Here are the services I use and recommend for others, especially you lovely beginners.
I always recommend WordPress as the best blogging platform, and my advice is to start off self-hosted with your very own name and URL. This makes the content yours and give you much more freedom than using the free WordPress.com platform.
The simplest way to get a blog started is to use Bluehost, the best entry level hosting service I have ever tried.
Bluehost makes it easy to set up your first blog – or relatively easy, let’s say. If you are a non-techie person then do not believe the hype that blogging is simple. It can get quite complex.
If you can spend $300 or so on setting up your site (cheaper than golf or scuba diving!) then you can add on set up services within Bluehost.
If you are skilful and creative, you will enjoy following Design Your Own Blog.
Themes- for non-techie beginners I recommend paying for design assistance at Bluehost. You can choose one of Bluehost’s themes and then pay for that theme to be set up for you. This will save much time and effort!
To find other themes, look at Theme Forest or Studiopress which have many hundreds to explore. My experience is that it can take a lot of time and effort to make these look good unless you know quite a lot about it.
I highly recommend this ebook and audio from veteran blogger and top web copywriter Annabel Candy.
Check the book out here and have a look around Annabel’s blog Get In The Hot Spot too, it’s fun, inspiring and adventurous too.
Canva is a graphic design site which gives you many options for professional looking images, for headers and also for social media.
PicMonkey is a fun tool for getting creative with images. Many hours can be happily spent making graphics for your site!
Both of these sites have a lot available for free, plus paid extra options.
My favourite site of the moment is Pixabay. I must add some of my own images there one day.
Mailchimp is the general favouite for starter bloggers and it’s the one I still use. It’s free until you have more than 2000 on your subscriber list.
You can use SumoMe to collect email addresses for your list using popups and hello cars. This is also a free tool with many paid options (to think about way down the track.)
Hootsuite – a simple starter system which can also expand to having paid options.
Buffer – create lists and add things to your social media schedule easily.
MeetEdgar – this is the one I use on my commercial site. It’s costly but allows you to create a library of reusable social media posts.
CoSchedule – makes it easy to share your own posts and others’ too.
For other tools and resources for further down the track, check out the list here at Problogger.