Starting and growing a successful blog can be a lot of work. I had no idea there was so much involved when I first started. As a blogger, I have used tools and resources that were extremely helpful and that I highly recommend and others that I could have done without. In an effort to save you time and money, I have put together a list of my favorite tools and resources that I think every blogger should use.
Hopefully you will find this list helpful as you navigate the journey that is blogging!
This post contains affiliate links.
Before we get started, if you don’t have a blog yet, be sure and check out my post on How To Start A Blog. I have a self-hosted WordPress blog and it’s the only platform I recommend for bloggers who plan on monetizing their blogs. Starting a self-hosted blog requires a small investment but it gives you total control over things like design, advertising, SEO or other customization.
START YOUR BLOG
This is the hosting company I use and recommend to new bloggers. I have had a great experience with them and they provide fast, reliable hosting. They have plans starting at only $3.95 a month. You can’t beat that price!
I have had so many people ask me which theme I use for my blog, so I thought I would mention it. I use the Oleander theme from SoloPine and you can find it on Creative Market. It is very reasonable and I have been more than happy with it. Creative Market has so many other themes though, so be sure and browse while you are there.
There are many places where you can find free stock photos for your business. I list many of them in this post HERE.
I use PicMonkey almost daily in my business. I create all of my pins in PicMonkey and most of the graphics I use in my marketing and promotion. It used to be free, but they have recently started charging a monthly fee. I stayed with them when they started charging, because I love PicMonkey so much.
Canva is another site that helps you design graphics. You can not only design your pins, you can create any kind of printable you can imagine- planners, book covers, greeting cards, announcements and so many other things. Canva is free but you can choose to upgrade for added tools. The free version is plenty though!
This is an easy way to schedule all your posts for your social media.
PostPlanner is similar to PostCron, but helps you actually find content to share on your social platforms.
BoardBooster is a scheduling tool that I use daily to schedule my pins to my group boards on Pinterest. I schedule about 70 pins a day (and manually pin too!) and using BoardBooster saves me time. I can load my pins into secret boards using BoardBooster and Pinterest thinks I am pinning all day long. It has really helped me grow my following on Pinterest, which has helped me grow my traffic, my email list, and my income. Plans start at just $5 a month and if there was only one thing you could invest in…BoardBooster would definitely be high on that list for me.
This is the email provider I use and recommend first. You can read all about Why I Chose MailerLite HERE and how I grow my Email List using MailerLite HERE, so I won’t go into detail here. Just know that MailerLite has everything you need for your email marketing and is super affordable.
If you really don’t want to use MailerLite, the next provider I recommend is ConvertKit. ConvertKit comes highly recommended by many of my blogger friends and has excellent customer service. It is much more expensive than MailerLite, but some people still prefer it, so I mention it.
I use SendOwl to sell and deliver my digital products. You create your product, upload it to SendOwl and they pretty much take care of the rest. You can have affiliates in SendOwl, they take payment for you and the cost is very reasonable. I know bloggers who host their courses on SendOwl as well because their fees are so much lower than some of the other course platforms.
This is where I host my courses. Teachable is an amazing platform for anyone who wants to create a course. They do have a free option if you want to start there, although it is a bit limited. The customer service is great and they have many tutorials to help you get started creating your course and making money. Teachable will collect payment for you, pay your affiliates, and more. They make it super simple to create and launch your courses.
As you might imagine, this is how I record my screen for all my videos. It is free, although they do have an upgrade with more features. After playing with a few options, Screencast-O-Matic was the easiest platform for me to use.
TOOLS TO MAKE LIFE EASIER
This is a tool that helps you…analyze your headlines for your blog. Their tagline is “write headlines that help you drive traffic, shares, and search results.” When yo have a powerful headline for your blog post, more people are likely to want to click through and read what you have to say.
The Noun Project has over 1 million icons you can download and use, royalty free. Yes, you read that right. It’s pretty amazing.
Trello is my new best friend. I am a huge planner person, and I have lists for everything. If it isn’t written down, it is like it doesn’t exist for me. I have avoided any sort of electronic planning because I have such a love for paper planners. Then I found Trello. Trello is life changing. I use Trello to organize everything, from my home to my business and everything in between. I use it for meal planning, for my homeschool, for those master brain dumps, to keep calendars synced with my husband…the list goes on and on. You need to try it for yourself. And it’s FREE!
This is a MUST HAVE extension for Chrome. Seriously, it has saved me so much time! LikeItaAll is an extension that likes all the Instagram photos in a thread for you! Game changer! I used to wonder how all these people could generate so many likes on their photos, even without huge followings. How did they have the time to sit there and do all that?! Well, the secret came out….LikeItAll. It is only a one time $10 purchase, so it is a no brainer for me.
COURSES AND EBOOKS
This course was created by a fellow blogger (Megan at LoveFamilyHealth.com), a stay at home mom of two. In under two years, she has generated a 6 figure salary from blogging. She recently did a free training for us in myy Facebook group, Blogging With Heart, and gave us fantastic tips. Her course helps drive quality, long-term traffic to your blog.
You’ll be able to learn how to set up your business account, setting up ‘rich pins’, how to get access to Pinterest group boards, tips to grow your followers organically, SEO for Pinterest, how to brand and monetize your blog and a TON more. She even has sections on Facebook and growing your email list.
This course from McKenize shows you how to make affiliate sales directly on Pinterest. I have been focusing ore on affiliate marketing in the last few months, but really didn’t want to have links all over my blog. I have broader boards on Pinterest that mesh well with many topics and I am able to easily use affiliate links without feeling weird. It is pretty genius, actually! You don’t even need a blog to make money from Pinterest.
Blogcabulary Plus is the only blogging book of its kind. It is the only book where terminology, resources, and blogging processes collide in a way that it tells a cohesive and easy to understand story. All of the terminology questions you will ask yourself along your blogging journey are finally all in one place. So that all you have to do is focus on content creation, growing your blog, and making profit.
This is my go to EBook for all things Facebook. Brittany went from 2,000 Facebook fans to over 100,ooo fans in 8 months and then wrote a book for us, explaining how she did it! There are some great tips in here, some I would have never thought of.
I know Facebook is frustrating many bloggers right now, but there is hope! It is not a platform you should give up on because it can be so powerful for your business. Brittany has now expanded her EBook into a course, so you can get the training in whatever way suits you. I highly recommend it!
This is the first course I bought as a new blogger. Abby is such a sweetheart and I learned so much from her course. It really is a very comprehensive course, you don’t need anything else. There are videos, tutorials, a workbook, interviews and more.
Jen is the writer behind Women Winning Online and has a thriving Facebook group for bloggers as well. Her course helps you build a marketing plan and massive traffic to your site, which helps you grow your email list and your income. I have talked to Jen many times and she is a wonderful person. Her course is super helpful and includes links to hundreds of Facebook groups and Pinterest group boards.