The Tools You Need To Start A Blog

The Tools You Need to Start a Blog + Ways to Monetize Your Blog in the Future - Mama State of Mind

The process of starting my blog was chaotic. I spent hours jumping from page to page on Google trying to figure out what resources to use. It took me over 2 months to figure everything out! So, I decided that I would do a post series on the resources I used to start my blog in hopes that it will help others! Below are my recommendations for blog related sites, apps, and programs. Feel free to check them out and let me know if you have any questions!


There are some affiliate links below, but I would never recommend any product I don’t personally use!

*Please visit my disclosure page for more info on affiliate links.



Blogging Resources

If you don’t have a blog yet, these are the resources you’ll need to get the ball rolling!




First things first, if you want to start a blog (that you’ll eventually monetize) then you need to start here. WordPress has both free and “paid” sites where you can start a blog, but I recommend using the “paid” site if you plan to turn your blog into a business. I say “paid” because with, you are required to purchase your own domain. While the idea of having to pay to start a blog can be intimidating, buying your own domain means that you get your own “.com” website and all of your content is yours (as opposed to being the property of WordPress). You also get a number of features (read more here) that you won’t get on



I searched around a lot whenever I was looking to purchase my domain name. Once I found Hover, I was hooked. You can purchase a “.com” domain for only $12.99 a year and it includes free WHOIS Privacy. There’s also the option to purchase email services through their site (which I recommend)! I’ve been pleased with their services so far!



I heard tons of wonderful things about Siteground. Most specifically, their customer service. I’ve loved my experience with them so far and I highly recommend their services! Hosting plans start at $3.95, which is a great price!




A huge part of creating a website is how it looks. The Genesis Framework from Studiopress essentially acts as the “walls” of your site. And any theme you purchase will be the “decorations” on the walls. Studiopress is a one stop shop to make your site look visually appealing!


Mojo Marketplace:

Mojo Marketplace is a site that has themes, plugins, and services for your website. You can purchase a theme, get WordPress installed for free, and pay to have them set up your entire website if you want!



Tailwind is a Pinterest and Instagram scheduling app. It allows you to set pins and photos to post at the most optimal times. It even gives you access to analytics for your posts so you can see how they are performing. You can test it out by starting their free trial. After the trial, prices start at $9.99 a month.




E-courses can be the key to having a successful blog! Learn from the pros!




Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing:

When I started my blog, I knew I wanted to eventually monetize it. The only problem? I had NO IDEA how to do that. Enter the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course. Michelle from Making Sense of Cents earns over $50,000 a MONTH from affiliate marketing alone. Her course has everything you need to learn how you can use affiliate marketing to monetize your blog. Not only do you get an easy to follow e-course packed with useful information, but you also get a free workbook! I highly recommend this course for bloggers who wish to make money from their blogs!




Affiliate Networks 

If you’re looking to monetize your blog, these are some of the ways you can do it!



Target Affiliates:

Yep. You read that right. Every mom’s favorite store has an affiliate program! If you’re a mom blogger like me, this might be your holy grail affiliate program. I could talk about Target all day long; and I can get paid to mention Target products in my blog posts! Commissions start out pretty low, but the more orders you get, the higher the rates go. You can also get paid whenever someone signs up for a registry or the Target REDcard!


CJ Affiliate:

CJ Affiliate is another program that works with a wide variety of brands. You can connect with stores (such as Best Buy and T.J. Maxx) and thousands of online services. The only downside is having to apply to each program individually.



Skimlinks is a site that will “skim” your blog content and automatically add affiliate links for you. They have over 20,000 merchants (brands like Nordstrom, Sephora, and TopShop) and commissions are pretty high! You get access to tons of merchants without having to apply to their individual affiliate programs. It doesn’t get much easier than that!


Amazon Associates:

One of the first affiliate programs I joined was Amazon Associates. Amazon sells everything, so it’s easy to find links for any product you might mention on your blog. You can earn up to 10% (depending on product category) for purchases made through your link. The best part is that the buyer doesn’t have to purchase the product you linked to. You get commission for anything they purchase up to 24 hours after they click your link!




Influencer Programs

Influencer programs can be another way to make money. It’s a way to connect with brands and get paid to promote their product through blog posts or social media!



Activate by Bloglovin’:

If you’re not familiar with Bloglovin’, it’s basically a network of bloggers. It allows you to follow any blogger on any platform, so that you never miss out on their posts! Their influencer program, called Activate by Bloglovin’, connects you with some of the world’s largest brands. You get the opportunity to customize your profile to fit the types of campaigns you prefer, meaning you won’t be scrolling through thousands of postings trying to find the perfect fit. There is also the option to view campaigns based on social media platforms, which is great if you only want to promote on Instagram, for instance. Compensation is either set by the brand or you can set your own quote, depending on the campaign.


Blog Meets Brand:

Blog Meets Brand is a great place for bloggers to start working with brands. Setting up your profile is easy and you can start applying for campaigns immediately. However, the campaigns available will depend greatly on your total reach (aka how many total followers your have across all platforms). So, if you’re a new blogger, you may have to build your following before you start seeing lots of opportunities.


Brand Backer:

Brand Backer works with brands such as Neutrogena and Hello Fresh but also works with new brands too. In fact, you can refer a brand and if they subscribe, you’ll receive $500! You can also apply to brand teams and become part of a group of influencers that work closely with a certain brand. The majority of their campaigns are for beauty and fashion products or brands, so if that’s your niche, this would be a great fit!


Massive Sway:

Massive Sway is an influencer program that was created by The Sway (formerly The SITS Girls). It’s similar to other programs in the way it works, but I personally love the “community” feel of it. This is more than just an influencer program; it’s an entire site full of useful resources for bloggers. You’ll also get access to their private Facebook group, where you can ask questions and make connections with fellow bloggers. This program is great on so many levels and the best part is, you don’t have to be “approved” to join!



I just recently signed up for Linqia but I’m already so excited to be a part of their program! First of all, they are a pay-per-click program, which means you get paid when your link sends someone to a brand’s page. When you sign up, they calculate your total reach (meaning the total amount of followers you have on social media and visitors to your blog). You’re assigned a “click-milestone” and once you reach that milestone, you can earn the full program budget. That means the more you increase your reach, the more you’ll be able to get paid! One of the perks of this program is that you get paid in 10 days, rather than monthly. That’s a really great way to keep your motivation up, in my opinion! In order to apply for this program, you MUST have a blog and a presence on at least two social media platforms. Also, your total reach must be 2,500+ on social media or your blog and you must post to your main channel at least once a month. This program is unique because it’s the first I’ve found that does pay-per-click. It provides a great incentive for newer bloggers to get started in the influencer world! is a newer influencer network (est. 2016) but they are definitely one to check out! Their site makes it easy to find opportunities, both for influencers and brands. As an influencer, you will make a profile stating your interests, platform, and social media reach. From there, brands will be able to view your profile and reach out if you are what they are looking for. What I really love about this network is how easy it is to see the details of any offers you accept. I also love that you are able to message brands right from the “booking request” page. After you sign up, you will receive a booking request from themselves. This request is for their referral program, which I really like. When you share your referral link, inviting other influencers to join, you will receive 5% of the earnings from every influencer who chooses to sign up using your link. That’s a pretty sweet deal, if you ask me!


The Shelf:

The Shelf is a bit different from the programs listed above. You fill out a profile, just like with any other program, but brands have to contact you (as opposed to you being able to apply to campaigns). This can be a bit discouraging if you keep logging in and aren’t seeing any available campaigns. It isn’t the best program to join unless you are already well established in the blogging/social media world. For those just starting out (like myself) sticking to one of the programs mentioned above would be a better starting point. But save The Shelf for when your following increases!





Heartbeat has been by far my favorite influencer program to use. You apply for campaigns that fit your niche, get sent products, then all you have to do is post a photo or photos on Instagram! No blog post or anything big to worry about! It’s been a great way to make a little extra money fairly easily. The best part is that they pay you within a week of completing each campaign, so there isn’t a certain payout threshold you have to hit before getting paid! I will add, though, that you are paid based on your “reach” which is basically how many followers you have. *Just as a reference, I have around 3,000 followers and get paid $10 per post on Instagram. Not a whole lot, but it definitely helps!




Well, there you have it! I hope this post will be helpful for new bloggers or for those looking to monetize their blog! Let me know if you have any suggestions, because I plan to make these resources into a permanent page on my site!






The Tools You Need to Start a Blog + Ways to Monetize Your Blog in the Future - Mama State of Mind



  1. Ella's Mamaa

    August 25, 2017 at 7:01 am

    Thank you for this. So useful and insightful. Will definitely be signing up and following some of the links.

    1. Ashley - Mama State of Mind

      August 25, 2017 at 7:05 am

      you’re so welcome! I’m glad it was helpful for you!

    1. Ashley - Mama State of Mind

      August 31, 2017 at 3:58 am

      thank you so much!

  2. Serena

    September 1, 2017 at 4:05 pm

    Ashley this is a super post! It seems that no matter how long one has been blogging there is always new information to learn and new affiliate programs we’ve never heard of! Your logo is GORGEOUS, btw!

    1. Ashley - Mama State of Mind

      September 1, 2017 at 4:07 pm

      That is so true! I learn something new each day I continue on this journey of blogging! and thank you so much!

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