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 Courses
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.
Read about Keysearch’s features in our guide. 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.
Make Traffic Happen Video Course and Ebooks
Our businesses would not be where they are today without implementing our SEO strategy.
Whether you choose the ‘over the shoulder’ video course or ebook is entirely down to the way you like to learn.
If your site has lots of content and you are comfortable with our SEO strategy then Revive Old Content is for you.
In this ebook, we talk you through how to prioritise which content to optimise, where to find the data, how to read the data, and there is a spreadsheet included for you to record and track.
Matt and his team at Travel Tractions offer services to optimize your old posts as well as other SEO related work. They also write SEO content for travel websites.
Pinterest Products and Services
Pinterest is used by over 3 million people worldwide and is our second biggest traffic referrer for our main sites.
For the first few years of blogging, we implemented our own Pinterest strategy and managed our own accounts personally. To save time, we now outsource this job and pay for the premium pinning schedule tool, Tailwind.
Tailwind allows you to load pins and schedule them at the most appropriate times.
Sign up for free here and you will get a 30% discount when you upgrade.
What happens if I have signed up for a free version of Tailwind already? That’s okay, you can still use our discount link as long as you haven’t previously upgraded.
Virtual Assistant and Pinterest Strategy Services
Unfortunately, Pinterest is not just about pinning mindlessly. There is strategy behind each niche. So we employ specialists to forecast changes and advise us of best practice each month.
Please mention the code PINMTH to let them know we referred you.
WP Tasty Pins helps you optimise your 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.
Speed + WordPress Courses and Services
Site speed is essential to ensure that your posts are loading fast which then improves the user experience (UX).
We have two options related to speed optimisation.
Take charge and do it yourself following our step by step guide, Speed Optimization The Easy Way.
Or, pass the task to someone else.
I have personally used Allison Donneallan’s services. I use her 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 own blogs and also for Make Traffic Happen.
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. 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.
Another great option for web hosting. A2 has a great track record and they offer quick and efficient customer support.
Laura’s been using their VPS Hosting service for a couple of years and hasn’t had any problems.
We don’t believe all the bad press out there about Bluehost.
Why? Because we both used Bluehost for the first 1.5 years of blogging. We only moved because our blogs grew and we needed a different solution.
They offer cheap and reliable service and they have customer service chat that is helpful for solving any issues.
I’m not sure what else you can expect for under $5 per month.
Have a second site on the horizon? This could be worth investing in.
Siteground is another popular option for new sites. It is affordable and offers 24/7 chat customer service.
Both Bluehost and SiteGround use shared hosting which means hundreds or even thousands of websites share a single server.
This keeps costs down but can impact on site speed and site downtime. You have to weigh up affordability and service.
If you’re thinking about creating a course, you’ll need a platform to host that course.
We use Teachable for our SEO the Easy Way course and find it extremely easy to use and flexible enough to build a course how you want it to be.
You don’t have to use video by the way, you can build a text course using the same module structure as our video course.
Teachable offers the functionality to add affiliates which is a great incentive for businesses.
Websites Theme + Plugins
We use Flatsome theme for Make Traffic Happen and every new site that’s been built since then (2017).
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.
Purchase 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.
We recommend this plugin and show you how to use it in our ebook, Speed Optimization The Easy Way.
Amazon Affiliate for WordPress is the best plugin to advertise Amazon products and earn commissions by using product boxes and Amazon bestseller lists.
We use it for creating tables which show ratings, sizes, Prime availability, etc.
ThirstyAffiliates gives bloggers the tools they need to monetise their WordPress website with affiliate marketing.
Create neat affiliate links, replacing ugly and spammy chains. Tracks clicks.
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.
Recommended in our ebook, Speed Optimization the Easy Way.
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.
Deposit Photo 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 Shutterstock monthly packages.
Just buy a pack, then pick and choose when you need an image within a year.
***Unselect ‘autorenewal’ at payment screen***
Facebook wants you to pay, Pinterest is banning people and we don’t even want to talk about Google algorithm updates!
What’s the most secure way of getting your content in front of people who really like it?
At some point, you are going to have to think about a solid newsletter strategy because newsletters mean funnels.
Remember when you signed up for our newsletter and you received free lessons on SEO?
We did that through Active Campaign.
Our monthly #YEStoSEO emails? Active Campaign.
Our ebook sales pitches? Active Campaign.
Buffer and Hootsuite are popular scheduling tools for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
Facebook has its own schedule too, albeit glitchy, called Publishing Tools.
You can also schedule in your own Facebook groups by clicking the clock next to the publish button.
Another nifty tool for Facebook and Instagram is their ‘save for later’ functionality.
For Facebook, click the three dots and save link or save to post to collection on mobile.
For Instagram, click the ribbon and save to collection.
For both, you can create different collections and re-name them.
When I attend events, I ask people I meet to tell me their Instagram profile, I follow them and add an image I will remember to my event collection.
That way you can continue to network after the initial meeting!
Twitter has ‘list’ functionality which does something similar.
If you add an account to a list you can access that list and see all of their posts.
You can read more of our Twitter tips here.
Business Related Sites
Fiverr it is one of the biggest online marketplaces for freelance services.
We’ve done everything from hiring writers to signature creation purchases through Fivver.
If you deal with a variety of currencies, 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.
Sign up for third party affiliate program ShareASale. Select appropriate affiliate merchants once you are joined.
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? Bookmark for later.