I started my blog on October 13th 2014. You can learn more about that here in my one year blogging anniversary post. When I started blogging I had No Clue what I was doing as far as setting up the site, growing a following, and creating great content. All I knew is I had a desire to be creative and have a space where I could share about the things I love and connect with readers from all around the world. I have a mentor that says if the desire is strong enough, the how does not matter. Well, that's the truth here. My desire was strong enough to create a blog that the "how" all fell into place because I was determined to figuring it out.
It is now May of 2016, so I have been blogging for about a year and a half now. I have learned SO much and still have a lot more to learn. There are so many amazing programs, sites and apps that have helped me to make my blog what it is today. Some of which I didn't discover until a year + into my blogging career. I wanted to create this post to hopefully help a new blogger figure out how to get going. Here are some programs that will help you a ton! Good luck!!
| 1 | MAIL CHIMP
Mail Chimp is an email program. You can connect it to your blog to keep track of your subscribers, send them all emails, and my favorite is you can send RSS emails that go out every time a new post is live on your blog. The program is free. Wanna experience it? lol put your email in below to be part of my email list and receive weekly blog updates!
| 2 | CONVERSIONS BOX
Conversions Box is super simple and free. It is a site that allows you to enter a facebook page URL and it will create code for you to add into your blog for a simple pop up. Something along the lines of "Like Us On Facebook".
| 3 | SOCIAL FABRIC
Social Fabric is a place that connects brands with bloggers. If you want to make some money through blogging, this is a great site.
| 4 | CHIMP FEEDR
If you use #1, Mail Chimp, for RSS emails then you will need this. Chimp Feedr is a place where you can enter a bunch of RSS feeds and they will mash them up into one master feed that you can then use for RSS email campaigns. RSS is extremely confusing and if I'm gonna be honest, I'm no expert. But these programs help a ton and once it's set up you don't have to stress about it.
| 5 | PICMONKEY
This is something I use ALL the time! See the photo above? The one I'd love for you to PIN ;). Haha, well I made it using PicMonkey. This program is free or you can pay to upgrade like I did so you have access to everything. I used it for free for a long time and it worked awesome without upgrading. This is a photo editing site. As far as I know they don't have an app yet, which is sorta a bummer, but the site is great. You can do so much through here as far as editing. Go play around with it!
| 6 | BLOGLOVIN
This is a sort of social media platform to follow other blogs and share your own blog. I don't use this program a ton but it is really awesome and I know a lot of bloggers who swear by it and gain a ton of traffic to their blog from it. Here is According To D on bloglovin!
|7 | ICONOSQUARE
One of my favorite platforms on social media is Instagram. I love how visual and creative Instagram is and I focus on growing that platform a lot for my blog. Iconosquare is a nice tool to help you track your analytics. This used to be free but now it costs money, it's either $29/year or $150/year depending on the plan you get. I do the cheaper version and it helps tons. It lets you know a lot of stuff about your Instagram, from what time of day is best to post to receive the most interaction, to what filter your followers like best. You can also receive "snapshots" of your IG content. It will tell you things like where your followers are from (68% of mine are from the U.S.), or what your top posts have been. You can also create a "profile cover" through Iconosquare. Here is an example of that ( I edited it a bit in PicMonkey). It will say something else, which I covered and put my blogs name.
Through Iconosquare you can also create Instagram widgets for your blog. I LOVE this because they give you colors to choose from and you can make it more personal. Here is an example:
| 8 | STOCK PHOTO SITES
I have linked a blog post that gives a long list of free sites where you can find stock photos. Now, I personally don't use a lot of stock photos. Especially for my travel posts, I like to use my own photos. However, there are some situations where the post doesn't require a lot of pictures (like this post) and stock photos come in handy. Like the photo I made to pin up above, the actual photo is a stock photo and I edited it with text. Simple. Pinterest is an amazing search engine for bloggers. If you are looking for stock pictures, search free stock photos in the Pinterest search and a ton of blog posts with information will come up. For bloggers, sometimes Pinterest is a better search engine than Google.
| 9 | PIN GROUPIE
This is something I discovered a few days ago! I wish I knew about it sooner. It's a site that helps you find group Pinterest boards. You can then contact the creator of the Pinterest board and ask them to add you to the board so you can pin on it. I have been doing this recently with travel boards, ones that have a TON of followers. I have noticed SUCH a difference. My blog content has been getting re-pinned like crazy and my blog's page views have gone up from it!! Super excited about this and I'm going to keep working on this, joining new group boards and spreading my blog's pins. If you want to see some of the boards I've joined, click HERE.
| 10 | AVIARY PHOTO EDITOR
This is an app I use on my phone to edit my photos. I have tried other photo editing apps but I find Aviary simple to use. I like that it has whitener, I use this a Ton for white backgrounds so they are super white and pop more, I also use them to whiten my teeth at times. No shame here lol. Here is an example of a picture I took, this will show you the before and after editing with this app.