When you’re a blogger, a lot of things come your way demanding your attention and your coins. It can be difficult to decipher which ones you really need and which ones you can do without. These blogging tools for beginners that I recommend are the tools I wish I had when I was just starting out.
From this list, I’ve culled the fat. I won’t even talk about the ones I tried and stopped using. I’m focusing on just the ones I truly believe you need because they will help you on your blogging journey. Not only will they make your work easier, they will help you to be a more profitable blogger, whether bringing you traffic or freeing up time so you can focus on your main goals.
Some of these tools are free and some are paid but members of my Help a Blogger Out Facebook community have come to know and trust my recommendations. I would never ever recommend a product just to make some affiliate sales. I’m recommending products I use myself and truly believe in their worth. Plus I want you to stick with me for the long run as I help you to become a better blogger and you’d see right through me if all I tried to do was sell sell sell! I know this because I X out of articles so quickly that I read and see for all the fluff and absolutely no substance behind them. This ain’t that.
So with that said, let’s get into this list.
In this post you will find
Blogging Tools for Beginners #1 – Go Self-Hosted
Tool number one is your hosting. You can only get by so long on a free WordPress or blogger account before you’ll realise their restrictions on your income and creativity. Your very first investment as a serious blogger who’s in this to make money should be a good WordPress hosting company. I use Siteground as my host and I love them for their responsiveness to my queries and their uptime. My blog has rarely ever been down for more than a quick minute. Here’s a tutorial I wrote on how to get your blog up and running through Siteground if you need a step-by-step guide.
You may have heard of Bluehost which is another hosting company that bloggers promote often but between you and me, even though they are a smidgen cheaper, you’ll soon find that you need to upgrade to a better host with faster load times and better customer service if you go with them so there’s that.
Nothing beat using your own images, especially when it comes to ranking your posts on Pinterest. In a pinch when you need an image that you do not have time or materials to snap your own photo, paid stock photography is the next best thing.
I say paid stock photography because the chance that you and a million other bloggers will use the same free stock image is high and then Pinterest won’t know how to truly rank the image since it is associated with so many different pins. Unique images do much better than free stock images. It’s more likely that you’ll uncover an image used much less widely if you pay for it.
Paid sites like Deposit Photo, Alamy US and Stock Unlimited offer up unique images not used over and over again by bloggers in your niche and this is definitely worth the investment if your blog is to stand out on Pinterest and generate the incredible amount of traffic there that is possible.
With that said, if you’re on a budget and need to use free stock photos, my favourite sites for these are Pixabay.com and Unsplash.com. Just be sure to search well as these sites are well known and the images are used over and over by bloggers.
Of course, once you do have your images, you’ll need to edit them to the various different social media sizes. You may also want to add overlays, texts and other cool features to your images to make them stand out. Picmonkey is a great photo editing software that’s easy to use and much quicker than firing up Photoshop for a quick fix. Canva‘s free version is also great for quick photo editing and resizing.
GDPR Compliant Tools
Very new for bloggers is the general data protection rules that apply even if you’re outside the US. Thankfully, there are a few plugins that do the work for you by installing cookie consent pop-ups and all the other things your blog will need to have in place. Two of these are WP GDPR Fix Pro and GDPR Pro. Click through to each to see which one will satisfy the needs of your blog.
Remember, GDPR isn’t something you can ignore. It’s mandatory that you comply with it or face hefty fines if found in breach. It may help to go through this course taught by an attorney who specialises in GDPR and EU law. She’s also a successful blogger herself and had a PhD! This is a course that will help you to understand these laws, how they affect you as a blogger and all the steps that need to be covered so that you are fully compliant.
In a previous post, I outlined just how important it is for bloggers to have an email list. I even have a free 5-day course that teaches you how to grow your list so you can get off the ground quickly. An email service provider that’s easy to use, professional and GDPR compliant will make this much easier for you.
If you’re a blogger just starting out then I recommend Mailerlite to begin with. They are free up to your first 1000 subscribers and very affordable thereafter. They also offer lots of the features you’ll want as a blogger such as sending out your newsletter automatically.
I used and loved them until I switched to Convertkit and realised how much easier certain tasks could be. For the extra cash every month, the convenience and ease of use were worth it for me. You can consider them from the start or switch once you begin to make money on your blog. It might be a pain to set-up all your auto-emails all over again though.
Keyword research is super important as a blogger. In fact, if you get nothing else on this list, I strongly suggest that you invest in keyword research for these reasons. Search engine traffic is the only traffic that is mostly passive and requires very little upkeep while continuing to send large amounts of traffic every single day if you find great keywords.
The only way to find great keywords is with a paid keyword research tool. Manual keyword research just does not give you accurate results and the field is far too competitive to leave it to chance. The best keyword research tools cost $99 and above but the one I use is awesome and starts at less than $18 per month. That is an investment that’s very worth it for your blog.
Get the free trial to my keyword research tool here and see what I mean.
I also invest in Tailwind as my Pinterest scheduler of choice because when it comes to traffic, more is better. Pinterest and Google compete for the top traffic drivers to my lifestyle blog and I like it that way. It’s better to not put all your eggs in one basket.
You can read about Tailwind here to see how I use it to drive traffic to my blog and sign up here to get the ability to schedule 100 pins for free so you can try it out yourself.
The last thing I believe is a necessity to having a professional blog that makes money is a premium theme. Free themes will get you going and you can find some great ones here, but once you’ve found your stride, you’ll want to upgrade to a premium theme. This will give you the ability to customize your blog even more to match your style and offering.
The theme I use on all of my blogs is the Divi Theme by Elegant Themes. It is a drag and drop customizable builder type of theme. I love that I can easily switch up my blog’s look and feel this way so it can appear that I’ve changed my theme whenever I feel like improving the look and feel.
I can also build beautiful custom pages when I need to and highlight different sections, like a landing page product offering or opt-in when I need to. These are great features to have within my theme instead of having to pay for a separate landing page software or page builder to create.
Sendowl to Sell Digital Products, Thinkific for Courses
I’ve used the platform Sendowl to sell my Pinterest ebook as it makes it super easy to collect payments, send my ebook and even handle affiliates. I like that the platform is easy to use and very inexpensive.
If you’re creating a course instead of an ebook or other downloadable digital product then I recommend the Thinkific platform to house your ecourse. Thinkific is more affordable than other popular platforms, is simple and clean to work with and will handle all your course needs like hosting video files and affiliates.
Ongoing Blogging Education
You’ll never stop learning. There will always be something that you can learn to master as a blogger and that is how you will become more and more successful in this field. Now, I’m certainly not telling you to run out and buy every course out there! That’s just foolish, please don’t do that.
But I would either invest in a mastermind so you get that ongoing educational support or take a class every now and then to see what is new or brush up on skills you know aren’t your finest.
I am a member of the Billionaire Blog Club that is the perfect one-time lifetime membership kind of program that I like. There are always new courses being added and the old courses are kept freshly updated as algorithms and platforms change. The community is also full of bloggers from all walks of life and at every level of success from new bloggers to bloggers making tens of thousands of dollars each month. That’s the kind of environment you can flourish in. Check out the free blogging bootcamp offered by BBC founder Paul Scrivens here to get a feel of his leadership style.
The ladies at Upper Fifth Online Marketing offer regular masterclasses that are always fun and informative and very affordable each time. At the time of writing this post, the upcoming classes are:
June 5 Masterclass: Irresistible Pins: How to Create Beautiful, Branded Pins that stand out and get more clicks and shares Using Canva With Kara Fidd
June 20 Masterclass: The Secret to Crushing Live Video: 4 Proven Strategies for Communicating with Confidence and Building Your Tribe of Raving Fans with Abby Rike
If these sound like classes that you could use then visit them to sign up here or hop on their email list to be alerted to new classes.
If you made it to the end of this post I’d like to share with you a free traffic resource that was incredibly helpful to me when I just started. Click here to get access to this free ebook with three ways to grow your blog that you probably aren’t utilising.
I hope you found this list of blogging tools for beginners helpful and without the fluff. These tools are the basic resources that I believe every blogger should have when they’re getting started. What other resources do you rely on as a blogger to be successful?