The next step in the ‘how to make a blog” series is all about the essentials tools and plugins you need to make a successful blog.
(Please note, all the tools and plugins in this post I use personally and some of the links are affiliate links.)
Making a blog is cheap but if you want a successful one you must invest in better tools.
Unfortunately there are far too many bloggers who set up their blog and then spend thousands of hours TRYING to make it successful. Many don’t invest in the right tools and many invest in far too many tools and get sucked into buying the latest ‘shiny gadget or tool’
I agree you do have to invest, as investing in tools will save you time and make your blogging more efficient and attract more traffic (and the more targeted traffic you have the more income you can make).
So here I share with you the tools and plugins that I use on this blog to make a full-time income.
How To Make A Blog: The Essential Tools
There are hundreds of free and premium (meaning you buy) to choose from and it really comes down to what you want from a theme.
Without doubt the best theme I have used and the theme this blog is built on is using the Canvas theme from Woothemes. It’s just so versatile and easy to use. Try it…you will not regret it.
Using a Content Delivery Network can vastly improve your blog’s loading speed. It costs me less than $3 a month (I use RackSpace) and makes my blog load faster. Check out my video:
We’ve talked about this tool before in part two of this series: Finding The Best Keywords For Your Chosen Niche
I’m mentioning Market Samurai again because not only can you use it to find your initial targeted keywords for your blog…you can also use it for the best keywords you want to target for each post.
And you can use it for your related ‘tags’.
Using the best keywords for each of your posts will generate more free traffic – find out how to get this traffic by investing in Market Samurai.
Get invaluable keyword insight and stats – they offer a free trial and a number of helpful videos to get you started.
Here’s the link: Market Samurai
A Good Video Camera, Microphone and Headphones
Video is an essential part of successful internet marketing, so make sure you have a good camera, microphone and headphones. There’s no excuse. You can get great quality products for a low outlay these days.
A series of well-made videos will bring your blog tons of traffic.
Sound quality is as important as picture quality so don’t skimp on the microphone / headphones.
There are too many great videos on YouTube that you can’t hear properly – don’t make the same mistake!
For a hand-held video camera I use a Sony Handycam:
Sony HD Handycam
And I’ve just purchased this headset microphone/headphone combination:
ASUS VULCAN Headset
Camtasia has all the tools for creating professional videos without having to go to film school! You will soon be making videos to train, educate, and sell more.
Few people will buy your product on the first visit, and if you can capture their e-mail addresses you can build a list (we talk about list building later in the series) and start an effective e-mail marketing campaign.
Regular emails also act as little reminders about your blog.
To do this you’ll need to pay for an auto responder service. Aweber is probably the most well respected, but there are many others to choose from.
An autoresponder will save you many hours of hard labor. All you do is compose a series of e-mail messages that are delivered at pre-set times on specific days or intervals. You can also send out a monthly newsletter through the service.
How To Make A Blog: Free WordPress Plug-Ins
There are many different opinions about which free WordPress plug-ins are the most valuable and often it will depend on what you intend to do with your blog. Here are my recommendations:
I’ve included this one because internal linking your blog posts is great for SEO purposes. And this plugin makes it easy.
Adds some extra security to your WordPress set-up.
MaxBlogPress Ping Optimizer
Only pings the ping sites when you publish a post and not when you edit a post. Without it you could be classed as a ping spammer!
Helps improve the security of your WordPress installation.
Automatically adds alt and title attributes to all your images – this helps with SEO.
Adds actionable social bookmarking buttons to your site
Speeds up the loading speed of your blog.
I don’t use this plugin for backing-up. I use it to automatically optimize the database files. See the Backup Buddy plugin (below) I use for backups.
Reduces the size of image files and improves loading performance. Useful if you have a large number of graphics.
There are numerous SEO plugins to choose from and the majority are excellent.
From day one of my blog being built I’ve been using the All-In-One-SEO plugin but recently I moved across and started using Yoast’s WordPress SEO. It’s pretty complex and involved numerous settings. Get the settings wrong and you could be penalized. But I like it and am really pleased I moved across.
How To Make A Blog: Premium WordPress Plug-ins
Imagine creating a blog and your host goes out of business or you do something so bad your entire blog gets deleted? Or you get hacked and lose all your data.
The alternative to suicide is Backup Buddy – a fast an easy way to restore your blog. If you decide you hate your host’s lousy customer service Backup Buddy will also quickly migrate your site to another host.
CommentLuv Premium is a great plugin that encourages comments, stops spam comments and creates backlinks.
MaxBlogPress Ninja Affiliate
MaxBlogPress Ninja Affiliate is not only great for making some affiliate cash, it can also help with building internal links from blog post to blog post.
You can use the same plugin to set-up keywords that automatically link to other posts on your site. What that means is you are giving your posts extra automatic Google link juice!
If you want to make SEO much, much easier, then use ScribeSEO before publishing your blog posts.
This plugin removes all the SEO complexity and you’ll achieve higher search rankings and increase the targeted traffic to your site!
As stated above these are the tools and plugins that I use to make my blog as successful as possible. Unfortunately you do have to invest and these are the best tools I have personally benefitted from.
The previous blog posts in the ‘how to make a blog’ series:
Part Five: Choosing a Domain Name and Hosting