When I first started Blog Xpressions, I had no idea what I was doing. I had to research everything on my own to figure how to run a blog.
I have no partners, I am a one-woman shop! I do everything on my own from editing and publishing blog posts, creating my own graphics, managing contributing writers, running Blog Xpressions’ social media accounts and doing a little freelance writing.
Oh, and did I mention I have a full-time corporate job…on top of being a plugged-in parent and a devoted wife?
I’m heavily #bossed up right now!
Blogging or being an online biz owner, in general, is a full-time job (depending on your passion for it) and requires so much time and effort.
When Blog Xpressions was birthed, it started off as a hobby because of my love for writing and being a motivational resource for women.
I feel we lack a true sisterhood in our busy circles of life, so I thought creating this blog would be very beneficial – and it is!
Then, next thing you know, this blog is now booming into an online business! Solo-preneur on deck….whhaaaaaaat?
Now that this blog is now a “business” instead of a hobby, I had to do some “goal digging” and research helpful gems that will keep me organized since I am running this ship on a solo tip!
Below are a list of tools and resources that help me keep Blog Xpressions running like a well-oiled goal digging machine!
These resources helps me to stay very organized so I can keep delivering great content to YOU and for YOU!
Please note: Some of these resources are affiliate links and I will be paid a commission if a purchase or service is made after clicking on my link.
These are services and tools that I recommend because I have tried them or currently using them.
Ready. Set. Dig.
Setting Up Your Blog
iPage: If you are looking to start a blog, iPage is the web host that I use for my domain name (blogxpressions.com) and WordPress is the blogging platform that I use to create the awesome content you read.
I’ve been with iPage since I have been on the blogging scene and the experience has been very pleasant. They offer great deals for new customers! When you host your own blog, you have more control over what you can do versus a free blogging platform where you are limited.
If this all feels like a foreign language to you, here’s how you can visualize on how all this works:
A house needs a foundation, correct? So, having a web host is like the foundation of the house. It’s what makes the house a house, but an empty one. It’s what makes your blog show up on the world wide web.
Then, you have the inside with all the piping and structuring that goes into the house which is what WordPress is. This is the platform used to write and publish blog posts, etc.
If the foundation is not set (web-host – iPage), the inter-workings of the house (WordPress) would be non-existent.
If you have your foundation, but nothing inside, what’s the point and vice versa? So you need both a web-host and a blogging platform.
So, in essence, if I did not have iPage to put my blog on the internet waves, you guys would not be able to see my blog. Hope this all makes sense. 🙂
Pretty Darn Cute Design: Now that you have all the back-end stuff in place, now it’s time to make sure the inside of your house looks nice and inviting. I mean, who wants to visit a house with no furniture, unorganized and has no type of structure? Booooo!
WordPress has tons of free blogging templates to choose from to make your blog or website look nice and uniform. All you do is populate the fields, columns and links with info for your business.
If you’re not the tech-y type of person, then you can just purchase beautiful already-made templates by Pretty Darn Cute Design!
Her amazing blogging templates screams #girlboss!
Setting Up Your Logo and Business Materials
Fiverr: One of the most important pieces for your brand is your logo. How will others recognize your biz? I am not a graphic artist in any form or fashion! Some of the graphics you see on the blog are designed by freelance pros from Fiverr! The best part about all of this, their services only start off at $5! Yep, $5! I even offer my own freelance and advertising services through them as well. They offer so many services for any business model, not just graphic design. They are one of the most popular business marketplace. “I got FIVE on it!”
Managing & Engaging With Social Media
Hootsuite: One of my favorite tools to use is the Hootsuite platform!
Blog Xpressions has a social presence on Facebook, Instagram, Google Plus, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.
If I want to see what’s going on in any of these social feeds, how long do you think it would take me? A very long time, right? I would literally have to log into every one of these platforms just to check messages and check out my feed. Booooo!!
With Hootsuite, you can manage, monitor and engage with all your social channels from one page/screen! You can view your feeds without having to navigate between each platform or the app. Yes, an app! Owww!
This program is a MUST! Saves so much time. Social media is a prominent marketing tool in all successful businesses so this will be a good way to monitor what’s going on with your social media accounts – at one time!
Recording & Documenting
Evernote: Evernote is exactly what it sounds like – a note.
Instead of using traditional paper and pen (which I still sometimes use), you can jot everything down – digitally.
Evernote is the ultimate go-to for documenting everything. With all their apps and tools, you can save web pages, web clippings, images, audio, etc. It’s your digital handy-dandy notebook (reminds me of Blues Clues.)
You can utilize this great platform on a desktop or their awesome mobile app!
Sometimes when I’m out and about, my creative juices start flowing, but I need to jot it down before I forget. I pick up my phone, go to my app, and record or type everything so I don’t forget! And when I see juicy articles, I just save or shame them to my web clipper so I can go back to them later. BOOM!
And all those spur-of-the-moment thoughts convert into a full-blown blog post! Some of the content you read on my site was recorded in my Evernote app. All I do is edit it to be grammar free and voila…a published post. You never know when you need to notate something quickly – Evernote is the way to go! Plus, get a FREE month of their premium service when you sign up via my affiliate link!
Creative Marketplace for Your Business
Creative Market: If you can perform basic steps in Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator (lucky you), then this is the perfect tool for you for easy drop-in graphic design. This program has pre-designed templates for all business models.
For example, I love the Girlboss Logo Creator! Great design work. Since my blog is about empowering women, this design template will be great for me to just pop in my own logo and make it my own without having to design! Yay, me!
Freelance graphic designers do all the work for you! Nice! And, as an added bonus, every week, they feature Free Goods of the Week! Yep, you get to download free featured items, so make sure you signup for those emails so you can be notified when the freebies await you!
e-Business Marketing Planning & Development
CoSchedule: CoSchedule is the #1 marketing calendar out there for businesses.
Hands down – this is mostly where Blog Xpressions’ content is planned out.
This service saves me so much time. I do, however, pay a monthly fee but it is so worth it.
If you plan to or if you blog solo, such as myself, there is so much work. So much. Please believe me when I tell you, my time is now sliced in half because of this service. To prove how good they are, I have a whole blog post dedicated to their awesomeness.
You can try them out for FREE! That’s how I started off, as a trial member, and then I converted into a paying customer and have not looked back. If you really want to be a productive blogger or just a savvy business person in general, I strongly recommend you use this service.
Oh, and let me brag a little bit, I am a certified CoSchedule marketing strategist! I’m pretty savvy with this whole content planning thing. Woot-woot!
When running any type of business, you need to be organized. Period. Whether you’re solo or a have a set of employees, you gotta have some type of functional system in place so everyone is on one accord. I despise businesses that are not organized.
The way that I stay organized is using G Suite, by Google. Google is LIT! We all love us some Google, right? They have made a suite to include all organizational systems you need – in ONE suite. My business email, spreadsheets, docs, photos, chat, forms, etc. is connected under G Suite. It’s a cloud where you can access everything from anywhere, even if you’re on the go. I only pay $5/month. Well worth it.
You can take a test drive before you commit to see if it will help you in your business. Try it out for 14 days and tell me what you think!
Driving Loads of Traffic to your Website or Blog
Pinning Perfect: Remember when I said I had to do a lot of research to find out about blogging?
One helpful site that I stumbled upon is Blog Clarity! This site is my learning tool. Melissa Culbertson is a blogging mastermind. She teaches these awesome e-courses on her site to help people like you and me, to become better bloggers and e-business folks!
One of the most popular e-courses taught on her site is Pinning Perfect. Did you know that Pinterest is the ultimate traffic-driver? Yep, c’mon, don’t we all love pinning things?
You can get so much traffic on your blog just by pinning. But, there is a science to it all. Sign up for this great e-course that thousands have enrolled in, to effectively pin…perfectly! There is a 2-payment option as well. Great price for such an in-depth course! Once you enroll in the course, you have full access to all updates – no added fees!
Content Brew: Don’t you just love that name? Here’s another awesome e-course by Melissa Culbertson. I have actually taken this course and it is so helpful in regards to knowing how to effectively plan out my blogging content. You gotta have a strategy, folks! No magic here. It helps you brew your content (pun intended)!
Since I am super mindful (and a little obsessive) about what I post, I have a calendar (CoSchedule) that I can carefully map everything out with. This course helps you plan and organize better. I highly suggest you sign up for this course. Plus, there is a newly released update! Once you enroll in the course, you have full access to all updates – no added fees! Get ta brewing so your blog can drip with content (these puns, though!)
A Knack for Design
PicMonkey: I am by far not the best designer in the world. That’s why I sometimes rely on freelance designers to design some of Blog Xpressions’ images.
But, for the most part, I do design most of my graphics. I don’t try to be fancy smancy, I just keep it simple and make sure it’s designed well enough to catch my readers’ attention.
PicMonkey is a great source for graphic editing and designing. Their basic service used to be free, now they are charging membership fees.
So, if you have a design that needs a little touching up then PicMonkey is a recommended source OR if you just need to create a quick graphic, PicMonkey has hundreds of drag & drop templates to choose from.
They are now offering a free 7-day trial. Try’em out to see if you like it!
Canva: Then, there’s the robustness of Canva! Hands down, my favorite graphic design tool! I do ALL my images in the awesome interface of Canva. And if I have an image that needs touching up, I use PicMonkey.
Canva has both a free service and a premium service. The system is user-friendly and the templates are beautiful. You can customize your images with your own custom colors, upload your own photos, logos, etc. Love, love, love it! It’s perfect for non-designers, like me! Try’em out, y’all!
Blog Design for Dummies: And yet another goodie from blogging guru, Melissa Culbertson. Not only is she great at helping bloggers, she is a wiz at blog design. I’ve read snippets from this book and it was a language I could actually understand! If you are looking to get your hands dirty with some serious blog design, this is a must-read!
Gettin’ Legal With It
Alright guys, pay very close attention to this one –
As biz owners, we get so bogged down with all the hustle and bustle of writing blog posts, creating images, posting on social, etc. We tend to forget the most important piece – the legal side of blogging. The ladies who own Businessese are lawyers and they can help you protect your blog! This is a MUST! They can help you with sponsorship contracts, terms and conditions for your site, business model paperwork, etc. I interact with them all the time and I even was included in one of their blog posts.
The Driving Force of Viewership
One of the top ways to drive traffic to blog or website is email. Yes, email is still on top of things and businesses still use them, because it really works! When you get all those sale emails from Bath & Body Works (guilty) and Old Navy, that means you have signed up to be on their email list.
Which means you give them permission to send you information about their business, whether it’s a new product or a seasonal sale. And they even send out coupons which is a great perk for being apart of a business’ email list.
In my case, I send emails out about new blog posts, new topics on the blog and…giveaways! See, you get that VIP treatment that you deserve.
Now I know email marketing can sound complicated and intimidating when you’re used to a specific tool or when you’re just getting started. So in case you’re feeling the fear, I wanted to tell you about the tool I’ve been using to grow my business – ConvertKit.
ConvertKit makes email marketing easy with their drag and drop sequences, customizable opt-in forms, and simple but powerful automations. And now, they’ve even made it easy to try them out for yourself!
Expose Your Brand 101
Blog Xpressions: Of course I was not going to leave Blog Xpressions out!
My blog is a great source for advertising your brand, business or event! If you don’t promote and market your brand, how will people know it exist?
I currently work in TV and digital ad sales, so I know a little somethin’ somethin’ about advertising while staying on budget.
Blog Xpressions is an all-inclusive suite – sponsored blog posts, banner ads, product reviews, social media campaigns, plus more, can be done right here with Blog Xpressions. The best part? I can do all this to fit your budget!