Looking for the best blogging tools? Then you got it right here, my friend. The amount of money I’ve put into tools is a scary figure, but I do it to know what is working and what isn’t.
So if you are looking to start a blog or simply make it run faster, make more money, and grow your traffic, these tools will help you do that.
I have tested 99% of the tools on this list and will make you aware if I have not tested it, but I have.
Hosting is the straw that stirs the drink for your site. I never recommend places like Squarespace or Wix for your niche sites because of issues with proprietary software and transferring the site as it gets older and traffic increases.
WPX.net: This is by far one of my favorites simply because it’s fast and the customer service is amazing. They will literally chat with you within 30 seconds of you contacting them. That is not a typo… 30 seconds.
Bluehost.com: This is the cheapest alternative on this list and I only recommend them in a pinch. Their hosting is ‘good enough’ and their customer service is decent. But to get really top-notch care with them, you need their higher-tiered services, which cost just as must as the big boys.
Where you get content online is crucial for a content business… duh…
But if you are in a place where outsourcing content is an option, I suggest doing it sooner rather than later.
WritersAccess.com: WA is my ‘go to’ when purchasing content. It’s close to being as hands off as possible when it comes to content services for the price. Obviously, the more specialized you get with content, the higher the price, but you don’t have to worry about W2’s, managing writers, and the content is good with unlimited revisions.
ProBlogger.com: A great place to go to get one-on-one writers. You work directly with people, train them up, and they are yours. Freelancers are freelancers, so keep that in mind, but being able to negotiate directly helps with a few headaches you may run into with using content mills and other writing services.
Upwork.com: Another good place for finding writers (among other things). You will need to get used to their payment method and milestones and contracts. It’s a bit of a learning curve, but you get used to it and isn’t too bad. It is much easier to find ‘newer’ writers here which is a good thing because they do not demand as much per word as experienced writers.
Cuppa.sh: AI is here to stay, like it or not. Bloggers and webmasters should not be afraid. Freelance writers should be afraid. I’ve used Cuppa and it works well. It will only get better with time.
Onlinejobs.ph: A goldmine for finding highly educated people for much cheaper than you would spend in the states.
For a long time, I completely ignored display ads and I now admit that I left a lot of money on the table.
Ads is the most passive way to earn income with a site because you can monetize ALL content on your site, including informational content. Here are some recommendations.
Monumetric.com: the unsung hero of lower traffic sites (sub 10k page views) that no one talks about. I don’t know why… maybe it’s marketing? But still an amazing place for ads on your sites.
MediaVine.com: One of the upper-tiered places for ads. They pay decently higher than most places and are virtually hands off as the site owner. You give them a login, and they set everything up. Probably the best part of the process. You need 50k+ page views per month to get accepted, but once you are in, you can get other sites in at lower thresholds.
AdThrive.com: The other upper-echelon ad network, but requires at least 100k page views a month to be accepted. They are very similar to being hands off to implement their services. Once you get to at least 100k page views, it’s now worth testing to see if either of the upper-tiered networks is best for your audience.
Themes control what your site looks like and there are 10,000+ themes on the internet. So choosing one can be daunting. Here is a list of paid and free themes you can install today and not go wrong.
Popcorn Theme: Popcorn theme is made by affiliate marketers, by affiliate marketers. It’s fast and has beautiful “patterns” so you won’t need to get a Lasso or Affiliatable if you don’t want to.
Astra Pro: For a straight affiliate site, meaning little or no lead generation, I will usually go with Astra Pro. It is highly customizable, has a loaded free version, and STUPID fast. Core Web Vitals? No problem with Astra.
Thrive Themes: For sites that are more affiliate heavy and attempting to capture email addresses to grow and insulate an online business, Thrive Themes is my favorite. Some have negative things to say about them, but honestly, using it has been a god-send for my business and I don’t see myself giving it up for a while.
GeneratePress: Probably the fastest theme on this list. Not the most feature rich like Astra Pro, but it’s quick, affordable, good enough features, and makes a site easy to sell (don’t forget that part)
Kadence: I love Kadence. It’s just as fast as GeneratePress but pricier than Astra Pro. I will test it one of these days, but if you do, let me know how you make out.
Gutenberg Block Libraries
Ultimate Addons For Gutenberg: This is a great way to make your site look all amazing and stuff, but no need to be a coder. Page builders slow down your site, so in the past, you needed to choose, “beautiful and slow” or “plane-jane and fast”. Thankfully, UAG helps to bridge the gap.
LuckyWP TOC: Lightweight plugin that makes navigating your site easier. I even hear that it helps with SEO, so get one and improve your reader experience.
Page Speed Plugins
WPRocket: I have my own thoughts on using WPRocket and the main thing I think is that if you do everything else right (good hosting, image optimization, minifying, lazy load, etc…) you won’t need a plugin like WPRocket. But it fixes a lot of problems that many popular plugins that bloggers live by need to keep their site humming.
Autoptimize: A nice free version of a program that helps to make your theme load properly and fast. You will need to play with the settings to make sure it doesn’t change the look of your site, but take an evening to get them just right and your site will get 80+ scores in Google’s Page Speed Insights.
ShortPixel: My favorite (and cheap) image optimization plugin. The greatest thing about ShortPixel is that it helps convert your images to ‘next-gen formats’ that are so important for Google. You get 100 credits for free, but will burn them pretty fast. I suggest getting the pay-as-you-go and calling it a day.
48HoursLogo.com: I… love… this… service. It’s pricey, but you will have 100+ graphic designers fighting to make your perfect logo. The designers are very easy to work with and include the source files if you ever need to make changes.
Fiverr.com: Another great place to get things done fast for cheap. The logo designs can be a bit cookie-cutter, but it’s a great cheaper option to get the ball rolling with a site and not getting paralyzed with analysis.
Canva.com: I have never paid for Canva and don’t plan to. It does what it does very well and I use it a lot to make image headers.
Help A Reporter Out (HARO): A great way to get some crazy high authority backlinks, but you will pay in time. It doesn’t fit all niches, and it can be a time drain, but it’s worth it if you get a handful of links back to your homepage.
WhitePress: A great place to find paid guest post opportunities. Just be sure to vet the sites before getting links on there.
NOBS Marketplace: A very similar place to WhitePress, but with a whole batch of other websites.
Google AutoSuggest: Fast and Free. I use this for most of my research and have not done me wrong yet. The only thing I caution is to use common sense rather than blindly writing any article idea you find.
LowFruits.io: This has quickly become my favorite tool for finding and CLUSTERING low competition keywords. I use it exclusively for building topical maps.
KeywordChef: This tool was made for bloggers and Ben has done just that. He’s just like me and you and knows the in’s and out’s of running a SaaS that is truly helpful for bloggers. Did I mention that he does not even charge a monthly fee to use it? You must check it out.
Ahrefs: My go to for DEEP research on a website I am thinking of buying, competitive analysis, and just random keywords for the next month. They are pricey, but I sign up for a couple months a year and just use the heck out of it.
AnswerSocrates.com: Ever since AnswerthePublic.com started charging for their services, everyone flocked to AnswerSocrates and for good reason. It’s basically the same service and works well for finding keyword ideas.
These help you do your job faster and who doesn’t like that?
ProWritingAid: The unsung hero in writing at a fraction of the price of its competitors. I use this tool everyday all day. In fact, I’m typing in it right now. It corrects my grammar, gives helpful suggestions, makes me sound semi-educated and I love it.
Grammarly: Another great service that is a victim of being the biggest fish in the pond for their vertical. They work well with finding and suggesting better sentence structure, but are overpriced, in my opinion. The free version will probably do you just fine, so go with it.
Brain.fm: My productivity hack tool. They help with brainwaves to help you remain focused. When you work for yourself, that is super important, as distractions loom constantly.
Link Whisper: I recently started using this to help with internal linking on a couple of sites and wow, it works better than advertised. As a result, I saw my dwell time skyrocket and page views increased by a decent percentage. Careful not to take EVERY suggestion the tool makes, make sure it makes sense for the reader.
EasyBib.com: The best plagiarism checker on the internet. Pay a flat fee and get unlimited checks. This is the tool of choice when vetting websites before purchase to make sure the original owner wasn’t performing any funny business.
Google Docs: It works, and it’s free cloud storage. Meaning my laptop could fall from a plane tomorrow and it would still save all my work.
Google Sheets: Pretty much the same as Google Docs but it’s excel. I run 90% of my business with Google Sheets.
Loom: A must have when you hire people remotely. It’s a great way to record quick videos that explain what you want done that can be done in a jiffy.
Publer.io: An excellent tool to automatically post in FB groups and Instagram. It became unnecessary after FB themselves started allowing the scheduling of posts, too. There are still some features that Publer offers that FB doesn’t (at least at the moment) but a good option for some automation.
Tailwind: The best tool for posting on Pinterest. I have a love hate relationship with Pinterest that sides mostly with hate. But open to be proven otherwise.
Page Builders (Opt-In Forms, too)
Thrive Themes: As the 2nd mention on this list, outside of the themes, the page builder is pretty exceptional, too. I built this page with Thrive Architect. Easy to use and the support is fantastic.
Elementor: Works flawlessly Astra Pro for more options to make your site look professional. There is a learning curve like with any page builder (and it will slow down your site), but it depends the purpose of your site.
ClickFunnels: Pretty much the standard in funnel builders. You can build an entire multi-million dollar business using this service. I use them for sales pages and such and not changing that anytime soon.
Pexels: A number one source for free copyright free images.
Adobe Stock: When you are producing content at scale, a central location for getting images is helpful and Adobe Stock is that. However, it’s expensive. So try your best to use personal images, anyways. They go further and look more authentic for niche sites.
DepositPhotos: Pretty common around these parts. Look for Appsumo deals when they are selling for super cheap and just load up!
Shutterstock: Another place to get copyright free images and is a little more cost effective.
Thirsty Affiliates: Affiliate links are ugly. But this plugin helps with making them look pretty as well as keeping them organized.
Pretty Links: Did I mention that affiliate links are ugly? Well, this plugin is my top recommendation for prettying them up. It helps so much when using them because it’s easy to use a pretty link and if something changes in the future, simply changing the redirect and not having to edit the entire site, which is a headache, always. BTW, stick with the free version.
Affiliatable: My favorite way to build tables when you have links outside of Amazon (which I often do). They look beautiful and is cheaper than Lasso. So if you are on a budget, this is your go-to.
Lasso: This is very similar to Affiliatable, but on steroids (It’s pricier, too). But for what it does, I think it’s worth it. They even help you keep up with all of your affiliate programs and will scan your site for opportunities.
ConvertKit: ConvertKit is my 100% go to email auto-responder. It has everything you will need to run an effective marketing campaign using email. You probably won’t need to go anywhere else after use them.
AWeber.com: My very first email auto-responder. They are still a great service I recommend, but when I left, it was because they were slightly behind in the times with automations and workflows. They have caught up a bit since I left but since then fell in love with Active Campaign.
MailChimp: Very beginner friendly service that is free for the first 500 or so subscribers. So definitely a great option when on a budget.
OnlineJobs.ph: Simply an amazing place to find VAs. If you are not opposed to hiring overseas, then this is the place for you. Ninja hack: only buy the service for the month you need it to find the VA and then save your money and cancel until you need it again.
None: Ok, hear me out. You do not need a SEO plugin. I tested a site about 4 years ago without one and Google found it just fine.
RankMath: With that said, I still use RankMath. Call me old school, but I still like adding meta-descriptions and having an easy place to put Google Search Console and Google Analytics code.
The SEO Framework: I have used to use this service, but I hear from a TON of bloggers that it’s the most lightweight plugin out there that won’t slow down your site. That is always a plus.
Motion Invest: My favorite way to find vetted sites to purchase or sell. The process is smooth. If anything is a complaint, publishers have built most sites and already maxed out the earning potential in a site, so there are fewer “easy win’s” with most of the sites listed. Just sites that the owners lost interest.
Flippa: The best and worst place to find businesses to purchase. The best because it’s widely known and even passionate novice bloggers know about them (the eBay of websites), so you will find some magnificent diamonds in the rough there. But also the worst place because if you do not know how to do proper due diligence when vetting a site, you are just giving away your investment.
TheWebsiteFlip.com: My number one place for learning how to research the process of buying and selling businesses online. Mushfiq Sarkar is a master at his craft.
OneBlogAway.co: This is my premium community which also houses my flagship blogging course for beginners, Blog Builder Pro! You can get direct help from me and other experienced bloggers. I even give away a free site audit just for joining, so go check it out.
Authority Hackers: This is a course I have learned a lot from and totally recommend it. It will be an investment, but it’s an investment well worth it. You learn everything from building your blog to getting links, to making a ton of money.
FatStacksBlog.com: This course is run by Jon Dystra. It’s a little “all over the place” in terms of structure, but the content is gold. I learned a lot about scaling content production from Jon’s courses and think you should try it, too.