Blogging Resources for Beginners

Today, I'm sharing several blog planning resources I've used over the past several months to get my blogging butt in gear and make Journey Mercies organized. If you're a new blogger, recently "recommitted" one, or just looking for some new tools to revamp your blog, you will probably find something here that you love. These are all resources I have enjoyed using as I've recently become more intentional in my blogging.

And if you have any tools you have enjoyed using, let me know in the comments below!

I'm always looking for new schedules/calendars/goal-planning-sheets...makes my form-lovin'-heart happy. If you're not a blogger, I encourage you to browse through this list - I make several recommendations that have also been helpful in other areas of life, not just blogging. You might find something you need!

Websites

The Influence Network

I would be completely remiss if I didn't talk about the Influence Network - an online community of faith-filled women who are pursuing Jesus and putting the Gospel out there, both online and in real life. It's for bloggers, handmade shop owners, creatives, and any woman who wants their online presence to make a difference. They offer monthly classes about faith, relationships, business, and writing, as well as discussion forums for members and a yearly conference. Joining Influence last fall was one of the best decisions I made, both relationally and as a writer. I have made friends that I've actually met in person and been encouraged so much in my faith.

Of any resources I mention, this is my top one I'd recommend checking out!

DesignYourOwnBlog.com

I stumbled across DYOB tutorials a while back, and as someone trying to design a blog on a budget, it has been so helpful. Marianne has loads of free tutorials, links to cheap or free resources (like her recent treasure trove of free public domain photos to use on blogs), design tips, a free e-book, and more! I recently used her tutorial to make a favicon for Journey Mercies (the little image next to the web address), and thanks to her tutorial, it was easy to walk through the process.

Bonus website - The creators of Canva.com recently sent me a link to 74 websites with awesome free images to use in your blog posts - and it is pretty extensive! Check out the list here!

Planners & Goal Setting

Powersheets by Lara Casey

I've written a blog post about Lara Casey's Powersheets, which you can read here for more in-depth information. These are not just for bloggers; they are for anyone who wants to make things happen in their lives. Powersheets help me keep the big picture in focus - why I blog, what I want to accomplish through my writing, and how to get there. I also use them for goals in my personal life - spiritual growth, relationships, and others. 

You can check out the Powersheets here.

HowTheyBlog Planning Kit by Kat Lee*

Kat Lee is seriously one of my favorite people online. She has two websites that you need to check out - InspiredtoAction.com for mothers (resources and podcasts to help moms become inspired and excited about their lives) and HowTheyBlog.com (HTB) for bloggers (interviews with popular bloggers and resources for better blogging). Both websites have tons of free downloads, as well as weekly podcasts that I love to listen to for a daily dose of biblical inspiration.

Kat recently revamped her HTB Planning Kit and I am in love. I've been using her kit for several months, which has tons of helpful forms - daily, weekly, and monthly calendars; stat tracking and expense spreadsheets; and goal planning worksheets to help you figure out where you want to be in a year or five years with your blogging. It's basically everything you need for your blog in one simple (and well-designed) package.

You can check out the planning kit here - and make sure you check out her podcasts and other resources while you're at it!

Editorial Calendars

The past few months, I've been trying to make an editorial calendar. I sit down, think and pray about what I want to write about in the coming weeks, and schedule out blog posts for every month. Ninety percent of the time, I don't follow it exactly - I end up moving posts around or getting spontaneous inspiration. But it has helped me to sit down and have a plan every week of what I want to write about.

The HowTheyBlog planning kit has daily, weekly, monthly, and annual calendars. But here are some others if you're looking for a free resource.

In the past, I used a free downloadable monthly calendar from MissTiina.com that is cute and colorful. It has space at the bottom to write in notes about post ideas I may have for the month. I write them in, then later, schedule them on the days that work for me. She has two versions, horizontal or vertical - the vertical version has editable boxes, so you can type in your posts on the computer, instead of printing it and hand writing them in.

For yearly planning, I made my own printable for an overview of 2014 - a way to pencil in series ideas, things that will go well in certain months, etc. For example, if in February I think of a great idea for May, I have a place to put it, and it gives me a head start on the month.

You can download the yearly overview for free by clicking here.

Books About Blogging

How to Blog for Profit Without Selling Your Soul by Ruth Soukup*

The first few chapters hooked me - and it wasn't about making money it all. Ruth talks about practical ways to organize your blog, focus on topics that matter, and build your audience. And when she finally gets into making profit in the second half of the book, you've already built a foundation that will be easy to build on as you look into advertising, sponsorship, and other money making avenues. It's a great introduction to newbies on how to make a profit without sacrificing quality or your main purpose in writing online.

The No-Brainer Blog by Hayley Morgan

Hayley Morgan is one of the founders of the Influence Network and blogs over at thetinytwig.com. She created an e-book that has simple, practical tips on blog design, writing clearly, developing a plan and vision, and managing social media and income revenues. Her book includes planning worksheets, including post outlines that are helpful in writing out clear content. There is so much information out there about how to blog. Hayley simplifies it down into what you really need to know to get started on a successful online presence.

These are all resources that have been helpful and inspiring to me in my blogging journey.

And I'm always looking for more! What has helped you get your blogging butt in gear and make things happen online?

*Note: Affiliate links used. Full disclosure here.