Here is a list of blog tools and training programs I, and many other bloggers use to make our blogs better.
I have tried to curate the list to include things that I have tried personally or have heard good things about from trusted sources.
In full disclosure, many of the links for these blog tools are my affiliate links – which means that I do stand to make a small commission (at no cost to you) should you make a purchase.
The products listed are those that I have either tried personally or that have come with a strong recommendation. I will tell you in the description whether I have tried the item or not, and I will link to a review if I have posted one. If I have a current coupon code to offer you, I list that as well.
One of SiteGround‘s specialties is WordPress hosting. They offer quick install and daily backups at an very affordable price.
I recently migrated this website to SiteGround and their customer service has been very helpful, patient, and knowledgeable.
Setting up a brand new WordPress install is simple – read this SiteGround tutorial to see how easy it is.
Bluehost also offers inexpensive hosting for WordPress sites – especially when you are just starting out.
I had hosting at Bluehost for about 9 years before moving to SiteGround. Bluehost support was also very good and it’s a solid choice for a WordPress site.
The Genesis Framework for WordPress and the StudioPress child themes have been the only WordPress themes that I work with – for several years now.
They are SEO friendly and have powerful features. But most importantly, Studiopress is a solid developer that keeps their themes updated. This is important to make sure that they work with WordPress as it evolves.
Currently my site is wearing the Brunch Pro Theme for WordPress – which does run on the Genesis platform as well.
The Dynamik Theme was developed by Cobalt Apps and it is ideal for people that want control over all of the elements of their website, with minimal coding.
Using sliders, you can adjust column widths, font sizes, colors, you name it. The possibilities for customization are endless.
I used this theme on this website for several years. It was really fun being able to adjust and tweak everything. As easy as it may seem, you still some technical knowledge. I think it is really good for web designers, who know what they are doing, and want to set up unique looking websites for their clients.
Before there was Genesis, I used the Thesis Theme for WordPress. It was one of the first themes where you could customize the look and feel of your blog without coding. Like Dynamik, you use sliders and drag and drop elements to adjust the components of your website.
A word on free themes: I only include premium WordPress themes in my blog tools. I don’t trust free themes. Developers of free themes are not being paid for their efforts. So, they have no incentive to keep the themes updated. Think about it, would you work for free? A theme that is not updated can break under new versions of WordPress and also be vulnerable to hackers.
There are a ton of WordPress plugins to choose from. They make WordPress so amazing. Just like themes, some WordPress plugins are free and some are premium. And just like my warning above – sometimes you get what you pay for.
I try to stick with reputable plugins, premium plugins, and free plugins that also offer a premium version (this way I know that the developer has skin in the game. Also, when the time comes that I need the added functionality of premium – upgrading should be easy.)
Social Warfare is one of my favorite premium plugins. You use it to add really nice looking sharing buttons to your blog. But the most powerful feature of Social Warfare is the ability to specify which image size should be shared on the different social media platforms.
For example, for Pinterest you a long, vertical image does best, but for Facebook a wider image looks better.
Using Social Warfare, you just upload these images to your media in WordPress and indicate which one you want when someone clicks a share button.
And the cost is reasonable – starting at $29 per year. Sweet!
People use the Pretty Link Pro WordPress plugin to redirect their affiliate links.
Usually, affiliate links are a bunch of gibberish and look kind of scary – they certainly don’t look inviting enough to click. The Pretty Link Plugin let’s you clean up those links so that they look something like your-website dot com/Amazon (or whatever place you are linking to).
There is both a free and a premium version of Pretty Link.
I think of the Yoast SEO plugin as kind of the gold standard and it is one of my essential blogging tools.
You can use Yoast to optimize your website for the search engines, create a sitemap, designate images for social media (if you are not using Social Warfare), and find and fix broken links (Premium version only.)
See more WordPress Plugins here.
Email Marketing Tools
ConvertKit is an email marketing service that was made with bloggers in mind. It uses both lists and tags, and makes it dead simple to create sequences of emails that are automatically sent out when someone signs up for one of your lists.
You can read my ConvertKit review here.
ActiveCampaign also uses lists and tags for email marketing. It hugely flexible and I am a big fan. But because of all the possibilities, it is easy to get carried away and a bit disorganized in the process.
You can read my ActiveCampaign review here.
Social Media Tools
PostPlanner is one of my favorite blog tools for social media scheduling. It is different from many of the others, because it actually curates content that you can share. This is helpful, because you don’t have to run all over the internet to find great info.
PostPlanner also uses a queue system, so you can schedule a bunch of things to share, and when it gets to the bottom of the list, it starts at the top again. You also have choices as to how often you want to share and when.
Website Graphics Tools
Blog Training Courses
What Blog Tools Do You Use?
We all have some favorite blog tools that we can’t live without.
Tell me about the ones you use, and why you love them so much.