All of these blogging tools and resources are ones I’ve personally used for the past five years of blogging and content creating.
There are so many blogging tools out there, it could take years to figure which ones are the best for blogging in 2020! Welp… I already went through years of spending (aka wasting) money on mediocre plugins and services and figuring out what the best blogging tools are.
Check out my list below to see if any of these blogging resources can help you anywhere from starting a blog to promoting it.
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Best Blogging Tools
For me, search engine optimization (SEO), Pinterest and blogging are a three-in-one kind of thing. I could not have the free, organic traffic I have now without SEO or Pinterest. The tools below encompass blogging with both SEO and Pinterest for organic marketing.
Best Platform for Blogging
WordPress has the largest market share of website builders for a reason. It is the best platform for blogging and the industry standard for bloggers.
You absolutely need a self-hosted WordPress.org site (vs. a non-self hosted WordPress.com) site if you plan on blogging for money. I don’t even consider thinking about Wix vs Squarespace vs WordPress. It’s WordPress all the way.
To learn how to do this with a step-by-step guide, check out my free blogging course that goes from choosing a niche all the way to publishing your first blog post.
Bluehost vs Siteground
I’ve used Bluehost from 2009 to 2020. In October 2020, I switched all my blogs over to Siteground to try out a new hosting company. As a blog specialist, I need to try out multiple hosting companies personally to make my best recommendation, and I’ve been stuck on Bluehost for way too long to give well-rounded info.
I recommend Bluehost as a new blogger because of cost. To be honest, a lot of new bloggers quit within a year because it’s too hard (maybe because they haven’t had my free blogging course to guide them). By going with Bluehost with one year, at least your expenses will be minimized.
I recommend Siteground if your Bluehost service is expiring and you don’t want to renew it at the normal cost. A new contract at Siteground costs less than a renewed contract at Bluehost (but still costs more than a new Bluehost contract).
Switching over from Bluehost to Siteground is super easy because of the Siteground site transferring plugin, which I’ve tried out.
I also recommend Siteground if you are serious about blogging and have a larger budget to start out with. Siteground comes with a great optimizing plugin that I love (although you can download a free one if you have a Bluehost).
No matter which one you choose, make sure to get a copy of my free blogging course; it includes step-by-step instructions for Bluehost.
After unsuccessfully trying out free WordPress themes that just sucked up my time and wasn’t worth all the trouble trying to figure out how to use them without support, I only get feminine WordPress themes from 17th Avenue Design and Pipdig.
To download WordPress plugins, go to your WP Admin Dashboard, click on Plugins and search for the following plugins.
Social Share Plugin: I’ve used over five social share plugins over the five years. I needed one that didn’t slow down my site, had separate mobile options and also included a hidden Pin option, and I finally found Grow by Mediavine.
There is a free version but the paid one, which is about $34/year, is about worth it if you’re serious about Pinterest.
SEO Plugin (free): Yoast SEO is a must-have when it comes to search engine optimizing your site. Once you do keyword research and input those keywords into the plugin, it helps with on-page SEO. Read SEO for Beginners here.
Anti-Spam Plugin (free or $9): Akismet Anti-Spam stops all the spam comments from flooding your blog posts.
Image Optimizer (free): ShortPixel Image Optimizer helps optimize your image size so they don’t slow down your blog speed, which is essential for SEO and user experience.
LuckyWP Table of Contents (free): After trying out a couple of table of contents plugins, this one is by far my favorite. I like how it looks on mobile and the adjustments you can make with it. Like the image optimizer, this is also good for SEO and user experience.
Blog Marketing/Traffic Resources
If I had to choose which marketing tool, search engine optimization (SEO) or Pinterest, to choose first, it would be SEO. This process of optimizing your site so it shows up on search results is important because the majority of website traffic comes from Google (vs. social media platforms).
I share how to do keyword research with Keysearch in my SEO for Beginners post but really go into detail about how to use all of it in my SEO Course for Bloggers. Yup, it’s designed specifically for bloggers.
Of course, my travel and lifestyle blog would not be where it is without Pinterest, which is both a search engine and social media tool.
Pinterest is not what it used to be because of algorithm changes, which is why I stress learning SEO for bloggers more than ever. However, bloggers love Pinterest because of the immediate page views it can bring. Read my best Pinterest tips here.
The scheduler tool I use for Pinterest is Tailwind, which is approved by Pinterest themselves!
Technical and Legal Resources
The only tool for reading your blog’s analytics to see how many page views you get, where your readers are coming from and even what posts to write next is Google Analytics. It is the industry standard for reading your site’s data. Learn about Google Analytics for bloggers here.
To make it legally sound and specific to your blog, I highly recommend getting these lawyer written pages. They are specifically written for bloggers, and the best part is, you get lifetime updates every time there’s new worldwide or country-specific policies we need to be aware of (i.e. GDPR and CCPA implemented in 2018).
For free and cheap options that’ll hold you over for now, check out day three of my free blogging course.
Photo and Design Resources
My number one graphic design tool I use is Canva Pro, especially to make Pins for Pinterest, Instagram stories and text overlay for my YouTube and TikTok videos.
The best site for free stock photos is Unsplash because they are Creative Commons images. That means you can use them anywhere, in any way on your blog, social media and more without paying for them!
Beware: Sometimes people are sneaky and upload photos to Unsplash, then take them off. Then after they see you try to use it, they may try to fine you, saying that you stole their photos.
This RARELY happens but because I’ve heard of it happening once or twice through other bloggers, I store all my Unsplash images on Amazon Drive with the original file name intact so I can prove that it’s from Unsplash.
My favorite programs for editing photos and videos are Adobe Lightroom and Final Cut Pro.
I store every single piece of content made for a blog post (i.e. photos, videos, Pins and graphics) in Amazon Drive aka Amazon Photos. If you’re a Prime member, you get unlimited photo storage and up to 5GB of video storage for free.
To keep track of the blog posts I’ve written, I use Google Sheets.
Free Blogging Course + Help
If you need help with starting a blog, make sure to check out my free blogging course.
Need help with deciding which blogging tools are best for you at your current stage of blogging? Ask me in my free Facebook help group.
If budget is an issue, I’ll be honest with you and let you know if you actually need one of these premium blogging tools or not!
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