So you want to be a librarian blogger? Or would you like to take your professional teaching blog to the next level? Great! It can seem really overwhelming to start publishing your words and work online, but it also provides a sense of pride, accomplishment, and value to your professional work. To help you get started, I’ve listed a collection of the resources and tools I use and/or recommend as a professional librarian blogger. I hope they save you some time and energy as you start creating content or expand your professional web presence.
Disclaimer: This page contains affiliate links, which means if you purchase an item after clicking on a link, I may receive a small commission. See Disclosures & Disclaimers for more information.
When you are just starting out…
WordPress.COM – Free blogging platform that works well for casual and hobby bloggers
- Your blog’s web address will look like this: https://yourwebsitename.wordpress.com.
- Easy to use and learn, and there are LOTS of online resources out there to help you.
- Depending on the theme you use, there is a lot of customization you can do so that your blog doesn’t look like everyone else’s blog.
- Recommendation: Don’t get any of their paid plans; just move to WordPress.ORG (see below) if you want more features or your own domain.
Blogger.com – Another free blogging platform from Google
- Your blog’s web address will look like this: https://yourwebsitename.blogspot.com
- Well-loved by beginners because it is VERY easy to use! You can even keep using Blogger to write and edit your website if you buy your own domain.
- WordPress is known as the more “professional” blogging platform, but that doesn’t mean you should abandon Blogger altogether. There are some benefits, like being able to show ads and monetize your blog without buying a domain.
- I’ve used Blogger as part of a collaborative blog with other librarian bloggers, but I didn’t like it very much. When it comes to WordPress vs. Blogger, though, I think it’s a matter of preference and what you’re used to.
MailChimp – Email list/subscription management (free up to 1000 subscribers with some limitations)
- Yes, you want to be collecting email addresses right away…even if you don’t use them for anything. You never know if you’ll later decide to use email as a way to reach more people, or to market a product, service, or course you make. If people are interested in following you, you should invite them in!
- I haven’t used MailChimp myself, but it is VERY popular for starting out because it’s free.
- You can also start with Mad Mimi for free, but the free account is only for 500 or less followers.
When you are ready to blog professionally or for a business…
WordPress.ORG – “Free” blogging platform if you purchase hosting and a domain name
- Allows complete customization, SEO (search engine optimization), advertising, and plugins that make it MUCH easier to run your website or blog.
- Recommendation: Don’t wait too long to move to a self-hosted blog. I waited 10 years, and I should have upgraded after about 5 years, when I started blogging seriously and building followers on WordPress.
NameCheap domain and NameHero hosting with SSL certificate – These services allow your website address to look like this: https://yourwebsitename.com
- Purchase your domain and hosting separately, in case you want to transfer later. It’s easier to change just one, and buying the domain separately is much cheaper.
- NameCheap includes domain privacy for free.
- NameHero is easy to use, and has fantastic customer service. Every time I’ve asked a question, no matter how simple, they’ve answered my questions clearly and patiently. A real person even answered the phone at 11 pm!
- Recommendation: Make sure to sign up for domain privacy so that your home address isn’t published online.
Options for Email List Management
Mad Mimi – Email list subscription management that I used until 2019 for MrsJintheLibrary.com
- Simple, beautiful, and affordable email list management that is perfect when you are just getting started with email marketing. Customer service is AWESOME and very responsive by email. If you can’t find an answer to a question or problem on the Mad Mimi help site, you can send them and email and it will be answered promptly by a real person.
- While I wish it had more data tracking, Mad Mimi really does a lot for the price. You can push it’s features to the max and get everything you’ll need to start with email marketing.
- Recommendation: If you are getting started with email marketing, or if you don’t know if you want to use it long-term, Mad Mimi is for you!
Klaviyo – The email service platform I currently use and LOVE
- You’ve probably never heard of Klaviyo, but it is a VERY robust email management tool that’s designed specifically for e-commerce. It gives you a LOT more information about your audience, how they are interacting with your emails, and if your emails are driving sales.
- Klaviyo offers a free account for up to 250 people. One person can be an email subscriber and/or e-commerce customer.
- The data analytics, support documentation, and integration with WooCommerce, Facebook, and other tools are some of Klaviyo’s greatest strengths.
- There is more of a learning curve for Klaviyo compared to MadMimi and probably ConvertKit too…but they offer easy-to-setup automations (called Flows) to get you started, and the recorded webinars are well worth the time investment. There are live webinars as well, and their support has always been very responsive, even when I was using the free account.
- They have a monthly subscription pricing model that gradually increases as you gain more subscribers, instead of a big jump when you hit a certain number of subscribers.
- Recommendation: If you are interested in selling digital download products independently from your own website using Shopify, WooCommerce, or another e-commerce “cart” plugin, then Klaviyo is the right tool for the job!
WordPress.org Resources and Plugins that save your time and sanity…
BlogAid.net – Listen to the podcasts, follow her blog, use her recommended plugins, and pay attention to what she’s saying. MaAnna knows what she’s talking about, and her advice is solid!
- I also recommend her Gutenberg Ninja course for to learn the “new” Gutenberg editor in WordPress. You don’t need a page builder (like Divi, Elementor, Thrive) to make your site look really professional…just take her course and install Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg.
WPBeginner.com – This website has tutorials for everything, even if you sometimes have to search for them. And if you’re not comfortable with something, hire out instead of muddling through it and doing it half-way.
- Take the free Google Analytics for Beginners video course, and use the Insert Headers & Footers plugin to copy-and-paste your Google Analytics code to the header of your website. Don’t use a plugin.
- Though Google Analytics takes some time to learn (and I’m just a beginner myself), you can’t see what’s working unless you have the data.
- Recommendation: Set it up immediately, and figure out how to read or analyze the data later…that’s what I’m currently doing.
Google Analytics URL Builder – This tool creates custom URL’s (or UTM-coded links) for pages or posts on your website for an advertisement or promotion.
- The URLs that this tool creates are just like the UTM links on TpT, except for your website.
- Google Analytics “reads” the custom URL’s that go to your website/blog so that you know what ads and promotions are working.
Yoast SEO – Free and paid version; I use the free one.
- SEO is search engine optimization, and that is what makes your website appear higher in a Google Search.
Scriptless Social Sharing – Free, simple sharing plugin that won’t slow your site down.
- Lets your website visitors easily share your posts, pages, and other website content with social media buttons
- You can use this instead of TastyPins to start out, but if you are serious about Pinterest marketing, you may also want TastyPins (below).
TastyPins – Paid plugin with a yearly subscription
- Simple and cheap way to use the “alt text” the way it was intended and also add a Pinterest pin description that is used when someone pins from your website.
- You can use the “alt text” box to add a Pinterest pin description, but that will hurt your SEO because “alt text” is designed as an accessibility feature for users who have a visual impairment.
- Recommendation: If you are a TpT author or teacherpreneur who uses Pinterest, you will really appreciate this plugin!
Go for it!
Writing a professional librarian blog and maintaining a website is a lot of work, of course. There’s always something to update, edit, upgrade, or optimize. However, I’ve found blogging to be very empowering and beneficial to my work as a teacher.
I’m a better writer and a better teacher-librarian because I’ve written about my work on this blog.
I’ve learned about design and SEO and marketing along the way, and I’ve been challenged and stretched as a lifelong learner.
If you want to start or update your own blog, I hope these resources can help you feel that it’s a manageable task to do, and I really hope you’ll connect with me so we can support each other! Good luck, and happy writing!