Blogging Resources

Wondering what tools I use for blogging? Are you a new blogger and looking to start a blog but have no idea where to start? Below you can find some of my favorite blogging-related resources. 

All of these tools and tips are ones I’ve personally used and recommend. The rare ones I mention that I haven’t used, I will put a note and I’m only recommending because I’ve heard lots of great reviews from trusted resources.

Website Hosting Services

To begin blogging, you’ll need to set up your website in a place for it to “live” on the internet.

There are many free hosting options such as Blogger or WordPress.com (the free hosting but your domain will look like this – wordpress.example.com instead of example.com). However, I would not suggest starting here. Once you grow (and you will!), you’ll wish you had your own domain and it will be an absolute pain to switch over.

A self-hosted WordPress site is easily my top recommendation.

WordPress is an easy interface to use and you can use it with your own domain.

Think of WordPress as your blog’s home and your hosting service as the landlord or mortgage company.

If you're just starting out with a self-hosted blog and don't want to shell out a ton of money for web hosting, check out HostGator. I used HostGator for my site for the first four years or so, and only moved when I started getting too much traffic for them to handle. I never had any problems with them and the price is very reasonable. Perfect place for a beginnger to start.
Once my site outgrew HostGator for hosting, I switched over to SiteGround which was highly recommended among my peers. The transition was pretty painless, and I've been very happy with the service. SiteGround IS more expensive, but it was worth it to me to know that my site quicker and less likely to be down. My WordPress VA is also a big fan of SiteGround.

WordPress Themes

After purchasing your domain, picking your host service, and setting up your WordPress, you’ll want to start worrying about the shell of your website and how it looks. 

Themes are the best way to do this without having a ton of website development experience or a lot of money to pay someone.

A theme is relatively cheap (or free) and transforms your site quickly. 

Here are a few theme companies I have used and would recommend: 

Theme Forest 

Elegant Themes

WORDPRESS PLUGINS

The availability of third-party plugins is one of the biggest benefits of using a WordPress site. Here are my top recommendations: 

*Tip – while plugins are amazing, I would suggest anything that can be done without a plugin, should be. A lot of plugins can slow down a website. 

Akismet Anti-Spam: The front-line defense for stopping spammers leaving crummy comments on your site. Licenses are free or you can donate to support the plugin.

jQuery Pin It Button for Images: Simple tool to add a “Pin It” button on your images.

WP Rocket: This is a tool that allows you to speed up your site load times and enhance overall performance by doing a bunch of fancy, behind-the-scenes computer work – one function is “caching”. 

WordPress SEO: This plugin does two powerful things: 1. It creates a sitemap (a list of everything on your site) that google likes; and 2. It gives you the power to improve SEO data. 

Broken Link Checker: Checks your blog for broken links and missing images and notifies you on the dashboard if any are found.

Elementor: The most advanced frontend drag & drop page builder. Create high-end, pixel perfect websites at record speeds. Any theme, any page, any design.

GAinWP Google Analytics: Automatically adds Google Analytics tracking to your site and displays Google Analytics reports and real-time statistics in your dashboard.

Grow by Mediavine: Add beautiful social sharing buttons to your posts, pages, and custom post types.

Redirection: Manage all your 301 redirects and monitor 404 errors

Tasty Pins: Optimize your blog’s images for Pinterest, SEO, and screen readers.

UpdraftPlus: Backup and restore: take backups locally, or backup to Amazon S3, Dropbox, Google Drive, Rackspace, (S)FTP, WebDAV & email, on automatic schedules.

Wordfence Security: Anti-virus, Firewall, and Malware Scan.

Yoast SEO: The first true all-in-one SEO solution for WordPress, including on-page content analysis, XML sitemaps and much more.

Email Services

After a while with MailChimp, I was curious about some other options and have been using AWeber for a little over a year. My account is $19/month which is on the lower end for paid-for subscriptions. It's pretty easy to use, easy to set up campaigns and funnels and more.
While I'm super happy with AWeber, I've heard fantastic things about ConvertKit as well and know many blogging friends who use this and rave about the service.

Social Media Services

SmarterQueue is one of the best time-savers I've ever found for blogging and social media. When I publish a post, I put it into Smarter Q and schedule it. The service is completely customizable with when certain types of content is shared, what platforms, if you want it to post once or continuously, and so on.
What SmarterQueue does for Twitter, Facebook, etc, Tailwind does for Pinterest. I feel like I wouldn't even have the level of Pinterest success I do if it wasn't for Tailwind. I use it to take my pins on Pinterest and schedule them out xxx amount of times per day.
CoSchedule is also fantastic. I actually used them when they first started years ago. I quit because I was making nothing off my blog. Somewhat similar to SmarterQ. However, you can also manage your editorial calendar and social sharing schedule in one spot.
I use this service to track our Twitter Chat reach. It is not the cheapest service ($60/month to track 3 hashtags), but we found we needed it for creating campaign studies after working with Twitter chat sponsors.

Organizational Tools

Evernote is an app designed for note taking, organizing, task management, and archiving. The app allows users to create notes, which can be text, drawings, photographs, or saved web content. It also syncs the app, website, and laptop app allowing your on-the-go notes to be accessed on the computer. While there is a paid version, the free version is perfectly suitable and all I use.
Google Drive is a file storage and synchronization service. I use it for everything. They have programs much like the ones we've all used - documents, spreadsheets, powerpoints, and on and on. They update automatically and can be accessed on any device. Also makes it easy to share these documents with anyone you choose.
Asana is a web and mobile application designed to help teams organize, track, and manage their work.
Lastpass is a password management tool which is supported well across multiple devices. You have access to desktop software which supports Windows, Mac and Linux along with specific browser extensions that support Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer and more. Type in a password and you’ll be prompted to save or overwrite an existing password. You can also choose to auto-fill your details or click a button and select your account before logging in.
Slack is a popular app that is perfect for communication and integrates other must-have productivity tools. If you have a team across different timezones, this platforms acts like a group message, but BETTER.
Trello is a project management tool that allows you to create boards for each of your projects; you create lists across your board and then add cards to each list. Within each card you can specify a due date, attach files, add descriptions, checklists and labels. You can drag & drop cards and lists which makes everything easy to move around

Financial & Business Tools

I use the Expensify app to scan and manage my receipts, especially when I'm on the road.
This free online software is a decent option for accounting and expense tracking.

Photo & Graphic Design Tools

Adobe Spark is an online and mobile design app. Easily create stunning social graphics, short videos, and web pages that make you stand out on social. This is one of Adobe's FREE products and I used it after Canva to make my Pinterst pins.
Canva is a graphic design platform that allows users to create social media graphics, presentations, posters and other visual content. It is available on web and mobile, and integrates millions of images, fonts, templates and illustrations. I used this to Pinterest images for years. They have tons of templates and free photos.
I use a lot of different photo stock websites, but Unsplash is probably my favorite in terms of my aesthetic preferences and the reliability of finding a photo for what i'm looking for.
I now use Photoshop to create all of my pins. I wanted something more customizable and I wanted all of my pins to be "on brand." I've created templates so for each new post, I just have to go in and change the photos and text.

SEO & Writing Tools

I use Keysearch for keyword research including in-depth competition analysis, keyword difficulty checker, keyword suggestions and more.
Grammarly is a free writing app to make online writing clear and effective. Add the extension to Chrome and it automatically checks your spelling and grammar when you write blog posts, emails, and more.