Toolbox for Bloggers and Internet Marketers

With the Internet overcrowded with software, tools and resources to support us bloggers and digital marketers, it’s tough working out which ones you should use or avoid.

You have to make choices and stick to the tools that you are happy with. Tools that make your life as a blogger easier. A lot of this comes down to personal choice and cost. I’ve used many tools over the years and I now know what works for me and what doesn’t.

The below blogging tools are the ones I use on a daily basis and are the only ones I really need to do my work.

1. DreamHost

Over the years I have used several hosting providers, and DreamHost is by far my favorite. DreamHost is a no-nonsense hosting provider that offers a good variety of different hosting packages, great customer support and excellent performance.

DreamHost is not the cheapest option out there, but they are not the most expensive one either. They find the perfect balance between quality and affordability.

 
Use this link to get a 40% discount when you purchase a 1-year shared hosting package with DreamHost including one free domain.
 
 
>> Read my in-depth review of DreamHost.
 

2. Thrive Themes

A premium WordPress theme is essential if you want to get serious about blogging on the WordPress framework. With literally thousands of premium themes to choose from, it’s not easy to pick one theme that not only suits your brand but is also reliable and future-proof.

Having tried many themes over the years, I am by far most satisfied with the themes offered by Thrive Themes. Blog Pioneer uses the popular FocusBlog theme and I can honestly say that this is the best theme I have ever used. It’s fast, simple, easy to configure, and it includes some very useful design features.

>> Read my in-depth review of Thrive Themes.
 

3. SEMrush

SEMrush is a web-based tool that helps bloggers and Internet marketers find keywords that their websites are (not yet) ranking for and what competitor websites are ranking for. This ongoing keyword research process is crucial if improving organic traffic is your main goal.

SEMrush tells you the exact positions in the SERPs your website is ranking for certain keywords and it does this based on geographical location. This is not only useful in the sense that you can track progress, it also allows you to optimize existing content for keywords you’re not ranking high for.

SEMrush keyword research tool

 

4. Ahrefs

Ahrefs and SEMrush are two very similar tools and also each other’s biggest competitors. Their sets of features and their pricing structure are almost identical.

Ahrefs is more accurate than SEMrush when it comes to tracking backlinks. On the other hand, I find the user interface of SEMrush a bit more more intuitive to navigate than Ahrefs. What matters most is that both these tools are an essential investment if you want to be serious about blogging and improving the rankings of your site.

5. KeySearch

KeySearch is another, but far more affordable, web-based keyword research tool that offers a wide range of features related to keyword tracking, competitor analysis and backlink tracking.

While not nearly as powerful as Semrush or Ahrefs, KeySearch is perfect for the beginner or budget blogger who wants to dive deep into the exciting world of keyword research without investing too much money. Despite its flaws, KeySearch can still be a very useful tool to have for bloggers with limited SEO skills.

>> Read my in-depth review of KeySearch.
 

6. Sumo

Sumo is a suite of tools that can be used to improve your website’s traffic and social media footprint. I personally use Sumo mainly for their share buttons but they also offer great options for email popups.

Sumo is free but the free version has its limitations, such as not being able to integrate to your email marketing provider. Other than that, the free installation offers great features that will help you to improve your website in many ways.

7. Tailwind

One of the most popular and best social media blogging tools is Tailwind. You can use Tailwind to help manage your Pinterest account and your Instagram account.

So many bloggers that are active on Pinterest use Tailwind to increase their following, schedule their pins, join tribes and to get great analytical insights. It’s perhaps the most used and most needed social media blogging tool out there.

Similarly, if you need help managing your Instagram account and grow your following in an ethical and effective way, Tailwind may be the answer. Tailwind helps with scheduling posts and finding the best hashtags. It also provides excellent analytics and monitoring tools.

You can try Tailwind out for free. And, if you like it, you can go for a paid plan which is only $9.99 per month. Cancel anytime, nothing to lose.

Use this link to sign up (no credit card required).

Pinterest with Tailwind

 

8. MailChimp

My personal favorite email marketing automation tool is MailChimp. Building and designing email forms with MailChimp is a breeze, just like setting up an email automation chain is.

The great thing about MailChimp is that they offer a very generous forever-free version. As long as you stay below a certain list count threshold, you will never have to pay. And although there are limitations in the free version, it works really well. Once you hit this threshold, MailChimp offers different options to upgrade.

9. Amazon Affiliate WordPress Plugin (AAWP)

One of the best and most flexible affiliate marketing plugins designed for Amazon Associates is AAWP. The Amazon Affiliate WordPress Plugin allows you to easily create and customize comparison tables, product widgets, product boxes, lists of new releases and much more.

The beauty of AAWP is that that this plugin is able to output very professional looking tables and widgets without too much effort. And because these tables and widgets look so appealing and credible, conversion rates will skyrocket.

It’s also worth noting that AAWP is fully compliant with the strict terms and conditions of the Amazon Associates program.

I have been using AAWP for my affiliate site for quite some time now and consider it to be a no-brainer. So if you want to increase your affiliate revenue, get yourself an AAWP license and start configuring these beautiful tables.

AAWP affiliate marketing plugin for WordPress

 
>> Read my in-depth review of AAWP.
 

10. Essential WordPress plugins

It’s important for various reasons to only install plugins that you really need and add value to your WordPress website. Some plugins are essential, other plugins are totally unnecessary.

Below is a small list of plugins that I use myself. In addition to the social media plugins mentioned above, the following plugins are the only ones I need.

  • Wordfence:
    The best WordPress security plugin available. Wordfence gives your blog a firewall, a file scanner and protection against brute-force attacks to make sure don’t get attacked.
  • Yoast SEO:
    My favorite SEO plugin that helps you to optimize individual web pages with on-page SEO.
  • W3 Total Cache:
    Once your site is growing, it becomes important to have a critical look at the performance of your website because a slow website will push visitors away. W3 Total Cache will help you with this.
  • Contact Form 7:
    Your website needs a contact form. Contact Form 7 is a plugin that helps you to configure simple contact forms and integrate them into your pages and posts.