I promise I'll give you a list of tools to check out, but first I want to tell you a story. The story. The one that I always think about when I think about the power of using the right tools (or equipment).
Can I tell you a Story?
I was twenty two – yes, this story is twenty years old, but I honestly remember it like it was yesterday. My friends thought it would be fun to head to an outdoor spot to go paint balling. I'm not sure anyone other than my friend Jon had done this before, so we had fun mocking him on the drive up because he was wearing a camouflage poncho. We kept asking, in the car, “Where's jon?”
So we got up to the spot and there were a bunch of young kids running around. I'm talking 10-16 year-olds. They had fancy paint ball guns their moms had bought them for Christmas and they even had little belt accessories to carry more paint bullets. They were quaint and we laughed at the thought of destroying their Saturday.
We Weren't Expecting This
Right at that moment three black SUVs pulled up. If you didn't know better, you would have thought the secret service was arriving in advance of something special. But no, this wasn't the secret service. The doors opened and out stepped 15 guys all in full camouflage gear, cleats, hats, mesh over the hats with leaves already woven in, shoulder walky-talkies, and huge guns with laser sighting.
Over the loud speaker we heard, “Hey folks Fremont Police is in the house!” Yup. They came here for a fun and casual work-out on a Saturday morning. Oh and those little kids? Turns out they were on our team against the police guys. Did I mention that not one of the 15 guys was under 6 foot?
We Weren't Equipped
Well, to go out onto the field you first passed a lane with a little station there where one of the staff checked out your gear. You had to shoot a paint bullet about fifteen feet – into a huge rock face – and this little device would rate the speed of your gun. One after another of the police team “discovered” that their equipment was too powerful, so they all had to calibrate their weapons down by half.
I don't remember the numbers, but let's say the course required a max bullet speed of 200. These guys were shooting 400 and then had to calibrate down to exactly 200. Then they'd run out onto the field. Then we started shooting our rental guns – 34, 48, 61. Honestly we thought ours were broken. But the rules just set a maximum, not a minimum. So off we went to play paint ball against the Fremont Police.
I know you can't tell from this picture, but there's a guy in the photo above. It's hard to see him because he fits in well with his environment. Let me be clear – that wasn't me. I stood out from my environment. I didn't look like a field, or leaves, or anything. Just a dude trying to hide behind a tree that was half his size. Oh man!
Are You Using Tools to Help your Site?
Why did I tell you my horror story? Because I don't want you telling your own version years from now. I don't want you showing up to play the game only to discover you're outmanned and out-equipped.
So here's a list of tools I use regularly to help my blog. Now for context, here's a few recent stats:
- I went from 0 daily visitors to over 1500 a day!
- I went from virtually no traffic to over 60,000 views a month!
- I barely sell any products or services on the site.
- All I do is write a daily post, since back in late September, 2012.
Ready for my Top Ten? Some are free, some are paid. All are pure awesome!
- Hosting: WP Engine
- Platform: WordPress
- Theme: Catalyst
- Forms: Gravity Forms
- Site/Page SEO: WordPress SEO by Yoast
- KeyWord Suggestions: HitTail
- Content Syndication: Triberr
- Social/Responsive Images: FooBox
- Mobile Landing Page: First Page Mobile
- Blog Writing: Chris Brogan's Blog Topics Master Class
So There I Was….Hiding
I was sitting behind a tree that wasn't nearly large enough to fully cover me and all I could keep thinking about was why no one had told me what to expect. No one had prepped me. My friend Jon had mentioned camo, but I swear I thought he was joking.
But now, if you're sitting there getting ready to start a WordPress blog, I want to tell you what to expect. I want to tell you what tools you should consider. I want to give you my list so you start with a recommendation that's worked and go from there.
And maybe you won't have the same bruises I did, twenty years ago, when I went paint balling against the Fremont police. Good luck!