I’ve been blogging for a VERY long time. I started blogging in May of 2007, so in blogging years, I’m practically an antique! Over the years, I’ve learned a LOT and one of the best things I’ve learned is which are the tools worth paying for and which are garbage.
Over the years, I’ve tried various hosts, various platforms, and MANY, MANY tools. The nice thing is that I’ve been through the good ones and the bad ones, so I can definitely steer you in the best direction. Trust me – I ONLY recommend the tools that I personally USE and LOVE! In my experience, these are the BEST blogging tools to make money in your blog or business.
Here is my best list of the blogging tools worth paying for
Price – Starts at $15/month, but varies depending on the options you select.
Tailwind HAS to be first on my list. Obviously Pinterest wasn’t even on the horizon when I started, but it’s definitely the 800 lb. gorilla in the room these days and Tailwind is definitely the gold standard for schedulers and one of the best tools for blogging that I’ve used – on a daily basis for 8ish years….
I’ve had a very beneficial relationship with Tailwind over the past several years. They’ve not only been helpful in scheduling hundreds of thousands of pins for myself and my clients, but they’ve also managed my analytics, and my Tribes. I also use it for my Instagram scheduling, such as it is. They’ve also given me hundreds of dollars in $15 commissions for referring people to their services – see my post on How I get my Tailwind for FREE. See why they’re my favorite?
Disclaimer: As with any tool, your mileage may vary. Here are some stats to show you the results of typical users with this tool. I think that’s true of anything. I’ve seen people get AMAZING results with tools or strategies that I can’t always duplicate.
2. SiteGround Hosting
Pricing: Plans Starting at $3.95 per month (that’s less than a cup of coffee per month!)
My #2 recommendation would be my SiteGround hosting plan. I recently moved from an off-brand host you’ve probably never heard of – WebHostingHub. They were not only WAAAY more expensive, they were AWFUL. My site was SLOW, customer service was sketchy, I had to pay for lots of things that SiteGround offers for FREE (backups, SSL, virus scans, for example).
So it was basically costing me an extra $300ish a year to be with that crappy host. Moving to SiteGround was like a breath of fresh air! I can get a chat with a live person to help me literally within about 90 seconds and that is ANY time night or day! They set up my SSL for FREE in less than 15 minutes. That other host – it took like 2 weeks and cost me nearly $200 bucks.
The point is, do you your homework before you select your host. It’s a critical choice. I just went with that bad host because that’s what the lady who set up my site recommended, but then I stayed with them for like 3 years – duh!
Here’s a post all about SiteGround that gives you more details. If you are looking at changing hosts, consider SiteGround, and please be sure to use someone’s link or affiliate code. It will give YOU a better deal, and it generates a nice bonus for the person recommending it. It’s just good karma! Here’s mine – https://www.siteground.com/go/helpfornewbloggers
Pricing – $9 to $49
I LOVE SendOwl. I’ve used them for more years than I can remember and they are SO easy to set up and use. When you sell Ebooks and other digital products, you need a service to handle your online payments and deliveries. I had originally used an inferior service called E-Junkie, don’t know if it’s even still around. It was cheap – just $5 a month, but it was BAD. It was so unprofessional looking, I think it was scaring off my potential customers. I only had a handful of sales for nearly a year because of a massive cart abandon issue. I actually feel pretty dumb that it took me almost a year to figure it out.
The switch to SendOwl was dramatic. It was not only hugely easier to set up and use, but my sales QUADRUPLED. I’ve also been able to easily set up affiliates to increase my sales. If you sell digital products, SendOwl is definitely a great choice! They also have really nice customer service.
Prices – FREE to $100ish per month (for LOTS of subscribers)
I’ve had a pretty bumpy ride with Email services. Talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly! I’m not usually indecisive, but I struggled with this one. I started with Active Campaign, but HATED it! It was really complicated and inflexible and seemed like it was made for professional marketers rather than little bloggers like me.
I do use Mailchimp’s free service for a charity site that I work with. It’s not bad at all, especially for someone just starting out, but it didn’t really have enough horsepower for my taste. I used AWeber for a client – and REALLY hated it, so that’s three for three.
I looked at GetResponse and ConvertKit (you should hear cash register sounds if I had a soundtrack!). They definitely have all the bells and whistles, but at a Cadillac price. Even with a fairly low amount of subscribers I was in the $50/month range!
Bingo!!! I switched to them – which took me hours and hours (because Active Campaign was such a pain to export my users and automation Emails). But I am SO much happier! They are not only waaaaay cheaper – they were free until I got my whole list moved over. My numbers are still low, so it will be about $10 a month until I grow to the next level.
They also have beautiful Email templates, easy-to-use subscriber management, very responsive customer service, and a terrific dashboard where I can see exactly how things are doing. They also have list segmentation, automations or drip emails (even on the free plan!) and landing pages, which I need to start using. Love it!
MailerLite is the bomb! Seriously, go try them out for free. If you use my code, you get $15 worth of FREE service with them and so do I. How’s that for nice? Here is my code – https://www.mailerlite.com/invite/962f550db27a5
I will even set up your MailerLite system for you – popups, Email templates, delivering your freebie item, the whole deal. See my HIRE ME page.
Pricing: Various prices
Do you like the look of my site? I’m loving it! And it was surprisingly EASY to set up. This is the Isabelle Theme that I purchased from a company called Bluchic. Even though I’ve been using WordPress for years, I’d never set up a new theme and I’ve been terrified to try it.
But this was super quick and easy (a huge PLUS in my book!). They had simple step-by-step instructions with little 2-3 minute videos to show you exactly how to set it up, customize the colors, set up your menus, hook up your social media, the whole enchilada! Yet another happy ending in the blogging world. Click THIS LINK for to see Isabelle in action with a brief demo.
I also have a service where I will set up your blog/website from scratch, mostly for free. See my HIRE ME page for details.
Bluchic definitely gets my recommendation for beautiful products that are very easy to use. A good theme is like the engine of your car – that makes it one of the best tools for blogging in my opinion.
Pricing – $9 bucks a month per site or there are annual plans available.
I’ve just discovered a new tool called MiloTree. It’s a terrific option to be able to trigger your readers to Follow you on your various social media platforms. It’s very easy to set up, takes like 2 minutes and it automatically shows a different platform each time a reader comes to your site. Check out my POST on it. If you sign up with my link – https://milotree.com?rfsn=1564061.78375b I’ll even install it for you.
Price: $19/month up to $149/month
Video is king on every platform. Users view more than 500 million hours of video every day. Yet, making custom videos is time-consuming and can be expensive. That’s why Lumen5 is so awesome! All you do is put in the URL of your post and it creates a little custom video for you in just seconds using snippets and images from your post. Then you can customize it as needed – add in some free stock images from their huge library, change the text around, add music, whatever you want to create an awesome video. It’s brilliant!
Here’s a quick little video I made from one of my posts just to give you a sample of how easy Lumen5 is to use. It took me about 10 minutes to create this video from my post – You Should Probably Be Using this little known Tailwind Feature.
And then you can easily share your videos on the social media platform of your choice. It’s really fun to use and the videos are just top quality. If you are like me – interested in creating video content, yet unwilling to get your FACE on camera and invest in a ton of equipment, Lumen5 is just the tool you need.
Price – $4.95/month
This isn’t specifically a blogger tool, but staying on top of your Email is a critical part of being a blogger. And honestly, most of us SUCK at it. I’ll see posts on Facebook about people bragging about having 10,000 or even 20,000 unread Emails. That’s just dumb and not efficient. Email is a super important tool to treat so carelessly – definitely not good in a business-owner.
You need to keep track of comments, social media posts, sponsored campaigns, and collaborations with other bloggers. And people get MAD when they think you are ignoring your Emails. Don’t get MAD, get Mailstrom and get it under control!
Goodness! Are we seeing a pattern here of me trying the free or cheap tool and then switching to a paid tool for better results? I started with just regular Gmail, tried a free service called Unroll.me for about a year – it was good, but not great. Then I switched to Mailstrom and it’s really brilliant!
Here are my two favorite ways to use it. I love the “expire” feature. If I don’t read newsletters or other information-type Emails in a few days, I’m not gonna. So I can set them individually by user to simply disappear from my Inbox after a set number of days. They all appear in an Expire folder, so I can rescue them if needed, but it’s SO helpful.
The other way I use it is to gather up Emails by type. I can grab 10 different threads from my son’s Scout Troop and pop them into a folder in 3 seconds. Or find all my Facebook or Pinterest notifications for a month and delete them all in one pop. This is the first time I’ve ever felt so in control of my inbox.
Pricing – $37
Couldn’t have a list like this without having my own products on it. I’ve just recently updated my Pinterest Strategy Planner with new tracking seets, new strategies and even more helpful Pinterest strategies.
I share all my BEST Pinterest tips – how to get Followers, how to manage your Pinterest SEO, how to set up your boards, and how to use make wonderful pins that will really catch people’s eyes. This is great because it has a bunch of checklists for you to work totally at your own pace and really plan your strategy instead of just throwing spaghetti at the wall.
Pinterest seems simple, but it’s sort of like chess. There are moves within moves and arcane strategies. It can be really complicated to do it properly and there are multiple ways to use it. I’ve worked with over 100 different clients so I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. (REALLY ugly in some cases.) And I love to give advice, so this is perfect for me. I actually put a lot of time into these sessions – I review your competitors, look at your analytics, tell you what you’re doing wrong or right. At the end, you end up with a BIG list of changes you can make to improve your account.
CLICK HERE to order your Pinterest Strategy Session. I will come back with a checklist of items to fix and we’ll have a Zoom call to walk you through them and answer all your questions.
BONUS: I have one more possible option – if you want to make the changes, but don’t have the time, energy, or technical know-how, you can hire me as a VA (Virtual Assistant) to make the changes for you, and even do your weekly pinning schedule for you. You can just get on with your business and leave the driving to me! Check out my HIRE ME page for details.
So, I hope that helps you make some of these critical choices. I would LOVE it if you would Pin this Post or share it to Facebook. Go ahead – use my sharing buttons below.