Hey, listen – blogging is serious business! Like literally – it is! And if you friend, family member, loved one or spouse is a blogger (or vlogger/video blogger) then you know just how serious it is to them! I began blogging in the early part of 2000, while it was still in its infancy. Back then, it was still taboo and most people kept their online hobby on the down low. Now here we are, a decade later, social media has taken over the internet and blogging has become a way of life for many. As we approach the holidays, birthdays or other special occasions – you are probably asking yourself – “What special gift can I give to the blogger in my life?”. I’ve put together a list of the top gift ideas for the blog fanatics!
1. Services: There are a few essential items that a blogger will need when he or she decides to take their website to the next level. Many will begin on free platforms such as Blogger (formerly known as BlogSpot), WordPress.com or Typepad, however, if they want to be taken seriously – moving to a dedicated host (i.e. an independent.com) is a must. Having your very own website is a relatively simple process – you just purchase your domain name from a provider like GoDaddy.com and register for hosting service, with a company like HostGator.com. You can purchase a domain for as low as $1.99 with coupon codes, and host packages for as low as $4.99 – $9.99. Give the gift of a full year of hosting service paid up front. For less than $100 – your loved one will be on their way to super blogger status!
2. Website Templates and Design: After your blogging friend upgrades to a dedicated hosting service and their own.com, they will then need to decide on a blog platform and begin to build their website. WordPress.com is the most popular CMS (content management system) available. It’s a free software that’s available in a one-click install via the HostGator.com hosting service. It’s the most versatile platform on the web, however – the “out of the box” install comes with one standard template that is pretty boring and plain. What I personally love the most about using WordPress is the ease of building a great looking website. There are literally thousands of web templates available on the net, a great number of them are free. Now, I’m not one to turn my back on “free” – but when it comes to establishing yourself as a reputable blogger and building your brand – it’s best to go with one of the Premium WordPress themes. Premium themes can cost anywhere from $25 to $150 – but it’s money well spent in my opinion. You get a streamlined, modern looking web template that you can edit to your discretion – and most packages come with support for a limited (or unlimited) amount of time. My favourite WordPress premium template sites are WooThemes and StudioPress. These are hands down, the go-to sites for quality themes and support.
3. Services: As a blogger, I know there are a ton of tedious tasks that must be done on the back-end if you really want to be successful in your chosen blog niche. Some of these assignments include managing a Facebook Fan Page, building back links, banner or logo design and building your social network. As mundane as they are, they are crucial to the success of a website, I like to outsource many of this tasks – doing so frees up my time to do other things (such as the actual blogging!). My favourite outsourcing site is Odesk.com – I’ve been able to hire workers to do tasks for as little as $2 per hour (yes, it’s true!). If there’s something that needs to be done, and it’s able to be outsourced – Odesk.com is the best place to go to find quality pre-screened talent who are competitively priced and ready to work!
4. Organization: An organized workspace is essential for successful bloggers. Similar to your office workspace – a website owner needs a place to store important books, items, drives, and a quiet place to work. If your bedroom has turned into a blog headquarters – it is a good time to dedicate a portion of the house just for their online hobby. If you have an extra room – spring for a high-quality desk and chair. The desk should have enough space for multiple computers and/or computer screens, as well as a printer, scanner and hard drives. If you’re pressed for space, opt for a mobile desk – like the FoldAndStow mobile desk from StacksAndStacks.com.
5. Gadgets: In taking a brief, informal survey – there was one item that every blogger selected for their holiday wish list, and that was a new laptop! We aren’t casual internet surfers, there are days when I can spend hours working on my laptop, researching, writing, editing photos or doing general maintenance on my websites. Because of this, the computer of a dedicated blogger goes through more wear and tear than average. We need computers with a ton of space, wireless capabilities, easy to tote, and multimedia friendly.
Of course, you can always go for the top of the line, coveted MacBook Pro, just keep in mind that there tends to be a bit of a learning curve when it comes to the Apple products. MacBook Pro will run between $1999 and $2500, but they are known for security, durability, and includes all the bells and whistles. Generally speaking, Macs last a long time, although you’ll pay more on the front end – you will save a ton over the years as well.
If a Mac is out of the question, you’ll want to look for a laptop that is portable – thin, light with a decent sized hard drive. Netbooks are affordable, sleek, effective, and strike a balance between mobility and performance. I also find the standard notebooks to be great alternatives to MacBooks. I’d recommend the Sony Vaio Laptop (notebook) above anything else.