It’s hard to believe I’ve been blogging since 2008 and make passive income from it to supplement my retirement. If you have a blog or want to start one, whether you are a Baby Boomer or an aspiring blogger of any age, I’ve created a list of blogging resources that I love and use.
You may want to bookmark these blogging resources for your reference as I update them occasionally. Hopefully, it will help you avoid making the blogging mistakes I did when I first started out.
Blogging Resources – to get you started on the right foot
- WordPress.org: This is the self-hosted version of WordPress the #1 Blog platform out there today. It’s different than WordPress.com, (hosted by WordPress) which has several limitations. The software for WordPress.org is free to use as well but you will need to purchase a hosting account to install it. (This will cost you somewhere around $100 or less per year) You can then install WordPress using your hosting account’s one-click installation program. There are thousands of WordPress themes and plugins that can be integrated with self-hosted WordPress and they can perform practically any function you can imagine.
- GoDaddy – I buy all my domains at GoDaddy because they are affordable and reliable although I prefer Bluehost to host my websites.
Your hosting account
- Bluehost: I always recommend Bluehost as a hosting account. In all the years I’ve been using it, I’ve been extremely satisfied. The interface is easy to use and they don’t clobber you with up-sells. Bluehost’s customer service has always outstanding for me. If you have more than one website, I recommend the Bluehost Pro account otherwise you can start with the basic plan and upgrade if you get more traffic. There are more expensive and faster hosts but for most people, Bluehost is all you need.
- MailChimp: MailChimp is an effective email marketing service that’s free for the first 2000 people on your list. They offer opt-in forms, broadcast emails, and RSS campaigns. For a small monthly fee, you can also add an autoresponder. The only issue with MailChimp is that they don’t allow you to put affiliate links in your email, but they have a great sense of humor.
Videos and Screenshots
You can increase your reach and traffic when you make videos. If you aren’t afraid of being on camera, go for it. It’s fun.
- TechSmith – Two tools I don’t want to be without are Camtasia for editing videos and Snagit for creating screenshots, editing photos, and recording short videos. It’s the best software out there and it’s fairly simple to use. You can create videos in a snap using Camtasia and send them directly to YouTube, Vimeo, or save the file as soon as you’re finished editing.
- Zoom – Host webinars, record and download video and audio, host conferences, meetings, and one-on-ones with your clients using this easy-to-use software. I have loved this site even way before the pandemic.
Schedule Time with Clients
- OnceHub – I don’t know what I would do without my OnceHub online scheduler. Clients can book meetings with me at times that work for both of us. It integrates into my Google Calendar (as well as several other calendars) and also, my Zoom account. You can also create a link or button to put on your website or your email so clients can book you directly from there.
- Paypal – Whether you want to get paid (with a custom button) or you want to pay someone else, it’s essential to have a Paypal account. and it’s free to sign up. Be sure to upgrade to Premiere, which is also free. It will also give you a QR code to request payment from people from your phone or you can send money to others.
- Freshbooks – This company has software that allows you to send out invoices that look professional if you are running a small business. You can easily set it up to match your company’s branding and it offers options to get paid. Send emails via email or snail mail. Freshbooks will also track expenses. It’s perfect for a business owner who wants cloud-based invoicing software that’s simple and attractive.
- Venmo – This is a very cool app to safely share payments on your phone. I’ve used it selling furniture, at garage sales, and even taco vendors. All you need to do is connect your bank account and you can send payments and transfer your money received instantly to approved merchants. You are given a profile address like @rebecca-olkowski and that’s all you need. No personal information is shared.
- Ko-Fi – This is another company that offers an easy way to collect donations on your blog. And there are no fees. They give you a code to insert in your blog that enables a small button to pop up asking to donate to buy you a cup of coffee. It’s great for artists, actors, podcasters, etc.
- Zellepay – This is another banking app. You can enroll on your online bank account like Chase, Wells Fargo and many other banks. All you need is an email address or mobile number to transfer money into another person’s account or receive it yourself.
Images & Photos
- Canva – Create social media graphics using templates and images. It has a free version but the paid version gives you amazing options. I use their platform constantly and even had gorgeous business cards printed out and mailed to my home.
- PicMonkey – Edit photos, resize them, and add text for free. I’ve been using this program forever for blog photos and to tweak my Instagram shots. Even though you can sign up and use it for free, I love the Pro version because it has so many great options.
- Colorcinch – This is another photo editing site in which you can do standard editing as well as turning images into cartoons, paintings, sketches and more. It’s pretty cool.
- Big Stock Photo – For licensed stock images I use Big Stock Photos. You can purchase a package of 25 images for $49 that you can use for blog posts or social media shares.
- Pixabay – Free images to download for bloggers.
- CanStockPhoto – Stock photography with no sign-up required at affordable rates.
- Fotosearch.com has an extensive collection of royalty-free stock photography, clipart, illustrations, and stock footage.
- MorgueFile – Also offers free images
- GoGraph Stock Photography – low-cost stock photography.
- Burst – Free stock photos powered by Shopify that can be used for commercial websites.
- Unsplash – Truly stunning free images, attribution not necessary.
- Pikwizard – Over 100,000 Free images on this site including plenty with people. You can use their design wizard when you download to enhance your image.
- Amazon Prime Photo Storage – You can get unlimited photo backup for full-resolution images with your Amazon Prime Account and 5 GB for Videos. Plus, you get all the advantages of Amazon Prime for streaming, shipping, books, grocery delivery, and more.
Important for bloggers – Make sure to create a gravatar.com account and attach your headshot to your email. That way your photo will show up in comments, on guest posts, and in other places on the Internet rather than a blank or weird avatar. It adds a personal touch and is essential for branding. Sign up for free with your WordPress.com account credentials. (also important even if you use self-hosted WordPress) It helps to power some WordPress plugins like Jetpack and Akismet)
Affiliate marketing and ad networks
If you have an active blog and are getting traffic, you can promote products from other companies and earn an affiliate commission. It’s free to sign up for an affiliate program and you get paid when someone purchases a product you promote.
For more income and the ability to apply for companies you love to do business with, the affiliate programs below give you more options and income opportunities. These are some of my favorites.
- Amazon Associates – This is one of the easiest programs to get started with, especially for affiliate beginners. Join Amazon’s associate program using your Amazon login. You can add text links, or create ads and widgets. Just FYI, they have cut commissions substantially for affiliate marketers.
- Linkshare – by Rakuten
- CJ Affiliate
Using a snippet of code or plugin that you install on your blog, you can run targeted ads on your site without thinking about it. Ad networks generally pay less than affiliate relationships unless you have major traffic. You also don’t have a personal relationship with the brands that come up, as you may with an affiliate, but can control categories you do not wish to appear on your site. Their artificial intelligence can pinpoint what a reader likes and dislikes and presents a unique set of ads on your site customized to that reader.
- Google Adsense – Make sure you have a Google account – (Gmail) You can apply for an Adsense account, add a code to your site, and ads will come up automatically. Or you can place scripts in particular places on your site so that ads only appear there. Most bloggers start out with Adsense and may graduate to other platforms if they meet blog traffic criteria.
- Ezoic – When you have traffic over 10,000 page views you will find you will make more money than with Adsense by using Ezoic. It can be implemented with the Ezoic WordPress plugin or by name server integration. This platform has evolved and their AI is extraordinary. Their customer service reps can walk you through the setup process.
Expert blogging advice
- The best WordPress Themes for Blogs – Here are some other suggestions for WordPress themes from a very reputable source, QuickSprout.
- How to Speed up WordPress – The speed of your site makes all the difference in your success as a blogger.
Tech-savvy tools for small business
Baby Boomers are running small businesses that they’ve had for decades or are pursuing new opportunities to supplement their retirement. Using online tools makes it easier and doesn’t use as much paper.
Do you love taking photos? I sure do, but I don’t want to get a pain in the neck carrying heavy equipment. When I travel, I always take a light camera in addition to my smartphone to get the best photos I can without the weight.
- Canon PowerShot – I’ve been using a Canon Powershot camera for several years now. I love it because it has an awesome zoom lens, is light enough to carry around when I’m traveling, and is affordable. Canon always makes great cameras. You can go more high-end with a larger camera like the Canon Rebel, with more bells and whistles, but I like that the SX540 is the perfect solution, and easy to use for those of us who aren’t professional photographers.
Having fast Internet and a good smartphone is important for tech-savvy Boomers. You want the fastest available to avoid frustration.
- Verizon Wireless – I’ve been using Verizon exclusively for decades now. It always gets THE BEST coverage and the technology is second to none. They will work with you to make sure you get the best plan for your needs.
Reading and listening to books
For those of you who love to read but don’t have room in your house for more books, enjoy your reading material on a device you can take anywhere.
- Kindle Oasis E-Reader – Graphite, 7″ High-Resolution Display (300 ppi), Waterproof, Built-In Audible, 8 GB, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers.
Protect your eyes while you work online
- Swanwick Blue Light Glasses – If you’re a tech-savvy Boomer and use electronics all day it can affect how you sleep at night. But you can alieve this by wearing glasses that have blue-light protection. Swannies by Swanick are the most scientifically-validated blue blockers on the market. Try them and see.
- Eyebobs – This company also sells blue blocking glasses and readers but I also love their sense of style.
This page was updated 12/2021.