Okay, here's the skinny on what resources we, both Amy and Nicole (that's me!) use right now for our respective blogs (and in certain cases for Blog 2.0). Since Blog 2.0 is brand new, we haven't had a chance to review all of these products and services just yet in a meaningful way. As we work our way through the gazillion blogging products, tools, courses, and services that are for sale all over the Internet, here's a snapshot of where we are right now in our well-established blogs.
For me (Nicole), I use these tools and services for Gluten Free on a Shoestring, my food blog, and Nicole Hunn Training (where I provide online courses and other products I have for sale that are related to my food blog). For Amy, she uses these tools and services for her craft websites: Mod Podge Rocks, DIY Candy, and Washi Tape Crafts.
This is NOT an exhaustive list, but I didn't want to wait to get it up on the site because as a reader I LOVE lists like this. I find them so incredibly useful. Keep checking back, though, because we'll be adding to it little by little!
This blogging resources page contains affiliate links. Please help keep our blog ad-free by using our links to purchase products we review (you can find our full disclosure here).
Way, way back when I started blogging on a self-hosted site, I used BlueHost. They were fine for a while, but I outgrew them long ago. In the years since, the quality of their services has declined significantly.
You will find BlueHost recommended in every corner of the Internet. I promise you that nearly every single blogger pushing BlueHost does NOT use it for hosting. They have a VERY generous affiliate policy, and very inexpensive monthly plans to start. Most of these bloggers probably consider that to be a win-win, since you don't pay much for hosting and they make good money. But it's a bad service. And if you don't know that, you'll find out the hard way. I don't use or recommend BlueHost to anyone.
SiteGround: I (Nicole) use SiteGround for hosting. I moved there from LiquidWeb, where my sites had been for many years. I adored LiquidWeb. It was relatively expensive, but they kept my site running fast and had amazing customer service. By phone, if you can imagine. But then they apparently purchased another hosting company and the transition was awful. We're talking waiting on hold for customer service for an hour or longer, and then the representative couldn't even help me when I got through.
In the last year or so, I switched to SiteGround. I like them. I pay a lot less money, and they are readily available by chat for customer service. It took some getting-used-to since I want to speak to a person. On the phone. But they have always been able to solve whatever issue I've encountered. I had a problem with bots, so I had to add Sucuri website security. No more bots.
Email Service Provider
I use ConvertKit for Gluten Free on a Shoestring, and I really like it. I've reviewed it already on the site here.
We recently switched our Blog 2.0 email list from MailerLite to ActiveCampaign. MailerLite is suuuuuper cheap (we actually fit into the free plan), and ActiveCampaign doesn't have a free option, but MailerLite is just incredibly limiting.
We want to be able to play around with different options, especially as we review more and more ways to earn money with affiliate links. ActiveCampaign is really robust and has a ton of options. Since I already use ConvertKit for my food blog, which is also really robust, I wanted to try out a different option so we could review that here on Blog 2.0. Stay tuned!
Amy is working on a review of OptinMonster right now. She's used it for a really long time, and I've been using it for about a year. It works, and it's pretty powerful, but the interface isn't as user-friendly as it should (or could) be. It's relatively expensive, but it has every feature you need and integrates with everything.
For a long, long time I had free access to a ridiculously fancy email capture service called BounceExchange that is used by corporate behemoths (and, like, America's Test Kitchen). My husband knew someone who knew someone whose wife was gluten free. Who knows. But there was nothing else like it for anywhere near an affordable price at the time. Anyway, when that gravy train finally stopped running, I was desperate for a replacement as it had grown my list tremendously. Now there are plenty of options. We both use OptinMonster for all of our sites, including Blog 2.0, but I'm consider switching to another one like ThriveLeads or MiloTree just to see how they compare. It's a pain to switch everything over, though, so for now OptinMonster it is. I just know that I can't be without email capture!
I use Keysearch.co for google keyword research. I reviewed it here. Click through—there's a coupon code in the post and it's suuuuuper cheap.
Search Engine Optimization
This is a tough one. I need to be able to track my sites' progress with keyword ranking, including what backlinks I have—but also what backlinks my competitors have. It helps me tremendously in planning what content to promote, and what content to create. It's a tough one, becuase it's not cheap.
I was paying monthly, but then a deal for a bunch of money off of an annual membership came up, and I grabbed it. I'm going to review SEMRush in detail here on Blog 2.0, but before I do that, I'm going to see if I can convince them to make a good deal available to us. It's just an expensive service, but if you have a somewhat established blog, it takes you to the next level.
You can "split" the price with other bloggers, but then you can't be on at the same time. The company is aware of this practice, and they're actually fine with it (I asked). If you know someone who lives in a different time zone, then it can be a great way to shave money off the price for each of you.
Backup and Cloud Storage
I use CrashPlan for small business information backup. I like that it's automatic. That's not an affiliate link, by the way. They don't have an affiliate program. People freaked out because they were shutting down their consumer plan, but the small business plan is just a few dollars more a month, and that's what I just recently switched to.
I don't know anything about these services, except that a lot of people use them as alternatives to CrashPlan. Not affiliate links. Just regular links, since I know nothing about them!