Updated November 4, 2019
Plugins, tools, software, hosting- today is all about my favorite tools for blogging.
Blogging can be fun, rewarding, if you play your cards right you can make money doing something that you really love, but there are also some things that no one tells you about blogging.
Like how stressful it can be to run your own website, how intimidating it can be. OR, how much that little space will mean to you- which is why you probably want to keep it safe and running smooth.
Before I found some of these tools, I went through a lot of trial and error. I’ve tested countless plugins and programs over the years and these few right here, are the ones I just can’t blog without.
I’m no SEO expert, but Yoast sure makes me feel like one. This plugin pretty much walks you through every single step of creating an SEO-friendly piece of content. It rates your content readability, too, which is awesome.
As I told you in this post, one of the most valuable things your readers can give is their email address. When someone subscribes to your newsletter, then you know that they are not just some random readers passing by- they’re actually interested in what you have to say! It’s a great way to stay in touch with your audience and if you ever plan on selling a product, a course or thinking of monetizing your blog, then an email list is a must. I can’t recommend ConverKit highly enough (previously used MailChimp and didn’t love it as much). ConvertKit is SO easy to use, you don’t need to be tech savvy to embed beautiful forms on your blog and pages and it makes adding incentives SO easy. ConvertKit is having a Cyber Monday Sale at the moment and you can get a FREE 30-Day TRIAL right here and see for yourself, why I love it so much.
Again, if you’re blogging just for fun, then you probably don’t need an email list.
Whether you’re a designer or a blogger, Creative Market is a great place to find things like fonts, all kinds of templates, blog themes, graphics, and photos. I like to think of it as Etsy for business owners, bloggers, and designers.
Before and after editing in Photoshop.
The only tool I use for editing my blog photos is Photoshop (I also used PicMonkey for a few years which pretty awesome, too). Photoshop is also great for creating PDF incentives, worksheets, Pinterest featured images, etc. A monthly subscription is about 10 bucks and with your subscription, you can also download Bridge, which is another Adobe program I highly recommend; it’s a desktop media organizer. This is what I use for organizing my images, import RAW files to Photoshop and import photos from my camera. Very easy to use and I love how well this works with Photoshop– you just click on the image you like while browsing through imported photos, and it automatically opens up in Photoshop. The best part is that if you have a Creative Cloud subscription, you can download Bridge for free.
You can see what some of my favorite tools for editing in pictures in Photoshop are in this post: Must Know Photoshop Tools for Editing Your Blog Posts.
SOCIAL WARFARE After testing tens of different social-media plugins, I’ve found the one: Social Warfare. The Pro Version of this plugin is SO much more than just share buttons. It also allows you to specify which images you want to pop up when someone decided to share your post on Pinterest, customize Tweets and one of my favorite features is their Frame Buster, which forces your site to break out of frames while displayed on other sites, and sends readers directly to your blog/original domain, instead.
Social Warfare was a good plugin, but last year they released an update that caused my blog, and many others to crash. The update also left blogs vulnerable to attacks and in some instances, visitors were redirected to porn sites when visiting blogs that used this plugin. Social Warfare did a good job at providing me with a refund, they also fixed the issue, but I decided to deactivate this plugin and don’t use it anymore. Instead, I use Social Pug, which has the same features, stability, it’s easy to use and has worked flawlessly so far. You can download the Social Pug plugin right here.
If you’re looking to switch to a self-hosted site or if you’re not happy with your current hosting provider, then I highly recommend you switch to SiteGround. They have great support and uptime, which is VERY important. I know, from my own experience, that there is NOTHING more stressful for a blogger than knowing your site is down and not being able to do anything about it, other than wait- it is so frustrating!! The same thing goes for slow-loading sites and blogs- this is why a reliable hosting service is SO important! If you’re just starting out all you need is the Start-Up plan (at $3.95 a month). See my post on How to Start a Lifestyle Blog to see how to set-up a self-hosted blog.
I’ve outgrown “cheap” hosting and right now I’m with KnownHost, and if you’re running a blog with heavier traffic or if you’re blog is growing, then you’ll love KnownHost. Just like SiteGround, they have amazing support and in the past, they’ve helped me with issues like my RSS feed and WordPress itself. I mean, I’m clueless when it comes to the back-end of WordPress and their support just does all the work for me, keeping my blog running, secure and even sending me daily updates on all the processes running. Love, love, love them.
I can’t remember blog life, or writing in general, before Grammarly. It’s a text-editing app that checks for grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, and irregular verb conjugations. It’s one of my favorite tools I use when editing my posts (I use it as a browser extension)- makes writing so much easier and it’s a must for anyone who wants to take their blog seriously; it just something that will help you become a better writer. This also comes in handy when answering emails.
I talk a lot about how useful it can be to upgrade, re-use or re-publish old content. Redirection is one of the plugins I always use whenever I do any of these things. Whenever you’re changing a URL or want a post to be redirected, manage your 301 redirections, keep track of 404 errors, this plugin is for you. It makes things very easy, it’s self-explanatory and makes adding manual redirections a breeze.
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