check out what others are saying about EBA.
#1 FOR BLOGGING RESOURCES AFTER YOU START A BLOG
Building a Framework by Abby Lawson is one of the best blogging investments I made. She’s figured out what works so you can focus on refining your message, building your brand, monetizing your platform and growing your business.
Abby shows you ways to build valuable blogging networks, create engaging content that will keep your readers coming back for more and how to conquer social media to further your reach.
Not yet ready to commit?
Why not sign up for Abbey’s FREE ‘10 Day Blogging Quickstart‘ or her FREE guide, ‘5 Types of Content That Will Boost Your Blog Traffic‘.
#1 FOR AFFILIATE MARKETING
Learn how 22-year-old Michelle went from blogging as a hobby, to earning over $100,000 a month. Whether you’re a brand-new blogger or if you’ve been blogging for years, Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing will show you everything you need to be successful with affiliate marketing.
If you’ve already tried affiliate marketing, you may be frustrated with your results. It’s not as easy as just slapping a few links on your site. Even after spending an enormous amount of time and effort, your results may still be disappointing.
Only by learning proven strategies, will you be able to increase your affiliate income and start to make more money blogging. My affiliate income surged immediately once I implemented Michelle’s advice.
#1 FOR ONLINE COURSES.
Want to create your own online course but not sure where to start?
This FREE cheat sheet outlines 7 steps to promoting and profiting from online course.
In fact, these are the exact same ways the author, David Garland, used to go from $0 to over $1,000,000 in less than 24 months.
#1 RECOMMENDATION FOR PINTEREST MARKETING.
Want to attract hordes of fans? Turbo-charge your traffic and get tons of subscribers?
Then I have exciting news for you – with Pinfinite Growth, you can!
With Pinfinite Growth, Melyssa Griffin shows you how to harness the power of Pinterest.
Pinfinite Growth will teach you how to:
- Skyrocket your traffic
- Convert readers into subscribers and buyers
- Grow an authentic voice
- Free up your time
- Passive growth while you’re not at the helm
- Become a leader in your niche
Check out Pinfinite Growth here
According to Megan Johnson, 90% of bloggers are using Pinterest totally wrong! And this is why she created Pinterest Ninja: to show you exactly you can drive a ton of traffic to your site using Pinterest.
No other Pinterest course goes into so much depth to ensure that you succeed. Megan truly broke the mold with this program and has left no stone unturned. I couldn’t recommend Pinterest Ninja enough.
And at only $29.99, it’s cheaper than many other inferior courses currently on offer. Act now, before prices go up!
Pinning without paying for a scheduler
This unique approach to pinning is the brainchild of Carly Campbell.
And her ebook, Pinterest Strategies, has taken Pinterest by storm and transformed the fortunes of bloggers, both new and experienced.
Pinterest Strategies is NOT just ‘another Pinterest course’
Thanks to hours of tireless research and anecdotal evidence, Carly brings you a system that actually WORKS.
It truly is unlike any other Pinterest course on the market.
This FREE ultimate guide is like having your own personal finance and entrepreneur advisor in your ear.
Ramit Sethi is author of the New York Time’s Bestseller, “I Will Teach You To Be Rich”. And the advice in this free guide is no less spectacular. Even if you’re beginning with no idea, Sethi will direct you on a path to launching your own business in just 7 steps.
7. Social Media
#1 FOR SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
Social Warfare was developed with one goal in mind: to allow your posts to be shared in a beautiful, functional way, without slowing down your site. This WordPress plugin adds modern, clean buttons to your site that lets readers share your content on the most popular social networks.
Here are some of my favorite features:
- You can easily customize the buttons with over 5,000 style combinations to match the look and feel of your website.
- Upload a Pinterest specific image and description.
- Create in-post tweetable quotes.
- Add social proof to your posts by displaying social share counts
- Display a custom widget to showcase your most popular blog posts.
Ultimate Social Media Icons are another tremendously popular way to drive traffic to your site through social sharing. You can define where you want the icons to appear on your pages and there’s an additional option to make them ‘float’.
I use the USM Premium option for easily placing sharing icons in my sidebar as a widget as well as generating a Pinterest specific image and description similar to Social Warfare.
Milo Tree creates a subtle statement when new visitors click on your site. It’s incredibly lightweight and installs on your site in under 2 minutes with NO technical experience necessary.
Use it to convert one-time visitors into followers and subscribers for both Pinterest and Instagram. You can demo your pop-up before you purchase. Once installed, you can visit Milo Tree to gain snapshot insights from your Pinterest and Instagram analytics.
Trouble keeping Tweets under 140 characters or less?
Well, I have some good news for you. There’s a FREE, easy-to-use service, that can not only drastically reduce the number of characters in your URL, but also provide you with analytics so you can see who’s clicking on your links.
8. Social Media Scheduler
#1 PINTEREST & INSTAGRAM SCHEDULER.
Social media is awesome. But promoting your latest pins can be a huge time drain. That’s why savvy bloggers use Tailwind as the smart way to schedule on Pinterest & Instagram.
Tailwind’s browser extension lets you easily create multiple posts from any site with just one click. Its time-saving drag-and-drop calendar allows bulk image uploads. Tailwind will also monitor your Pinterest and Instagram trends and activity, giving you the insights to focus on driving real business results.
Best of all, the Tailwind calendar will optimize your scheduler based on when your audience is most engaged, giving you maximum exposure to your audience. I saw a HUGE spike in traffic once I started using Tailwind.
#1 SOCIAL MEDIA SCHEDULER
SmarterQueue lets you schedule your social media in seconds and will automatically recycle your Evergreen content. SmarterQueue is much more than an editorial calendar. It’s a complete marketing engine.
The platform works with all you favorite social media networks to give you 10x the exposure with less effort. Streamline your workflow and get all your social media posts scheduled in 1 hour per month.
9. Pinterest Group Board Directory
#1 FOR FINDING PINTEREST GROUP BOARDS
Joining a Group Board on Pinterest was one of the best strategies in bringing me tons of new traffic. But ever wondered how to find group boards?
Pin Groupie is the answer. Filter your search requirements to view and contact potential group boards. Note: the process can be time consuming and remember to keep you requests professional.
10. Create Professional Screenshots
Snagit makes capturing high-quality images a breeze. Click and drag anywhere on your screen to select a region with pixel perfect accuracy.
Enhance and customize your screenshots with mark-up tools. Perfect for empowering your audience with walk-through tutorials.
11. Make Money With Adverts
Make money by placing ads on your blog. This is a FREE resource, but you’ll need to register for an account. Note: Too many ads on your site can be a turnoff for your visitors.
Mediavine is a step up from Google Adsense. Their expert team takes on the role of your exclusive ad manager using future proofed and exclusive content.
You’ll need in the region of 30,000 page views before you can sign up with Media vine. And great quality content. Obviously!
Ad Thrive is a pro blogger advertising network and you’ll need at least 100,000 page views a month before you can apply. The team at Ad Thrive work with you to design an ad layout tailor-made to your requirements.
Furthermore, changes in industry trends are swiftly reflected in terms of their strategy and ad optimization.
12. Create Clickable Headlines
#1 HEADLINE ANALYZER
Write headlines that drive traffic. Simply type in your potential headline and CoSchedule will analyze it in seconds. The higher your score, the better the headline. It’s not only a sure-fire way to create more engaging, clickable headlines but also a great way to brainstorm.
Many bloggers ‘guess’ how their readers will react to various words and offers. The team at AMI have determined a test which will give you an actual rating that you can use to judge how well received your posts will be to others. A high score means that you’ll be involving them in your copy, and invoking their deeper thoughts.
Write like a pro and avoid looking foolish with embarrassing spelling and grammar mistakes.
Grammarly has helped give me more confidence in my writing. It also saves me a lot of time with proof-reading
#1 FOR TRUSTED FREELANCERS
Formed by the merger of Elance and oDesk, Upwork connects you with freelance writers, graphic designers, programmers, and web developers around the world. You can review potential freelancers by success score, feedback, badges and work history so you know you’re hiring a trusted professional.
#1 FOR HIGH QUALITY VA’S
Virtual Staff Finder is the best and quickest headhunter service on the internet. I’ve used them on many occasions for blog management. I highly recommend it.
#1 FOR SITE SPEED & OPTIMIZATION
If your pages are loading slow then you are losing traffic. Period.
WP Faster helped my site become blistering fast. They tested hundreds of performance configurations to give me a tailor-made solution to my problem.
My support representative, Sam, was always patient, helpful and professional. He kept me informed with regular updates and explanations.
WP Faster helped transform my site from a sluggish 3-5 second load time, to consistently under 1 second using ‘real-world’ performance.
#1 FOR WORDPRESS TECH SUPPORT
If you’re paralyzed by the technical side of blogging, then WP Curve is a real lifesaver. Sign up today and get 24/7 access to the world’s best developers.
WP Curve was a game changer for me when I started blogging. Confronting technical issues was no longer a nightmare.
Each task I assigned was swiftly dealt with by trusted experts. Sometimes within minutes.
Forget about bookmarking sites and ditch the ever-growing tabs open in your browser. Just clip any article, full page or screenshot to Evernote.
Organise into Notebooks and then easily locate and view when you’re ready. Great for ‘just-in-time-learning’.
#1 FOR WEBSITE SECURITY.
Complacency over your blog’s security is a dangerous game. Especially if it’s your only source of income.
Securi’s Cloud based system means there’s no installation or plugins to slow your site. What’s more, Securi is not just a security solution – they’re an entire emergency service that’s got your back. From detection, protection, response and backups, you’ll never have to second-guess if the safety or integrity of your site is under threat.
They also offer a full 30-day money back guarantee.
I hope you found my blogging resources useful. If you’d like me to review any more tools and blogging resources please drop my a line.