Like any worthwhile endeavor, bloggers need to continually educate themselves to stay up-to-date at their craft. You need to have reliable resources in your blogger’s toolkit that you can turn to for advice, tips and tutorials. The following books and web sites can keep you at the top of your game building a successful blog and may even lead towards a fulfilling and profitable business along with it.
Books Every Blogger Should Read
Here are the top 5 books every blogger should own.
Book #1. “Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income” by Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett
This book by Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett is what I call the encyclopedia of blogging.
It contains everything you need to know, from blog set up basics, to building a “sticky” community of loyal followers, to going beyond your blog and building a business or career from it. Examples from Rowse and Garrett’s real life blogs and websites are peppered throughout, so you are getting hands-on, practical lessons. There’s even a section on flipping your blog, so this book is a keeper that you will refer to again and again.
Book #2. “Content Rules” by Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman
Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman have created the complete guide to content for businesses. Why should you use it? Even if your blog doesn’t become your business or bootstrap your career, this book can teach you a great deal about creating content that appeals, goes viral, and sells. The book is separated into 3 parts: why content rules, how to make yours rule and successful case studies. “Content Rules” starts by helping you get grounded in why you need compelling content, continues by showing you how yours can stand out from the crowd and ends with a checklist covering all the material in the book.
Book #3. “Online Reputation Management for Dummies” by Lori Randall Stradman
Don’t let the title put you off – as a Dummies book ambassador, I can tell you that these guides are well-written and take you from start to finish in everything you need to know. This Dummies title covers social media in depth. Why am I recommending this particular book by Lori Randall Stradman, rather than one with social media in the title? Because this one addresses your entire online presence, including protecting your reputation and how to fix things if you get into trouble – for example, you are smeared by some of your followers. Real world examples from big business failures guide you in fixing your blog-sized problems competently and professionally. In addition, Stradman gives you soup to nuts information on everything you need to know about using social media and building an online presence, including tips and tools to make it flow smoothly.
Book #4. “Digging into WordPress” by Chris Coyier & Jeff Star
If you are using a self-hosted blog with WordPress, this book is the ultimate guide. (If you’re not self-hosted, here’s why free web hosting is not the best option.) This book is designed to take a blogger who has never even heard of WordPress from beginner to expert. Yes, you will learn techy things in this book but all of it is in service to running a better, more user-friendly blog – such as working with your RSS feeds, optimizing how your comments are set up, search engine optimization and managing plugins – just to name a few chapters. Plus it’s all written in clear, easy language and has a supporting website as well.
The paper version is pricy, but at $20, the PDF is far more useful – you’re going to be online when you go through the steps in this book anyway.
(Also check out Jerry’s recent interview with Jeff Starr.)
Book #5. “Photography for the Web” by SitePoint
Now that you’re a blogger, you need to know a little something about photography, without spending a fortune on a class. This Sitepoint book by Paul Duncanson is your solution. It’s an easy, clear read with lots of examples. It guides you through all the functions on your digital or DSLR camera, and walks you through the basics and more advanced configurations of lighting, framing, color correction and more. This book will get you outside the box of using the “manual” setting on your camera and help you to maximize shots even if you don’t have a high end camera. A must-have resource for product review and event bloggers.
Blogs and Websites Every Blogger Should be Following
In addition to the latest editions of these books, you should also subscribe to and follow a number of websites. Here are the top 5 websites every blogger should be reading.
I’ve put in the link to their incredibly valuable blog, but you can also register for free for more resources, such as ebooks and an internet course.
These guys are the original gurus for teaching how to be a great blogger. Topics including everything from how to make WordPress faster to productivity tips to creativity – all content based around helping you to build a world class blog.
2. Boost Blog Traffic
Written by Jon Morrow, the expert on guest blogging and former writer for CopyBlogger, the first thing you get at this website is “Headline Hacks,” an incredibly useful cheat sheet for writing headlines with the best chance of going viral. All his tips are focused specifically on blogging and offer manageable advice on how to get your blog where you want it to go. The posts are pretty well detailed, but also easy to read. Jon has a great style that just makes you want to read more – and often you’ll find yourself laughing. I highly advise subscribing. Morrow doesn’t post every day, so when he does, you’re sure to get some great information and amazing tips that you never thought of before.
3. Traffic Generation Café Blog
This great little blog I stumbled on earlier this year not only does a weekly blog review of social media, marketing and SEO trends and changes, it also supplies lots of tips, tools, plugins and advice that can help you steadily build traffic and sort through your analytics. This is a great way to stay on top of news from changes in Google, the latest social media trends and general ideas on how to better target traffic for your blog.
4. Social Media Examiner
A couple of years ago, I noticed that when I googled blog resources, this site would come up – with lots of information! After that, I started actively seeking it out. As you know, your blog can only be successful with quality social media engagement, and this is your go-to resource for how to achieve that. In addition, there are plenty of posts that specifically focus on blogging, many geared towards generating traffic.
Case studies, expert interviews, how to posts, videos and a weekly podcast are some of the treasures you’ll find on this site dedicated to social media best practices.
5. A collection of articles at SITS Girls called “Photography Tips for Bloggers”
If you’re not – and never want to be – a career photoblogger but you want to quickly reference tips on basics of photography for your blog, this page is for you. I still recommend buying the book I mentioned above, but this handy resource will provide tips that you can start using immediately.
Last but not least
Finally, I’d subscribe to the blog here at Web Hosting Secret Revealed. Expert interviews, help with SEO, web tools you shouldn’t live without – these are just some of the topics our team covers. Remember that being a successful blog is not just about writing great content, it’s about using all the tools at your disposal to keep your blog interesting, fresh and attractive. Staying educated about what’s going on in the world of blogging is the way to do that.