I use a variety of tools to make my website run fast, keep it online, and keep things running smoothly. Out of all of these options, hosting your mailing list offsite (not directly in your WordPress blog) would be my top recommendation.
Mailchimp: This was one of the first mailing lists I started with. I used it in the beginning when my email list was small because it was free up to the first 2,000 subscribers. For a long time, this has been considered the standard of email marketing. However, they haven’t been great at adding helpful tools in the past few years without charging extra for them. Just a side note, their free account does not include support.
Aweber: This is what I am currently using. I made the switch to Aweber when my email list started to grow. There’s a 30 day free trial period to test it out if you’re not sure. I found it very easy to use. They have more functions than Mailchimp and their support system is helpful.
Convertkit: The newest player in the email marketing world and quickly becoming a top choice by professional bloggers. What started out of a frustration over the lack of features on Mailchimp, this service is set to become the new standard. When compared to Aweber one of the key features is that Convertkit doesn’t charge for duplicate subscribers or unsubscribers. I’m actually looking at making the switch this year to Convertkit for that very reason.
Growing Your Email List
Now that you have your Email Marketer set up, you’re probably wondering how to grow your list!
One of the newest and hottest WordPress plugin tools I’ve been using is called PostGopher.
PostGopher: This is definitely a tool every blogger needs to be using! Once the plugin is installed this will turn any post or page into a lead magnet. Basically it creates a PDF version of your blog post and then makes a clickable button on your post like the example below. You can create this button to say whatever you want based on what type of blog you have.
Once someone clicks this to download they will be prompted to enter in their email address and they will be added to your list. This works with all top auto responders.
The beauty of this plugin is that once they have downloaded the PDF to their computer, there is a link inside the PDF that has an option to click back to your website if they wanted to go back and visit.
Not only does this create more people on your mailing list, but it also drives traffic back to your website!
Another way to help grow your list is to have a Landing Page on your website.
Landing Page Monkey: This is the new marketer friendly, page building platform that guarantees more opt-ins and less hassles. Your pages will look great in any browser on any device (including mobile & tablet) so you’ll be up and running fast!
Easy Recipe: This has been the recipe plugin I have used since starting my blog. It allows you to format your recipes for your site and search engines, as it helps your recipes become more searchable to sites like Google (one of our biggest traffic drivers). There is a free version to start with. I chose to upgrade to the Plus version because it had more options that I wanted.
VaultPress: Our go-to offsite backup plugin. The $5/month “lite” plan is sufficient for almost all needs. If you want hourly backups (instead of daily backups), go with the $15 “basic” plan. This helps ensure you never lose your valuable content.
Yoast SEO: Yoast SEO provides handy options for dealing with page titles, descriptions, and URLs. Yoast also includes customizable options that appear beneath every page and post editor which forcefully remind you to choose a keyword and encourage its use in the heading, page title, URL, content, and meta description of your posts or pages. You can also switch through the tabs to get a page analysis, customize some advanced robots.txt settings, and specify what information you want social networks to use.
The Genesis Framework: The Genesis Framework is what is currently running on Tastefulventure. With Genesis, you’re going to want to purchase the Framework ($59.95) along with a Child Theme (prices vary). It’s also possible to get a Genesis child theme custom designed.
Free Themes For WordPress: WordPress has thousands of free themes available if you’re not interested in purchasing a “premium” theme right away. It’s a great place to start if you’re looking to start your blog without spending a lot of money right off the bat. Be sure to do some research and check the theme’s rating before you download it and install it onto your blog. I would recommend looking for themes with a four or five star rating.
Social Media Tools
Viraltag: Pinterest. It’s a food blogger’s dream come true. The amount of traffic you can send to your blog through Pinterest is incredible. It’s also incredible how much time you can spend on Pinterest if you’re not careful. As a blogger, your primary focus should be on creating quality content for your blog. Viraltag makes it easy to quickly schedule pins for Pinterest saving you loads of time. You can also use Viraltag to schedule Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.