When it comes to blogging, it takes a village. I’d like to take credit for all of the functionality and clock-workness (is that a thing?) that goes into Lamberts Lately, but the honest truth of it is that I just can’t. I have a ton of blogging resources (some free, some paid) that make my job a thousand times easier.
Here’s the deal: first and foremost, I am a mom. I wish I could devote as much time as it looks like I do to my blog, but there are only so many hours in a day. In order to really focus on my kids and on our family, I use a lot of scheduling and automation that makes blogging much simpler! All in all, I work around 20 hours a week on my blog – most of which is done in one day a week when my mother-in-law watches the kids. The rest of the time, I try as hard as possible to only think about the blog an hour or two a day (usually when the kids are asleep). It’s a dream work schedule that has taken me a few years to really fine-tune.
This work schedule is only possible because of a ton of great resources that make my life so much easier. I use most of these in unison to create the seamless blog and social media schedule that you see every day. I couldn’t make Lamberts Lately happen without the resources you’ll find below!
This list contains affiliate links. See more information about my link usage here.
WordPress – I transferred to WordPress about 2 months ago and couldn’t be happier with the move. There is just so much more functionality and power behind a WordPress platform. I wrote a lot more about making the switch from Blogger to WordPress – you can why and how I made the switch here.
Siteground – I chose Siteground as my host and am 100% happy with that decision. Their customer service is incredible and the downtime has been incredibly minimal. Their prices are really competitive too! You can grab 60% off their hosting plans by using this link. If you’re looking to start a blog with Siteground, click here for my full tutorial.
Cloudflare – This isn’t necessarily a a platform…rather, it’s a great way to optimize your site. It provides an added layer of security against attacks and can reduce bandwidth used on your host. I use their free plan and have been really pleased!
Instapage – This is the service I use for my product landing pages, like the one for Journey to Clean and Freezer Meal Boot Camp. It’s an incredibly easy-to-use website builder…seriously, you don’t really need to know anything about coding to use this site!
Akismet Anti-Spam – This is a super simple, free plugin that blocks comment spam so you don’t have to.
Genesis Simple Hooks – If you’re not a fan of digging through pages and pages of theme files to put in a simple piece of code for your blog, this is a great plugin for Genesis themes! It allows you to easily add code at designated spots in your site.
Pretty Link – This plugin is free and allows you to convert any link to one that looks like it came from your site. For example, if I wanted to link from Google, I can transfer the link http://www.google.com to http://www.lambertslately.com/google by using this plugin. It’s great for simplifying long, complicated affiliate links! The free version is great and there is also a Pro version that offers quite a few extra features, like expiring links and Google Analytics integration.
Social Warfare – This is how I make the pretty social media buttons you see at the bottom of your page. There is a free version that provides basic buttons, but I paid for Social Warfare Pro to match the buttons to my blog. It’s only $29 a year and has increased my social media shares so much!
Updraft Plus – I use this free plugin to backup my blog daily. It automatically downloads a copy of my blog to my Amazon S3 account every afternoon.
Wordfence – This is another great free security plugin that blocks malware and suspicious IPs from your site.
Yoast SEO – I’ve mentioned before that I both love and hate this plugin. 🙂 It’s invaluable if you’re a blogger though! After you write a post, it analyzes it’s SEO and readability and gives you suggestions on how to optimize your post. I’ve learned so much from using this for just a couple of months. It also allows you to easily edit how your post appears in Google search rankings.
Genesis eNews Extended – This is the plugin I use that allows my to make very simple email opt-in forms, like the one you see at the top of my site.
Genesis – This is what I used to build the “bones” of my WordPress blog. It gives my blog its overall layout and functionality. This is one of the most popular WordPress themes out there!
Pretty Darn Cute Designs – As opposed to Genesis, which was used to build my site, this is company where I purchased my first child theme. Child themes are what kind of “decorates” your blog, giving it the look you want. They have gorgeous, well-coded designs that are really competitively priced!
17th Avenue Designs – This is where I purchased my current child theme. I love their responsive and pretty themes – packed full of features and so customizable!
Convertkit – I am a massive fan of Convertkit…it is my current email provider. It has a ton of functionality and features that other services just don’t have yet. I use it to manage my email courses, follow-up emails after someone subscribes to my list, and newsletters. It integrates with just about every page/site builder I use seamlessly and has the ability to import my purchase emails from Gumroad too. You’re also able to very easily segment your list with Convertkit. I could go on and on – it’s worth every penny.
MailChimp – This is the email provider I used before switching to Convertkit. It’s a less expensive option that is great if you’re looking for a more simple solution to sending out mass emails to your subscribers. They also have a free account option that Convertkit doesn’t!
Storage and Backup
Google Drive – This is a super simple way to store printables and documents related to your blog. This is where I stored printable files before switching to WordPress (now they’re just stored on my server through Siteground).
Amazon S3 – I don’t use this service for storage as often (mostly just because I’m so used to Google Drive now), but it’s a solid cloud storage service that I use to backup my blog.
Toshiba Canvio Basics External Hard Drive – I have a teeny tiny hard drive on my MacBook Pro, so a 1TB external hard drive is a must for storing old printable files and blog graphics. This is this one I have and it’s great…no-fuss and easy to use with a Mac.
iDrive – In addition to backing my computer up to my external hard drive once a month, I also backup to iDrive once a week. I’m paranoid about losing my computer and feel so much better that my files are in 2 places! This is a cloud storage service that’s very competitively priced. They have a free service if you don’t need a ton of storage too!
Amazon Prime Photos – I’ve written about this service before, but I use it to backup my phone photos and it couldn’t be easier. You simply download the app and it backs up your photos as you take them. If you’re a Prime member, it’s free!
Tailwind – This is the service I use to schedule my pins on Pinterest. If it wasn’t for this service, I would have to be on Pinterest all hours of the day! When I want to promote a post on Pinterest, I simply set it to be pinned at a set interval (usually every 2-3 days) on all of my boards where it fits. Tailwind optimizes the pins to be posted at the times of the day when my followers are most active.
I also use Tailwind for their tribes – these are basically just groups of pinners that share their content with the group and, in return, pin content from others in the group. It’s a great way to get your content out there and find great things to share on your account. It can be used without a Tailwind subscription!
Hootsuite – I use the free version of Hootsuite to schedule my Tweets, Facebook posts, and Instagram posts. This is a great way to organize your social media content to ensure there is even posting each day. It also makes it super easy to post the same content across multiple platforms. Although you technically can’t schedule Instagram posts, Hootsuite sends your phone a notification when it’s time to post and copies your content to your clipboard, making posting incredibly quick and easy.
When to Post App – I love using this app when I’m scheduling Instagram posts. It looks at your followers’ engagement times and gives you the best 3 times of the day to post to Instagram.
Gumroad – This is the only service I’ve ever used to process my digital product sales for a reason – I’ve never needed something from it that it wasn’t able to do! It’s effective and I’ve been so pleased with the service. If you’re selling a product, Gumroad processes the payment (through credit cards or PayPal) and delivers digital products via email. There is a small fee, but it’s 100% worth not having to do it yourself. You can also build affiliate programs through Gumroad (I haven’t ventured into that just yet…hopefully soon!). You can see my products for sale on Gumroad here.
Nikon D90 – I’ve used this camera for just about every (non-iPhone) photo on my blog since 2012. I love it. It’s an investment, but it’s one you’ll be able to use for years.
50mm f/1.8 Lens – If you’re a blogger who needs to invest in one camera lens for a DSLR camera, make it this one. I just keep on going back to this lens. It takes incredible portrait and food photography shots with excellent bokeh. The only drawback is that it is a prime lens, meaning it doesn’t zoom in or out. But that’s a minor inconvenience…it’s worth it to have the quality of this lens! It’s pretty inexpensive too.
28-75mm f/2.8 Lens – This is my latest lens investment…I use it mostly for wider-angle shots that the 50mm lens can’t capture. It’s a little more expensive, but a great investment if you need to photograph wider spaces or need the ability to zoom in/out.
Wrapping Paper (yes, simple wrapping paper!) – This sounds weird, but it’s one of my favorite secrets for photographing printables. I use gift wrapping paper as my background on most of my printable pages. Check out this section of the blog – my all of those images are made with the wrapping paper background spread out on my playroom floor!
Amazon Basics Tripod – This is my inexpensive and sturdy tripod used for home and printable shots. It has the best combination of price vs. quality I have found.
LimoStudio Softbox Light Kit – While it’s best to photograph for the blog with natural light, sometimes you simply don’t have it. These lights make it possible to photograph without natural light, making it possible to work no matter the time or weather.
Photography/Graphic Apps and Software
PicTapGo App – I mainly use this iPhone app when posting a longer photo on Instagram that might not fit in Instagram’s height guidelines. It adds a white section to each side of the photo to make it more square…this way, Instagram won’t cut your photo off! It’s also a great photo editor if needed.
POTO App – This is a wonderful iPhone app for creating photo collages. It automatically formats the collage depending on the number of photos you add and allows you to choose from several different layouts.
eZyWatermark Lite App – I use this app to Watermark any photos that don’t already have one. You can upload a standard Watermark to the app and use it every time or type in a different one each time.
Afterlight App – I love this iPhone app for editing photos. It has both filters and manual editing functions.
PicMonkey – This is a great option if you’re just starting to edit graphics for your blog. It allows for text overlays (to make those awesome pinnable images) and has great collage features too.
Photoshop Elements – This is what I currently use to edit graphics for my blog. I do minor photo editing in my Mac Photos app (although it really is possible to make those same edits in Photoshop) and ship the files over to Photoshop Elements to add text & watermarks. This is also the program I use to make all of my printables!
FontSquirrel – This is an awesome website full of free, commercial-friendly fonts. I have found the majority of the fonts I use in my blog graphics here!
OpenOffice – Believe it or not, I don’t even have Microsoft Office on my computer! I use OpenOffice (in conjunction with Photoshop Elements) to create the multi-page pdfs I have for sale and available in my subscriber-only printable collection. Yes, I have sold hundreds and hundreds of ebooks that were made in a free word document editor! It can be our little secret. 😉
Todoist – This is a simple to-do list app that lets me organize and color code tasks that need to be done at home, with my blog, and for product sales. It’s so easy to pull this app up and see what needs to be done daily. I talked a little bit more about how I use this in conjunction with Mac Calendar over here.
Mac Calendar – See that link above for a lot more information about how I use this for my blog organization. In short, it holds my editorial calendar and due dates. I love using the Mac Calendar because it lets me mark things as finished and rearrange dates easily!
Evernote – This is where I store any receipts for business expenses from the blog. I really don’t have a ton of paper receipts (or paper at all, for that matter) for blog-related things, but I often have expenses that need to be recorded for tax purposes. This is the perfect place to organize those! (See this post for more information on how I do that.
So, is your head spinning?! I know that’s a lot…but trust me, blogging is possible without using most of this! These items just make my site/content look more professional and optimize my time. It would easily take double the amount of time each week to be a blogger if I didn’t have many of the tools above.
If you have an awesome blogging tool that you’d like to add to the list, comment with your suggestion below!
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