• 5 Plugins Every Blogger Should Install

    Blogging is simple….until suddenly it isn’t. Buying a domain isn’t rocket science. Getting WordPress installed can be a little complicated, but there are resources to get you through. Your theme? It can be installed fairly simply. Let’s assume you’ve made it to this point, and you’re ready to blog, and make millions of dollars. Easy peasy, right? Well, close – you want to take advantage of tools available for bloggers to work smarter, rather than harder. Plugins are some of my favorite resources: here are 5 plugins every blogger should have.

    Oh wait. FIRST: what is a plugin?

    A plugin is a software component that enhances capacity. That means some savvy programmer saw a need or a capability and said, “I can tweak this and make it better.” Voila. A plugin was born. Bloggers simply install that snippet of software into their blog, activate it (if required), and take advantage of the capability that the plugin offers.

    Plugin: Maintenance Mode

    What Does it Do?

    When you activate Maintenance mode, it’s like your blog is changing clothes, and you’ve shut the door of the dressing room so that no one can see it. This is helpful if you JUST started out with your blog, and you don’t have enough posts to fill all the spots on your theme. It’s also great if you’re rebranding and want to hide that from the world as you make changes. This plugin is helpful if you’re just starting out and feeling insecure about you blog and you don’t want to show the world.

    How Do I Get It?

    Simply download the plugin here! Oh, and it’s free. This is a win!

    Plugin: Yoast SEO

    What Does it Do?

    Yoast is one of my favorite plugins, because it helps me with SEO optimization as I write. Using Yoast enables me to select a keyword, and write for that keyword. It also allows me to add Facebook and twitter optimized images. The red, yellow, and green lights as I write help me to know that my posts are both readable and findable

    How Do I Get Yoast?

    Yoast has two versions: free and paid. If you cannot swing the money for the paid version, at least get the free one to get started.  The main difference is that the paid version will suggest posts to link in your post, suggest additional keywords based off your text, and most of all, let you write for up to 5 keywords per post.

    Plugin: MiloTree

    What Does it Do?

    When you’re on my site, and begin scrolling, have you seen the popup that suggests you follow me on Pinterest? That magical event was powered by MiloTree. Pinterest is one of my targeted growth areas, so having a pop up on my site that directs people to follow me on Pinterest feels like a no-brainer. However, the cool thing about MiloTree is that you can grow whatever social media platform you want: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, or your email list! I opted for Pinterest, and am LOVING the upward trajectory that the included analytics helps me know that I made the right choice by choosing MiloTree!

    How Do I Get It?

    Click HERE to purchase MiloTree. MiloTree costs $99 per year, and includes a FREE one-month trial. If you start with the $9 a month plan, you miss out on that trial – make sure to take advantage of it for the best value.

    Plugin: Tasty Pins

    What Does it Do?

    Ok, so one of the best ways to get traffic on your blog is through Pinterest. In order for your posts to be shareable on Pinterest, you’ll need to have images optimized. However, optimized pins don’t fit the typical featured sizes for a blog post. Picmonkey published a handy blog post with the optimized sizes, but let’s be realistic: you don’t want an image taking that much of your blog space real estate. Tasty Pins also allows you to disable pinning on images that are not Pinterest optimized.

    How Do I Get It?

    You can get Tasty Pins here. Tasty Pins is a $29 yearly purchase.

    Plugin: Akismet

    What Does it Do?

    Spam happens. Akismet helps filter it out so that you can delete it from your blog. You don’t need to have “nice site, very helpful, please check out my site for how to get more followers” comments on your blog. Links to online poker games are unnecessary as well. Nope. Install Akismet and easily filter out those comments.

    How Do I Get It?

    Go here and get a free Akismet account (connected with your WordPress login), and stop the spam.

    So tell me: what are your favorite plugins that you have installed on your blog?

    Also, if you haven’t checked out my free blogger’s toolkit, what are you waiting for? Find it here.

    5 plugins every blogger should install


  • 3 Resources Every New Blogger Needs

    Blogging can be intimidating for a beginner, but there are resources to make the process easier for a beginner. The three that I am about to share with you are ones that I use on a daily basis, that are a game-changer in my blogging journey. Here are three of my favorite resources to use while blogging.

    PicMonkey Helps a New Blogger Create Amazing Graphics

    Graphics can be incredibly intimidating to new bloggers. That’s why that cheeky little monkey is a new blogger’s best friend. PicMonkey is a powerful tool to help bloggers create graphics as featured images, Facebook graphics, and twitter images.

    This web-based tool provides customizable templates. “The Hub” stores templates you create. See the images that I use on my blog? Most of these are templates that remain in the hub. I do not spend hours creating graphics for blog posts; I simply edit the templates, replace some photos in the templates, export them to my computer, and then add them to my posts.

    Graphics no longer intimidate me, and I have PicMonkey to thank for that.

    TailWind Allows New Bloggers to Promote their Content Effectively on Pinterest

    No successful blogger hits the “publish” button and sits back, hoping for the best. Bloggers must promote their content effectively and efficiently. Pinterest is one of the top resources for sharing blog posts, and Tailwind helps schedule content so that it does not flood the feed of followers all at once.

    Additionally, “tribe,” or groups that mutually share content help your posts reach further and further. When used effectively these repins can help your content reach further audiences, exploding your reach and helping you become a more valued authority.

    Creative Market Provides Resource Templates Perfect for a New Blogger

    Scared of creating resources on your own? Need to try out templates created just for your needs? Look no further than Creative Market. You can find hundreds of downloadable templates and resources, many of which you can customize to fit your own branding and colors. Many of the templates are made for Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator, but most are editable in Canva (another free online graphics editor).

    You can purchase almost anything you need to create amazing graphics on Creative Market. Fonts, digital papers, infographics, pre-designed templates – you name it, you can find it. Additionally, Creative Market offers bonuses with purchases – that means you can build an incredible digital library of resources quickly.

    Bonus Resource: An Excellent Hosting Provider

    Oh yeahhhhh friends. New bloggers, you gotta find a good hosting provider. I’m a huge fan of SiteGround – which is why I wrote an entire blog post all about SiteGround. Make sure you check it out and see if SiteGround might be a good fit for you as well.

    So now you’ve heard of my favorite resources – what are some of yours? Share some of your favorite blogging resources in the comments.

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  • FabFitFun Box: Is FabFitFun Worth the Cost?

    If you use Facebook or Instagram in any capacity, you’ve probably heard of the FabFitFun box. Celebrities and influencers post “unboxing” videos promoting the boxes, raving about the items contained inside. They give codes to get the first box for only $39.99 (I’ve got a code for you: use code NEW10 for $10 off!) – but is FabFitFun worth the cost?

    I’m a subscription box junkie – I’ve subscribed to several make-up boxes, but they weren’t the right fit for me. I’ve become incredibly picky about the makeup that I use, as I have found the right stuff for me, so I didn’t want to waste any products included in the boxes. Let’s talk about what makes the FabFitFun box different.

    What is the FabFitFun Box?

    The FabFitFun box is a seasonal subscription box that comes 4 times a year, with assorted special boxes (called Editor’s Boxes) offered in between the seasonal boxes. If you join between seasons, you will have the option to start with the current Editor’s Box. The boxes contain a hand-picked assortment of items focusing on health, beauty, fitness, and home. The box is a subscription service, but if you get one box and don’t care for it, you can cancel your subscription (for my first purchase, I opted to pay for one box at a time, rather than paying a year in advance – I didn’t know for sure if it was going to be a continued purchase).

    When purchasing the boxes as a single box, it is $49.99 each, or you can purchase a year’s subscription (4 boxes) for $179.99. One additional perk of purchasing a full year’s subscription is the opportunity to customize several items in your box and earlier shipping than the box-by-box subscribers.

    Honest Review of the FabFitFun Summer 2018 Box

    My 2018 Summer box arrived the first week of June. I received 9 items in my box, with a declared value of $353.99 – all for the price of $39.99 – the cost with a first time user code. And yes, I have a code for $10 off your first box – use code NEW10 to get your first box at a discount.

    Check out what I got in my box (straight from the FabFitFun website):

    Contents of Summer 2018 FabFitFun Box

    I’ll be honest: I signed up for this box solely for the value of the Foreo. I’ve always wanted to try one, and I’ve always wanted to try the FabFitFun box, so the fact that it was included in the Summer 2018 box made signing up for a no brainer. I did not customize any items in my box: this was precisely what was included. The highlighter palette is amazing. The ring absolutely perfect, and the makeup train case lives on my counter, holding my every day essentials. I’ve used the Pier 1 ring dish in my bathroom to store the Foreo.

    Is the FabFitFun Box Worth It?

    Every thing in the box was amazing and high quality. At least half of the items included in my box were items that I would have either chosen for myself. I especially LOVE the pearl ring – I mean, have you seen my branding? HEYO. Several items have made it to my daily usage; none have gone to waste.

    Before each box ships, you have the option to add other items to your order. The add-ons options are extensive, and incredibly appealing.

    Need some FabFitFun in your life? Click here to subscribe, and enter code NEW10 to get $10 off your first box. I’m so excited for you to have some FabFitFun in your life!

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  • 3 Affiliate Programs Every Blogger Should Join

    Blogging is an excellent money-making opportunity. Many bloggers post monthly “income reports” where they report hundreds, even thousands of dollars income simply from blogging. Income like this does not just happen: it is the result of intentional and strategic work over time. It happens when bloggers find their perfect niche, and the perfect affiliate programs for their target market.

    Think of affiliate marketing as seeds in a forest: thousands of seeds will fall on the forest floor. Some will grow; others will rot. It’s right place and right time (and we’re using a random example here, rather than strategically placed links). It takes time, but these seeds grow into a mighty forest. Well-placed affiliate links can result in high results.

    There are 3 affiliate programs that every blogger should join, and let me tell you why.

    Bloggers Should Join the Amazon Associates Affiliate Program

    Q: Why?
    A: Almost everything that a human needs to live can be purchased on Amazon.

    That’s right, friends. The Amazon affiliate program is an excellent affiliate program. Whether you blog about nail polish, clothing, coffee, banking and finance, unicorns, cooking, social issues – you name it, you can find products on Amazon that appeal to your target audience.

    How it works: you apply for the Amazon Associates program, and once you are accepted, you will see a strip at the top of your Amazon account. When you find the product you want to link to for your blog post, grab your unique affiliate link from the top bar, and put it in your blog post.

    Note: don’t be shady. Amazon wants to see where links come from. Don’t hide them in “pretty links” that mask the fact it is a pretty link. Folks should be able to mouse over the link and see that there is an affiliate code in there.

    Bloggers Should Join the ShareaSale Affiliate Program

    Q: Why?
    A: ShareaSale allows bloggers to have strategic partnerships with companies, products, or services that they use on a daily basis to promote on their blog. Many bloggers opt for ShareaSale rather than Google Ads (that’s a blog post for another day).

    ShareaSale is fairly simple: once you apply and are accepted, you then request to be added to affiliate programs of ShareaSale partners. No matter your niche, you can probably find ShareaSale partners that are right for you. When selecting ShareaSale partners for me to select, I found a few that I use daily:

    Oh, and did I mention, ShareaSale has their own affiliate program? Get a dollar for each lead you send to ShareaSale (yeah, you know already – all the times ShareaSale is hyperlinked is an affiliate link, so go ahead, you know you’re intrigued and want to apply).

    The best part of ShareaSale is that bloggers can use the prime real estate in their sidebars to earn income without going with the gamble that is Google ads. Bluntly speaking, as an end user, I do not prefer Google ads (they are coming off my site soon). The payoff for Google ads is low for a beginning blogger, plus, they are targeted to customers. Let’s assume that I write a blog post about my website hosting, and my reader has been searching for new hosting. They read my post (with affiliate links) but Google presents a targeted ad with a different hosting company. That ends up appearing as a conflict of interest. ShareaSale allows bloggers the freedom to control the “ads” that appear to their readers so that they are strategic and targeted.

    Go ahead, you know you want to. Apply here; what can go wrong?

    Bloggers Should Have an Affiliate Link for their Blog Hosting

    Q: Why?
    A: Hosting has the potential to bring high payouts for successful affiliate bloggers.

    I have not done extensive and detailed research into this, however, many bloggers that are successful in affiliate marketing have affiliate links for their blog hosting. Many income reports that I have skimmed in searching for “how to make money blogging” specifically mention hosting, which makes sense.

    When my basic hosting came to an end at the beginning of June, I investigated hosting that would have good affiliate potential. At the recommendation of Nicole from saunders says, I chose SiteGround (you can read more about the ins and outs of why I chose SiteGround at the hyperlink). Affiliate opportunities abound with SiteGround:

    • 1-5 sales per month = $50 payout per sale
    • 6-10 sales per month = $75 payout per sale
    • 11+ sales per month = $100 payout per sale

    As I continue to build my audience and connections in the blogging world, and encourage new bloggers in their blogging journey, I must strategically place myself in a position to be able to passively leverage that influence. Hosting provides an excellent opportunity to grow that income.

    Those are my top three affiliate programs that every blogger should participate in – what affiliate programs do you use? What do you recommend? Let me know in the comments; I’d love to hear!

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  • Why I Chose SiteGround for My Blog Hosting

    A beginning blogger has a lot of one-time tasks and big decisions. What theme should they choose? What hosting should they purchase? A quick google search brings an overwhelming number of options that all seem to be the same. And for the most part, they are the same – hosting covers an industry-standard, relatively basic set of features. There are a few that differ from hosting service to hosting service. I recently switched my site over to SiteGround, and I’m here to tell you why, so that you can consider if SiteGround is the correct hosting service for you.

    SiteGround Offers 24/7 Chat Tech Support

    Game. Changer. That’s right, friends, CHAT TECH SUPPORT. I love being able to fix a problem in the background – I may be working on another task and multi-tasking with my tech support window in the background. Call me a millennial, but I LOVE being able to use a chat feature. Additionally, most chat tech support sessions can email you a transcript afterwards, so you don’t have to deal with a hazy memory afterwards. For some people, a phone call is better and easier. For me, I will always choose chat. SiteGround wins a million points for this option.

    SiteGround Will Move Your Services For You

    I don’t want to start with “game. changer” again, but friends. I am not the most technologically savvy on the one-time tasks. I fear accidentally deleting hours and hours of hard work. A “404 page not found” error sends chills down my spine. This kind of tech is simply above my pay grade, and I do not want to invest the time into mastering this when I do not intend to do it repeatedly.

    I purchased my hosting for a year with SiteGround, sent them my previous hosting information, and within 6 hours, they had it completely transferred and up and running. My site transfer went over without a hitch – I’m so impressed!

    Also – did I tell you – this service is FREE when you purchase hosting. Yep, my favorite “f word.” If you have other hosting and want to switch, they have your back.

    SiteGround Has a Strong Affiliate Program

    My dreams for the future have a house overlooking the ocean, completely paid for by my blog. I live in Southern California; I know that real estate is not cheap. I am openly working on a strong affiliate strategy to better monetize the blog, and hosting is typically a great option. SiteGround offers a good program with a minimum starting referral bonus of $50 per purchase, and that number increases when your monthly referrals increase.

    Overall, SiteGround was a winning choice for my blogging strategy. I would have been content to stay with my provider that I had previously selected; nothing against them and the services they provided. In the end, for a blogger looking for ways to increase my affiliate income, SiteGround beat out all the competition.

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