I first started an actual blog (not a LiveJournal) about six or so years ago. Back then, I didn’t look into many tools for bloggers online. I wrote my posts like it was a journal, only posted when I was struck by inspiration, and basically did nothing to promote my blog. I had a lot of fun, but the goal of my site was to be a creative outlet and to practice my writing.
Now, while I still want to achieve those two goals, I have a couple more: increase my traffic to tens of thousands a month and to earn a substantial amount of side-income through my blog.
I can’t do that alone.
There are so many useful tools and resources for bloggers out there — ones that teach beginner marketing techniques, ones that help you gain passive income, and ones that host or organize or make your site more beautiful. On the flip side, there are plenty of resources that claim to be MUST-HAVE, but it turns out they are most definitely not.
Here are seven of the most helpful tools for bloggers that I’ve found over the past few months that have really improved my blogging skills and have helped me see growth on my site.
(Note: this post may contain affiliate links. These are no cost to you, but help me gain a little bit of money. I only promote products that I believe in!)
1. SiteGround Hosting
As I mentioned before, I started my first blog quite a few years back. I used the Blogger platform and even though I owned my domain name, I was not self-hosted. When I came back to blogging with kaijumaddy, I decided to go the WordPress route.
Self-hosting your blog is important because you have full control of your site and can be guaranteed security of your page. It looks more professional and you can completely modify, customize, and monetize to your heart’s content.
After you sign up for a WordPress.org account, you’ll have to find a site to help you self-host. That’s where tool #1 comes in: SiteGround. A good self-hosting website resource is one of the most important tools for bloggers to decide on.
I use SiteGround to host and I’ve never been happier. The process to sign up and get everything all set up was so easy, I was able to figure it out within one afternoon. There are always package deals and promotions going on, too. When I signed up last September, I was able to subscribe to one year of the second tier plan for only $5.79 a month. Now that my year is coming to an end, I’m going to look around to see if I qualify for any other promos.
SiteGround also lets you register your domain. I pay $15.95 a year to own the website name kaijumaddy.com. Not bad! I also recommend opting in for the domain ID security feature, too, otherwise, your personal information will show up online connected to the domain registration.
2. Yoast SEO Plugin
I have talked about Yoast a few times while writing about blogging, but I think that this is one of the best tools for bloggers out there. Social media traffic and viral spikes are great and all, but the longterm benefits of great SEO are vital to a site’s longevity.
You’ve probably seen it at least once so far if you’ve been blogging for a bit – you have a pin go viral on Pinterest. Traffic jumps up, you feel great for a few days due to the increased pageviews, but then it fizzles, and you’re back to a baseline. SEO helps that traffic baseline stay higher.
The Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress is FREE and so helpful while writing your posts. You can select a keyword to focus on for the post, and it gives you recommendations throughout if the keyword is included enough times, if the placement is correct, if you need more images or links, etc.
You’re also able to edit the blog post’s meta right from the plugin, too — you can change up the title and meta description (the information that shows up on Google results pages) to be best optimized.
Here’s what the meta editor looks like!
Using Yoast is a great way to get yourself in the habit of these SEO techniques, too — the more you refer to Yoast’s recommendations, the more they’ll become second nature and you’ll just start doing them naturally.
You guys, Grammarly is a godsend. If there is anything you take away from this post, I hope it is this incredibly essential resource for both beginner and advanced bloggers.
Grammarly is an extension that you can add to Chrome that’s basically a really great spellcheck. The free version of the app scans your writing for spelling errors, as well as critical grammar mistakes. Forgot a comma? Grammarly can help you! Too MANY commas? Grammarly is there!
You can also add words to your dictionary, so you won’t see things like your blog’s name constantly underlined in red. You can also visit Grammarly’s main page to upload docs right to the page for a check, as well as download an extension for Microsoft Office.
There is a premium version available, which gives way more in-depth edits on style and grammar — it looks AWESOME, but the free version is perfect for me and is one of the best tools for bloggers that I’ve found and actually use every time I log into my blog. I love a second set of eyes on my posts to check for any mistakes.
You guys know that I love Trello. For a detailed explanation of how I use Trello as a tool for my blog, take a look at my article How to Use Trello to Organize Your Blog.
The bottom line is: you need something to help you keep everything organized. A place for all your to-do checklists, for all your brainstorm notes, and to monitor progress on any short and long-term projects. You can use Excel or a notebook, but you really need a project management system to stay sane. I’ve found that the interactive layout of Trello is the most intuitive for my work style, and it’s fun and interesting enough that I just plain like playing around with it.
A Trello card I used to plan my post about starting a blog.
Visit Trello to set up your first board to see if you like it.
5. Pinteresting Strategies eBook
If you’re out there researching different tools for bloggers to get a leg up on this business, you’ll have noticed that there are A LOT of eBooks out there and A LOT of online courses that say that they’re the number one resource to help you run a successful blog and earn millions of dollars a year passively.
It takes a lot more work than a lot of these courses let on. Running a blog that makes money is like an actual job — you have to put time and effort into it to see a payout. Of all the articles and eBooks I’ve read, Carly’s Pinteresting Strategies was the one that I’ve found the most helpful and the most realistic.
It also helped me realize the potential of Pinterest as a traffic-earning tool. Obviously, I knew that pinning was an important part of blogging, but there are so many tactics and methods that she introduces in the course that were “oh, yeah!” moments for me. She’s incredibly resourceful, and while I might not follow her manual pinning strategy exactly, I learned a lot from the book.
Take a look at her intro page to the course, too — it’s really what convinced me to spend the $32 to take a look at what she had to say. She’s very honest throughout about what her book is and isn’t. It IS a guide showing how she achieved her success, and it ISN’T a quick, one-step plan to easy riches.
Since I posted last month, my monthly views increased from 144K to 315K!
In my post about my two Pinterest strategies, I talk about how much I love Tailwind, but let me go over it again!
- You can schedule pins months into the future. I spend a few hours a week pinning, pinning, pinning to my heart’s content – BUT, instead of just pushing them live, I add them to my Tailwind queue. Tailwind optimizes the best times for you to pin and schedules them to publish during those times. I get a nice, steady stream of pins added to my board throughout the day, and I don’t have to worry about it.
- You can easily schedule your new blog post pins to group boards in just a few minutes. Once I add a new pin image for my latest blog post onto my Best of kaijumaddy board, I’ll schedule it to all the group boards I belong to that are a good fit. You can set an interval, so they publish every day or whenever you want, and then once you publish, it takes care of the rest for you!
- Tribes are fun! You can join Tailwind Tribes, which are like native versions of group boards. You can add your pins to tribes, too, and members of each tribe can schedule your pins as they see them.
Trying Tailwind is a great idea if you plan to use Pinterest as part of your blogging strategy. It’s approved by Pinterest, and so many people have seen success using it. It’s really a lifesaver.
The last item I have on this list of resources and tools for bloggers is Feedly, a blog reader site. I use Feedly to subscribe to all the blogs I want to read daily. I used Google Reader for years and years and years until the app finally went offline (boo!), but Feedly is the replacement that I’ve found I actually use and like.
Reading other people’s blogs is one of my favorite parts of running a blog, and I think it’s an important aspect to consider while running your site. I love keeping up to date with blog trends, I love seeing what other people post about to gain inspiration for my own site, and I love being able to have basically a newspaper of new articles to read whenever I check it.
Using Feedly makes it really easy to save articles to read later (I use this a lot while compiling links for my weekly round ups), and it’s also a great way to find blog posts to comment on.
7 Essential Tools for Bloggers
What types of tools do you use on a regular basis? What resources have you found invaluable while working on your blog? Let me know in the comments!