Tools We Use
Tool #1 - Web hosting
Every blog needs a home. We've used Bluehost since we started online in 2011. For blogs and beginners to the blogging, Bluehost is the perfect fit.
Bluehost - If you are looking for cheap but super reliable self-hosting, Bluehost is the web hosting service for you.
Bluehost powers over 2 million websites worldwide and I've been a loyal customer since 2011. For blogging, they are a perfect match for my needs.
If you are wanting to start a blog and haven't already done so, you can follow our guide here: How to Start a Blog That Makes Money Right Away
Tool #2 - Email Marketing
I actually love all three, but we will be reducing this list to 2 soon (goodbye MailChimp, it was fun) and eventually to 1.
ConvertKit - We made the change to ConvertKit, and we haven't looked back. ConvertKit allows you to really connect with your audience. The user interface is modern and intuitive, designed for creators by creators.
ConvertKit is subscriber focused, not list focused. This is a big, big deal. When the email marketing software is list based, you end up having the users subscribed to multiple lists.
We found our open rates went up and overall, it was a much more user-friendly software to use.
Tools #3 to 7 - Thrive Themes & Plugins
Yes, 5 of our must-have tools all come from the company, Thrive Themes. The number actually could be much higher, but they have another 6 plugins we just haven't implemented yet.
Thrive Themes - Thrive Themes revolutionized my blogging experience, taking everything I do to the next level.
I'm not especially good at making a blog look pretty. I know what works, I know what needs to be better; still, I usually come up short with the execution. Thrive Themes changed all that.
When you sign up with Thrive Themes, you'll get access to all of their Themes and Plugins. Their plugins are going to blow your mind.
Tool #3 - Minus Theme
It's a responsive, minimalist theme, perfect for blogging. Fast and light, what else can you ask for?
Tool #4 - Thrive Architect
Drag and Drop Content Editor (mind blown!), Landing Pages, Email Marketing, Table of Contents, Columns, Charts, Buttons, Disqus comments, Facebook comments, Video; all these things are integrated, plus many, many more.
I'm using Thrive Architect to write this very article. I can DRAG and DROP almost anything, anywhere into an article. Make columns, control CSS padding, the list is endless.
Maybe I want to quickly insert a YouTube video, or Countdown timer, or Facebook comments, or some social share buttons, or perhaps small 3 pictures in a row, using columns...
Use the WordPress editor for a few months, then you'll understand the need for a drag and drop editor.
Tool #5 - Thrive Headline Optimizer
This one pretty self-explanatory. Headlines are critical to your blogging success. Buzzfeed has revolutionized blog post titles and you have to do the same or you will be left in the dust by your competition.
Thrive Headline Optimizer allows you to A/B test your headlines and once you feel you have a clear winner, you can pick a champion. Keep repeating this technique, until your headlines are super eye-catching.
Tool #6 - Thrive Comments
Thrive Comments makes your blogs comments much more interactive. Essentially, your blog's comments become kind of like 'Reddit' posts.
People can up-vote or down-vote the best comments, so for some of your audience, this will be quite addicting, where they will more motivated to leave excellent comments instead of the usual one-liners.
Tool #7 - Optimize
The 6 other tools available are Thrive Apprentice(to create your own courses), Thrive Quiz Builder, Thrive Ovation(Testimonials), Thrive Ultimatum(Countdown Clocks for Sales Pages), Thrive Clever Widgets and Thrive Leads(email marketing).
Do yourself a massive favor, get Thrive!
Tool # 8 - Pretty Links
Every blog has to monetize their content eventually, or they go broke. The best way to monetize your content that is both fair to your audience and doesn't make your blog look like crap is affiliate marketing.
This is where the Pretty Links plugin comes in. It turns ugly affiliate links into pretty links. Please note, it is a paid plugin. The coupon code 10OFF might work, give it a try or maybe search the internet for a better one.
Tool #9 - Social Warfare
Social share buttons, the bane of us all. When you start blogging, you'll be reading an article, and you'll see that they have really cool social share buttons that float, or are a different, cool style (or color).
I can save you a lot of pain, use Social Warfare. It's the last social share button plugin you will ever have to use. We use it, we love it.
The free version is usable, the upgrade is heaven on earth(slight exaggeration).
Tool #10 - WP Fastest Cache
Google insists your website is fast. Your audience or potential audience, who are much more important than Google, will also demand that your website is fast.
There are lots of necessary tricks to use to make your website faster, but for starters, you need to use this plugin.(it's free)
Tool #11 - Yoast SEO
The Yoast SEO WordPress plugin is again, a must-have tool but...you can get away with the non-premium version for blogs (in my opinion).
Yoast SEO has so many extra tools that come bundled with it, including the functionality to make your blog's images into Rich Pins.
Tool #12 - Grammarly
Grammarly is a must-have tool! I'm mildly dyslexic so getting my thoughts from my brain to the keyboard is a challenge to say the least.
But, this is by far one of my favorite things to do, talking about, learning and teaching internet marketing. So, Grammarly has been a lifesaver. It doesn't find all my errors, but at least it helps make my blog posts readable.
I highly recommend it for all bloggers. If you can't work it into the budget at first, no problem. But make sure to add it into your blogging tools down the road when it becomes more financially feasible.
Tool #13 - Tailwind
Tailwind is one of those tools that confuses a lot of people. At first, it seems like the most excellent tool ever, then you usually go through a phase where you think it sucks and eventually once you harness its full potential, it's most definitely a must-have tool for every blogger.