40 Tools That Help You Become a Better Blogger
Blogging is easy! Just write your stuff, post it on the web, and you are done. But there is an amazing amount of tools that go into preparing and displaying a single post. Sure, some people go to Blogspot or Medium. But for others here are the tools that we use in this blog, researching and writing. I hope this will serve as a handy checklist when setting up your new blog.
Select your hosting provider. I suggest one that is not the cheapest as cheap usually comes from poor service and technical instability. Host your blog on your own domain. This way you’ll be building an asset YOU own, not some service provider.
WordPress and Design
Of course, we use WordPress for blogging. It is an amazing tool, has tons of features, is easy to use, and you can find a plugin for almost every need you might have. Most hosting providers have a one-click WordPress install option.
Free WordPress Theme
Favicon by RealFaviconGenerator – You want to build your brand. Favicon plugin helps you get the site icons right on all devises and operating systems.
Speed of your WordPress
If you are expecting huge traffic – be prepared, so that you will survive traffic spikes when you are featured on the front page of Reddit or other top sites. CloudFlare protects and accelerates any website online. Your website’s traffic is routed through CloudFlare’s intelligent global network. It blocks threats and limits abusive bots and crawlers.
This is another speed improvement plugin. Your visitors will only load images that are on their screens. This improves load times for your users and reduces the traffic on your server.
99% of your visitors will be served static html files. Those users who don’t see the static files will still benefit because they will see different cached files that aren’t quite as efficient but still better than uncached. This plugin will help your server cope with a front page appearance on Reddit or other social networking site.
Super Simple Speed is a plugin that increases your WordPress page load speed and gives you a better performance score on the major speed testing services. WP Super Simple Speed is lightweight (less than 20kb in size), and has no clutter or unnecessary code or configs. Simple performance optimization without any hassle.
What WordPress Plugins to Use?
WordPress is great out of the box but you can make it even better! Here is the list of WordPress plugins I use in this site:
This is one of the most used SEO plugins in the world with more than 3 million active installs and 12+ thousand 5-star ratings. Yoast SEO is packed with features. Managa the search engine visibility of different type of content on your site. The tool creates a sitemap for you.
It analyzes the readability of your writing. (I have also added other writing and grammar tools at the bottom of this post).
And of course the page analysis tool that is easy to use to optimize your posts and pages. Important SEO information changes in real-time as you make improvements to your content.
Titles, metas, and other data you need to optimize to get your search engine results more attention.
Pretty much all you need to get search engines to love your blog. Make sure that you adjust the settings to match your needs. Create formulas for unique descriptions and titles for the tag and archive pages.
There are other SEO plugins for WordPress, most notably All in One SEO Pack, an out-of-the-box SEO for your WordPress blog.
You need a tool that lets people contact you. In it’s simplest form it just a contact form. But some tools let you add much more. Ninja Forms is the a free form plugin for WordPress. Build forms within minutes using a simple drag-and-drop form creator. For beginners, quickly and easily design complex forms with absolutely no code. For developers, utilize built-in hooks, filters, and even custom field templates to do whatever you need at any step in the form building or submission using Ninja Forms as a framework.
Intuitive user interface. no limitations on the number of forms, fields, emails, actions, or submissions. Give your users a success message or redirect them elsewhere after they complete a form. Several anti-spam options including Google reCaptcha, question/response fields, and honeypot fields.
Working with Content
Creates a copy of a post if you want to post a new item in a series of posts including all the tags and categories. This simplifies your life considerably when working with old content and series. There is also a template tag, so you can put it in your templates and clone your posts/pages from the front-end. Clicking on the link will lead you to the edit page for the new draft, just like the admin bar link.
When you work with old content you sometimes need to redirect outdated pages to new ones. This is the plugin that makes it really easy. No more messing around with .htaccess files. If you change post URLs, then this plugin creates an automatic redirect to the new address.
RSS feeds may seem like a thing of the past, but there are still people (thousands of them) who want to use it. RSS also helps to automate different aspects of promotion. RS FeedBurner is one of the easiest ways to implement your FeedBurner, FeedPress, or FeedBlitz feed on your WordPress site. It just works. This plugin redirects all requests for your native WordPress RSS feeds to your FeedBurner, FeedPress, or FeedBlitz feeds so you can track all your subscribers and maximize your blog/site readership and user engagement. This allows you to implement your favorite third-party RSS feed optimization service without having to touch or modify an .htaccess file. You can redirect both your main WordPress RSS feed and your comments feed if you like.
Getting visitors to read more pages on your site. Inline related posts plugin lets you insert call-to-action areas inside the posts. You can specify the rules how the related material is inserted and customize the design of the CTA block.
AMP adds support for the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project, which is an an open source initiative that aims to provide mobile optimized content that can load instantly everywhere. With the plugin active, all posts on your site will have dynamically generated AMP-compatible versions, accessible by appending /amp/ to the end your post URLs.
Google Analytics is a tool that I use every day to find out what people like, where they come from and what actions do they take on our site.
A scroll triggered box for easy call-to-action or a newsletter sign-up form. This is the newsletter signup box you see in the bottom right corner of our site when you scroll past 20% mark.
Automatically adds alt and title attributes to all your images. Improves traffic from search results and makes them W3C/xHTML valid as well. Image optimization for SEO is something people often forget to do. Add this plugin, and it fixes the obvious issues.
A free Social Media Plugin, professional and highly customizable ecosystem for social media sharing and optimizing of your valuable content. MashShare is using NO external script dependencies. All code is loaded directly from your website and MashShare ensures yours and your visitors privacy!
A Wordpress plugin that enables commenters to sign up for e-mail notification of subsequent entries. The plugin includes a subscription manager that your commenters can use to unsubscribe to certain posts, block all notifications, or even change their notification e-mail address!
WordPress Security and Backup
There are people looking to use your site for their own ends. Make sure that getting into your site would be difficult for them. There are many security plugins, and this is one that lets you make your site more secure and avoid casual hackers getting in. Sucuri Security includes auditing, malware scanner and hardening.
UpdraftPlus simplifies backups and restoration. Backup into the cloud (Amazon S3 (or compatible), Dropbox, Google Drive, Rackspace Cloud, DreamObjects, FTP, Openstack Swift, UpdraftPlus Vault and email). Restore with a single click. The paid version also backs up to Microsoft OneDrive, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Storage, SFTP, SCP, and WebDAV. It is the highest-ranking backup plugin on wordpress.org, with over a million currently active installs. Widely tested and reliable, this is the world’s #1 most popular and mostly highly rated scheduled backup plugin.
Keep an audit log of everything that happens on your WordPress and WordPress multisite with WP Security Audit Log to ensure user productivity and identify WordPress security issues before they become a security problem.
Akismet checks your comments and contact form submissions against our global database of spam to prevent your site from publishing malicious content. You can review the comment spam it catches on your blog’s “Comments” admin screen.
If you are a WordPress site owner then you are definitely aware that everyday more than 20-30 SPAM comments are posting in your site’s different posts. And if you do not delete these spam comments then database size going heavy day after day. To remove unnecessary spam comments you have to go to comments listing and delete all the spam comments. Here’s a plugin which will do this for you.
Start collecting your opt-in email list right now! We use GetResponse to communicate with our readers. When you sign up for our newsletter you will receive welcoming emails with links to our best posts and then you will be moved to a regular mailinglist where you get a few emails per month.
Add a Follow button and ask people to follow you on Twitter.
Use this tool to track your feed readers.
Medium lets you publish posts automatically to a Medium profile.
Writing, Readability, and Grammar
MS Word or OpenOffice.org
I suggest you write your posts in an external editor. I feel that this helps me to avoid disasters like losing the content due to browser crashes and other calamities. Always use spell checker even if you are a better writer than me. SAVE after every sentence. If you need to display graphs and charts, create them with office suite and then edit with image tools.
In some cases, I have started using Google Docs as it saves automatically and enables sharing with other writers. I save post topics and blogging calendar in Google Spreadsheet. You can use Google Spreadsheet for research when you need to create simple surveys.
Grammarly scans your text for proper use of more than 400 advanced grammar rules, spanning everything from subject-verb agreement to article use to modifier placement. Correctly spelled words used in the wrong context mean embarrassing mistakes for you. Grammarly spots erroneous use of lose/loose, affect/effect, lie/lay, there/their/they’re, and many other commonly confused words.
This online editing tool remains very popular among writers and bloggers for its convenient text editing system. It highlights sentences and phrases that are too complex, suggests eliminating excessive adverbs and turning passive voice constructions into active voice. Furthermore, the tool has document style settings and even shows a text’s readability score. It has a counter showing a total number of words, characters, paragraphs, and sentences so you can tweak a text’s structure if it lacks readability. The editor’s standalone version is available for PC and Mac. Once you finish editing, you can export a file in a markdown or .html format.
Images for Blogging
Every post needs an image. Make it colorful, shocking, interesting, but most importantly make sure it’s about your subject matter. People ignore stock images. Whenever possible select or create images so that they expand the story. I always add image credit at the bottom of the post with a link to the original image source.
Free images for blogs are important as the owners don’t usually make a lot of income from their sites. Marketers working for businesses also need free images to lower production costs. I have collected a bunch of sites that give you exactly that… free images for commercial use.
Sometimes you need to change a picture. For simple resizing and image manipulation I use IrfanView. I think it’s one of the best small image applications on PC. It opens almost anything, plays videos and more. Press F12 and a annotation toolbox jumps out so you can draw on the sceenshot to point out elements on the image.
If you need more robust editing tools then the free option is Gimp. With Gimp you can create your own images or modify existing ones.
For simple flow charts and line drawings I use OpenOffice Draw.
This post serves, as a reminder to myself but I hope you get some value out of it. If there is a tool that I haven’t mentioned but you find really useful? Post it in the comments.
Some other blogging related posts:
- 22 Blogging Tips That Will Get You More Visitors
- 20 Steps to Write a Blog Post
- 35 Content Writing Tools to Take You from Good to Great
- How to Get Your Blog to 30,000+ Visits per Month
Photo via VisualHunt.com
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