May 19, 2016

18 Essential Blogging Tools For Beginners

You could just start your blogging career by starting a blog and typing away. But blogging tools will help you make better use of your time by creating better content, making things look more appealing, helping readers understand what your message is, and getting your content shared, talked about, and ranked. All of these things are important to helping you create a successful blog, not just a blog.

According to DMR, there are 50,000 new WordPress websites added daily. According to Social Triggers, there are 164 million blogs and most of those blogs are not getting very much traffic. The people behind these blogs are likely not having the success they want to a variety of reasons, including not putting a lot of effort in and not using simple blogging tools that could help them reach more people.

A Note On Paid Blogging Tools

A lot of the blogging tools I’m going to talk about are free, and some are free to a certain extent. I still want you to take into consideration these tools!

If you are just starting out with blogging, or you are not making a lot of money through blogging, then you may be resisting paying money for blogging tools. I totally understand that, but, the fact is that some paid blogging tools have the potential to help you achieve much more success, which is why they are considered an important investment for bloggers. I know bloggers that tried to do everything for free, and they spent years getting themselves to the same place someone who was willing to spend money took to get in a few months. It can really make that big of a difference towards your blog’s success!

I highly recommend reinvesting any money you make in the beginning into blogging tools that cost money. Even if you are investing as much as you are making, your income can start to rise, and you can start to get a huge return on your investment.

18 Essential Blogging Tools

There are just some tools that I wish I had known about when I started blogging. While 18 tools might seem like a lot, you will find each one of them valuable in their own way. Moreover, they will actually speed up your blogging efforts, not hinder them. So, let’s get started.

1. BuzzSumo

This is one of the blogging tools that you will find extremely useful for content creation and much more. You will use it before you write a post, during, and after, so make sure you keep it easily accessible.

The tool allows you to plug in a topic in the search bar and then see results of the most popular articles that have been written around that topic. You can see how well each of the articles did on popular social media channels, which can give you an idea of how well the post was received.

Moreover, if you are trying to come up with content around a specific keyword or topic, BuzzSumo can give you a ton of ideas. It can also give you a lot of information to add to your article (with proper backlinks to the original article, of course) and places to point to in your article for more related information.

You can also search for key influencers around a certain topic or keyword, which can help you schedule in potential guest blog posts at their sites and definitely give you a place to go and comment for a potential link back to your site. As well, interacting with key influencers can help boost your online blogging reputation, which will benefit you in a big way!

And you can find trending articles to get the latest scoop on what is popular. Use this information to create a post related to your niche around a hot topic and increase your chances of getting shared!

You can also find your most popular blog posts or the most popular blog posts of a competitor to help you figure out what people want and don’t want to read.

You can use BuzzSumo for free with limited results, or you can pay to use it. The paid version has a lot more information, such as backlinks to specific articles, filter for what is trending by times, and access to content analysis on keywords. It is expensive to use, coming it at around $99 per month, but if you can afford it, or once you start making more money to justify it, this will be one of those blogging tools that allow you to grow your blog on an exponential level. It really is essential.

2. Easel.ly

Infographics are popular. They earn you more shares socially, and they keep people’s attention more. You can also get backlinks from people who want others to see your infographic. In short, they are essential for your blog. But, they can be time-consuming to make.

Easel.ly has different infographic templates that are easy to use with its drag and drop functions. You can add your own text, change the colors, and add your own pictures.

You can get some standard icons and infographic templates for free, but you can also pay $3 a month (yes, that’s only $3) to get more choices of images, fonts, and templates. Considering how popular infographics are and how much traffic they can bring in, $3 is an investment everyone can make! You can download the infographics you create as an image or PDF, and there is no watermark or need to put their site on your infographic. You can find it at http://www.easel.ly/.

3. Easy Tweet Embed

This is a plugin for WordPress that makes sharing on Twitter so much easier for your readers. The plugin puts a Twitter icon in your toolbar. When you write a new post, and all you have to do is click on that icon, fill in the anchor text, such as ‘Tweet This’, and then write out your tweet that will be included in the Tweet if someone clicks on your anchor text. Then, insert a permalink, which will link to your blog post, and insert it into your blog post.

This works best for quotes. Write out your quote, and use Easy Embed Tweet to help people easily tweet out that quote, which people are very likely to do if it’s easy!

4. StayFocusd and LeechBlock

One of the hardest things about blogging is staying focused enough to get things done in the limited time you have. Because blogging requires you to be on the Internet, you will find that articles, such as ‘Celebrities Who Matured Gracefully’ will catch your attention, and before long you will have wasted an hour or two doing nothing for your blog.

If you want to see results on your blog, and you are currently doing all the work for your blog instead of outsourcing, then you have to put in the time. If you do, you will be rewarded with increased wealth from your blog.

Think you can stay focused using motivation alone? I used to as well! I used to keep a picture of what I was working towards by my computer, which I thought would help me stay on point knowing what I was trying to achieve. I didn’t. I got caught up in YouTube videos, Facebook shares, and all kinds of ridiculous articles. I always wonder what extra success I would have happened had I used that time wisely. Take my word for it – you don’t want to be left wondering.

If you are using Chrome as your browser, then StayFocusd is what you need. You can add sites to block yourself from for a certain period of time that you want to stay focused, such as Facebook, YouTube, or other social media sites.

If you are using Firefox, then LeechBlock is your answer for being more productive. You can block sites for a certain amount of time and get really focused on making the most of the time you have to blog.

5. Hootsuite

I use Hootsuite daily, and I think it’s a tool that every blogger who uses social media should have. You can add your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, and Linkedin accounts to Hootsuite so that you can manage all of your social profiles from one place. You can even manage your Facebook pages from Hootsuite.

For each social profile, you can add streams that allow you to see different aspects of your profile. For instance, if you have a Twitter account hooked up to Hootsuite, then you can add streams to see your tweets, mentions, and messages. You can also set up streams based on a keyword, hashtag, or person on Twitter. This comes in handy to follow your competition and figure out what other people are tweeting and talking about.

Hootsuite takes your social media and organizes it. You can clearly see what is going on everywhere by logging into just one place. It saves you time and energy, and you can post, tweet, and communicate directly from your Hootsuite dashboard.

You can only add three social profiles on the free account, but if you are just starting out blogging, then you are probably only focusing on a few social profiles anyways!

6. Statcounter

One of the things you need to do for blogging success is understand who is coming to your blog and what they are doing while they are there. These insights can help you understand what your efforts are doing and tweak your website for better results.

While there are a few different statistic tools out there, Statcounter is free when you only need to track a few smaller amount of traffic, which as a newer blogger, you will be doing. When you do have to pay, it doesn’t cost that much to upgrade.

Once you set up your website and put the tracking information from Statcounter on your website (they teach you how to do everything), you will get a visual of the traffic you have had today, yesterday, this month, and in total.

Then you can drill down into the tool and find out where your traffic is coming from, what links they are clicking on, what pages are most popular for you, how long your visitors are staying, what paths each visitor is taking through your site, and much more. I check these stats at least three times a day, and I have learned a great deal about my blogs because of them.

7. Yoast SEO Plugin

This is a blogging tool that you should have on your site right from the beginning. Yoast SEO helps you set up the most important SEO factors on your site and on each blog post you publish.

It doesn’t matter if you know what you are doing or not yet when it comes to SEO because this plugin will help you make sure that you have all the factors needed for your best chance at ranking in the search engines.

In each blog post, you can create a title and description for the search engines. And you can enter in your focus keyword below your article before it’s published and it will give you a content analysis on how your keyword in the article is doing.

It also tells you how readable your post is using the Flesch Reading Ease test, which is important. According to experts, most visitors to your blog read at a level somewhere in the high school or below range. And, their attention span is limited. Therefore, you need to write in a way that will keep your reader’s attention. This plugin will help you understand how well you’ve done that after you wrote your post.

8. Email Marketing Service

It doesn’t matter if you use AWeber or MailChimp, but you do have to use something for email marketing. The longer you wait to use email marketing, the more you will kick yourself when you do start. That’s why I recommend starting your email marketing journey right now.

After every post, you should have a call to action for people to sign up to your newsletter. Why? There is an equation when it comes to building wealth in anything, including blogging. Leads and conversions are a part of that equation.

The leads are the people coming to your blog and reading it. This is similar to the people who walk past a restaurant and look inside.

Conversions are when people buy into your call to action of signing up to your newsletter. This is similar to the people who go inside to check out the place because they are promised ‘the best past ever’.

Once you get them inside, you can socialize with them, sell them stuff, and bring them back to your site over and over again. If you don’t get them to come inside (sign up to your list) then they are going to walk on by, and you may never get a chance to socialize with them or sell something to them again.

Successful businesses know that not only do they need to get in front of the customer’s eyes, but they need to bring them in and potentially sell to them. If that doesn’t happen, they will go out of business.

In short, subscribers are the lifeline to your success. If you waste your leads by not getting them to sign up to your email campaign, then you are wasting your time if you want to do things with your blog. The more people you stay in contact with who see your blog, the more success you will have.

So, check out the different email marketing services and decide which one is the blogging tool you want to use for your blog. Then, use it right away!

9. MyBlogU

When you are starting out, it’s going to be hard to make new friends online. You don’t have a reputation yet, so established bloggers are not going to take you seriously. Well, some might, but the fact is that you are new, and they don’t know if you are going to stick around as a serious blogger. That’s where MyBlogU comes in.

MyBlogU is a free place to go and connect with other bloggers. You can ask for help. You can brainstorm ideas for your new blog. You can create interviews for some unique blog posts on your blog. And, you can get cited on other blogs by participating in brainstorm ideas and interviews of other people!

The creator of the site is working hard to make sure that everyone works together in a beneficial way. This blogging tool will really help you get a handle on content creation and networking, which are two essential elements of creating a successful blog.

10. Excel

Excel isn’t on a lot of lists for blogging tools. But, I think that for beginners and experts alike, Excel should be used in many different parts of the blogging business.

You should have Excel on your computer, and if you don’t, you should get it. Excel is the ultimate way to keep track of everything for your blogs. You will appreciate keeping track of everything now, for good organization, and in the future, when you want to see how far you’ve come with your blog.

– You can keep track of your thoughts and ideas for your blog.
– You can keep track of your blogging income and expenses.
– You can keep track of questions that come to you that might help you create better content and a better blog.
– And, you can even keep track of your goals and to-do list for the day.

There are tons of templates online that you can download for excel and use. But, if you can’t find one that works for what you want, then you need to figure out how to create your own perfect template. There are a lot of tutorials online and books to help you become an Excel expert. And, the beauty is that once you master Excel, you are going to be able to keep track of information for free rather than spending a ton of money on apps and software that does it for you.

11. Editorial Calendar

Do not start blogging without an editorial calendar. This is a place where you are going to write down what blog posts you want to go out and when.

It helps you keep your thoughts together, come up with ideas, ensure that posts actually get published, and see what keywords you’ve used and what keywords or topics you would still like to discuss. An editorial calendar isn’t an option; it’s a must for every blogger, beginner or not.

You can create an editorial calendar using excel. Or, you can get one from for free from places like HubSpot. After you download someone else’s version of an editorial calendar, you can play with it and edit it on your excel to help personalize it and make it work for you and your blog.

12. Grammarly

Bad writing is going to scare away your readers! Spelling mistakes and awkward sentences have a direct influence on how seriously people take you.

Even the best writer makes mistakes once in a while that could hurt their reputation. That’s why you need a spelling and grammar check tool to help you make sure you content is going out the way you want it too.

I love Grammarly. You can check your blog posts by pasting them inside the app at grammarly.com, or you can download Grammarly as an extension on your browser, and have it check spelling and grammar for you directly inside of your blog post. I only use the Chrome extension, and I use it in all writing that I do.

You can also turn on an aspect of Grammarly that helps you see definitions and synonyms of words just by clicking on them. This can really help you come up with some ideas for your content and develop your vocabulary at the same time.

The great thing is that as a browser extension, Grammarly will help you see your mistakes in all writing, including on social media and in comments. This will help you to maintain a consistent reading experience for people who are interested in you.

13. WordPress Polls

Again, not many people mention polls as one of the blogging tools you need, but I’ve found it extremely important to my blogging success. Polls can help you connect with your readers and help you understand them better. WordPress polls (look for WP-Polls as a plugin) are exactly what you need as a new blogger to get more interaction on your site and learn more about the people who are coming there.

You can design the poll in style, color, and height. You can create as many polls as you want with a unique question and as many choices for answers as you want. You can allow users to select more than once answer. And, you can decide how long you want the poll to stay up.

It’s easy to put the poll in your post. You just select the WP-poll icon in your post toolbar and enter in the poll ID number and then insert it where you want in the post. You can even insert a shortcode in the widgets to help you display random polls to visitors for more interaction.

And, you get some statistics on your polls. For instance, you can see the date of when people took the poll and the IP address they came from.

In short, I have found that polls will keep people on your site longer, which is important if you want them to read your posts and end up at your call to action!

14. Copyscape

When it comes to blogging tools, this could really benefit you in the beginning. In fact, I still use it years after starting blogging.

It is a blogging tool that will give you an idea of how original your blog post is, which is imperative to the post’s success. If you are copying other people, you will not only be hurting yourself in the search engines, since the original article gets credit, not you, but you will be pissing other bloggers off. By using Copyscape, you can make sure that your post is original, and you will get credit for every word on it.

You simply copy and paste your blog post into the Copyscape premium section and then wait for the results. If your content is found elsewhere, you will be able to see where and even check out the site. This is great for checking to see if someone’s copied your blog post too.

You need to buy credits for Copyscape. Each credit gives you one check, and the minimum of credits you can buy is 200, so you will pay $10. You get one year to use them all, so that’s really cheap when it comes to making sure your content is plagiarism free.

15. Google Keyword Tool

While I recommend you eventually look into SEMrush for your keyword strategy, it can be quite expensive for some people. So, in the meantime, the Google Keyword Tool will help you create a keyword strategy for ranking higher in the search engines. This tool shows you the value and competitiveness of different keywords.

All you have to do is type in the keyword or topic you are looking for, and then you will get a list of keywords and related keywords, along with their monthly searches and competition. You will find new ideas for blog posts easily with this blogging tool.

16. Compress JPEG & PNG Images

This is one of the blogging tools that I wish I would have put on my blog earlier. If you plan to put a lot of pictures or infographics on your site (and you should be planning to do that for many different reasons), then you need this WordPress plugin. It helps optimize your pictures, so they don’t slow your site down in any way. It automatically optimizes your pictures, so you don’t have to do any work.

With a free account, you can optimize about 100 images in a month. If you are blogging daily on one blog, that gives you about three pictures per blog post to work with, so it should be more than enough to work with.

17. Portent’s Title Maker or HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator

The whole livelihood of your blog is content, which makes these essential blogging tools at one time or another. You may think you have a ton of ideas right now, but, eventually, you will find yourself drawing a complete blank on what to write next. That’s where these two blogging tools come in. They are topic generators.

Portent’s title maker is easy to use for one-time ideas. If you are ever stuck for content, but have a subject you would like to talk about, plug it into this content idea generator. You will get a ton of ideas for your next post and learn how to create compelling headlines in the process. You can find it at https://www.portent.com/tools/title-maker.

HubSpot’s topic generator is best to use for more than one blog post. You get to type in three nouns and get five ideas back for the week! They also have an excel sheet with a year’s worth of ideas free to download. You just have to fill in the form to get those ideas. You can find it at http://www.hubspot.com/blog-topic-generator.

18. Uptime Robot

Downtime on your blog sucks. When you have written a great post, it goes viral, and then your blog goes down, you lose out on potentially thousands of people visiting your blog, and who knows how many conversions. The problem is that when your blog goes down, it can take you some time to notice if you are busy doing other things. And the longer it stays down, the more problematic it is for you.

Just the other week my friend’s blog went down for a day. He didn’t notice it until a day later because he wasn’t working the day it went down. When he did discover that it was down, he called his hosting service, and they said it was something from their end and should be fixed within an hour. After 24 hours, he called again and found out that it was something that the hosting site’s employee could have fixed the day before. He lost two days of traffic after publishing a post that had to do with current events, and after two days it’s not really a current event anymore online. His article never did anything for him because when it would have been hot, his site was down.

Uptime Robot makes sure you know when your site goes down, within 5 minutes. This blogging tool helps you get a good idea of how much your site is down, and it could give you insight into whether you want to change hosting sites or not.

Like Copyscape, you will have to pay for credits if you want to get notified of downtime through SMS. Use this blogging tool, in the beginning, to get a really good idea of how your site does. And use it once you start getting a lot of traffic to make sure that you get notified and fix the problem quickly so you can get the traffic you worked hard to get.

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