My Blogging Setup
What I’m Reading
Table of Contents
These are my go to resources I use for everything from websites, to maintaining good health. Some links below may be affiliate links where I get referral credit to some of the companies I recommend, at no extra cost to you (and sometimes you even get my discounted rate by using them!) Use the quick links section to jump to the section you’d like to see.
These days anyone can whip up a website or a blog in no time flat. But making it look good is another story altogether! Here are my go to products and services I use to make better looking sites, modern designs, and quality hosting. If you need help with step by step tutorial, check out my how to section.
Domain Name Registrars
Namesilo is by far my favorite domain name registrar. They have the easiest to use interface on the planet, and the best renewal pricing with whois privacy included with no bullshit hassling with coupons. Excellent service to boot!
Godaddy used to be my favorite registrar, but the service isn’t quite as good as Namesilo. I still use them however, and keep several hundred domains registered there. However, their coupon codes are becoming more sparse these days, and if you’re just starting out it would be better to take advantage of a free domain offer from a hosting company, such as Bluehost or Liquidweb.
Bluehost is great for beginners wanting to get their feet wet with a blog or website. If you take advantage of one of their deals, you get a free domain name with multiple months of hosting purchase… which makes it come out to the cheapest monthly option you’ll find anywhere. Easy one click wordpress installs, no fooling with dns management to get your domain to propagate, and instant setup mean there’s no waiting time between buying and being online. Follow this tutorial here for setting up your first blog.
Liquidweb is my go to hosting company for mission critical stuff, and I highly recommend them if you’re looking for a top quality host with the best phone support in the industry. If you already have a website with traffic, or need bare metal or cloud based dedicated servers, this is the place to go. I’ve been a customer for years, and the very website you’re reading right now is hosted with them… as well as hundreds of others.
The platforms on which my website have been built over the years has changed dramatically. These days, I typically use a popular CMS to build my sites on (especially with all the great templates out there) so I spend more time actually working ON the project, rather than IN the design. That’s a time wasting cycle that’s kept me from being successful at particular projects many times over, so I rarely design anything bespoke from scratch anymore. Besides, with as much talent there is on these template supplying sites now, there are designers far better than I that sell there work for a few bucks which is awesome!
I use self hosted WordPress for almost every new project I start nowadays. The reason is because of the wide variety of plugin developers there are for this single platform… there’s an adaptation for almost everything I want to do, so the speed at which I can bring something to market without even wasting my time contacting a coder/developer is staggering by sticking with wordpress. I put together a specific WordPress resources section that has more detailed plugins, themes, and various other tips and tricks for WordPress. (special note – If you’re new, you don’t have to be nervous about installing wordpress to setup your blog or website… the hosting companies I use all have a one click wordpress install feature)
Unless I’m whipping up a landing page or something similar, most of the time I’ll buy a responsive template based on the bootstrap framework to customize myself when starting a new project that requires a static site. It helps speed things up and get the site structure laid out much quicker, but I prefer a CMS with a backend editor since it’s easier for myself and others to add content on a regular basis without touching code. I.E. – WordPress like mentioned above.
From stock photos to product mock-ups, professional images can take your blog or website from looking mediocre, to stylish and professional. Mine always look MUCH better once I add a few stock photos or high rez photos of my own. These are the places I buy my stock photos and illustrations from, and really really like Deposit!
Deposit Photos is my favorite place to buy stock photos. The quality and wide variety is second to none, and I prefer their easy to search interface over other places like Istock and Shutterstock.
Graphic River is an awesome place to get illustrations, product mockup psd’s, and advertising banner ideas. The marketplace is huge, and with so many designers pumping out new designs everyday, it’s super easy to find cool inspirational images you can adapt to your own blog or website.
Free Stock Photos
See this post for the entire list
TermExplorer is by far my favorite keyword research tool ever. The speed at which it delivers results is just staggering… and the amount of keyword data I can mine in one single data is a huge time saver. Highly HIGHLY recommended!
Keywordtool.io is a tool I use frequently to grab quick questions when I’m scoping out an industry. Also generate excellent blog post ideas, related questions within a vertical, and a cleaner way to grab Google Suggest keywords.
Keyword Shitter is a free Google suggest scraper from the creator of Term Explorer. It’s straightforward interface is a little more simplistic to use than Uber Suggest, and it also gives you the ability to filter keywords based on negative and positive phrases. (for instance, this is super helpful if I’m mining keywords for a product to sell, and I want to filter out all queries that contain the word “free” in them)
SEMrush is a great tool for taking a quick look at competitors organic and ppc targeting. When entering a new space, or beefing up an existing one, you can get some great ideas for ads, content marketing, and seo by taking a peak at a few urls with this tool.
Similar Web is another one of my favorite tools to get a quick glance at inbound/outbound referrers. Without the pro plan you won’t be able to see the full list, but running a couple queries with the free version will show you if you’re on to something or not. If so, the pro plan will reveal the nuggets in the large list, but often not necessary. It’s also very useful because you get a wide scope of snapshot data in one go relatively quickly, and you can easily assess whether or not a site (or group of sites) is garnering traffic from social, search, or elsewhere.
With maintaining good health becoming more and more important, I want to include many of my go to supplements and techniques for keeping my mind and body healthy… which will hopefully inspire you to take a positive direction the next time you’re faced with healthy/unhealthy decisions. Many people say, “oh Matt, you shouldn’t include health stuff on a primarily blogging related blog.” To which I say, “Nonsense poopie pants, how do you expect to do any of that stuff if you can’t think straight”! Yah ya, completely bonkers I know. But hey, maybe I’ll wise up a create a few satellite sites around topics I’m passionate about and turn them into case studies for you picky asses. Muhahaha 😉