You want your blog to grow, right?
Growing and monetizing your blog would mean that you can make money by talking about the things you’re passionate about! While helping change thousands of lives around the world!
This resource guide will help you do just that!
I’m going to be sharing with you the very best resources and tools for bloggers. This will be the ultimate list of blogging tools (both free and paid), services and educational resources that will make your life as a blogger a LOT easier!
Save yourself a ton of time and frustration by trying these out!
To give you full transparency, I am an affiliate for some of these products. However, I ONLY recommend products that I either use myself or that I know for a fact will greatly help you! If I don’t believe in something, I will not promote it, no matter how big a commission may be! Read my full affiliate disclosure here.
Here’s what this resource guide will look like:
All the tools and resources are sorted by category. From there every tool will have a brief introduction, my opinion of the resources and who it is and is not for. This way you will know if it fits your needs or not.
Every blogger needs some platform to create their blog.
There are currently only 3 blogging platforms that I would recommend, each for a different reason. If you haven’t started your blog yet, or you’re not sure if you’re using the right platform for the job, check these out.
This is one of the oldest and largest blogging platforms currently available.
It’s completely free to start a blog there, and they take care of all the technical stuff. You don’t need any technical knowledge at all to get started, which makes it a very newbie-friendly platform.
Who it’s for: I would only recommend WordPress.com if you’re not sure if blogging is for you, or if it’s just a hobby. It’s a great way to get your feet wet and just write. If you’re serious about your blog and/or you want to make money, I would NOT recommend it.
Cost: Free, do NOT pay for their upgrades.
A relatively new platform.
This platform is even easier to use than WordPress because they give you no options to customize your blog. The good thing about that is that Medium has a minimalistic and overall pretty slick design, so your blog looks great.
One of the main reasons I like Medium is because of the community.
If your content is good, it might get picked up by a curator or publication. These gather great pieces of content and send it out by email or display it prominently in certain places of the website, giving you a boost in viewership.
One of the main downsides is that you cannot have your own domain name.
You’re forced to blog on the Medium.com site. On one hand, it can help your articles rank better on Google, but on the other hand, you really want to have your own domain name and a blog you have full control over.
Who it’s for: Because of the built-in audience, I recommend Medium for republishing your articles. In other words, you first write for your blog and share them on Medium for the extra exposure.
Use their Import tool to easily do this.
Here’s the big daddy of blogging platforms!
Using this software will give you by far the most flexibility!
When you’re going this route, you will have to buy your own domain and web hosting. Unlike the other 2 options, you will have to pay some money upfront, but it’s more than worth it to do if you’re serious and/or want to make money from your blog.
With this option you have some great benefits:
Firstly, you actually own your blog, which you do not with the other options.
Secondly, you have by far the most flexibility. There are literally thousands of different themes and plugins available to customize your blog and add functionality to it.
As a downside, there is a bit of a learning curve to it.
With the other platforms, they take care of just about everything. In this case, this task mostly falls on your shoulders. The good thing is that support will be able to assist you with a lot of the issues that might arise.
Who it’s for: Anyone who’s serious about blogging. Especially if you want to make money or do this as a business, it’s simply the best and most flexible blogging platform out there.
Cost: Software is free, you just need hosting and a domain name.
Domain Names & Hosting
As I mentioned above, you need your own hosting if you’re serious about blogging.
You also need a domain name.
While many tools are either optional or have free alternatives, this cost is mandatory.
This is the company I get all my domain names from.
One of the great things that they offer for free is domain privacy. This means that people cannot look up your personal information, which I would say is pretty neat.
To be fair though, I’m not sure if others offer it as well, as I’m not using any other services.
Who it’s for: You’re going to need a domain name anyway, and Namecheap is a very user-friendly option. You could try GoDaddy as well if for some reason you don’t want to use Namecheap.
Cost: Around $7.50 – $12.50 depending on the extension.
This is the host I’m using to run this very blog.
The reason I chose this one is performance.
Nobody wants to wait a long time for a site to load. This is where WPX differs from most other hosting companies. I’ve done my research and in tests WPX consistently came out on top when site speed is concerned.
But there’s more:
They have some great features that help your blog perform better. Think of a CDN (content delivery network) that reduces your loading times (happier readers), protection against hackers and malware, a free SSL certificate, and backups in case the worst does happen.
Customer service is pretty good too! Oftentimes they’ll be able to fix problems for you, instead of guiding you in doing it.
What’s the catch, you ask?
As you may have guessed already, all the features and services come at a price. Starting at $25/month, WPX is more expensive than some other hosts, but it’s well worth it if you can afford to pay more for better quality.
Who it’s for: If you’re starting a blog or website for a business, or you intend to make money from it, then it’s well worth it. In short: if you care about performance than price, you will LOVE WPX hosting!
If you’re on a budget, there are cheaper options that will work well. The performance will be a bit less, but you have a cheaper bill when you’re just starting out. And you can always upgrade later.
Cost: $25/month, or $20.83/month when paying yearly.
My recommendation if you’re on a budget.
I am a huge fan of their customer service.
I’m good at running my blog, just not the technical side. I’m a good driver, but don’t force me to look beneath the hood to fix things. If that metaphor makes sense.
Every time I had technical difficulties they were able to guide me in fixing the issue, or they would just fix it for me. Their chat support has pretty low waiting times too, so if tech is not your thing, that’s reassuring. 🙂
SiteGround also offers an SSL certificate for free.
Who it’s for: If you want to start your blog, but are on a budget, SiteGround is a great place to start! They have a solid service, uptime, and speed at a reasonable price.
Cost: Starting at around $6 per month.
Once you have your blog up and running, you will want it to look good.
One of the best things about WordPress is the vast amount of themes to choose from. No matter what your vision is for your website, there will be a theme that makes your blog and content shiny brighter than the stars!
These are some of the best places to find your perfect theme!
One note upfront is that WordPress themes are like clothing. My style doesn’t have to be your style, our needs will differ and overall it’s often a matter of preference.
Thrive Theme Builder
This is what I’m using for this blog.
All of the pages you see on my blog were made from templates, that I have been easily able to edit myself (without any coding needed).
Here’s what I like about the Thrive Theme Builder:
Besides the fact that it’s a very clean theme, it is focused on conversions. As you can see, you will see plenty of places where you can opt in to one of my email lists to get various free trainings.
This is crucial for a blogger!
You want to capture people’s emails so that you can follow up with them, get them coming back to your blog again and again, build the relationship, and sell to them.
Who it’s for: The Thrive Theme builder is the most expensive option on the list as far as WordPress themes go. If you have the money to invest, I’d say it’s well worth the investment, but there are other free and cheaper options available as well.
Cost: $97 one time.
Tip: If you’re serious about building this as a business, you might want to go for the Thrive Membership instead. It is subscription based, but it gives you access to the Theme Builder as well as all their other plugins (more on those later).
My Theme Shop
My Theme Shop is one of the biggest marketplaces for WordPress themes.
They have a ton of different themes that you can use, from minimalistic designs to WordPress themes with all the bells and whistles! You will definitely find something you like there!
If you want a fast, SEO friendly theme, Schema could be a nice option.
Who it’s for: If you have some money to spare, a premium theme can make your blog stand out. Besides that, it’s mainly a matter of taste.
Cost: Some themes are free, most are $59.
Astra is one of the most popular themes out there.
Not only is this theme free (with an upgraded paid version), it is also highly customizable,
I haven’t personally used it, but I’ve heard a lot of people talk highly about it. Pretty much everyone seems to love it, probably because they have so many options to tweak this theme to their own liking.
Who it’s for: There’s a lot you can do with this theme, so it might take a bit more time to customize your blog the way you want to. However, Astra is a solid pick if you want a solid, but free WordPress theme.
Cost: Free, with an optional $47 upgrade,
Not looking to pay for a theme?
No worries there!
WordPress has a full directory of themes for you to use, that are completely free. They may not have the same functionality as some of the paid themes, but it’s definitely worth it to check if any of the themes match your idea.
One of the good things is that you can select the features you need and that you can sort by popularity.
Who it’s for: If you’re not looking to spend much initially, this may be a great option for you. You can always switch later on, and this way you can save some money for more important things, like your legal pages.
This is one of the largest WordPress theme websites.
With the sheer number of themes, they will be a theme there that you’ll absolutely fall in love with!
One of the things that I find useful is that you can sort by the purpose of the theme. For example by filtering for magazine style themes, themes for blogging, or professional corporate themes.
Who it’s for: If you’re picky about your theme, ThemeForest could be the right place for you. Because they have the largest base of premium themes, there’s a good chance you will find the one that feels just right.
Cost: Themes starting at $19.
Essential WordPress Plugins
Plugins are what make WordPress the best blogging platform.
They can help you grow faster and smarter.
As a warning, having too many or poor performing plugins can slow down your blog. Therefore it is important to really consider your needs and install those that make sense to you.
I’ll share the ones I use and why.
Rank Math is a plugin that helps with SEO.
There are a few uses of this plugin:
Firstly, this plugin helps with things like creating a sitemap to send to search engines, and verifying your website for Google, Bing, Pinterest and others as well as making updating your metadata easy.
If that sounded like a foreign language, you should probably use this plugin. 😉
One of the other main things this plugin does is guide you towards optimizing your blog posts. Like advice on using keywords among other things.
Who it’s for: Rank Math is no magic bullet, but it does make things a hell of a lot easier. Unless you’re an SEO expert, you’ll find a ton of benefit in using it.
Note: You should only have 1 SEO plugin. So either install Rank Math or Yoast. Do not use both!
This is an alternative to Rank Math.
Overall the blogging and SEO communities have been fighting over which of these 2 plugins in the best one. There’s no clear winner emerging from this war.
I’d say Rank Math offers a bit more functionality, but Yoast is pretty solid as well.
Note: You only need 1 of them, do NOT install both as that’s redundant and would likely prevent them from working well.
Who it’s for: Yoast SEO functions the same as Rank Math. It’s intuitive and works pretty well. I’ve always found it useful when I used it.
Note: You should only have 1 SEO plugin. So either install Rank Math or Yoast. Do not use both!
Thrive Themes Membership
Next up, there is a set of plugins that I use.
They are all plugins that help me generate an email list. All the opt-in forms you see on this site are from the Thrive plugins, and in fact, this entire blog was built with the Thrive Theme Builder (included in your membership).
Just so you know:
You can purchase any one of these plugins separately for a one-time fee, or you can take their subscription which includes all of their plugins.
Who it’s for: If you’re a new blogger, the full membership will probably get a bit expensive to be honest. Once you start making some money, this is one of the best investments for your blog. If you have the money to invest, it would be a great option, if you want to make money blogging.
Cost: $19/month when paid annually, or $30/month when paid quarterly.
You need to be building your email list as a blogger, period!
And that’s where this plugin comes in.
Thrive Leads is a plugin that makes it super easy to create attractive, and more importantly, highly converting opt-in forms.
Here’s an example:
There are other plugins, but this one offers the most and best features.
Besides the fact that you can create any kind of opt-in with this plugin, the most powerful feature is A/B testing. Meaning you can create multiple versions of a form to test which one works better.
In other words: More leads!
Who it’s for: If you’re serious about building your audience, email marketing is essential! Thrive Leads is my go-to tool for bloggers to capture those leads, it is well worth the money.
Cost: $67 for 1 blog.
Normal comments are meh.
Just imagine, someone took the time to leave a comment, and afterwards, it’s just crickets…
Talk about an anticlimax…
When somebody leaves a comment they are at their peak of engagement with you and your content. So it’s the perfect moment to make a small ask from them.
And that’s what Thrive Comments does (among other things).
After someone leaves a comment you can use a pop-up to give someone a special lead magnet or ask them to share your article. It’s the perfect moment to do so!
There are more things as well, like a voting system, so people can express their agreement (or disagreement) with other comments, badges to gamify your comments, those kinds of things.
Who it’s for: Most bloggers won’t have a lot of comments, so this plugin isn’t really worth it. If you get their membership you’ll see some benefit from it, but I personally wouldn’t pay for the standalone plugin. Only get it separately if you get a lot of comments.
Cost: $39 for 1 site.
Thrive Architect + Thrive Optimize
This one is geared towards more advanced bloggers.
With Thrive Architect, you can make landing pages. These are “simple” pages that serve 1 single purpose: get people to sign up for your lead magnet.
The one goal of it is to grow your email list.
What should you use it for?
I’m using these pages for promotions that are not on my blog. Examples would be ads on Facebook or YouTube, including it in a guest post, in one of your YouTube videos, or as part of a post on Reddit.
As for Thrive Optimize:
This is an extention of the Architect page builder. It lets you A/B test your pages. Meaning you create multiple versions to see which one converts better. This can significatly increase conversions and be the difference between losing money on advertising and making money!
Note: For your own blog, I’d recommend Thrive Leads for creating a pop-up (when someone clicks a link) instead of sending people to a new page. This creates less friction, usually resulting n more conversions.
Who it’s for: Unless you have a solid lead magnet in place, don’t bother. If you do have 1, consider your budget: If you can spend some money on advertising to grow your list, it’ll be worth it for you. Because if you’re just sending people to your blog, you’re gonna lose money.
Cost: $67 for the Thrive Architect, $127 for both combined. (1 site)
This is a security plugin.
WordPress is the most powerful software available for blogs. Because of that, millions upon millions of websites are powered by WordPress.
And hackers know it!
Since a lot of sites use the same software, they’re always looking for vulnerabilities to hack sites in order to spread malware, steal information or things like that.
WordFence helps keep your blog safe!
Who it’s for: Essentially everyone. Some hosts, like WPX, will scan for malware and restore your blog, however if your host doesn’t have this protection included, you should be getting WordFence to secure your blog.
If you’ve been blogging for a while, you’ll have gotten spam comments.
Somehow, that’s still a thing…
In case you’re completely new, we’re talking about bots that automatically leave comments on tons of blog posts while linking back to their own website.
It used to be an effective SEO technique, like 10 years ago that is. It isn’t anymore, but that doesn’t stop spammers.
Antispam Bee on the other hand does stop them!
It detects spam comments and automagically deletes or filters (depending on your settings) them, so that you don’t have to waste your time on them!
Who it’s for: Pretty much every blogger is going to experience comment spam at one point or another. In most cases, the spam will start shortly after creating your blog. Better be prepared for it by using Antispam Bee.
This is my social sharing plugin of choice.
Social snap is a plugin that makes it stupidly simple for your audience to share your blog posts on social media. In other words, this plugin helps you get more traffic!
Some of the features:
Firstly, you have the ability to place social share buttons in various locations. Including a floating sidebar, a sticky bar, or at the top/bottom of your blog posts. The easier people can share your post, the more people will do so.
Next up is social proof.
You can automatically show people how often your article has been shared. It provides credibility and others will be more likely to share it as well. You also have the option to hide a low amount of shares.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
Other features include “Click to Tweet” boxes, the ability to specify how your posts look on social media, separate options for Pinterest and quite a few more!
Who it’s for: There is a free version of Social Snap, but it’s not nearly as feature rich. If all you want is having buttons at the top of your blog post, the free version will do. If you’re serious about growing and monetizing your blog, the upgrade well worth it.
Cost: $39/year for the plus plan.
Speaking of social shares, do your blogging friends a favor, and share this resource page with them!
Insert Headers and Footers
Do you have a good understanding of how coding works?
If you have no clue about it either, the Insert Headers and Footers plugin can help you out!
For your blog you should have Google Analytics installed at the very least. There may also be some other pieces of code you want to use to track what happens on your site, for example the Facebook pixel if you want to advertise on Facebook.
You need to add that code to the header of your blog.
Unless you’re familiar with coding and WordPress (from a development point of view), you don’t want to be messing with any coding yourself. Which is why this free plugin is so useful.
You just copy your code and paste it inside of this plugin, which will then add it the correct way to your header.
Who it’s for: Pretty much any non-technical people that need to add certain code (like Google Analytics or the Facebook pixel). If you know what you’re doing, just add any code manually instead of using this plugin.
Note: Some themes already have a feature where you can insert code into the header or footer. If your theme supports this, I’d recommend using that instead of downloading a plugin for it.
Legal Pages for Your Blog
Before you launch your blog, you need the right legal documents!
Not having the right legal pages on your blog can lead to you getting in trouble with privacy authorities, getting sued by people or other people, or even getting in trouble with the FTC if you do affiliate marketing.
So, how do you protect yourself?
Unless you’re a lawyer, there are 2 ways to get these pages for your blog:
- Hire a lawyer to draft these documents for you, which is going to be really expensive.
- Use legal templates that have been drafted by a lawyer.
I would recommend using the second option, which is what I have done as well. The ones I use and recommend as these right here from Amira from ASelfGuru. She’s a lawyer, so you can rest assured that these will legally protect you.
Who it’s for: Legally protecting yourself is NOT optional! Every single blogger needs to have these legal pages to blog legally. It might be slightly expensive if you’re just starting out, but not nearly as expensive as the fines and lawsuits you could get!
Cost: $157 for the basic bundle, which should be enough if you’re just starting.
Wanna hear an unfortunate truth?
When somebody reads one or two of your blog posts before leaving your site, there’s a high chance they’re not coming back to your blog! Even if your content is great and well written.
People simply forget.
And that’s why email marketing is so important for a blogger. When you build your email list, you have another way of communication with them, which means you can invite them to your blog every time you have a new piece published.
It becomes an audience on demand.
In order to send emails to your audience, you need an email service provider. This is the service you will use to collect people’s email addresses and to send them a series of emails after they opt in.
Here are my recommended tools for email marketing.
ConvertKit is a great ESP (email service provider) for bloggers.
And, I use it myself as well.
From a beginner’s point of view, ConvertKit is very intuitive and does what it’s supposed to do pretty well. It’s easy to work with, create your email series, and tie everything together. I’d say it’s pretty beginner-friendly.
But there’s more.
They offer some features that, just a few years ago, were only available at the enterprise level (expensive) tools. Things like automated campaigns based on your reader’s actions, tagging and other advanced features.
ConvertKit is a great email marketing tool!
But there is more:
When you’re sending emails, you need to disclose an address (either your home address, a business one, or a PO box). ConvertKit let’s you use their address so your privacy is guaranteed!
Who it’s for: You need an email service provider, period! ConvertKit would be my top recommendation. It is an incredibly powerful tool, very user friendly, and it’s going to do everything you need in terms of capturing and sending email.
Cost: Paid plans starting at $29/month. Wouldn’t recommend their free plan, as it’s missing the ability to send automated email series to new subscribers.
New kid on the block, but incredibly powerful!
There are a few reasons:
One of the things Moosend has going for it is that the templates for opt in forms don’t suck! Almost every autoresponder is focused on the email part, but their opt-in forms often don’t look that great.
Even with ConvertKit.
Which is why I use Thrive Leads and Thrive Architect.
With Moosend however, I feel that their templates are actually pretty good. On top of that, they also allow you to create landing pages, which look pretty good as well. It’s something that pleasantly surprised me!
Besides that, you can create some advanced automated campaigns with Moosend.
On the downside:
This tool is pretty complex and I frankly find it quite confusing to use, and I consider myself fairly tech-savvy. It will be quite the learning curve, but you will have a powerful tool once you go through that curve.
Oh, and did I mention it’s free to get started?
It’s a bit of a learning curve to get used to Moosend, but after that you’re probably going to love it, because of the advanced functionality.
Who it’s for: Moosend is a powerful tool, but also way more complex to set up compared to ConvertKit. If you’re tech-savvy, and like figuring things out, I’d say go with Moosend over ConvertKit, otherwise ConvertKit is a great choice.
Cost: Free up to 1k subscribers. Paid plans start at $10/month.
Social Media Marketing
The blogging tools mentioned above are what I consider the core blogging tools. In the sense that virtually every blogger needs them to some degree.
The next tools are mainly for convenience.
With social media, you could simply log into each of your accounts to create your posts, no tool needed. However, when you use the right social media marketing tools, you can save yourself quite a bit of precious time.
Ready to grow your following? Check out these babies!
This is one of the most powerful social media marketing tools.
It’s what I use myself.
One of the main things I use Hootsuite is to schedule my posts. This way I don’t have to be there at my computer or phone all day to post. It also saves time because I can schedule posts in bulk.
And I can do so for all my social profiles at once!
On top of that, I can see my private messages from my social accounts in one dashboard. I can see all posts with certain hashtags, so that I can be there to engage with potential new readers and more!
They also offer a free plan, but it’s limited to just scheduling your posts for 3 profiles.
Who it’s for: Are you tweeting to about 10 followers (hi mom!)? If you’re brand new to using social media for your blog, Hootsuite is probably a bit much for you, especially since it’s relatively expensive for a social media tool. However, if you’re spending a lot of time on social media, this might help free up your time.
Cost: Paid plans start at $25/month with a limited free option.
I like Buffer personally.
It’s not as feature-rich as Hootsuite, but it will get the job done.
What I like about Buffer especially is its simplicity. While your Hootsuite dashboard can quickly feel cluttered and hard to work with, Buffer’s dashboard is pretty clean and easy to navigate.
Their free version allows 3 social accounts.
They don’t have fancy features like tracking certain hashtags, but if all you need to do is schedule posts for your social media accounts, Buffer will be all that you need to do so.
Who it’s for: If you want a simple way to schedule your posts, Buffer is the easiest tool to do so. It doesn’t have the fancy bells and whistles you might want at a later stage of your blogging career, but for starters this is great!
Cost: Free for 3 profiles, $15/month for their pro plan.
Are you using Pinterest to drive traffic to your blog?
Then you’ll love Tailwind!
Tailwind is hands down the best tool to help you grow on Pinterest. Tailwind will save you a ton of time through their SmartSchedule tool, which makes it stupidly simple to schedule your pins for weeks at a time.
But by far, I’d say their best feature is Tribes.
People need content to pin to their boards, and tribes create a win-win for everyone. Basically, you join a group of other creators in your niche and share their articles when you need to pin other posts.
And of course, they will do the same with your pins.
This way, you will have other people who pin your pins to their boards helping you get more traffic to your blog.
Who it’s for: If you’re using Pinterest, using Tailwind is pretty much a no-brainer. It’s a great way to get people to your blog, and with this tool you can significantly increase your efficiency while reducing time spent.
Cost: $9.99 (paid annually) or $14.99 paid monthly.
When you’re just starting out, you start with 0 followers.
You may tell some friends and family about the blog that you have started, but other than that you have no following on social media.
It’s a paradox really:
You should be using social media to get more blog visitors, but you need to have followers in the first place for your promotion to be effective.
Quuu Promote solves this issue.
With this awesome tool, you can submit one of your blog posts, which will then be shared by other people! People that DO have the audience in your niche that you would like to reach.
It’s a win-win situation:
Other bloggers and influencers need great content to share with their audience, for which they use Quuu. You give them the content and they will help you get more people to your articles, it’s a great service.
Who it’s for: It kinda depends on what you blog about. Quuu Promote has a lot of categories, but some of these categories have a lot more users. If you’re in a popular niche, you’ll see the most benefits.
Cost: $50/month, or $75 if you want to have your promotions done for you.
Ever struggle with coming up with ideas for blog posts?
That’s just one of the things that Social Animal will help you with.
You can type in a keyword or another blog’s domain and instantly see the most popular articles on that topic. This will give you some great inspiration for topics that are popular and that get shared a lot!
But, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Content marketing and blogging isn’t some kind of magic and success leaves clues. By looking at the best content on a certain topic, you can notice trends in the blog posts that become insanely popular.
You can also see who shared the content.
So if you ever want to do a campaign to promote a piece of content, you can easily find people that have shared similar articles before. These would be good targets to reach out to when you’re doing a promotion like that.
Who it’s for: Social Animal is great to figure out what topics are popular, and finding influencers to reach out to in a promotional campaign. I’d say it’s a tool to get into when you’re already making some money and want to step up your game.
Cost: $49/month, with a free 14-day trial.
I don’t need to tell you that SEO is important.
In order to grow your blog, you need people to find you, so that you can build your audience. One of the best ways to get discovered is through getting found in Google and other search engines for relevant searches.
But, do you even know what phrases you want to rank for?
Before you write a blog post, you should research what words and phrases people use to find information like you provide in your blog post.
And guess what?
There are tools for that.
This is a neat Google Chrome extension.
Once you have it installed, you will see relevant keywords whenever you search for something on Google. They also give you a rough estimate of how many people search for each keyword.
You’ll also see estimated traffic and keywords from the ranking posts.
When you click on the blue number for the keywords, you will see for which other keywords the page is ranking as well as the expected amount of monthly visitors the page gets from them. It’s a pretty convenient way to find more keywords.
This tool operates on a credit-based system.
You buy credits and then you will get the relevant keyword data at a cost of 1 credit for every keyword the tool gives you.
Who it’s for: Keywords Everywhere is a fairly basic tool, but it’s a great way to get started with keyword research for beginning bloggers especially. Despite not having any advanced features, you will be able to get the job done.
Cost: Credit packages start at $10 for 100k of them, which should last you a long time.
Ubersuggest is now a freemium tool, instead of free.
On the site, you start with a single keyword or domain name of a competitor. This tool will then give you related keywords along with data.
Unfortunately, the amount of keywords for which you get data is limited in the free version.
And here’s a cool thing:
You can use Ubersuggest after you think you found some good keywords.
Take the keywords you found and pop them into Ubersuggest. From there go to the keyword explorer. You will see that this tool offers more keyword ideas as well as an estimated amount of searches, for the first few keywords at least.
However, I want you to look at the right side:
This part shows the top 10 pages that are ranking for the keyword, in other words, your competition. Take a note of the DR (domain rating) scores and the number of links these pages have.
The higher these numbers the tougher the keyword.
When you see that you’re up against giant authority sites with a ton of backlinks, you might want to consider another keyword, since your chances of ranking will be slim.
It’s got other functions as well, like checking which keywords one of your competitors is ranking for. But to be honest, I rarely ever use any of the functions myself, outside of keyword research and checking my competition.
Who it’s for: Ubersuggest isn’t my primary keyword research tool. It is however a tool I would recommend to check out your competition. Unless you’re already at the stage where you can afford a premium tool like Ahrefs, this is a great option.
Cost: Free to use, or $29.90/month for the paid plan.
Answer the Public
Keyword research with a focus on questions.
When you open Answer the Public, you can type in any keyword to get started. This site will then use Google’s autocomplete feature to give you a list of all the questions that come up regarding your keyword.
Your results will look something like this:
Yes, I know this looks incredibly messy, but it does offer some great suggestions. If you want a more straightforward view, you can just click the “Data” button to get a list of all the suggestions ordered by the kind of question.
Who it’s for: This is another great tool for beginners. Especially when you want to create content around the questions that people might have or when creating an FAQ kind of blog post. It’s not a tool I would recommend paying for though.
Cost: Free, for a limited amount of keywords per day. They have a paid plan, but at $99/month it’s quite expensive.
The best research tool for SEO at the moment.
Ahrefs isn’t just a keyword research tool, it offers an all-in-one package.
Including features like:
- Site audit (finding SEO flaws)
- Keyword Research
- Competitor Analysis
- Finding top-performing content
- Finding backlink opportunities
They often say that you get what you pay for, and that’s definitely the case here. Ahrefs will greatly help you with your SEO efforts, but it is by no means a cheap tool. However, well worth it if you can afford it.
Who it’s for: This is mostly for more advanced bloggers, and not just because of the price. You’ll need some solid understanding of SEO to get the most out of this blogging tool, but once you do, you’ll love it. If your blog is making money, this would be a great tool to invest your earnings in.
Cost: $7 trial with plans starting at $99/month.
Google Keyword Planner
I couldn’t leave out Google’s own tool.
Over the years Google has restricted the accuracy of the data it provides on their keyword suggestions, but this tool still works like a charm. I would say it usually finds more keywords than other free tools.
The tradeoff is that the search numbers aren’t really usable.
Instead of giving you estimates for each keyword (like they used to do), they now use brackets of 10-100, 100-1000, 1000-10000, and so on. However, you will still get value out of this keyword research tool because of keywords you wouldn’t otherwise find.
Who it’s for: I’d say that unless you’re using Ahrefs, it’s a good idea to use the Google Keyword Planner. While the traffic stats will be inaccurate, it’s a free tool that will most likely help you find additional keywords (even after having used other tools).
Moving on to the core of blogging.
After you have done your research, you will need to get started writing your content.
Luckily there are some tools that can make writing content a lot easier, prevent you from making grammar mistakes, and overall decrease the time you spend on writing and editing.
Here are my favorite content creation tools:
I write most of my blog posts in Google docs instead of WordPress itself.
The reason I prefer to use Google Docs, besides the clean interface, is the fact that it’s mobile-friendly and I have access to my files everywhere. Whether it’s on my laptop, desktop computer or on my phone.
This of course means a lot of flexibility.
While I wouldn’t ever use WordPress to write a blog post on my phone, I’m comfortable doing so in Google Docs.
Here’s a little secret:
Parts of pretty much every page on this blog (including this resource guide) have been written on my phone while I was walking, traveling somewhere (public transport) or even when I’m on the toilet.
For me, it definitely helped me increase my productivity.
Warning: While I love Google Docs, there is a downside to it, which is the formatting.
When copy-pasting your article from Google Docs to WordPress, you will get an extra enter between each paragraph. I would also not recommend adding images in the document, and add those in inside of WordPress instead.
Who it’s for: This is a tough call for me to make as it depends on you. Some people need to be seated at their desk to be productive, in which case it’s better to write directly in WordPress. However, if you want to be able to write on the go, give Google Docs a try.
This tool will help you make your content more readable.
When you’re done writing, copy and paste your article into Hemingway. This neat little tool will then highlight any sentences that are long and likely hard to read for your audience.
It highlights the usage of the passive tense, simpler alternatives for difficult words as well as additives that could be removed to make a statement more powerful.
I would say that those things do have their place in your writing. However, you want to make sure that you don’t overdo it.
Who it’s for: I’d say this tool is useful for writers of any level, but Hemingway is especially useful if you’re not that confident in your writing skills. I’m pretty confident in my writing, but this tool is still finding flaws in my articles. It never hurts to check!
This is another tool to help correct your writing.
However, whereas Hemingway is mostly focused on making sure your article reads well, Grammarly focuses on… well grammar (surprise, surprise).
It’s really that simple.
The free version will help you with spelling and grammar. The paid version has a ton of other features as well, including:
- Using more compelling language
- Creating more variety
- Making sure your writing is crystal clear
Personally, the free version isn’t doing that much for me at this point (since there aren’t that many mistakes to correct), but the premium version can easily point out mistakes in my writing style.
Who it’s for: Beginners will get a lot of value out of the free version, as they tend to make more mistakes. If you’re an intermediate or expert writer, the premium version can help you take your writing to the next level.
Cost: Free, with their premium plans ranging between $29.95 – $11.66 (depending on whether you pay monthly, quarterly or yearly).
Writing style matters, obviously.
For example, one of the mistakes people often make is overusing the word “very”. In doing so their articles feel very boring bland.
The same thing if you’re using the same words repetitively.
If you’re ever struggling with finding the right words to say what you want to say, check out Thesaurus. Simply enter the word you want to find an alternative for and within a second you’ll get a list of synonyms that you can use.
It’s an easy way to spice up your writing.
Who it’s for: Is this a tool you really need? Personally, I’d say no. However, if you regularly feel like your content feels boring or that you’re repeating yourself too often, check it out. You might find some new words to spice up your writing.
Visual content is one of the best tools in your arsenal!
Not only are images great to make your blog posts more interesting, but they also play an essential role on social media as well. Good images can be the difference between getting a handful of readers and getting thousands.
They also help keep people engaged once they get to your blog.
The following resources will help you get or create stunning images that will help make your blog posts look stunning as well as provide amazing images to use on social media.
Warning: I should make 1 thing clear!
If you need images for your blog, do NOT go to Google and take an image from there! These are almost certainly copyright protected and can get you in legal trouble. Instead, use the resources below to make images yourself or source them legally!
Canva is one of the most used blogging tools for creating images.
Tools like Photoshop have a pretty steep learning curve. While they allow you a ton of flexibility, they also have so many advanced features that it is incredibly difficult for a beginner to use them and make great images right away.
With Canva you don’t have to go through this learning curve.
They have many templates already available that you can easily edit yourself. It’s often as easy as dragging or dropping an image, changing colors or adding your desired text to the template.
Here are some of the templates you can use:
You can of course create your own images from scratch as well by using the shapes, drawings and images that are available to use (or import your own). With their premium version, you have access to millions of stock images ready for you to use.
Who it’s for: I’d say Canva is most suited for beginners, as there are (in my opinion) better alternatives later on in your journey. If you just need some nice looking images within a short amount of time, Canva will give you just that.
Cost: Free with premium subscriptions at $9.95/month.
This is an alternative to Canva, and I personally like this one better.
At their core, they function the same way, with the biggest difference being the templates that are available. At the moment Snappa offers less templates than Canva. However, I find that this tool requires less effort to make great images.
Besides the text, basically all the work has been done already.
Other than that I like the user interface, which is pretty straightforward. It doesn’t really offer anything special that Canva doesn’t, so I would say it’s a matter of preference in which of these tools to use.
The one downside I would say is the limitation on the free plan.
With this plan, they only allow you to export a few images every month, after which they would like you to upgrade. However, I would say it’s well worth the few dollars per month to create unlimited graphics for your blog.
Who it’s for: Can’t find what you’re looking for on Canva, or feel like it’s still pretty hard to create great images for your blog? Then have a look at Snappa. You’ll find some different templates there and Snappa is pretty easy to use.
Cost: Free, with their Pro subscription at $10/month.
You can’t have a section on images without mentioning this tool.
As mentioned above, Photoshop has a pretty big learning curve, which is why I don’t recommend it for beginners. However, once you’ve mastered this program you’re able to do pretty much any designing you could imagine!
Photoshop is a powerful tool for those willing to learn.
However, if you’re like most bloggers, you probably prefer to write rather than spending your time learning how to create the images.
One good thing to mention is that these days, Photoshop isn’t as expensive as it used to be. Instead of having to pay hundreds of dollars upfront, Adobe now offers monthly subscriptions to its products.
Who it’s for: If you really, and I mean really love creating images for your blog, then spend the time and money to get and learn Photoshop. If that’s not you, give this program a hard pass.
Cost: Plans starting at $9.99/month depending on which tools you need.
Free Stock Photo Sites
We have all seen them on the internet:
The generic images of the businessmen and women in a conference room, photos of random buildings, plants or other areas, as well as photos of random objects lying around “artistically”.
They may very well be stock images.
Blog owners often do not take these pictures themselves, but use other sites to source and license images for their blog. For them, it is so much easier than having to take pictures themselves, which is why many people use them.
I’ll be doing this section differently from before:
Because there are many different stock photography sites, I’ll just list some of the most popular ones. They don’t differ significantly from each other, so there isn’t a need to go into each of them individually.
Note: Always check the site’s usage rights as some of them might require you to give credit to the site where you got the Image.
- Foodiesfeed (for food images, obviously)
- New Old Stock (vintage photos)
- StyledStock (some more feminine images)
- Life of Pix
Of course, there are a ton of similar sites, but these ones should already give you more than enough images to use! Again, make sure to check the licence to see if you need to attribute anything.
Who it’s for: Unless you’re a photographer and/or have the time to take stunning pictures yourself, this is likely your best option. If you have a bit of a budget, check out the next suggestion, which I think you’ll love!
Cost: All of these are free, but may or may not require attribution.
Do you love making images for your blog?
To be honest, image creation is probably my least favorite activity. I would much rather spend my time writing more articles and creating videos for you than spend my time creating the images to use in my blog posts.
Luckily this can be easily outsourced.
The service I would recommend is Kimp. They are a subscription-based service for all your graphic design. Whether it’s for social media, blog images, a new logo, ebook design, or any other graphic, they will handle it!
It’s like having your own graphic design team!
Except you don’t have to actually hire people and deal with payroll and that kind of stuff. You simply submit your requests for the images you want and they will create them for you. You get an unlimited number of images all for a set monthly fee.
Who it’s for: Personally, I would recommend Kimp for established bloggers, in the sense that you will want to have some revenue coming in. The reason being that, while this service is amazing, it’s quite expensive if you’re not yet making any money.
Almost everyone uses stock images.
While they’re a great option for getting blog images, it loses some of its power when everyone has the same kind of images.
In order to spice things up, you can use illustrations in addition to just photos. They are usually used less than actual photos and can give a more fun and playful touch to your blog posts.
Just like with the Stock Photos I’ll give you a couple of sites that you can use:
- Humaaans (let’s you create your own illustrations of people)
Again, please check the usage rights and licence before using these illustrations on your blog or on social media.
Who it’s for: Illustrations are generally a bit more “fun” than normal images. An illustration can make your content seem lighter and more fun, but for a more serious topic, people might not appreciate them (or love you more for using them).
In the end, it all comes down to your audience, the tonality you want to have in your content and the topics you write about.
And we’re at one of the most important parts of blogging!
One of the most frustrating things to experience as a blogger is to put a lot of time and effort into writing a blog post, only to have just 5 people read your latest article. It’s something that can make people quickly lose interest…
Don’t let that be you though!
Instead of getting down and out about the amount of readers you’re getting, spend your time productively in learning how to get more readers. If all you do is wait around for people to randomly find your articles, you’re doing it wrong!
These are some of my favorite content promotion tools.
IFTTT (If This Then That)
IFTTT is a tool for automation.
Once a certain thing happens, let’s say you post a video on YouTube, then this tool will perform another action. An example could be to share and embed it in a blog post on Blogger, to help the video get better discovery.
There are plenty of applications.
An example as I shared above would be for crossposting, but there are plenty of other ways. You could have it send you an email whenever someone mentions your blog on Twitter, or compile a list of tweets with a certain keyword, so you can interact with those people.
It’s a very flexible tool, so if you can think of it, you can probably do it with IFTTT.
Personally, I mainly use it to get some social signals whenever I upload a video to YouTube. To get it embedded on some blogging sites and shared on small social media platforms that wouldn’t be worth my time to do manually.
Who it’s for: I’d say wait until you’re a bit more experienced, as automation done wrong can come back to bite you in the proverbial ass. Once you got the hang of the basics and have your own routines for sharing content, you might want to automate some parts.
Let’s talk backlinks.
Getting links from other sites in your space is a critical part of getting your blog posts to rank in search engines. Additionally, a link from a popular blog can send droves of new readers to your blog for months to come!
In order to get these, you likely have to do some outreach.
Mailshake will help you scale up your outreach campaigns, provide you with templates to use (make sure to customize them!) and track your opens, responses and more in a single easy to use dashboard.
Besides the scaling part, there is an interesting feature I just have to mention:
After you have done one of your campaigns, you can request a review of it. One of their email marketing experts will go through your campaign and give you a video review of what went well and what you could improve.
That feature alone should help you get more shares and links from influencers down the line.
Who it’s for: If you have done some email outreach before, give Mailshake a go. If you have never done any, I’d recommend doing it manually at first, to grasp the basics of doing email outreach. Otherwise, you won’t get out of it.
Cost: $59/month, discounted if you pay yearly.
Speaking of outreach:
When you find a blog that you would like to reach out to, how would you go about finding the right email to contact that blog?
Some of them might make it easily available, but for others, it might be a bit more difficult. Especially when you need to reach out to a specific editor for example.
That’s a problem Hunter solves.
It helps you find and verify email addresses. When entering the name of the person you want to reach as well as the domain name, this tool should be able to find the correct email to use in a jiffy!
It’s as easy as that.
Who it’s for: If you’re going to do outreach, Hunter is a pretty good tool to have in your arsenal for getting those hard to find emails. It definitely beats having to search manually, especially when it’s not instantly clear how to contact someone.
Cost: Free for up to 50 emails/month. If that isn’t enough, plans start at $49/month.
Have you seen those “Recommended Content” sections on other websites?
You may have actually seen Outbrain in action then.
What this platform does is what we call native advertising. Outbrain features many publishers (websites with a lot of visitors like CNN and Wall Street Journal) in pretty much any niche. You can then pay to have one of your articles show up as recommended content on these sites.
You are in control of course.
You can specify what websites you want your content to appear on, how it looks and even have an article appear on articles related to a certain topic. With the right targeting, you’ll get people that are definitely interested in reading your blog posts!
Who it’s for: As this is paid advertising, I would recommend you have some sort of monetization in place. It could be affiliate marketing, building an email list, selling products or services, etc. Advertising is not an expense, it’s an investment! And it’s monetization that determines whether it will be a profitable one.
Cost: They use a cost-per-click (CPC) model, meaning you get charged depending on how many people click on your ads.
Mix is a content discovery platform.
People use the site to find articles that interest them. Once you sign up you will be asked to choose various topics of interest. You will then get to see articles related to those topics automatically curated for you.
And they could be your articles as well!
When you submit your own content, it can be discovered by its members who are interested in your blog’s topic. They will see an excerpt and click a link to go to your blog if they want to read the full article.
Mix also has social features that allow people to follow users that submit interesting content. Meaning that over time you might be able to build an audience here as well, that is likely to read your new blog post once it’s published.
Who it’s for: Unless you’re in a really small, obscure niche, join Mix. It is what is commonly referred to as low hanging fruit. It takes only a minute or two to submit a blog post, so there isn’t really a reason not to.
Quora is a pretty popular website.
In case you’ve never seen the site, it is a Q&A website. On this platform, people ask questions and other people will provide answers to those questions. Pretty straightforward.
If used correctly, however, it can drive some traffic to your blog.
This resource guide is not the place to go into detail, but to summarize it: You would find questions people have asked that you have answered in a blog post. Then you write an answer within Quora and link to the blog post so people can read about it in more detail.
It’s important to provide an actual answer in your post itself instead of leaving a quick link, which is considered spam and won’t be well received.
Unfortunately, links from Quora are nofollow, meaning they won’t help (much) with SEO. However they are still a nice way to get some extra readers to your blog, especially when you don’t have a lot of traffic yet (as it’s time consuming).
Who it’s for: Quora is mostly for bloggers without a lot of traffic yet, as writing your answers takes time. It is not something that scales well, so when you already have thousands or tens of thousands of views, your time is better spent elsewhere.
Lead Generation & Monetization
Let’s talk about taking your blog from a hobby to a side project that can make you some serious money.
For this you need to do 3 things:
First, you need to build an audience, you need to build trust with them, and you need to monetize that audience. This could be done through affiliate marketing, selling products, services, information, etc.
We’ve talked about lead generation and email marketing in other segments, but here are some additional tools I would recommend depending on the situation.
This is a platform for when you’re serious about making money.
Earlier, I shared Thrive Architect, a page builder.
And while I really do like to use the Thrive Products, in terms of creating funnels that grow both your email list and your income, it has nothing on ClickFunnels! This is the better platform for creating landing pages and has way better templates.
I’ll be honest, creating sales funnels that convert well is tough.
That’s why ClickFunnels has already created and tested effective funnels for you, where you just have to fill in the blanks and you’re done.
On top of that, there are some more advanced features:
If you’re ready to sell your own products, you can do that with ClickFunnels. They handle both the payments as well as the membership site your users will have access to. So it’s really an all-in-one solution for your blog and business.
Who it’s for: If you’re just getting started with your blog, ClickFunnels won’t do you much good yet. You’ll need to have at least one or omore lead magnets, as well as something (your own or affiliate products) to sell for it to pay off. If you don’t this won’t be a profitable investment for you.
As soon as you do have that, and are ready to grow your income, ClickFunnels is a great tool to do that!
Cost: Plans starting at $97/month.
Extra Resource: Even when you’re not ready to build your own funnels yet, I would recommend at least learning how to do it. They have a great book that teaches you how, that you can get for free here (just pay for shipping and handling).
This is a different kind of lead generation.
With UpViral you can create what we call a “viral giveaway”. This is a sort of contest where you will give some prize away to one or more lucky winners. After people sign up for it, they will be able to increase their chance of winning by sharing your lead capture page.
Meaning that the people that subscribe can help you generate more new leads.
Now as a little disclaimer, a campaign like this will work better in some niches than others. Overall I would say it works better if you’re targeting consumers (B2C) rather than businesses (B2B), but it can work for B2B as well if you do it right.
I’ve seen people in the community go from a few hundred leads to thousands, because of all the shares that came in, so if you’re in a popular niche this tool is definitely worth checking out!
Who it’s for: I’d say this one is mostly for people in niches where you market to individual consumers rather than businesses. If you’re in such a niche, I would recommend checking out Upviral and giving it a try.
Cost: Plans start at $49/month with a 14-day trial available.
Sometimes people who visited your blog once, need a little push to come back.
For this I use OneSignal.
This tool lets people subscribe to your blog by push notification. Whenever you have a new blog post, or another message you want to share with people, you can simply send a push notification to those who are subscribed.
It is essentially a second email list.
One of the things that push notifications have over email is how easy it is for people to subscribe to them, and how easily they can visit a page from a notification. No forms to fill out, no emails to read, just 1 click of a button.
If you’re not yet using push notifications, I would recommend trying this one out.
Who it’s for: The bigger your traffic is, the faster you’ll gain subscribers. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a tool for just big bloggers. Especially if you have a small blog, getting people to come back over and over with OneSignal can be incredibly useful for your growth.
Cost: Free up until 30k subscribers (which is a lot). Then starting at $99/month afterwards.
Note: Push notifications are useful, but they’re not a replacement for email. Email is still the more powerful way to build a connection with your audience, build the trust and sell.
Here is yet another way to stay in touch with your audience.
Over 1.3 billion people use Facebook Messenger every month! With Manychat you can build your own messenger bot that can communicate with people directly through messenger, allow them to subscribe to updates and much more!
To be honest, I cannot tell you much about chatbots.
At the time of writing this, I have never created one myself. I do however know the potential of building one. And will probably try to make it so that people can easily find my old content, subscribe for updates and ask questions to be answered in a later blog post and video.
All of which should be easily doable.
I’ve also seen them used to promote lead magnets, as well as to sell products. They’re definitely more advanced than just about any other tool mentioned in this resource guide, but could make a powerful addition to your blog.
Who it’s for: If you’re using Facebook, Manychat might be worth considering. Just know that it will be a bit of a learning curve. It’s probably best to hold off on it until you have a few thousand likes on your Facebook page. It’s not a priority until you’re more established.
Cost: Free, with a Pro plan at $10/month with more advanced features.
Affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to monetize a blog.
If you’re not familiar with affiliate marketing, here’s an overview:
Personally, I would recommend staying away from ads, because they provide a negative experience for your readers. Affiliate marketing not only helps your readers (when done ethically), the earnings potential is way higher and it’s easy to get started.
In this section, I’ll give you a few resources for affiliate networks.
Of course, with thousands of possible niches, I can’t give you the best ones in each and every one of them. I will however tell you about some major networks where you can find products to promote.
But first, here’s my favorite method:
For many people, they themselves are interested in the niche they write about. For example, the blogger teaching guitar is probably a player himself, and the one blogging about motherhood and raising kids likely has some of her own.
The key takeaway is this:
Since you’re already in the niche yourself, you most likely have some of your favorite tools. You might have been through courses that have greatly helped you, and that you could wholeheartedly recommend.
Look up those products, go to the company’s site and see if they have an affiliate program. If they have one, you can likely find it at the top navigation or in the footer of their website. If not, try Googling “product name affiliate program”.
That would be a great starting point, since you know these products and you know they will help your audience. It’s the best way to do this ethically.
Moving on to affiliate networks:
These are like big marketplaces.
Sellers will join these and post their products there. On the other side there are people like you who need amazing products to promote to their audience. The networks bring the two parties together.
After joining one of them, you will be able to browse products by category, and can request to become an affiliate for any that you think would be a great fit for your audience:
Here are some of the most popular affiliate networks:
- CJ Affiliates
- Amazon Affiliates
- Max Bounty (technically it’s a CPA network, meaning they have offers where you generate leads, instead of sales)
- Udemy (platform for online courses)
Important: It is your job as an affiliate to check and make sure that the products you promote are high quality. If the products aren’t your readers who bought them will be disappointed, not just in the company, but in you as well for recommending it.
Who it’s for: Pretty much anyone who wants to make money with their blog! The time to get started with monetization is when you’re starting, since it’s a win-win-win situation. You get paid, your reader gets a solid product recommendation and the seller gets another sale. There’s really no reason not to.
Cost: Free, obviously. If they want you to pay to join an affiliate program, run for your life!
If you’re planning on creating and selling your own courses, this one’s could be right up your alley.
Teachable is a platform that allows you to create and host your own courses. It takes care of registration, payments are integrated through their platform and your students will have a membership area that maximizes their learning
Some notable features:
You can have an unlimited amount of videos, checklist, pdf files and more in your courses, you can have quizzes that test your students’ knowledge (so they actually learn), and you can even do live sessions with your members.
Overall it’s a great tools for anyone who wants to sell information products.
However, if you’re using ClickFunnels already, you do the same things inside of ClickFunnels, so you wouldn’t need to pay for a separate platform.
Who it’s for: If you want to sell your knowledge or have a membership program where you teach people at a higher level than you can on your blog, then Teachable is definitely a viable option to consider.
Cost: Plans start at $29/month when paid annually or $39/month when paying monthly.
Online Course Platforms
Speaking of online courses:
When you’ve gone through the effort of creating your product, you want as many people to buy it as possible. If nobody buys your product, you don’t get to help anyone with that product (including yourself)!
Luckily, there are platforms out there that can help.
We have talked about affiliate marketing in this resource guide, and I talk about it quite a bit on this blog as well. However, while you can promote other people’s products, other people can promote your products as well.
Check out the affiliate networks above, as you can likely list your products there. ClickFunnels also has affiliate tools built in. You’d have to upgrade to their platinum level, but you’ve got everything together in one place.
Next up, there are online course platforms.
These work similarly to the affiliate networks. You can add your course here, and allow the platform and its affiliate to sell your course for you. It’s not a replacement for your own promotion, but it can bring in some extra sales.
Here are a couple of consider:
Who it’s for: If you have created your own courses and are ready for the next level, consider these platforms to get other people to promote your content for you. It’s a great way to leverage what you have already created!
Video Blogging Tools
If you’ve been to The Blogger’s Academy for any amount of time, you’ll know I’m a HUGE fan of video.
I would say it’s the #1 tool for any blogger to stand out from everyone else.
Video allows you to differentiate yourself from your competitors with the 1 thing they can NEVER copy, you! It helps keep people engaged and on your blog for longer and builds a bond between you and your reader.
YouTube will also become another source of traffic and leads.
If you ask me, the best time to get started with using video for your blog is a few years ago, the second-best time to get started is right now! Below you will find my very best resources for video bloggers.
Starter Video Recording Setup
Getting started with creating videos is easier than you might think.
In this section, I’m going to run you through my recommended resources for creating your videos, depending on what kind of videos you want to make.
Simplifying things, there are 3 main types of videos:
- Screen recordings
- Talking head (you speaking in front of a camera)
Each of them can be divided into multiple subsections, and you can make thing way more complicated if you want. I don’t though, you don’t need it when starting.
Your First Camera
It’s 2020, which is great if you’re on a budget!
10+ years ago you would have to go out and buy a camera to shoot high-quality videos. Not anymore though. I’m willing to bet you have a device that’s more than capable of filming your first videos within 1 meter of where you are.
You’re probably looking at it, or holding it in your hand.
Yes, that’s right!
When you first get started with creating videos, all you need to get high-quality footage is your smartphone and/or computer. In fact at the time of writing, I’m still using both of these myself to record my videos.
Who it’s for: I’d say for most people this is the way to go. Because pretty much every smartphone is capable of capturing video in at least 1920×1080 resolution. If you have cash laying around, you can opt for a professional camera, but there is no real need as a phone will get the job done just fine.
Cost: Prepaid, you already have them.
Tripod + Phone Mount
Shaky video is terrible unless you’re filming footage of an earthquake (not recommended)!
If you’re holding your phone yourself when creating your videos, you will end up with something sub-optimal. The video will likely be shaky and depending on how you hold it, you might not be in the center or it may be tilted.
All avoidable with a simple tripod.
Something like this is all you need:
It’s such a simple thing, but it works wonders for the quality of your video.
One thing to notice is that these things were made for professional cameras, not phones. This can easily be resolved with a simple phone mount you can attach to your tripod.
Who it’s for: If you are going to use your phone or an actual camera, you need to have a tripod, period. You simply don’t want to have a shaky video when it can be easily avoided.
Cost: You should be able to pick up both for less than $50.
Note: Of course the tripod should be tall enough to be on the same level as your face. Nobody wants to look at your shoes when they’re watching your videos.
Logitech C920 Webcam
If you have a laptop, you probably already have a decent webcam.
If you don’t already, the Logitech C920 is a pretty good option, I have one myself.
When you’re doing a screen recording on your computer, it often helps to have a part where you show yourself when teaching. It helps build that connection with your viewers so much better than just your voice.
Also, if you decide to do talking head videos using your laptop or computer to record, you should have a decent webcam.
Who it’s for: First check your laptop’s camera if you have one. It should be able to record in at least a 1920×1080 resolution. If it is not capable of doing so, and you want to use your laptop, then definitely get a new webcam.
Cost: $79.99 on the Logitech site, might be available for lower at retailers.
This is the microphone I use when recording on my computer.
While the webcam above has a built-in microphone, I find that the audio quality is not the greatest. It’s doable(ish), but if you want to get a better audio quality (which is more important than video quality), you should get a good microphone.
To be honest, this microphone is nothing special.
However, Blue has some pretty good microphones that are relatively cheap. You could also check out the Yeti and Snowball by the same company. I’ve heard some pretty good things about those as well.
Who it’s for: If you’re recording with your laptop or computer, do a quick check for the audio. Record a test video and check out the audio quality. If it sounds great, go ahead. If it’s “meh” quality, I would recommend buying a microphone.
Cost: Currently $74.99 on Amazon, might be able to find one cheaper.
This is one of the best tools for doing screen recordings.
Streamlabs OBS lets you easily stream or record videos. While the software is free as well as easy to use, they offer some surprisingly powerful features.
Instead of just recording yourself or recording your computer screen, you can create your own layout that features both at the same time. You also have the option to switch from 1 layout to another one with a single click.
Meaning you could share your screen at one moment, and then go back to your camera view to explain a bit about it with one click. After that you can switch back just as easily whenever you feel like it.
It’s overall just a great tool to use.
Who it’s for: I’d say Streamlabs OBS is pretty beginner friendly, especially since it’s free as well. If you want to do screen recordings (with or without webcam), then this is probably the easiest way to do so effectively.
This is the editing software I use.
To be fair, I’m probably biased as this is what I’ve used for years and don’t see a need to switch. One of the great features is the ability to do a screen recording straight from the software.
Because of this, you will have different “tracks” for your screen, webcam, desktop audio and your microphone. This makes it way easier to edit as you can edit each of these elements separately, as opposed to having 1 video from Streamlabs to edit for example.
I’ll be honest, there are probably better editing programs out there, but I still love Camtasia.
Who it’s for: I would say the main downside of Camtasia is the price. Therefore I don’t recommend it for people who are just starting out. Like multiple other tools, I would consider it an “upgrade as you go” tool.
Cost: €251.67 one time, so roughly $300.
I don’t have any personal experience with this tool.
However, it is one of the most popular video editing tools in the YouTube communities. One of the reasons for this is that it’s a great resource for beginners, because it is completely free to use.
For my blogging resources, I assume that as a starter you don’t have a lot of funds.
Davinci Resolve definitely ticks the box in that regard. You will be able to edit your videos without having to pay for expensive software. It may not be as good as say an Adobe program, but that’s the tradeoff of it being free.
Who it’s for: This tool fits into the “shoestring budget” category. Is it the best one out there? Nope, it isn’t. However, it is a good way to get your feet wet with video editing without breaking the bank.
No, not the character trait (although good to have).
Audacity is a free audio editing tool with a ton of options.
The one I use the most is noise removal. For example, if you live near a busy road and you can hear the traffic in your video, you can remove that with Audacity.
This program can be the difference between a good video and having to record all over again.
I’d say that while Audacity has a lot of different features, it is still fairly easy to use. It will take a little bit of learning on how to use it effectively, but after that you will have so much power over the sound of your videos.
Who it’s for: If you’re experiencing anything about your audio being off, jump into Audacity, as you will most likely be able to fix it within a couple of minutes. It’s my go-to tool for any audio that needs to be fixed.
Okay, you now have your video production needs covered.
The next part is to optimize your videos to be found by search engines, which is what TubeBuddy is for. This tool helps you find the right tags and keywords to use in your titles and descriptions.
It works as a browser extension.
So when you are uploading your video, you will get real-time help with optimizing your videos for YouTube SEO. Of course, you will need to do keyword research to find keywords to optimize for, but this tool should help you out.
One warning I will give with this tool though:
It should give you a score of how competitive a keyword is. Take that score with a grain of salt, and instead just type the keyword into YouTube to see for yourself what kind of videos are ranking for them.
If all of the first 10-20 videos have a TON of views and are from channels with tens of thousands (or more) subscribers, it’s going to be hard to rank for. Even when TubeBuddy says it’s not that competitive.
On top of that, there are some productivity-oriented features:
For example, you can have templates for your end screens, editing cards or end screens in bulk, as well as some other features that will make it just a bit easier to do some of the repetitive tasks on YouTube.
Who it’s for: I’d say it’s mostly for beginners, once you have the hang of (YouTube) SEO it starts to lose some value (as it’s inside your head). Some of the productivity features are still nice to have around though.
Cost: Free (with some features disabled) and paid plans starting at $9/month.
I gave a warning before about using images you didn’t create yourself.
The same goes for audio.
For example, if you want to use a popular song in one of your videos, don’t! Music like that is copyright protected. It could cause you to get a copyright claim, or strike on YouTube and worst-case scenario, you could get sued for it!
It’s a shame, but true. “Alexa, play Despacito.”
This is where AudioJungle comes in. This service features a huge library of sounds and music that you can legally use in your videos.
Don’t risk getting in legal trouble, it’s definitely way cheaper to purchase the right to use music in your videos.
Who it’s for: It depends on what kind of videos you want to make. Personally, for my videos, I don’t need to have any music playing as it would add more distractions than value. If you feel yours could use some music to spice it up, this is the place to go.
Cost: $16.50/month as a subscription (cheaper than getting individual tracks most of the time).
By now you will have plenty of resources that will help you make your blog successful.
Now let’s talk about productivity.
Many of the tools that I’ve shared so far allow you to do certain things for your blog faster and with less effort. The one thing we haven’t talked about yet is to improve your efficiency as a blogger.
So the next resources will help you be more productive.
How many different accounts do you have online?
Even if you use the same password everywhere, which I would not recommend for security reasons, you will spend a lot of time logging in to all the sites you use.
LastPass will help you spend less time on this.
It will store your password information safely and you will be able to have it automatically fill the fields when you are logging in. No more forgetting passwords and no more having to type them manually!
They also have a mobile app so you have the same convenience on the go as well.
Additionally, it can automatically generate passwords for you. Meaning you don’t have to use the same one everywhere, which is way more secure. Otherwise, people could technically get access to all your accounts if 1 service gets hacked.
If you’re concerned about security, know that you can use 2-factor authentication for LastPass. Meaning that even if someone gets access to your LastPass password, they would also need your phone to log in.
Also, the app itself is protected by your fingerprint, which is about the safest security available today.
Who it’s for: I love LastPass and would recommend it to just about anyone. For me it saves a lot of time, and I don’t have to worry about forgetting my passwords (which I’m very prone to personally).
Cost: Free for desktop, and I believe the mobile version is $9/year.
Your habits are what determine your future.
If you do the right actions every day, you are going to succeed. If you’re not consistent you will have a hard time achieving anything, which is true for almost everything, not just blogging.
I use HabitHub as a system to help.
In this app you can set certain daily goals, or habits that you want to form. You can then set alarms and reminders for them.
However, I find the most value in their calendar.
The idea is that every day you should mark inside of the calendar whether you completed the task you set for yourself. It’s not a good feeling to have to admit to yourself that you skipped out on something important to you.
Who it’s for: It depends on your personality. If you’re the person who’s extremely disciplined, you won’t need an app like this. If however, you know you have the tendency to slack off, then I would recommend downloading this app.
Note: It’s currently only available on Android.
Focus is important for a blogger.
It is often way more effective to spend a dedicated amount of time on a single task, rather than doing something for 5 minutes here, then another task and moving onto the next thing.
That will quickly drain your time and energy.
E.ggtimer is an incredibly simple tool, but it works wonders for your productivity.
Before you begin, decide which task you’re going to focus on and set the timer. I would recommend setting it to 50 minutes, as that has been determined to be the optimal amount of time for a person to stay focused.
After 50 minutes are done, E.ggtimer will give you an alarm.
Until that happens, no matter what else happens, you stay focused on the 1 task you have set yourself to, period! When the timer goes off, take 5-10 minutes to grab some water, stretch a bit and unwind. After that, you can go again with a new (or the same) task.
Who it’s for: This is great for 2 kinds of people: Firstly those who are all over the place. If you can train yourself to remain focused, you’re gonna be more effective. Secondly, this tool is great for those who can sit and work for hours on end. Working for too long without that 5-10 minute break can dull the brain, making you less effective at the task.
This tool is great if you have big projects, for example launching a blog or a new product.
Trello is about task and project management.
Inside of this tool you are able to create various boards for your projects.
Inside of each of those, you can create a checklist of all the tasks that need to be completed, add notes and much more. It is a fantastic tool to keep your to-do list organized and know exactly what you should be doing next.
Who it’s for: Hands up if you’re a scatterbrain like myself! Yes, this tool is mostly for people like you and me, although for big, complex projects, it would be a good idea to use something like Trello to stay organized of what still needs to be done (even if you’re organized).
Time to round up the best blogger’s resource guide with some additional tools.
These don’t really fit into any particular category and may be a bit all over the place, but they’re tools and resources I use that I find pretty helpful.
If you want to succeed at blogging, you’re going to have to keep on learning.
While I’m continuously learning more and more about marketing and blogging every single day, one of the things I consistently find out is that there is still a lot of stuff I don’t know. Your education doesn’t really ever stop!
Especially with marketing, which changes rapidly.
Zest is an app (iOS version) I’ve got on my phone, which is all about learning marketing Inside the app you select the topics you want to learn about and every day you will get a bunch of curated articles in your feed for you to read.
It’s a convenient way to improve your marketing skills.
Who it’s for: Everyone. If you think you don’t need to learn anything else to grow your blog, think again. Knowledge is power and the more you know about marketing the faster you’ll be able to grow!
Most successful people read a ton of books.
Personally, I try to do the same, but I find it tough to get through a full book. That’s why I’m subscribed to MentorBox. This is a subscription-based service with unlimited video summaries of personal development books.
You will get all the value without reading for 15+ hours.
One of the things that makes MentorBox so much better than their competitors is that the classes are given by the actual authors of the books and they have worksheets to go along with them.
It’s a great way to improve as a blogger as well as a person.
Who it’s for: This program is part of my daily routine just like Zest. I take my education and development seriously, and I would highly recommend you do the same! No matter at what level you are, you can always learn to get better at something.
Disney+ / Netflix / TV
To tell you a secret, I’m a huge Disney fan!
Even as an adult these movies never get old.
However, the reason I’m recommending this as a resource for bloggers isn’t for entertainment. One of the most important skills you can learn is storytelling. Almost everyone knows the popular Disney movies, so it’s great fuel to use for analogies.
If you’re on my email list (and you should), you will have noticed.
It’s not uncommon for me to share stories from Star Wars, Disney movies, fairy tales, The Godfather and the like. Generally, if almost everybody in my audience knows them, it’s a great way to tell a story and segway into the moral of it (the lesson I want to teach).
It’s so much fun for both you and your readers, so try it!
Also, it should be obvious, but I’ll share this anyway. It doesn’t have to be a movie or show of course. You can use stories from your personal life as well or retell stories from other people as well.
Who it’s for: If you want to have a more creative way to get your points across, it helps to watch movies. It will give you another approach rather than straight up information, it grabs people’s attention and keeps them around to hear your core message.
Bonus resource: Speaking of storytelling, it’s a powerful tool to build a relation with your readers, as well as to sell. I’d recommend the Expert Secrets book to learn how to do this masterfully. It’s free as well, just pay for shipping.
I’m a fan of learning through audio.
One of the big reasons is because I can learn new things while I’m doing other things. You can’t read a book while you’re biking somewhere, driving a car or vacuuming the house. You can however put in your headphones and listen to a podcast.
Podcast Addict is an Android app to listen to podcasts, but there will be a similar app for iPhone as well.
Some podcasts I would recommend for learning blogging:
- Marketing School
- Smart Passive Income
- The Science of Social Media
- Perpetual Traffic
- Anything by Gary Vaynerchuk
- Social Media Marketing Podcast
- Income School.
Who it’s for: Audio may or may not be your favorite way of learning. If it isn’t, podcasts may not be the right medium for you. However, I would recommend trying it out in your downtime, like a commute, where you can’t do anything else anyway.
I know this is a huge list of resources for you to use.
And that can easily get overwhelming.
So as a quick recap, let me tell you where I would recommend you start. There are a couple of tools that I would think every blogger should use. The following ones are what I would consider the core for any blogger:
- Domain Name (Namecheap)
- Hosting (WPX for performance, SiteGround for good cheap hosting)
- WordPress software (through your hosting provider)
- Autoresponder (ConvertKit)
- Critical WordPress Plugins (Antispam Bee, Rank Math, Social Snap, Thrive Leads, WordFence)
That’s just about the core.
Everything you decide to get on top of these tools is going to help you with managing various aspects of your blog. I’d suggest getting the core tools above first and then go through the list to see which tools match your needs.
Don’t forget to bookmark this article, so you can come back to it later.
And there you have it, you now have all of my recommended resources for bloggers at your disposal.