In order to build a successful writing platform writers should try to utilize the wide array of resources on the internet. Here is a list of my favorite tools that I use or have used in the past. Let me know if I am missing anything that has helped you navigate your writing adventure!
Bluehost – Making sure your site doesn’t crash during an influx in traffic is important to keep people coming back to your blog. I only recommend Bluehost for a handful of reasons. You can setup your own self-hosted Bluehost site and see why I only recommend Bluehost here or view the video below for an in-depth training on setting up Bluehost with WordPress.
WordPress – When building a platform through a blog, there is no match for WordPress. You get a free blog, along with unlimited plugin options for customizing your site if you use a self-hosted site.
Genesis Theme Framework – It seems like I have experimented with just about every blog template out there. The Genesis Framework is what I use on my site and it’s one of the best decisions I made for easily building a platform. The email capture capabilities, sleek design and simple customization provides a high-quality blog regardless of design experience. You can pick a theme here and then they typically include the Genesis Framework along with your theme. The theme that I use for this website is the eleven40 theme in case that interests you.
The videos below explain Bluehost, WordPress and the Genesis Framework.
Links discussed in the above video:
For those of you pressed for cash I would highly recommend searching through the Flickr Creative Commons library of photos. However, make sure you always abide by the attribution licensing and provide credit to the photographer.
Photos have become essential to my writing career for two reasons: It makes my blog and blog posts look more appealing to read and they provide inspiration for my writing. I would recommend signing up for Istockphoto even if you don’t plan on purchasing anything. They send you two free photos to download per month and allow for reasonably priced photos when you can’t find anything on a free site. Also, for some of the pictures I have used online I don’t want a credit to be shown underneath.
Great Reads For Writers And Everyone
Find traditional ways to get your work published. This gives you a list of publishers, magazines and agents to get you on the right track. Even though I like to endorse the self-publishing route, it's good practice to submit to other organizations.
Learn how to find your muse and turn it into something you can live off of. This book teaches you how to create passive income and enjoy every moment of your professional career.
Learn from the best - Stephen King.
Anyone who has ever dreamed needs to read this book.
This book got me started and convinced me that I had a writer in me.
Learn from two pros who know exactly what it takes to make a living writing. This book is cool because it shows you that not many people strike it rich when writing novels, but if you work hard and use this formula you can make a nice living.
Dwight Swain shows you how to use motivating stimuli and character reactions to develop a believable and heart wrenching story. The book is designed to help you create stories that actually sell. Artists who don't like money can stay away from this one.
The Writing Community
This is a pretty unique online writing group. It uses a gamification system, where you can earn credits to get your own writing reviewed when you review other people's writing.
A giant list of conferences and other cool things for writers.
National Novel Writing Month is in November, but the community last all your long. Try to write 50,000 words in November and then work with others to get your novel published during the off months. It's all free and fun to hang out with other writers.
Another email marketing client that actually has some extra features that Mailchimp lacks. They provide amazing looking templates and really cool autoresponders that help you engage with your followers.
Another free option for building an email list. Feedburner can be used for collecting emails, however there is minimal customization. I would recommend using Feedburner to setup an RSS feed instead.
This is what I use, because it’s free for up to 2000 subscribers and after that, Mailchimp has some inexpensive monthly plans. If you are just starting out your email list, go with Mailchimp.
Improve Your Writing Skills
A great site for sprucing up your writing skills. I know many writers don't have any formal training (myself included) or for those know-it-alls who do, it always helps to get some reminders.
Automate your social media posts and clear up time for your writing! It’s free, but they offer some extra options for a charge.
I follow several sites and read a social media book probably every two months, but this is the most detailed, helpful book I’ve found so far. It’s filled with examples on what to do and what not to do on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus and more.
I use this WordPress plugin to recycle old blog post shares on Twitter. This WordPress plugin takes your old posts and automatically tweets them on the intervals that you specify to drive more traffic to your blog and keep your older posts relevant.
Selling Your Stuff
Did you create an eBook or video tutorial? Get other people to sell your products online with Clickbank. Other websites join your affiliate program and get a commission when they sell your product.
This is one of the easiest systems to sell any products on your website. Post your books, videos or lesson plans and people can purchase them right from your site. It connects to your bank account too.
I use Paypal to create in invoices for my freelance clients. It provides a free and easy way to track your incoming payments. You can also use it to sell items on your website or swipe credit cards on your phone.
Gain income through your blog by recommending relevant products and getting a commissions when someone clicks through and purchases something. Hint: It's totally acceptable to create an affiliate link to your own Amazon eBooks. So, you receive your regular royalties with an affiliate commission on top of that.
A nice way to find places to submit your writing to. It includes a submission management feature to track all of your moves.
A great site for finding freelance, work-at-home and part-time positions. You get 67% off when you click through this link.
This is where I started my hunt for freelance writing jobs and I still occasionally grab some gigs off Freelancer today. You'll stumble upon many bidding wars that won't pay much, but it is a great portfolio builder and if you take the time to communicate your skills and past experience, you can find many nice paying jobs.
Sign up for the email list and you'll receive weekly updates on magazine openings, agents looking for submissions and grants.
You won't find any stingy employers on Problogger. This is a high traffic site so get your bid in early, and if you land a job, this is a great place to build relationships for future work. I'd say more than 50% of my freelance clients come from ProBlogger.
Stephenie Meyer used this tool to get Twilight out there. It's basically a giant database of places to submit your work to. Similar to Duotrope, but a better value.
A lightweight writing software designed specifically for authors, bloggers and other writers. Word is filled with useless features making it way too bulky for serious writers. Try out Scrivener to outline your scenes, develop characters and export your book directly to Kindle format. Click here for the Window version and here for the MAC version.
I make all sorts of writing tools in Excel sheets. This is one of my more frequently used spreadsheets as it helps me stay organized and on task.
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to purchase something. Please remember that I have experience with all of these companies and products (unless otherwise noted), and I recommend them because I believe they can help you in your career, not because of the small commissions I make if you make a purchase. Many of these products are free as well, since I think they provide more value than alternative products that require a fee. Please do not purchase any of these products unless you feel they will be helpful in achieving your own goals.