I started blogging in 2014, and became a full-time, professional blogger in 2019. So I’ve learned quite a lot along the way, through trial, error, and lots of research!
These are the blogging resources I actually use on Tilted Map, and the most helpful courses I’ve taken about blogging, writing, social media and SEO.
The Best Website Hosting – SiteGround
I’ve been using SiteGround hosting for several years, and I wouldn’t use anything else. I was on DreamHost before, but it had a lot of down-time and not very helpful customer service. So I did a lot of research and decided on SiteGround, which has 100% solved both of those problems!
You can certainly find cheaper hosting, but honestly, this is something worth doing right. Cheap hosting can cause website crashes, lost content, slow loading times (which are terrible for SEO), and other hassles that you’ll have to fix with a patchwork of plugins down the road.
Also, Siteground’s customer service chat feature – with real tech people – makes life easier when something inevitably goes wrong, or whenever I have a question.
WordPress Themes – Restored 316
Again, you can always find a free theme, but if you’re planning to a build your blog into a business, you’ll want a premium theme that’s flexible and will give you room to grow.
I’ve been using it for several years and love it. It’s a beautiful layout, but best of all, the service from Restored 316 truly makes the price of their themes a total steal. I have emailed them dozens of times with questions and customization requests, and they always get back to me within a day(!) with a friendly greeting and a custom solution. That’s literally a level of service worth thousands of dollars, and believe me, you will not find it from most theme providers.
The Genesis Framework has been the industry standard for years. It’s well-built, fast, SEO-friendly, and of course, really good looking so readers don’t abandon your site! (You can think of Genesis like the basic apartment that your website lives in, while a “child theme,” like Splendor is all of the furniture and decorations inside.)
But now Restored 316 is building themes on the Kadence Framework, which is what I would use if I were to switch now. From everything I’ve read, it seems to be just the next step forward from Genesis – even faster and more flexible. I don’t see a ton of theme builders using it yet, so it’s great to see how Restored 316 isn’t sleeping on new improvements.
(Here’s more about switching from Genesis to Kadence.)
Blogging Courses Worth the Investment
I’ve taken tons of blogging courses on topics from social media, to the back-end setup for WordPress, to SEO strategy. These are the ones I recommend:
- To get started with SEO, the first thing I’d recommend is signing up for a month of Internet Marketing Gold (below) and taking Kyle Roof’s Beginning SEO course. He’s a great teacher and a true expert. (Neither of which are guaranteed when you’re just sifting through YouTube videos.)
- For beginners starting a blog or website, Super Star Blogging by Nomadic Matt is a good overview of everything all in one place. (From choosing a blog name, to setting up your website, to social media, guest posting, working with companies, and more.) If you’re overwhelmed, this is much better than getting lost on Youtube looking for answers!
Probably the Best SEO Courses:
- Internet Marketing Gold is a monthly course subscription that calls itself “Netflix for SEOs.” And just like Netflix, it’s a mix bag when it comes to both content and quality. It includes dozens of courses (on topics ranging from blackhat TikTok strategies, to SEO for real estate agents, to how to sell your website). I subscribed for 5 months and took lots of courses, but IMO, you could subscribe for just a month and get a ton of value out of a few courses. I recommend any of the courses by Kyle Roof, but especially his On Page Optimization SEO course. While Stupid Simple SEO is about finding keywords you can rank for, On Page SEO is more about strategies to rank for the keywords (and topics) you actually want to write about.
- Stupid Simple SEO is a more advanced course that teaches you an SEO strategy, not just quick tricks. The focus of the course is how to find low-competition keywords that you can rank for, based on your site’s authority. (So it’s fairly high-level. You’re not learning what a keyword is in this course.) I apply many elements of the strategy I learned from Stupid Simple SEO. But before taking this one, it’s useful to know the basics of SEO, so that you can understand what to take away from the course. For that, I would definitely suggest Internet Marketing Gold, above.
Travel Writing Courses:
- There are countless online courses for SEO and social media, but very few about the most important part of blogging: The actual writing. That’s why I’m currently working through How to Become a Successful Travel Writer. The course was created by Nomadic Matt, but it’s taught by the writer and editor David Farley. (Who also teaches writing at NYU and Columbia.) Even though I have a degree in Journalism and have been writing online and for magazines for years, I’m still learning a lot from it!
Social Media Courses
- If you’re feeling overwhelmed by Instagram, as I was, Christina McEvoy’s course Insta Success can give you a great foundation – and what I loved about the course is that’s it’s not just about Instagram. She doesn’t just focus on how to go viral, but more on use the platform to benefit your business goals, even without a huge audience. She goes over everything from creating high-quality content (photography, engaging captions, what to do with hashtags, etc.), to creating your media kit and negotiating deals with brands. (And she’s certainly teaching from experience: She used brand deals from her Instagram to travel the world for years with her husband and two sons.) NOTE: If you enter my name, Ketti Wilhelm, in the “Referral” box at check-out, Christina will know I sent you and I’ll get a small commission. Thank you!
Graphic Design – Canva (& a real professional designer)
I’m really happy that Canva exists because it’s much simpler (and cheaper) than Photoshop or other software. I mostly use it to make my Pinterest images and simple graphics like this one for my Instagram.
The paid version of Canva (“Pro”) gets you advanced features and quality stock images. Sometimes I sign up for a month of free version when I have a lot of design work to do, and then downgrade back to the free version. (They make it really easy to do, and send you several warning emails before charging for a new month.)
For when you’re tired of Canva and looking for a real graphic designer, I highly recommend Hollis Callas. She created my Tilted Map logo – and if that’s not enough, she’s done work for Samsung, Metallica (yes, the band Metallica), and lots of other big names. You can check out her beautiful patten designs on her Instagram.