After two years as a blogger, I discovered that it takes you a lot of things to run a successful blog. I headed into this thinking it would be easy and that you don’t need much more than a laptop and a connection to Wifi to be a blogger, but truth is, if you want to grow your blog, you’ll need some help. Just like a surgeon with its instruments, a blogger needs its tools. These are 14 of the best blogging tools to help you grow your blog!
I’ve mentioned in the past just how much I love BoardBooster. Basically, it’s the only tool you need for Pinterest. BoardBooster allows you to schedule pins, find group boards, access analytics (that you will not necessary find on Pinterest, even if you’re a business account), and the list goes on. But my favorite thing about BoardBooster is that it allows you to loop your pins.
Do you have boards that have hundreds of pins? Then that means that the content that is at the bottom will not be seen by your new followers, even if that content might be super relevant to them. So what BoardBooster does is that it pulls back this old content and pins it to your board again, so it’s as good as new! The best part? It deletes the duplicate after a few days! So your older posts get constant traffic, as they get seen by new people. Isn’t that amazing?
Google Analytics is my Lord and savior when it comes to stats. I know WordPress and Blogger come with their own set of analytics and you can access your pageviews and the like, but Google Analytics is SO MUCH BETTER. Why? Because it goes so much deeper! Not only do you have access to pageviews, sessions, and popular pages, but you can also access things such as bounce rate, exit pages, and demographics, only to name a few! Anything you’re wondering about your blog, Google Analytics can tell you. And the best part about all of this? It’s completely free!
Afterlight is the only photo editing app that I use. I’ve heard many bloggers rave about how good Afterlight was, but I still wasn’t convinced. I have tried them all: VSCO, A Color Story, Snapseed, Instagram… but none of them satisfied me as much as Afterlight does. At first, I was hesitant to pay the small $1.39 fee because I thought it would be just another photo editing app, but I was so wrong! I don’t use any filters on my pictures, I simply edit them with Afterlight and it has improved my Instagram game a lot already.
Yet another Instagram tool that I cannot live without! I discovered this app because of Helene and now I don’t know how I could have been posting to Instagram without using it! Basically, this app helps you plan your feed. It pulls up the feed that you currently have on your Instagram page, and you can add pictures to it, place them, and write your captions in advance! However, it cannot post for you to Instagram. No app can do that yet. So even if you plan out your feed in advance, you have to manually post your pictures to Instagram yourself. But quite honestly, that’s the only feature this app is missing!
Ever wondered how people get firstname.lastname@example.org email addresses? Well, I have the answer for you: GSuite. What is GSuite? It’s a bundle of Google Apps that you can get with your domain when you buy it. It includes Gmail with a personalized email address (email@example.com), Google Drive, and much more! You may think that having an email address with your domain name is not important, but trust me when I say that it makes you look much more professional! I used to use my personal email address, but having my own domain email address makes me feel like I have it more pulled together. And it’s only $5/month!
One of the best things I could have done to grow my blog was moving to self-hosted. Did you know that, if you’re on the free platform of WordPress, you do not own your content? *gasps* I was flabbergasted when I learned that. All of the hours I spent creating content for my blog, and I didn’t own any of it? You will also have more flexibility when it comes to what your blog actually look like. You can create or buy your own theme, and add plugins to make your blog look the way you want. Honestly, if you’re taking blogging seriously, you NEED to move to self-hosted! Yes, it might be a pricier expense, especially if you’re on a college budget, but trust me when I say that this is one of the best things you can do for your blog/biz.
I cannot talk about web hosting without mentioning domains. Because moving to self-hosted means you have to own a domain first. Once again, it’s one of the best things I did to boost my blog. Why? Because you’ll be taken more seriously by companies and people in general. Sad, but true. The truth is, it doesn’t matter if you have the best content out there, but if your URL ends with .wordpress.com or .blogspot.com, chances are people are not going to bother. A domain itself is not that big an expense (I pay around $12/year for mine!), and you will definitely not regret it!
One of the things I love the most about the blogging community is that we’re so open and willing to help one another out. And trust me, we need all the help we can get. There are literally NO bloggers who can say they know everything they need to know about blogging and the Internet. Because you just can’t. The blogging industry is always changing. There is always going to be a new tool or social media platform. I think no matter how long you’ve been doing this, there is always going to be something new to learn. So, invest in yourself and your blog. Trust me, you will not regret it!
One of the most important things about a blog is its design. It’s the first impression you leave on a visitor, so you better make it a good one if you want them to stick around. I’ll go ahead and say it: I definitely judge a blog by its design, and I know I’m not the only one. It’s sad, but it’s true. And while free themes can be great when you’re starting out, they can quickly get restrictive. That’s why I think you should invest in a blog design that you love as soon as possible. You can find great templates on Etsy, or you can even hire a blog designer if you cannot find what you want.
Not everyone loves Tweetdeck, but I personally think it’s a really helpful tool! Not only does it allow you to schedule tweets, but you can also follow hashtags and see your home feed and notifications. This feature becomes particularly helpful during Twitter chats. I love using it because I can see both my notifications and the chat one the same page! It’s a lot easier than having to go back and forth between tabs.
Ever wondered how I got all of those pretty images for my pins? Well, that’s fairly easy. Stock photos. I know some people can take beautiful pictures, but I’m still working on that. In the meantime, I cannot live without stock photos! There are plenty of websites where you can get beautifully styled photos for FREE (and there are also many websites where you can get some too for a certain price)! Some of my favorites include Unsplash, Pexels, and Picjumbo!
You do not have Photoshop and wish to create beautiful pins that convey? Canva is the answer! This website has a lot of different options and so many beautiful templates for free! You can create anything from social media posts, invitations, posters… your imagination is your limit!
If you’re wondering what I use for my comments, look no further! Disqus is the best commenting system for all blogs and all platforms. It makes it so much easier to keep the conversation going! (It’s also less of a hassle to leave comments because once you’re logged in, it remembers you! You won’t have to enter your info every time you wish to leave a comment.) And I love that you can click on a user to see their profile!
I think we can all agree on the fact that writing is a pretty important part of blogging. So make sure you do it right! A blog that is written properly is so much more professional than a blog that has tons of grammar and spelling mistakes. English is not my mother tongue. To make sure that all of my sentences make sense and that my writing is perfect, I always correct my posts with Grammarly. The best part? It’s a totally free tool! You can add it to Chrome and download the Microsoft extension too! It’s also a pretty great resource for college students.
What are some of the tools you just cannot live without as a blogger?
On a totally unrelated note, April 24 marks my second year of blogging! To celebrate the occasion, I’m hosting a Q&A that will go live on the day of my second blogiversary. So send me your questions! You can either email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out to me via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. You can also leave your question down below! It can be about anything – college, blogging, or something completely random or personal!