Online Blogging Tools That I Used To Start & Grow My Profitable Blog
There’s a lot of online marketers targeting the blogging community. From social media schedulers to cloud storage and hosting platforms, it can be difficult to weed out which tools your blog really needs and which tools are a waste of the investment. Some plug-in resources can even slow down your site and hurt its performance and growth! A lot can be learned by trial and error, but if you are just starting out or in the early stages of growing your blog it can be hard to determine where to invest your time and money.
When I first started my blog I invested as minimally as I possibly could. In fact, the only thing that I paid for was my site’s domain name and hosting. I was able to grow my blog a little bit without investing in any other resources, but it was slow and tedious growth. Over time I slowly added in the use of several tools that are now nearly essential for my blog to continue to provide me with income and grow. Using a few key tools to help the blog along was key to making it successful. It now earns for me consistently and passively!
When I started my second blog I invested in and utilized many essential tools FAR sooner. I learned the hard way that investing in a few is worth it if you want to build a high-quality blog that is positioned to grow and make money.
In this post, I’m going to share with you the 5 tools that I consider most essential to the maintenance and growth of my blogs. These are the tools and subscriptions that I invested in right away with my second blog (or utilized my existing account). For each tool, I’m going to share with you why I consider it essential for my blog to succeed and why I recommend using it as you start or are in the early stages of building your own blog.
(Note: This post contains affiliate links which means if you purchase through one of my links I make a commission on your purchase – at no additional expense to you! Read my full disclosure here.)
The 5 Core Tools That I Use To Maintain & Grow My Money-Making Blog
1. BigScoots or Siteground Web Hosting
Having a good host for your blog can make a BIG difference in your success! Your hosting provider and their storage capacity can greatly impact your site speed, which in turn can impact your ability to rank on Google or with other search engines. Additionally, having a host with excellent customer service is extremely important in the event that your site runs into any technical difficulties or is down for some reason.
I did not start my first blog with a hosting provider that I recommend, but after gaining a decent amount of traffic I transferred my hosting to BigScoots. BigScoots is a great hosting option for blogs that have established a significant amount of traffic. Their customer service is fantastic and my site speed increased notably with the transition to them. However, if you are just starting your blog or only have a small amount of traffic, I highly recommend Siteground for hosting.
Siteground has great customer service and is very affordable! I started my second blog on Siteground and will upgrade it to BigScoots when its traffic dictates a need to upgrade. Siteground is a great hosting provider to use for a new or smaller blog. Having good hosting is important for your blog to grow well and Siteground will get you started on a good foundation.
(Note: Whatever you do don’t start a blog that you want to make money with on a free hosting platform! Those platforms can make it really hard to monetize your content with ads or rank with search engines.)
2. Canva For Graphic Design
I don’t even know how I would have added any graphics to my site when I started it without the use of Canva! Canva is an online graphic design program that allows you to size and edit photos and create basic graphic designs like Pinterest pins, feature images for your blog posts, and more. It’s easy to use without having any graphic design training and stores all of your design files online so they don’t eat up your computer storage. In addition, you can access your Canva files from any device – including your smartphone!
It’s worth it to me to use the Pro version of Canva so that I can store color codes, have access to more stock images and graphics, and resize files while designing them. However, if you are just getting started with your blog you can use Canva for free. (It’s one of the best free blogging tools for beginners out there!)
3. Tailwind For Pinterest Scheduling
Pinterest is my number one source of traffic for my blogs. Without consistently pinning and keeping my Pinterest account active, my blog traffic (and therefore income) would suffer substantially.
When I started my first blog I was committed to growing my traffic through Pinterest without using Tailwind or any other paid scheduling program. However, when my Pinterest traffic began to gain steam I ended up signing up for a Tailwind account. It is just incredibly hard to live life and maintain a consistent pinning strategy without using some kind of scheduler for your content. I could not devote the time required every day to sit down and pin the necessary content at the necessary times to see my Pinterest traffic grow. Using Tailwind was a game-changer for me! I can now schedule out months of content in one week and let my Pinterest engagement function on autopilot.
When I started my second blog I immediately began paying for a Tailwind subscription to use with it! Keeping up with Pinterest promotion would have been incredibly hard without it, and is key for me to gain traffic to a new blog.
You can get started with a free trial of Tailwind here if you’ve never used it.
(Note: If you’re not using Pinterest to gain traffic to your blog you’re missing out on a GREAT traffic source! You can read more about my Pinterest strategy that gained me over 100,000 monthly views to my blog from the platform here.)
4. Deposit Photos For Stock Photography
Unless you are a talented photographer, stock photography is essential to making your blog and promotions look professional. While there are a lot of sites that offer free stock photography, I learned over time that using images from them can be a big legal liability for your site AND hurt your Pinterest traffic. (You never know how photos end up on a free site and whether it was legal and Pinterest has been suggested to favor the use of more unique photos in designs.)
I now use DepositPhotos for all of my blog images and promotional graphics. Even though my blogs are in two completely different niches, DepositPhotos has a huge variety of photos with plenty of options for each! I highly recommend using images from DepositPhotos.
If you’re not sure if they will have photos for your niche, you can browse their site to check out their selection here.
5. SEMrush For Keyword Research
I waited WAY too long to use a keyword research tool with my first blog. As a result, it took my blog a long time to grow any notable traffic from search engines. Therefore, when I started my second blog I used a subscription with SEMrush right away to do keyword research! If you want to grow your blog with a strong long-term foundation, you need to depend on more than Pinterest and social media traffic. You need to build your blog for search engine visibility.
SEMrush has a great keyword research tool that allows you to search for keywords and see their competition level and search volume. Their tool makes it easy to determine which words you want to use and target and helps you to create content that is positioned to rank on search engines.
If the expense of a good keyword research tool overwhelms you, I recommend investing in a subscription to SEMrush for a few months and pulling keyword information out of it to plan out future posts. (That’s what I did for both of my blogs – so I’ve been building posts with great keyword information for a year even though I only used the subscription for a few months!) If you want to build your blog well, SEMrush is well worth the investment.
You can learn more and sign up for an account with SEMrush here.
Although there are many other tools that I use, the above are the ones that have been most essential to the maintenance and growth of my blogs. I hope that they are helpful to you as you work toward your own goals!
If you are in the early stages of building your blog, be sure to also check out my most recommended learning resources for bloggers here. The learning resources that I outline in the post were pivotal to my growth – and I credit much of my ability to make consistent income from my blog to things I learned from them! If you are trying to grow a profitable blog, you don’t want to miss out on the valuable insight available in these ebooks and courses.