If blogging is your chosen project to help build your expertise and prepare for your career transition (like I talk about in my free ebook), you’ve some to the right place. Maintaining a blog is definitely a lot of work, but if you are up for the challenge there are lots of great resources to help you get started quickly. Some experts adhere hefty price tags to their guides and advice, but others offer it for free to help the blogging community and build their loyal tribe of readers.
I’ve consumed a huge amount of content over the past few years – probably too much. I’ve paid for courses, bought books, stalked blogs daily for the newest content, joined private Facebook groups and more. While it’s good to do your research, don’t do what I did and let the search for finding the perfect “how-to’s” overshadow your actual creation process.
To help you sort through all of the hullabaloo, I’m rounded up a list of my favorite gurus. Some will have free content and advice available, and there are additional purchase options should you so choose. So dig in, pick a couple favorites, and get to work. The best time to start is now – with a little help from your friends.
Links in this post denoted by an asterisk (*) are affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission (at no additional cost to you!) should you decide to purchase from these sites. I only promote products I 100% believe in + use myself.
The Content + Branding Guru:
Holy free content, Batman. Regina Anaejionu is quite possibly my favorite blogger, coach, guide, cheerleader, and ninja … EVER. She blogs over at byRegina and produces some of the most thorough and well-crafted (or as Regina always says, “epic”) content I have found. Bonus – it’s also accompanied by some sweet visual design.
To start, you’ll want to go to the main landing page and enter your email address to get her free 80-page guide titled 75 Ways to Help Your Brand Stand Out. Yes, you read that right – it’s a FREE 80 PAGE GUIDE – and it’s not fluff. This will prime you nicely for what to expect as a new Regina junkie.
Regina is the queen of free worksheets, workbooks, webinars, and guides. I have no idea how she has the time to do everything she does, but she’s smart. She puts just as much work into her free content (if not more sometimes) as she does the paid content. As a result, she has a massive, loyal following.
After you go through the previously mentioned branding guide, you can read through years worth of blog posts, maybe buy a couple additional workbooks ranging from $5-30, or sign up for one of her free (yes, again, free) courses.
One thing that I definitely recommend picking up if you have the spare change is Regina’s EPIC BLOG workbook* which is a one-year editorial planner for your blog content. Whether you’re an experienced blogger or just starting out, this content planner compliments all of her advice brilliantly and helps you stay organized.
The Blog Start-Up + eBook Guru:
After her home decorating and craft blog took off, Abby Lawson decided to add a different type of DIY content to her offerings. She wrote an eBook titled Building a Framework: The Ultimate Blogging Handbook* and later created a complimentary blog with the same name. The book and accompanying course material was recently reworked and became available for purchase again on March 7th. She really outdid herself this time with the new content upgrades and I’m so excited for her. I love seeing how brands evolve over time!
It’s a really great quick-start guide that touches on all the “big stuff” you need to consider when launching: technical set-up information, content, blogger relationships, social media, monetization, sponsorships, product creation, email list building, and time management.
The blogger’s success selling an eBook about blogging then presented another opportunity – why wouldn’t the now eBook author create a course about writing an eBook? It’s genius really. If you’re interested in writing eBooks for your own site, Amazon, iBooks, Kindle, etc, I highly recommend looking into the Book Boss* course. If you’ve never purchased a course for blogging or professional development, you might have a little sticker shock when you see the $297 price tag. I can assure you, there are plenty of courses out there that are much more expensive and not nearly as comprehensive. Book Boss is comprised of video tutorials organized by concentration in eight modules. Each video is under 30 minutes, so you can either set aside a chunk of time to work or just do a little bit each day. Free worksheets are included to write down your notes as you move through the material.
Abby was previously a school teacher, so she’s a natural at presenting the information in a way that is easy to understand and implement. Her voice is very friendly and soothing (like many teachers) without coming across as patronizing. Her hubby, Donnie, takes the wheel for the more technical sections of the course and also does a great job at breakdown some tougher topics.
The Marketing Gurus:
I am a YUGE (huge) fan of Hubspot for all things marketing and sales. They have separate blogs on each subject to help you zero in on the content most relevant to you. They also have many, many downloadable ebooks (of which I have a mini library) that dive even deeper into some of the more complex topics. Larger organizations may want to utilize their marketing software. For those with a smaller venture, the free CRM and free sales software packages have some pretty kick ass features if you’re running your own shop or selling digital products.
The Organization Gurus:
The CoSchedule blog and complimentary resource library might just be my favorite reads right now. CoSchedule is actually a content management system with a monthly subscription fee. When you get to the point where you need this sort of program, I think it is a fabulous option. I’m trying to convince my full-time employer how badly we need this! Until then, they’ve got you covered from content brainstorming to creation to planning to scheduling. Consider them your one-stop-shop for learning about generating and delivering the best content possible – for free!
The Affiliate Gurus:
Tasha Agruso + Ruth Soukup
Want to make a little cash from your blog without running spammy ads all over your website? Affiliate marketing is a great way to accomplish this, and the only method I’m using at the moment. At no additional cost to the reader, affiliates for different programs can receive a percentage of sales generated when they link to products they’d like to promote.
A word of caution here – don’t start a blog and plan to just affiliate link the hell out of every post for every single item on sale around the internet, and don’t promote something because of the percentage you can earn. To truly leverage affiliate marketing, you need to build trust with your readers and let them know that a) you’re getting a little cash if they purchase on your recommendation and b) you only promote products that you use yourself and believe in. Did you see my disclosure under the post’s featured image?
Readers will be able to quickly pick up on the fact that you’re only writing and linking to things to make money off of them if this is the case, and that’s a surefire way to turn off your audience. I learned this and so much from Tasha Agruso’s book Affiliate Marketing for Bloggers*. << Yes, this is an affiliate link. I’ve been following Tasha for quite a while now. She’s another blogger that had great success with her personal decorating blog and decided to branch out with her product offerings and teach others her tricks of the trade. The first version of her book was chock-full of both technical how-to’s and best practices, but the second edition really blew me away. Having purchased this and used it myself, I am definitely comfortable sharing her affiliate link with you!
Tasha also writes that one of her mentors was Ruth Soukup, author of How to Blog for Profit: Without Selling Your Soul*. Since I love me some Tasha, I took her advice and bought this one too. So much to read, so little time! While Tasha’s book focuses more on the “how,” Ruth’s focuses more on the “why.” It’s a great deep dive into the theory and best practices of when to use (and not to use!) affiliate marketing.
The Writing Gurus:
CopyBlogger + Jon Morrow
When will the free resources from experts stop?! Nevaaa!
Seriously, sometimes it can get overwhelming, but we’re almost near the end.
CopyBlogger’s tagline is “words that work.” I suppose they could have fallen under the first category of “content” above, but their focus is actually on helping improve your writing style. Visit their blog for the latest, but don’t forget to create your free account in my.copyblogger for access to their free eBooks, free member forums, free webinars, free chocolate … Okay, there’s no chocolate, I just wanted to see if you were still paying attention – but seriously, this is an extremely valuable resource that you pay for with only your email address.
Jon Morrow is the founder of SmartBlogger, a site you should definitely add to your RSS feed. Jon writes incredibly valuable content (which you get to read for free) and has really great guest bloggers. His writing is funny and blunt, for example one of my favorite recent articles is 20 Ways to Be Just Another Mediocre Blogger Nobody Gives a Crap About. SmartBlogger has fantastic long-form content, so don’t skim over the articles and expect to get the full benefit of the subject matter. Grab your coffee (or wine) and enjoy the posts fully. You just might learn a thing or twenty.
Q: What are your favorite blogging resources?
Are you already a fan of any on the list? Share your thoughts and contribute to the conversation with your must-haves that I missed! 🙂