Below is a list of top resources I recommend for blogging, writing, running an at-home business, and faith-building. I have tested each of these personally and use them to grow my business or improve my personal life as a work-at-home mom.
Top Blogging Resources
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When I decided to start my first self-hosted blog, I used WordPress.org. It’s a free blogging platform that is so universally used that it’s one of the most user-friendly sites for bloggers out there. Once you establish your domain and hosting, fire up WordPress and start blogging. You can even use one of their free themes and the dozens of free plugins available.
If you want to monetize your blog, then it needs to be self-hosted. I’ve used Bluehost since 2015 and have had zero problems with them. They work well with WordPress and even helped me save a lot of money when I transitioned from my old blog to this new one. Plus, if you sign up with Bluehost, you could qualify for a free domain name, too.
My favorite graphic design software for amateurs like me is Canva. It’s free to sign up and has some fantastic tutorials that’ll help get your feet wet. My favorite features are the wealth of free designs, frames, shapes, photos, and fonts, as well as the pre-sized formats for all your various blogging and social media networking needs.
I was so psyched when I found out I could design my OWN 3D graphics. Aren’t those just the coolest??? If you’re writing an eBook, an online course, or creating a new opt-in for your blog, imagine how cool it would look to promote your cover online in 3D? I’m all for hiring graphic designers because they’re AMAZING. But I also love having the option to do this particular step, myself. Especially now that I know it’s so easy! Just sign up for eCover Authority, upload an existing design or create one, then finalize it into 3D with a click of a button.
For example, check out the same graphic in 2D and 3D:
Pretty cool, right?! All I do is design stuff in Canva for free, then upload it using my 3D software. If you’d like to design your own 3D graphics, check out eCover Authority here!
One of the best things you can do for your blog is to start a newsletter. MailChimp is free to join and gives the freedom to customize your newsletter however you wish. You can add an opt-in incentive that provides a quality need for your audience. Click here for an example.
I’ve learned so much practical advice about blogging from Darren Rowse, founder of ProBlogger. His podcast, the ProBlogger Podcast, is so informative and on point for what people need to do blogging right.
Top Writing Resources
This is a self-paced email course that will equip you with the business tools need to be a freelance writer. I took it in November 2015 and went from making $5 per post to $100 or more. In the course, I learned to:
- Pitch editors
- Get published on websites like The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Babble, and The Penny Hoarder
- Create a portfolio and “Hire Me” page
- Find paid writing opportunities and negotiate my rates
Another great feature is the supportive Facebook group exclusive to students of “30DOL.” We build each other up after rejections, get advice, solve problems together, and celebrate victories as a team.
The next open enrollment for “30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success” is January 23rd, 2017 through January 31st, 2017.
If you miss the window on “30DOL,” check out this FREE 5-Day mini course by the same instructor called, “Kickstart Your Freelance Writing Biz.”
Grammarly is a free grammar checker for your web browser. You only have to upload it once to your browser, then you’re all set to receive alerts when you use incorrect grammar or spelling. It’s so handy for places like social media, emails, and blog posts.
One of my favorite authors wrote her advice on writing in a book called “Bird by Bird.” It’s one of those instructional books that holds your attention and keeps you coming back year after year.
One of the foundational tools in every writer’s toolbox is this book, “The Elements of Style.” It’s a short read that will overhaul your grammar like Joanna Gaines and a fixer upper.
Whether you’ve ever read any of King’s published novels or not, his honest advice in “On Writing” after decades of professional writing will definitely challenge you to become a better writer. I’ve read through it at least three times and always have a copy on a shelf near my desk.
Top At-Home Business Resources
“Strategies Worth Sharing” by Brittany Ann
This eBook was a defibrillator for my Facebook page. I was pouring hours of work into growing it and had a stagnant like count of 242, next to no engagement, and an average reach of about 12. After applying Brittany’s strategies in “Strategies Worth Sharing” (i.e. using my natural voice, niching down, and sharing better content more often), my page has quadrupled in likes with continual, organic reach between 200 and 500. My content has regular engagement from followers whose passions are in line with mine. It’s an absolute joy to run my Facebook page each day thanks to the techniques I applied in this book.
My primary tool for scheduling social media content each week is Hootsuite. You can use Buffer, too; I just prefer my user experience with Hootsuite. Not only is this free tool crucial to my own business networking, but it has become my primary asset for the work I do as a social media manager. For more information about how I got started in that line of work, read one of my income reports for details.
Top Faith-Building Resources
First 5 app
It’s so easy to get swept into the chaos and noise of daily life. First 5 was created to help you give God the first five minutes of your day. It was created by Lysa TerKeurst, president of Proverbs 31 Ministries. It’s free to download and available on Android and iPhone.
For the Love
Nothing has ever inspired me to write about motherhood and faith quite like the powerful and hilarious tellings of Jen Hatmaker in “For the Love.” It redefined how I view my calling. AND I nearly wet myself several times from laughter – no joke. Those were the moments when I had to grab my phone and text my mom friend, Kara, to see if she’d reached the same part in the book, yet.