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The One Secret Blogging Resource For Success:
Blogging is first and foremost about hard work, fulfilling a need, and providing value to your community. Most importantly, you must engage with and build a trusted audience.
What does this community come to you for? What are you the expert in? Have you ever asked them?
My best advice will always be: be authentic, be sincere, stand out, and niche your site. You have to be in this for your audience — for that community. You have to provide value.
I started The Uncorked Librarian as a hobby blog during graduate school. In late summer 2018, I decided to go all-in and turn The Uncorked Librarian into an LLC.
I envisioned putting my MLIS to work as an online librarian and content curator. I wanted everyone to have access to their own tipsy digital librarian.
It wasn’t until the middle and of 2019, though, that I truly learned how to blog. This involved taking courses, building my core community, and learning who I was serving.
I could study and mimic all of the top bloggers that I wanted, but none of that would help me without creating my own unique space on the Internet.
So, what helped me achieve high engagement, getting accepted into a competitive ad program like Mediavine, and finding my true niche? Below are the blogging resources I find most helpful and recommend on TUL.
Special Blogging Discounts For You
As a full-time book and travel blogger with two sites, I use only the best services. These are a few special blogging discounts to get you started:
- Thinking about enrolling in a complete and affordable Blogging 101 course? Use the code UNCORKED40 for 40% off this comprehensive blog training guide→
- If you are looking to make beautiful graphics for your blog, Pinterest, and Instagram, I love Canva Pro. Try Canva Pro for free here→
- If you want to start a newsletter with gorgeous templates, landing pages, and forms that convert to clicks, grab 50% off of Flodesk here→
- Looking to up your SEO game and have more people read your blog by finding you in Google searches? I use Keysearch for SEO research. Use the code KSDISC for 20% off Keysearch here→
- If your site is running slow and a tad clunky, you might need a little help like I did. P.S. Google punishes sloth-speed websites. Or, do you want someone to set up your site for you? I recommend Aamir from WPGeared. Tell him Christine, The Uncorked Librarian, sent you, and he’ll give you 5% off of his services as well as priority. You can email Aamir directly at [email protected]
I highly recommend self-hosting with SiteGround. I pair SiteGround with WP .org.
Not only do I use SiteGround for The Uncorked Librarian, but they also host Uncorked Asheville, my second site. I’m on their largest plan and have renewed for three more years with them.
SiteGround allows you to:
- Monetize your blog with ads and affiliates
- Control plugins, features, and functionality
- Spend less money: Their starter package begins at $6.99 a month.
- Achieve faster-loading speeds; they also have an Optizimer and cache plugin
- Store photos with extra space
- Create a custom domain email like hello [at] theuncorkedlibrarian [dot] com
- Feel safe knowing that you have 24/7 online support. I once crashed my site with an update. They restored it in less than 3-minutes.
- Back-up your site daily for FREE without extra plugins.
SiteGround has taken my blog to the next level through better SEO ranking and allowing me to place ads and links wherever I wish.
My site is rarely, if ever down, and I know when I need them, they are instantly there for me.
Blog Themes We Love
WordPress offers a variety of free starter themes. When I migrated over to SiteGround and WP .org, I decided to invest in a new blog theme.
When picking a blog theme, you want to ensure that it works well on mobile devices, tablets, and desktop computers. You also want a theme to match your abilities for coding, customizations, and the potential to make changes.
StudioPress (that works with the Genesis Framework) is great, too, with a variety of beautiful themes that are mobile-friendly, clean, and diverse.
Plugins We Use In Moderation
When I first started blogging, I didn’t realize HOW MUCH plugins slow down your website. While plugins help you add features — especially when you suck at coding — they are bulky. Limit the number of plugins you use.
Search engines, like Google, will penalize your website if it takes a long time to load. You want small pictures and fast loading speeds. Because plugins are sometimes made by third-parties, they also get hacked and cause security risks.
I also HIGHLY recommend getting rid of Jetpack. Everything it provides, you can do on your own.
Yoast SEO Or Rank Math (Free Versions)
Yoast is free and helps you rank higher in Internet searches and learn how to best keyword and optimize your posts. Don’t chase those green dots, but generally, listen to it.
Shorter sentences, two to three sentenced paragraphs, and text broken up with more headings are especially essential for mobile device readers. TUL has mostly mobile readers. You also want a catchy, keyworded title and meta description.
While I started on Yoast, I now use Rank Math, which is also free. Rank Math is a little more in-depth and focuses less on sentences and more on keywords. It tracks more than one keyword, too. I prefer Rank Math, but both SEO plugins are great.
I also pay for a SEO research tool, Keysearch. Keysearch shows me which keywords I should aim for in my blog posts — both by difficulty to rank and search volume. Use the code KSDISC for 20% off Keysearch here→
Anti-Spam and Wordfence
Protect your site from hackers, and block spammy comments. Both Anti-Spam and Wordfence are free plugins. I know people who also use Askimet instead of Anti-Spam.
For security, I also use the plugin Change WP-Admin Login. Bots and hackers know that the admin login for WP sites is traditionally the site URL/wp-admin, making it easier for your site to get hacked. This light and free plugin will let you change the URL for your login.
SG Optimizer Or WP Fastest Cache
If you self-host with SiteGround, you can use their SG Optimizer. This plugin clears caches and data that are slowing down your site. SG Optimizer also compresses pictures for faster loading times.
I prefer WP Fastest Cache, which requires a little more work and setting tweaking.
Grammarly On Your Desktop/Chrome Extension
You can download a free version of Grammarly not as a website plugin but as an internet extension in Chrome. Grammarly is like MS Word’s spellcheck. Check your spelling, writing mistakes, and grammar in blog posts.
A few more plugins that we use:
- Create by Mediavine for our literary recipes
- Grow by Mediavine for social sharing
- WP DB Cleaner to clean-up behind the scenes
Blog Newsletter & Emailing
Around the 1st and 15th of the month, The Uncorked Librarian sends out a newsletter with updates, blog posts, and book suggestions not always featured on the blog. TUL uses Flodesk. Grab 50% off Flodesk here→
You want to build a strong emailing list because unlike social media platforms, you own that list. U.S. laws require that you put your physical mailing address on the bottom of every email. I recommended getting a P.O. Box. Ours is $9.99 a month.
This is an example of an opt-in form with a freebie promise using Flodesk:
Successful mailing lists provide value and draw in readers with a lead magnet such as a freebie or special course. You can offer challenges, discounts, or a printable guide. You also want opt-in forms on the top and bottom of your blog along with the sidebar and in relevant posts.
Is your blog legal and following all guidelines and regulations for both the U.S. and other countries’ visitors that frequent your site?
Protecting your blog and content is equally important. You also have to follow FTC guidelines in the US, know CAN-SPAM rules, think about GDPR, and be careful with data management. Intense, right?
Plus, you don’t want to break any rules or regulations or, let’s face it, get sued. And yes, bloggers get sued. Free online templates do not cover you, either. I started that way, too — yikes. Why tempt fate?
Blogging Resources Worth The Investment
Do you want to see my dirty laundry? As you know, having a speedy site that uploads in under 3 seconds is a huge deal if you don’t want search engines like Google punishing you.
Well, get ready to see my site speed before hiring a developer…
Yup, after a few years, TUL needed some serious clean-up. While I know that I could learn about site speed optimization from books and courses, I decided that I’d rather save my time and frustration and hire a professional. Worth it!
You want to pick someone that you trust: you are basically giving them full admin access to your site and hosting files. I trust and use Aamir from WPGeared. Aamir had my site cleaned up in a few days, and it is still running quickly. He’s incredibly easy to work with and has also helped me out with the last WordPress update when my site went wonky.
Aamir can also set up your site for you and help with technical difficulties. If you tell Aamir that Christine, The Uncorked Librarian, sent you, he’ll give you 5% off of his services as well as priority. You can email Aamir directly at [email protected]
A few of my blogging friends used him and were thrilled with their results, too.
Blogging Tools We Use For Social Media
Tailwind is TUL’s number one scheduling tool for Pinterest and maintaining blog traffic.
I schedule about 10-20 pins a day via Tailwind, taking advantage of Tailwind Tribes and board lists. Tailwind also gives bloggers in-depth analytics about board performance, blog traffic, and engagement.
Tailwind pins for you during your personal peak times on Pinterest, which could be when you are asleep. I could not keep up pinning without it.
The Number One Pinterest Course We Recommend
I reached over 6.9 million monthly Pinterest views and achieved thousands of daily pageviews with this Pinterest course. While 6.9m is also a vanity number, it does equate to more eyes on my pins and overall more engagement and click-throughs with my content.
Ell’s course teaches you how to brand your Pinterest account, pin daily, and make new pin designs. She talks about manual pinning as well as using Tailwind.
You also purchase the course ‘for life,’ including all updates. I love that she updates her course with every Pinterest algorithm change.
Check out TUL’s Pinterest account here→
Facebook’s Free Business Scheduler
Facebook Business accounts have FREE automatic schedulers built into the platform. The FB algorithm works in your favor when you publish consistently.
Blogging Resources We Love For Graphics
Canva has a free and paid version. TUL uses the Pro version of Canva to create appealing Pinterest pins and featured blog post pictures.
Travel In Her Shoes Presets
It’s not a secret that I don’t love editing blogging and Instagram pictures, and I suck at it. I am also not a photographer. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
I love Aggie’s presets, and she has a ton to choose from. If you’ve ever seen my IG account, this is my savior.
Blogging Resources & Courses
I highly recommend investing in your blog and self-growth. Algorithms, the internet, and information change constantly. You don’t want to get left behind or stagnate.
Each year, I actively seek out new blog training courses to learn and grow from the pros. Discover more about SEO, Pinterest marketing, and productivity from huge bloggers making full-time salaries. Find inspirational books and podcasts in our recommended blog training courses article→
Blogging Resources For Book Bloggers
As a double niche blogger with two websites, I work hard to create travel-related and bookish posts. If you are just starting a book blog, don’t miss our comprehensive Book Blogging 101 post→
Each niche involves a specific type of blogging and style. I use multiple affiliate programs and market my content differently per category.
Here are a few of our top posts with book blogging tips:
- Ultimate Book Blogging 101 Guide For Beginners
- 7 Book Affiliate Programs To Make Money Book Blogging
- Beautiful Bookstagram 101: Instagram For Book Bloggers
- 70 Engaging Book Blog Post Ideas To Keep Readers Coming Back
- Photoshop 101 For Book Bloggers
More In-Depth Blogging Resources and Tools For Everyone
If you are looking for articles and blog posts to help you take your blog to the next level, check out my most popular and highest performing blogging resources on The Uncorked Librarian below.
Turn Your Blog Into A Business
How To Make Money Blogging
Learn how to use affiliate links as a book blogger, and explore 7 book affiliate programs.
Blogging Legally and LLC Status
Bloggers need to protect their private assets from the moment they start putting opinions on paper and monetizing their site. Applying for LLC status is one way to separate your personal wine fund from your blogging business — big or small. Discover the easy process of registering your blog as an LLC. Find tips on how to make money blogging.
The cliche goes that “imitation is the strongest form of flattery,” right? But when do inspiration and overlap become plagiarism and copyright infringement? After a rogue book blogger decided to steal posts from TUL and other bloggers, I jumped to action.
Find out how to legally protect your blog and content. If a blogger copies your work, find out what you can do.
Advanced Blogging Tips and Tricks
Are you blogging your behind off to no avail? Discover these 5 tips and tricks to increase blog traffic, immediately. Find suggested courses, the best schedulers, and learn how Pinterest can completely transform your blogging game plan. See how I steadily grew my blog traffic.
Looking for more than just what plugins to use? Are you beyond the point in your blogging career where you don’t need to hear about consistency, self-hosting, and plugins? This post is for you!
TUL asked a diverse niche of bloggers to share some of their not-so-average blogging tips for advanced or stuck bloggers. Find blogging truth bombs about DA, social share threads, social media, and more about not writing for the masses.
Blogging is tough, and I always encourage staying up-to-date and learning more from professionals. See which blogging training courses we’ve taken and recommend.
Advanced Social Media Tips For Bloggers
Instagram is a frustrating platform filled with ever-changing algorithms and brands that take advantage of smaller bloggers and micro-influencers. Learn what your time, platform, and voice are worth. Understand how not to fall prey to Instagram scams.
Be Sure To Check Back For Updates And Additional Blogging Resources
Lastly, if you have any questions, never hesitate to email Christine at hello [at] theuncorkedlibrarian [dot] com. We update our blogging resources frequently, too.