How to set up a blog – what tools will you need to make it a success?

If you are serious about making money blogging, there are a number of tools that are indispensable, a few tools that are nice to have in the box and about 27 million tools that are completely un-necessary. This is a list of the tools that I consider vital to anyone’s success. I am not going to go into great detail with each one,but using this tool box is an effective way of time management when blogging for a living.
I am going to assume a certain level of knowledge on your part. This is not a beginners list. If you have never set up and made a blog or website – these will most likely mean nothing to you. But if you are an intermediate blogger – this is a good list. If you are an expert – you will already have your own list, and there may be something you can add to that list from this one.
I certainly recommend checking these out and then making your own decision as to what tools are appropriate for your own personal toolbox. Some of them are free; some of them are inexpensive; and some of them cost a lot of money. Where you are in your blogging career and what your long term goals are will determine which ones you need or desire. And of course – your reasons for blogging in the first place. There are many reasons to start blogging and not all of them are to do with making money, although that seems to be everyone’s obsession. It may well be that a blog is a convenient way to share photos with friends half way ’round the world, or an outlet for your unusual poetry or a way of venting anonymously.
Whatever your reasons for wanting to blog, it is certainly possible to get started blogging with very little money outlay, but at some point, if you are interested in doing it for money, you are going to need to outsource certain tasks and at another point you are going to need to look at your time management and determine which tasks they should be unless you are blogging for some private reason.

Blogging platforms/software

Free blogs that are hosted for you. You can start blogging for zero money outlay with any of these sites.

  • Blogger -Blogger is google’s very own platform – completely free to sign up and use.
  • WordPress.com – WordPress offers the best blogging software and makes money showing ads to your visitors. Also free.
  • Hubpages – Hubpages is slightly different and more a traditional web publishing platform – once again free and makes money using a revenue sharing model.

Paid Blogging Software

  • Semiologic – WordPress on steroids. I wouldn’t think about setting up a wordpress blog or CMS without using this software. I cannot recommend it enough. This site is built using it and the control over ad placements and CSS is amazing. Worth the $300 cost any day.

Finding a profitable niche/Keyword Research

  • The Keyword Academy$1 for the first month and then $33 a month for invaluable advice, networking and link building. Worth every penny and if you don’t think so after  a month – you are one dollar poorer. I can’t remember the last lesson I learned for a dollar.
  • Niche Horde$97 a year for an automatic niche/keyword finder that will knock your socks off.
  • Google Adwords keyword toolI am sure this needs no introduction to any but the beginner, still – just in case, here is the starting point for any search engine traffic assault. Find the level of search volumes, competition and cost per click on adsense for any keyword or phrase.
  • MSN adCenter Labs the MSN version of google’s keyword tool, but with added functionality. And who wants to rely solely on google?

Webhosting

There are some benefits to using the free blogs and websites available, but – on the whole – it is far safer to own your own domain and host your own websites on your own paid web hosting provider. There are millions of these companies offering webhostimg. I have not tried them all, but this is a list I can promise do a good job and will not actively rip you off:

You are probably going to want to use several different hosts to take advantage of interlinking sites using different IP addresses.

Affiliate and advertising programs

There are lots of ways to make money with a blog – but unless you are selling something – either advertising space or an affiliate product – you are going to struggle. This is a list of advertising and affiliates I have used. (At least the ones I am prepared to admit to.)

  • Google adsense. Contextual ads based on the content of your pages using a pay per click/impression model.
  • Clickbank. Affiliate sales model paying a commision based on the value of the sale. Wide range of products and a good reputation.
  • DoubleClick. This is google’s affiliate program.
  • Commission junction. Affiliate commissions.
  • Amazon. Affiliate commisions.
  • Pay Dot Com – Affiliate commissions. Excellent range of products – A few wonderful products and a lot of crap unfortunately. But – the good ones are worth finding amongst the dross and it works well with a paypal account.

Building incoming links

The strength of any webpage is determined first by the domain name and secondly by the amount of incoming links. Use these services to create incoming links to your website. I have listed the cost – if any – next to each service. Some of them – the free ones – just require work on your part. The others provide an automated or semi-automated service of some kind. I am always open to adding more to this list – if you are reading this and have a recommendation – drop me a line or leave me comment.

  • Ezine Articles – Although this has been overused to a large extent, still a good way of generating quality links to your site. Free to join, free to post and minimal quality restrictions. I usually submit at least 400 words per article.
  • Hubpages – Another free service. This one also offers revenue sharing (you get 60% of the page impressions) using google adsense, ebay and Amazon. Once again, I usually stick to 400 words minimum.
  • 1WayLinks – This is an inexpensive service – $47 per month. There is a requirement for you to add a wordpress blog to their netwprk, which will then have posts added to it. In return – you write blog posts that are linked to your own site and disseminated over their network of 3,000 or so blogs. It is up to you to write and “spin” the article.
  • Connect Content – This is a network of sites owned by various people. You add a link to one of their sites – they will add one to your site. Very inexpensive – $12 per month – or free if you are a member of the Keyword Academy.
  • Linvana – Superb service. You send them 100 word articles with one link in – they publish them out on their network of sites – all of which are “aged” and have pagerank. There are no limits to how many posts you can add, and I am very impressed so far. $147 per month – and worth every penny.
  • Unique Article Wizard – Another great service. You send them 3 version of the same article – they randomize it and post it to article directories. $67 per month.
  • Brute Force SEO – probably the best of all of these and will save you hours of time. Check out their video to see what I mean. $157 per month.
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