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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 is still a very useful tool to have.
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. Social Warfare
With Social Warfare you can have floating social media buttons as well as static buttons above and below content. The tool allows you to configure a lot of things such as button counts, styling options, caching, and much more.
Just like most plugins, Social Warfare has a free version as well as a very affordable premium version that offers extra features such as custom tweets, Pinterest share images and short codes. For most people the free version will be sufficient.
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.
Used by professionals as well as non-designers, Canva is a free graphic-design tool website that gives users access to a great amount of pictures, graphics and fonts. Their user interface is very intuitive so that designing stuff actually becomes enjoyable to do.
They also have affordable paid plans which give you access to more stock imagery and also helps you with creating a personalized style for your own brand.
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.
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.