Starting a blog is easy. Running a successful & profitable blog… not so much. You’ve likely landed on this page, as you’re wondering what blogging tools and resources will send your stats through the roof. And thankfully, I’m here to help. I can’t promise you traffic, but I can certainly advise everything you’ll need to help you get there.
Everybody seems to want a start a blog these days, and (obviously) I can understand why. You can talk about something your passionate about, make it look pretty, and who’d have thought, you can even make money from it. But many aspiring bloggers start with an attitude that it’s going to be easy. When that couldn’t be any further from the truth. In fact, it’s going to be damn hard, and you’re going to need all the help you can get.
Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. For a blog to become a full-time or even a part-time business, there are a ton of things to consider to ensure your blog flows flawlessly for your audience. I sure wish somebody had given us the heads up when we first started out, as it could have saved us a lot of time in money. Alas, we got there in the end, and now we are here to help you take your blog to the next level.’
So let’s get to it. Here’s our go-to list of the best blogging tools and resources on the market.
Best Blogging Tools & Resources
It seems an obvious one, right? But for blogging to be an enjoyable experience, you will need a fast and reliable internet connection. All those image uploads and vast amounts of text start to eat away at your data. And there’s nothing more frustrating than a slow connection when you’re trying to work.
To ensure you get the best broadband deal on the market, we suggest using the comparison site Cable UK. Simply enter your postcode and Cable will yield the best broadband deals in your area. There are even exclusive offers and deals every single day, so it’s well worth checking them out.
2. Domain Name & Web Hosting
A domain name is your website address (e.g. www.ourtasteforlife.com), and Web hosting is where you will register your website. It’s a storage space offering services that make your site visible on the internet (e.g. Bluehost, Site Ground etc.)
For our blog, we use Bluehost, which is the number 1 recommended web hosting by WordPress.org. We use them for this reason primarily and it just so happens they are one of the cheapest. If you sign up with BLUEHOST today, they will provide you with a domain name for FREE (which usually costs $15 a year). They also offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you don’t have anything to lose.
3. Blogging Platform
A blogging platform is an application you will use to create and publish your blog content onto the internet. There are many types to choose from WordPress, Blogger, Squarespace, etc.; however, we strongly recommend wordpress.org, which is who we use for ourtasteforlife.com.
Please note – we are recommending wordpress.org NOT wordpress.com. To clarify, wordpress.org offers much more freedom to create and produce, along with other key functions and benefits that you don’t get with wordpress.com. You may want to check out this article if you wish to learn more about the difference between wordpress.org and wordpress.com.
The best part is, wordpress.org is free to use. You’ll just need to set it up with your domain & hosting provider (see point number 2), and you can get to designing your site (our next point).
4. Blog Aesthetics
Once you get a visitor to land on your page, you want to keep them there. First impressions are everything, and if you want them to return, you’ll need to ensure your blog is attractive, but at the same time, easy to navigate and understand.
First of all, design a logo. You can do this yourself for free using canva.com, or you can pay someone to do it on fiverr.com for as little as $5. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, but something that will identify you and your blog. See ours, for example, how we’ve incorporated the aeroplane and rainbow? It’s simple enough, but you can quickly tell we are an LGBT+ travel blog. You get the idea now, so get designing.
Next, choose your theme in WordPress. There are thousands of free templates to choose from or pay for a premium one for as little as $10. Once you’ve selected a theme, there are hundreds of settings that allow you to customise your aesthetics even further. Go through them all until you have a unique and captivating brand image. WPbeginner wrote a great article which might help you choose the right theme: Selecting a Perfect WordPress Theme.
5. Additional Blog Features
OK so now you have the basic skeleton of your site, you’ll be itching to get some content on there. But hold your horses, as we have some additional applications that will help you even further. Within wordpress.org you have what we call “plugins”. These are essentially like the apps that we use on our phones. Below are the plugins we use and consider essential blogging tools. There are free versions of each of them, but when you start to earn money, we suggest upgrading to the premium versions to help you go even further.
- Yoast SEO – Helps guide you on best SEO practices to improve your ranking in search engines.
- WP Fastest Cache – Saves a cached version of your site, so your site loads faster
- Google Analytics – Produces traffic reports & insights
- Sucuri Security – Security scanner
- Grow – Adds social share buttons to every article
- Pin it Button – Add a button to every image to pin directly to Pinterest
Once downloaded and installed, you’ll need to activate the plugins and follow any registration steps that pop up.
6. Social Media Platforms
OK, now you have an epic website with kick-ass content, so it’s time to spread the word. SEO can take months before you see any traffic, so your best bet at the start is through social media. Social media platforms are a great way of driving people to your site. Social is our second biggest source of traffic after SEO.
Start with Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram. Create content that grips the attention of your audience and encourages them to check out your blog for more. Don’t hesitate to follow us and reach out. We would love to check out your new blog, and we are always happy to give advice wherever we can.
7. Pinterest & Tailwind
Believe it or not, the vast majority of our social media site traffic comes from Pinterest. Pinterest has over 320 million active users worldwide, so you would be crazy not to take a slice of that pie.
Before we discovered Tailwind, trying to get established with Pinterest was a long, tiresome, and dreaded job. We couldn’t understand why it took hours each day just for us to keep up with the competition. Of course, that’s when we heard of Tailwind. We took advantage of their free trial, and it turned out to be a game-changer. It immediately rocketed our progress on Pinterest, which of course, resulted in increased blog traffic.
But more importantly, it has saved us so much time and frustration. For more info on how to get started, check out our Tailwind for Pinterest guide here.
8. Email Marketing
Another thing we didn’t do from the start but should have was build up an email list of subscribers to our site. This list allows you to reach your most loyal audience directly, without SEO or social media. There are free applications that will do this for you; however, it is worth investing in a professional program. We use Constant Contact, who provide pre-made templates and easy to understand insights. Read why email marketing is so important here.
9. Search Engine Optimisation SEO
If you want to start seeing some serious traffic to your blog, you must educate yourself on the best SEO practices. Have no idea what SEO is? Don’t worry; we didn’t either. In simple terms, it’s a series of ‘rules and requirements‘ outlined by Google that must be incorporated into your articles if you stand a chance of getting ranked on search engines.
I am not going to sugar coat it. When you first start looking into SEO, it can seem like a scary and daunting process. But once you begin to understand it, it’s actually pretty damn cool how it all works. And of course, when you start seeing your articles ranking on the first page of Google, and even better, number 1 on Google, it’s an elating feeling.
The thing about SEO is that it could take months for Google to inspect your content thoroughly and display it in the results. Which means you have no idea how well you’ve implemented SEO until six months or so down the line. But don’t be discouraged. It’s like everything; it’s easy once you know how. And with the right resources, you’ll be an SEO King (or Queen) in no time.
Here are our favourite SEO resources that will help make you an SEO pro:
- Yoast – A plugin for WordPress that guides you on how well you’ve optimised your articles for search engines and readability.
- Keysearch – A keyword research tool that allows you to check which keywords you’re likely to rank for on Google. A game-changer!
- Ditch Your Desk – A dummies guide to learning SEO.
- Moz – Allows you to keep track of your websites domain authority.
10. Written Content
When producing content for your website, it needs to be clear and concise. But most of all, it needs to solve the audience’s problem. For example, when you type a question or query into Google, you expect the first results to give you the answer you’re looking for. Keep this in mind when writing your articles. Always write for the audience, not for search engines.
For the audience to take you seriously, you’ll want to ensure that your content is free of grammar and spelling mistakes. For this, we use Grammarly. At first, we used the free version, but later updated to the premium and we wouldn’t look back. Not only does this super-efficient tool correct your spelling and grammar mistakes, but it will also flag other misuses of the English language.
For example, punctuation errors, sentence structures, and word choices are flagged as an error. Furthermore, Grammarly will notify you when you are using too much passive voice. And while Grammarly doesn’t help you to correct these issues (unless you are a premium member), the flags are a little nudge to check your work. Sometimes you’ll find you are happy with the way you have structured the text. Other times, you’ll think ‘damn’, and be grateful for the chance to improve it.
Finally, don’t be put off if your first few articles suck. I cringe my boobies off looking back at some of ours, but we all need to start somewhere. Don’t compare, copy, or try to be like anybody else. Find your unique voice and style and writing will be so much easier (and fun) that way. But one piece of advice is to take note of the articles that rank high in search engines. They are at the top for a reason, so they are obviously doing something that Google likes.
11. Visual Content
Visual content on your blog is equally, if not more, relevant as the written content. Photos, videos, and diagrams all help you to tell a story and keep the audience visually stimulated.
For the most part, we use all our own images for our blog; however, if we don’t have the image we need, we will try to obtain it from the web. But you mustn’t use other peoples images without permission. You could get into serious trouble. Thankfully there are websites out there who provide third party images with full rights to use on your blog. We call these stock images. Some sites are free, whereas others are not. We use Pixabay or Unsplash.
Make sure your images are of high quality and edit them to make your blog eye-catching and enjoyable. To edit pictures, we use the free application called Lightroom by Adobe. Mobile version is free however the desktop version has a monthly fee. Check out USD pricing plan here. Check out GBP pricing plan here. We even created our own preset filters which help us to maintain a cohesive look and feel to our blog.
To create our graphic images, such as Pinterest pins, we use canva.com. Another free service that provides several temples to help make your job easier and quicker.
12. Post Regularly
To increase your domain authority and improve your relationship with Google, get into a habit of posting quality content regularly. We post 2-3 times a week, but even once a week is enough. Just be consistent and show Google you are active.
13. Monetising Your Blog
I assume you’re here because ultimately, you want to start monetising your blog. After all, you’re spending all this time on it, so you want to see some kind of return.
I’ll start by saying that if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to make money, blogging isn’t your answer. It can take up to a year or more before you start making any money, and to begin with, it won’t be very much. But if you’re prepared to put the work in, and you’re patient and consistent, you can make a very comfortable living from blogging. Most successful bloggers have been able to turn their blog into a full-time livable income in around 2-3 years.
Here are some ways that other bloggers and we make money:
- Direct advertising
- Ad networks
- Affiliate Marketing
When we first started blogging, we used Google Adsense, and over time the pennies added up. Looking back, it wasn’t about the money but the opportunities. Even just by starting your blog, you are opening doors for yourself. It’s exciting!
More Blogging Tools & Resources:
- Tips for blogging beginners
- Keeping your blog safe and secure
- Blog post ideas to bring you traffic
- Do not make these mistakes
Final Thoughts on Blogging Tools & Resources
As you can see, it takes a lot of time, work, and energy to build a successful and profitable blog; however, we can promise you it will be worth it. Turning our blog into our business allows us so much freedom that we never had before and the best part is, we love our job and never have to dread Mondays again.
Don’t worry; we get it. It seems unattainable right now to turn your blog into your business, but it’s not. With the right attitude and determination, anybody can do it. And armed with this list of blogging tools and resources you’re ready to take on the world. Good luck and don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions.
Did you find our Blogging Tools & Resources helpful?
Let us know. That concludes our list of tools & resources for blogging. If you have any questions or feel we have missed anything, please reach out to us in the comment section below, through our contact us page. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram here, where we share further advice & inspiration.
Happy blogging and good luck!
Charlotte & Natalie x
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. That means that if you purchase through these links, we will earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you. And we can continue bringing you free travel tips and advice. If you use our affiliates, you are awesome, and we thank you!
BLOG CHECKLIST – PRE-PUBLISHING & POST-PUBLISHING