Recommended Blogging Resources For New Bloggers

Recommended Blogging Resources For New Bloggers

This post contains affiliate links.  You can find my disclosure page here.

Blogging can be overwhelming and confusing for a novice blogger.  After all, with hundreds of thousands of blogs already swirling among the internet, how is a new blogger supposed to stand out?

When I was just starting out as a new blogger I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.  I searched the internet for information for months.  Then, I became overwhelmed because there is almost too much information.  Who is a new blogger supposed to trust?

Now that I have an established blog up and running I am often asked for recommendations on different tools, training,  and other resources  available for new bloggers. And I am always asked what tools I use to run my blogs.

These conversations encouraged me to put together a list of recommended blogging resources that have been instrumental in my success as a new blogger (I will add to this list as I continue to try new things!)

WordPress

Admittedly, I did not use WordPress when I was first starting my own blog.

Instead, I started with Squarespace (which is both easy to use and pretty, but not as good with SEO and has no plugin options).  After I realized how many limitations I had I finally switched over to WordPress.  It was a huge pain in the rear, it caused me a lot of unnecessary stress and I lost time I will never get back.

Here are a few reasons why WordPress is the way to go:

  • Its beginner friendly:  you do NOT need coding knowledge to create perfectly functioning website
  • WordPress themes and plugins give you almost unlimited flexibility:  Once you are more advanced with WordPress you are able to customize every aspect of your site as you see fit (or you can be like me and pay someone else to do it, the point being that you CAN customize your site more in the future).
  • WordPress helps you rank higher in search engines:  If your goal is high traffic to your site, then WordPress is the gold standard platform you need to be using.  Not only is WordPress already well-optimized for search engines, but there is an amazing plugin called Yoast SEO that helps me make sure my SEO is on point.
  • Support is available whenever you need it:  There is a WordPress support forum and a ton of online tutorials and courses

(Read more about how to set up a WordPress website on Bluehost here)

Bluehost

A blog host is the company that provides the space on its servers and equipment to store your blog.  There are free options out there but I would not use them for the following reasons:

  • Free blogs appear less professional
  • You would have to have the “blogger” or “wordpress” in your domain name.
  • Your have less control over your blog when you use free hosting.  CSS functions and theme selections are limited, and you have little control over expanding your websites capabilities.
  • Free platforms often limit advertising options, which makes it harder to make money if the future if you plan to monetize your blog.

I recommend Bluehost for several reasons:

  • Customer service is excellent.
  • Good pricing-  you can start your blog for as low as $3.95 a month.   Bluehost is the is one of the top web hosting companies available and for $3.95 a month, its a good deal.
  • Free domain
  • 24/7 support
  • 30 day money back guarantee

(Read more about how to set up a WordPress website on Bluehost here)

Yoast SEO WordPress plugin

Search Engine Optimization is a very important tool that helps bloggers rank higher on google and other search engines and helps readers find you on the internet.

Yoast SEO WordPress Plugin helps bloggers optimize for keywords, keyphrases and synonyms, and related keywords.  When optimized correctly, it makes your website more visible to people looking for your specific content.  You goal, if you want to be a successful blogger, is to rank #1 in search engine results.  Yoast SEO Plugin can help you get that spot.

How it works:    You can enter the keyword or keyphrase you’d like your post or page to rank for in the search results. Yoast SEO Plugin then runs a check on your content to check whether you’re using the keywords often enough – but not too often – and in the right spots.

(I love this plugin so much that I pay annually for the premium version)

Recommended blogging resources for new bloggers

Editorial Calendar (EPIC Blog)

I am almost completely paperless, except for my editorial calendar (which I use as a hard copy for pretty much everything that goes into my blog).  You can find editorial calendars online, but I have found that by using my hard copy of EPIC blog and my scheduler on WordPress that I stay super organized.  I always manage to stay on top of deadlines.

At some point I would love to create my own editorial calendar for bloggers.  Until then, my EPIC blog editorial calendar is super helpful!

Keyword Planner

If you ever want to rank in a google search you must research your keywords.  Otherwise, how do you know if anyone is actually searching for the keywords you are trying to rank for?

Keyword Planner is actually a FREE Google Ads tool for advertisers.  However, it also makes a great tool for bloggers to find the keywords that people type into Google.

Pinterest

Did you know that Pinterest is a search engine, NOT a social media platform? (Its actually more like Google then it is Instagram, Facebook or Twitter!).

Pinterest has been so helpful for my blog growth.  In fact, many bloggers I know are making a lot (if not most) of their income from pinning on Pinterest.

Pinterest group boards are great for generating more traction to your blog (a group board is a community board where other pinners can pin and, if popular, can give your pins more exposure).

Keep in mind that SEO is the ultimate goal for blog growth, but Pinterest can help you gain website traffic in the short-term.

Check out my Pinterest board at www.pinterest.com/mothernurselove and if you are a nurse blogger please join my Nurse Bloggers Group Board!

Pinterest Ninja

Pinterest has changed tremendously over the last year and seems have algorithm updates almost weekly.   Mastering Pinterest takes a lot of work and if you want more traffic sooner then you want to invest in a course.

If you want to understand how Pinterest can grow blog traffic you need the Pinterest Ninja Course.

A blogger colleague of mine, Megan Johnson, created Pinterest Ninja to help people increase their blog pages views by the thousands.  I did the course when I was on maternity leave and I was able to increase my blog traffic from 0-1000/day in just over one month.    Seriously, read some of her reviews.  Her course is invaluable.

(You need to know by now – if your goal IS to monetize your blog you must invest in a few courses to help move you forward.  Otherwise, blogging is a lonely, frustrating island.)

Tailwind

If you are a blogger chances are you are super busy and don’t have time for pinning on Pinterest.  With Tailwind, you won’t have to find time daily to post Pins.   Sit down once a week (or month) and let Tailwind post for you – at the best times every day.

In addition, Pinterest analytics can tell you which content is resonating with pinners. So you can make more of the kind people are interacting with, and make improvements to the ones that aren’t.

Tailwind does all this:

  • Schedules your posts
  • Posts at the best times for engagement
  • Discovers related content you can share
  • Connects you with pinners to share content in Tribes (I love Tailwind Tribes- it is a premium feature that gives you additional reach with Tribes boards)
  • Amplifies your reach
  • And you can measure your results in analytics!

Tailwind saves me valuable time so I can spend more time on other important tasks, like content creation.

PicMonkey

PicMonkey allows me to make amazing graphic designs for my blog and Pinterest account.  I also use it for making blog post headers, watermarks, Instagram photos, my logo, and so many other things I need a graphic design for.

With PicMonkey I can make my graphic designs easily:

  • I pick a pre-sized canvas or customizable template
  • I can add fonts, graphics, logos, and textures.
  • My designs are auto-saved to the PicMonkey hub for later.

Check out my Pinterest board at www.pinterest.com/mothernurselove to see how much I have been able to design with PicMonkey.

Click this link to sign-up for a free PicMonkey trial today!

Mailchimp

Mailchimp is a marketing automation platform that helps me share email and ad campaigns with my email list.   It took me a while to start my email list and I regret not starting my email list sooner!

Mailchimp is ideal for beginners who want to grow their lists and create campaigns because it is FREE until you have up to 2,000 total subscribers (at that point you have to pick a paid plan).

Amazon affiliates

Affiliate marketing is one of the most popular ways people can make money online.   It is a strategy that bloggers can use to earn a commission by promoting other people’s products.  For example, if I find a product or service I like, I can promote it to my readers and earn a small commission for the referral.

I really think that Amazon affiliates is the easiest platform for new bloggers to start using affiliate marketing.  Its the biggest affiliate program out there and you can find almost anything on Amazon.   (Read more about why Amazon is a great affiliate for new bloggers).

Trello

Trello is a collaboration tool that organizes your projects into boards. In one glance, you can look at everything you are working on and where you are in the process.

I am almost entirely paper-free (except for my EPIC blog editorial calendar).  Trello makes it very easy for me to keep ALL my to do lists organized, right from my phone or computer.  Best of all, if you start working with a Virtual Assistant or another blogger on a progect you can easily add contributors to your Trello account.

Unsplash

Need free stock photos?   Unsplash is a website dedicated to sharing royalty-free stock photography from over 100,000 contributing photographers.  I use Unsplash photos frequently for my Pinterest graphics and blog header photos.

As a brand new blogger you don’t need to be spending any money on stock photography.  However, as your blog grows you are going to want to look into paying a few dollars for your images (eventually you start to recognize the free photos from the stock photos because everyone else is using them too).

Upwork & Firver

Upwork and Frver are global freelancing platforms where you can hire people online who can help you grow your blog.   You can find a freelancer to do pretty much anything you want them to for your blog for a fee.

I just hired my first freelancer through Upwork recently and I was very happy with the affordable assistance I received with a few technical issues I was having on my blog.  It saved me hours!

Courses

As with any new business, you will need to invest a little money so you can learn the ropes from people who actually know what they are talking about.

Here are two blogging experts that I can, in good faith, recommend. (If you don’t believe me, look at their recommendations.  They are amazing!).

  • Building A Framework:  By Abby Lawson-  This was the first blogging course I ever took and it pretty much covers everything you need to know about setting up a blog from scratch.   It is easy to follow and highly actionable.
  • Nurse Blogging 101: Healthcare Media Academy –  If you are a nurse or other healthcare blogger, I highly recommend starting with this one.  Creators Brittany Wilson and Kati Kleber are both published, award-winning authors who are also considered the Godmothers in nurse blogging.  They are especially great because they go into more detail about patient privacy concerns and other considerations that healthcare bloggers need to be aware of.

I will keep adding to this list as I find additional recommended resources for new bloggers.  Good luck blogging and let me know if you have any questions!

Recommended Reading

My Podcast Debut On ‘Your Next Shift’

My Podcast Debut On ‘Your Next Shift’

Hello Mother Nurse Love friends!

I was recently interviewed on ‘Your Next Shift’, the most innovative internet show that helps nurses thrive in their careers.  I have been equal parts excited and nervous to finally get to listen to the episode.  And I am happy to say that it was a pretty great show.  What an amazing experience!  Collaborating with other nurse entrepreneurs is such a treat.

My podcast interview can be found herehttps://elizabethscala.com/episode170/

In the podcast, I discussed:

  • How continuing to learn can keep you from becoming stagnant;
  • What routine practices can help you stay grounded in chaotic times;
  • And why you should never let fear hold you back from what your want!

I’d love for you to listen in – and even better – let me know what you think by leaving a review on the show http://bit.ly/YNSiTunes.

 

Again, the link to listen in can be found here: https://elizabethscala.com/episode170/

Take care,Sarah

How I Became A Nurse Blogger

How I Became A Nurse Blogger

In 2015 I became a nurse blogger.   This venture was born out of my frustration with burnout as a registered nurse and my desire to create a more flexible work life balance.

For clarity, my niche (or at least the niche I am striving to create) is:  “nurse mom lifestyle blogger with an emphasis on self-care and wellness.”  My goal has always been to write about things that interest me in regards to nurse lifestyle and living a healthier, more purposeful life (with a little mom stuff thrown in).

I have been chipping away on my nurse blogging journey for about a year, and my (self-proclaimed) title has evolved a bit.  I’m sure it will continue to change as I work to find my “voice.”

To explain how I became a nurse blogger, I have to take you back in time a bit…

Once upon a time I studied journalism.

Way, way back in the day, before I ever even considered becoming a registered nurse, I was a striving college student at California State University, Chico.  As a journalism major with a minor in women’s studies, I wrote for our student newspaper, The Orion, and I loved it.  Each week I met with other writers to discuss ideas and topics that were going to write about that week.  I enjoyed the teamwork and even though I felt way in over my head a lot of the time I absolutely loved the challenge.

Each week I met new and interesting people I would have otherwise crossed paths with.  I interviewed athletes, a magician, doctors from the student health center, professors, and lots and lots of students.  One time I interviewed a women who made and sold her own essential oils and she gave me a few samples to take home with me.  My 21-year-old brain was fascinated with the people I met. 

The internet was in its earlier stages and many people still read the newspaper in print form.  So, each Thursday I looked forward to walking on campus and picking up a copy of The Orion to find my name listed above my article.

A bad internship altered my career path.  

I loved journalism.  But my emphasis was in public relations, which I disliked immensely. 

One summer break, I did a 3 month internship at a celebrity public relations firm in Los Angeles.   I worked as an assistant to the the president of the firm.  He had me ghost writing about how he was like Abraham Lincoln.  If that sounds weird, it is because it was.  I hated it.  I felt used. 

At the end of my 3-month internship, I left Los Angeles feeling like I wanted go in a completely different direction.  As I drove back up to Chico to complete my senior year, I considered new career options.

As graduation etched closer, I also started wondering how I was going to survive financially out in the world.  The thought of paying my own way in the world and paying off my student loans filled me with worry. 

I went from inspired writer to salesperson.

After graduation I excepted a position selling medical equipment to hospital operating rooms.  I thought it was best to follow the path that I thought lead to faster money.  Frankly, it did. 

Soon I became enveloped in the business of medical equipment sales.  And unfortunately I didn’t write again for another 9 years.  

Medical device sales is an extremely competitive and stressful industry.   But I continued to work hard.  In fact, I was actually very good at my job.  I consistently exceeded my yearly quotas.  As a result I made more money every year, which made it harder and harder to move into other more clinical roles.  

I wanted to grow clinically and help my patients directly.

Those who know me, know that I’m not even the “salesy” type.  However, I did enjoy talking about medical equipment that could improve the quality of life for our patients or even be life-saving in some circumstances.   I didn’t realize it at the time, but what I really wanted was to be an actual healthcare professional who worked with patients directly. 

(On reflection, I am so am grateful for my time in medical sales and I want to go back to work on the business side of healthcare at some point.  My experiences have given me a much different perspective than many of my nurse peers.  Working in the medical sales industry gave me  valuable business and communication skills.  I met a lot of great friends with whom I still have close relationships with.  My organizational and time management skills are much more fine-tuned and I learned how to be a professional in the workplace.  I just think of myself as being a little more well-rounded now!)

Just for fun I toyed around with so many career ideas. 

I took an amazing photography class in Venice (I’ll be a professional photographer! Yay!).  I love practicing yoga so I thought becoming an instructor would be great fit (I’ll become the next big yoga guru!).  I I even considered becoming a professional dog walker at one point and started writing a business plan! (Dogs are awesome, what can I say?).  

After years of thinking about my professional future (and having several near mental breakdowns about it) I jokingly told my husband that maybe I should go back to nursing school.  He responded with something like “you can do anything you want, but please do something because you might lose your mind!”

So, I did.  And I have been working as a nurse at a major teaching facility for the last 6 years.

I went back to college for a second time.

After three years of nursing school I graduated with a bachelors of science in nursing and I had a whole new journey ahead of me. I began my career specializing on a neuroscience and stroke unit and earned certifications as a Stroke Certified Registered Nurse and Public Health Nurse. In 2017, I began a new phase in my nursing career as an emergency room RN.

I also complemented my practice by becoming an Urban Zen Integrative Therapist. My intention was to help treat my patients with a more holistic approach using yoga and in-bed movements, guided meditation, Reiki, and essential oils.  (I didn’t know at the time, but these were topics that I would write about frequently as a nurse blogger!).

An itch to write came back again.

A few years into my nursing career I had an urge to write again.   I missed the creatively I had when writing back in my early college days.  In addition, I wanted to create a more flexible career path for myself now that I am a busy mom with two great kiddos.  

I also really do have a passion for nursing.  I love that I help others for a living and I enjoy the mental stimulation I get at work during my 12 hour shifts.  Becoming a nurse has even helped me deal with the craziness of motherhood in some ways because it helps me distinguish things that I should be concerned with from things that are not a big deal.  (I have my time on a neuro science floor and as an ER nurse to thank for that!)

Becoming a nurse blogger was a logical next step.  I am having so much fun learning how to make and manage a website.  However, since I am already a busy ER nurse with two small babies I am very limited on time.  I only have 5-6 hours a week to spend on the blog.  But as my kids grow older and go to school the time will be there.  Until then, I will just keep chipping away at it after the kids go to bed in the evenings.   

A nursing practice can take many forms.

As I grow older (and hopefully wiser!) I am discovering that their are so many paths that nurses can take.  The sky really is the limit as long as you work hard and are open to continually learning new skills.

My goal is to create a career for myself were I can combine my journalism degree with my nursing knowledge and motherly experience.  This is the first “career” I have ever had where I didn’t have to fill out an extensive application and interview for the position.  For the very first time, I am warming to the idea of being my OWN boss.  And I really like it!

Never in a million years would my 21-year-old college-newspaper-writing- self would have guessed that I would be a nurse blogger.  But every experience I have had up until now has been an important stepping stone to this place.  And I have goosebumps just thinking about what I can make happen next.  Stay tuned for more…

Additional Reading: