I’ve been blogging in one form or other since 2012 and over time I’ve honed my list of go-to blogging tools and services I need to run a blog successfully.
In line with the thinking behind Less & Live More, I am a big believer in less being more when it comes to a finely tuned toolkit for running a blog.
I have used SiteGround for my self-hosted WordPress blogs for the last four years. Siteground has really competitive pricing, but it’s important to not base your choice of hosting company and package on price alone.
There are many pitfalls with choosing a poor hosting company, you will potentially find things like site speed and site security lacking.
I have always found SiteGround to be a reliable, secure and speedy hosting option. Plus SiteGround customer support really stands out for me as being fantastic. It is pretty much available 24/7 by Chat, which is super important. That means there is no hanging around with your stomach in knots when you need help. This is invaluable when you first start blogging – and actually I still find it invaluable today.
Most importantly, SiteGround will hand-hold you through the setup process from start to finish.
EMAIL MARKETING: MAILERLITE
I have tried several email marketing platforms over the years, MailChimp, ConvertKit and MailerLite. I have been using MailerLite for the last two years and I don’t see myself moving away from them anytime soon.
MailerLite is super simple to set up and use, the company is adding more features all the time and best of all, it’s free for your first 1000 subscribers and then still beats MailChimp and ConvertKit on price once you’ve got past that first 1000.
PINTEREST MANAGEMENT: TAILWIND
Whilst there is a lot to be said for spending time on Pinterest to understand the platform and its ever-changing ways, there is also a lot to be said for automating your pinning campaign. As far as I am concerned, Tailwind is the ONLY Pinterest scheduler to use for running a Pinterest strategy that is easy to manage and easy to analyse. I make use of regular scheduling, the loop scheduler and Tailwind Tribes.
You can try all the Tailwind features for free with scheduling for up to 100 pins per month on Pinterest and 30 posts per month on Instagram, there’s no time limit on the trial and you don’t even need to give your credit card details.
PINTEREST ON-SITE MANAGEMENT: WP TASTY PINS
Anything that makes the process of creating pins, scheduling them and managing them easier is a winning tool as far as I’m concerned. WP Tasty Pins is a plugin for WordPress sites that makes it easy to set Pinterest descriptions for every pin, to optimise the pin for alt text, to hide pin images and force pinning of hidden images, to disable images you don’t want people to pin and the plugin is optimised for site speed. I’ve been using it for a year and I love the ease it brings to my on-site Pinterest activity.
IMAGE DESIGN: CANVA
I love CANVA, it makes it so easy to design and edit images for my sites. I mainly use it for my featured images and to design pins for Pinterest. I’ve also started using it for birthday invites, thank you cards and a whole bunch of other stuff since Canva launched it’s printing.
The Grammarly desktop app checks my written content as I write it and points out my spelling, grammar and punctuation errors. It also gives suggestions for improvement. I want my content to be well written and easy to read so that everyone who reads it can enjoy it, but also so that Google is happy that my content is top quality in every way possible.
PROJECT MANAGEMENT: TRELLO
I’d be lost without Trello. It’s a kanban style project management platform, a visual system that uses boards and cards. It is beyond super easy to use. Plus it’s totally free. There are power-ups, but I manage very well without using any of them.
BLOGGING EDUCATION: DARE TO CONQUER
I have taken several blogging or blogging related courses over the last couple of years. There are so many courses and so many ‘experts’ out there, it can be hard to wade through and work out which courses – and which experts – are actually worth engaging with.
The ONLY course that I will happily recommend at the moment is DARE TO CONQUER. In fact, it’s more than a course, it’s a community built around a course and the guy who created it, Paul Scrivens, is beyond hands-on when it comes to being present within the community and constantly updating and pushing the course forward as the blogging and online business landscapes to continues to change and evolve.
You can cherry-pick from various courses on SEO, content creation, Pinterest, affiliate marketing and more. Or you can buy the whole lot with lifetime membership.
I bought into Dare To Conquer when it first started, so the price I paid was a fraction of what the whole course costs now. However, lifetime access has meant that I’ve benefited from every iteration as Dare To Conquer has evolved.
I’d suggest perhaps buying one of the courses and seeing how you get on with Scrivs’ teaching style and the DTC community and then you can always decide to upgrade to lifetime membership for the whole of Dare To Conquer once you’re sure it’s for you.
AD MANAGEMENT: MEDIAVINE
I run adverts on my other site and the adverts are managed by Mediavine, who are absolutely second to none when it comes to the dedicated care and support they give publishers.
It can be easy to get carried away joining affiliate networks and affiliate programmes. My rule of thumb is to only work with affiliate programmes for products and brands that I have actually tried and have experienced as a customer. Some brands have their own affiliate networks, but here’s a list of the big affiliate networks that I am part of.