If you just gave me a Free WordPress Blog and said go and change the world I’d surely believe it was possible until just a few months down the track when I’d suddenly realise I’ve been wasting my time. You see there is nothing like deafening silence to clarify one’s thoughts.
I’m sure as bloggers we all eventually have an epiphany at some stage in our journey and this helps to narrow our path and focus the resolve to make our blogging successful. And while this enlightenment may take years for some, others search for answers from Day 1 and often seek the guidance from the people just ahead of them.
Fortunately, I took the road less traveled and spent plenty of time learning from the mistakes of others, before I began my own blogging journey. I truly believe these learning have helped me overtake others on the same path and to get closer to those who started out before me. But what was my most important learning?
Get the right tools for the job.
Yes, there are tools and technologies I use every day that make my life easier and somewhat more productive. The following is a list of my blogging tools that I use on a daily basis.
(Affordable Web Hosting)
This is my chosen web hosting company and I’ve used them for over 10 years now because they are cheap and reliable. If you are going to spend considerable amounts of time on the web you’ll need a flexible host like this that not only allows you to move towards your primary objective but is also flexible enough to scratch a few other itches (or should I say niches) along the way.
My Bluehost account allows me to host my blog, setup email and backups and also lets me duplicate that setup every time I need to scratch another itch. Of course, the one-click installations also speeds up the build times for a new blog which saves me heaps of time.
(Free Blogging Software)
Once I had the hosting company sorted I needed to choose a blogging platform and although there’s actually a lot to choose from, WordPress was the standout platform to use.
Over a million websites can’t be wrong can they?
I liked the open source nature of WordPress and the fact that you can get thousands of plugins (feature enhancements) for free.
(Professional WordPress Themes)
Initially, I started blogging with a free theme and then another and another. Each time finding my current theme just didn’t do that ‘one thing’ I needed it to do, so I decided it was time to fork out some money for a professional theme and it was the best decision I ever made. Because not only did a Professional Theme suit my current needs, it was also flexible enough to fulfil my future needs.
Once I purchased a yearly Themify Subscription I not only received free upgrades for the year I was also able to install these themes onto other WordPress Blogs I created, for no additional cost. Brilliant!
So that’s my basic blogging setup sorted but I also needed help with the actual running of the blogs.
(Free Grammar and Spelling Checker)
It’s time for me to fess up, I wasn’t a writer and my spelling and grammar was horrid when I first started blogging. Often I spent more time fixing up my writing than I spent actually writing it. Well, that was until I discovered Grammarly.
You see the default spell checker in Chrome was more trouble than it’s worth and never helped me with my grammar anyway. Sure I could have purchased some expensive software like Microsoft Word, but I was trying to do this blogging thing on a budget and Microsoft Word isn’t cheap.
Knowing I needed help, I searched and found Grammarly, which is a free Spelling and Grammar checker that works right inside your browser, and not only helps you with your blog but works everywhere you are online. Grammarly also helps me when I writing stuff on social media and stops me from embarrassing myself. Well at least sometimes.
Long Tail Pro
(Keyword Research Tool)
While we’re on the subject of writing, I soon discovered that the stuff I was writing wasn’t even relevant to the masses of people searching for things online. I wasn’t using the same language as them and certainly didn’t know how popular a particular topic was, and later discovered I was writing long blog posts for less that 100 people that might have been interested.
My Ah-ha moment came when I learnt about keyword research and then started writing about the topics that thousands of people were interested in. Initially, I used Google’s Keyword Tools until they changed the user interface and made it less useful. Then I discovered Long Tail Pro which used the data from a number of websites to give you meaningful keyword search information.
I use Long Tail Pro every day to help me to find focus and the language I should be using when writing my Blog Posts.
(Graphics Design Tool)
Now what’s a good blog post without a good picture? I started using images from various royalty free websites but formatting them was a real pain without the use of expensive software like Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator and no I didn’t want to blow my monthly budget on one piece of software, so I started searching for other opportunities.
When I found Canva I was amazed at how good this product was for something that was completely free. Canva is a graphic design tool made for people that don’t have skills in this area. It’s totally drag and drop and has pre-designed templates you can use to create something that looks like a professional made it.
I use Canva every day and are waiting for them to realise they could totally charge me for this product and I’d still use it. But let’s not give them any ideas shall we.
Now You’ll find most of these tools are listed on my Resources page, but I thought I’d explain in more detail why these tools are so useful to me on a daily basis. In fact, if you are just starting a blog and sign up or just purchased these basic tools then I’d say you’d have the basic toolkit you’d need to get a long way in your blogging journey before needing to research anymore.
There are a few other tools I use but these are absolutely the ones I’m using every time I’m blogging online. And now when someone asks me to list a few tools I use as a blogger, I can always send them to this post. 😉
I hope you found this post useful and will share with your friends if it’s relevant. But before I go, what’s one tool you can’t live without in your blogging toolkit?