28 Blogging Tools That’ll Up Your Game in 2019

Blogging Tools That'll Up Your Game

Whether you’re a beginner just starting to blog or an old pro looking to grow your site, the huge number of blogging tools and resources out there can be overwhelming.

That’s why we keep things simple.

Our list is short. It’s filled with only a handful of categories. And we only mention the best blogging tools — those we use ourselves or recommend to our students.

In this guide:

Disclosure: If you grab any of the blogging tools we mention using our referral links, we’ll get a small commission. However, there’s no extra cost to you.

Web Hosting

Without a dependable web host, your blog will be slow, your readers will be frustrated, and Google will push your content to the bottom of search results.

Our Pick for Most Bloggers:

SiteGround (affiliate link)

SiteGround (affiliate link) is like one of those hole-in-the-wall restaurants that’s both affordable and really freaking good, and it’s the WordPress host we recommend to our students.

Managed WordPress hosting plans start at $3.95 per month.

Email Marketing Tools

Ask fifty bloggers for their biggest regret, and most will tell you they wish they’d started building their email list sooner.

The lesson? If you’re not already capturing the email addresses of your readers, you need to start immediately. Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. An email marketing service, and
  2. A lead generation tool.

Here are our recommendations:

Best (Free) Email Marketing Service:

Blogging Tools - MailerLite (affiliate link)

We used to recommend MailChimp to our students, but unfortunately their free plan no longer supports automated onboarding. Now we recommend MailerLite (affiliate link).

MailerLite is free if you have fewer than 1,001 subscribers. You’re able to send up to 12,000 emails per month for free. And when your site grows, you can either upgrade to one of MailerLite’s paid plans or switch over to our next recommendation.

Email Marketing Service for Serious Bloggers:

Blogging Tools - ConvertKit (affiliate link)

Founded by a blogger, ConvertKit (affiliate link) is the email marketing solution of choice for serious bloggers big and small.

The starter plan is $25 per month when you pay annually, and it comes with a risk-free, 14-day trial.

Favorite Lead Generation Plugin:

Blogging Tools - Convert Pro (affiliate link)

To turn blog traffic into leads, you need a way to capture the email addresses of your readers. With an email list plugin like Convert Pro (affiliate link) or Sumo, you can strategically place opt-in forms and pop-ups throughout your website.

Convert Pro isn’t free, but its drag-and-drop editor is the most user-friendly we’ve tested for creating attractive pop-ups.

Domain Registration

Once you’ve found a great domain name, you’ll need to register it before it’s snatched up by someone else. To do that, you need a domain registrar.

Our Pick for All Bloggers:

Namecheap (affiliate link)

Namecheap (affiliate link) is our favorite domain registrar.

Domain registration is one of those things where it doesn’t make sense to pay extra. So long as you’re going through a reputable company, like Namecheap, you’re good to go.

Prices start at $8.88 per year for a .com domain name extension.

WordPress Themes

Content is indeed king. But if the design of your blog is unsightly and amateurish, most readers will never give your blog content a chance.

If You Want a FREE WordPress Theme:

Blogging Tools - Astra (affiliate link)

Astra (affiliate link) was the name that came back again and again when we asked 11 experts for their pick for the best free WordPress theme.

If you want a free, lightweight theme that excels at customization and performance, Astra is a great choice.

If You Want a Premium WordPress Theme:

Blogging Tools - Astra Pro (affiliate link)

Astra Pro (affiliate link) takes everything our experts love about Astra’s free version and turns them up to 11.

It costs $59 annually, or for a one-time payment of $249 you can get lifetime updates. And you get a lot for the money: WooCommerce integration, more site layout options, better header and footer designs, 1-on-1 customer support, and more.

If You Want an Advanced Page Builder:

Blogging Tools - Elementor (affiliate link)

Elementor Pro (affiliate link) lets you create landing pages, design high-quality pop-ups, and customize every aspect of your WordPress site with a slick drag-and-drop editor. Among its numerous features, you get a dedicated set of 80 design tools that’ll let you fine-tune to your heart’s content.

Personal plans start at $49 per year. There’s also a free plan with limited features.

Keyword Research Tool

You can get pretty far as a blogger with know-how, grit, and determination. But to compete with those big blogs and websites you’re chasing in Google’s search engine results, you need a tool that can help you think like Google.

Our Pick for All-in-One Search Engine Optimization Toolset:

Ahrefs (affiliate link)

SEMrush and Moz are other good options (and the Google Keyword Planner can offer some nice insights for those on a budget), but Ahrefs (affiliate link) is the SEO toolset we use here at Smart Blogger.

It provides everything you need to grow your Google search traffic, perform in-depth keyword research, and monitor your competitors. Their SEO Toolbar (a Google Chrome extension) is one of our favorite blogging tools — in any category.

Ahrefs plans start at $99 per month, and they offer a 7-day trial for $7 if you’d like to take them for a spin.

Other Favorite Blogging Tools Worth Mentioning

Before wrapping things up, here’s a quick rundown of great blogging tools we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention.

Writing Tools:

Need a helping hand while you hone your craft? These writing tools can assist you while you’re learning the ropes.

  • If you’re prone to spelling or grammar mistakes, Grammarly (affiliate link) is an AI-powered writing assistant. It’s as good as you’ve heard.
  • The Hemingway App can help you improve the readability of your posts. If your content is too complex (or even passive), Hemingway will tell you.
  • Want a tool that’ll help you write better headlines? The Headline Analyzer from CoSchedule will rate your headline and tell you how well it will do.

Social Media Scheduling Tools:

Want a tool that will let you schedule tweets, Facebook shares, Pinterest pins, and LinkedIn posts in advance? If social media is a big part of your promotion arsenal, using one of the scheduling tools listed below could save you lots of time.

  • Buffer’s Publish tool has several pricing tiers, but its free plan offers 3 social accounts, 10 scheduled posts, and 1 user.
  • Like Buffer, Hootsuite’s free plan also includes 3 social media accounts and 1 user, but allows 30 scheduled posts.
  • MeetEdgar isn’t free, but it’s packed with features. You get 25 social media accounts and continuous posting. Load your posts and MeetEdgar will continue to publish and reshare them — even once you reach the end of your queue.

Social Sharing Icons:

Want to turn your existing audience into advocates? Social sharing buttons let readers tell their friends and family about your posts with two quick clicks or taps.

  • Social Warfare (affiliate link) is a WordPress plugin that lets you add lightweight, professional-looking social share icons to your blog content. This free tool makes it easy for your existing readers to share your posts, which can bring more traffic back to your site.
  • Social Warfare Pro (affiliate link) is the free version on steroids. If you want more sharing options, custom design, and even more features, the pro version is a worthwhile upgrade. And at only $29 per year for a single site, it’s an affordable upgrade too.

WordPress Support:

Most bloggers, especially when they’re starting out, are one-person teams. They’re in charge of everything — content, design, promotion, troubleshooting bugs, you name it. If you have the budget for it, outsourcing some of these tasks will let you focus on the areas of blogging you enjoy (and that bring in money).

  • Our pick for a 24/7 WordPress support team is Plugmatter (affiliate link). With plans starting at $99 per month, Plugmatter will troubleshoot quick fixes, give you plugin consulting, handle WordPress and plugin updates, regularly back up your WordPress blog, and more.

SEO Tools:

If you want your content to rank well in Google’s search engine results, you need to be SEO minded. These tools will help.

  • The Yoast SEO plugin is the gold standard of WordPress SEO plugins. No matter your level of expertise, it’ll help you with your search engine optimization. Yoast SEO has both free and premium versions, but its free version will suffice for most users.
  • One of the Yoast SEO plugin’s features is letting you know whether your headline and meta description are too long. But if you want more detail, if you want to see precisely how your blog post will look in Google’s search engine results, the free tool SERPsim is one you’ll want to bookmark.
  • Google offers a variety of free SEO tools. In addition to the aforementioned Google Keyword Planner, Google Search Console lets you discover and fix errors on your site (which can hurt you in SERPs). And to see how your SEO efforts are paying off, Google Analytics lets you track your website traffic.

Content Research:

Why create content you hope will connect with an audience when you can discover what types of content are already making connections?

  • BuzzSumo is a content marketing research tool that lets you see how popular a keyword, blog topic, or specific URL is on social media. It also lets you find popular influencers on social media, which is very handy when you’re doing email outreach.
  • Another free tool from Google, Google Trends lets you check what keywords people are searching for all over the world. If you’re looking for new blog post ideas, it’s a nice resource.

Graphics:

Images can complement your words and turn run-of-the-mill blog posts into eye candy. These tools will help you make the most of yours.

  • We use Canva to create our social media graphics. It’s powerful and easy to use. Their free plan has all the bells and whistles most bloggers will need, but if you need more functionality, the Pro plan is well worth its $9.95 per month price tag.
  • Large images slow down your blog, which makes Google push you down in search engine results. The free Smush Image Compression and Optimization plugin by WPMU DEV will optimize your images as you import them into WordPress. You can also “bulk smush” up to 50 images at a time. If you use lots of screenshots and stock photos in your content, you’ll appreciate this plugin.

Productivity:

Productivity tools aren’t sexy, but they’re necessities. Here are our favorites:

  • We use G Suite (affiliate link) here at Smart Blogger. We use it for emails, business calendars, and every blog post begins life as a Google Doc (where version history lets us review every change and every comment). It’s possibly the blogging tool we use most often, and we highly recommend it.
  • The Smart Blogger team lives inside Slack. When the day comes where your blogging team of one becomes a blogging team of two or more, you’ll need a collaboration tool. Slack is as good as it gets.

So Which Blogging Tools are Right for You?

Wherever you are on your blogging journey, you now know the tools needed to take you to the next level.

We’ve done the research and explored all the dead ends (so you don’t have to). Now it’s up to you grab the tools you need and get to work.

If you have a question regarding a particular tool, post it in the comments below. We’ll do our best to help you.

Editor’s Note: This post has received a significant update since it was first published in 2013. As a result, some of the blog comments reference points that have been modified or removed.

162 thoughts on “28 Blogging Tools That’ll Up Your Game in 2019”

  1. Marsha, I am using almost 40% of the mentioned tools and happy to say that they helped me a lot to boost my business.

    Importantly to say – This was not just another article about tools. 🙂
    The tools you mentioned can take a business to a very big level if we know how to use them properly.

    Thanks a lot.

    1. I have to agree. I am a huge Leadpages fan. It was an investment that catapulted my email list.

      Also as an alternative to wishlistmember you should check out IfSimply.com. It is easier to set up and manage and has integrated forums.

  2. Love it Marsha.. especially how you broke bloggers out into categories. I think that helps outline where a person might be.

    I agree with most of your tools but I have to say Google Analytics drives me crazy and I prefer the simple (and free) Statcounter.

    darlene 🙂

    1. Thanks, Darlene.

      Yeah, Google Analytics is an acquired taste. 🙂 The problem with a stat counter is it tends to measure the wrong things and lead you to believe your blog is growing, when it may not be. The best metrics are direct measures of engagement — email subscribers and comments — which, unfortunately, Google Analytics doesn’t measure either, but it can give you a better overall picture.

    2. Stephen Kemper

      Good point Marsha. We’re seeing a trend of people wanting to hack information more and more, whether they are beginners, intermediates, or experts. Therefore, maybe more of us should try tailoring our offerings to those groups. I think I’m going to give it a shot.

  3. This is fantastic! I’ve started comping my own list of tools. But making suggestions based upon business stage and revenues is shear brilliance. This is a keeper!

  4. Hi, Marsha. Nice post. I personally think blog protection should begin at day 1–small sites are as likely to get hacked as large ones, & perhaps even more so. At a minimum, I recommend installing Keith Graham’s “Stop Spammer Registrations” Plugin, & some sort of plugin to limit logon attempts. As you mentioned, a hack is never pretty, & it can stop a blogger dead in his/her tracks at any stage of blogging. Truthfuly, it’s even more likely to stop a smaller blogger, because s/he may not have the resources to get the hack fixed.

    1. Jackie,

      Good points. Worrying about having all the best protection when you don’t have much to protect can stop a lot of beginners, too. I’m taking notes for the next revision of the list. 🙂

      Thank you!

      1. Hi Marsha,

        I agree with Jackie that bloggers need to deal with security issues at the outset – I use the free version of WordFence, which is very good and includes a limit login attempts feature.

  5. Great post, Marsha. I especially like how you highlighted and linked to all of your recommended resources. Very helpful. Extremely easy to scan for quick reference.

    It’s also great to compare notes with people like yourself, whose work I respect, to see what tools you’re currently using. Interestingly, I already use about 80% of what’s on your list, which gives me some added peace-of-mind. Sometimes it’s easy to second guess yourself and wonder if your processes and workflow are as good as they can be.

    One last thing … BigStockPhoto.com is now my preferred choice for stock imagery. For the past 4-5 years I had been using iStockPhoto.com exclusively. However, you and Jon suggested BigStockPhoto.com a few weeks ago, and it’s now my “go to” source. Great selection of images. Thanks for that tip!

    1. Thanks, Mark.

      Yeah, the intent behind the post is to help you stop wasting time and energy worrying about processes and workflow so you can grow your audience and blog.

      Glad that tip helped. Sometimes the little things do make the difference!

  6. This Rocks!

    Love how you show the different stages and all the tools that go with that stage.

    Just was looking at Visual Website Opt., excited to try it and learn more.

    Great Post! Mike

  7. You are my hero today. Thank you for this information! I can’t wait to sit down and really sink my teeth into it. I fall in the serious and committed category though and have to finish working first! LOL.

    1. Aww, shucks. Let me give my white horse a few extra carrots. 🙂

      Hopefully you now have the tools to take you there.

      Thanks.

      1. Hi Marsha, I currently have my blog on blogspot – which you don’t recommend. I’d like to move it over to wordpress. I went and bought a domain name. What is the webhost for? If I just go start a blog through the wordpress website will I be limited later because I didn’t get a webhost? Will I still be able to use my domain name? So much to take in and learn!!! Thanks for your help.

        Joyce

    2. Joyce,

      Yes, you’ve tripped over another one of those confusing options.

      WordPress has two sites: wordpress.org, where you can download the free software and other stuff, and wordpress.com, where you can set up a free WordPress site, similar to what you can do with blogspot except on the WordPress platform.

      There are a few things we don’t like about setting up a free site on WordPress.com: Again, you’re setting up business on a site that you don’t control where someone else makes the rules. Your domain name will have “wordpress” in it if you set up your blog there. And, you are limited in the 3rd-party tools (like many of those listed here) that you can use on a WordPress.com site.

      Look at it this way: Setting up your blog with your own domain and web host is like renting office space and hanging out your own sign. Setting up on one of the free platforms is like setting up your table in a free market. Advantages to both; depends on what you want. We prefer to be in control.

      Make sense?

      1. Okay that helps a lot! I would prefer to have my own “shop” too. But I don’t know what I’m doing fully – am I ready to take the leap? Do I need the Icloudbackup and all that for now? I am trying to keep costs down – I went to set up my webhost last night and it looks like it will be $177 for 3 years but that includes the icloud backup and another feature I can’t remember. I think it was a security thing…Thank you so much – it is so wonderful to have somewhere to ask questions!

      2. Marsha Stopa

        Joyce,

        Have you looked at HostGator? A lot of hosts automatically include features that you have to uncheck if you don’t want them. (HostGator will suggest a security add-on, too.) Start basic. Add later.

        See the advice under Site Backup. You can back up to a free DropbBox account. That’s cloud-based, and perfectly fine until you get a large site.

        As other folks suggested, you can add a free plugin or two for security protection. (I may add that to the list.)

  8. Wow. All this info in one place? From a trusted source too. Incredible. Thank you Marsha so much. I will be combing through your post many times.

  9. Thanks, Marsha! This information is invaluable. I know that I will be referring back to this article time and again for the resources that you shared.

    You ROCK!
    Christine

  10. What a great collection, Marsha. I started commenting a half hour ago but got sidetracked implementing a few of these 🙂

    Thank you. Another “keep forever” post for my Evernote!

    1. Thanks, Gary.

      Being saved in Evernote is the true jackpot!

      Let us know how these tools work for you.

  11. Very nicely done! Thanks for including all stages of bloggers! As a newbie blogger it gets overwhelming fast, and having a list referenced for where I’m at and where I’d like to be is very helpful.

    As for the comment about opening a business account as most bookkeepers and accountants would recommend – you’re spot on! My husband wouldn’t let me buy my domain name until I opened a free business account at my local bank. Most have free small business accounts – so it’s easier to just start out this way!

  12. Hi Marsha!

    This is a fabulous list of vital information for the future success of many bloggers. Here is my delimma…almost two years ago I was never told WordPress should be chosen over Blogger and so I put all my efforts into my Blogger site which I have set up as a website platform for my writing career. I have worked hard to make it the best I know how while on a shoestring budget. I currently have followers from over 15 countries and am about to hit a quarter of a million pageviews for which I am very grateful. I hesitate attempting to convert everything to a WordPress blog at this point.

    My question is this…would all your great suggestions also work with a Blogger account except maybe the direct WordPress plugins?

    There are a couple of things I would like to add to my blog but don’t want to mess up the “apple cart” either…

    Thanks for a fabulous post!

    Take care,

    Donna L Martin
    http://www.donnalmartin.com

    1. Marsha Stopa

      Donna,
      Bravo! You’re a perfect example that time invested, not necessarily the tools, make the difference.

      Unfortunately, a lot of these specific tools (other than the WP plugins) will not integrate with Blogger so you will need to seek out other tools. That may hinder your ability to grow your blog or monetize it.

      Here’s a possible solution: Don’t try to move everything over at once. If you’re launching a book, product or course, give the product a new, specific domain name and set it up on WordPress. Over time, your readers and visitors will get used to the new platform and if you decide to move everything, the transition will be smoother. You’ll still lose people; that’s unavoidable.

      Bottom line: If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. But, if an appropriate opportunity presents itself to begin to move platforms, consider it.

      Hope that helps.

  13. Wow, this is an epic post. Thanks for the recommendation of Bigstockphoto, Marsha. I hadn’t heard of that site before. I’ve mostly used Creative Commons (http://search.creativecommons.org/), which allows you to search for royalty-free photos on Google Images, Flickr, and a bunch of other sites.

    Also, I bought a package of about 150 photo credits through AppSumo.com from DepositPhotos.com. That’s been a great investment.

  14. Hi Marsha,

    Thanks for the tip about membership sites. I was wondering about the various platforms.

    I used the Digg Digg tool, but readers emailed me and stated that it covered my posts or was pushed to the left. I had to find an alternative.

    1. Marsha Stopa

      Thanks, Amandah.

      It may be their browser and how it displays a floating sharebar like Digg Digg. Good for you to be so responsive to your readers!

  15. Hey Marsha, This is great. I thought at first it was the usual basic stuff (should have known better) but, as I kept going on and on and on (!) I saw all sorts of stuff I want to look into like Instant Teleseminar and slide stuff and so on. Thanks so much!

  16. Hi Marsha,
    I’m an aspiring serious blogger but just getting myself set up and learning the ropes. Post like these are invaluable to me as I try to sift through the vast pool of information out there and decide what I need to concentrate on – aside from creating killer content, that is – a very heartfelt thanks for the time and effort that goes into a post like this.

    Wouldn’t you know it – after weeks of procrastination I finally bit the bullet and registered with a web hosting provider last night! And it wasn’t Hostgator. WestHost had been recommended to me by another blogger and the domain name came included in their mid-range package (unlimited bandwidth and domain names). What would happen to my domain name if I cancelled? And if I keep it for now, how would it cause problems if I switched providers in the future?

    Many thanks,
    Kelli

    1. Marsha Stopa

      Hi Kelli,

      Bravo to you for taking that first step! It’s a big one.

      I’m glad you asked that question because it can be a bit confusing.

      In essence, you have gotten two different services from your new web host, even though they charged you a package price: domain registration and web hosting. The two SHOULD be separate.

      If you should decide to cancel your hosting account and move to another web host, your domain registration is still maintained through WestHost. Nothing should happen to it. Renewal fees will still apply.

      The reason I say it can cause problems is because some web hosts can make it more difficult for you to cancel your account with them and move to a new web host if your domain is also listed through them, by requiring multiple layers of approval for the move.

      It doesn’t always happen, but it can slow you down and be a pain in the backside for what is now an everyday task.

      (You can also move your domain name to another registrar, just so you know.)

      But don’t worry about any of these. Should you decide to take that route six months or a year down the road, you’ll know where to slow down on the narrow curves. 🙂

      Until then, focus your attention on building that blog!

      Make sense?

      1. Hi Marsha,

        Yes, that makes sense. Thanks for making it clearer. I’m going to take your advice and not try to wrap my head around it fully at the moment. I can figure it all out when the time comes.

        The key thing is – I have a domain name, I have a host and now I can get to work building my business.

        Cheers!

      2. Martin Edwards

        Hi Marsha & Kelli, hope you don’t mind me adding my 10 cent’s worth here. I’ve been hosting my own domains and domains for my clients for years now and completely agree that the registration and the hosting need to be separate. The thing to check here is that when you register the domain it is you that has the ability to change the registration details and direct the domain to a name server. A lot of “registration” companies are actually hosting companies and some of the more unscrupulous ones will not even register the domain in your name. When the time comes to leave you suddenly find you don’t technically own the domain.

  17. Rebecka Reddick

    Saved to Pocket!

    What I’m curious about is when does one get a business licence? Right away? Open a business account and get a business licence at the same time?

    Right now I’m only making a few hundred dollars per month doing ghostwriting and the occasional blog post, but I have big plans for the new year to launch my website and offer a wide array of services. I don’t know whether or not it will be successful, so do I still need to register as a business?

    I think I’m mostly stressed because I don’t know what to call my company. 😛

    1. Marsha Stopa

      Rebecka,

      My best advice: Don’t worry about it yet. Get a business license when you have clients beating down your door and your work has clearly moved out of what accountants would call the “hobby” category for tax purposes.

      I’m sure I’ll get accountants and others who will disagree with me and advise you do all the legal paperwork first. But honestly, get some solid traction with your blog and services first. There are probably thousands of bloggers who got very serious about setting up their blog business, then choked on all the seriousness. There’s time enough for that.

      As far as your business name, once you actually get into offering services and knowing what your customers want, the name will become apparent. Give them what they want.

      Hope that helps.

  18. Thank you so much for these fantastic resources. It’s exactly what I need right now because I’m planning to update my blog. 🙂

  19. I just bought a premium WP theme after putting it off for years. The reason was because my site has become very slow loading. According to everything I’ve read, a good premium theme helps solve that problem. It didn’t hurt that Bluehost was offering a really cheap package deal, either. Now all I have to do is install it. Hopefully this weekend.

    A lot of people put off starting a blog because they get overwhelmed by WP and its seeming complexity. I recommend doing as I did and just getting started. You learn as you go.

    1. Rob,

      You’re right. You do learn as you go. You have to because it changes all the time. Keeps our brains young and agile. 😉

  20. This is a fantastic gift Marsha! Highly organized,easy to follow and understandable, even for a newbie to blogging and writing and terminology, like myself. It’s and encyclopedia of tools for success. Thank you for your work and generosity. Michael

  21. Ditto. Really, thank you Marsha this will be a terrific reference tool in itself.

    Hey I wonder if you guys would ever consider doing a kind of “the making of” type video or some sort of tutorial around producing those fab video/slide presentation/webinar thingies that Jon does. (Yes I’m one of the time poor ones and not a geek although I reckon I could work it out and will when I find the time…..)

    Anyway here you are with such a generous offering and I’m aksing for more! I don’t at all want to seem ungrateful! Thanks again.

    Jacqui

    1. Hey Jacqueline,

      Jon taught me how to do a lot of his presentation tricks and it definitely scrambled my brain for awhile. It’s another new language, and new languages take time to learn, as we know.

      As I mentioned to Kay, I’ll add it to the list. 🙂

  22. I love love love this! I love the way your organized this list, it is perfect. You’ve given me lots to look into and I don’t have to figure it all out for myself.

  23. Martin Edwards

    This site just gets better and better! Not only do we have insightful, enteraining and inspirational articles to improve our writing and focus our attention on our goals, we also have hard talking, no-nonsense, tell it like it is, posts from Jon, making sure we don’t get too complacent and get our butts movin’. This would be more than enough, but here we have Marsha taking away our final excuse for not actually getting down to doing the writing! As someone who has always been a bit of a “Techie” I can personnally attest to the hours, days and weeks that can be frittered away on experimenting with free services, software etc. all of which diverts attention from the main reason we are here (and don’t even get me started on the procrastination potential!). So thank you Marsha, this post is one of those that doesn’t just inspire but also has the power to save us significant time and energy too!

    1. Thanks, Martin.

      That’s our intent at BBT — to help you in all aspects of your blogging life, career and business.

  24. Marsha, congratulations on a great blog post! This is so useful for the relative newcomers to blogging like myself and I am reassured that so far I am using the right tools and now happily have lots of ideas from you for extras that I can add over time to help my blog to soar. As an aside for Jon, can I echo Jacqueline above and say that I love the audiovisual presentations he creates and would value a course on how to put them together. Bravo Marsha!

    1. Hi Katy,

      Glad you found lots of ideas.

      I’ll add the audiovisual course idea to the list. 🙂

  25. Actually, I run multiple autoresponse sequences from my free mailchimp account. You just need to be mindful of how many emails ypu aee sending in a 24 hour period.

    Great ideas in this post. I also recommend login lockdown plugin to reduce hacking attempts.

  26. Great list overall, but I have to question your statement that you have to use WordPress “if you want people to take your blog seriously.” Who are these people who won’t take your blog seriously? How would they know? Most bloggers are trying to attract readers with their content, and if your information is useful & entertaining and your site looks professional, which readers really care what platform you use?

    I’ve blogged on Squarespace.com, which is neither free nor amateur. Please help me understand why I would need to abandon if for WordPress?

    Is your advice affected by your relationship to Copyblogger’s software business?

    I’d appreciate if you could clarify that WordPress advice and disclose any relationships that would help in evaluating your recommendations.

    Thanks much!

    1. Hey Lyn,

      Good questions. Perhaps that could be better stated to say people may not take your blog seriously on the free platforms, because you are surrounded there by so many amateur and hobby bloggers.

      You don’t need to abandon Squarespace for WordPress. That advice, in the getting started section, is aimed at folks thinking about blogging. If it works for you, that’s great.

      The beauty — and caution — of the blogosphere is that there are always new tools and platforms emerging. Some last, some don’t.

      It’s a question of market dominance. WordPress is the industry standard and all the tools you need now and in the future will be designed to be compatible with WordPress. Your choices will be far fewer on the other platforms, but it may be all you need.

      Boost Blog Traffic has no relationship to Copyblogger’s software business and there is no relationship to be disclosed. We are an affiliate for StudioPress, but haven’t yet used our affiliate link when we refer to the product. It is clearly disclosed in the paragraph prior to the tools list that many of the links are affiliate links.

      I hope that gives you the clarification you need.

  27. Hi Lyn. I believe all Marsha was trying to say is that it is common for budget hosting companies to offer DIY templates that can come across as somewhat amateurish. The Internet has evolved to the point where people do definitely judge your company based upon the quality of your website. Perception equals reality.

    Certainly not all website templates are bad. But to make it your own, you are usually going to need at least a little bit of customization … whether it be with form, function, graphic design, etc.

    I just looked at your site (www.ibrandphoto.com), and it’s very nice, clean and professional. If your site was built from a Squarespace.com template, you are living proof that it can be done.

    I’ve been developing websites for 14 years, and 5 years ago we switched to WordPress, both for ourselves and our clients. It’s the only platform we work in now. I won’t bore you with all the reasons why, but suffice to say that much thought went into the process.

    Fun fact for anyone reading this comment, 2 very popular sites that are built on WordPress platforms >> http://www.KatyPerry.com and http://www.KobeBryant.com

    1. Mark,

      Thanks for sharing your perspectives. I definitely understand there are benefits to using WordPress, which is why it is the leading platform for many bloggers. What usually gets me is that popular bloggers will just say “use WordPress if you’re serious” without offering any real reasons other than “all the cool kids are doing it.”

      The interenet has evolved so that cloud-based solutions now offer incredible amounts of customization in just about every way imaginable. Bottom line, you can build a professional blog on platforms other than WordPress.

      With an all-in-one solution, I find it was simpler to manage without needing to hire a developer. If something isn’t working properly, I know exactly who is responsible for fixing it. I don’t have the wide range of Plugins as WordPress users, but I have all the same functionality.

      I don’t mean to turn this into a Mac vs PC debate, but I do want to hear more specifics on why WordPress is better. Something other than “everyone is doing it.” Please bore me with the details. Or maybe that is another blog post.

      Thanks!

      1. Martin Edwards

        Hi Lyn,
        I think the main idea of a site like BBT is to guide bloggers in well grounded and researched methods to develop their blogging audience and in so doing to develop their business. The main things here are to start with a platform that is scaleable and that functionality can be plugged in relatively easily. Their hope is that your site will be attracting a huge number of subscribers and commenters and in order to get there and make it work when you are there you will probably find it easier if you have used a “content management system” like WordPress. In my opinion the popularity of WordPress comes from its remarkable ease of customisation (even for non-developers), the availability of free support (via WordPress.org for free themes) and the fact that most of the integration with ecommerce, forums, membership management, email list integration and hundreds of other applications are all handled from the same database structure. Of course the “everyone is doing it” argument is a bit lame but I did hear somewhere that WordPress based sites (not just .com) account for in excess of 20% of the entire internet inventory at the moment. A bit galling for me because I have spent the last three years becoming a Joomla expert! Fortunately they both have MySQL, PHP and CSS behind them so at least I have transferable skills!

  28. This is, as usual, great stuff. I currently count myself among the minimalist blogger category with plans to move on up the ladder.

    These tools will be a BIG help in getting me there. Thanks!

  29. GREAT content, thank you!

    Quick clarification. You said “he imports the slides into Camtasia, where he records the slideshow with audio”

    I just tried importing slides into Camtasia 8 but they weren’t available under the import media option. pptx is not a supported format.

    Does he do a screen recording of the slides without audio, then adds audio later? Or are you saying he imports the actual slides, then (somehow) inside of the Camtasia editor, makes the video there?

    What am I not understanding here?

    Up until now, I always just started a screen recording, then went through the slide show presentation in PowerPoint, then edited it in Camtasia.

    1. Marsha Stopa

      Gene,

      My bad. You are correct. You do a screen recording of the slides and import that into Camtasia. Jon adds the audio later because it’s easier for him.

      I will correct that in the post. Thanks for the heads up!

      1. No problem, thanks so much for responding quickly and clarifying.

        Great job again on the list of resources. Very valuable.

        Hope you have a great weekend!

  30. I’ve noticed most blogs and clean looking websites have been formatted using WordPress. I set my site up on Weebly at the recommendation of a friend. I think I may be regretting that decision. Is there a way to transfer my site to WP without having to start all over again?

  31. Splendid article Marsha. Does any one have a tutorial on how to set up mailchimp forms?

    Their own tutorial is bit complex may be its because am not a geek.

    1. Marsha Stopa

      Peter,

      Yeah, MailChimp form set up isn’t the easiest. MailChimp does integrate with WooForms, which might be an easier solution.

  32. Hi Marsha,

    Wow awesome set of blogging tools, I am familiar with some of them but many of them I have never heard of.

    I’m not a big fan of popups either. I have never heard of Unpop and I may have to check it out.

    I will need to bookmark this post and come back to it later so I can keep up with these tools. While I may not need them right now, I may need them later on. Thanks have a great day.

  33. I’m bookmarking this so if — scratch that — WHEN I start to make a lot of money I’ll have a great place to start with updating my blog. 🙂

    Also, if you’re interested in letting readers know how to save some time, I personally find Wysija/MailPoet to be a great email provider because it’s a WordPress plugin that DOESN’T require you to log into another website entirely to set up or send your email newsletters. The premium version is about $99 a year with full support, and connects with Google Analytics.

    Personally, I hate having to go to another site to check or change my email provider info, and having it on my WordPress dashboard has been a blessing on my time.

  34. Really well done Marsha! Great content and very thorough. I’ve already pinned and scooped it for syndication. I will be checking back and making sure I’ve not missed something in my blog that would make a difference. Thank you for the time it took to compile and write this. I know this article will make a difference for my clients.

  35. I think I’m a guilty aspirant blogger LOL. I’ve tried blogging several times without success and still looking for inspirations or motivations to kill the b**tch. Every blog that I have read (some blogs I can get my hands on in my free time) in the past few months are blogs about blogging right. I just hope to get to the core of it once I get settled in my new job. Appreciate your tips and tools. Big Hugs 🙂

  36. Excellent resources. My only bone to pick is recommending WordPress as the gold standard for setting up a website. I use and highly recommend Drupal. It’s just as configurable as WordPress and, in my personal opinion, easier to navigate.

  37. There’s a great load of resources here. The way it is also broken up is a great solution for those not wanting to look at everything.

    Great post.

  38. Without a doubt one of the most important articles on the blogs. Anyone who wants to set up a blog, you will have to read any data found here. This is one of the most friendly guides that are online. Available, smart, organized, easy to use and comprehensive. You deserve thanks for the effort you invested.

  39. Julian Adorney

    Great post, Marsha! I love the layout of helping people figure out what they need, and then guiding them to tools that fit. I use Constant Contact already for email courses, and I will definitely check out LeadPages for landing pages.

    Are there any time-saving tools you’d recommend?

  40. All of these tools listed, and nothing to keep track of what you’re doing. A good old-fashioned day timer for $20 at Staples will help keep you organized. 🙂

    Or if you HAVE to go digital, you can always use the Google Calendar.

  41. Your Right about the title I was thinking why I would need to go through the whole list but I have to say this is a really great resource for anyone starting out blogging and some must have tools on the list.

    Many Thanks

  42. Wow, this list is incredibly helpful! I’m in the process of setting up a new blog right now and will be using many of these resources. Thanks for offering this.

  43. My soon to be launched blog and I sincerely thank you from the bottoms of our hearts. This article is a blog/life saver. Forever grateful….

  44. Most people are present on different social media platforms such as Facebook, Google+, Twitter and others. Check where we have the biggest number and most active followers and make a public announcement that we’ve started a blog that covers. Write our industry/niche there and add a link to our blog. The first readers are usually your friends, family and acquaintances. They are easy to catch online.

  45. Hey Martha,
    That is a great list of blogging tools. I should say that I use almost all of them, but not the ones related to the email list because I haven’t yet started working on building an email list.
    However a great post and worth referring to in the future if the need arises 🙂

  46. Very nice list of blogging tools. I would just stress the security aspect and especially the strong password management. If you manage multiple blogs, it is inevitable part of daily routine. There are many password management apps on the market, for example Sticky Password is one of them – http://www.stickypassword.com

    1. That’s what I love about being on a Mac now with Keychain Access.. It gives me a password above and beyond anything I could remember and jumps to all my mobile devices as well so I never have to remember anything and I’m not using “ilovegoats222” for my passwords anymore!!

  47. Hi. I clicked through to HOST GATOR on your recommendation and have started an account. Thank you.

    However, I will note that if there are any errors with your HG sign up form (such as getting the CAPCHA wrong, or something) the refreshed screen will have ALL their ADD-ON services ‘ticked’ so you have to go and un-check them all.

    This is a red flag for me. Like GoDaddy. Both have scammy checkouts. Not appreciated HG.

    Thanks.

  48. I am just starting in writing and this is honestly the most practical and straightforward information I have read for tools I will need. Thank-you.

  49. Nice list of tools for starters but you should add desktop editors for bloggers as well because they are easy to interact with. You can add multiple accounts manage blogs, comments, search content, images, videos and add rss feed from one platform. SmartXBlog is best desktop blogging software for windows and mac.

    http://www.smartxblog.com/

  50. Marsha, well done on putting together such a comprehensive list. This is going to be a blogging 101 go to resource I’ll recommend to newbies. Wow. It certainly struck a chord given that its taken me an hour to read through all the comments. I do have a suggestion for another tool under Add a shoppping cart. It makes selling securely amazingly simple from any blog, especially WordPress. Called Selz, https://selz.com (disclosure I do work for Selz). Lots of cool features for bloggers who want to focus on blogging not spending time building and maintaining a website. Its very easy, no programming needed, just copy and paste a small bit of code.

  51. HostGator. Really. They are the worst. They got bought out and then throttled back everything. There are much much better hosts out there. But I see your HostGator link is an affiliate link. You’d be better off finding a real host to recommend, even if it pays you less in commissions. I can’t even read the rest of your recommendation now.

  52. I wasn’t even thinking of a blog website before but a sort of information clearinghouse type thing. Now I see it clearly, Blogging is the way to go, and I have this excellent resource right here at my fingertips! Everything I have been reading seems to be right on with what I feel is right or seems to make such good common sense.
    Thanks so much!

  53. Thank you for your entry. I am just getting into the world of blogging today, and I am using your website for beginning! Thank you so much!

  54. Hi Marsha:

    Great blog post! Thank you. ElegantThemes.com is awesome! I have been using them for a little over a year, especially with their very highly customizable theme (Divi) that comes with their subscription price for new customers for $69. That includes unlimited access to all of their themes for a year! Including Divi (now their working on Divi 2.0).

    Thanks again!
    Sean

  55. Hey Marsha, it’s my first time of reading your article and I must confess that you were awesome and the long post was totally worth my while. Thanks for providing value here. 🙂

    So speaking of the tools, I for one have always believed that blogging success is synonymous with the tools we use and how much time we are willing to spend maximizing those tools.

    I mean it’s one thing to be in possession of tools and yet another to actually making use of them. What say?

    Ma’am, the tools you shared here are actually surefire in bringing desired success, but unlike my friend – Kulwant Nagi who beats everyone to the first position as the first commenter, I use little of this tools as I am not yet earning mch from blogging and so can’t get some of the paid tools. Even though I soon will be getting them for sure.

    Thanks so much Marsha for sharing this great valuable post with this great community. 🙂

    Sam

  56. bookmarked it! really complete and easy to understand post. My favorite blogging tools are MailChimp and Advanced Social Widget MailChimp Edition. It’s easy yet useful widget to generate subscribers. I should try another tools you provided above 😀

  57. Excellent tips on growing virtually any blog. Anyone just starting out on a blog just needs to follow these tips, let it all simmer, and will see the traffic returning!

  58. Hello Marsha, This is such an invaluable list! I know it took me a long time to learna bout all of these. Having them all handy in one place is priceless for someone who is just starting out!

  59. Good list.

    This is what i would add:

    1. Genesis eNews Extended plugin for email forms ( works with other themes ).
    2. S2 Member plugin for membership
    3. Limit Login Attempts plugin for security

  60. Okay, i’m guilty after reading this article. WordPress is really good and using Hootsuite to manage all your social media accounts is really helpful. As a blogger myself, I make sure that everything is organized and in order. Thank your for sharing this!

  61. Hello Marsha, Such a great read. I love how you broke down the different categories of bloggers. I found that very useful. I’ve recently starting my first blogger, and spent hours researching what I might, and might not need. Your blog helped confirm my thoughts.

  62. I bookmarked it for the future reference. Blogging tools not only provide you easy access to achieve your blogging goals but they offer wide range of exclusivity.

    WordPress is a bless when it comes to using wide range of tools and plugins.

    Such a huge list of tools and resources for bloggers! Great collection Jon.

  63. Marsha, first, thanks for an awesome post! Second comes the question. I run a business and have a site. I wanted to plug in blogging and was curious about your thoughts on my running a WordPress blog and linking it to my site. Suggestions and recommendations?

    1. Nikhil,

      Depends on what platform your site is hosted on. You can probably add a blog to your site. Best to have it all under one domain.

  64. Hi Marsha,

    This is a value packed list of resources for starters. Great job at it!

    However, you did not include a section for WordPress Support & Maintenance services. For those who are not comfortable at DIYing technical things, they can use such services.

    Thanks,
    Akram

  65. Hi Marsha,

    Thanks a million for this epic compilation of blogging tools! Just out of curiosity, what LMS platform do you recommend for delivering your courses? Thanks in advance!

  66. I’m planning to have a writer website/blog built for me. A couple of people suggest not to opt-in for WordPress as it is vulnerable to hackers. Please tell is it really unsafe now? And if yes, please suggest me the alternative.

    Since the freelance business is meant for international deals and transactions, do I need to get my website legally registered as an entity before I start the business/my writer website, or can I do it later?

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