Resources

Disclosure: Some content includes links to sponsors or affiliates, which give me a small percentage of the sale. You are not obligated to use these links when you make a purchase, but when you do so it helps to support this site, so thank you!

How I Make My Website Work:

Ever wonder how Stacy Makes Cents is set up?  How does the content get out to the world and how can we get everything delivered?  This is your resource!

  • WordPress – WordPress is the best blog publishing platform PERIOD.  Free, easy to use and customizable in every way you can imagine.
  • StudioPress/Genesis Framework – For a long time, we used a free theme for this site.  It worked, but it was hard to use and updating it was always a little scary because it wasn’t maintained.  At the recommendation of friends and fellow bloggers, we upgraded to the Genesis Framework and we’ve never looked back.  A VERY GOOD investment if you are serious about blogging.
  • Bluehost – Consistently rated #1 for WordPress blog hosting, we used Bluehost for a few years before outgrowing it.  For the money, Bluehost can’t be beat as you’re starting out and unless/until you start getting lots of daily traffic, it will be all you’ll need.  I highly recommend you start here.
  • Servint – If you’re planning on running multiple blogs or have a pretty good grasp on how servers work, Servint has been our host for Stacy Makes Cents when we outgrew Bluehost.  We use a mid-level VPS package which can handle the spikes in traffic we receive.  Customer Service is top-notch.
  • Mad Mimi - If you want to grow your traffic, you need to encourage readers to sign up to receive emails from you when a new post goes up.  There are several companies out there who can do this, but after starting out with a free one (Google Feedburner), then moving on to a paid service for a couple of years (Aweber – very powerful, but more structured than we needed), we have finally chosen Mad Mimi as our tool of choice.  It is powerful, EASY to use and their customer service is excellent!!
  • Aweber – An alternative to Mad Mimi, this service is what we used for a couple of years to manage all of our RSS to email and mass email services.  Pricing isn’t as good as Mad Mimi but there are some cool toys and add-ons it offers that simpler services do not.
  • Google Feedburner – In addition to emails when there is a new blog post, you want to keep a good RSS feed going.  Feedburner is the most powerful (and free) thing out there.  It will also do daily emails for you for free, but beware it is not very customizable and there has been talk for a long time now of Google doing away with the email service.

How I Measure and Test the Website:

  • Google Analytics – The world’s leading website measurement tool, Google Analytics gives you tracking on who’s visiting your site, where they came from and what they did while there.  For free, you can’t beat this measurement tool to give basic traffic data and much more.
  • GTMetrix – This tool “grades” your page according to the page load time, the cleanness of your website coding, etc.  We use this tool whenever the site loads slower than usual or to make sure any site changes we’ve made were for the better.
  • Alexa – This tool also “grades” your page, but does so to compare your ranking against other websites.  As your site grows, you can use Alexa to provide demographic data, site visitor data and look for basic visitor trends.

How I Make Money on the Site:

How does Stacy Makes Cents make cents?  In addition to the banner ads and so forth that I manually put up when working directly with a company, here are some products I use to help make money through Stacy Makes Cents.

  • E-junkie – This is how we sell all the eBooks on Stacy Makes Cents.  Although it isn’t the simplest website to use, it is a very powerful tool and can do just about anything to handle digital or physical product sales if you won’t have too many different products.  It isn’t expensive (our plan is $5 per month) and it even offers affiliate programs so your friends can help you sell things and earn a little commission.
  • Google Adsense – Most months, this is our primary source of income for the site.  Several of the display (banner) ads on the site are generated from Google Adsense and we are paid each time someone clicks an ad (PPC).
  • Amazon Affiliate Program – Since we already love Amazon, it is pretty cool that we can get some commission if someone uses Amazon and just happens to use our referral link to get there.  It is easy to sign up and commissions are based on sales.
  • Swagbucks – Swagbucks is a search engine (like Google) that pays you in “swagbucks” (points) that can be redeemed for things like Amazon gift cards.  Although it isn’t really a way we make money on Stacy Makes Cents, it does generate some gift card “income” for us as we share details about it and others sign up.
  • Vitacost – Similar to Swagbucks, we don’t really use Vitacost to make money, but because it is such a great service that we regularly recommend, we get a lot of referrals, earning us some store credit.  If you’re looking for a cheaper way to buy healthy stuff, check out Vitacost.
  • Commission Junction – This is a huge marketplace for advertisers to buy advertising slots and for website publishers to “sell” advertising space.  If you want to put up banner or text ads and don’t work with companies directly, this is one resource to find companies to advertise on your site.
  • Shareasale.com – Another huge marketplace for advertisers to buy advertising and for publishers to “sell” space.
  • Media.net – Similar to Google Adsense, we recently signed up with this service to see if it would generate some income.  Stay tuned to see how it works out for us.
  • Skimlinks – Skimlinks is a service that has two components: skimlinks and skimwords.  Skimlinks scans your existing links and, when it can, turns them into affiliate links and helps you earn a small affiliate commission.  Skimwords does the same thing but it looks at all the words in your site (they don’t have to be existing links) and, when it can, turns those into affiliate links.

Blogging Books I Recommend:

Other Resources I Recommend: