Must-have Plugins For WordPress Comparison Websites Build To Make Money Online Using Affiliate Marketing

Must-have Plugins For WordPress Comparison Websites Build To Make Money Online Using Affiliate Marketing (sjoerdblok.blog)

Special thanks to Mudassar Iqbal for his photo on Pixabay

Why I created this toolkit

In the past, whenever I  was setting up a new product comparison website to try to increase my passive income using affiliate marketing, it was always a struggle trying to find out which of the plugins I would have to install before I could actually start creating some content. Therefore, to save myself  some time, a lot of frustration and many headaches during the creation of all of my future affiliate marketing websites, I decided to put together another toolkit so that whenever I’m creating a new WordPress-based product comparison site intended to make money from affiliate marketing, I can now simply search for this post and find a list of the essential plugins for any of my new WordPress websites. If you would like to make use of it as well, by all means go ahead.

How to use this toolkit

Simply clicking the name of a plugin name, i.e. the drop-down menu, will reveal its description including a link to the WordPress plugin page (as shown in the following GIF).How to use Sjoerd Blok's affiliate marketing tools

Hope it helps!

The must-have WordPress Plugins

All In One SEO Pack is a out-of-the-box SEO for WordPress. Features like XML Sitemaps, SEO for custom post types, SEO for blogs or business sites, SEO for ecommerce sites, and much more. More than 50 million downloads since 2007.
Classic Editor Enables the WordPress classic editor and the old-style Edit Post screen with TinyMCE, Meta Boxes, etc. Supports the older plugins that extend this screen.
Pricing Tables WordPress Plugin – Easy Pricing Tables allows you to create a Beautiful, Responsive and Highly Converting Pricing or Comparison Table in Less Than 5 Minutes with Easy Pricing Tables for WordPress. No Coding Required.
Google Analytics Dashboard for WP by ExactMetrics (formerly GADWP) displays Google Analytics Reports and Real-Time Statistics in your Dashboard. Automatically inserts the tracking code in every page of your website.
Jetpack by WordPress.com brings the power of the WordPress.com cloud to your self-hosted WordPress. Jetpack enables you to connect your blog to a WordPress.com account to use the powerful features normally only available to WordPress.com users.
Manage Notification E-mails gives you the option to disable some of the notification e-mails send by Wordpress. It's a simple plugin but effective.
Post Types Order allows you to order Posts and object types using drag and drop menus.
Shortlinks by Pretty Links – Best WordPress Link Tracking Plugin allows you to shrink, track and share any URL on the Internet from your WordPress website! It basically is a very convenient way of creating custom, short, easy, powerful, recognizable links using the domain name of your own website.
With Schema – All In One Schema Rich Snippets you can now easily add schema markup on various pages and posts of your website. Implement schema types such as Review, Events, Recipes, Article, Products, Services etc., meaning that search engines such as Google are able to recognize markups such as ratings, number of reviews, images etc.
WordPress Share Buttons Plugin – AddThis can be used to set up sharing tools from AddThis right in WordPress. With AddThis you can see how your users are engaging with your content, provide a personalized experience for each user and encourage them to share your content in their social networks. Follow tools, recommended content, conversion tools and social analytics available to registered accounts at addthis.com.
Smush – Compress, Optimize and Lazy Load Images can be used to reduce image file sizes, improve performance and boost your SEO using the free WPMU DEV WordPress Smush API.
Social Media Share Buttons & Social Sharing Icons is an easy to use and 100% free social media plugin which adds social media icons to your website with tons of customization features.
Wordfence Security – Firewall & Malware Scan is a security, anti-virus, firewall and malware scan plugin. Since security is so important, this plugin usually is the first one that I install for each new WordPress website that I create.

Comment
Please feel free to comment below to improve this post or to let me know what your thoughts and/or experiences are. Also, do not hesitate to share any helpful stuff. If you decide to comment, please make sure to be nice at all times. Founded criticism is OK, but any rudeness will get your stuff deleted. Also, make sure to use your personal name, don’t use any business names and don’t put your personal/business URL in the comment.

How To Get The Best Web Hosting For WordPress Sites From SiteGround (Step By Step)

Are you wondering what the best web hosting provider for WordPress sites is in 2019? Well, in this video I’ll show you step by step how to get secure WordPress hosting from one of the best blog hosting sites called ‘SiteGround’. SiteGround is regularly mentioned as one of the top wordpress hosting providers, or even referred to as ‘the best place to host WordPress sites’ by multiple tech blogs after researching site performances of many web hosting providers. So, if you want to host a fast WordPress site for your blog in 2019, make sure to watch this video until the end!

Show Notes & Resources
→ Get The Best WordPress Web Hosting & Domain Name(s) from SiteGround

Subscribe to Sjoerd L.J. Blok’s YouTube Channel

Get my Unique Step-By-Step Affiliate Marketing eBook ‘The Web of Money’ for FREE

Visit my Affiliate Marketing Toolkit Packed With Useful Tips, Tricks, Sites, Services etc. That I Use Myself Whenever I’m Working On One of my Affiliate Sites

Gear Used to Shoot This Video
The Camera & Lens That I Used to Capture This Video
The Microphone That I Used to Record The Sound in This Video
The Tripod That I Used to Capture This Video

Legal Disclaimer
This video and description contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the links, or go to one of the links in any other way, I may get compensated. However, you don’t have to worry, this won’t cost you anything. In fact, using my affiliate links may even get you a discount! Other than that, these affiliate links support me, allowing the creation of more videos like this.

This video is property of Sjoerd L.J. Blok who assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions in the content of this video or other videos of Sjoerd L.J. Blok’s channel(s). This content is for educational purposes only, and is not tax, legal, or professional advice. Sjoerd L.J. Blok can’t and doesn’t intend to guarantee that you will be able to make money or achieve similar or better results as what is shown in the content of this video or other videos of Sjoerd L.J. Blok’s channel(s) in any way. In fact, any action based on the content in this video or other videos of Sjoerd L.J. Blok’s channel(s) may result in the loss of money. Therefore, Sjoerd L.J. Blok highly advices to always do your own due diligence. Any action you take on the information in this video is strictly at your own risk.

How To Get Discounted Web Hosting & A Free Domain Name From HostGator Quickly (Step By Step)

In this video I show you step by step how you can get discounted web hosting and a free domain name from HostGator in just 5 minutes. This way you can start creating your own online money making (affiliate marketing) websites fast and cheap, at the same time!

Show Notes & Resources
Get Your Own Web Hosting & Domain Name(s) at HostGator

Subscribe to Sjoerd L.J. Blok’s YouTube Channel

Get my Unique Step-By-Step Affiliate Marketing eBook ‘The Web of Money’ for FREE

Visit my Affiliate Marketing Toolkit Packed With Useful Tips, Tricks, Sites, Services etc. That I Use Myself Whenever I’m Working On One of my Affiliate Sites

Gear Used to Shoot This Video
The Camera & Lens That I Used to Capture This Video
The Microphone That I Used to Record The Sound in This Video
The Tripod That I Used to Capture This Video

Legal Disclaimer
This video and description contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the links, or go to one of the links in any other way, I may get compensated. However, you don’t have to worry, this won’t cost you anything. In fact, using my affiliate links may even get you a discount! Other than that, these affiliate links support me, allowing the creation of more videos like this.

This video is property of Sjoerd L.J. Blok who assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions in the content of this video or other videos of Sjoerd L.J. Blok’s channel(s). This content is for educational purposes only, and is not tax, legal, or professional advice. Sjoerd L.J. Blok can’t and doesn’t intend to guarantee that you will be able to make money or achieve similar or better results as what is shown in the content of this video or other videos of Sjoerd L.J. Blok’s channel(s) in any way. In fact, any action based on the content in this video or other videos of Sjoerd L.J. Blok’s channel(s) may result in the loss of money. Therefore, Sjoerd L.J. Blok highly advices to always do your own due diligence. Any action you take on the information in this video is strictly at your own risk.

How To Get Great Web Hosting & A Free Domain Name From Bluehost In Just 5 Minutes (Step By Step)

In this video, I take you through the process of getting web hosting and a free domain name, including easy WordPress install and a free ssl certificate from Bluehost, step by step and in just 5 minutes. So, whether you’re into affiliate marketing, or you have a small or startup company and you want to setup a website yourself, make sure to watch this video.

Show Notes & Resources
Get Your Own Web Hosting & Domain Name(s) at Bluehost

Subscribe to Sjoerd L.J. Blok’s YouTube Channel

Get my Unique Step-By-Step Affiliate Marketing eBook ‘The Web of Money’ for FREE

Visit my Affiliate Marketing Toolkit Packed With Useful Tips, Tricks, Sites, Services etc. That I Use Myself Whenever I’m Working On One of my Affiliate Sites

Gear Used to Shoot This Video
The Camera & Lens That I Used to Capture This Video
The Microphone That I Used to Record The Sound in This Video
The Tripod That I Used to Capture This Video

Legal Disclaimer
This video and description contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the links, or go to one of the links in any other way, I may get compensated. However, you don’t have to worry, this won’t cost you anything. In fact, using my affiliate links may even get you a discount! Other than that, these affiliate links support me, allowing the creation of more videos like this.

This video is property of Sjoerd L.J. Blok who assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions in the content of this video or other videos of Sjoerd L.J. Blok’s channel(s). This content is for educational purposes only, and is not tax, legal, or professional advice. Sjoerd L.J. Blok can’t and doesn’t intend to guarantee that you will be able to make money or achieve similar or better results as what is shown in the content of this video or other videos of Sjoerd L.J. Blok’s channel(s) in any way. In fact, any action based on the content in this video or other videos of Sjoerd L.J. Blok’s channel(s) may result in the loss of money. Therefore, Sjoerd L.J. Blok highly advices to always do your own due diligence. Any action you take on the information in this video is strictly at your own risk.

How to Write Newsletters that Get Opened Read and Clicked (Free Guide from GetResponse)

Average Distribution of Email Subjects According to GetResponse

The above image sums up the average distribution of subjects in email inboxes according to GetResponse.

Unlike you may expect, newsletters, i.e., subscription emails, are easily on top with a whopping 29% share! This clearly demonstrates how many subscription emails people are willing to receive in their inbox.

Time for you to take action, because email marketing is extremely powerful for pretty much any sort of business. However, writing emails that convert into sales isn’t easy…

Fortunately, GetResponse set up a free email marketing guide that helps you write emails which actually get opened, read and clicked. Just take a look yourself and see what you can learn from it.

What to Write in Your Emails: Including fill-in-the-blank Email Templates (Free Guide from AWeber)

What to Write in Your Emails (Free Guide from AWeber)Are you an affiliate marketer or an email marketer?

Would you like to receive more than 45 fill-in-the-blank email templates for free?

Do you want to know what emails you should send and what to write in them?

Do you want to know more about expert copywriting strategies to optimize your emails?

If the answer to one or more of the questions above is something like ‘yeah sure’, check out this free email marketing guide from AWeber. I found it very useful.

Outstanding Affiliate Marketing Tools That Help You Make Money Online and Generate a Passive Income From Home

Sjoerd Blok's Outstanding Affiliate Marketing Tools That Help You Make Money Online and Generate a Passive Income From Home

Special thanks to Gerd Altmann for his photo on Pixabay

Why I created this toolkit

If you are trying to make money online with affiliate marketing to generate a passive income from home or if you are setting up a new online shop all by yourself, than this is the toolkit for you.

You see, the problem is that if you want to save a lot of money and keep all the profits to yourself, you will also have to do most of the heavy lifting by yourself. By doing so, there is a reasonable chance that, at a given moment, you will feel like your head is going to explode from all the sites, services and software programs that you can use, and most likely will have to use, in order to give your site a real chance of succeeding.

The amount of (affiliate marketing) tools available is simply overwhelming. The problem is that, a lot of these tools are actually genuinely useful, a lot of them are not, some of them are free and some of them are not.

So how exactly do you separate the wheat from the chaff? How do you decide whether or not a tool is genuinely useful when you are ploughing through a dense online forest filled with saplings and big oaks? My answer?

Experience and reviews.

OK, so you enter the dense forest of online tools. With little to no experience, you start ploughing your way forward and after what seems like an eternity, you actually find some stuff with promising reviews. You start using the tools and you are actually pleased with what they have to offer you.

No problem so far right?

But this is assuming you find the useful stuff pretty easily, which in reality, if you are looking for it the first time, you usually will not…

However, let’s say you do know where to start and you actually find the useful stuff pretty easily, what happens if you have been in the dense forest for a while, without a guide, a map or even a compass?

That’s right, you get lost.

Even though you may think you have a pretty good memory, there is a good chance that, once you have to hold on to so many online tools at once, your memory will fail you anyway and you will forget the names of the useful tools or the places to find.

I always found it pretty annoying having to remember every tool out there. Once in a while, I ended up forgetting a certain site, service or software program which meant that I had to go to Google and do several time-consuming searches, just to find what I once already found.

In an attempt to overcome this problem, I saved all of the URL’s in my web browser, only to encounter the problem of not being able and access them everywhere…

My next attempt was to create a text file with all the tools and their corresponding URL’s. I ended up uploading it to a Google Drive folder so I now could access it anywhere at any time.

The only problem now was that is was still a rather time-consuming consuming process, just to track back a link to a useful tool I once found.

I had to log in to my Google Drive account, search for the right file, download the file, open the document and only then could I search for the right tool within the actual text file.

Now, you have to understand, this logging in, downloading the file etc. may not seem like much of an effort, but when you are trying to make a successful site and you have to switch back and forth to dozens of tools at several locations, these valuable, non-renewable time-consuming efforts really start to add up.

That is why I decided to create a web page solely dedicated to my personal affiliate marketing toolkit filled with sites, services, software programs etc. that are either my personal favorite, well-reviewed and/or most-used, and that web page is this one.

Now, I can simply go to my web browser and type in sjoerdblok.blog/affiliatetools or sjoerdblok.blog/resources, hit Enter and find all the useful tools I need whenever I am setting up a new site, wherever I am, whenever I want, and so can you.

How to use this toolkit

First of all, I want you to know that this toolkit is not definitive, nor will it ever be. Instead, I plan on updating it once in a while, or at least whenever I encounter a useful tool that is not on the list yet. In addition, even though I put a lot of effort into making this toolkit, I know it isn’t perfect and it probably will never be perfect either. This is why I encourage anyway to improve this toolkit. Whenever someone feels like a useful tool is missing and shares it in the comments, I will check it out and add it if I feel like it is genuinely useful and beneficial to this toolkit. So, if you feel like it, please do not hesitate to improve this toolkit and comment any unlisted useful tools at the bottom of this page.

Now, onwards shall we?

To my opinion, any toolkit, whether it is an actual box filled with tools in real life, or an online toolkit such as this one, should be as easy-to-use as possible. However, with an online toolkit such as this, it is also key to make sure that it is very clear which tools are best suited for a certain job. This is why you will find a brief description along with every tool in this toolkit.

To my opinion, it would not have been very convenient if I had just listed a bunch of tools and placed some explanatory text underneath them. Even when you would place just a few lines underneath each tool, listing a few dozens of tools would end up being an extremely long page, being anything but easy-to-use.

Instead, I decided to create so called ‘drop-down menus’. Each tool that you will find on this page is a drop-down menu on its own. Simply clicking the name of a tool, i.e. the drop-down menu, will reveal its description (as shown in the following GIF).How to use Sjoerd Blok's affiliate marketing tools

To further simplify the use of this toolkit, I have listed each tool underneath headings which represent different topics which you are likely to encounter when you are setting up a site. By rapidly scanning the headings, you should be able to find the tools that you are looking for in a matter of seconds.

Underneath each topic, I listed the tools either in order of popularity, or in order of what you will likely have to use most often. If you are using this toolkit for the first time, I would like to advice you to read the description of several tools. This way you are most likely to find the tool that best suits your needs.

Finally, whenever you feel like you found the tool that best suits your needs, simply click the embed link to be redirected to the tools’ official site.

Enjoy!

Affiliate programs

The Amazon affiliate program can be used to earn fixed rates on any of the products that are being sold on Amazon. Since Amazon is the biggest, best-known online shop, holding pretty much all product categories and because its affiliate program is probably the easiest affiliate network to use, the Amazon affiliate program is used on a gigantic scale across all types of online platforms. Whether it is on a blog, in the description of a YouTube video or in an eBook, chances are that whenever you click a link that points towards Amazon, an Amazon affiliate link is being used and the author earns a percentage of the listing price of all the products you purchase within a given time. For affiliates, Amazon Associates is probably the easiest platform to earn money from. Not only is it easy to use, but because of its international popularity, it usually results in much higher conversion rates as compared to other affiliate programs. If you're a beginning affiliate, I highly recommend that you start with Amazon Associates.
eBay’s partner network is the affiliate program from eBay. Most affiliates don’t actually know that you can be an affiliate for eBay. Although probably nothing can beat Amazon, considering the wide variety of products available on eBay, the eBay partner network is worth taking a look at if you’re looking to market some specific products. Just link to listings and you’ll get paid if someone purchases using your affiliate link.
Best Buy’s affiliate program provides you with great potential income from digital products. Looking for another place to sell digital products from than Amazon, or does your target audience prefer Best Buy over comparable sites? Sell products through Best Buy’s affiliate program and earn money for every referred buyer, just like any other affiliate program.
ClickBank is a very popular affiliate network with massive earning potential. Unlike international shops such as Amazon, eBay or Best Buy, affiliate networks can be considered more specific collections of products with (generally speaking) much higher affiliate payouts. Affiliate networks act as a bridge between the seller, who wants to gain exposure and sell their products with less marketing effort, and the affiliate, who wants to earn greater passive/side income from their sites by doing some marketing to their target audience. Of these affiliate networks, ClickBank, CJ Affiliate, ShareASale and MarketHealth are the most popular and most reliable ones and are considered the go-to affiliate networks if you want to earn more than 1-20% of affiliate commission per sale. However, generally speaking, products from such affiliate networks are harder to sell to your audience as compared to generally recognized sites like Amazon, eBay and Best Buy. Just like CJ Affiliate and ShareAShale, ClickBank offers a variety of affiliate products.
CJ Affiliate, also known as Commision Junction is similar to ClickBank and ShareASale.
ShareASale is similar to ClickBank and CJ Affiliate.
MarketHealth is an affiliate network focused on the evergreen health niche. Other than the health-specific products, MarketHealth is similar to the other popular affiliate networks; ClickBank, CJ Affiliate and ShareASale.

 

Product research

Google.com is free and extremely useful to find anything, especially in the early stages of product research. Just type in the product your looking for, followed by things like "best seller", "review", "specifications", "pricing" etc.
Google Trends is a free, very useful and easy tool to spot any trend in Google searches. Want to know if your product of interest is gaining or losing popularity? Looking for worldwide or location specific search interests? Do you want to check if people search for something more often in a specific season, or even a specific week? Google Trends knows it all and is happy to present you with information going back to 2004.
Amazon.com is free and probably the best-known online selling platform, making it extremely useful to find pretty much anything that is being sold all over the world. Whether you're looking for new product ideas, specific details or user reviews, Amazon is a good place to start.
eBay.com is also a free and well-known online selling platform. However, unlike Amazon, eBay started as a place to sell used products with bidding options. Nowadays, you can find both new and used products and buy them either immediately or bid on them. Since eBay is also used worldwide, and because you can find somewhat special products there, you may also want to consider taking a look at eBay when you're doing some product research.
Alibaba.com is the biggest online platform to buy wholesale products (bulk) from China. Chances are that, when you're having some products lying around that are labeled "made in China", the company you bought it from just found the product on Alibaba and sold it to you. When you're looking for new product ideas, worldwide bestsellers, bulk manufacturers, private labeling (your logo on the manufacturer's products), Alibaba is definitely where you want to start.
AliExpress.com is part of Alibaba and as a result the biggest online platform to buy dropshipping products from China. A dropshipping store is basically just a collection of products from which your customers can buy, just like any other online shop. However, if they do so, the products get shipped to them immediately by the manufacturer, without you coming in between by having to first import, store and then ship the product yourself. If you're (thinking about) setting up a dropshipping store, you should definitely take a look at AliExpress.

 

Keyword research

Google.com is free and extremely useful to find anything, especially for keyword research. Just type in the product (or anything else) you want to sell without hitting "Enter" or clicking the "Search"button and see what supplementary words Google suggests. Also, if you do hit "Enter" or click the "Search" button, see what other sites (competitors) use as complementary words. Both the supplementary words of Google and competitors are usually a good indicator of what other people search for and/or what sells well.
Google Trends is a free, very useful and easy tool to spot any trend in Google searches. Want to know if your product of interest is gaining or losing popularity? Looking for worldwide or location specific search interests? Do you want to check if people search for something more often in a specific season, or even a specific week? Google Trends knows it all and is happy to present you with information going back to 2004.
Google Keyword Planner is a free, extremely powerful tool to find Google search volumes, related search terms and search term suggestions. Google Keyword Planner has a lot more options than Google Trends and, not only that, Google Keyword Planner also gives you a lot more in-depth results as compared to Google Trends, and because it's a Google AdWords-related tool, you can easily export specific search terms to either review them later (as a .csv file) or to import them into Google AdWords directly. Since Google Keyword Planner is part of Google AdWords, you need to have an active Google AdWords account (meaning that you have provided your Credit Card information) in order to use Google Keyword Planner. You won't actually have to pay anything to use Google Keyword Planner though.
SEMrush is a paid, but extremely comprehensive all-round online research tool. With tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of visitors per month from the US alone, it can be considered as one of the top online research tools, if not the absolute number one.
SpyFu has a very broad range of tools that are particularly useful to research sites of competitors, keyword rankings, good performing ads etc. Some of the tools you can use for free (up to a certain point), for others you’ll have to pay. If you’re interested what works and what doesn’t, taking a look at the performance of certain components of competitors using SpyFu can be of great value.
Ahrefs is similar to SpyFu in terms of the variety of tools that they provide, although Ahrefs is the somewhat more popular variant. Ahrefs provides you with tools such as; competetive analysis, keyword research, backlink research, content research, rank tracking and web monitoring. Ahrefs provides massive amounts of valuable data so it’s no surprise that it has been used by marketers of companies like; facebook, LinkedIn, Adobe, Netflix, Uber, Pinterest, eBay, Shopify etc. etc. Unfortunately, due to its value, you can’t use Ahrefs for free. However, you can start a trial to see whether Ahrefs is that what you’re looking for or not.
KWFinder is, as the name probably suggests, a tool to find keywords, long tail keywords with low SEO difficulty to be more precise. KWFinder is part of Mangools which provides several site metric tools such as SERPChecker, SERPWatcher, Linkminer and SiteProfiler, providing you with all the site statistics tools you need. This collection of tools is comparable with the Ahrefs toolkit, and again, just like Ahrefs, quality doesn’t come cheap so you’ll have to pay for these tools. However, if you’re having a profitable site and you’re willing to next the step, you may just increase your profits dramatically as the result of all the data provided by tools like these.
Fiverr is probably the most popular freelance website. Whether you are a freelancer or want to hire a freelancer, Fiverr is where you want to start. Some of the popular categories are; Graphics & Design, Digital Marketing, Writing & Translation, Video & Animation, Music & Audio, but also Programming & Tech, any other business-related matter or even things concerning fun and lifestyle. Aside from the categories, you can of course just search what you’re looking for. Need someone to; make a video, read something and record it, translate, write, make a logo or an entire website or do some search engine optimization (SEO) for your site so it appears higher in Google? No problem, just search for the job and you’ll find hundreds of freelancers who can get the job done, along with their prices, ratings and reviews from previous customers. Whenever I need to get something done which I can’t or don’t want to do myself, Fiverr is my go-to platform.
Keywords Everywhere is a free plugin for your web browser that shows you the search volume and advertisement costs for anything that you may type into a search bar of pretty much all the large search engines, including YouTube.

 

Competition research

Google.com is free of course and the easiest way to quickly find out if there are any competitors in your niche product/service etc. Just type the exact as well as related product/service name, hit 'Enter' and check out the results. Can you hardly find anything? This might be good, because this means there is little to no competition. However, little to no competition can also mean that there is no money to be made...
SEMrush is a paid, but extremely comprehensive all-round online research tool. With tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of visitors per month from the US alone, it can be considered as one of the top online research tools, if not the absolute number one.
SpyFu has a very broad range of tools that are particularly useful to research sites of competitors, keyword rankings, good performing ads etc. Some of the tools you can use for free (up to a certain point), for others you’ll have to pay. If you’re interested what works and what doesn’t, taking a look at the performance of certain components of competitors using SpyFu can be of great value.
Ahrefs is similar to SpyFu in terms of the variety of tools that they provide, although Ahrefs is the somewhat more popular variant. Ahrefs provides you with tools such as; competetive analysis, keyword research, backlink research, content research, rank tracking and web monitoring. Ahrefs provides massive amounts of valuable data so it’s no surprise that it has been used by marketers of companies like; facebook, LinkedIn, Adobe, Netflix, Uber, Pinterest, eBay, Shopify etc. etc. Unfortunately, due to its value, you can’t use Ahrefs for free. However, you can start a trial to see whether Ahrefs is that what you’re looking for or not.
Mangools is a comprehensive collection of site metric tools including KWFinder, SERPChecker, SERPWatcher, Linkminer and SiteProfiler, providing you with all the site statistics tools you need. This collection of tools is comparable with the Ahrefs toolkit, and again, just like Ahrefs, quality doesn’t come cheap so you’ll have to pay for these tools. However, if you’re having a profitable site and you’re willing to next the step, you may just increase your profits dramatically as the result of all the data provided by tools like these.
Moz is somewhat similar to most pnline site snalysis tools, except that it also has a very useful browser extention named ‘MozBar’ which allows you to check site rankings on-the-go while browsing Google. This tool is especially useful while in the beginning stages of setting up a (affiliate) site and determining whether or not you can easily outrank your competitors in Google’s search results. The Moz(Bar) provides you with both a Domain Authority (DA) and a Page Authority (PA) score, mainly based on the amount and quality of the backlinks (external links pointing towards that specific site). The higher the score, the harder it will be to outrank it. Checking your competition before creating a site is crucial to prevent massive investments loss (both in terms of time and money). If a competitor has done his job and gained massive amounts of quality backlinks, you may want to skip the subject, or attack it from a different angle. Moz(Bar) can help you to seperate the wheat from the chaff.
SocialBlade is a free tool to research all kind of statistics from YouTube, Twitch, Twitter and Instagram profiles. Extremely useful to review profile polarities and to relate what sort of content works and what doesn't. When it comes to content creation or content promotion, you don't have to reinvent the wheel to become successful. Others have already invented thousands of wheels, so use them to your advantage. SocialBlade allows you to do so very easily.
Fiverr is probably the most popular freelance website. Whether you are a freelancer or want to hire a freelancer, Fiverr is where you want to start. Some of the popular categories are; Graphics & Design, Digital Marketing, Writing & Translation, Video & Animation, Music & Audio, but also Programming & Tech, any other business-related matter or even things concerning fun and lifestyle. Aside from the categories, you can of course just search what you’re looking for. Need someone to; make a video, read something and record it, translate, write, make a logo or an entire website or do some search engine optimization (SEO) for your site so it appears higher in Google? No problem, just search for the job and you’ll find hundreds of freelancers who can get the job done, along with their prices, ratings and reviews from previous customers. Whenever I need to get something done which I can’t or don’t want to do myself, Fiverr is my go-to platform.

 

Web hosting & domain names

Bluehost is on of the most popular, if not THE most popular web hosting and domain name provider with at least 340k organic search results and 16.4 million backlinks. Whenever you're looking to host your website, Bluehost is definitely worth checking out because they usually offer additional services such as the ability to get a domain name for free when you're applying for their webhosting services. This way, you may save yourself a few bucks. Apart from their great deals, they just offer incredible services, which is proven by all the big clients Bluehost managed to get on board... If you're looking for a new web hosting provider or a domain name, I suggest you start at Bluehost.
HostGator is another popualr webhosting and domain name provider with at least 203k organic search results and 6.2 million backlinks. Generally speaking, HostGator is most popular because of all its (free) features and support. For example, by applying for a webhosting plan, HostGator gives you $100,- worth of Google AdWords as well as $100,- worth of Bing Ads credit (at this moment). Especially when you're trying to setup an affiliate marketing website on a budget, this can be a great start to skyrocket your page views and possibly earn those first bucks a lot faster than you would have otherwise. However, generally, their services are just a bit more expensive than Bluehost, so even if you get some bonuses at the beginning, Bluehost might still be a cheaper option in the long run. Just something to take into consideration.
SiteGround is somewhat of a lesser-known web hosting and domain name provider. However, their easy-to-use interface, their quick and professional support, their options to choose from which city your sites are hosted (which greatly influences your sites' performance in terms of speed), their variety of domain name extensions and their speed performances (especially for WordPress sites) have always appealed to me and their services never let me down. Whether you want to host one or multiple sites, on one or multiple hosting servers, register one or 10 domain names, redirect (point a domain name to a different URL) a ton of domain names, keep it simple or grow big, SiteGround is very unlikely to disappoint you, especially when your planning to use WordPress. Unfortunately, nowadays, other providers like Bluehost and HostGator seem to have much better deals, but since Siteground's services never disappointed me in the past, I wanted you to know they are out there as well.

 

WordPress themes

WordPress.org is the official WordPress site, and as you probably can imagine, it offers a wide variety of themes. Here, you can scan through pretty much all free WordPress themes. However, sometimes, when you're looking for something specific or really professional, you may want to consider some other marketplaces.
ThemeForest is part of the EnvatoMarket and by far the biggest and most commonly used marketplace for paid, professional, all-in, and ready-to-publish site themes and -plugins, as well as email-, newsletter- and landing page templates. ThemeForest offers a wide variety of categories to choose from and offers valuable statistics such as, seller rating, product rating, sales count etc.

 

WordPress plugins

WordPress.org is the official WordPress site, and as you probably can imagine, offers a wide variety of plugins. Here, you can scan through pretty much all WordPress plugins (mainly free ones). However, sometimes, when you're looking for something specific or really professional, you may want to consider some other marketplaces.
CodeCanyon is by far the biggest and most commonly used marketplace for paid, professional, all-in, and ready-to-publish plugins. CodeCanyon is part of the extremely popular EnvatoMarket, so whenever you can't exactly find what you're looking for somewhere else, chances are you will be able to find it here pretty quickly.

 

Website analysis

Google Analytics is most likely the number one used tool to analyze all sorts of site statistics. Other than most third party analytic tools, Google Analytics is linked one-on-one to your site, actually measuring behaviors related to your site, giving you almost flawless statistics, rather than estimating site statistics such as most other online services do. Google Analytics is both easy to implement as well as easy to use, yet offers very comprehensive statistics (if setup the right way). Linking Google Analytics to your site is one of the first things you should do after acquiring a domain name and webhosting, because without it, you're completely blind in terms of website performance, user experience, user behaviors, user geographics, user demographics etc. Regularly checking Google Analytics to see how users land on your site, what sort of users land on your site, what users do on your site etc. is key for setting up a continuously growing, well performing (money making) machine.
Google Search Console is one of Google's Webmaster tools which can be used to find out more about how people land on your site as well as some flaws that may exist on your site. Therefore, Google Search Console is particularly useful for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes. You can find out more about the rankings of the keywords for which your site is shown in Google's search engine results page (SERP), how often your site is shown in Google's SERP, how often people click on your site etc. Also, whenever you make some changes to your site, you can send your newest 'sitemap' using via Google Search Console, so the changed can be indexed faster, i.e., your new content can be indexed faster. So, if you want to improve your SEO, you should definitely make use of Google Search Console.
Fiverr is probably the most popular freelance website. Whether you are a freelancer or want to hire a freelancer, Fiverr is where you want to start. Some of the popular categories are; Graphics & Design, Digital Marketing, Writing & Translation, Video & Animation, Music & Audio, but also Programming & Tech, any other business-related matter or even things concerning fun and lifestyle. Aside from the categories, you can of course just search what you’re looking for. Need someone to; make a video, read something and record it, translate, write, make a logo or an entire website or do some search engine optimization (SEO) for your site so it appears higher in Google? No problem, just search for the job and you’ll find hundreds of freelancers who can get the job done, along with their prices, ratings and reviews from previous customers. Whenever I need to get something done which I can’t or don’t want to do myself, Fiverr is my go-to platform.
Siteliner is a great, easy-to-use tool that you can use to find all sorts of flaws at your site. This allows you to target these flaws specifically, giving you the ability to improve the performance of your site in search rankings and/or the user experience of your site. Siteliner is free to use for sites with up to 250 pages and finds duplicate content (the appearance of similar content at different places on your site and/or external sites), broken links, link-to-text ratios etc. Analyzing your site with Siteliner once in a while can reveal some hidden problems that may decrease the performance or user experience of your site which you probably would not have found otherwise.
SEOprofiler is an extremely comprehensive tool to analyse your website in terms of search engine performance. I have to warn you though, SEOprofiler might be a bit intimidating, considering the amount of data it gathers and throws at your face. For beginners to moderately experienced website owners, I would advice to stick with Google Analytics. However, that being said, if you're somewhat more experienced, or you're having a site pulling in quite some traffic and/or money, going that one step further with SEOprofiler will likely provide you with valuable information that can greatly benefit you in the long run.
SEMrush is a paid, but extremely comprehensive all-round online research tool. With tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of visitors per month from the US alone, it can be considered as one of the top online research tools, if not the absolute number one.
SpyFu has a very broad range of tools that are particularly useful to research sites of competitors, keyword rankings, good performing ads etc. Some of the tools you can use for free (up to a certain point), for others you’ll have to pay. If you’re interested what works and what doesn’t, taking a look at the performance of competitors using SpyFu can be of great value.
Ahrefs is similar to SpyFu in terms of the variety of tools that they provide, although Ahrefs is the somewhat more popular variant. Ahrefs provides you with tools such as; competetive analysis, keyword research, backlink research, content research, rank tracking and web monitoring. Ahrefs provides massive amounts of valuable data so it’s no surprise that it has been used by marketers of companies like; Facebook, LinkedIn, Adobe, Netflix, Uber, Pinterest, eBay, Shopify etc. etc. Unfortunately, due to its value, you can’t use Ahrefs for free. However, you can start a trial to see whether Ahrefs is that what you’re looking for or not.
Mangools is a comprehensive collection of site metric tools including KWFinder, SERPChecker, SERPWatcher, Linkminer and SiteProfiler, providing you with all the site statistics tools you need. This collection of tools is comparable with the Ahrefs toolkit, and again, just like Ahrefs, quality doesn’t come cheap so you’ll have to pay for these tools. However, if you’re having a profitable site and you’re willing to next the step, you may just increase your profits dramatically as the result of all the data provided by tools like these.

 

Email marketing

AWeber is an extremely popular option as one of the top email marketing services. Thanks to its popularity, according to SEMrush, it has a whopping 21.5 million backlinks. Together with ConvertKit and GetResponse, AWeber is considered somewhat more professional than MailChimp with a lot of extra features up its sleeve. Going for AWeber means you'll receive high quality from start till finish, combined with a great service. For example, to help you get started, AWeber offers a comprehensive free guide on how to write great email content with over 45 templates that you can use.
ConvertKit is very similar to AWeber and GetResponse, giving high quality from the get-go. Other than the fact that you will have to put some money down for this service, there isn't a negative point to be found here. ConvertKit is very comprehensive and easy to use, right out of the box. If you want to grow your subscriber list with you, I don't think you can go wrong with ConvertKit. FYI, ConvertKit offers a free eBook with their best practices, advice, and some strageties.
GetResponse is from a similar quality as AWeber and ConvertKit. However, nice about GetResponse is that they also focus a lot on more than just email marketing. With GetResponse you also have a lot of options regarding landing pages, automated marketing, webinars, content resource management (CRM) etc. Whenever you want somewhat more of an all-in service, you may want to check out GetResponse instead of MailChimp, AWeber or ConvertKit. Probably nice to know is that GetResponse also has a 'List Building Program' which helps you to get started that covers everything you need to know to grow your list by up to 1,000 subscribers in as little as 90 days. In addition, they have a free guide about the art of writing emails that actually get opened and clicked.
MailChimp has over 802k organic searches per month in the US alone, making it quite a popular choice in terms of email marketing. MailChimp is extremely easy-to-use and it's very nice is that you can get started for free. Only when you've build a bigger subscriber list, will you actually have to put some money down. It sure is nice to start for free, but once you've build some a subscriber list, you're probably better off with AWeber, ConvertKit or GetResponse. MailChmip is nice to try out, but if you want to go all, I suggest choosing one of the competitors from the get-go.

 

Content creation

Fiverr is probably the most popular freelance website. Whether you are a freelancer or want to hire a freelancer, Fiverr is where you want to start. Some of the popular categories are; Graphics & Design, Digital Marketing, Writing & Translation, Video & Animation, Music & Audio, but also Programming & Tech, any other business-related matter or even things concerning fun and lifestyle. Aside from the categories, you can of course just search what you’re looking for. Need someone to; make a video, read something and record it, translate, write, make a logo or an entire website or do some search engine optimization (SEO) for your site so it appears higher in Google? No problem, just search for the job and you’ll find hundreds of freelancers who can get the job done, along with their prices, ratings and reviews from previous customers. Whenever I need to get something done which I can’t or don’t want to do myself, Fiverr is my go-to platform.
Dreamstime is one of the largest, if not the largest, site with quality stock photos. As of now, Dreamstime claims to have 87 million stock images and 23 million users. I’m not surprised they managed to pull in so many users, because not only the amount of images is impressive, but the overall quality of the images is also amazing. On top of that, the prices per image usually aren’t that big of a deal. Some images you can even get for free or as low as €0.18 (~ $0.16). Whenever you’re looking for an incredibly wide variety of top quality images in all sort of categories, Dreamstime is probably where you want to start.
iStock is part of GettyImages and can easily compete with the other big stock sites. Not only has iStock a ton of free and paid quality images, they also offer illustrations, videos and audio. Just like many other of the stock photo sites listed here, it’s up to you to find your perfect fit, but iStock is certainly worth taking into consideration.
Shutterstock is very similar to iStock, providing you not only with professional images, but also with illustrations, vectors, video and music. Other than most stock photo sites, Shutterstock’s paid plan mainly consists of subscription plans, allowing you to download a specific amount of images depending on which plan you choose. Shutterstock also allows for prepaid packages, but in comparison with the subscription plans, as well as other stock photo sites, the prepaid packages probably aren’t your best options. I would suggest to either go for an subscription plan that suits your needs, or to try out a different stock photo site like Dreamstime or iStock.
Adobe Stock is, as the name would suggest, part of Adobe. Adobe is known for its quality editing software and their stock photo service is no exception. Adobe Stock is a place where you can find extremely professional photo’s, illustrations, videos, templates and even 3D models. A nice feature of Adobe Stock is that it is integrated in pretty much all Adobe software, meaning that you can search for professional images directly inside Adobe’s software and use them immediately. At the moment, Adobe Stock only offers subscription plans and, as you can expect from Adobe’s professional services, Adobe Stock isn’t one of the cheapest stock photo services. Don’t expect to get extremely high quality stuff for nothing, however, that being said, if you’re looking for absolutely stunning, professional stuff in high quality formats, you may want to check out Adobe Stock.
Unsplash is a 100% free, easiy to navigate stock photo site with somewhat of an urban feel to it, which I like a lot. In fact, so far, most of the images that I’ve used on my blog, come from Unsplash. Although generally speaking, the quality of the images on Unsplash isn’t as great as with most other stock photo sites, I usually find them good enough, at least for my blog. Considering that you can use all of the images on Unsplash for free, without having to credit in any way, you may find the lower image quality acceptable for some purposes. However, if you’re planning to sell, pitch or review a product with the intention to make money in any way, I would suggest searching through some of the more professional stock photo sites because with images that need to sell, paying a little bit extra upfront can turn into massive rates of investments (ROI) in the long run.
Pexels is similar to Unsplash, except that Pexels also provides license free videos and that you will find a lot more sponsered photos. Both the positive and negative points mentioned for Unsplash, also apply to Pexels.
Pixabay is similar to Unsplash and Pexels, providing you with license free photos, illustrations, vector files and videos. Both the positive and negative points mentioned for Unsplash and Pexels, also apply to Pixabay. This also means that, unfortunately, Pixabay will also present you with a lot of sponsered photos.
Flickr is a platform widely used to upload images for free which allows the owner to easily use them as a portfolio, gallery or link to them from third-party sites for any other reason. Both professionals and amateurs use Flickr. As a consequence, Flickr has an incredibly large database of photo’s, some of which can be used without credits, some of which can’t. Before using any images from Flickr, make sure to read the descriptions of the different creative commons licenses and check which apply to the images of your interest. To be honest, I only use Flickr to upload images and make galleries because I find most of the images on Flickr of extremely poor quality, and therefore find other stock photo sites more convenient. However, maybe you can find exactly what you need.
Canva can not only be used to create awesome content (see the ‘Content Creation’ drop-down menu), but also to find free stock photos. However, even though you may only want to download free images, you will have to create an account, the quality of the images isn’t always that great and you don’t have any options to choose from in terms of image size or file extention.
Stockphoto is an easy-to-use stock photo site with, according to themselves, over 50 million stock photos and illustrations. Although Stockphoto is quite easy to navigate and has some quality images, it only has subscription plans which are pretty expensive. Therefore, unless you are willing to pay top dollar and download tons of images in a short amount of time, I suggest looking at other stock photo sites first.
The Noun Project is both a free and paid (yet extremely cheap) stock site filled with all sorts of icons in either .png (transparant background image) or .svg (vector) files. The Noun Project is incredibly useful to find icons that can easily be used to create professional logo’s. Additionally, you can find all sorts of icons that you can use on your site to make it feel more professional. The difference between NounPro (the paid plan) or the free use is that with NounPro you don’t have to credit in anyway. As of now, NounPro only costs $9.99/month or $39.99/year, for which you can download all the icons you want, no limits, no strings attached. My girlfriend and I once setup a T-shirt dropshipping store using Shopify and Printful, and we paid $9.99 for one month of NounPro. We then used just that one month to download literally hundreds of icons from all kinds of categories in .svg file extentions. This allowed us to scale the images without losing any quality so we could use them as T-shirt designs.
TinyPNG is a free tool that allows you to easily compress PNG (.png) and JPEG (.jpg) image files so that they take up less space. Although you can hardly see any difference in the images, the reduction in size results in (much) faster pages, making your site load faster in general, improve the users' experience and rank higher in search engines. By making sure to compress every single image of your site before uploading it, you're already ahead of a lot of your competitors in terms of the overall performance of your site, and as a result, also in terms of Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Gimp is a somewhat more basic version of Photoshop, a lot more basic to be honest. However, Gimp is free and for most people probably a lot easier to understand. Gimp likely has all the important features that you will need when you are building and/or promoting sites. I have been using Gimp for years now and it has always served me well.
XnConvert is a handy piece of software that allows you to process, convert and resize large batches of images for free. Whenever you are working online, it is not unusual to encounter issues while trying to upload a certain image file to all sorts of different places. Sometimes sites only accept a specific file extension or a maximum file size. If my image does not fit such nonsense requirements, I let XnConvert take care of it. Throwing your images into XnConvert allows you to do pretty much anything with them in terms of specifications, and all at once. This can save you a ton of time.
FlashBack Express is a very decent and free (screen) capture software by Blueberry Software. Unlike most free screen capture software programs, FlashBack Express allows you to record without time limit and without a watermark being added. Although its interface may look rather basic at first, FlashBack Express has some nice features op its sleeve, a few examples being that you can record your entire screen, a selected part, a specific window, or an external camera. All of this can be done with or without the sound of your PC and/or an external microphone. In addition, FlashBack Express offers several options in terms of the quality of recording such as frame rate, file format, compression level etc. Also, your mouse will be highlighted and red circles will appear when you click your mouse button, which makes it easier for your audience to follow what you are doing. In addition to the recording software itself, FlashBack Express also comes with a simple editing program. Each recording is saved as a specific ‘FlashBack file extension’ which can be opened with this complementary editing program, so it can be edited (if necessary) before exporting your recording as one of the standard video formats (MP4, AVI and WMV). There is also a paid version of FlashBack Express available called ‘FlashBack Pro‘ which mainly gives you more options in terms of video editing and export file formats. However, if you’re just looking for (screen) recording software that doesn’t throw time limits or watermarks into your face and you’re willing to use different programs for the video editing, FlashBack Express is a good, if not the best free option available at the moment.
VSDC Video Editor is an easy-to-understand video editor with a simplistic design, yet packed with features. There is a free version which has all the important features that you'll likely need and which you can use without limits or addition of watermarks. Import and export is easy and comes with a wide variety of presets. For us as content creators, the presets for uploading in low, medium or high quality to YouTube with the correct aspect ratio and file extension is especially useful. Also, creating video-in-video effects (showing a smaller video in the corner of a larger video) or chroma key effects (discarding a background color such as a so called 'greenscreen') are done in no time. Considering there's a free version of VSDC Video Editor available, you can just try out if it works for you. If it does and you're planning to use it regularly, you could consider buying the pro version, which (at this moment) is only $19.99. I found this an absolute bargain since the pricing of most other decent video editors are more in the $100-$300,- price range or $10-$30/month. Buying the pro version of VSDC Video Editor will give you access to features such as 4K and 8K resolution editing, a masking tool to hide/blur, enhanced chroma key for multiple background colors, hardware acceleration (enhancing performance speed), video stabilization and extra video editing effects. However, if you're just looking to put some YouTube videos together, using a few transitions, some text and a video-in-video effect here and there, you're all set with the free version.
EzGIF is an online tool that allows you to create and edit GIFs (sequenced images that look like a low quality video). You can either create .gif files (GIFs) from multiple images or convert short videos into GIFs. After creating the .gif file, EzGIF even allows you to post-edit it. I find GIFs a great way to explain something on a web page without having to use a video. GIFs can serve the same purpose as a very short video, but with a much smaller file size. This minimizes the loading times of your web pages, thus minimally affecting search engine performance. How do you think I created the explanation GIF as part of the ‘How to use this toolkit’ section above?
LibreOffice is the most-used alternative for Microsoft Office Word, Powerpoint, Excel etc. LibreOffice looks pretty much the same and has pretty much the same features, but it’s free.

 

Website promotion

Fiverr is probably the most popular freelance website. Whether you are a freelancer or want to hire a freelancer, Fiverr is where you want to start. Some of the popular categories are; Graphics & Design, Digital Marketing, Writing & Translation, Video & Animation, Music & Audio, but also Programming & Tech, any other business-related matter or even things concerning fun and lifestyle. Aside from the categories, you can of course just search what you’re looking for. Need someone to; make a video, read something and record it, translate, write, make a logo or an entire website or do some search engine optimization (SEO) for your site so it appears higher in Google? No problem, just search for the job and you’ll find hundreds of freelancers who can get the job done, along with their prices, ratings and reviews from previous customers. Whenever I need to get something done which I can’t or don’t want to do myself, Fiverr is my go-to platform.
SocialBlade is a free tool to research all kind of statistics from YouTube, Twitch, Twitter and Instagram profiles. Extremely useful to review profile polarities and to relate what sort of content works and what doesn't. When it comes to website promotion, you don't have to reinvent the wheel to become successful. Others have already invented thousands of wheels, so use them to your advantage. SocialBlade allows you to do so very easily.
WEBSTAGRAM is a free tool that is especially useful to search for popular and related keywords. For Instagram posts, it is extremely important to use the right hashtags with each of your posts, especially when you’re building a profile from the ground up. Considering that (at this moment) you can only use up to 30 hashtags per post, the combination of using not only the most popular hashtags, but also the best fitting ones, is key for optimizing exposure of your posts and profile, consecutively, your website, services and/or products. The extra effort of researching hashtags upfront using a tool like WEBSTAGRAM can greatly benefit your profile, website, sales etc. in the long run.
The Instagram Influencer Earnings Calculator from influencermarketinghub.com is a free tool which can be used to estimate the earnings/costs per post of an Instagram (influencer) account. Using popular Instagram accounts as marketeers for social media accounts, websites, services and products has proven to be a very successful way to increase exposure and sales. By paying the owner of a popular Instagram account to make a post, social media accounts, websites, services, products etc. generally get a lot of engagement in a very short amount of time. However, so called "Influencer Marketing" has become so popular, and it's so valuable, that prices of such posts have skyrocketed. By using the Instagram Influencer Earnings Calculator, you can first estimate the costs for a single promotion post to see whether your influencer of interest fits your budget. Considering that the costs per influencer post can range between a few bucks to several hundred thousand dollars, estimating the costs before contacting an influencer may just save you some shocking answers and a lot of valuable, nonrenewable time.

 

Comment
Please feel free to comment below to improve this post or to let me know what your thoughts and/or experiences are. Also, do not hesitate to share any helpful stuff. If you decide to comment, please make sure to be nice at all times. Founded criticism is OK, but any rudeness will get your stuff deleted. Also, make sure to use your personal name, don’t use any business names and don’t put your personal/business URL in the comment.

WARNING: Do Not Read This If You Are a Smoker (Unless You Want To Improve Your Quality Of Life and That Of Others, At The Same Time)

Warning - Do Not Read This If You Are a Smoker - Sjoerd Blok blog

Special thanks to Jaroslav Devia for his photo on Unsplash

The first wealth is health. ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

A healthy attitude is contagious but don’t wait to catch it from others. Be a carrier.― Tom Stoppard

To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.― Buddha

Smoking is nothing more than an incredibly stupid addiction, a huge waste of money and just another way to commit suicide (albeit a very slow one). Anyone who begs to differ is either a smoker themselves, financially motivated, or just plain stupid.

Unfortunately, if people have the urge to kill themselves by going down the smokers path, it usually takes them a few decades to succeed. Although the upside of this is that they have plenty of time to recant, this also means that they have plenty of time to harm others in the process.

Sure, smokers are at least good for a few things such as generating jobs and taxes. However, unfortunately, those positive sides are pretty much negligible because of the negative impact smokers have on the healthcare system, not only in terms of money, but also by affecting others and by claiming M.D.’s who could have helped others instead. Since smokers practically can’t avoid any of these negative points, and even though nowadays it’s almost impossible not to known that smoking is deadly (especially for smokers, who have to watch all kinds of warning messages and disgusting images on their cigarette packaging), yet they continue smoking anyway, I can’t help to have very little sympathy for smokers (to put it mildly).

It’s astounding how smokers manage to care so little, not only about their own health, but also that of others. I really have no idea how they do it, but for some reason, they really don’t seem to give a #@%! about poisoning themselves and others with their flammable cancer sticks (call me harsh, but that’s what cigarettes are, sticks that give you cancer).

How is that even possible? As a bystander I’m already getting upset, how can it be that they themselves seem to care so little? Heck, I would almost become jealous of the fact that they seem to have developed a skill to care so little about their health, allowing to act unhealthy, so frequently without worrying for a second.

No, no no…

Instead, I freaking hate having to stand outside in the cold and waste my precious, non-renewable time because some people so desperately need to smoke their cancer sticks.

I freaking hate having to wait during the smoke break of my friends while being on fire, throwing nothing but strikes and splits, only to lose it because you’re out of the game.

I freaking hate that it’s somehow considered normal that you have to eat an expensive dinner during your once-a-year vacation in the middle of a bunch of incredibly selfish people who force their sickening gasses up your nose (don’t even bother saying anything about it, unless you like to see frown faces or being yelled at).

I freaking hate having to breath in the disgusting toxic fumes from their personal addiction whenever I walk past schools, shopping malls, metro’s, bus stations, terraces or any building related to entertainment. Even more upsetting is that, when your visiting your mother in the hospital you’ll most likely be forced to hold your breath while stepping through the main entrance. Unfortunately, that’s not all. Ow no, as icing on the cake, the cherry on top, the crux of the biscuit, the final flourish, it even seem normal having to breath in intoxicated air when you’re binge watching Netflix on your own freaking couch because you forgot to close the vent hatch and your neighbor decided to pollute the air (preferably next to their own child).

What’s up with that anyway? How come, that the government is smart enough not to allow every citizen to make a big fire in their backyard, allowing them to throw all sorts of garbage on it, yet it’s completely fine for someone to smoke next to your door, practically in your own backyard and poison you in your own home? Well…

I have no freaking clue.

So, to all smokers out there, stop being so insanely selfish and start thinking about the consequences that your actions have on others and STOP FREAKING SMOKING!

Sure, maybe you don’t care about your neighbors, but if not for them, at least think about the environment, or your offspring. Finally, if for some unreasonable reason you can’t even manage to change your behavior for the environment or your offspring, do it for yourself. Do you really have to undergo a life-threatening experience first, in order to be able to change your standard?

No.

If you do decide to change, not only will you improve your quality of life immensely and live a whole lot longer, you’ll also save tremendous amount of money in the process. Just imagine what you could do with all that extra cash lying around.

Ever wanted to stash a bunch of cash like Pablo in Narcos? Why not do it with the money you saved by quitting smoking?

Ever wanted to throw a bunch of money out of your cabriolet just like you see in the movies? Why not do it with the money you saved by quitting smoking?

Ever wanted to be able to finally buy that new 75” TV to watch other people throw money out of their cabriolet and don’t feel guilty about it? Why not do it with the money you saved by quitting smoking?

You get the point, right? Reasonable reasons enough if you ask me.

Now, for all the non-smoking, smoker haters like me: join the movement, get your ass up, run towards the front line and stand your ground. There’s no reason why you should have to accept a quality of life that is less than you desire just because it’s considered normal.

Upset by the dark clouds of toxic fumes surrounding your head when you’re walking past schools, shopping malls, metro’s, bus stations, terraces etc.?

Are you done having to eat your fancy dinner at a terrace covered by sickening smoke?

Are you enraged by the fact that someone is allowed to poison you with their cancer sticks in your own home?

Good.

Use those feelings to do something about it.

Let’s start by sharing my newbie article with as many (non-) smokers as possible, shall we? 🙂 Thereafter, whenever you find yourself in a situation like I described earlier, pull yourself together, dare to say something about it and get the discussion going.

As always, I hope I’ll be able to help at least one person on the planet with this post, even if it may just be in the smallest way possible.

Comment

Please feel free to comment to improve this post or to let me know what your thoughts and/or experiences are. Also, do not hesitate to share any helpful stuff. If you decide to comment, please make sure to be nice at all times. Founded criticism is OK, but any rudeness will get your stuff deleted. Also, make sure to use your personal name, don’t use any business names and don’t put your URL in the comment.

FYI: “freaking” was used seven times in this article.

How To Master the Superpower of Overriding Status Quo Biases and Crush Your Fear of Change

How To Master the Superpower of Overriding Status Quo Biases and Crush Your Fear of Change (Sjoerd Blok blog)

Special thanks to Rhett Wesley for his photo on Unsplash

“Change before you have to.” – Jack Welch

“By changing nothing, nothing changes.” – Tony Robbins

“What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do.” – Timothy Ferriss

As I stated before, humans are creatures of habits and for creatures of habits, change is one of the biggest challenges that exists.

We simply prefer to hold on to familiarities, rather than walk off the beaten path once in a while. In extreme cases, this is referred to as neophobia, or:

“the fear of anything new, especially a persistent and abnormal fear.”

As long as it doesn’t take on abnormal proportions, having a hard time diverging from the current state of affairs can be referred to as a status quo bias.

Suppressing our ability to change, status quo biases withhold us from taking action, recovering and growing while stimulating us to be passive, deteriorate and diminish.

The ability to override status quo biases can be looked at as a superpower. It resurrects and strengthens the mind to reveal alternative solutions. Unfortunately, superpowers generally aren’t easy to acquire…

The biggest obstacle withholding us to override status quo biases often is to see nothing but risks. Don’t get me wrong, risk-assessment isn’t useless…

Risk-assessment of change is actually necessary to minimize catastrophic outcomes. However, in case of status quo biases, risk-assessment often is a one-way street. We only tend to see risks that may follow change and ignore any risks that may occur as a result of not changing anything.

But how exactly can you learn to override status quo biases?

Well, just realizing where you’re standing on this subject can go a long way. Heck, it may even wave your idea of this post being a whole lot of crap away in an instant!

For starters, recalling the last non-changing decision you’ve made, try to answer the following questions honestly:

  • Did you take the risks of not changing anything into account?

  • Even if you did, was it a fair comparison?

  • Haven’t you made the risks of change seem bigger than they actually were?

  • Haven’t you made the chances of the risks actually occurring bigger than they were?

These are just some example questions you can ask yourself to assess whether you’ve given the path of change a fair chance in recent events. It can also be helpful to see if you have been suffering from regular status quo biases (usually without noticing).

An alternative and tremendously often applied technique to override status quo biases (which I highly recommend not to apply yourself) is to continue with the status quo until you have absolutely no choice left, other than to change. Application of this technique usually results in very unpleasant experiences.

When it hasn’t been warmer than 10°C (50°F) for ages and therefore you decide to wear a T-shirt and a thick sweater, but it turns out to become 25°C (77°F) on a given day, you can ‘act’ in at least three different ways:

  1. You listen to your instinct and assess both the risks of changing and not changing. You pull out your sweater, keep a comfortable body temperature, you feel great the entire day and you can enjoy the weather.

  2. At first, you ignore your instinct which point out that change is necessary. Stubborn as you are, you keep on your sweater until you start to become overheated, sweating like crazy and you realize the current situation is no longer an option. You’re forced to pull out your sweater and you slowly start to cool down a bit so that, at the end of the day you feel fine again and may even enjoy the weather for a bit.

  3. You ignore all signs informing you about the necessity for change and keep on your sweater because ‘you sure as hell didn’t put it on for nothing!’. You start to become overheated, every minute you’re feeling worse and worse until eventually, your body punishes you. You pass out and, after waking up again with a huge headache because your head hit the floor when you passed out, your forced to pull out your sweater anyway. You feel miserable for the rest of the day, making it impossible to do anything, let alone enjoy the nice weather.

Clearly, option one would have been your best friend in this case. Yet, as clear as this example might seem, in reality we often apply option two or three.

By learning to override status quo biases, unpleasant experiences as a result of unwillingness to change can be avoided and enjoyable experiences as a result of willingness to change can be advocated.

Really all there is to it, is to realize whether or not you give change a fair chance.

Just noticing you’re not giving change a fair chance, will make you reconsider. As a result, doors to change will open, which become alternative solutions, which result in alternative outcomes, which ultimately leading to alternative experiences.

As long as you continue to perform risk-assessment for the status quo- and the changing solutions equally, it will be inevitable to experience the alternative solutions becoming better solutions, the alternative outcomes becoming better outcomes and the alternative experiences becoming better experiences.

Once you’ve had a couple of positive experience with change, there’s no way back. Your willingness to change will only continue to grow and before you know it, you’ve mastered status quo overriding and improved your decision-making power immensely.

As always, I hope I’ll be able to help at least one person on the planet with this post, even if it may just be in the smallest way possible.

Comment
Please feel free to comment to improve this post or to let me know what your thoughts and/or experiences are. Also, do not hesitate to share any helpful stuff. If you decide to comment, please make sure to be nice at all times. Founded criticism is OK, but any rudeness will get your stuff deleted. Also, make sure to use your personal name, don’t use any business names and don’t put your URL in the comment.

How to Relieve Years of Lower Back Pain in Just 5-20 min. Without Having to Undergo Any Treatment

How to Relieve Years of Lower Back Pain in Just 5-20 min Without Having to Undergo Any Treatment (Sjoerd Blok blog)

Special thanks to Larm Rmah for his photo Unsplash

If I only could explain how much I miss that precious moment when I was free from the shackles of chronic pain.” ― Jenni Johanna Toivonen

Lower back pain… Like many others, and even though at the moment of writing this I’m just 26 years young, I suffered from it for many years. It always seemed like a never ending story. Whether I laid in bed, stood up, bent forward, sat still or walked around: an uncomfortable and painful feeling was always present in my lower back.

In my case, it started about 6 or 7 years ago. I was spending excessive amounts of time in the gym, regularly asking to much of my body. Already suffering from lower back pain, I started taking isotretinoin (AKA Accutane or Roaccutane) for a lengthy period of time as a treatment for my acne, while I was still beating up my body in the gym. Not a good combination.

Luckily, I re-stumbled upon a quick and easy fix which made my back pain disappear like snow melting in the sun….

When I was around 10, a physical therapists actually already showed me this exercise. However, as a 10 year old boy does with prescribed exercises he doesn’t want to perform, I pretty much ignored it but certainly didn’t pay real attention. Little did I know that I would be needing it so bad years later. Luckily, I bought The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss about 10 months ago, which in turn led me to ask a copy of The 4-Hour Body for my birthday. There it was again at the bottom of page 303, the exact same exercise my physical therapists showed me years ago: the Static Back exercise according to the Egoscue Method.

It’s extremely simple and can be performed pretty much anywhere because your basically just lying on the floor. As long as you have an elevation of some sort on which you can place your calves with your knees bent at approximately 90° so your butt is (almost) touching the elevating object and you have some space to spread your arms at approximately 45°, your good to go. Nothing to lose, I immediately gave it a try. Boy am I happy that I did…

In the hope I can help you relieve your lower back pain and hugely inspired by the image in The 4-Hour body, I made a quick sketch to make things a whole lot easier to understand. As you might see, I’m not overly skilled at drawing but I don’t really care because I think it fits its purpose…

Static Back Egoscue Method Exercise Drawing 5-20min (Sjoerd Blok blog)

Now, there are some things you should know to perform this exercise effectively.

1. When you’re lying down just like the handsome guy in my not so handsome drawing, relax your upper back and make sure you’re lying straight in front of the elevating object so your lower back touches the floor evenly on the left as it does on the right.

2. Spread your arms out at approximately 45° with your palms up while you make sure that your thumbs touch the floor.

3. Don’t rush it. Keep lying for at least five minutes, preferably longer. My back tends to just start relaxing after five minutes, only after that do I actually feel my pain go away. This is why I usually take until my feet start tingling because of a reduction in blood flow, or I feel like I had enough which, in either case, usually takes approximately 20 minutes.

Notes

  • The elevating object (a block in this drawing) can be anything which allows you to put your calves on so that you can have the correct angle between your butt and calves while also being able to relax. If, in any way, you feel like you have to make an effort holding your body in the right position, you’re probably doing it wrong. In order to overcome this problem, I suggest using an office chair. Being able to adjust the height on which you lay you calves (as with an office chair) makes performing this exercise quickly and effectively a lot easier. However, in case you can only use a regular chair which turns out to be to low, putting a pillow on the seat might also just do the trick.

  • I’m having such an arched back that I actually have to pull my knees a bit towards my face in order to decrease the angle between my butt and calves just enough so my butt bends a bit from the floor and my lower back actually touches the floor. Try the same if you feel like your lower back isn’t relaxing and/or isn’t touching the floor.

Performing the Static Back Egoscue Method on a regular basis not only relieves me from my back pain, but it also feels like it increases the time it takes before my back starts hurting again. Basically, I feel like the more I perform this exercise, the less back pain I have in general.

Please bear in mind that I‘m not an expert. I’m an expert. Honestly I don’t expect it to work for everyone. That being said, I hope it does for you…

Luckily, if it doesn’t, this is just an example of what you can try to relieve yourself from your back pain. In The 4-Hour body, Tim Ferriss describes five other egoscue exercises you can try. If you haven’t read The 4-Hour body yet, I think you should. It will most likely improve your quality of life and may even extend your actual lifetime (not likely because of these pain relief exercises, but all other info just might). However, if you don’t feel like buying the book and you still want to know more about exercises similar to the one I’ve described, searching for “egoscue exercises” at google.com or youtube.com probably is the best place to start.

As always, I hope I’ll be able to help at least one person on the planet with this post, even if it may just be in the smallest way possible.

Comment

Please feel free to comment to improve this post or to let me know what your thoughts and/or experiences are. Also, do not hesitate to share any helpful stuff. If you decide to comment, please make sure to be nice at all times. Founded criticism is OK, but any rudeness will get your stuff deleted. Also, make sure to use your personal name, don’t use any business names and don’t put your URL in the comment.