Resources

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So many times other bloggers are curious about what tools are used by other bloggers.  I decided to create this page to answer all your questions about what I use on this blog.

Blogging Resources | hollyshelpings.com


 Blog Info

WordPress Theme

How smart is your Theme?  How good is your support? Check out ThesisTheme for WordPress.Thesis – This is what I use and it’s wildly easy to get started and has a ton of features that I just love.  Easily adding CSS, php, and javascript anywhere on the page?  OK!  Super customizable? Yes!  It’s great for people of all ranges of coding ability from none at all, to learning some, to expert.  It lets you do what you want easily.  It also has tons of forums for help and documentation in case you ever get stuck.

 

Genesis – I’ve seen many different blogs using Genesis and I’ve also worked on a blog using this theme.  It is also really customizable and has a bunch of child themes (or pre-customized versions) to help you get started.  While I haven’t used this myself, all the blogs I see using it look great.  Sleek and sexy.

Blog Design

store call to action smallYours truly – I’ve designed everything.  The header, the banners, the buttons…all me.  I’ve also done the fancy social media icons including all the coding.  You like it?  You can give me money to do yours too!  Just fill out the form here.  I also do invitations, printables, business cards, and anything else you can think up.  If you don’t see something you need, just let me know.

 

Forms

Gravity Forms – The answer is Gravity Forms.  Do not try to use anything else for forms.  Gravity forms is what you’re looking for, and at $39 for a personal license it’s a steal.  They are totally customizable with absolutely no coding knowledge needed at all.  You can use it as an order form, a contact form, anything.  It easily integrates into most themes and if you have any trouble at all, they have amazing support.  You can also integrate into MailChimp or PayPal for an upgraded license.

Email

mailchimpMailChimp – I love MailChimp.  I first discovered it when I was using it to send out some emails for work and I fell in love.  It has a simple drag and drop editor.  It integrates with your RSS feed easily and it will automatically go out whenever you schedule it to the following day.  If you have more than 2000 followers, it’s not free, but it’s so easy to use, I will still use it when I have over 2000 email subscribers.

 

FeedBurner – This option also works, but I switched from using the free service from FeedBurner to MailChimp because of the customizable options and I haven’t ever looked back.


Photography

Camera

nikon d7000Nikon D7000 – This camera is simply amazing.  It does exactly what you tell it to and takes very high quality pictures.  It’s also pretty expensive. The D3100 is nearly as good and less expensive.  You can also check out versions of Canon.  The D70 is the nicest version out, and this Rebel is nearly as good, but less expensive.

 

Lens

nikon 50mm 1.450mm 1.4 Lens [Canon Equivalent 50mm 1.4] – This lens is on my wishlist. It’s too expensive for me right now. I will probably first get the Nikon 50mm 1.8 [Canon Equivalent – 50mm 1.8] lens, which is just slightly under in quality and capabilities, but about half the price. The lens I use now works fine and is a Nikon 18-105mm.

 

 

Photo Editing

photoshop elementsAdobe Photoshop Elements 12 This is the updated version of the Photoshop Elements 11, which is what I actually use.  What I like about photoshop elements is that it’s so powerful, but a fraction of the cost of the full creative suite.  I can make my pictures look perfect by editing the lighting, color tints, and adding text.  It’s all the capabilities I need for a reasonable price.

 

 

PicMonkey – Many many many bloggers use PicMonkey.  There is a free version and a paid version.  It’s an easy way to point and click edit pictures.  You can also add text to pictures and add little banners.   It will work well for most needs.

 


Revenue

Ad Networks

Google AdSense – This network is the largest (it’s Google, c’mon).  They pay on a  CPC basis so anytime someone clicks an ad on your page, you make some money.  There are a lot of rules and you have to apply, but it pays well and most people have some Google AdSense on their pages

Foodie Blog Roll – This network pays on a CPM basis so you get paid per impression (or whenever someone sees an ad on your page).  You have to be a food blog to enroll in this program.  My issues with this network is that it takes approximately forever to get statistics about your earnings.  This makes it difficult to adjust or do any testing for placement.

InfoLinks – They’ll highlight words on your page and when a user hovers over them, you’ll get some money for the ad that is shown.  I’ve only made a very small amount from this company, but their support is amazing.

Affiliate Programs

Amazon Affiliate – Here you can create your own little store.  Gather up all the things you used for a craft or recipe and put them in your store.  If someone sees you used an immersion blender, they might click through and buy the one you use, for example.  You get paid a percentage of what is bought.

ShareASale – This place has a ton of different advertisers.  They each have their own terms for the amount you get per sale, but you can definitely find something that fits your blog here.

Blogging Programs

Clever Girls Collective – This network works with a bunch of different advertisers and finds great opportunities for bloggers.  You have to apply for each separate opportunity, but the payouts are high. $100 for a review post?  OK!  They also email you when there are new opportunities.  None of my other programs do that.

Sverve – They have a bunch of opportunities focused on mostly mom-blogs, but they have many others as well.  The opportunities range from reviewing a product to going to an event.

Massive Force (a partnership between SITS girls and Sway) – This program is similar to Clever Girls Collective, but I see fewer opportunities and the interface is a little confusing.  I’m not sure if they have more opportunities that I don’t see, but I typically see two or less at a time.  They again have high payouts for sponsored posts.


Plugins

Akismet – Protect yourself from spam, yo.

Comment Reply Notification – This plugin allows your reader to be notified when you or someone else posts a reply to their comment.  This helps because then they don’t just forget about you and they know that you care about them.  Plus, they get the answer to their question.  Everybody wins!

Digg Digg – I discovered this one from the lovely, Melissa over at MomComm.  This plugin has two different functions.  You can add a scrolling share bar to your site or you can add share buttons anywhere you want.  The defaults are below the post (what I use) and above the post, but it also has a code so you can copy it to anywhere.  This is useful to encourage people to share your stuff.

nRelate – I’ve replaced Efficient Related Posts with this one.  Here you can get some revenue from advertising and it shows thumbnails of your posts.  I like pictures so it works well.

Efficient Related Posts – This one is so easy.  Install it and within about 2 seconds, all your posts have a few bullets with related posts.  No problem!

MailChimp Comment Optin – This allows visitors to sign up for your email subscription when they comment.  It nice and easy and another way to expand your influence.  You’ll MailChimp for this to be effective.

RSS No More – This allows me to customize where my posts cut off.  You can see an example by clicking to my homepage and seeing where it says “CLICK TO READ MORE…”  I chose where that would go within my post.  I usually do this right before the recipe so people have to click through to see the recipe.  It also changes the cut off in feeds and my emails.

WordPress Editorial Calendar This allows me to easily schedule posts and see when posts have gone live.  I wish I used this one more because it’s so handy and great for planning ahead.

WordPress SEO I want traffic from google.  You want traffic from google.  You want this plugin.  It’ll check your posts and make sure that it’s good for SEO.  It’ll give you a green light when it’s good.  Colors are helpful.

WP Super Cache This reduces the load time of the page by showing a cached version of the page.  Updates will always appear, but it will just not take as long to load.

ZipList Recipe Plugin Question: how do you format recipes? Answer: This plugin.  It has a place for images, servings, time, notes, everything.  It also makes it easy for people to print your recipes.  This plugin is for winners.

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