Our favorite and most trusted blogging resources used to run our family lifestyle and travel blog.
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A Little More About our Blog, Tori-Leigh, and How We Got Started
Would you believe me if I told you that my blogging “career” actually started out as a healthy-ish lifestyle brand? We even had an embarrassingly different name that I’m not sure I’ll ever share.
Blogging was more journalistic. Almost nightly, I’d share my daily eats, exercises, musing from my home life, and our travels. I knew nothing about self hosting, SEO, marketing, social media, image optimization…the list goes on.
When I got pregnant and began sharing our journey towards parenthood, I realized that there was a lack of genuine support for mothers on the internet…and I wanted to fill it. I never wanted to be a typical mom, follow the “rules,” or give up the things that made me feel alive.
I wanted more. And so did an audience. So through a lot, and I mean A LOT, of trial and error, I found my little corner of the internet as a family lifestyle and travel blogger. I absolutely love encouraging moms to have less, travel more, and live the mom life they always dreamed of! // Read more about us here
The Number One Thing I Learned…
Above everything else, find your place, get to know your audience, and provide unique content. What questions are your audience asking and how can you answer differently than your competitors?
Over time my process became streamlined, as well, and I learned about many of the incredible blogging resources and marketing tools at my disposal.
Here are some of the blogging resources that I’ve used to grow and sustain Tori-Leigh.
Our Favorite Blogging Resources
Blogging Themes, Hosting, and Setup Resources
If you’re even considering blogging as a career, income stream, or something longterm, you absolutely must self host.
Self hosting provides more freedom and customization over your site, the possibility to monetize with ad revenue, and the ability to make coding changes (which I’ll never do because I have no clue wtf I’m doing there).
Our blog is hosted through, a popular inexpensive hosting platform. BlueHost has a great customer service and I’ve never had any issues hosting numerous blogs through the platform.
Inexpensive hosting, however, can slow down site speed. As your blog grows, you may find it imperative to upgrade hosts. For this reason, I think BlueHost is a great starting point.
Tori Leigh’s current theme is Pipdig’s Etoile. I absolutely love the look and functionality of my theme, along with their plug-in. However, in the name of honesty, you should know Pipdig was called out over a year ago for some sneaky code in their plug-in. The code was removed but many bloggers chose to move on to themes provides elsewhere. I haven’t found one I love as much though…
Additional Plugins and Blogging Resources for Set Up
We use Pipdig’s site customization plugin (in conjunction with our theme) but it can be used with other themes, as well. It enables you to tailor your site layout and appearance exactly how you want without dabbling in much, if any, code.
*Tip: when setting up your blog, preview how it looks on desktop, tablet, and mobile. Most of our readers visit our site through mobile devices so we heavily weigh how our set up looks there.
Additional Plugins We Use:
- Akismet (anti-spam)
- WP Fastest Cache
- Ad Inserter (for managing ad placement)
- others we’ll mention below.
Google Analytics and Google Search Console
You’ll want to set up google analytics and google search console to monitor your blog traffic and traffic sources. These insights will help you grow your blog, know your audience, and how visitors are finding your content.
Can I also list my IT security husband as a crucial blogging resource? Because he is…
I certainly can’t write these myself, nor did I trust online freebies to cover my butt, legally.
Writing and SEO
While I don’t claim to be an SEO expert – we’re constantly learning and growing – I do know that if you want readers to find your content organically, you need to make yourself knowledgeable.
Keysearch is an absolute essential if you want to take blogging as a business seriously. Find search terms you may be able to rank for, alternative terms, and search volumes. You can also check on the competition, run competitive analysis, and monitor your rankings.
Hands down, Keysearch is the best investment I have made for my blog and the single most recommended of all blogging resources you’ll see here.
Save 20% on Keysearch here with code KSDISC
Yoast or RankMath SEO Plugin
Yoast and RankMath are the two most popular SEO plugins and they’re both FREE.
We recently switched to Rankmath and prefer their plug-in because it focuses on other aspects of on-page SEO rather than readability.
Both will track your keyword density, subheadings, ensure your alt tags are set, link to meta details, and monitor your internal and outbound links.
Images and Image Optimization
I’ll keep this section short because I am by no means an expert photographer. I use an old Nikon DSLR d3100 that was gifted to me by my father-in-law. It’s an excellent starter DSLR, and I highly recommend also getting the wide angle lens if you take travel photos. The 3100 is no longer available as it’s an older model.
The newest version is the d3500 if you’re looking to invest in a starter DSLR.
Know that we also use our cell phone cameras frequently. When I’m looking to capture my kids during a rare moment of peace or when they’re getting along, I quickly grab by Pixel 4 and simply use portrait mode.
To date, it’s the best cell phone camera on the market. Tech hubby agrees.
Optimization and TinyPNG
We edit our images in LightRoom or using Mac Photo Tools and scale them to size. Unless you want to eat up your host server space quickly, you must resize your images. This is one of those things I learned the hard way.
After resizing, we run our images through TinyPNG, an image compressor that further reduces file size.
Promotional Blogging Resources
We run our mailing list through ConvertKit. The learning curve in setting up your forms and pages or sending newsletters is not incredibly steep. I also enjoy their tagging features and monitoring where subscribers added themselves through my site.
Sign up for ConvertKit Here
When I started diving into blogging as more of a business, I quickly realized that promoting, not necessarily writing, is where the bulk of your work is. While I love writing and creating content, sharing it is how you’ll get readers.
We utilize most standard social media platforms. You can find our links here:
And no, we’re not on TikTok…I’m in my 30s.
Pinterest is our number one source of traffic, so we’ll talk a bit more about Pinterest below…
Pinterest With Ell Duclos
If you want to master Pinterest and unlock your potential to use the visual search engine to drive traffic to your blog, you NEED Pinterest With Ell.
A Pinterest Guru, Ell of Boss Girl Bloggers walks you through optimizing your boards, what and how to pin new content, and how to utilize tools like Tailwind (more below). She regularly updates the course as Pinterest changes the algorithm so you’re always up to date.
Sign up for Pinterest With Ell Here
You can also sign up for Mastering Sales with Ell here to learn more about turning your blogging biz into a full time income stream.
Tailwind is an automation tool designed to streamline Pinterest pinning so you can “set it and forget it.” Schedule your upcoming pins/repins at optimal times, track statistics, and monitor boards (including group boards, which we only use sparingly).
Without Tailwind, I’d be ripping my hair out ensuring that my pins were scheduled to all niche-related boards at prime times. Not something I can swing when my two toddlers are constantly demanding snacks. Apparently they have optimal times, too.