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Starting a Blog
We've written a post that simplifies how to start your own blog. Follow our step-by-step tutorial and we will have you up and running in no time!
Psst, if you go through our link to get started, we will give you a shout out on Thriving Home! Read more about how to start your own blog and get it featured here.
We recently switched to ConvertKit and it has BLOWN OUR MINDS. While it is amazingly simple and intuitive, it has smart features that have helped us strategize how we use our email list. Best. Email. Software. EVER!
Email Sign-Ups and Landing Pages
To snag email addresses and create pretty landing pages (like this one), we use a fabulous software called Leadpages. This program has proven to be super easy to use for all sorts of needs we have on our site.
We use Shopify to sell all of our digital products in our store. We have found this program to be extremely reliable in delivering digital products, unlike the Wordpress Store we started with.
To schedule out our pins on Pinterest, we use a handy software called Tailwind. It is super easy to use, a big time-saver, and allows us to pin a bunch at one time without overwhelming our followers.
If you're just starting out, we recommend Bluehost. As a new blogger, you need something that is easy to set up, has good customer service, and that's not very expensive to begin with. Now, keep in mind, you do have to pay for 36 months worth. But if you decide blogging just isn't your thing, you can get your money back! If your site does take off (and we hope it does!), they have hosting plans that you can move up to so your site doesn't slow down.
We currently use Big Scoots. In June 2015, we outgrew our shared hosting, so we switched to Big Scoots. We have been SUPER impressed with their fast, personal service and how much more optimized our site is. The competitive pricing, amenities, and personal service are what attracted us to them. If you're a larger blog, we recommend going with these guys!
Social Sharing Buttons
Notice those little social media icons on the left side of every post? These little guys are a software called SumoMe. They help readers to spread the word about a post they like. Having an easy way for readers to share content is SUPER important. We've found SumoMe is the plugin that works best for us. It's not obtrusive but is very visible and intuitive. You know what's great about SumoMe? It's totally free. Seriously.
Stock Photos and Graphic Elements
For stock photos I've started using Canva. Their photos are only $1.00. For graphics, we've used a variety of programs but as of late I am loving Creative Market. Creative Market sends out a weekly email in which they offer loads of free photos, fonts, graphics, png files, and much more. I use Photoshop and Lightroom for our photo editing.!
Canon Rebel T3 (it's actually discontinued but a comparable one would be the Canon Rebel T6.)
50mm f/1.8 Lens: This is a must have for close ups and food photography!This is a great entry level DSLR camera. If you've never used a DSLR camera before, it will take some practice and learning but there are loads of free tutorials and information out there
Canon EOS 6D: This is a recent upgrade for us. We needed a camera that not only took great photos but had HD video capability.
50mm f/1.4: This lens gets up close and personal with the food.
EF 24-105mm f/4L: A lens that can capture wider images, people and action
Kirstin from June Lily Design patiently and painstakingly spent many, many virtual hours with us as we fretted over, changed, and tweaked just about every inch of our site in the summer of 2014. We love working with someone who is so talented as a designer and as a programmer. Kirstin goes to great lengths to make our sometimes hair-brained ideas come to fruition. Customer service was and continues to be second to none.
Plugins We Use
Here is a list of plugins that we use on a regular basis.
Google Analytics - tracking our site traffic
Akismet - spam blocker
Instagram Slider - instragram photos on our side bar
SumoMe - social media sharing icons
Wordpress Editorial Calendar - helpful for scheduling posts
Related Posts Thumbnails - "You might also like" at the bottom of posts.
EasyRecipe Plus - EasyRecipe makes it easy to enter, format and print your recipes, as well as automagically doing all the geeky stuff needed for Google's Recipe View.
All in One SEO Pack
Amy Lynn Andews: One of the BEST resources for beginning bloggers. She covers it all and explains it in a way that you can actually understand.
Start a Mom Blog: Suzi, founder of Start a Mom Blog, is killing it when it comes to resources on how to start a blog. She’s got great information, resources and courses out the wazoo.
Pinch of Yum: We have learned SO much from these guys. They publish some of the most helpful income reports we have ever seen.
Brilliant Business Moms: If you like to listen to podcasts, tune in to Beth Anne's! She's got loads of great interviews and information for almost any type of blog or business.