Starting a blog is in a way, quite similar to opening a brick-and-mortar shop.
You need space, equipment, tools and resources to run the business successfully.
Blogging is similar in that you also need tools to help you build the infrastructure, attract visitors and grow.
While you could start a blog for free, to make serious money from it, you need to treat it like a business hence use some necessary tools, free or paid.
Using the right tools right from the get-go is crucial to building a solid foundation, accelerating growth and maximizing your blog’s true potential.
Talking about the best blogging tools, below are a few that I currently use or have used. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to start, run, monetize and grow my blogs as effectively.
That said, I’m always on the lookout for tools that could serve me better.
Table of Contents
- Hosting & Domains
- WordPress Themes & Landing Pages Creator
- Email Marketing & Lead Generation
- Social Media & Promotion
- SEO Tools
- Essential WordPress Plugins
- Writing Tools & Productivity
- Design Tools
Hosting & Domains
HostWind– From $3.29/month
I was with Hostgator for the longest time before their customer service deteriorated to the point that I couldn’t get any support questions answered. Support via tickets was switched to chat only which was totally unresponsive.
Currently, I am with Hostwinds. They have good and helpful support. At $3.29/month, it’s one of the best value for money when it comes to starter web hosting.Learn More
Bluehost – From $3.95/month
Bluehost is a popular host among bloggers. It’s a good alternative if you’re just getting started. Here’s my guide on how to start a blog using BlueHost.Learn More
Godaddy – Varies depending on the discount
I’ve been purchasing domains through GoDaddy for over 10 years. Although I couldn’t recommend their other non-domain related services because I have never used them.Learn More
WordPress Themes & Landing Pages Creator
Thrive Theme – From $19/month. Use all plugins & themes on 25 websites
As a marketer, I like that their themes are conversion-focused.
They come with features you actually need forgoing the need for some additional plugins installation. This keeps your installation lean and mean.
If you register as a member, you’ll have access to an assortment of premium marketing related plugins.
These plugins help you get more email subscribers, build high converting landing pages and more. Everything just clicks together for me.Learn More
ThemeForest – From $13 to $350. Most popular price is $59
I’ve used ThemeForest to purchase niche specific themes.
I include them here for their massive themes selection and reasonable pricing. If you’re in the market for a unique theme, ThemeForest won’t disappoint.Learn More
Thrive Architect – $67 for a single license
This is what drew me to Thrive Theme in the first place.
I was looking for a DIY landing page creator to help me design a high-converting and professional looking landing pages fast and Thrive Architect satisfied my requirements.
Thrive Architect is a true front-end, drag and drop page builder. It integrates well with the major email marketing platforms and other sales elements into your pages easily.
If you are looking for a cost-effective, one-off payment page builder, this is for you.
If you’ve more to spend and want an alternative builder for sales funnels and webinar pages, take a look at ClickFunnels.Learn More
Email Marketing & Lead Generation
MailerLite – Free for the first 1000 subscribers
MailerLite is an email marketing software targeted towards small businesses and bloggers.
It’s forever free to use if you have 1000 subscribers or fewer. In fact, it’s one of the most affordable email marketing providers around.
Unlike some other email service providers, the free tier comes with an automation tool without any extra charge. The interface is beginners-friendly and should help you get started quickly.
Check out my tutorial on starting your own email list free.Sign Up Free
Thrive Leads – $67 for a single license
This is a WordPress plugin to help you create a highly effective email opt-in forms to capture email leads.
If you want to build your list faster, using the default opt-in forms that come with the email service provider just wouldn’t cut it.
You need to be able to implement the latest marketing tactics to explode your growth. Thankfully, these features are baked right into this powerful yet easy-to-use software.
I like to save money anytime I can so the one-time fee instead of recurring monthly charges is also one reason why I choose Thrive Leads.Learn More
Yet Another Mail Merge – Freemium
YAMM is a tool I discovered recently when trying to send the same email only with slight personalization to multiple people.
It’s an easy to use Gmail add-on for users to perform a mail merge.
YAMM is free for everyone with a Gmail account to send up to 50 emails per day. Pay $24/year and you can send up to 400 emails/day.
If you install the add-on using my link, both you and I will receive an extra +50 emails per day. How cool is that!Install Free
Email HunterÂ – Freemium
If you are doing any email outreach, you know it can be tedious trying to locate a person’s email address if it’s not readily shown on the contact page.
Email Hunter solves this problem by looking up for the website owner’s email address for you.
All you have to do is enter the website URL and Hunter will spit out the owner’s email address if it finds any.Sign Up Free
Social Media & Promotion
Tailwind – Free trial allows you to schedule up to 100 pins free
Tailwind is a Pinterest scheduling tool every blogger must have in their toolbox.
If you want to get traffic, Pinterest is the fastest ways to go about it. In fact, it’s said to be the secret weapon for many successful bloggers!
Tailwind will save you hours of manual pinning to Pinterest every day. With the tribe feature, other content creators will help promote your pins giving you more exposure fast.Free Trial
Social Warfare – Freemium
Placing social media sharing buttons next to your posts make them more shareable which could potentially drive more traffic to your blog.
In fact, a study found that using social media sharing buttons on blog posts leads to 7 times more mentions.
I use Social Warfare because it’s fast, easy-to-use, full of useful social features you actually need and cleanly designed.Free Download
RecurPost – Freemium
Recurpost is a social media scheduling tool. I use it mainly to schedule my tweets.
The free plan allows 3 social media accounts and a generous 100 scheduled content. So you can see how much time you can save if you pre-schedule 100 tweets in one month.
Alternatively, you can also try Buffer and Hootsuite to manage your social media accounts.Sign Up Free
KeySearch.co – Starts $17/month. Use KSDISC to get 20% monthly discount
KeySearch is a keyword research tool that will help you rank higher on Google.
With a quick search, you can find how many searches a keyword gets each month, how competitive it is to rank on the first page of Google and the profitability of the keyword.
You can use KeySearch to discover the keywords used by other websites to rank on Google and find out how you could target those keywords yourself.
While other tools can cost up to $70 monthly for their cheapest option, KeySearch cheapest plan only cost $17 per month (before discount).
As a member, you’ll have access to the free SEO course which is created for beginners in mind.Get Discount
Yoast SEO – Freemium
Creating content that is properly optimized for Google and other search engines can be daunting.
And this is where the Yoast SEO plugin comes in.
It walks you through optimizing your blog posts for the search engines without having to be an expert in blog SEO.Free Download
Essential WordPress Plugins
WPFormsÂ – Freemium
WPForms is a drag & drop form builder that will help you create a neat looking contact form. It comes with a Google reCaptcha support to prevent unwanted spam. Contact Form 7 is a popular alternative but may not be as beginner-friendly.Free Download
Antispam Bee – Free
Fight spam comments with Antispam Bee. A free Akismet alternative for your commercial sites.Free Download
W3 Total Cache – Freemium
A slow loading website usually ranks lower on Google search results and will hurt your business.
The good news is, you can easily improve your blog performance by installing a WordPress caching plugin.
And one of such plugins is W3 Total Cache. I use it in all of my blogs. The free version is good enough for the average users.Free Download
Google Analytics Dashboard for WP (GADWP) – Free
With GADWP, you can view the number of visits to your site, bounce rates, organic searches, pages per visit, and more directly on your WordPress dashboard.
You’ll need to sign up with Google Analytics to use this plugin.Free Download
BackWPup – Freemium
Backing up your blog regularly should be part of your standard WordPress security practice.
Backups could save you from a lot of future troubles and give you peace of mind.
BackWPup allows you to create a complete backup for free and store on the cloud i.e. Dropbox, Amazon S3, Rackspace or FTP, email, local server.
BackWPup can backup your database, WordPress theme, plugin files and uploads folders. You can even exclude folders from the backup.Free Download
Wordfence Security – Freemium
The default installation of WordPress is pretty secure. You just have to make sure to use a strong password and constantly update your WordPress version and plugins.
Having said that, it does not stop malicious people from attempting to break into your blog.
This is where Wordfence Security comes in as it keeps your blog more secure.
In my opinion, the free version should be enough for most users.Free Download
Writing Tools & Productivity
Grammarly – Freemium
Before you hit the publish button, make sure to double check your grammar and spellings for any mistakes.
Grammarly is the go-to tool for most bloggers. It can be extremely helpful to help communicate your ideas in a better and more concise way.
As a non-native English speaker, Grammarly makes it easier for me to write in ‘proper’ English. It won’t fix everything but good enough for the average users.
I’ve used both the free and paid version.Sign Up Free
G Suite – From $5/month/user
Gmail by itself is pretty awesome and their spam filter works great for me.
Even better, I can host emails from my own domain using Google G Suite. So instead of using firstname.lastname@example.org, I have a email@example.com Gmail account.
In addition, the Google apps account gives you a 30GB of storage, docs and calendars and access to other Google productivity suite.
There are several Gmail addons that I use for my email marketing campaigns, so choosing G Suite is a no-brainer.Learn More
Toggl – Freemium
Toggl helps you track your time better.
It is useful for bloggers who want to focus on the time they spend writing, researching and editing.
If you are curious how much time you’re taking on a project you can time yourself with Toggl and find out.
I’ve used Toggl every day since forever (over 10 years). I’ve used both the paid and free option and found the free one is good enough for a solopreneur like myself.Sign Up Free
Trello – Freemium
I started using Trello in June 2018. Since then I’ve found myself stop posting virtual sticky notes or to-do list in multiple places and become more organized.
Trello is a project management tool that lets you create boards for each of your projects and visually view them in one place for easy management.
It’s a great tool for individual bloggers or a team to manage workflow, collaborate on a project and be productive.Sign Up Free
Roboform – Freemium
Roboform is a password management tool which supports multiple devices from desktops, tablets to mobile and has multiple browser support as well.
There’s a free option available but I needed to sync across devices, cloud backup, Two Factor Authentication and web access, therefore, the paid option is what I am using right now.
When you have a lot of accounts on different websites, having a password management tool is a must.Free Download
Adobe Photoshop Creative Cloud – Starts at $9.99/month
I use Photoshop for all my design needs – logo, infographics, screenshots, social media graphic, Pinterest pins, lead magnets, ebook covers, you name it.
It’s hard for me to find an alternative once I got used to accessing all the powerful professional level graphic design features.
Photoshop used to be very expensive. But with the monthly pricing plan, it has become more accessible to the average user.Learn More
Canva – Freemium
I use Canva to design simple graphic once in a while.
It’s a template-based, drag-and-drop design tool which makes it very easy for non-designers to create a professional looking image that pops.
Canva is great for creating social media graphics, ebook covers, Pinterest images and business stationery and many more.Sign Up Free
PicMonkey – Freemium
Unlike Canva, PicMonkey comes with a lot of photo filters and effects. I would say it’s more of an image editing tool than a graphic design tool.
PicMonkey also comes with beautifully designed and fully customizable Pinterest templates to help you create eye-popping pins that get attention.Free Trial