While the toolbox of any writer should mostly be filled with good books, if you’re looking to get your words in front of an audience you’ll need a few technical tools as well.
As a person who is disturbingly attracted to trying “shiny and new” things, I’ve nearly every blog tool imaginable — here’s the stuff I’ve found to be the most consistently valuable.
Try start with a small selection of tools first; you won’t get far with constant edits and tweaks, and a great design won’t make up for crappy content!
WordPress + BlueHost: The only CMS I use, in conjunction with the #1 recommend hosting company for WordPress. It’s the only way to blog, really. Sign up through this link and BlueHost will drop their monthly fee to $3.95, and you’ll still get a free domain name.
WP Engine: Sparring Mind has over 250,000 visitors a month; that’s a lot! An entry hosting company like BlueHost can’t handle this traffic, so when my blog grew I switched over to WP Engine, which is managed WordPress hosting for bigger blogs. The idea is to start with BlueHost, and then upgrade to WP Engine (or something similar) when you’ve gotten some traction.
Books for Better Writing
The War of Art: Basically the book reference for creatives who need to overcome the fear of putting their work out there. If you desire to be or already are a “professional” creative, this book needs to be on your bookshelf.
On Writing Well: I don’t recommend very many books about writing to writers, but if you write non-fiction, this is the one to get. Entertaining and practical all the way through.
Creativity, Inc.: From the president and CEO of Pixar, this book takes a hard look at candor, honest feedback, and the behavior of a true professional who takes their creative craft seriously. An absolute must-read.
Letters of Note: You could do worse to “learn writing” than studying the masters of prose. This book features many notable letters which are delightfully well written. Know how to create captivating writing by reading it.
Elegant Themes: Pretty much the go-to site for just getting started, everybody that uses WordPress will eventually hear about Elegant Themes, they are that notable. The best value per dollar for blogs.
StudioPress Themes: I use these guys for so many of my sites, it’s obvious that take special care of writers because so much of their design work is around creating themes with great typography.