The 4 Essential Apps For Starting A Blog
I used four apps to create this website.
Two of them are free - WordPress and MailChimp (MailChimp is free until you reach 2000 subscribers).
For the other two, I pay an annual subscription fee. These are Wealthy Affiliate and Thrive Themes. These two apps have saved me so much time and provide so much value, I’ve never considered changing. Here’s why.
Creating an income-generating website doesn’t have to be expensive, but it’s not going to be free either. You can create a website for free but it probably won’t look professional and you’ll quickly outgrow its limited features.
Moreover, if something is free, it generally comes with zero support. You end up wasting your time searching Google for answers. Paying for the proper tools for the job saves you time and allows you to focus on creating content. And creating content is the key to making money online.
Together, these four apps cost me a little over what I pay in subscriptions fee for Netflix and Spotify.
If you need any help with any of the terminology used in this article, download this useful cheat sheet.
Wealthy Affiliate (WA)
Before you can create a website, you need a Domain Name and a Hosting provider.
Wealthy Affiliate do both of these things for me. They have a simple click-through process to buy a domain name and install WordPress on their hosting platform. It couldn’t be easier.
I get the same premium features that all good hosting companies provide - an SSL certificate, company email, security against malware and automated website backups. It’s all taken care of. If I have any issues, I shoot them an email. They have 24/7/365 support.
WA is not the cheapest hosting company out there, but you should never be sold on cheap hosting. Their pricing is structured to compete with other premium hosting providers such as Bluehost, A2Hosting and SiteGround. WA have 3 payment options: monthly, 6 monthly or annually. An annual subscription at $359 USD offers the best discount, a saving of $229 compared to paying month by month.
Wealthy Affiliate, however, are not a traditional hosting provider, hence their name. They provide much more than just hosting.
WA tailor their product to people wanting to make money from their website. They provide beginner and advanced video tutorials in affiliate marketing. They have weekly live webinars. And the subscription includes access to Jaaxy - the excellent SEO keyword research tool. All these additions add considerable value. But, there is one other reason, above all others, why WA beats the competition hands down.
I pay the premium for WA because it gives me access to their community. You see WA have over 1,000,000 subscribers and I intend use this to my advantage. I will post a link in the community forum to every article I write and every YouTube video I produce.
Of course, not all 1,000,000 WA subscribers will view my articles. But, let’s be conservative and say 1% decide to take a look. That’s 10,000 page views. Let's say I write 10 articles a month that’s 100,000 page views. That’s before any other traffic from Social Media and Google.
Moreover, when I post in the WA community I'll ask for feedback and suggestions. I'll be getting advice from some top Affiliate Marketers. If I had to pay for this advice, it would cost me much more than my subscription fee.
You tell me how else you can reach 1,000,000 people, other than through paid advertising or by waiting for your page to index?
I don’t know of any other Hosting company where you can come out in profit but I believe it is possible with Wealthy Affiliate. You can try the WA platform for free, forever, with no obligations. This is my affiliate link - if you decide to become a premium member I will earn a royalty. If you sign-up, you can find me in the WA community under anthony-foa. Let's help each other to succeed!
So, that’s the domain name and hosting of your website solved (not to mention the free page views). Now let’s look at the second app I use, WordPress.
Even if you’ve never considered creating a website, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of WordPress. WordPress is probably the most widely used platform for building websites. It achieves this lofty status because (A) it’s excellent and (B) it’s free. This is both a blessing and a curse. As we’ve already said, if something’s free, you can forget being able to call a number or write an email to get help. It’s the same with WordPress. There is a ton of information online, but you’ll quickly get lost down an endless rabbit hole.
If your house is your website, then WordPress is the cement slab - the foundations. And, hands down, it's the best platform for building a blog-style site. But, you still only have a slab with no house.
The design features for building your site are extremely limited in WordPress. Everything else, such as creating buttons and creating email forms, rely on 3rd party plug-ins. Plug-ins can be a pain. Why? Because you end up using a multitude of different plug-ins from a variety of different developers. They all have their own pricing structures and varying levels of support.
The answer to this headache is Thrive Themes.
Thrive Themes makes creating websites easy. You can use their pre-designed templates or start from scratch. You choose elements you want to add by dragging them to the page.
My homepage uses a Thrive Theme template, which I was able to finish in less than an hour. No coding or design skills required. Want to add a button? Just click and drag. Want to add an email sign-up box? Click-and-drag. Add a whole membership section or online course? Click-and-drag! Thrive Themes is the easiest, cheapest and most painless way to get up and running.
Doing the same thing for free or by using different plug-ins, will lead to frustration and likely end in failure.
As with WA, Thrive Themes have a team of support staff you can email for help. They’ll log into your website and fix the issue themselves or point you in the right direction. They have a whole host of how-to videos explaining how to use their apps. There is also the Thrive Theme University. A set of video tutorials teaching you how to market your site and increase revenues.
Thrive Themes is $228 USD for an annual subscription and access to all their plug-ins, including updates and support.
Alternatively, you can purchase their individual plug-ins for a one-off fee. Thrive Architect is the main plug-in for creating your website and I would recommend starting with this one. It's a one-off cost of $67 with 1 year support. (I'm not affiliated with Thrive Themes).
The final piece of the puzzle is MailChimp. MailChimp is an email auto-responder. It captures the email addresses of people who subscribe to your website or sign up to an offer on your website. In turn, you use the auto-responder to send out emails to your list of subscribers and create sales funnels. Email marketing is the most critical tool in your revenue generating arsenal.
I'm with MailChimp for the same reason why I’m recommending it. It’s free until you reach 2000 subscribers or you send out more than 12,000 emails a month. That’s a lot of subscribers or emails for a newbie.
Email marketing can be as complex or as straightforward as you want to make it. There are all sorts of statistics you can track. Open Rates and Click Rates are the most common. They refer to how many recipients open your email and click the offer within your email.
You can automate split tests to help improve these rates. For example, say you have 1000 subscribers. You want to send out an email with an offer and have two Subject heading in mind. The auto-responder will split test which heading performs best. It does this by sending 100 subscribers the email. 50 will receive the first heading, the other 50 will receive the second heading. Your remaining 900 subscribers will receive the email that performed best.
I'm only advocating MailChimp over other auto-responder vendors because of the free tier. I've never taken the time to compare different vendors. MailChimp is a good opportunity to get familiar with the process of email marketing. It also integrates seamlessly with Thrive Themes, and I love to keep things simple.
You can sign up for free here. (I'm not affiliated with MailChimp.)