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When I first started a blog back in 2008, blogs were simple. They were more like journals than websites, with a scrolling home page, and posts lost into a long abyss of content, never to be seen again.

Now blogs resemble news websites, with many posts on the home page. When I started my blog this year, there was so much to learn! I’ve listened to countless podcasts, read tons online, including Ruth Soukup’s book, How to Blog for Profit without Losing Your Soul, and am still doing research. I don’t think the learning part of blogging will ever end, which is one reason it appeals to me so much.

At first, I started my site using BlueHost, but later switched to Siteground and am so happy I did. Not only is this hosting provider much faster than BlueHost, the customer service is exemplary. They’ve fixed broken plug-ins that crashed my site on a moment’s notice, and are always available over chat.

[You might also like: How to start a money-making blog]

I would highly recommend Siteground if you’re starting a blog.

1. Opt-in Monster

The top 5 tools you must have if you're starting a blog

When I first started blogging, I had no idea how to grow my email list. It seemed like people weren’t seeing my sidebar opt-in. Sign-ups were turtle-slow, and I wondered if I’d ever have a list.


Then, I learned about Opt-In Monster, which is a cool technology where you can design your own opt-ins, and put them anywhere on your blog. I created a “below post” opt-in, a sidebar opt-in, a top-of-page opt-in, and a pop-up for mobile. I’ve seen my email subscriptions skyrocket since then!

Another amazing thing about Opt-in Monster is that they’ve implemented exit technology. That means you can set up a pop-up opt-in when it seems like the person is about to leave your site. Opt-in Monster tracks mouse movement to figure out exactly when to show the opt-in. Brilliant!

Click here to check out Opt-In Monster: https://www.thewaywardhome.com/OptInMonster

2. Social Warfare

5 tools you must have when starting a blogSocial Warfare is amazing social media marketing plug-in that allows you to choose just exactly how people can share your content. I chose a floating bar for my posts, with a wide variety of social media options to pick from. One of my biggest pet peeves is visiting someone’s blog, and not being able to share a post via Twitter. It makes me less likely to share, which is something Social Warfare can solve for you.

Another thing I like is the ability to hide my Pinterest image. I don’t think blog posts look very good crammed with huge Pinterest images. This way, you can upload exactly which image you want your reader to share. This also holds true for social media images. You can pick which image and description you want shared on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google Plus.

This plug-in also comes with a “Click to Tweet” option, which I love.

Click here to check out Social Warfare for yourself: https://www.thewaywardhome.com/SocialWarfare

3. Tailwind for Pinterest

Tailwind Visual Marketing Suite

I’m still learning how to optimize Pinterest to get more traffic to my blog. There’s no way I could have done it without Tailwind. This Pinterest-approved scheduling program finds the best time slots for your pins to appear, and does all the work for you. All you have to do is fill your calendar with pins. I love this because I don’t have to constantly log into Pinterest to pin throughout the day. I’d much rather focus on creating content, which is more fun anyway.

Another great thing about Tailwind is their Tribes option. Here, you can join Tribes, which help get your pins in front of more people. In return, you pin other members pins. I belong to about 10 tribes, and think this is an awesome part of Tailwind.

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In July, my Pinterest traffic was a measly 30 pageviews , but in August, after signing up for Tailwind, 700 pageviews came from Pinterest and still growing.

Tailwind upped my Pinterest traffic from 30 page views to 700 in just one month!Click To Tweet

Click here to try them out for freehttps://www.thewaywardhome.com/Tailwind

4. Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing

5 tools you must have when starting a blogAffiliate marketing is something that doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m not a sales person, and don’t really know how to implement affiliate links in my blog posts. Michelle Shroeder-Gardner’s (www.makingsenseofcents.com) online course, Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, is a must-have for people starting a blog, especially those interested in learning how to make money from their blog. Michelle currently makes about $50,000 per month from affiliate marketing alone, which is an amazing achievement. I’d consider her an expert in blogging, which is why I purchased her course.

Affiliate links are a great way to tell people about products you know and love, so they can purchase for themselves. In return, you get a small kick-back from the company.

To check out Michelle’s course, click here: https://www.thewaywardhome.com/MakingSenseofAffiliateMarketing

5. WP Fixit

When I first started my blog, I tried to install a Twitter plug-in that completely crashed my site. One minute it was up-and-running beautifully, and the next,….there was a horrible error message and a sea of blank white space. Of course, I flipped out. I was losing readers by the minute! Or maybe,…since I didn’t really have readers…by the day.

Luckily, someone recommended WP Fixit, which is a group of web developers that will fix any WordPress problem for just $40. Plus, they are fast. They definitely came to my rescue.

If you ever have a WordPress failure, check them out here: https://www.thewaywardhome.com/WPFixit


I hope these tools help you as much as they’ve helped me. There’s so much to learn about blogging and a myriad of tools to choose from. Happy blogging!

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