Welcome to the Somto Seeks resources page, a curated list of tools, courses, and websites I’ve used to turn my blog into a business. I’ve used every single product listed on this page. In addition, I only recommend products I truly believe will help you create and run a successful blog.
Disclosure: this page contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I will earn a small commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you. These are all products I’ve tried and highly recommend. Thank you.
Start a WordPress Blog
Siteground is the web hosting service I’ve been using since April 2018. It has the highest satisfaction rate among regular consumers – online entrepreneurs, small business owners, web developers, and other impartial users. I stress regular consumers because that’s the group you should pay the most attention to when you’re shopping for a hosting service. Bloggers have a monetary incentive to promote web hosting services. I don’t want you to take my word for it. Look at what others like you have to say about using Siteground. Siteground is consistently ranked #1 on Facebook polls. Take a look at a few:
What I love most about Siteground is the helpful customer service. The staff are well-trained, attentive, and very quick to respond. Before switching to Siteground, I used Bluehost for a year and experienced countless problems. The hardest part was dealing with the incompetent customer service that didn’t care about my needs. It was a nightmare! Please avoid Bluehost at all costs. Save yourself the stress and headaches.
StudioPress Themes with Genesis Framework
Your blog theme matters it’s the first impression you give people when they visit your website. Be sure to make a great impression. Buy a premium StudioPress theme with the Genesis Framework. I currently use the Essence Pro theme with the Genesis Framework. When I started my blog, I bought a premium theme from WordPress.org but switched to the StudioPress for a few reasons:
- The Genesis framework, which stores the code for StudioPress themes, is regarded by web developers as the most secure and reliable framework for websites.
- StudioPress themes are highly customizable, which gives you the flexibility to create the exact look you want.
- Themes are mobile responsive – these days, most people browse blogs on their phones or tablets. It’s important that your blog can adjust to different screen sizes.
- StudioPress offers over 400 themes to choose from so you’ll find the perfect design for your blog.
Do you want to know which blog posts are bringing in the most traffic? Where you traffic is coming from? How many page views you got last month? Then Google Analytics is your friend. In fact, Google Analytics is a must for any serious blogger. You need to keep track of your traffic in order to know what’s working and what’s not. Setting up Google Analytics is straightforward, and it’s also completely free.
Yoast SEO Plugin
The Yoast SEO plugin evaluates the quality of your search engine optimization (SEO) for every blog post. Once you install it, the plugin will display a section at the end of your blog posts. There, you can fill in your post title, focus keyword, meta description, and other important components of SEO. Based on that, the plugin checks your content to make sure your focus keyword appears in all the right places. It gives you a red (bad), yellow (fair), or green (good) based on how optimized your content is to rank highly on Google.
Social Warfare Plugin
To get more eyes on your content, it’s important to make it as easy to share as possible. That’s where the Social Warfare plugin comes in. It allows visitors to share your posts on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other social media you choose. What makes this plugin different from other social sharing plugins is that the sharing icons scroll down the page with the reader. They are also displayed at the top and the bottom of the page. At any point in time, visitors can see the sharing icons, which makes them more likely to share your posts.
SEMRush is expensive. At $99 a month, there is no denying it’s a major investment. But it beats any other SEO tool I’ve used. This tool allows you to perform a complete SEO site audit, check the keywords your competitors are ranking for, plan your content to improve your rankings, and so much more. SEMRush essentially provides you with a goldmine of information and tells you exactly what to do to improve your ranking on Google. It has been a game changer for me, and I can’t recommend it enough.
Search a keyword or url below to see how SEMRush works. Then sign up for a 7-day free trail
Learn the Fundamentals of Blogging
The Billionaire Blog Club
The creator of Billionaire Blog Club, Paul Scrivens, runs 13 blogs in different niches. His blogs receive between 100,000-400,000 visitors a month! Scrivs has figured out what works and what doesn’t when it comes to creating a money-making blog. He won’t sugarcoat anything. If you want a frank guide to blogging for money, this is for you. The course comes with a ton of practical information that is easy to understand, from setting up WordPress to getting massive traffic. You also get access to a community that you can reach out to for help. No, this is not just another Facebook group! The community is on a more sophisticated and personalized platform, which makes it easier to ask questions and get feedback. It is by far the most engaged and supportive blogging community I’m a part of. I learn new strategies from its members practically every day. Membership in The Billionaire Blog Club will cost you $447. I know that’s expensive, but it’s one of the best investments I’ve made in my blog.
Billionaire Blog Club – Free 12-Day Blogging Bootcamp
If you want to get a taste of the Billionaire Blog Club, then I recommend you sign up for the Free 12-Day Blogging Bootcamp. The email course will demonstrate Scrivs’ approach to blogging and the what you can expect as a member of the Billionaire Blog Club. The course covers topics such as how to choose a niche, use Pinterest, understand your audience, create sales funnels, and make money.
The Business of Travel Blogging
The Business of Travel Blogging, the first blogging course I purchased, is a great start for a blogging newbie with zero technical or business experience. It was created by Nomadic Matt, who gets over a million monthly visitors to his blog. He has also written a New York Times Best Seller about budget travel. The Business of Travel Blogging is a 12-week step by step guide to create a travel blog from scratch. Each week is focused on one critical element of running a successful blog. This is the list of topics covered in the course:
Build an Email List
Convertkit is an email service provider you can use to manage your email subscribers. The most valuable asset you can have as a blogger is an engaged email list. Forget Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and any other social media. Unlike your email list, you don’t own your social media accounts. Let me repeat that: you do not own your social media accounts! Who knows if Instagram will even be around in 5 years. Remember Myspace? Your email list is your own, and it’s the most direct way to communicate with your audience. To manage your email list, you need an email service provider. Convertkit is great because it was specifically designed for bloggers. I switched from AWeber and couldn’t be happier.
Essential Grid Plugin
The Essential Grid plugin allows you to create customizable layouts to display information, such as a resource library. I used this plugin to create my own resource library, which contains guides for travel and making money online. Creating a resource library is one of the best ways to grow your email list because it provides a lot of value for subscribers. You can also use the Essential Grid plugin to create an e-commerce store, a portfolio, a gallery, and a display of blog posts.
Leadpages is one of the tools I can’t live without in my business. In a nutshell, it’s an online platform where you can create webinars, opt-in forms, and landing pages. A landing page is a single page that you use to promote an offer. I used LeadPages to create the landing page to promote my free affiliate marketing course. Landing pages are a smart way to capture new email subscribers. They read your offer, sign up, and join your email list. The great thing about Leadpages is that it’s so versatile. There are over 150 templates to choose from. You can even use Leadpages to create a mini-site to showcase a portfolio.
Drive Traffic To Your Blog (Courses)
Traffic Transformation Guide
The Traffic Transformation Guide course is a step-by-step breakdown of how Lena Gott from Mommy Minded Mommy went from 17k to 400k page views in just 10 months. This course is a must if you’ve been trying everything to grow your traffic and not seeing results. It is a goldmine of information and strategies that will help you get unstuck. The Traffic Transformation Guide is the most comprehensive of all the courses I’ve taken about growing blog traffic. In 102 pages, Lena walks you through 21 strategies she has used to skyrocket her blog traffic after feeling stuck for years. The course is not only actionable but also really encouraging. Topics covered include how to narrow your blog’s focus, create a content plan, and interlink your posts.
Pinterest is a visual search engine that’s less competitive than Google. That’s why bloggers have flocked to it to promote their posts and offers. With the right strategy, you can get thousands of free page views monthly. If you’ve never used Pinterest before, there’s a bit of a learning curve in the beginning. But you can eliminate guesswork by learning directly from the pros. One of them is McKinzie Bean of Moms Make Cents, who shared her affiliate marketing tips on my blog. She has a free course for beginners called Pinterest Primer. The course covers how to set up your Pinterest account, create boards, perform keyword research, and other fundamental skills you need to succeed on Pinterest.
If you get into the nitty-gritty of how Pinterest works, you need Pinteresting Strategies! As a matter of fact, I learned more about Pinterest from this ebook than from Pinterest’s own guides! Carly Campbell from Mommy on Purpose gets 200,000 page views every month from Pinterest using a manual pinning strategy. She really knows her stuff and explains the Pinterest algorithm in layman’s terms. Then she shares her manual Pinterest strategy in a step-by-step guide. While manual pinning didn’t work for me, it has worked for many others. That’s the thing about these strategies: some will work and some will not. Still, the information I learned from this ebook drastically changed the way I think about Pinterest. The Pinterest algorithm finally made sense for me. The best part is that her eBook is only $32! Other less qualified Pinterest gurus will charge you up to $200.
Unlock my free resource library for travel bloggers
Get access to unpublished worksheets, guides, and tutorials to grow your traffic and make passive income with your blog.
Megan Johnson of Love Family Health is a real sweetheart. She truly cares about your success and will go above and beyond to help you. After purchasing her Pinterest Ninja Ebook, I was so impressed that I signed up for her private coaching program. Megan made me a 30-minute video analyzing my entire Pinterest profile and wrote me a report with action steps to improve it. Even though our coaching session is over, she still makes herself available to answer my questions. Pinterest Ninja, which costs $39.99, is a good place to start if you’re brand new to Pinterest. You don’t need private coaching unless, like me, you want to fast track your results. Note that it takes time for Pinterest to start sending you boatloads of traffic. But, trust me. If you’re consistent, it will pay off! Pinterest now accounts for 80% of all my traffic.
The Billionaire Pinterest Manual
Paul Scrivens, also known as Scrivs, is the creator of Billionaire Bloggers Club (BBC), a comprehensive blogging course with a close-knit community. Within the course is the 165 page Billionaire Pinterest Manual, which you can buy separately. Paul’s system is simple: give Pinterest what it wants and Pinterest will send you loads of traffic. The lessons, covering everything from pin design to high-converting titles, are actionable. I got results almost immediately after implementing his strategies. Paul’s takes a no BS approach to teaching, which was refreshing. I really appreciated his honesty.
Drive Traffic To Your Blog (Tools)
Tailwind is a scheduling tool for Pinterest. It saves me a lot of time on pinning by automatically posting my pins to designated boards at a given time. I can schedule for weeks, months, or even years down the road and let Tailwind taking care the rest. Tailwind also provides analytics to let you know your best performing pins and boards. Lastly, you also have the option to join Tailwind Tribes and to gain even more exposure for your pins. Click here to get a 30-day free trail of Tailwind.
Deposit Photos is a stock photo service that gives you access to millions (yes, millions) of royalty free photos. I pay $19.99 per month for the basic plan and get 30 downloads. Having professional quality photos is a must for any serious blogger so investing in stock photos is worthwhile. I use stock photos for everything from blog posts to landing pages to pins. The photo at the top of this page is a download from Deposit Photos. Once you download a photo, you can use it over and over again for as long as you want.
I use PicMonkey to make professional quality pins to promote my blog posts and affiliate products. It comes with over 200 fonts and many unique features, such as layers, textures, and enhancement tools. PicMonkey isn’t as complicated to learn as Photoshop, but you can use it to produce photoshop-quality graphics.
I also use Canva this to make pins for my blog posts and affiliate offers. It’s easier to use if you’re new to graphic design but doesn’t have as many features as PicMonkey. The main advantage it has over PicMonkey is access to 300,000 photos.
Unlock my free resource library for travel bloggers
Get access to unpublished worksheets, guides, and tutorials to grow your traffic and make passive income with your blog.
Monetize Your Blog
Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is promoting the products of other businesses to earn a commission on sales. It’s one of the most effective ways to monetize your blog. You get to recommend products you love and earn passive income. When it comes to affiliate marketing, there is no better expert than Michelle Schroeder-Gardner of Making Sense of Cents. She consistently makes $100,000/month and even made $300,000 from ONE post. Given Michelle’s results, of course I had to learn her strategies. In Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, Michelle explains the ins and outs of affiliate marketing, from the legal aspects to the best strategies to drive conversions. This is a text-based course that comes with workbooks and actionable steps to implement what you’ve learned. Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing also comes with eight bonuses, including private coaching.
Pin To Profits – Affiliate Marketing
McKinzie Bean of the blog Moms Make Cents created Pin to Profits – Affiliate Marketing to walk you through everything you need to know about posting affiliate links on Pinterest. McKinzie actually took Michelle Schroeder-Gardner’s affiliate marketing course and went on to become really successful. Now she is teaching about affiliate marketing. Pins to Profits: Affiliate Marketing is a video-based course with 6 modules. It covers topics such as how to create click-worthy affiliate pins, what boards to post your pins to, and what types of products do well on Pinterest.
This is an affiliate network with over 3,900 affiliate programs. ShareASale is home to companies in every industry from travel to beauty. Whether you’re new to affiliate marketing or advanced, you’ll find tons of products to promote on this network. Some of the companies I promote from ShareASale are Allianz Global Insurance, Skyscanner, and Sally Beauty. As with all affiliate networks, signing up for ShareASale is completely free.
Manage Social Media
Buffer is a social media management tool that enables you to schedule posts to your Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest accounts from one place. Instead of manually posting to each platform, you can save time by posting to several accounts at once. Buffer has a free and paid version. I use the paid version because it unlocks more features, but the free version is perfectly fine.
If you want the best insight into your Instagram’s performance, Iconosquare will deliver just that. It will show you when your audience is most engaged, your best performing content by views, comments, likes, and reach, and your audience demographics. This is valuable information you can use to improve your posting strategy.
Hire a Freelancer
Fiverr is my go-to website to hire freelancers. I have hired graphic designers, social media managers, and web developers from here. Overall, my experience has been great. There are a lot of highly qualified freelancers on the platform who charge reasonable prices. Be sure to carefully read each freelancer’s reviews before making a hiring decision.
People Per Hour
People Per Hour is another great website to hire freelancers. So far, I have hired a photographer from here and had a a fantastic experience with her. Freelancers on this platform tend to charge more than those on Fiverr. You also have the option to post a project and have freelancers interview for it.
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