Using the correct blogging tools and resources for the job is as important with your blog as it is for a builder building a house or a carpenter installing cabinets.
Over the years I have tried too many blogging tools to count. There are also so many new tools coming out all the time it can get overwhelming, even to me as an experienced blogger.
Finding the right tools for your blog can eat up hours of your time, and even turn into days and weeks of reading before you realize it!
How do I know this? Because I have let it happen to me!
Not only is this not wise use of your time (you need to be writing new content if you are a new blogger), but it is hard to even know where to start sometimes.
I put together this list of blogging resources so you can see what I use. It will give you a great start to selecting the tools that will work for your blog, and my intent is for you to be able to save time.
Many of the tools I use offer an affiliate program, so if you decide to go with one of the resources I recommend I may make a small commission if you use the link I provide. There is no additional cost to you so I greatly appreciate you using my links!
I will never recommend a product or resource I am not familiar with because I want to be able to answer your questions if I suggest something to you!
Let’s dive in!
I have divided the tools and resources into categories.
If you want to skip to a category, click on the image or word and you can get to it fast! If you use your backspace, it will bring you back here.
Check back to this page often because I update it if I try any new resources. I also share this type of information with my newsletter subscribers to save you time from checking back!
If you would like for me to do a review and/or tutorial as a blog post for any of the resources, drop me an email or leave me a note in the comments below!
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This section includes the tools I used and/or still use to build my blog.
Once you have the basics completed (setting up WordPress, writing 5-7 blog posts, your about me page, etc.), it is time to start bringing visitors to your blog.
How do you do that?
In addition to being strategic with getting your blog visible, using additional tools can also be helpful.
I think I have tried every email provider available for bloggers! (Seriously – it is ridiculous!)
To give you the visual – I have used Get Response, Aweber, Infusionsoft, Kartra, Active Campaign, and Convertkit. I think that’s it! I almost made the move to Ontraport once as well, having extensive conversations with their sales team to prepare for the change!
Why so many?
Your email marketing platform is one of the most important tools you will select for your blog. If you cannot rely on the dependability or the email provider, figure out how to set it up, or get quick support, you can be out of business fast.
Your email list is the life of your business.
These are the people that support your brand, appreciate who you are as a leader, and rely on the information you provide to help them solve the problem they were searching for an answer to when they found your blog.
I wanted an email platform that provided excellent functionality with extreme simplicity (that isn’t asking too much, right?) It didn’t have to be fancy. But it had to work and work right.
This is what I get with Convertkit! You can start with a free trial to try it out and see if it is right for your blog!
I have been a customer of Tailwind since it was first created. I knew it was going to be a great business choice and it has proven to be well worth the price.
Tailwind is a social media scheduler for Pinterest and Instagram. It also has additional features called Tribes and Smartloop to grow your audience even faster on these two platforms.
One of my favorite features of Tailwind is the detailed analytics. They enable you to create a strategy for your blog rather than wasting time using the ‘trial and error’ method.
It is FREE to start Tailwind to try it out, and you can join 5 tribes FREE without purchasing. It’s worth trying it out to see if it works well for your blog like it does mine!
Social Bee is a ‘set it and forget it’ social media posting platform.
I love the visual calendar for scheduling posts to go out.
Social Bee shares my evergreen content as if they were new posts, allowing new readers to visit older posts.
I prefer to manually post; however, when I am limited on time Social Bee is my go-to platform.
You can try it out with a free trial to see if it will also save you several hours (or more) a week!
If video is part of your blog strategy, you need Rocketium!
Videos are good for brand recognition and building, campaigns, and conversions.
One of the best things about Rocketium is the simplicity of creating a video using the platform.
This section includes the tools I use to stay on track and organized, from writing blog posts to keeping safe online.
When you work with digital files, organization is a key component in how quickly you can accomplish a task because if you cannot find it, you cannot work on it!
Staying safe online is a top priority when your finances rely on the internet. If your website is hacked, you are out of business until it is back up.
To put this in perspective, in 2013 Amazon’s website went down for nearly 40 minutes, costing the company approximately $5 million based on the average sale per minute of $117,882.
If this were to happen again, with the explosive growth of Amazon in recent years, I cannot even wrap my head around the number of what it would cost the company.
While this is an extreme example and it doesn’t compare to a small business, the money lost is relative. The example provides a visual of the importance of your internet service and safety when your blog is your financial provider.
One of the ways I stay safe online is by using LastPass.
There is a free version and a premium version, which is inexpensive and worth the extra features to me for minimal cost.
LastPass will create your passwords for you (if you want,) then store them so you never have to remember them again, or carry around a piece of paper with them written on it and hoping it won’t get lost or no one will find it.
KanbanFlow provides a visual of the tasks and activities you are working on, allowing you to plan out your schedule.
It uses the Pomodoro technique for time management so you are the most productive possible.
I have tried numerous kanban board programs, and once I landed on KanbanFlow I quit looking! It offers a free option and a paid option for a minimal price.
If you find yourself working inside your email with your blog, Yanado is an excellent choice.
Yanado is a task management system that integrates directly inside of Gmail so you aren’t wasting time jumping between your projects and email, saving loads of time.
Yanado provides a similar visual board as KanbanFlow.
It offers a free version as well as higher level paid versions, depending on your business needs.
Boomerang is an integration with Gmail or Outlook. It allows you to write an email and send it later.
For exmple, if you find yourself working at odd hours and returning emails that you don’t want to send at 2 a.m., you will love Boomerang!
It offers a free plan and higher level paid plans, depending on how many emails you are sending per month and the services you need.
After an extensive comparison between Google Docs and Dropbox, I decided to stay with Dropbox and pay the annual fee (vs. Google Docs which is free.)
I like the functionality and convenience of Dropbox to store my digital files.
The main reason I chose to pay the fee is for the smartsync feature, which allows me to keep all my files in the cloud (with instant access) instead of on my computer. This frees up space on my computer.
Dropbox does not offer a free plan.
Evernote is my go-to place for storing my blog ideas, notes, tasks, to-do lists, etc.
What I love most about Evernote is it syncs across all devices.
For example, I can enter a note on my laptop, then switch over to my iPad, and that new note is in my Evernote files on the iPad.
Evernote is organized in notes and notebooks.
It offers a free version and a premium (paid) version.
If your business requires scheduling of clients, Acuity scheduling is my go-to choice.
The user interface is super simple (a top priority for me!), the functionality is superb, and the support staff is one of the best I have worked with since starting my first blog in 2011.
Acuity offers a free version, as well as several higher level paid versions.
This section covers the physical office equipment I use for my blog.
I used to work off of a desktop, and I just used my laptop when I was traveling or working outside my home (I’m known to find small privately owned coffee shops to call my office for a day!)
Fast forward to today: I don’t even own a desktop computer anymore! I love working on the same computer at home or away! I can do my job anywhere with this one piece of equipment!
My laptop is the one piece of office equipment that is vital to run my blog (aka business.) I don’t try to cut corners on my computer purchases because of this.
When I first purchased my iPad Air 2, I thought it would be a luxury but not a necessity.
Fast forward to today, and I was so wrong because I use my iPad almost daily.
If I don’t have major work to do, it easily supplements for my laptop. I have even gone on business trips for several days with only my iPad.
When I worked on a desktop computer, I always used 2 computer monitors. That was near impossible when I transitioned to a laptop since I was not always working in one place. Losing the second monitor was the hardest transition I had when I stopped using my desktop.
Then I found the Duet Display app and it has been awesome! I can now use my iPad as my second monitor! (Read more about Duet below.)
I don’t think I would use my iPad near as much if I didn’t have this companion bluetooth keyboard to go with it!
The Logitech keypad makes my iPad feel like I am typing on my laptop. It also folds closed to serve as a protective cover.
Working on a computer as your job can be hard on your body because of the sitting and if you are like me, my form is usually not in proper alignment either!
I wish I had purchased the Zinus Smart Adjust Desk long before I did!
It is inexpensive compared to other standing desks, and it is light weight so I can move it around without help.
The Topo mini standing mat is the perfect companion to a standing desk!
It is ergonomic so you can massage your feet while working and save your back and legs from standing fatigue.
The Topo comes in a larger size as well. I like the mini because I can easily move it to use in other places, like if I am standing while I bake in the kitchen for a long period of time.
I absolutely love my Learniture adjustable height stool!
It works great with the standing desk because I can adjust the height to match the desk if I don’t want to stand up completely, but extend my legs to near standing.
This stool is lightweight so I can easily move it to work anywhere. I have used it at the kitchen table, with a TV tray in the family room, and many other places!
The Learniture stool does not sit flat on the floor. The bottom is not straight so the stool will gently rock with you, allowing any position you need for working and staying healthy.
The Brother 2520 printer is also a scanner, copier, and fax machine. I seldom print documents for my business because almost everything is digital. However, there are some items I like to print for a visual.
I don’t use the scanner or the fax machine – I use my iPhone for both of these. I really appreciate the copier. The top of the printer lifts up like a real office copy machine.
This printer does not print color. When I was shopping for it, I wanted something super functional to print and copy basic documents, and it was a deal-breaker if I could not print from my iPad and iPhone.
This is called air printing if you are looking for this feature on a printer.
The Brother 2520 met the criteria for everything I needed, and it has worked seamlessly for numerous years!
The Logitech C930 webcam takes the place of the built-in camera on my laptop for Skype calls, webinars, mastermind meetings, Facebook live, recording training videos, etc.
I tried the Logitech widescreen lense and returned it for this model. It offers an excellent picture and I get a lot of requests about the webcam I use.
The Audio-Technica ATR 2100 is an excellent microphone. I tried a different brand before this one, and returned it.
I use it for podcast interviews, video creation, Facebook live, etc.
It is an inexpensive microphone you cannot go wrong with if you are ready to jump into these other parts of your business where you will need a microphone.
I have tried numerous lights and finally settled on these.
I like that they are height adjustable, they don’t get super hot to make me sweat when I am using them, and the tripod stand folds flat so they are easy to move around or even load in my vehicle if I need to take them with me when I work outside the home.
Also, the light bulbs are easy to change if you want to experiment with different light shades or types of light. I set the lights behind my computer facing me (on either side of the webcam.) The lighting is even superb if I only set up one directly behind my webcam.
I keep these daylight bulbs on hand for when I need a replacement.
The Rode Smartlav+ is a lapel microphone designed to use with a smart phone.
Through trial and error (and a lot of wasted time!) I learned not all lavalier microphones work with a smartphone!
I use my iPhone for recording videos often. The only problem is the sound (if I am at a distance from the iPhone), and the Rode takes care of that!
I use the 10 foot extender and it plugs into the Rode seamlessly for perfect audio while you record from your smart phone.
Anyone who uses a laptop needs this lap desk!
I wore out my first one after about 8 years (which I bought in a computer store no longer in business) and searched the internet high and low to find another one with no luck.
In the meantime, I tried so many different lap desks I cannot count – probly at least 12-15!
I returned every one of them because they didn’t provide enough wrist support, they provided too much wrist support to the point of being uncomfortable, my laptop computer would slide off, the wrist support was hard and it hurt to type …. I could go on an on!
When you work on your laptop for hours at a time, the lack of comfort and functionality in the lap desk are deal-breakers!
This lap desk is super comfortable and super functional!
It has a heavy soft rubber-like material on the top so the laptop doesn’t slide around, and the wrist wrest is filled with tiny bean bag material for soft and comfortable wrist support. It has a built-in carry handle so it is easy to take when I work out of the office.
Just when I was about to give up on ever finding a replacement, I decided to search ‘bean bag lap desk’ online. When it popped up on Amazon (which I had searched many times for the item) I cannot describe how ecstatic I felt!
If the company would change their description to show up in a general lap desk search, I bet they could sell a lot more of them!
I have never been a huge selfie fan, maybe because I grew up in an era without the technology that is available today!
When I started my first blog, I found it was fun to be able to share ideas and photos ‘in person’ and I was able to connect with my readers at a higher level.
This selfie stick is inexpensive and super functional.
It has a tripod that folds flat to the stick when not in use, it is height adjustable, and it has a little remote control that slides right into the side that connects to my iPhone by bluetooth, allowing me to snap the photo when I am ready.
If you are in the market for a selfie stick for your business (or maybe just for fun), you cannot go wrong with the Yoozon!
Just make sure it will connect with your smartphone brand and model.
Printables are an important part of your blog and likely your blog strategy if you are planning on creating digital products to sell (such as eBooks, courses, etc.)
Printables are downloadable documents that provide extra value to your blog readers.
There are numerous programs to create your printables. I have included my favorites in this section.
I use Microsoft PowerPoint for the majority of my digital products, including eBooks, printables (optins), course training workbooks, etc.
The reason I use PowerPoint instead of Word is because PowerPoint allows complete control of image and text placement, whereas Word is limited with this function.
I found Presenter Media quite a few years ago, and I have continued to use it consistently.
Presenter Media is a collection of templates, animated templates, clipart, animated clipart, and icons for Microsoft PowerPoint. Many of them are customizable for your brand, and can be downloaded with a transparent background in various sizes.
Presenter Media is a PowerPoint add-on if you want to install it directly inside PowerPoint so all the illustrations are available quickly and easy to add to any printable you are creating.
There are new illustrations being added consistently, so the library continues to grow.
This is a paid platform. However, for a two year license it breaks down to just a few dollars a month.
Pic Monkey is my comparison to Adobe Photoshop.
In all honesty, I am not a super creative person! I have the eye for detail, but that is about as far as my creativity gets!
To learn Adobe Photoshop was over the top for me as a new blogger! I was already on brain overload trying to figure out how to find the place in WordPress to start typing into for my first blog post!
Enter Pic Monkey! I can spend hours inside Pic Monkey if I don’t stop myself! It is loaded with icons, templates, and hundreds of design customization options.
One of the best features?
The price includes everything inside with no extra cost for images, icons, etc. Pic Monkey no longer offers a free plan like they did when I started my first blog.
However, when you sign up to Pic Monkey you get a 7-day trial with full functionality to see if you like it! You can also start with the basic monthly plan to try it out for a month, and then decide if you want to pay the annual fee to cut the membership price.
Stencil saves me SO much time!
It is possibly one of the biggest time-savers I have in my ‘tools bag’ because quality images are so important in today’s blogging world, and they take a large chunk of time to create.
The process with Stencil for social media images:
- Choose a ready-made template for the social channel (ex. – Twitter)
- Customize it for my brand
- Post it directly to Twitter (from inside Stencil)
- Hit one button to change the size of the image from Twitter to Facebook
- Post it directly to my Facebook page (from inside Stencil)
Stencil’s option to post directly to your social media channels from inside the platform saves time from downloading the image, saving it, going to the social media channel, preparing the post, going back to find the saved image and bringing the it back up, then finally completing the post.
Can you see how Stencil would save you so much time? And believe me – each time you create an image and post it to different social media channels all adds up to a nice chunk of time!
If you want to download the image, that is an option as well. I do this if I am using the image as an evergreen post and adding it to Social Bee to post in the future.
Another reason I love Stencil?
It has hundreds of thousands of images inside, and they are all included in your price. You don’t have purchase them on top of your monthly or annual fee.
Stencil offers a free plan so you can try it out to see if it saves you as much time as it does me!
For a few dollars a month, you get access to over 2 million icons.
I have used NounProject as my go-to source for icons since I was a new blogger!
The platform also has a feature to make your icons customizable, and to download them with a transparent background.
A special feature that sold me on the platform is the integration with PowerPoint. It is an add-in so you can directly add icons into your printable, ebook, course, etc., inside of Powerpoint.
It also integrates inside other platforms, such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Google Docs, and more!
There are times when I want a more unique photo than what I can find on the free image sites, or even something a little bit different that I won’t see all over other blogs.
This is when I go to Deposit Photos to find the perfect image.
Deposit Photos also offers videos and vectors.
I like the pricing structure. It is one of the few paid image sites that offers multiple options. You can purchase by the image, by the month for unlimited downloads during that month (or longer), or in image packs. Convenient!
If mock-ups are part of your printable strategy, Smart Mock-ups offers a variety of options with affordable pricing.
It also has a FREE plan so if you aren’t using mock-ups, you may want to check it out and add them to your image library.
DO YOU HAVE A SOCIAL MEDIA PLAN IN PLACE TO GROW YOUR BLOG TRAFFIC?
The 70 Day Social Media Blitz has everything done for you! Fill in the blank, share, and mark that day off the calendar (included)!
WEBSITE & SMART PHONE APPS
This section of tools and resources is for your web hosting, theme, and a couple of my favorite iPhone apps that are important to the operation of my blog/business.
I use the Impreza theme by Up Solution found at Theme Forest.
I have tried two other themes (both paid) with my second and third blogs, but I returned to Impreza because of the functionality, ease of use, and outstanding support.
The options for personalization are phenomenol with Impreza. I love this; however, it can get me into trouble because I can waste a lot of time trying out all the fun things I can create!
One of your first purchases when you decide to start a blog is your domain name and hosting.
Bluehost offers excellent customer service by phone or chat.
They have multiple tiers of service, although you will likely start with the lowest tier (which is the least expensive and all you need to start) and then let the hosting grow with your blog.
Duet was created by ex-apple engineers. It turns your iPad into an extra display (aka second monitor).
It is super simple to use!
Once the app is installed on both devices, connect the the iPad charging cord to the USB port on the laptop. You are now ready to control your iPad screen with your laptop keyboard and mouse!
When the bluetooth version was released, I thought it would be convenient to not have to use the cord to connect, so I purchased the upgrade. In as little as a few days I requested a refund because the connection was not stable for me and it became super frustrating.
I went back to using the cord connection and this setup continues to work great for me.
If you have a small office or no particular work area in your home, Duet is an excellent way to work off of two monitors in a small area.
If you have never worked using two monitors, I highly recommend you give it a try! It will practically double your efficiency!
Adobe Scan is a document to pdf program for your iPhone.
After I found this incredible app I was able to get rid of my physical scanner and use my iPhone for all my scanning needs.
It is super simple to use. The camera picks out the pages to scan as you hold your device over the paper, it snaps the photo, and then turns it into a pdf document.
You can also scan multiple pages into one document.
Tiny Calendar Pro is an iPhone app. It syncs to my Google Calendar.
The user interface is simple to use, and it looks like my Google Calendar on my computer.
I purchased the paid version years ago and it was definitely worth it. There is a free version called Tiny Calendar.
A large part of income from a blog is usually in the sale of digital products.
This section of my blogging tools and resources covers the platforms I use to sell my digital products.
Podia is a storefront for your digital products.
It houses the products and provides the checkout for a single product (like an e-book), courses, and memberships.
Podia is simple to set up, and the customer support is excellent.
I have also used Thinkific and I have nothing negative to say about the platform if they are a better choice for your blog and storefront!
I personally appreciate the flexibility to sale the three different types of digital products that Podia offers. Thinkific is designed to sale courses, but not single products or memberships.
Thinkific is also a storefront. I have used it in my prior businesses and having nothing but good things to say about the platform.
The storefront platform you need is dependent upon the type of digital products you will be selling. Thinkific is mainly for courses, but not single products or memberships.
Loom is a simple video recording platform. It offers a free version and a paid version.
I use Loom to make how-to videos, training videos, demonstrate an example to answer client’s questions, etc.
It is one of the simplest platforms to learn to use. Basically, just hit the record button and start recording your screen!
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PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
Using the correct blogging tools and resources for the job is important when building a blog.
Start your blog by laying a strong foundation using the necessary tools, and then expand your resources and tools to build, grow, and explode your blog traffic.
Don’t bypass the importance of the physical products as necessary tools!
As bloggers, if we don’t have the correct devices and stay healthy, we cannot build a business to work from anywhere!