How To Make A Blog Part Six: The Tools I Use To Make A Full-Time Income

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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

Premium Themes

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.

CDN

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:

Speeding Up Your Blog: The Only Guide You Need

Keyword Research

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

Video Processing

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.

Autoresponders

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:

Insights

I’ve included this one because internal linking your blog posts is great for SEO purposes. And this plugin makes it easy.

Login LockDown

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!

Secure WordPress

Helps improve the security of your WordPress installation.

SEO Friendly Images

Automatically adds alt and title attributes to all your images – this helps with SEO.

Socialize

Adds actionable social bookmarking buttons to your site

W3 Total Cache (or WP-Super-Cache)

Speeds up the loading speed of your blog.

WP-DBManager

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.

WP Smush.it

Reduces the size of image files and improves loading performance. Useful if you have a large number of graphics.

Yoast’s WordPress SEO

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

Backup Buddy

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

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!

 

ScribeSEO

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!

Click Here and Take Scribe On A Risk-Free Test Drive

In summary

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 One: How To Make A Blog: Getting Your Niche Right Is Crucial

 

Part Two: How To Make A Blog: Finding The Best Keywords For Your Chosen Niche

 

Part Three: How To Make A Blog: Monetizing with Affiliate Products

 

Part Four: How To Make A Blog: Monetizing with Digital Products

 

Part Five: Choosing a Domain Name and Hosting

In the next post on the series, “How to make a Blog” we shall cover the topic of “Blog Content”

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141 Responses to How To Make A Blog Part Six: The Tools I Use To Make A Full-Time Income

  1. Young February 7, 2012 at 3:49 am #

    Wow, this is a really cool FREE tutorial to earn some money by blogging. I am going to check out the CDN more later.
    Young recently posted..How To Move WordPress To A VPS Or Dedicated ServerMy Profile

  2. Stephen Peters February 7, 2012 at 4:57 am #

    Wow you pulled out all the stops on this post. I think you could make a post on just about every one of those tools. RSS Link Bomber sounds interesting. I’ve never heard of it. I will check it out.

  3. Jane
    Twitter:
    February 7, 2012 at 7:59 am #

    I’m closely following this series Andrew. I’m sure its a lot of use not only to newbies but also to established bloggers 🙂 I’ve learned some great important tools too!
    Jane recently posted..Market Samurai: Temporary Interruption In ServicesMy Profile

  4. Amanda Silver February 7, 2012 at 10:39 am #

    That plugins list is very useful to me… Thanks! I am motivated now to search even more tips in your series

  5. Dan Lew
    Twitter:
    February 7, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

    These plugins are no doubt to me that they gonna help us bloggers to make a full-time income, especially MaxBlogPress Ninja Affiliate, RSSLinkBomber and Commentluv (which 3 of them are my own keys).

    Dan Lew

  6. Sergey Plotnikov February 7, 2012 at 9:17 pm #

    Great post Andrew. This is the third newsletter that I received from you, and it is very VERY helpful…. I am currently changing our website and you guys have the best advice…..

    I look forward to receiving more updates from you..

    Regards,

    Sergey Plotnikov
    Curing Capital Inc.
    http://curingcapital.com/

  7. Debbie
    Twitter:
    February 7, 2012 at 9:21 pm #

    Wow Andrew! i was listening to the RSS Link Bomber on the link you provided and this really sounds like something that might help me. Would really appreciate your advice on this. Great post again and I always learn something new from you.
    Thank you and blessing to you,
    Debbie
    Debbie recently posted..How to Get to Know Your Partner or Spouse the Ultimate GuideMy Profile

  8. Corinne Edwards
    Twitter:
    February 7, 2012 at 9:36 pm #

    Dear Andrew –

    The best course on the web.

    People should print it all out so they don’t have to pay for the book.

    You are going to make this a book, right?
    Corinne Edwards recently posted..A WOMAN WITHOUT A MAN – In Paperback and on KindleMy Profile

  9. Joe February 8, 2012 at 1:13 am #

    Hi Andrew, Interesting you use Headway. I found it very confusing. Did you do this headway site yourself or did you use a child theme?

  10. sai krishna
    Twitter:
    February 8, 2012 at 4:47 pm #

    i’m also doing keyword research but i’m using alexa , Google free keyword tools only .. you prefer to buy any special keyword research software ?-
    sai krishna recently posted..Complying Copyright Laws When BloggingMy Profile

  11. Chris February 8, 2012 at 7:51 pm #

    Great post, pretty in depth. I’d never even heard of a Content Delivery Network before so thanks for the help!

  12. Matt Kinsella
    Twitter:
    February 8, 2012 at 9:11 pm #

    I must, must, MUST start making short videos for my blog. I am never in one place long enough to do it confidently. I know I can do it on my phone but I think it would be good if I could sit down properly at my desk and create some nice little video posts. Good info, thanks again for the advice.
    Matt Kinsella recently posted..Change Your LifeMy Profile

  13. Owen February 8, 2012 at 10:23 pm #

    A great post and worth following. I always see recommendations from experts about plug-ins but very rarely you see a post or a video about the settings of these plug-ins. Some of them need a degree. I have only 3 plug-ins and looking for more. I don’t know if I got the settings right. Some plug-ins I just deleted as I could not figure out how to set them up.

  14. Joel
    Twitter:
    February 9, 2012 at 6:07 am #

    Great list Andrew. I’ve yet to start using a CDN, I could easily but it’s another thing on the to-do list. I have just moved over to the latest version of Headway though, one step at a time! Thanks for providing such a valuable and useful series.
    Joel recently posted..What Do Your Friends And Associates Say About You?My Profile

  15. TheGreenovator February 9, 2012 at 6:28 pm #

    I learn something everyday. Checking out CDN as soon as I leave this comment so I can help increase my own link juice…lol

  16. Tushar February 9, 2012 at 7:07 pm #

    Using CDN is very good and it decrease the loading time . I am using dropbox as free CDN and my blog loading time is veryy less.

  17. Beat Schindler
    Twitter:
    February 9, 2012 at 11:15 pm #

    Wow … this post as well as the preceding ones in the series, priceless. Okay, worth gold. Any blog beginner, or any seasoned blogger stuck in
    zero-growth, who comes across your free (!) “How To Make A Blog” series, will benefit tremendously and consider him/herself very lucky indeed. I’ll do my part to spread the word.
    Beat Schindler recently posted..Dream A Little Dream For YouMy Profile

  18. Raymond Chua
    Twitter:
    February 10, 2012 at 12:32 am #

    Thanks for the great list of plugin, Andrew.

    I’ll pick some and use it on my blogs.

  19. Girlie Blogger February 10, 2012 at 9:11 am #

    Market Samurai – sounds like a great place to visit. Thanks for sharing it with us. I have never even heard of this, or a lot of the stuff you mentioned.

  20. sai krishna
    Twitter:
    February 10, 2012 at 5:13 pm #

    yes mate 🙂 i will agree with you .. in starting journey i’m also confused with this lot factors ..
    sai krishna recently posted..Google making changes to Privacy PolicyMy Profile

  21. David Rogers February 11, 2012 at 5:32 pm #

    Andrew
    As ever, you share some great resources. I learnt of Smush.it and MaxBlogPress from previous posts of yours. Now I’m about to look at Content Delivery Network, which I’d never heard of. Thanks
    David
    David Rogers recently posted..Any Parting Regrets You’d Like to Share?My Profile

  22. Eren Mckay
    Twitter:
    February 14, 2012 at 12:24 am #

    These are all excellent tips. I knew some of these plugins but others I definitely want to go and check out. The page loading one is a must since this makes a huge difference if the visitor will stick around or not.
    All the best,
    Eren
    Eren Mckay recently posted..Anne Geddes Baby Shower InvitationsMy Profile

  23. Ayush Agrawal February 14, 2012 at 5:32 am #

    Thanks for sharing such a mammoth collection of useful tools.
    Ayush Agrawal recently posted..13 Ways in which Windows 8 Will Be DifferentMy Profile

  24. Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis February 14, 2012 at 7:38 am #

    I am new to blogging and not so familiar with wordpress. Would you have any advice for me that how can i make my blog looking good and easy to navigate.

  25. Chris February 14, 2012 at 7:06 pm #

    I’m new to blogging as well, but know my way around wordpress a bit. I’m glad I came across your site… There seems to be a wealth of great information here and I really enjoyed this post. Thanks!

  26. Angel Collins February 15, 2012 at 10:32 am #

    What more can you ask for if you make money in doing what you love. A lot of people are making their way in the blogging community. These tips will be of great help for them.
    Angel Collins recently posted..Reader Questions: Covering Redness and PigmentationMy Profile

  27. martin gover February 17, 2012 at 3:30 am #

    Thanks for the info – and the great links – that rss bomber looks awesome

  28. Cheryl from thatgirlisfunny
    Twitter:
    February 17, 2012 at 3:13 pm #

    Hello Andrew,
    Your lists are always jam packed with useful tips and information. I have to check my market samurai. I have it, but it wasn’t working properly. May have to enable it again and see if the glitches have been worked out.
    Cheryl from thatgirlisfunny recently posted..Why me? First, sitting pretty on a fence. Next, trying not to get kicked in the face by a pointy shoe.My Profile

  29. Ed Parton February 18, 2012 at 12:16 pm #

    Wow… most excellent resources. I need to get more busy and download a tip or two from your awesome list.

    Now, if I could only make a few bucks doing this.

    Ahhhh, a labor of love will do it.

  30. Bhupendra
    Twitter:
    February 20, 2012 at 9:14 pm #

    All these plugin is very helpful for every blogger. Thanks for Your lists it will really help me. Thanks for sharing.
    Bhupendra recently posted..Make Money Selling Photos OnlineMy Profile

  31. Corine February 20, 2012 at 9:45 pm #

    Great Post. Very informative. This information should save many brand new internet marketers from making the common mistake of believing all the mis leading get rich quick schemes that are being advertised all over the internet. It is refreshing to read honest internet marketing information instead of all the false promises that so many blog posters write. Have A Wonderful Day Corine Miller

    • Andrew
      Twitter:
      February 21, 2012 at 10:17 am #

      Corine

      Thanks and I agree.

      We need to get the word out that there are no ‘get rich quick schemes’.

      Unfortunately, so many are still ‘sucked in’ by the hype.

      Andrew
      Andrew recently posted..TimThumb: Be WarnedMy Profile

  32. Joe February 21, 2012 at 4:19 pm #

    Is login lock-down ok to use with the current WordPress? it has not been updated in a VERY long time

  33. Chris February 21, 2012 at 7:08 pm #

    I am glad you pointed out what a CDN will do for your blog. I was weighing what options I could use to make my blog load faster because I know readers are not very patient so I want to make sure it comes up within a reasonable amount of time. I did have a question that I didn’t see addressed in the topics I saw: do you have any suggestions on how to optimize a blog for mobile devices? It seems to me that this a major trend of blog readers to use mobile devices rather than a desktop or laptop. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

  34. Amit February 21, 2012 at 11:35 pm #

    Hi Andrew ,

    That is really great tutorial ..Thanks for posting

  35. great barrier reef February 22, 2012 at 3:05 pm #

    A great post and worth following. I always see recommendations from experts about plug-ins but very rarely you see a post or a video about the settings of these plug-ins. Some of them need a degree. I have only 3 plug-ins and looking for more. I don’t know if I got the settings right. Some plug-ins I just deleted as I could not figure out how to set them up.

  36. Jack February 22, 2012 at 8:07 pm #

    Andrew,

    Thanks for the great series on making a blog. I, like many others, am also have problems with page loading times, I will definitely take a look at the video on the CDN.

  37. Jame February 24, 2012 at 12:35 am #

    Thank you very much for the great list! I definitely have to check out CDN for my blog soon. By the way, would you please advise us about the loading time of these plugin? I’m afraid if the loading time is too long, the reader will leave.

  38. Michael Kincannon February 24, 2012 at 5:47 pm #

    Great post. I think I have too many plugins on my blog right now. I really love your point about get rich quick schemes. Making money online takes work and success doesn’t come overnight. Thanks for sharing.

  39. ReviewGates
    Twitter:
    February 26, 2012 at 7:07 am #

    Absolutely great article. It helps me a lot since I am a newbie to wordpress. I’ll install all the plugins you mentioned one by one and see the progress. Thanks a lot for sharing these wonderful plugins with blogging community.

    Good luck.

  40. kashish786
    Twitter:
    February 27, 2012 at 12:26 pm #

    You are my inhalation, I own few blogs and sometimes run out from post 🙂 . “Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog. Few people are interested and the frog dies of it.” by E. B. White.
    kashish786 recently posted..2 Drawer Metal File CabinetMy Profile

  41. George Maloney February 27, 2012 at 10:52 pm #

    This post is really incredible, one of the most helpful I have ever read, inded. You really are a pro, you use a lot of tools and you always have everything under control, that’s a great thing. I use a few of the plugins mentioned here but I didn’t knew about the other. I will try these very soon for my websites. Thanks for sharing!

  42. Prakash
    Twitter:
    February 29, 2012 at 5:16 am #

    Great plugins I have ever seen. I will use it for my blog now…It’s very useful post for me.
    Thanks for sharing it……..
    Prakash recently posted..Best WordPress Themes Free DownloadMy Profile

  43. Victor February 29, 2012 at 5:48 pm #

    Thank for such a great review, Andrew! Not always you can see so many useful tools in one post! And I also think review for each of them would be a great series of posts!
    Victor recently posted..Web design software | Divine Elemente – Photoshop pluginMy Profile

  44. Sire March 4, 2012 at 2:11 am #

    I agree 100% about having a professional theme but for me it was FlexSqueeze. Once I got my hands on that I stopped looking for others. Also, because I use and recommend it it has paid itself off many times over and continues to do so. Paying for a good theme is a great investment.

    I also agree about CommentLuv Premium and other there are many other premium plugins that are worth the investment. Honestly, if you want to grow your business you have to be prepared to invest more than just your time.
    Sire recently posted..Friday Funnies #5 Featuring Kevin Bloody WilsonMy Profile

  45. Linda March 6, 2012 at 6:57 am #

    If there is any particular one I would recommend (although all of them are fantastic), it would be “SEO Friendly Images”. You can’t imagine how often I overlook the ‘alt’ attribute when posting images online. Surely I can’t be the only one! 🙂

  46. Prakhar March 6, 2012 at 12:29 pm #

    Investing in tools and plugins is definitely necessary but as you said one should spend for it wisely.

  47. JOHN March 7, 2012 at 12:14 pm #

    I’ve ever used both Yoast’s WordPress SEO and All-in-SEO plugin. But i still love All-in-seo better. I think it’s simple, powerfull and friedly. Yoast’s WordPress SEO is so good, but i still like all-in-seo better.
    Thanks for your tips! I will regular visit your website to find something i need.

  48. saha March 7, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

    Great post andrew…!
    Step by step guide in series is really helpful. Specially for new comers in this field. Plugins are really very important for better performance. Thanks for the great series on making a blog.

  49. Matt Clarke March 8, 2012 at 6:00 pm #

    Some great tips here, especially the premium WordPress plug-ins. I have only used the free plug-ins so far due to lack of recommendations but the few you mention seem great. I particularly like the sound of the RSS Link Bomber…exactly what I have been looking for! Thanks for sharing
    Matt Clarke recently posted..Funny Football QuotesMy Profile

  50. Julie March 10, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    The CDN services are really worth to hire, after my decision, my loading speed was as fast as hell! Thanks for listing the most useful WP plugins as well, I haven’t heard about the most of them!

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