TOOLS AND RESOURCES FOR GROWING YOUR BLOG
In the years that I’ve been blogging, it’s safe to say I have tried a LOT of different tools in an attempt to grow my blog and business. There are so, so many tools out there for bloggers – some are amazing, and others not so much. After years of trial and error, I’ve compiled a list of some kick-ass resources that I use for my blog, and that I know you will love as well! Some of the resources do have a cost associated with them, and some are totally free. But I have personally used every single one of them! I’ll be breaking the blogging tools into three categories:
1. Setting Up Your Blog
2. Growing Your Blog
3. Monetizing Your Blog
4. Other Blogging Tools
There are affiliate links on this page, meaning I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you. For more information, see my full disclosure policy here.
SETTING UP YOUR BLOG
When it comes to blogging, the first thing you’ll need is a reliable hosting company! I switched to SiteGround a couple of years ago and have loved them ever since! With my previous web host, my site was constantly down, and the customer service wasn’t great. With SiteGround, my site has literally never been down, and the customer service is amazing! Plus the price is totally manageable for beginning bloggers, starting at just $3.95 per month!
WordPress is the industry standard when it comes to a blogging platform. Once you’ve purchased your blog hosting, you can go ahead and download WordPress to create your blog! There are other options such free platforms like Blogger and paid platforms like Squarespace, but WordPress is the most commonly used. It allows you to have 100% control of your site while still being pretty easy to use.
3. Divi Theme
I just switched to the Divi Theme in 2018, and holy smokes, I’m obsessed. It’s super easy to use because it offers a drag-and-drop editor, meaning you don’t have to master coding to get your blog to look exactly the way you want. It’s also super powerful and offers a ton of different options for designing your blog. Switching to the Divi Theme was definitely one of the best choices I have made for my blog!
If you’re just starting a blog, this course is a great investment for you! What started as an eBook years ago has grown and morphed into what is probably the most comprehensive course I have seen, starting with the nitty-gritty of setting up your blog, along with growing and monetizing later.
GROWING YOUR BLOG
It took me awhile to figure this one out, but email marketing is a huge asset when it comes to growing your blog! Social media algorithms have made it super hard to reach your audience, and chances are only a tiny percent of your followers are even seeing your social media posts! Email is by far the most direct, reliable way to reach your audience. When someone lands on your blog, you want to make it super easy for them to get on your email list so they’re kept up to date on all of your new content and all of your promotions. ConvertKit makes it super easy to do that and is by far my favorite email marketing service provider.
Pinterest is the #1 source of traffic to my blog, and a lot of that has to do with using the right tools! I’ve been using Tailwind for over a year now and I can honestly say it’s made a big difference in my Pinterest traffic. I use Tailwind for a couple of different things. First of all, I use it to schedule all of my new blog posts to pin on all of my relevant boards on Pinterest. I also use it to regularly share my old blog posts so they continue to get traffic (which they definitely do). Second, I use Tailwind to share others’ pins onto my audience. Finally, I use Tailwind Tribes to get my content shared with a larger audience, as well as to find other content to share with my own audience. If you can only invest in one tool to help you schedule social media posts, this would definitely be the one to go with!
In my opinion, Instagram is one of the best platforms for forming a real relationship with your followers. Because of that, having an awesome tool to help you manage your Instagram is super important. I love Planoly for so many reasons. It’s super easy to use with its drag and drop interface on both the app and the desktop version. It’s also free if you’re posting fewer than 30 images per month, meaning you don’t have to pay for it until you know you absolutely love it!
4. Yoast SEO
When it comes to growing your blog traffic, it’s not just about getting people to your site with social media and email marketing. You also want to be using SEO get people to your site from search engines! SEO can be a bit complicated to learn, but the Yoast SEO plugin is a great first step to make sure each and every blog post is properly optimized for search engines.
I’ve read countless articles and eBooks over the years that have promised the magic formula for growing your blog traffic, and very few shared any new strategies or ideas with me. Traffic Transformation, however, truly introduced me to some new ideas that I hadn’t tried before. The author shares the best strategies she used to bring her blog traffic from 17,000 to over 450,000 in just a matter of months, and I can honestly say I noticed a difference in my traffic when I implemented the strategies myself. If you’re going to invest in one product to help you grow your traffic, especially if you’re in the relatively early stages of blogging, this is definitely the one to go with!
When it comes to social media marketing, Facebook is definitely the toughest nut to crack for most bloggers. It seems that no matter what you do, the algorithms keep changing to make it harder and harder to get your posts to show up in people’s news feeds. Strategies Worth Sharing is the one eBook I’ve found that has really seemed to make a difference in my Facebook success. I know quite a few other bloggers, including pretty darn successful ones, who have also read the book and have had amazing results.
Out of all of the Pinterest eBooks and course I’ve seen online, Pinning Perfect is definitely my favorite! It gets into the nitty-gritty of creating a Pinterest strategy, down to exactly how many pins to share each, and what the ratio should be of your own pins versus those from other sites. It takes a bit of a time investment to make it through the course and implement the strategies, but almost no time at all to keep them going once you’ve got them up and running!
8. Tasty Pins
You know how sometimes you want to create an image (or multiple images) to share your posts on Pinterest, but don’t want them all showing up in your actual blog post? Tasty Pins is the solution to that! Tasty Pins allows you to add multiple hidden images to your post without using any coding (which is ideal for me, because I suck at coding). Super affordable, super convenient, and super easy to use!
When it comes to getting your blog noticed online, having great images is super important! It’s such a visual industry, and your images are the first thing people are going to see when they’re scrolling through Facebook or Pinterest and happen to see your post. You want an image that’s going to catch their eye so they stop scrolling. I use Canva for designing all the images I use for my business. It’s a drag and drop graphic design program that’s incredibly easy to use. It’s also free, which is a huge bonus!
MONETIZING YOUR BLOG
This is one of my favorite blogging resources that I have purchased. For my first couple of years blogging, I didn’t dive into affiliate marketing at all. But I knew that lots of bloggers were making great money with affiliates, so I knew it was something I could and should do as well. Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing is jam-packed with information, and the blogger who created it makes over $100,000 per month with her blog, so you know her strategies work!
This eBook is the first blogging resource I purchased when I started blogging and I’ve read it a few times since then as well – and I still get something out of it each time! It’s a super comprehensive guide for those who already have their blog set up. It dives deep into growing your blog audience and monetizing your blog. How to Blog for Profit is definitely one I would recommend to any blogger, regardless of where you are in your blogging journey.
Collaborating with brands to share sponsored content is a great way to monetize your blog, and was the main way I monetized mine for the first couple of years. The BossPitch course is an amazing resource for anyone looking to work with brands. It shares everything from how to get your blog ready to start working with brands, how to pitch brands to get them to work with you, and how to share amazing sponsored content.
4. Book Boss
I’ve always wanted to write a book, and I knew early on in my blogging journey that I would want to write an eBook to accompany the content I share on my blog. Right around the time I started seriously thinking about it, the Book Boss course was launched, and it was all the motivated I needed to really dive in! The course takes you through every stage of the process of choosing a topic, preparing your audience, building your email list, and writing and launching the book. If you’ve thought about writing and launching your own eBook, you’re definitely going to want to check out this course!
5. Pretty Links
If you’re sharing affiliate links on your blog, this totally free plugin will be a great resource for you. With Pretty Links, you can create your own personalized links for your affiliate links, rather than share the ones you are given by companies you are promoting. That way, when I share an affiliate link, it will look something like this: therefinedrevelry.com/affiliate – much better than a link made up of random numbers and letters.
OTHER BLOGGING TOOLS
Asana is the tool I use to organize just about everything for my blog and business. It helps me to organize each area of my business, break down projects into smaller steps, plan my content and marketing calendars for the year, and so much more.
This is the accounting tool I use to manage my business finances. It syncs with my bank account to keep track of my income and expenses, which I’ll definitely need when tax time rolls around! One of my favorite things about QuickBooks is its connection to TurboTax. I’ve been using TurboTax for years to pay my taxes. Because the products are made by the same company, they interact really well together. When tax time rolls around, I can send all of my business accounting information over to TurboTax with one click to have it added to my tax information. And what’s even better, every time you file your taxes with TurboTax Self Employed, you get a free year of QuickBooks Self Employed. That means I never have to pay for QuickBooks!