10 Ways to Shine as a Blogger

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I’m not going to lie to you. Writing a high-quality blog post that gets mega numbers of engagements and comments is very difficult. I can’t tell you how many other blog posts I’ve read that attempt to sugar coat the blogging process to say that anyone can do it. Anyone can’t.

Do you realize there are millions upon millions of active blogs today?  Talk about a saturated market. Yet, you are still writing mediocre to maybe average content and expecting a motherload of followers to bow down at your feet for writing the best blog post ever.

Ok, so I may be a little irritated, but I think you get my point. So, how do you shine as a blogger? Surely the ones that are hitting high numbers started at the same low point as you are. How do you get there? What do you do?

Let’s look at 10 steps you can follow to work towards shining as a blogger. Notice I did not say “instantaneously” or “overnight.” Forget about those two words. Yes, there’s a rare chance a post could go viral, but don’t plan on it.

10 Ways to Shine as a Blogger
Let’s look at 10 steps you can follow to work towards shining as a blogger.

1. Pick the right niche

Most people don’t think the niche is one of the main causes of a dried up blog, but it is. If you don’t pick a niche that’s easy to write about and has a high search demand, you’re going to find out quickly that there will be crickets chirping instead of blazing comments. If you are an expert in parenting, but know nothing about technology, would you pick technology as your niche? Probably not…

2. Write content people want to read

If you aren’t putting out good content, and I’m talking about content that readers love, share, and find valuable, it’s really going to be hard to do anything else to grow your blog and shine as a blogger.  How do you do it if you are a new blogger? Network with other influencers, read popular blogs, take courses and webinars on blogging. Immerse yourself in the world of blogging.

3. Network with other bloggers

It may sound crazy when you hear it the first time, but networking with other bloggers is a very sane idea. Not only do you meet other like-minded people who do what you do, you form bonds, gain followers, and learn new tips. Facebook groups are great places to interact and network with bloggers.

4. Don’t be afraid to create controversy

You are sure to get some comments on controversial posts. Don’t be afraid to address topics other bloggers shy away from due to potential backlash. When you push other people’s buttons, you set the expectation that you aren’t afraid to handle the good and bad responses. Look for touchy subjects in your niche and have at it.

5. Offer a freebie

I love getting something for free. I bet you do too! Chances are your readers love getting something for free. For me, I offer a free 7-day email crash course about how to start a blog. It costs my readers $0. Zilch. Nada.

6. Comment on other blogs

You like it when others comment on your blog, so return the favor. Set a goal of responding to a certain amount of blog posts every day. Make sure your comments are meaningful and don’t over promote yourself. I like this strategy because you normally have to leave your name, email, and URL in the post. Free advertising for your blog, plus a great opportunity to prove you’re a subject matter expert in your niche.

7. Be organized

Blogging requires a great level of organization. I don’t know about you, but whenever I read a blog post, I can tell within the first 10-20 seconds how much time the writer put into the structure of the post. I make it a regular practice to develop an outline for every post. No matter if I’m writing a short 500 word post or a massive 3000 word article. All posts deserve the same level of attention, organization, and care.

8. Be active on social media

Sharing on social media is one of the best ways to get known as a blogger. One word of caution – share more than once. Think about why I’m saying this. If you post a tweet in the morning, 1 minute later, it falls way down in your feed. Use scheduling tools such as Hootsuite to automatically schedule posts at opportune times.

Don’t just share your posts. Ask questions, create polls, upload videos. Take an interest in the comments you get on social media. Treat them just the same as if they were comments that showed up on your blog. I like to think of my blog as my brick-and-mortar business and my social media accounts as my marketing plan.

9. Don’t rush to publish your next post

Isn’t it a great feeling to hit the publish button? I know the feeling! But, don’t rush to get that next post up and running. Spend extra time making sure you have your content laid out exactly as you want it, check spelling and grammar, and make sure you have used the right keywords.

I know too many bloggers who post every day, but their posts are mostly fluff. There’s one blog I follow where the blogger actually things his/her readers care about marathon run times. What does that do for me? What does that do for the reader? Absolutely nothing. Maybe some people like reading about it, but to me there’s no value. They probably publish 10-12 more times per month than I do, but I prefer to publish fewer posts with top quality. Volume of posts is not that important in the grand scheme of things.

Are you rushing? Go back to older posts and look to see if you cut corners anywhere. And go back and fix them!

10. Simply ask for feedback

If you are really looking to shine as a blogger, you can’t be afraid to ask your readers for feedback. I trust that you have a “Contact Me” page on your site, or another way for your readers to easily contact you. Use your email blasts as a way to ask for honest feedback. Create a Facebook poll, run a Facebook live Q&A session, or simply start a group chat. It’s much easier than you think to get feedback on your blog. All you have to do is ask. Cool, huh?

What now?

Now it’s time to put these tips into action and work your way towards shining as a blogger. Anyone can blog, but to succeed and grow your blog takes practice, strategy, and perseverance.

15 Ways To Screw Up Your Blog

If you’ve been blogging for any length of time, you’ve probably committed one or more of the ways I’ve identified to screw up your blog. Don’t worry, though, if you have, because there are ways to improve and bounce back.

This post does contain affiliate links.

15 Ways To Screw Up Your Blog

1. You aren’t responding to comments

What the hell are you thinking?!  You have readers engaged with your blog so much that they are commenting on what you are producing, yet you didn’t respond to their comments? This is a massive failure! Responding timely is critical in building a positive relationship with your readers – don’t screw this up!

2. You’re stealing other content

Please tell me you aren’t stealing and plagiarizing other bloggers’ content. Not only is this lame, pathetic, and stupid, but you are breaking copyright laws. If you aren’t creative enough to write your own original content, then maybe blogging isn’t for you.  Good bloggers spend time to create original ideas, or can create a spin-off from another popular topic.

3. Your blog is loaded with ads

I’m just going to come out and say it: If your blog is covered with ads when I land on your homepage, I’m immediately leaving your site. Not only is it super annoying to have pop up ads all over the place, it makes a CLEAR statement that you are out to only make money and not be known as a true influencer in your niche. I do have a few ads in my sidebar, but I mean a FEW. I want my readers’ to experience a clean, fast-loading site when they come to my blog, not a nightmare. I also want to build trust with my readers so that they know I’m not only pushing for clicks. You have one chance to make a solid first impression, so don’t screw it up by coming across as a salesman.

4. Your blog is not organized

Every good blogger has planned ahead to organize his or her site to make it easy-flowing for their readers. Make your navigation menu simple to follow. A rule of thumb I follow is to try to minimize sub-menus as much as possible. Your homepage should lead directly to your most recent blog post. One thing I can’t stand is landing on a blog’s homepage and there aren’t any blog posts. If you are using WordPress, you have the option to make a certain page your homepage, but I strongly advise against doing so. Make it your blog – with the most recent post at the very top.

Organize your sidebar with only the essentials. Forget about the social media widgets. If I wanted to see your Facebook threads or your Pinterest pins, I’d click on your social media icon and follow you. I don’t want to see your Instagram photos taking up all of your sidebar. It’s ok to include a set of social media icons to let your followers choose which of your accounts to follow, so don’t take up valuable space with the widgets that show your feeds. It’s unnecessary.

5. Your posts are just random thoughts

I don’t want to know how many marathons you ran last weekend. Who the hell cares? What kind of problem does that solve?  Are you going to write about what you ate last night?  Please don’t. I see enough of that garbage on Facebook and Instagram. If you are a food blogger writing a detailed review, fine, but just a random post about that awesome burger you had last night, just don’t.  You aren’t writing for yourself. You are writing for your readers. Keep that in mind for EVERY SINGLE POST. If you start writing about yourself, delete it and start over.

You need to offer your readers some level of value for visiting your blog and reading your posts. What kind of problem are you solving? Why are you the expert they need to pay attention to and not someone else? If you can’t address those types of questions in your latest post, then don’t write the post.

Of course, there are times when random comments are okay, but for the most part, your readers are searching for information and answer to questions, so don’t blow it by spitting out random crap. Great job running that marathon, but how does that help me??

6. You’re using a bad web host provider

Trust me, there are bad web host providers promising great things that never happen. Just Google “web hosting” and watch how many of them pop up. You may not be able to notice the bad things that are happening, but your readers are. If your host isn’t providing enough speed, you will see a high bounce rate. I noticed it happen when I used a crappy service provider called eHost.

Who do I recommend for bloggers? SiteGround. I heard so many wonderful things about SiteGround while I was busy chewing out eHost that I finally decided to get on their bandwagon. You can’t go wrong with them. When I needed to move my WordPress site over from eHost, they did it all for me at no extra cost…and within 2 hours. How crazy cool is that?

Choosing a web host provider is like buying a used car. You really need to be careful and do your research, because they will look all new and shiny on the outside, but once you take the bait, you’ll wish you hadn’t made the leap quite so soon.

If you are interested in moving to a better web host, here’s my referral link to SiteGround. I’m not just throwing out this link to make commission. I truly love SiteGround and am so happy I moved to them. To me, there are no better choices.

7. You aren’t updating your older posts

It is really easy to write the perfect post, share it once, and move on, but that’s NOT the way to run a successful blog. People change, information changes, prices change. Thus, you must change with the times as well. That gem of a post you wrote a year ago could probably use some updates. You’ve learned more since then and can make the post even better.

Whenever you do update your old content, make sure you put a statement at the top of the post telling your readers when you last updated it. This little statement is crucial because it proves to your readers you are in this for the long haul, and you care about the content’s accuracy and value to them.

8. You aren’t grabbing readers’ attention

Have you ever searched for something online and found a headline that was so compelling that you just had to click on it to find out more?  If your headlines aren’t doing this today, change them. The goal is to get your readers’ attention in the first few seconds so that they are tempted to click on the post to read more.

Think of the most outrageous and tempting headlines as possible to generate views. It takes practice, but once you get in the habit, you’ll find it gets much easier.

9. You’re using free WordPress

There is a TON of information online about which version of WordPress you should use. There is no debate about which one is better. Always go the self-hosted route. This means that you host your WordPress blog through your web hosting account and domain. Nothing will discredit you more than having a yourname.wordpress.com URL. Spend the few bucks a month and go self-hosted.  If you aren’t self-hosting, I’m not reading your blog. Ever. Period.

10. Your images suck

If you aren’t using professional-quality images, you’re doing it wrong. Your images contribute greatly to your site’s overall appearance and appeal. There are a few free sites you can pull free images from, but don’t do this forever. Spend a little extra money on quality images, or take your own quality images. Trust me, it makes a huge difference!

I can almost guarantee no one wants to see your mirror selfie on your blog. Definitely do not use it as your main profile photo. Use a more professional photo or even have a company take the photo for your site. Most photographers will offer packages so that you can get your images digitally.

11. You don’t use the right keywords

SEO research is a MUST in building organic traffic to your blog. You can only get by for so long on traffic coming from other sources. Yes, the traffic coming from other sources is valuable, but the end goal is for your content to show up as high in the search rankings as possible.

The Yoast SEO plugin is a must-have for anyone running a blog through WordPress. It gives you a visual indicator when your SEO is good, just ok, and poor. If you aren’t using this plugin today, what are you waiting for?

12. You don’t back up your site regularly

You don’t realize that you need to back up your site regularly until something goes wrong. 9 times out of 10, it’s too late by that point. My website has crashed several times, but thankfully I had my site set to backup daily, so I didn’t lose any data. Don’t get to the point where you are in danger of losing data. There are several good plugins for WordPress, so hop over to www.wordpress.com and find one that’s right for you.

One thing I should point out – don’t only backup your data to your PC. PCs fail all the time. If your hard drive dies, there goes your data. Always backup to a remote source such as OneDrive.

13. You don’t protect your site

This should be a no-brainer this day and age, but you’d be surprised as to how many bloggers don’t install any type of protection for their sites. WordPress is vulnerable to attack, and it happens a lot. It happened to me a year ago. Again, WordPress.com will have security plugins. Don’t wait until your data and your readers’ data has been compromised. Take action to secure your site today.  Some web hosts offer additional protection.  My advice is to pay the extra money to secure your site to avoid any data loss down the road.

14. You don’t utilize Pinterest

I never realized how much traffic I could reach by simply implementing and managing a pinning strategy. A year ago, I’d tell you I didn’t really pay much attention to Pinterest, but after a ton of research and talking with other bloggers, I don’t know how I could possibly live without it.

I suggest optimizing pin images using Canva and promoting pins using Tailwind. I pin 80 times a day automatically using my Tailwind account. These pins drive multiple repins, increase my followers, and drive traffic to my group boards. I have a free video tutorial over the basics of Tailwind that I just know you’ll love!

15. You never link to old posts

Remember how I talked about updating old posts? You should always find opportunities to link your new posts to old posts. The more opportunities you can find to link to other content, the more information you can provide your readers. This also gives them more of a reason to stick around on your site longer!

Had enough yet?

Yeah, I know I was a little harsh in today’s post, but I really do have your best interest in mind. I hope you’ve learned more about preventing total chaos and failure on your own blog by reading these tips today. Are there any other ways you’ve found that put your blog in danger of collapse?  What are they?

If you’d like to join a great group of 1,200 + bloggers to share content and drive traffic, come join my Facebook group, Blogger Share and Promo Group.

I truly appreciate you dropping by today!  I look forward to any feedback or criticism you may have over the content I’ve provided you today. Without your support, it’s very difficult to improve my blogging skills. So, let’s hear it – good or bad – send it my way!


10 Ways To Successfully Market Your Blog

This post contains affiliate links

It isn’t enough to write a gem of a blog post, hit publish, then go out for a night on the town. I mean, if you still want to go out for a night on the town, fine, but don’t expect a massive amount of traffic to show up in your stats when you get home.

When I first started my blog 2 years ago, I never thought of it as my business. I looked at it more as a hobby. That was a critical mistake that I had to correct right away. My blog earns me income, so it’s my business. Treating my blog like a business is much different than treating it like a hobby.

Today, I’m going to give you 10 critical tips you must do to successfully market your blog correctly. This post is for both new and seasoned bloggers. Are you following these tips? If not, what’s holding you back?

10 Ways To Successfully Market Your Blog

1. Know Your Audience

When you first started blogging, I hope you immediately identified your blogging niche. If you didn’t, it’s time to pick to whom you are writing, and cater all of your blog posts to that particular audience.

I started off as a pure dad blog. All of my original posts had something to do with parenting. As I discovered there wasn’t much of a niche for dad blogs, I switched to helping others blog successfully and to writing product reviews.

All posts I write for Go Ask Your Daddy today have my blogging audience in mind. Knowing who you are writing to is the first step in crafting the perfect post that will attract a lot of attention and send a lot of traffic your way.

2. Don’t be boring, be truthful

There are millions of blogs out there, and many of them spin out the same content over and over again. Don’t be like them.  You can write about similar topics, but put different spins on them.  Definitely do not copy other content for your own site! Not only is this plagiarism, but it’s not your true voice.

Write with honesty. Sometimes that means pissing people off with the truth, but that’s okay. Be true to yourself and don’t cover everything in ribbons and bows. Your readers will appreciate the honest truth even if it’s bad news.

3. Make the most of social media

Since the explosion of social media, there are more and more opportunities to promote your content than just email and your website. The one important thing I advise my readers to pay attention to is to make sure to follow each social media account’s rules. For example, if you are promoting affiliate links on Facebook, you have to indicate that the link is branded content. Promoting products on Facebook is a good way to get your account suspended.

Establish a solid social media promotion plan. Know when and how often you are going to share posts every day. A great free tool I use is Hootsuite. Although there is a paid version, the free version is sufficient for me to schedule multiple posts in advance.

4. Promoting affiliate products? Don’t overdo it.

The temptation is going to be there to throw dozens of banner ads and affiliate links all over your blog. Resist, my friend!  Too many ads will discredit you as a serious blogger and a subject matter expert in your niche. Only promote products you believe in and actually use, and link to those products in your post. I only put a few affiliate banners in my sidebar because too many makes it too cluttered.

Once you’ve made a few sales through your affiliate links, you’re going to want to promote them even more, but it’s important to plan ahead before you do so. Promoting everything under the sun is not a plan – it’s almost the equivalent to spam.

5. Use specific keywords

Bloggers who bring in a lot of traffic didn’t bring in that level of traffic overnight. They did serious research on which keywords worked best and implemented strategies. When using keywords, try to be as specific as possible. For example, if I’m promoting a pickup truck, it would be better to talk about red Ford pickup trucks. The more specifics you include with your keywords the more search traffic can find you. I’ve actually read that search engines can push generic keywords to the bottom of results so that the better, more specific results can show up first. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

6. Allow guest posts? Be smart about it.

One thing I don’t do much of any more is allow guest posts on my site. This was a personal decision I made because I realized the guest poster was only about spreading THEIR content and not my own. I like to keep my voice on my blog and let my personality shine. If I’m allowing every guest post under the sun to appear on my site, I lose my voice and personality.

If you do allow guest posts on your site, create specific ground rules and make sure you abide by them. Make sure you proofread for errors and read over the content for accuracy. If the post doesn’t match your niche, just say no. You have the power to control the content, so don’t just allow anything to come through.

7. Make an About Me page that shines

Your “About Me” page is like your resume. It needs to be about your readers’ needs more so than about you as a person. While you can talk about who you are and where you are from, do it in a way that lets your readers know you understand where they are coming from and can help solve their problem.

8. Write how you talk

So many bloggers think they need to change how they write to be more impressive and authoritative in their niche. This is simply not true. Write how you talk. Let your voice carry over into your writing so that those who follow you and read your content know without a doubt who you are and what you are about.

Although you need to spell check and speak professionally, don’t remove your personality from any piece you are writing. Let your personality shine, because that’s why your readers are following you. If you don’t use big words when you are talking, don’t use them when you are writing, unless you absolutely need to.

9. Utilize your mailing list

You more than likely have a place where your readers can subscribe to your mailing list, but if you aren’t actually sending emails to them on a regular basis, what’s the point?

Just like you need a social media strategy in place, you also need a email marketing strategy. I’m not talking about only emailing when you are trying to promote a product (but this is a good idea if done right!), but ask questions in emails that drive responses. You hopefully have calls to action on your blog posts. Do the same for your emails.

10. You need Pinterest in your life

Okay, you may be sick and tired of me talking about Pinterest, but here I go again. Remember Jan Brady when she said, “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha?” Well, “Pinterest, Pinterest, Pinterest!”

Pinterest is one of the top sources of traffic to my blog. It didn’t happen that way overnight, though. I created group boards that would drive a lot of interest, and then purchased Tailwind to help automate sharing my pins. I share 80 pins per day automatically across 24 boards! There is no way I could have shared that many manually.

Your turn now!

Do these make sense to you?  Do you use any or all of these tips today? If you use any I haven’t listed, what are they?  I’d love to give you credit and add them to the list in the future. Let me know in the comments below!

Have You Tried Candy Club Yet?

This post contains affiliate links. I will receive commission on any items you purchase through them. Thank you, as always, for supporting Go Ask Your Daddy.

I only post deals on my blog when I truly love the product. Candy Club is one of those products. Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to receive and review a free box of candy from Candy Club, and was blown away at how delicious the candy tasted. As a candy lover since I was a kid, I could really taste the difference in quality of the Candy Club candies versus the ones you pick up at the store.

If you haven’t yet tried Candy Club, I’ll give you a rundown of what it is and how to get started. Candy Club is a subscription box service that brings the world’s best candies to your doorstep.  What’s also fantastic is that you can give Candy Club as a gift. Trust me, it makes a really good gift to anyone who loves premier candies.

If you are wondering what kinds of candies are available through Candy Club, they make it very convenient to see the entire list. My favorite candy is the Promotion in Motion (Sour Jacks Watermelon).

Ordering from Candy Club

It’s simple to order from Candy Club. When you go to www.candyclub.com, click on the huge “Get Started” button.

Have You Tried Candy Club Yet?

From there you’ll be able to choose from a monthly plan ($29.99/month), the 6 month plan ($24.99/month), or the 12 month plan ($21.99/month) (all prices do not include shipping).

Have You Tried Candy Club Yet?

Once you choose your plan, Candy Club gives you the option to upgrade to save even more money. This is completely optional.  If you are satisfied and ready to order, the next screen you go to is your billing and shipping information.

Once you’ve entered your information, you’ll get to take the super cool candy quiz. This quiz asks you what types of candies you love best so that a customized subscription box can be created for you (really cool!). Once you’ve finished your quiz and processed your order, your delicious candies will be at your doorstep before you know it.

What did you think?

Did you end up trying Candy Club after reading today’s post? I really hope you got the chance, because their candies are some of the best I’ve ever tasted. If you have tried it, what did you think?  Did you pick a recurring plan?  Or did you send a gift? Let me know in the comments.  I have a good affiliate/merchant relationship with Candy Club, and they always listen to the feedback I give them.

34 Essential Blogging Tools You Must Have

This is an ever-growing list of some of my favorite tools, resources, and freebies for my blogging business. I have used almost 90% of the tools in this list, and the remainder are tools other bloggers have highly recommended.

Please come back often as I’ll be updating this post regularly. Some of these links are affiliate links, and I’ll earn a small commission if you make a purchase through them.

34 Essential Blogging Tools You Must Have


Commission Junction – Another great affiliate marketing platform for bloggers. It’s free to sign up and easy to start joining networks.

Shareasale – Shareasale is one of the best and most popular affiliate marketing networks. There are literally thousands of merchants from just about any genre you can think of, and applying as an affiliate is very easy. Check out my earlier review of the Shareasale program.


Buffer – Buffer is a scheduler you can use to promote your latest and greatest post to social media channels multiple times, and with different titles or images with each post.

Hootsuite – I use Hootsuite to automate my blog posts to my Facebook fan page and my Twitter account. I also bulk-schedule my Facebook group thread posts ahead of time with this app. There are some limitations with the free version, but if you want to schedule your posts at the most optimal time possible, Hootsuite does a great job.

InboxQ – Inbox Q is a great tools that allows you to create blog posts with different keywords. When users type in questions with these keywords, you get updates. If the questions are interesting, you can create blog posts from them.

Mailchimp– I stand by Mailchimp as the best and easiest free email marketing software available today. You can own a free account as long as you have up to 2,000 subscribers and send no more than 12,000 emails per month.

Tailwind – I’ve really enjoyed having Tailwind for the last 3 months. It’s completely transformed the way I share my content onto Pinterest, and has helped me boost my traffic well beyond what I though was possible. Tailwind automatically shares pins for you at the most opportune times. If you are interested in a free month of Tailwind, send me an email to jeremyatkins1@outlook.com and I’ll send you the link.


Blogger – Blogger is a well-known platform thousands of bloggers use to create a quick and attractive site. It’s owned by Google and is designed for a more simple user in mind.

Grammarly – Grammar and punctuation are things I take very seriously when I write blog posts. Properly written content is crucial to a professional and reputable impression to becoming and remaining a blogger with authority. I use Grammarly in addition to the WordPress spell checker.

My App Builder – if you decide to go the route of creating an app for your blog or business, I’ve worked with My App Builder in the past. It’s super simple to create an app to suit your needs. It’s only $29 per month.

MyThemeShop – MyThemeShop’s Premium WordPress Themes and Plugins are a perfect solution for ANY online presence. They are endorsed by top bloggers and affiliate marketers and have been featured on top websites like WordPress, Forbes, etc.

ThemeIsle WordPress Themes – ThemeIsle is one of the top providers in premium WordPress themes and plugins. You can gain access to all of their themes for only $149.

WordPress – WordPress is one of, if not the largest, blogging platforms available today.  Although it’s free to use, I highly recommend moving into a self-hosting platform. If you use WordPress for your blog, there’s also a free app for Apple and Andriod.

WP Engine – If you blog with WordPress, WP Engine is one of those sites you really need to put in your favorites. WP Engine provides professional or personal web hosting.

Yoast SEO Plugin for WordPress – I highly recommend the Yoast plugin for WordPress because it helps set your post up to be as search engine friendly as possible. I love the color indicators that tell you when you need to work on something, or when something is good to go.


BuzzSumo – BuzzSumo is a content idea generator. Simply enter the name of a website or a topic to find hot content ideas. Enter your headline, answer a few questions, then you are off to view your analysis.

Coschedule Headline Analyzer – A fantastic tool I use every day to analyze my blog headlines to drive traffic and search results.

Google Keyword Planner – Google’s Keyword Planner is an easy to use tool to check the popularity of keywords. Find out just how much search volume your keyword is receiving as well as other related keywords of interest.

Google Trends – use Google Trends to see if the blog post you’re about to write is popular or not. Google Trends lets you enter in your topic to see what the search volume is based on your keywords.

Keywordtool.io – another keyword tool that gives you up to 750 suggestions for your keywords. You will have to subscribe to the pro version to get more than 750 suggestions.

Reddit – Reddit is a great place to go to see what others are discussing. If you are looking for blog post topics, head on over to Reddit, check out the topics, and find interesting ideas that go with your niche.

Portent’s Title Generator – This site allows you to enter a topic into the tool and it’ll spit out sample blog post titles. This is one of my frequently visited sites whenever I’m creating new content.

Quora – Quora is a website where you can go to find answers to questions people are asking, or you can be the one to answer those questions for them by creating a related blog post. Perform searches on your keywords and look for topics where you can pitch in with your ideas.

Twitter trending topics – If you use Twitter a lot, visit the trending topics section to look for the latest topics in news. A great free resource for content ideas!


Canva – Canva is a free graphic design and image editing app that many, many bloggers use. They don’t offer as many features and tools as PhotoShop, but they are perfect for bloggers who are looking for a quick design or image. I use Canva whenever I update my Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ cover photos.

Gimp – Gimp is a free image-editing software very similar to Adobe Photoshop. If you aren’t looking to spring for a paid service, Gimp gives you all the essential editing tools you need.

PicMonkey – PicMonkey is a free image and graphic design application similar to Canva. Again, it doesn’t offer nearly as many tools as paid applications, but does a very good job and suits the needs for most bloggers.


Identity Guard – a must have service for anyone, but especially a blogger. Protecting your identity while online is very important, because as bloggers we are online pretty much all the time. Having the peace of mind that our identities are protected with Identity Guard is a great thing. I highly recommend Total Protection with Credit Karma.


Google Analytics – Free site statistics you can install on your blog today. There are other paid options, but Google Analytics will give you more than enough statistics to appropriately manage your blog.


Pexels – Pexels is a free stock image site. Most images fall under the Creative Commons License so you are free to use as you choose.

Pixabay – Pixabay is one of my go-to free stock image sites when I need an image for my blog. It’s free to join and doesn’t require any attribution (although I still suggest you do).


Calendars – Calendars are an absolute necessity for a blogger. I use a calendar from Calendars.com every day when I am scheduling things for my blog. A traditional calendar, as opposed to one on a phone or computer, helps keep things in front of me.


Namecheap.com – Namecheap is a fantastic choice for anything you need for your domain name. They are always having amazing deals on domain names and other services for your website.

SiteGround – SiteGround is my new web hosting provider. I recently migrated my site from eHost because of so many technical problems. SiteGround is the best in terms of web hosting, domain name registration, and more for your blogging needs.


Do you have a list of your own favorite blogging tools? Which ones would you like to see me add to this list? I really want to know what other great tools are available for bloggers and would love to add your suggestions to this list!  Share in the comments if you have any to add!

11 Things I Wish I Would Have Known Before I Started A Blog

Over a year and a half into this wonderful blogging journey, I can’t help but stop and think about all of the struggles I went through to get my blog into the place it is today.

I still think of myself as a relatively new blogger, but I know I’m light years from where I was this time last year, and know that I have many more steps to make my blog grow even more.

Here are 11 things I wish someone would have told me before I started my blog. These are things I know without a doubt today, but if you would have asked me a year ago, I probably would have looked at you dumbfounded.

Keep in mind some of the links in today’s post contain affiliate links. If you click on one of them and decide to make a purchase, I’ll end up with a small commission that helps keep this blog up and running.

11 Things I Wish I Would Have Known Before I Started A Blog

1. Bloggers who claim you can build your website in a day are lying.

Anyone who says you can build a successful website in one day is probably just trying to get every last dime out of you possible. Please know that while you can set up a website (domain and hosting) in a matter of a few minutes, setting up a profitable and organized blog will take you weeks, if not months. Don’t rush this! I can’t tell you the number of WordPress themes I went through before I found one that fit my needs.

These so-called “professional bloggers” say you don’t have to worry about your design in the beginning, and if you have the right content, traffic will come. I completely disagree with this approach! Start everything off right from the very beginning. Your blog should be considered the face of your business. Be dedicated to putting your best face forward. If that means it’ll take 2 months, make it the best 2 months ever!.

2. You don’t need to pay thousands for someone else to build your site

You can build a website all by yourself. That’s what I did. Unless you are a major corporation, building a website is easy!  You might start to think that you don’t have a chance to compete with others who do fork out the dough for a professional website, but think again. Take the time it takes to research all of your options, and determine the best hosting service and blogging platform to suit your needs.

If you don’t already have a web host, I highly recommend SiteGround. I’ve been using them for the past several months, and have been 110% satisfied.

3. Be willing to put a little money into your blog.

I can’t tell you how many times I see someone’s blog address that is obviously a free account. If you want to be taken serious as a blogger, please don’t settle for a free blogging platform. Yes, WordPress has a lot to offer, but you need to pay the small amount of extra cash to go self-hosted.

I currently self-host my blog and my domain name with SiteGround. When you go self-hosted, you don’t get a shitty url such as www.goaskyourdaddy.wordpress.com. You get www.goaskyourdaddy.com. Your domain should say everything about you as a person and as a blogger. Having a free account discredits you almost immediately!

I also put some money into the promotion of my blog. Tailwind has been a great addition to my tools, and it only cost me $114 per year. The return I’m getting from my investment is increased traffic from Pinterest, and a more controlled way to manage my pins.

4. You won’t see raving results overnight

Many bloggers get the impression that once they hit publish, thousands of visitors are just going to come flocking to read the latest and greatest post. Not so. After you hit the publish button, the work only begins from this point. You HAVE to be willing to put in the extra effort that it takes to promote you blog and your content.

If you aren’t a full-time blogger, like me, you have to find the time to share and promote your posts on a regular basis. You cannot expect thousands of hits to come after you hit publish. I’m not saying it can’t happen, but chances are very slim you are going to go viral on your first post unless you put enough effort into promoting it.

5. Be careful with guest post requests

No sooner had I launched my blog when the guest post requests started rolling in. I usually get 5 to 10 requests from other bloggers claiming they follow my site and then “pitched” me their ideas for guest posts they think my audience would love.

I don’t accept guest posts any longer because these types of posts are usually unrelated to my blogging niche and are promotional in nature. I also don’t like the idea of someone else’s voice on my blog.  Maintaining the right tone and content is very important to me in keeping my readers engaged.

If you do decide to accept guest posts, I recommend creating a firm set of guidelines and adhere to them.  Make sure the submitter has more intentions than promoting his or her own blog.

6. You don’t have to post every day

When I first started blogging, I felt like I had to post every day for readers to become engaged. Posting too much can actually cause more harm than good. I aim for 2 posts per week, which keeps me more than busy enough promoting the posts and participating in Facebook groups.

There are days that I don’t feel like posting, and that’s OK. Posting when you are ready with a good idea only adds value to your content. Posting just to post leads to garbage. Your readers can definitely tell when you are just throwing content on the page without any real effort.

7. Don’t overload your site with ads

It can be tempting to monetize your blog right off the bat, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. But, you need to develop a solid monetization plan ahead of time and stick with it. Overloading your site with banner ads slows down your site, makes it less user friendly, and turns potential subscribers away.

When I researched all the ways I could monetize my blog, I decided to focus 100% of my efforts on affiliate marketing. I don’t like the look of a ton of banner ads on my site. With affiliate marketing, you can incorporate links right into the content you are writing.

8. Your blog’s design is important

The theme and layout of your blog is crucial in driving readers where you want them to go when they land on your site. It took me dozens of themes and hours rearranging widgets to get it right.

Don’t make your readers have to search for content. Make it easy and obvious. Your blog’s sidebar should not be filled up with ads and useless social media widgets. Leave it relatively clean so that you have room for your email subscribe form, an about you section, categories, archives, and social media links.

I find it useless to put social media widgets on a sidebar. Not only do they take up space, but your readers can click on your social media icons to see the same information. I prefer to use the space for more important information.

9. You need Pinterest and Tailwind

It’s only been about 3 months, but my blog traffic has started to increase tremendously because of my Pinterest activity. I couldn’t have possibly pinned 80 pins per day manually without the help of Tailwind. Check out my earlier post on how my blog traffic has increased because of Tailwind.

When you put together a pinning plan, make sure that your images are optimized for Pinterest. Vertical pins that are longer do much well because they take up more space and are more visible.

My personal Tailwind schedule is 80 pins per day across 24 different group boards (and growing). If you are looking for group boards in your niche, Pingroupie.com is a great place to start.

10. You need to know how to write well

Nobody wants to read poor writing.  I wish I had known to take more time to organize my thoughts and posts when I first started blogging. Now, I use an outline on every single blog post, and I take several days to review it and make it as perfect as possible.

Writing well means writing longer posts. Give up on the 300-500 word blurbs and write more in-depth content. I aim for 1,000-2,000 words in every post.

Do your research properly and write content with a purpose. One mistake I made in the beginning was just writing to write and not having any audience in mind.

11. Don’t ignore SEO

I had no clue what SEO (Search Engine Optimization) was when I first started blogging, and frankly I don’t think I had a reason to care. SEO is basically ensuring that your blog posts will show up through search engines by keywords readers are entering into sites such as Google.

Organic searches can easily become the number one driver of traffic to your blog if you are properly setting your posts up for SEO. Find a balance between using the correct keywords and writing posts your readers will find valuable.

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