Must-Have Tools To Grow Your Blog And Business
Running a profitable blog requires a few good tools – these are all of the blogging tools, apps and resources that I use to run and earn a fulltime living from blogging.
Most of the tools are free. For any ones that aren’t free, I have included a free trial wherever possible.
BLOGGING & WEBSITE BASICS
BLOG START GUIDE
Blogging is a very lucrative way to earn money from home, or anywhere! Take the first step and start a blog today by reading my Start A Blog Step By Step Guide or enrolling in my FREE Start A Blog Course!
My Start A Blog tutorials will walk you through every step of creating your blog, from setting up WordPress, hosting, themes and plugins to creating content, growing followers and traffic, to monetizing your content, learning affiliate marketing and making money as a blogger!
You can’t monetize a website hosted on a ‘free’ platform like Tumblr or Wix. You need to self-host with a reliable webhost so that you can earn money from your website/blog! It is NOT expensive or difficult to self-host – read why self-hosting is so important, and how to do it affordably here.
Siteground is my absolute recommendation for best webhost, providing the fastest load times, best security and most value. With unlimited bandwidth, free daily backups, and free shopping cart included, plus one-click WordPress install wizard, Siteground makes setting up and running your website super easy! Use this link and get 60% off your hosting if you sign up now, giving you a fully self-hosted WordPress website for less than $4 per month!
Start Your Blog Within Minutes & Monetize It – HerPaperRoute Blog Start Guide:
Pretty Darn Cute – Premade, high quality and pretty WordPress themes! Excellent setup tutorials, support, and community to help you every step of the way. “Let’s make your website fun again!”
BluChic – Beauty & bold vision with the niche-specific architecture you need to convert prospects into paying customers. Whether you’re a business coach or an event planner, the theme of your dreams is here.
They also offer a Pro Plus Pack, which is a bundle of every theme ($1700 value) priced at just $499! On top of that, you also get lifetime access to all future updates, free.
Check out this list of must-have FREE plugins for your WordPress blog!
SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING / GROWING YOUR TRAFFIC & NETWORK
SmarterQueue is the best social media content scheduler I have come across. Known as the app that is “better than Buffer and better and cheaper than MeetEdgar,” SmarterQueue allows you to have “evergreen recycling” where you set up posts for Facebook, Twitter & Instagram that can be scheduled and then re-posted on autopilot. So you don’t have to re-create posts for your evergreen content, which was something that annoyed me with Buffer. This feature is a huge time saver (and money-maker, as it ensures your affiliate links get seen over and over again). If you want to grow your network and business following its essential that you be posting content to social media consistently, and this app makes this possible.
Sendible makes it easy to manage your social networks, schedule messages, engage with your audience and measure ROI from an all-in-one dashboard. With Sendible, you can create an award-winning social media strategy, even when you don’t have the time.
Boardbooster is the best thing to happen to Pinterest scheduling! This simple app will auto-schedule your pins to your group boards without you having to worry about a thing. It is recommended that you be pinning content at least 40 times a day in your Pinterest boards and group boards, which would be difficult and incredibly time-consuming to do alone. Boardbooster is super easy to schedule content to be pinned on Pinterest at set times throughout the day as much or as little as you want. I love that I can take 20 minutes on Monday morning to plan my pins for the whole week, set it and forget it!
Tailwind for Pinterest– I saw a HUGE spike in traffic coming from Pinterest once I started using Tailwind to schedule my pins. Now I use Tailwind for all of my websites and it’s crazy how much traffic it brings in!Tailwind is similar to Boardbooster in that they are booth pin schedulers, but Tailwind has more features and more in-depth analytics. Tailwind is partnered with Pinterest, so it’s believed that Pinterest and Pinterest’s algorithm favors content coming in from Tailwind, and ranking those pins higher in search results.
Tailwind for Instagram – This Instagram scheduling tool is amazing. It has an incredible hashtag finder feature that finds and recommends the best hashtags for your post, to give you the best possible reach and engagement.
Planoly – This is the app I use to plan & schedule my Instagram account. You can even use it to sell on Instagram.
EMAIL MARKETING / NEWSLETTER & MAIL SUBSCRIBER MANAGEMENT
Convertkit is a professional mailing system that easily integrates into your website, where your readers can sign up to your newsletters. Create landing pages, create and send campaigns (newsletters) manage opt-in forms, automation, and more.
Building your list is essential to growing your business, and Convertkit makes gaining subscribers and running opt-in functions easy, while giving you extremely powerful list management.
I highly recommend this tool, and although plans start at $29, this investment is well worth it!
The Complete Guide To Email Marketing – This free guide has everything you need to know to about list building, growing your subscribers, and successfully running email marketing campaigns.
MailerLite is good mailing system that is free up to 1000 subscribers. You can create beautiful landing pages and opt-in forms to collect subscribers and easily send and track campaigns (newsletters). The automation feature is top notch. You can use their free plan up to 1,000 subscribers, if you have more subscribers than 1000, plans start at $10.
This link gives you a $20 credit for when you upgrade.
- One important thing to note is that Mailerlite doesn’t allow affiliate marketing/affiliate links. So if you are planning to earn money from your list (you should be!) then Convertkit will be a better option.
AFFILIATE NETWORKS FOR BLOGGERS
Check out this list of high-paying affiliate programs for bloggers, organized by niche and updated regularly.
Awin.com is a high paying affiliate marketing network. It costs just $5 to sign up (which you get back once approved), then you join affiliate programs, work with brands, and get paid. Big brands like the Nasty Gal affiliate program is hosted here.
MaxBounty – Affiliate programs hosted on this network pay higher than other networks.
ShareaSale – Once you are a member, you can join the affiliate programs of thousands of brands. Both have their own referral programs. I love this one because it makes joining and keeping track of several affiliate programs super easy. You can earn cash pretty quick with this site if you are actively promoting your affiliate links. They have a handy tool to build collections of products that you can then add to your website as well.
FlexOffers is similar to Shareasale, but what makes FlexOffers special is that you earn a commission from every sale made by members you refer. There are a lot of big brands on this network. But you don’t have to be a big blogger yet to make money here! You can actually make money quite quickly with this platform as there are so many brands for so many niches.
VigLink – This is a handy tool you install on your website, and it will affiliate any links on your website (even in the comments!), so you earn a commission on any sales, whether you are directly in the affiliate program for brand or not.
INFLUENCER AGENCIES & NETWORKS FOR BLOGGERS
HelloSpon is an influencer & micro-influencer agency that connects bloggers with brands for paid blogging opportunities and blog & Instagram sponsorships. It’s free, and they payout quick! Apply as an influencer here.
Linqia is an influencer agency. Bloggers can use this network to partner up with brands for sponsorships and get paid to write sponsored posts. They accept bloggers who have 2,500+ monthly visitors or followers. It is invite-only. Here’s your invite!
It is important to check your website for malware and other harmful security issues. Malware slows down your website and can cause your website to be blacklisted by Google. Use MalCare WordPress Security to scan your website for malware, remove any found, and protect it from getting any more in the future.
RUNNING A BUSINESS
FreshBooks is the badass entrepreneur’s bible! It makes invoicing clients and keeping track of my accounting documents super easy. Every small business owner should use this, even if you are just starting out.
Get a free trial here: FreshBooks Cloud Accounting
Grasshopper – App to create a business number from your cell phone. Make your small business look bigger, national, and more established. For both a local and national presence, you can have both toll free and local numbers for your business. Custom voicemail, make calls showing your Grasshopper ID, and more. Try it HERE.
Wrike is an all-in-one project management and collaboration software that brings thousands of teams around the globe closer to success. It connects tasks, discussions, and emails to your actual project plan. You get an up-to-date picture of the project and can keep your team aligned with your strategy without boring status meetings. Get a free trial here!
Shopify – Shopify is my choice for the best platform to run an ecommerce business. I have built and run online stores on a few different eCommerce sites, and prefer Shopify as the best option. Most eCommerce sites will take a cut off of each of your sales, which can become quite expensive, but Shopify doesn’t, you just pay a small set monthly subscription rate and then you can sell as much as you want and keep all of your money.
Oberlo – This is an app to use with Shopify, for dropshipping It is essential for any online store that sells items from AliExpress. Oberlo lets you search and import AliExpress items right into your Shopify shop, copying inventory levels, photos, and information. This is a HUGE time saver and makes running a dropshipping business a snap!
I’m putting this note about Siteground, here again – it’s essential to a thriving blog!
Siteground is the best web host, providing the fastest load times, best security and most value. With unlimited bandwidth, free daily backups, and free shopping cart included, plus one-click WordPress install wizard, Siteground makes setting up and running your website super easy!
Adobe Creative Cloud – Where would I be without Adobe?! Well, I probably wouldn’t have become a designer. I’ve built my career with Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Premiere. Adobe is the industry standard, and anyone working in a creative field will likely use Adobe products every single day. Get 60% off Adobe Creative Cloud Here.
Grammarly – This one of the best apps around! It is a spelling and grammar app that checks your writing as you write. Bloggers, writers, entrepreneurs and anyone who ever types on a screen can benefit from this. You may fancy yourself a spelling and grammar pro but I think you will be surprised at what this app catches!
EDUCATION, COURSES & COURSE CREATION TOOLS
Creative Live is an amazing online resource packed with hundreds of free and premium courses on everything from photography, design, music, money, business and more. You can tune in to watch live classes for free, or sign up for on-demand workshops. Check out the classes here.
Skillshare is another awesome online learning community where you can learn a new skill in just about anything! There are over 16,000 free and premium classes. Personalized, on-demand education.
Teachable – If you have ever thought about creating and selling your own online course, this is the platform you want to use. The professional plan has NO FEES so you keep every cent from selling your course. To learn how to get started, watch this upcoming live webinar 7 Steps To Launch Your Own Profitable Online Course.
Brit + Co is a media company whose mantra is to “inspire, educate, entertain and inform real women with a creative spirit.” Can’t argue with that!
Brit + Co offer unique and entertaining online classes with a creativity-is-queen edge. Not only that but the classes are affordable too! > Take a class here
OTHER USEFUL TOOLS
24/7 Virtual Assistant – This has been an absolute LIFESAVER to me. As your blog & business grows, you may find it hard to keep up with all the things you need to do on your own. A virtual assistant can help you in so many ways! Such as answer emails for you, respond to comments, manage your social media, even tweak your website. You can have someone help you with a task as a one-time job, a once and a while job or an ongoing project. Highly recommend!
Fiverr – This is a marketplace full of thousands of services (called ‘gigs’) where you can get pretty much anything you could imagine or need, for just $5. It is so good! You can have someone edit photos, write articles, record videos, do promotion…the list is actually endless!
BuzzSumo – This is a free web-based app that lets you search keywords to find what is most shared on the Internet. This is a great tool for finding influential people in your industry, and to see what your competitors are doing!
Pinterest Keyword Tool – This is another free web-based app. I use this when tagging my photos with keywords so they rank high on Pinterest. You simply type in a keyword that relates to your photo, and the app will show you all of the most commonly searched related keywords. You can copy them into the ‘description’ field for your photos, so they show up on Pinterest and other search engines.
Do you have a tool, app, product or service that you think should be listed here? I want to know about it! Read my Work With Me Info and send me a message.
HerPaperRoute is a resource for bloggers to learn tips and tools to improve and monetize their blog and business. As such, some of the links in this document are affiliate links, as I recommend the products and brands that I personally use, love and trust. For more information, see my disclosures.
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