When I relaunched my blog, I knew I wanted to be well equipped enough to make the most of my corner of the Internet. I spent days scouring the Internet for tips and tricks to make sure that I had all the information I could on how to build and grow Hannah Dolled Up, and have narrowed the massive troves of information down to my 10 favourite online resources.

10 free online resources for blogging beginners

Photography

1. Picmonkey.

Picmonkey is a fantastic online photo editing website. There’s far less scope that paid-for programmes like Photoshop, but for the average blogger, it’s got everything that you could need. It’s fairly basic and easy to use, and free, with the option of upgrading to premium if you really like it.

2. Snapseed

I discovered this photo editing app through Little Miss Katy last week, and I’ve been using it for my blog photos ever since. It’s so user friendly, and the finished product looks really sleek and fine-tuned.

3. Canva 

Canva is another new discovery. It’s the perfect tool to create stunning Pinterest worthy images, header pictures, and banners of every description. When I relaunched, I used Canva to create my new header, and not to toot my own trumpet, but I’m pretty darn impressed with it.

Plugins

4. Yoast

Ok, Yoast is the best WordPress plugin I’ve come across. Everywhere you look in the blogging community, people are banging on about SEO and how important it is for growth and traffic, which is all well and good, unless you don’t have the foggiest of how to use SEO to your advantage! Yoast takes the hard work of SEO out for you, and skims through your post as your typing it. It marks your post as either red (bad), yellow (meh) or green (good), and contains tips for you to utilise. This is perfect for the SEO illiterate like me, and that’s what makes this possibly my favourite resource ever.

5. Jetpack

Jetpack is something I’ve used since I first became self-hosted. This plugin tracks stats, traffic, views and is so much easier to get your head around than Google Analytics. It also provides security to your WordPress, and stops people from trying to log in as you!

Organisation

6. Pocket

Pocket is another of the online resources I found when scouring the internet before my relaunch. It installs a little button on your browser, allowing you to save articles and webpages for later viewing. This has fast become my favourite thing, and it was so helpful whilst I was doing my research for the relaunch. You can add tags to certain pages, and browse your saved articles by these, making it so quick and easy to use. It doesn’t just benefit bloggers though, I’ve found it to be a fantastic organisational tool for recipes, and I reckon this would be perfect for students finding resources for their assignments too!

7. Buffer

Buffer is seriously one of my favourite blogging resources. It allows you to schedule tweets, Facebook posts and Instagram posts ahead of time, meaning for those busy bloggers who have a 9-5 as well, it’s an absolute dream. Buffer allows you to go through your Analytics, see what kind of influence your posts may have, how many people it can reach, and how many times someone has interacted with it. It also archives your tweets, meaning that self-promotion is easier than ever.

8. A Planner, Calendar, Spreadsheet.

Ok, this doesn’t have to be strictly an online resource, but it can be if that’s how you work. Personally, I have a note book to scribble down my ideas in, and I input all of this into an amazing spreadsheet created by Hayley over at Tea Party Beauty. It helps me keep track of my ideas, at what stage of producing them I am, as well as my blog stats, a finance tracker and even some handy Instagram hashtags to help self-promote! This spreadsheet really helps me keep on top of my blog, I’m definitely a sucker for routine!

Content and Inspiration

9. Other Bloggers

Coming up with original content in a sea of other beauty and lifestyle bloggers can be a painful and arduous task. No one wants to feel like a copycat, and no one wants to be accused of ripping off another bloggers work. That being said, there is absolutely no problem with looking to your fellow bloggers for inspiration. I scroll through my Bloglovin’ feed and it helps me decide if I’m going to write a lifestyle post or a beauty one, it gives me inspiration for future posts, as well as photography ideas. There’s no harm in using the blogging community for inspiration, just make sure you aren’t blatantly ripping them off! So many bloggers also create post ideas lists, solely to help other blog

10. Twitter Chats/Social Media in General

So this one links back to point 9. I get so much inspiration from chatting to other bloggers on Twitter, and Twitter chats are a goldmine for inspiration and post ideas. talking to other bloggers about products may make you realise that you have an unpopular opinion about a much loved product, or it might spur you on to do a haul. They post ideas on social media really are endless. Not just that, but in this day and age, the news and current events unfold on social media. Perhaps you have an opinion or a point of debate on this? Write a post!

 

Whilst these online resources are all free, they do have upgradable services which are not.  I don’t use any upgradable service, and I find the free basic packages work perfectly for me. These aren’t going to suit everyone, and some people may have other similar resources that they prefer more. If you do, let us all know below!

Do you use any of these resources? Which are your favourites? Let me know in the comments!

Love Hannah

 

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blogging and personal goals of 2016A few days ago, I sat down at my laptop and thought really hard about what I wanted from life and from my blog. I started Hannah, Dolled Up in 2014, and I fell in love with blogging. I loved the technical skill, the community and most of all, I loved that I had something that was mine. I severely neglected my little corner of the internet over 2015.Working full time, running a household and blogging at the same time is very difficult to juggle!

When I was doing my “life plan” (so dramatic!), I evaluated what was important, what I wanted to do and what needed to be done. Read on to find out more!

Blogging – Organisation

I am a stickler for organisation. If you give me a list of stuff to do, I won’t do it until I’ve organised it by priority and ease, and then set timescales. And then I’ll think about doing it. I figured that it’s about damn time I created a proper posting schedule – one that I’m happy with, but that’s still realistic. So, the basic, weekly schedule is as follows;

Posting Schedule

On top of this, there will be bonus posts!

Last Friday of the month – Favourites
Every other Tuesday – Nails Of The Week

Blogging – Goals

Hit 2000 Followers

I know this is ambitious, given my current follower count, but I’m hoping that with my updated schedule and increased blog activity, the followers will, um…follow? The long (long, long) game is to eventually blog full time, so increased followers and traffic is very important!

Hit 2000 Twitter Followers

I seem to gain and lose Twitter followers like no one’s business. One of my goals this year is to look in to ways of captivating my audience, which hopefully I’ll be able to apply to twitter!

Step Up My Instagram Game

Ok, this one is kinda out of my control since my phone is broken, but I want to completely revamp my Instagram – I want to redo my theme, post daily and expand my audience on there!

Be More Personal

I’m always afraid of voicing my opinions on a remotely public forum because people get so offended over the smallest things, and 9 times out of 10 I just can’t be bothered with the aggro. That is going to change in 2016 though – I want to talk more about my life and my opinions, and not be concerned by people causing havoc over it.

 

Personal Goals

Lose half my bodyweight and be healthy

For the past 2 and a half years, I have not looked after my body. I used to be a skinny size 8, and now I’m just unhappy with how I look. I want to get to the point where healthy eating and exercise isn’t even something I think about, it’s just second nature. My plan of action is to cut out the crap – no more buying lunch at work, no more trips to the vending machine, no more free hot chocolate. I’m not planning to deprive myself of my favourite Chinese takeaway food – I’ll just make more of an effort to make it myself. As for exercise, I’m very lucky in that A is very serious about being active, so he’ll be able to drag my sorry ass to the gym! I’m under no delusions that it’ll be difficult, and I definitely don’t think I’ll reach this goal buy Jan 1st 2017, but I’m aiming to be well on my way to my ideal body.

Go “away” 4 times

I was going to say go on holiday for this one, but that implies abroad – so I want to go away at least 4 times this year. Me and A have plans for Marrakech, Croatia and The Lake District, but at the moment they’re all just ideas – I need to commit to them! We are young, childless people on 2 incomes, there’s no reason we can’t travel the world!

Start looking after my body

This ties in with the losing weight goal. I want to start looking after certain aspects of my body – more specifically my hair, nails and teeth. I’ve dyed my hair on and off for years and it definitely takes it’s toll. Now I’m settled (for now) on a dark purple-red, I want to start looking at ways to keep it healthy and shiny. My nails is also something that’s I’ve continuously neglected. I want to have picture perfect polish year round, so my goal is to paint my nails every weekend to help promote growth (I only ever bite my nails when they’re bare!), and see if there are any products out there that might help. Lastly, my teeth. Years of smoking has made them discoloured, so my goal is to either find a home remedy to whiten them or eventually save up to have it done professionally.

 

So there we have it! This time next year I’ll revisit these and see how I did! Do you have any goals for 2016?

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