As the saying goes, ‘you have to speculate to accumulate’ and this couldn’t be truer for online businesses. We can’t afford to ignore timesavers, skill builders and useful support tools, but they do require some investment.
However not every product or service is going to offer value and we’ve certainly wasted a pretty penny on a few things over the years.
Whether you are looking at the best blogger tools for beginners, or software and services to take your business to another level, here’s our guide to the blogging tools that make running our food, travel and SEO websites easier.
Top Blogging Tools For All Levels
SEO Software and Keyword Research Tools
Search engine optimization (SEO) success is not possible without a keyword research tool.
Before you write anything you need to ensure that people are actually searching for that content.
Keysearch is an affordable keyword research planner which both Laura and I have used since 2016.
For under $20 per month, you can search for longtail keywords, assess the competition and track your ranking positions.
In comparison to other keyword research tools such as SEMrush and Ahrefs which are $100 per month, Keysearch is a solid investment worth every penny.
Enjoy 20% off with our coupon, just quote MTH20 at checkout here.
If you’ve not invested in a keyword tool yet, do so now – it is one of the blogging essentials if you plan to increase your traffic through (SEO).
Learn how to use Keysearch in our free guide.
If you are just getting started with SEO, here’s our free guide.
Google Analytics, G4, and Google Search Console
Google Analytics, G4, and Google Search Console (GSC) are free tools that allow you to see which posts are being viewed by readers, where the readers are viewing from (geography, device, etc), how long they spend on a page, and where they go next on the website.
This is essential for working on user experience (UX) and analyzing what posts are bringing in traffic.
Speed + Wordpress Courses and Services
Site speed is essential to ensure that your posts are loading fast which then improves the user experience (UX).
I personally use Alison Donneallan’s services for all my tech-related issues.
Domains and Website Hosts
If you are just about to start a site, are looking at options for a second site or investigating options before you renew, here are recommendations depending on your stage of development.
We use Namecheap for our blog domains.
It is easy to use and offers a search function for multiple options such as .com, .org and .co.uk.
We recommend that you purchase all of them to reduce the threat from the competition.
Never buy a domain that already has an active site or established social media/YouTube presence.
It’s not worth the fight for marketing space.
Even though hosts always offer domain purchase deals, it is wise to keep your domain separate from your host so there are no horror stories if/when you part ways.
I use Cloudways for hosting for all of my sites.
I’m on the DigitalOcean hosting package which is a form of Cloud hosting.
This is a type of web hosting which uses multiple different servers to balance the load and maximise uptime.
Instead of using a single server, your website can tap into a “cluster” that uses resources from a centralised pool.
To reach customer service you create a ticket in your dashboard.
Replies are usually within a couple of hours.
A2 has a great track record and they offer quick and efficient customer support.
Laura’s been using their VPS Hosting service for years for all of her websites and hasn’t had any problems.
Websites Theme + Plugins
We both use the Flatsome theme to build our websites.
It is an easy to use theme with page builder which does not bloat as much as others (good for speed), is very flexible, has a ton of free YouTube lessons and a free Facebook group.
Easy Social Share Buttons
Easy Social Share Buttons is a lightweight social share plugin which allows readers to save to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, WhatsApp etc and also pulls pins from your post.
You can purchase the plugin through Envato Market.
WP Rocket is a speed optimisation plugin for WordPress helping you implement a variety of speed-boosting features to your WordPress site.
ThirstyAffiliates gives bloggers the tools they need to monetise their WordPress website with affiliate marketing.
The plugin creates neat affiliate links, replacing ugly and spammy chains.
It also tracks when readers click on links and there is a tool to add frequent links so you don’t have to repeat the same work.
*Cannot be used with Amazon*
Laura uses ThirstyAffiliates on her sites.
ShortPixel is an image optimisation and compression API and WordPress plugin that helps improve your website performance.
Laura uses ShortPixel on her sites.
WP Recipe Maker Pro
WP Recipe Maker Pro by Bootstrapped Ventures is an intuitive recipe plugin that takes your cooking to the next level.
Takes care of all the SEO metadata for Google Rich Snippets automatically.
Laura uses WP Recipe Maker Pro on her food sites.
WP Tasty Pins helps you optimize your food images for SEO, Pinterest, and screen readers.
It adds extra fields to an image upload where you can place the title and description for Pinterest, and adds fields at the bottom of a post for adding extra hidden Pinterest images.
Laura uses Tasty Pins on her food sites.
Depositphotos offers stock images, vectors and videos which vary in quality but are cheaper than Shutterstock packages.
I also love that you are not restrained by time like the Shutterstock monthly packages.
Just buy a pack, then pick and choose when you need an image within a year.
***Unselect ‘autorenewal’ at payment screen***
Business Related Sites
Fiverr it is one of the biggest online marketplaces for freelance services.
We’ve done everything from hiring writers to email signature creation purchases through Fivver.
If you deal with a variety of currencies, Wise (previously known as TransferWise) is a better option for sending, receiving, converting and transferring currency than PayPal since fees are less.
I use it for all my international payments such as ad income, affiliates and paying my VAs.
Sign up here using our referral link for a fee-free transfer.
ShareASale allows you to sign up for affiliates through their third party affiliate program.
Once you join, you can sign up for appropriate affiliate merchants, create links, and add to your relevant posts to start making income through affiliate marketing where readers buy products and services that you recommend.
There more about affiliate marketing in our guide.
No business can survive without products to help it grow. No blogger can survive without some support. You have to speculate to accumulate, believe us because we do.
Did you find this useful? Tell us in the comments!
About the Authors
Gemma is the owner of a number of travel and lifestyle websites including Two Scots Abroad Travel Guides. Laura runs a portfolio of travel, food, and lifestyle sites. They both love to travel, drink wine, and increase their website traffic through SEO!