Welcome to VintageGlamStudio’s Resources section, a curated list of the tools and websites I strongly recommend for building and optimizing your online business. Here’s the behind the scenes nuts & bolts of tools and resources I have used to build this blog. Some tools were added later as my blog has grown and I developed new streams of income.
I have tested and used all the resources mentioned here, but before mentioning these resources, here’s an important disclosure.
Some of the links listed below are affiliate links meaning I will be earning a small commission. The commission comes at no additional cost to you. Please understand that I have experience with all these companies, and I recommend them because of their usefulness and not because of the commissions I earn if you should decide to buy.
These are the resources I depended on as essential especially when I began self-hosting my blog. I used WordPress.com when I initially began this blog since I was such a newbie, what drove me to switch to self-hosting was the huge difference WordPress plug ins can provide in providing web security, SEO, mail list building, social media growth and overall website speed. So, if you are serious about monetizing your blog in any way, growing your traffic or maybe your blog functions as your online business card, these are what I consider foundational tools .
Bluehost – This is the web hosting platform I have used since I started self-hosting this blog a few years ago. They have great customer service, tech help that can be contacted via phone, email and chat, and low start up pricing. Another competitor being mentioned by many bloggers, (but I have no experience with) is Siteground.
Market Samurai – Keyword Research Tool
While using Google’s keyword tool is extremely helpful, as your blog grows you are going to need a tool that is much more robust. I purchased this product when I was actively writing for other clients to do keyword research, SEO competition and Google ranking.
Yoast SEO – awesome free seo plug-in for WordPress. Gets you started optimizing your blog posts for SEO from the get go by grading your SEO efforts before you publish that blog post. It assures that your content will be found by Google and suggests improvements as you write.
MonsterInsights – Great tool for evaluating your google analytics within your WordPress interface with one click. I use the free version, and test them out to their full functionality before I upgrade.
Genesis by StudioPress I started using this website theme framework since I began self hosting, this product basically allows you to update your blog without knowing the coding language that would be required to make changes on your header, sidebar and other portions of your blog. It’s a newbie blogger’s best tool. Note: This year this platform is being incorporated into WordPress platform and themes with the Gutenberg editor. This saves you from having to learn coding in order to make simple but important changes to your blog.
Social Media Tools
A top source of my web traffic comes from Pinterest and other social media platforms while I have the manual pinnining method for a few years, I recently purchased Tailwind the scheduling tool that helps me set up those timely pins to Pinterest. What Tailwind allows you to do is to schedule pins to your Pinterest account and individual boards (as well as group boards), schedule them on a queue, and join Tailwind tribes (which are similar to group boards) which will enable you to grow your outreach. Even the free sign-up to Tailwind (with some restricted functions) is a great tool if you are a Pinterest marketer.
Tailwind also provides an in-depth amount of backend info that the Pinterest analytics section of your Pinterest business account does not provide. Many of the top Mommy blogs (and niche bloggers) use this tool to get huge Pinterest followings on Pinterest. Use my link to get your first month of Tailwind for free.
Boardbooster was another popular tool for awhile because of it’s dynamic looping feature and I was barely getting to know its features and get proficient at it and it went out of business this year. Tailwind seems to be the scheduling tool (so far) that is outperforming the competition and it has recently added a “smart loop” feature in beta .
Top Affiliate Network Resources:
These sites are like large management firms (the middle men) that represent hundreds of brands that might be the right fit for your blog’s niche. Sign up is usually free, payout thresholds are low and are usually the right fit, especially if you are just getting started with your blog. Many brands do not have affiliate programs in house and very often turn to these companies to manage them. The goal is to find a sponsor for your blog niche or website and get paid for your great content or to find a program that pays you to promote their product to your readers that matches what your blog readers want or need.
Google Adsense – Obviously the most well known company and ad network in the US. Who hasn’t started a blogger account with adsense? This ad network is a fast way to get started earning money on your blog and getting familiar with the backend of how these networks work.
Amazon – a giant in the affiliate industry, they are large enough to have their own internal affiliate management team .
Awin – This network represents thousands of US based companies and international companies. They are now the parent company of Shareasale. I signed up with them because they manage Etsy’s affilate program. They do charge a refundable $5.00 for sign-up.
Linkshare – This is a huge network representing several international brands. Depending on your traffic and social media following, you can often receive “private offers” by brands that would like you to partner with them at higher commission rates for you to promote their product.
Magiclinks – I use this network for all my ready to shop product links. They represent several well known brands and probably have one of the easiest to understand dashboards (interface). They also have managers ready to assist you via Chat. Not all networks have this kind of customer service for their affiliate partners.
Shareasale This affiliate network is based in the US and manages over 4,500 companies with very popular brands. They represent several well know brands, their dashboard interface is easy to understand and they rate the brands they represent. But don’t let brand recognition deceive you into thinking they pay the highest, sometimes it’s smaller less well known companies that have the highest commissions rates.
When you need high resolution and quality graphic resources, these sites have great products at reasonable prices with often reasonably generous commercial use policies or products for small businesses. Many graphic designers are now making design products available to “crafters” or small businesses, products that would normally be available solely to other designers or large businesses with in house graphic designers.
PicMonkey – just a great and easy online photo editing tool
Canva – When you don’t want to fire up heavy duty software programs, like Photoshop, this online photo editing tool is my go to place. It has business ready templates that you can adjust for your brand. I use this product for my social media photo edits.
Etsy – many graphic designers are now setting up shops or products with appropriate licensing made for the small business owner or blogger, they vary from mockup photo to social media templates for Canva.
Invest in your Skills/Blogging Education
I don’t see this posted often, but if you want to start a blog (especially as a side hustle that earns you money)be prepared to invest some time and money to improve your skills and knowledge. What skills do you need, to grow your blog? This is a short list… blog photography, basic photo editing, writing for SEO, writing for marketing, getting familiar with the back end of your CMS ( Content Management System, for example, WordPress) etc., and Social Media marketing… these are general skills but they will vary depending on the type of blog niche you want to get into and what skills you already possess. The good thing is that you don’t have to spend that much money all at once. You can invest in yourself and your blog as your blog begins to grow.
My first introduction to earning affiliate income was from Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income. When I first started this blog, I wasn’t familiar with the back end of the WordPress platform, so I took several online courses on Lynda .com now owned by Linked In. That was a great investment of my time and money, but that was only the beginning of my skills training. I will also add that my offline work related skills training was a big booster as well. I have since logged in several hours in a lot of online training. But using the combined skills of my offline work didn’t help me with the other end of blog ownership…online marketing.
My goals were two fold, I wanted to learn how to make money on my blog and how to improve my design skills, skills I am still working on. Although I have viewed a lot of Youtube videos, and still do, I would recommend sites like Skillshare or Craftsy. Skillshare is a site that has several online programs that will help you get started with the skill set you want or need to improve whether you are looking to improve your skills as a personal hobby or actually setting up an online blog. If you are on a very tight budget, don’t hesitate to search youtube for video tutorials on skills you want to learn.
There are also several short blogger courses online for reasonable prices on how to begin “mommy blogs” to earn money. Don’t let the name fool you, many of these blogs end up earning their owners up to several thousand dollars per month in affiliate income and other related services.
But very rarely, do they give away their secrets of blogging success for free; however, many do provide valuable information in their blog posts or opt-in freebies with solid introductory information.
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