I am new to the blogging world but before I got started I did A LOT of research (and am still doing it!). I want to share the blogging tools with you that are helping me the most. Please know some of these are affiliate links to support my blog, however, I am very selective about what I promote and would Never recommend anything that I do not personally use!
BLOG SITE TOOLS
Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing is one of the best tools I invested in (if not THE best). Worth every penny and more. Head over to this site to learn how Michelle went from $0 in affiliate income to over $50,000 per MONTH!!
Bluehost provides Web hosting solutions for businesses and individuals. They offer Web hosting services with various features for Website owners. I purchased my domain and web hosting with them and couldn’t be happier. When I was setting up my WordPress blog I had a few issues and needed to contact customer service. It was a SUPERB experience. The two employees I dealt with went above and beyond for me. Bluehost is affordable, provides great products and has excellent customer service.
Many many blogger use WordPress and I am one of them. It is so simple to set up and has so many ways to customize through themes and plugins. And many of them are free! Every time I’ve thought to myself “I want to do “this” with my site….” I do a quick google search and have ALWAYS found a way to do it. Usually with no cost. There are many blogs with tutorials on how to do most anything with customization and setting up plugins. Plus WordPress has excellent information and set-by-set guides as well. I highly recommend giving it a try!
WooCommerce is an open source e-commerce plugin for WordPress. It is designed for small to large-sized online merchants using WordPress. I just recently started adding products from my Etsy shop to this site via WooCommerce and have not gone live yet with my online shop. It’s a bit tedious to set up but once you get your products up it is simple to get it to work with most themes. I will have more information on WooCommerce once I really get going with it but from what I’ve read and seen so far I do recommend it and am certain I will continue to us it to sell products on my site.
Jetpack is the ultimate toolkit for WordPress and is highly recommended. It gives you everything you need to design, secure, and grow your site in one bundle. You can fully customize your site with free themes, image tools, and rich content. Through various features you will increase your traffic and get a safer stronger site with protection from brute force attacks. All of this comes with their free plugin. Advanced features like daily backups, spam protection, and SEO tools can be added with one of several plans they offer (which I purchased and highly recommend!).
PHOTO EDITING and EQUIPMENT
Pixlr Editor is the online photo editing software that I started with. It’s free! And has lots of features. The only limitation I found was adding new fonts and Pic Monkey actually being able to utilize them properly. However, if you don’t use tons of fancy fonts and are mainly just editing photos this is perfect for you!
PicMonkey is a fantastic tool and is also free. If you need more fonts, features, overlays, etc then I recommend upgrading to their $5/month subscription (they do offer a free trial so you can give it a test run). That is what I use and it is a great Photoshop alternative for me. For basic photo editing you can’t go wrong here. I do recommend Photoshop (Adobe CC) for professional editing but I find myself using PicMonkey more often.
You can certainly use your smart phone to take pictures (the cameras are quite impressive on them now!!). But if you’d like to take it step further I recommend the Samsung NX300 (or similar). It’s not too expensive and it takes fantastic pictures! There are definitely better cameras out there but this one doesn’t break the bank and is easy to use.
If your photography skills are not where you want them to be you can use pixabay as a free resource for stock photos. This is a great resource when you need those really great pictures for Pinterest photos. You can also use Adobe Stock (which is $30/month).
OTHER BLOGGING TOOLS
Canva is an easy-to-use graphic design tool that you use right in your browser. It allows you to make professional-looking images and graphics and offers tons and tons of free and $1-only resources. You can start with common templates for your social media profiles, common post types, print documents. This is a fantastic tool for quickly making awesome social media pictures. You can upgrade to a business account if you’d like to add your own fonts.
My Cossac Planner is a great tool for planning weekly goals and keeping on track with daily tasks. Between my blog and Etsy shop I wouldn’t be able to do it without this! It has a pocket inside the cover, 2 bookmarks (I keep one on the current weekly page and the other on the daily page), blank pages to take notes and 6 months of monthly planning at the beginning.
Warby Parker Glasses. It may seem strange to recommend an eyeglass company among business resources but there is a reason for it. When I started my blog I was not an eyeglass wearer and suddenly realized I was getting headaches and things weren’t looking as clear as they used to. I went to the eye doctor and sure enough I needed reading glasses. I researched a lot of online eyeglass companies and finally went with Warby Parker. LOVE THEM. I am going to do a full review of them soon, however, I assure you they are a fantastic company with a great product and great price. Not the cheapest but nowhere near the most expensive. You get to pick 5 frames online and they mail them to you to try on in your home! Free of charge! (including the return) If you decide to buy you simply go to warbyparker.com, pick your frames, upload your prescription and in a week you have new glasses. Easy peasy.
Evernote has been a great tool for me to keep organized when it comes to documents, sites I visit regularly, to do lists…. and the list goes and on. If you aren’t familiar with it I’d say give it test run because it’s FREE. There are several tutorials out there that can help you understand the organization of notebooks within Evernote and how to use them in a way that will actually help you get organized. Here’s one that I found very useful. It doesn’t give step by step instructions but it helped inspire to take on Evernote and see what it’s all about.