Today we are going to talk about essential blogging tools – everything you need to get your blog going with minimal stress!
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Why are blogging tools important?
If you are looking to start a blog, it can be so overwhelming at first. I started my blog to unload some of my mental strain, and ironically, it caused a lot of stress to begin with.
There is so much out there on what you should and shouldn’t be doing as a blogger.
I’m not here to talk about that though – because of all of that advice, as well-meaning as it may seem, can become very overwhelming very fast!
When you join the blogging world, it is so important to take things at your own pace! Don’t feel like you need to get your mailing list, social media automation and traffic perfect all in one go. It takes time – a lot of time. And it takes effort, consistency and patience.
So I am here to tell you the top programs I use for blogging, the blogging essentials.
When you are ready to tackle the blogging world, make sure you check out each of these sites – they can save you a lot of time and stress!
Blogging Order of Operations
Before we jump into it, let me give you a quick rundown on your ideal blogging “order of operations”. This is the order in which you should focus on things!
- Set up your blog using WordPress.org and a hosting program
- A plan to ensure that your blog and ideas run smoothly
- Design some graphics so your blog is Pinterest-ready
- Create a mailing list, so once traffic hits your site, you are ready to start accepting subscribers. You don’t want to have an explosion in traffic and have nowhere to send them!
- Social Media automation – get your social media and Pinterest automated so that you have one thing less to worry about and you can focus on what matters most to your blog growth!
The blogging tool basics
When you start your blog, what is the thing you need the most? A blog!
Let’s take a look at how to set that up.
There is a lot of debate going on in the world about which blogging platform is best for you. WordPress.org comes out victorious in most situations!
When you sign up for wordpress.org, you need to have your own hosting for your blog as well, it doesn’t come built-in.
If you don’t want to deal with any of that, then you can head over to wordpress.com.
But let me tell you that there is a big difference between the two!
The difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org
WordPress.com is a paid site, a lot of stuff is done for you, however, if you want to grow your blog then it can become very limiting, very fast.
They do have a free version, but it is very very basic.
WordPress.org is 100% free, including all of the wonderful plugins that you can use to optimise and customise your site.
However, as I said earlier, you do need to get a hosting site behind you. Don’t worry, these can be found for really cheap and we will get to that in a minute!
Which is best for you? Well that is your call, but I highly recommend WordPress.org over the two – you will need the freedom much sooner than you realise!
A hosting platform
Once you have signed up for WordPress.org, you will need to get a hosting website.
A hosting website is where your site is stored and ultimately maintained.
I use Hostinger – I have found them to be incredibly helpful and affordable.
I pay $15/mo for their business plan – which allows me to do everything I need.
I promise you that it isn’t as confusing or daunting as it seems when I first got into self-hosted, I thought I would be constantly coding. But nope! I can still write blogs and create my site on the same page-layouts that WordPress.com provided me!
These are the two things you need to start your blog – your hosting and your WordPress.
From here, you can start creating your blog with ease.
Everything past this point is what you will need beyond the blogging essential basics – things that will help grow your traffic, lists and design your graphics!
Get your blog posts right the first time
Grammarly is an incredible (and free!) tool that loads into your browser and checks all of your spelling and grammar as you go.
Without this, I would probably be writing like a 4-year-old who has had too much cordial haha!
Make sure you stay organised
Staying organised helps your blog flow, as well as limiting any additional stress that can be caused by inconsistent work.
Everyone stays organised differently, but most people are divided into two categories – Digital planning and pen-to-paper planning.
Trello – For the digital planners
Trello is one of the most popular ways that bloggers stay organised. It has a very easy-to-use layout and comes with a free plan (always a bonus!)
It is a grid-type layout so you can create your workflow and easily visualise the steps you need to take in order to maximise your success.
You can get Trello for free here
A planner – For the pen-to-paper planners
This is my method of planning – I have always been a pen-to-paper girl (as you probably know from all of my planner/bullet journal blog posts!)
I have a planner set up specifically for my blog and all of the planning around it – Financial, Launches, Content, as well as general day-to-day planning.
Everything I use for my planning can be found in our Business Planner Pack, which is in our store here!
Graphics and Design Elements
Every website needs its graphics, that is even truer when you are looking to gain traffic through Pinterest.
Canva is great, it is a design website that allows you to create designs for various parts of your blog – Pinterest Pins, Instagram Posts, Facebook Covers – it’s got it all!
There are hundreds of free templates and stock photo images so you can get your design exactly how you want it without needing any design knowledge behind you.
It’s a really easy drag-and-drop system and perfect for beginners.
The Infamous Mailing List
When you are reading about blogging, you will hear from almost everyone that your mailing list is essential to your sales, traffic stability and audience.
They aren’t wrong – algorithms can change in a heartbeat and greatly affect your views.
In fact, I was put in “Pinterest Prison” for an unknown reason, and for nearly 48 hours I had no real way of getting traffic to my site. If I had of had my mailing list back then, life would have been a whole lot easier!
So when you are looking at growing your list, here is my recommendation for you
I’ve tried MailChimp, I’ve tried ConvertKit and now I am on MailerLite.
Here is my quick review of everything I’ve tried:
MailChimp was free, but I found it to be very confusing! I didn’t have the brainpower to go through all of their loopholes just to set up automation. It didn’t last long in my world!
So yes, ConvertKit was definitely the best of the three – however, it is quite pricey for a beginner who is yet to monetize their blog. It starts at $29/month but it does offer you everything a blogger needs.
MailerLite was the perfect middle ground between MailChimp and ConvertKit. It is free up to 1,000 subscribers and then starts at $10/month.
It offers easy to use automation, beautiful landing pages that are more customizable than ConvertKit, and you don’t need to have an image-heavy email. It gives you total freedom to choose your own style of email!
So that is why my recommendation for blogging essentials is MailerLite. If you can afford ConvertKit then you could definitely give it a go later on down the track.
You can get MailerLite for free here – You get $20 credit when you sign up so it is definitely worth checking out!
Growing your Mailing List
You’ve probably heard it over and over (and over) “The money is in the mailing list”.
And while it seems repetitive – it is 100% true!
One of the best resources I have found is Raelyn Tan’s Happy Subscriber Toolkit.
It is over 100 pre-written, plug-and-play emails that will help you go from a mailing list no-show to a money-making machine!
Social Media Growth
So you have your blog, but now you want to get all those eyes on your hard work!
It isn’t as simple as hitting publish and waiting for people to discover you, you have to put in the work to get yourself discovered.
Growing your blog through Pinterest
Pinterest is a bloggers dream, with over 250 million users, you are bound to find your ideal audience on Pinterest.
So how do you get yourself seen on Pinterest?
Tailwind is the best, and most popular, Pinterest Scheduler out there!
It has a free trial, which allows you to pin 100 times so you can get a good feel of it before signing up! I used my 100 pins and knew that it was definitely worth the investment.
Tailwind allows you to queue up all of your pins, find new pins to add to your feed and you can even join Tailwind Tribes, which means that other Tailwind users can (and will!) pin your hard work to their own pages – giving you even more eyes on your blog!
You can get a free month of Tailwind here
Growing your blog through Facebook and Instagram
Social Media has been one of the hardest places for me, personally. It is such a competitive world. However, there are definitely ways that you can grow your blog and gain social media following with ease.
I use Later to grow my blog through social media. The key with Facebook and Instagram is consistency – you need to be posting relevant content, often.
Later is an amazing program for this – they even have a really good free version that lets you post 30 posts per month to your social media profiles. So it is a really good free way to grow your following.
Later allows you to queue up posts for Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter – with each platform having its own “per month” quota.
It also allows you to add links to your Instagram feed, offers valuable hashtag suggestions and lets you drag-and-drop design your Instagram feed.
This, for me, is the perfect social media automation and something everyone needs!
You can check out Later here.
Once you have everything set up
Now that you’ve set everything up with the blogging essentials, you can now focus on other parts of optimising your blogging.
- Affiliate Links
- Traffic Analytics
- Perfecting your SEO
But we aren’t going to delve into those today! Since we are only focusing on the basics to get you started.