Resources

THE TOOLS FOR SUCCESS

Below you’ll find a list of all the top resources I personally recommend for starting a blog. These are tools that I have a lot of experience with and use on a daily basis. They’ve also helped me reach multiple milestones, so I thought it would be helpful to put them all in one place instead of making you scour the Internet like a crazy person! I’m always adding new resources, so be sure to bookmark this page and reference it as needed.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you decide to make a purchase. Please understand that I have experience with all of these companies, and I recommend them because they are extremely helpful when starting a blog. Plus, by using my affiliate links, you are helping me keep this blog up and running…and for that, I thank you.

THE TOOLS FOR SUCCESS

Below you’ll find a list of all the top resources I personally recommend for starting a blog. These are tools that I have a lot of experience with and use on a daily basis. They’ve also helped me reach multiple milestones, so I thought it would be helpful to put them all in one place instead of making you scour the Internet like a crazy person! I’m always adding new resources, so be sure to bookmark this page and reference it as needed.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you decide to make a purchase. Please understand that I have experience with all of these companies, and I recommend them because they are extremely helpful when starting a blog. Plus, by using my affiliate links, you are helping me keep this blog up and running…and for that, I thank you.

WEB HOSTING

BLUEHOST

Powering over 2 million websites worldwide, plus the majority of my blogs, Bluehost is by far my number one choice when it comes to web host providers. They offer unlimited domain hosting, unlimited space, unlimited email accounts, and their web hosting is even optimized for WordPress. Additionally, they have an “any time” money back guarantee, provide 1-on-1 training if you need it, and you get a FREE domain name when you sign up.

TRY BLUEHOST

WORDPRESS THEMES

DIVI

Elegant Themes has pulled out all the stops with this one. The Divi Theme is my number one recommendation when it comes to WordPress themes. Packed with a ton of great bonus features like the Divi Theme builder, 18 pre-made layouts, and a wonderfully responsive design, Divi does not disappoint. I used Divi to build blogwithben.com and it cut down on development time by a few months at least. I seriously love this theme.

TRY DIVI

STUDIOPRESS

Studiopress is an industry standard when it comes to WordPress themes. Did I mention that each theme is built on the Genesis Framework? This means you’ll be getting a strong foundation that gives your website a high quality and professional makeover with just a few clicks of the mouse. I’ve used StudioPress themes for a few of my blogs and I couldn’t be more satisfied.

TRY STUDIOPRESS

ELEGANT THEMES

With over 300,000 customers and 87 themes to choose from, Elegant Themes has a lot to offer. Not only are these themes professional, but they’re built with excellent code. Elegant Themes can turn any blog into a digital work of art, and for a very affordable price as well. Get 100% access to all 87 themes for only $69 and see what Elegant Themes can do for your blog.

TRY ELEGANT THEMES

THRIVE THEMES

These themes were built with marketers in mind. The developers seem to have a strong emphasis on conversions and it shows in the layout of each theme. Not to mention, their landing pages are beautifully designed as well. Built from the ground up, they make getting your website up and running a cinch.

TRY THRIVE THEMES

INK THEMES

I use Ink Themes for a few of my niche sites. They are well designed, clean, and fully responsive. If you’re building your blog as a business, then I highly recommend Ink Themes. Their business themes are 100% mobile friendly and easy to set up. I love the fact that a lot of their themes come with lead capture capabilities as well.

TRY INK THEMES

EMAIL MARKETING

AWEBER

The money is in the list! That’s what any digital marketer will tell you. The same goes for blogging. Your email list is your #1 asset when it comes to building an online community. Enter AWeber! This is by far the best tool for building your email list and keeping in touch with your readers. AWeber’s customer service and knowledge center are what sold me, and that’s why I’ve been a loyal customer for all these years.

TRY AWEBER

MAIL CHIMP

If you have a smaller list, then MailChimp is the way to go. They offer free services for individuals with smaller lists and they’re great if you’re new to digital marketing. MailChimp does offer premium services, but keep in mind that you can’t promote affiliate links or products if you use their service. This is why I currently don’t use them, but they’re great if you’re just starting out.

TRY MAIL CHIMP

LEAD GENERATION

BLOOM

I use Bloom’s opt-in forms all over this blog. They look great, convert, and are super easy to create. Plus, the built-in dashboard gives you a bird’s eye view on how your forms are performing. If you’re looking for clean and convertible opt-in forms, then I highly recommend you check out Bloom by Elegant Themes.

TRY BLOOM

OPTIN MONSTER

Turn your blog’s visitors into subscribers with OptinMonster’s easy to make opt-in forms. They offer a ton of lead generation capabilities and have some great looking forms that will grab your reader’s attention. They also have built-in tracking and testing capabilities. Great product and an even better mascot!

TRY OPTIN MONSTER

OPTIN SKIN

With 18 default opt-in form designs that are fully customizable, Optin Skins is an excellent choice when it comes to building your email list. Packed with A/B split testing capabilities and a super easy backend, OptinSkins can help you target, grow, and convert at a much faster rate.

TRY OPTIN SKIN

THRIVE LEADS

Looking for a flexible yet highly convertible opt-in form? Well, look no further! Thrive Leads is a great lead generation tool that has some tremendous A/B split testing and tracking capabilities. Plus, they look great! The opt-in form you see on the blog section of blogwithben.com was built using Thrive Leads.

TRY THRIVE LEADS

PLUGINS

SEO BY YOAST

This is by far a must-have plugin for any WordPress site when it comes to SEO. With over 14 million downloads, and 3,500 five star reviews, it’s safe to say that people are satisfied with the SEO by Yoast plugin.  Did I mention that it’s FREE? SEO by Yoast simplifies the technical side of SEO and will make your blog search engine friendly.

TRY YOAST

MONARCH SOCIAL SHARING

We all know the power of social media. The Monarch Social Sharing plugin from Elegant Themes lets you harness that power and allows your blog to reach more readers. Their design is clean, customizable, and responsive. In fact, you can see it in action on the lefthand side of the screen.

TRY MONARCH

CHILD THEME CONFIGURATOR

I learned the importance of having a child theme the hard way when I crashed the very first website I ever built. That was years ago, but I can’t stress the importance of having a child theme enough. With that being said, the Child Theme Configurator helps you easily create a child theme and saves you from making the same mistake I did.

TRY CHILD THEME CONFIGURATOR

DIVI THEME BUILDER

Built with the power of the Divi Theme, the Divi Builder plugin is a stand-alone Drag & Drop page builder plugin that works with any WordPress theme. Take control over your page content with the most advanced builder plugin on the market. With the Divi Builder, there is nothing you can’t create.

TRY DIVI THEME BUILDER

WORDFENCE

Security should be a top priority when building any kind of online platform. Especially when you’re building a blog. In order to stay up-to-date with the potential threats hackers pose, I recommend installing the Wordfence Security plugin. If anything, it will give you piece of mind that your blog is being protected.

TRY WORDFENCE

GOOGLE ANALYTICS FOR WP

As a digital marketer, I’m constantly testing, reviewing, and measuring data. This plugin brings Google Analytics reports and real-time statistics straight to my WordPress dashboard and automatically inserts the tracking code in every page of my blog. This plugin streamlines a lot of my marketing research and saves me a lot of time.

TRY GOOGLE ANALYTICS FOR WP

BACKUP BUDDY

If you’re going to have a blog, you need to take the necessary steps to backup your site. You don’t want to be on the wrong side of a server crash. BackupBuddy offers complete site backup and migrations solutions for WordPress users. This is another tool that is not only extremely helpful, but it also gives you piece of mind.

TRY BACKUP BUDDY

PODCASTING

MXL 990 CONDENSER MICROPHONE

You can’t beat the quality and price of the XML 990 condenser microphone. I’ve been using this mic for the past 5 years and I consider it to be my ole’ faithful. The sound quality is amazing and it hasn’t diminished one bit over the years. This mic is great for new podcasters and it’ll give your podcasts a more professional sound.

GET THE MXL 990

BEHRINGER XENYX X1204USB MIXER

Sound quality is paramount to any type of recording. Having a mixer allows you to manage that sound and increase the professionalism of your podcast 10X. It also acts as the home base for all of your inputs and outputs, and streamlines the recording process. This is the mixer I use for all my recordings. Check it out.

GET THIS MIXER

TASCAM DR-40 DIGITAL RECORDER

There’s nothing worse than a recording failure during the middle of a podcast interview. That’s why I recommend this trusty back up that never let’s me down; the digital recorder. This little guy is great for recording quality sound and it always guarantees me that my podcast interviews will get recorded.

GET THE TASCAM DR-40

NEEWER BROADCAST ARM

This piece of equipment isn’t necessary, but it sure is handy. The Neewer Broadcast Arm comes with a shock mount, built-in XLR male to female cable, and it’s super easy to install. Having this arm gives you a lot of freedom while recording and is a great addition to any podcaster’s studio.

GET THIS ARM

GRIFFIN iMIC USB AUDIO INTERFACE

If your computer doesn’t have an audio-in jack, then you’ll need this little guy. The Griffin iMic allows you to connect microphones, mixers, and other input devices to your iBook, PowerBook, PowerMac or other Mac or PC systems. All you need is a USB port. Simple, small, and efficient.

GET THE GRIFFIN

BLUE ICICLE USB TO MIC CONVERTER

Whenever I’m on the road, I always make sure to bring the Icicle. I can literally turn any microphone into a totally streamlined, USB-ready recording device in the matter of seconds. No bulky hardware or a million cables to deal with. Simply plug in the USB cable and your mic will be live.

GET THE BLUE ICICLE

AUDIO-TECHNICA HEADPHONES

Call me a perfectionist, but anytime I’m recording something I want to make sure it sounds amazing. These Audio-Technica professional studio headphones allow me to do just that. Made with pro-grade materials, they deliver accurate audio and outstanding comfort that gets the job done.

GET THESE HEADPHONES

POP SCREEN

Anytime you speak words into a mic that start with the letter “b” or “p”, you release more air pressure and give those words more bass or “pop”. This pop filter takes away that added bass and instantly improves the sound quality of your recording. It also clamps on any mic stand or broadcasting arm and is extremely adjustable.

GET THIS POP SCREEN

GARAGEBAND

Recording software can be expensive, but not if you have a Mac. Garageband recording software comes preinstalled and it’s like having access to a professional sound studio. Oh ya…it’s free! I use Garageband to record, edit, and export all my podcasts. Great piece of software if you have a Mac.

GET GARAGEBAND

AUDACITY

If you’re a PC user, then Audacity is the way to go. This is another free resource and it’s a great alternative to Garageband. Personally, I don’t use it. However, I know a lot of people who do. From what I can tell, it produces some high-quality recordings and is easy to use.

GET AUDACITY

VIDEO

NIKON D7000

The right camera can make all the difference in your videos. That’s why I use the Nikon D7000. This DSLR camera not only takes great photos, but it also has the ability to shoot full 1080p HD movies with full time autofocus. A well shot video can go a long way in building trust with your audience.

GET THIS CAMERA

LIGHTING SET

Lights, camera, ACTION! If you want to add that “professional film studio” look to your videos, then you’ll need to invest in some lighting. This lighting kit gives you everything you’ll need in order to bring your videos to life. Easy to set up and take down. I highly recommend adding this to your shoots.

GET THESE LIGHTS

SENNHEISER WIRELESS LAVALIER MIC

Another extremely important aspect of shooting a video is the quality of the sound. I can’t tell you how many videos I’ve turned off after 3 seconds because of how bad the sound was. Do yourself a favor and invest in a good mic. I use this wireless mic for all my video shoots and I’m very please with the results.

GET THIS MIC

FINAL CUT PRO X VIDEO EDITING SOFTWARE

Film edits can drastically change how videos are perceived. Editing software gives you the ability to change the look, feel, mood, and tone of your video with a click of the mouse. It seems that everyone has an opinion on what works the best, but Final Cut Pro X for Mac is my top choice.

GET FINAL CUT PRO X

SCREENFLOW SCREEN CAPTURE SOFTWARE (MAC USERS)

This software gives you the ability to record your computer screen as your using it. The interface is super easy to use and it comes with a lot of really cool feature. For example, you can screen capture your iPhone. Crazy! It’s also great for shooting tutorials and “how-to” videos.

GET SCREENFLOW

CAMTASIA SCREEN CAPTURE SOFTWARE (PC USERS)

If you’re a PC user, then Camtasia is a great tool for screen capture and video editing. They have a Mac version, but I haven’t tried it out yet. From what I can tell, the company behind Camtasia is well respected and has some high-quality products on the market. I have no problem recommending this software.

GET CAMTASIA

IMAGES

SNAPPA GRAPHIC DESIGN TOOL

This website allows you to design amazing graphics without the help of a graphic designer or expensive graphic design software. Plus, Snappa is aimed at helping digital marketers create graphics for blogs, ads, and social media posts. They also have a free version and a premium version. Give it a shot!

TRY SNAPPA

PIXABAY IMAGES

One way to attract and engage your audience is through media. Photos are a great way to grab the attention of you audience, so that’s why it’s important to have good-looking images on your site. Pixabay is a website that offers professional quality photos…and they are 100% FREE! I use them all the time.

TRY PIXABAY

UNSPLASH IMAGES

This is another website that I use for blog images. This site has some really cool scenery photos, and from what I can tell, they’re high-resolution and high-quality. Unsplash posts 10 new photos every 10 days and they too are 100% FREE. Due to this, they help me keep my images fresh and new.

TRY UNSPLASH

iSTOCK IMAGES

Select from millions of royalty-free photos, clip-art, videos, illustrations, and audio tracks at iStock. This is a paid service, but you definitely get what you pay for. I use iStock when I’m in need of a specific type of image or illustration. They have a huge selection and their images are top-notch.

TRY iSTOCK

BOOKS

HTML & CSS BY JON DUCKET

One of the best things I’ve ever done to re-market myself was learn how to code. Not only did I gain a new marketable skill, but I also streamlined a lot of technical requirements that come with building a digital platform. This book had a lot to do with the upgrading of my technical skill set. The format is beautifully designed and the instructional sections are very well put together. This is a great book for beginners or anyone looking to brush up on their HTML and CSS.

GET THIS BOOK

SEO 3RD EDITION BY KRISTOPHER B. JONES

SEO seems to be constantly evolving as Google regularly updates their algorhythym. That’s why it’s important to understand the in’s and out’s of search engine optimization. This book is a great introduction to the subject and will give you a solid foundation on what it takes to position your blog higher in the search engine rankings.

GET THIS BOOK

CONTENT INC. BY JOE PULIZZI

The face or marketing is changing. Gone are the days of cold-calling, door-to-door, infomercial marketing tactics. Inbound marketing, which stands for the production of valuable content, is what today’s digital marketers are using to build and expand their audiences. Joe Pulizzi takes you through the steps of how entrepreneurs use content to build massive audiences and create successful business ventures.

GET THIS BOOK

$100 STARTUP BY CHRIS GUILLEBEAU

This is required reading if you’re an entrepreneur. I love everything about this book and the message it delivers. I’ve read it multiple times and honestly, I never get sick of it. You’ll find a ton of great pointers and inspiration scattered throughout the book. Plus, if you visit the book’s website, you can get your hands of some pretty useful startup resources for free.

GET THIS BOOK

ZERO TO ONE BY PETER THIEL WITH BLAKE MASTERS

Written by the founder and CEO of PayPal, Peter Theil, this book enlightens and inspires entrepreneurs on ways to create and innovate. It’s one of those books that you can’t put down once your start, and every page is truly a wealth of knowledge. This book comes highly recommended, but please don’t take my word for it. Pick up a copy and see for yourself. You can thank me later.

GET THIS BOOK

THE ONE THING BY GARY KELLER WITH JAY PAPASAN

This New York Times best seller focussing on teaching people to direct their energy and attention towards….you guessed it….one thing. By taking on one task at a time, you are allowing yourself to target on what matters the most. This has been proven to boost production, sales, finances and many many more aspects of people’s lives and businesses. Give it a read and see what your one thing is.

GET THIS BOOK

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