My Blogging Essentials or What I Use To Blog

Every now and then the subject comes up – What do I use to blog?  Let me give you a quick rundown of my blogging essentials:

WordPress.org - Here’s where it all starts.  WordPress.org provides the major framework for this site.  Without it I wouldn’t be able to set up a place where I could write and we could all communicate on the articles.  WordPress.org is free to download but you need a hosting plan somewhere else in order to get it up and running.

Storm On Demand - This is where I’m currently hosted.  What that means is I rent a kind of database/web parking lot space from them.  Storm On Demand “hosts” my files and makes it possible for the wordpress site to be seen on the web (that’s my best explanation at the moment).  They are part of the company Liquid Web.

If you are looking for hosting that’s less expensive (I’ve changes hosts and plans as my traffic grew) then take a look at BlueHost.

NameCheap - This is where I register my domain name.  See, you can’t just call yourself something.  You have to register the specific name and then point that name to your web host.

Genesis Theme from Studiopress - WordPress has many “themes” or site frameworks out there to help you design what your site will look like.  If WordPress.org is the car engine that runs everything then your theme is the body of the car (hope that makes sense).  I recently switched to Genesis – because of its ease of use, its updates, and the body of information out there to customize the site.  Genesis is robust on its own but what I especially like are the child themes you can get.

blog essentials

These are my absolute blog essentials.

Google – Google is always open for me.  I use email, docs, reader (where I read other blogs), calendar, search, analytics, adsense, Google+… Their products are awesome and the price is right (FREE).  From research to writing to communication, Google is essential.

Evernote – Evernote lets you take notes and such either online, via your desktop, or on your phone and syncs it all up into one search-able database.  I keep all sort of notes in Evernote like articles to read, sites to check out, and a whole slew of article ideas.  It is extremely useful and like Google, the price is right (free up to a certain memory usage which I’ve never come near).

Hootsuite – This is a recent discovery for me.  Hootsuite allows me to follow my Twitter and Facebook accounts in one place, rather than flip to different pages all the time.  It’s been a great way to stay on top of conversation and better share with my readers.

Skype – Most people know Skype for their internet phone service, which is great by the way, but did you know they have a great chat option as well?  You can set up a “room” and share it with like-minded people.  Best part — free!

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Dropbox – I’ve started using this recently since we have a couple of computers in the house and I could be using either.  It’s an online storage site, the “cloud” if you will.  You can access files you put in your Dropbox folder across a number of computers through their app or from their site.  There are even mobile app options.  If you use my Dropbox referral link to sign up we both get an additional 500MB of storage space (you start with 2G on the free plan, which I’m using).

Pen and paper – Yeah, I still like to rock it old school and keep notes in a notebook I keep by the computer.  It’s a simple spiral that I’ll use to jot down a quick idea or create a framework for an article.  My notebook is currently a school notebook from last semester that had a lot of unused pages (keeping it frugal).  For a pen I get a little finicky.  I need my pen to write smoothly every time and be there when I need it (that almost sounds creepy).  What I use is a Fisher Space Pen.  It’s real small when closed so I can carry it with me and it really writes when I need it.  And the ink lasts a while as well (going on my third semester with it).  If you get one make sure to get the clip so it doesn’t roll all over the place!

Those are pretty much the basics.  I could include my computer but you could probably guess I used one already (FYI, it’s a Mac).

If you have a blog what do you use? What essentials am I forgetting?

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Published or updated August 25, 2013.

Comments

  1. Great list of basics. Just started using Evernote myself.

  2. Nice list, I use many of the same, but do hosting at godaddy too, which is probably a mistake, but it seems like everyone is slow. At least my site has never been down.

    I use a TON of pen and paper, just scraps wherever I can find, which sometimes get lost but also are super handy. And when I’m on the go, I use my iPhone notepad. It syncs to my email, so it’s very convenient. I also have a google notebook account (closed to new signups) which is fantastic and easy to use.

    • Slow is relative for a hosting service. Have you checked into ways to speed up your site besides hosting (like implementing YSlow’s suggestions)?

      I’ve written notes all over everything too. Having a notebook nearby consolidates everything so I’m not losing the scraps anymore (or the kids aren’t grabbing them).

      I used to use Google Notebook but when they stopped developing it I switched to Evernote. There should be an app for Evernote on the iPhone, you should check it out.

  3. Cool, I haven’t heard of Evernote. Since Google is no longer developing Notebook, that might be something to check out.

    • It definitely has more functionality than GNotes had. It’s real useful and I think it’s worth a look. Besides, for most it’s free.

  4. Creative content!

  5. I also use WordPress.org for BFS and GoDaddy for the name, but I use Host Monster for web hosting. I do all of my writing directly in WordPress and make notes to myself at work via email to my BFS email address…all digital and I can continue all my writing with any computer with internet access. Plus it auto-saves often enough that I never just lose my work despite taking big breaks when work comes in or hubby comes home. :-)

  6. I moved from Bluehost to Servint VPS and couldn’t be happier.

    Few months ago I tested a few off line blogging softwares and found Microsoft Windows Live Writer to be the best of the bunch and cheapest. Yes, Microsoft, and yes, free! I can set it up to connect to multiple blogs, and from there it just works seamless. It is better than many of the recommended paid options (I tried a bunch of them).

  7. It’s probably not the most effective, but since I’m a database / spreadsheet geek – I use a simple Excel spreadsheet to list my blog posting ideas, along with a one sentence summary in one column and a category or categories in another column. I then use the OpenOffice Writer (free the last time I checked) to write my first drafts.

  8. I use go daddy for my domain, host gator for hosting, hired a designer, and wordpress as well.

  9. You know, it’s funny. Everything on your list is exactly the same that I”m using. WordPress, Media Temple, Godaddy, Google Apps, Thesis theme. I guess i don’t use Evernote. My post today I wrote about another few tools i use in tracking income and expenses for the blog – including outright.com small business accounting software.

    • That’s because I’m trying to be a super-blogger like you Peter!

      That was a great article. I went back to my spreadsheet and updated some things based on yours.

  10. I use wordpress and thesis too and love them both. But I use Namecheap for domains and Hostgator for hosting.

    I use a notebook to list post ideas too, but i aldo keep a Google Doc with the same info so I can access it anywhere.

    Just started using Evernote, and I’m thinking of investing in some kind of speech recognition software like Dragon.

    • I’ve thought about using my phone to leave voice notes but I can’t stand listening to my voice. I’d much rather write down my thoughts. that said, it’s taken some time to realize that I have to write all ideas down and that I won’t remember all of them.

      • I’ve left myself voicemails too if I was in the car or something and didn’t want to forget something.

        The voice software is actually for writing. Like you speak into a microphone and it writes in Word, Notepad, or even WordPress. It might help productivity wise. I’m thinking of Dragon Naturally Speaking, but we’ll see.

        • I know, I was just saying another voice suggestion. A voice recognition program is great if you use it. With the kids running around here half the time it probably couldn’t translate well!

  11. Hi-Thanks for suggesting evernote, I’ll have to check it out. I use most of the rest-I too have a notebook for ideas. The only problem with the notebook is that it keeps multiplying and now I have about 4 notebooks filled with ideas, as well as tons of ideas on delicious and on my thumb drive! :)
    Plus, such a good post, it’s going in my round up!

  12. Michael Beck says:

    Not enough can be said for good old fashioned pen and paper. Something about being away from the computer that frees your mind to think more creatively.

  13. I never heard of evernote, I’ll have to check them out! I also use WordPress and Thesis, but I use Hostgator for hosting. As of now I use MS Word Mobile 2010 on my phone to keep up with article ideas or brainstorming. I do think the voicemail idea is great for when I’m driving (I have Google Voice, so I’ll get a transcription).

    • Hmm, I have Google Voice but don’t really use it. I’ll have to re-visit it and see if I can find some uses for it.

  14. I use my agenda as a notebook when I’m not near my cell or a laptop. Evernote is fantastic.

  15. We use much of the above, including Evernote. I am often on different machines and have a writing partner, so we also use Dropbox and XMarks. Dropbox gives my partner and I place to drop files easily and pick them up anywhere else we happen to be. XMarks syncs the bookmarks on all of my machines so I can bookmark a page I like and come back to it easily.

    • I’ve hear a lot of great things about DropBox. I don’t have a use for it right now, but if I were moving across different machines like you or collaborating I’d definitely give it a try.

      I’ve used XMarks a little bit but not much. Again, this is another tool that’s great when you’re working on different machines.

  16. I just moved to Liquid Web from Blue Host. I’ve been really happy with the service so far. I use Headway for our theme, and I just started using Evernote, which is a pretty good tool. I also keep notes on my phone so I can capture my brilliant ideas as they come to me.

  17. Hello and thank you for the information.

    I retired in Feb. One of my goals was to start a blog. I found some very helpful bloggers on the Internet. One had written up a 10 chapter piece on how to start a blog. I followed the directions exactly and within a week, my blog, http://retireandrenew.com, was up and running. In the past 2 1/2 months, the site has been opened 1750 times.

    It is so important for bloggers to help others just starting out. I love the freedom of stating my thoughts and publishing them my self. And I love Word Press and Host Gator.

    Good luck.

    Lori Blatzheim

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