In the years that I’ve been blogging, I’ve tried, tested, and tackled more tools, plugins, and resources than I can count. Some I’ve used only once, others I absolutely swear by. Now, one of the best (and fastest) ways to see success in your business is to use the right tools. You can’t create fine wine with a bootlegger’s still. And the same goes for your biz. So, whenever I find super awesome tools that can help you grow your brand or make more money, I just gotta share them with you.
There’s not a day that goes by where someone doesn’t ask me “what should I use to….” or “where did you find…” so I’m sharing with you my ‘This Blog Means Business” Blogging Resource List. You can download the checklist here and keep it as a reference as you grow your biz and blog. This list gets updated all the time so make sure you bookmark this page or check the Champion’s Biz + Blog Resource Library to make sure you stay in the know about all the latest and greatest resources for bad ass bloggers like yourself.
So, just FYI – some, but not all, of the tools and resources I share with you, will have affiliate links which mean that if you do decide to invest in that particular tool to help you grow your biz I may receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you, of course!).
I grouped the tools into categories for your convenience as well. So, let’s dive in because this list is EPIC!! Again, you can just bookmark this page and you’ll be able to keep up with all of the best blogging tools you need to know to grow your blog and online business.
BLOG HOSTING + THEMES (8)
GoDaddy: I’ve used GoDaddy as my domain registrar from the jump and I have never had an issue with them. They have amazing sales all the time and it’s pretty easy to find a coupon code floating around the internet. I purchased my initial domain for 99 cents but typically pay anywhere between $10 and $12 per domain.
Hostgator: I’ve been using Hostgator for a while and only recently began looking into other hosting companies. I use a ton of graphics on my site and I have multiple sites that I monetize so having a reliable web host is critical. As my business has grown and my traffic has grown I am now at the point where having a dedicated (not shared) server is my next best step. Hostgator is awesome and affordable for most bloggers and their customer service is awesome. I’d say start here then move on to a more robust web hosting service as you biz and blog grow.
SiteGround (Hosting): I stumbled across SiteGround from another blogger in one of my Facebook groups. Once I started looking into it’s capabilities and looking at reviews I decided to make the leap to SiteGround. Want to learn more too, check them out here. They also have very competitive pricing!
WordPress.org: To make money like a PRO you have to show up like a PRO and with thousands of free and premium themes to choose from you can customize a clean and modern website on any budget. The ultimate platform for building a professional blog and biz online. I’ve built dozens of blogs and all of them have used the WordPress platform. So, maybe I’m biased, but when it comes time for you to get serious about blogging, WordPress is my go-to platform. I can get a new product website and blog up and running in just a few minutes.
Psst…Ready to get your blog or website up and running in minutes? Click here to access a Free Blog Camp which details every single step you need to take to have you up and running in no time flat.
ThemeNectar: If you’re looking for a premium theme, this is the place to go. ThemeNectar has lots and lots of professional and pretty themes for a good price. It’s also where I found the Salient Theme I use for this site.
Creative Market: This is one of my faves! Creative Market is your one stop shop for everything design. You can find gorgeous themes, icons, fonts, mock up templates and pretty much anything to do with graphics and design. And if you subscribe, every Monday they send 6 design goodies for FREE. It’s like Christmas in your inbox every week!
OptimizePress: A versatile WordPress theme that allows you to whip up lead capture pages, opt-in boxes, blog pages and membership sites!
WooCommerce: One of the easiest and quickest ways to get an eCommerce store on your blog is to use WooCommerce. Super simple, fast to set up and beautiful. I launched The Dime Shop using the WooCommerce plugin and I love it. You can sell both physical and digital downloads!
USEFUL BLOG PLUGINS (5)
Easy Google Fonts Plugin: This plugin allows you to use whatever fonts you’d like from Google’s Fonts within your theme. There’s a ton of plugins that allow you to add Google Fonts, but this one doesn’t require editing any code and it’s super easy to use.
All in One SEO: one of the most popular SEO plugins for WordPress users.
Revive Old Posts: A very useful WordPress plugin that helps you to keep your old posts alive by sharing them and driving more traffic to them from Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. It also helps you to promote your content. You can set time and number of posts to share to drive more traffic.
Paid Memberships Pro: Before I started using Teachable to deliver my online courses, I used Paid Memberships Pro. It’s a FREE WordPress plugin that can turn any blog into a membership site. Set up unlimited membership levels and provide restricted access to members-only content (including pages, posts, categories, videos, forums, downloads, support, single “a la carte” page access, and more). Paid Memberships Pro is flexible enough to fit the needs of almost all online and offline businesses. It works great out of the box, but is easy for developers to customize to fit your needs.
ANALYTICS + TRACKING (3)
Google Analytics: If you aren’t using Google Analytics to track your website stats you need to start – stat. It’s the go-to analytics tool for bloggers owners to get data on their website visitors. Plus, it’s 100% free!
Google Webmaster Tools: You know Google does it all! Here’s a great place to check the health of your blog, submit sitemaps, determine error pages, get notified of security issues, see how you appear on Google search results and see the top search queries and pages.
Statcounter: A great tools for bloggers that allow you to see who’s visiting your website, where they are visiting from and every visitor in chronological order.
BACKUP TOOLS + STORAGE SOLUTIONS (4)
UpdraftPlus Backups: Backing up your files is vital for any businesses. As great as technology is, it can also tear your heart out. You don’t want to lose all those files you worked so hard to create when something glitchy happens. So it’s always important to do backups properly. I use UpdraftPlus Backups. It integrates with S3 Amazon seamlessly and sends a backup to a dedicated I’ve created every single day.
S3 Amazon: S3 is an Amazon-run service that allows you to upload files (PDFs, videos, lead magnets, etc.) to their cloud server and then serve them up to your users with ease. It makes downloading files faster and you don’t have to bog your own WordPress blog down with a bunch of files. Pricing is based entirely on your use and I spend around $2/month (and I have hundreds and hundreds of files stored!) So worth it!
Dropbox: An alternative to S3 Amazon and probably a little less intimidating. With Dropbox, you get 2gb of cloud storage for free. You can use Dropbox to store your content upgrades, course files, and videos then send the link to your readers to access it.
WD My Passport: The best external storage for backing up my files. It’s super easy to use and I’ve been using them for years.
DIGITAL PRINTABLE PLANNERS (1)
I am a planner addict! Not only do they keep my biz (and life) from falling off the rails, they’re cute too. Here is a 48-page digital printable biz + blog planner I’ve made that will help you plan out your days, weeks, months and year and keep you organized as well! Just click the link here to grab yours.
PRODUCTIVITY + ORGANIZATION TOOLS (5)
Focus Booster: Based on the Pomodoro technique, focus booster will help you stay focused on your immediate tasks and manage distractions.
Basecamp: I use Basecamp to easily share and exchange files with my staff and clients. I can access my files anywhere (mobile device, tablet and desktop) as well as assign projects, create calendars and more.
Google Calendar: I love how Google Calendar integrates with just about any other app you may be using to build you biz. Set notifications, schedule your time and invite others to events with ease.
Gmail: Did you know that you can have an email address with your own domain through Gmail? Yeah!! Starting at $5/month your can send professional email from your business web address (firstname.lastname@example.org) and create group mailing lists like email@example.com. Super cool feature.
Unroll.me: Ready to put your email inbox on a diet? With unroll.me you can easily unsubscribe from multiple mailing lists you are currently subscribed to.
EMAIL MARKETING + LIST BUILDING TOOLS (5)
Aweber: I’ve been an Aweber babe from the beginning but have tried and tested MailChimp, GetResponse and a number of other email service providers. While Mailchimp is super easy to use and great for those who want simple automation features, Aweber has always been by go-to.
ConvertKit: There has been a mass exodus over the last couple of years to ConvertKit and to tell you the truth I’ve been on the fence about making the leap. ConvertKit was designed by Nathan Barry for bloggers and one of the best features is the ability to have multiple opt-ins running on your site at any time. I achieve this with LeadPages so that’s why I haven’t been pressed to switch over yet, but if you want (need) to offer a free download opt-in, a content upgrade opt-in, a course opt-in and a newsletter opt-in and the ability to segment and tag your subscribers – this is the email service provider for you!
Zapier: This is a really cool app that allows you to make “Zaps” which trigger a very specific action to happen. So, for example, When someone buys my course on Teachable, it automatically adds my new student to my Aweber subscriber list! The first part (receiving a new student sign up) is the trigger. The second part (adding the new subscriber to Aweber) is the action. There are tons of Zaps for just about everything you can think of. And they even have a free plan! Boom!
LeadPages: I’m a huge fan of LeadPages! I use it at least once a week and it is hands down m favorite list building app because it helps you to create high converting landing pages, thank you pages, webinar pages, sales pages and more real quickly. The boxes that pop up when you click on the images on my homepage or the call to actions within my blog posts are Leadboxes (part of LeadPages), and they’re converting like mad for me! There are other competitors, but Leadpages is by far the best and that’s all I’m gonna say about that!
SumoMe: SumoMe is a WordPress plugin that offers a ton of tools to help you grow your email list. There are 100’s of ways to ask your website visitors for their email address in return for your irresistible offer and SumoMe makes it 100 times easier! Plus you see the floating social buttons next to this post?That’s SumoMe! You can install it for free. I love how you can also track how many shares + clicks for each page as well.
SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING TOOLS (7)
IFTTT: Stands for If This Than That which allows you to set triggers when certain actions occur. Similar to zaps (Zapier), there are IFTTT recipes for just about anything. I currently use IFTTT to send me text messages of my daily affirmations, to remind me of my big, big goals and as a social media tool to automatically post my Instagram posts to my Facebook Page. Loves it!
Click to Tweet: A great way to share tweetable moments. Use Click to Tweet to generate a link that will when clicked, will take peeps to twitter with a pre-populated tweet for them to share on Twitter. They simply need to click to tweet.
Buffer: If you don’t want to spend time (or as much time) on social media, Buffer is the answer. I love the ability to automate parts of my business and Buffer helps with this. I particularly use it for Twitter and posting to my Champion’s Biz + Blog Facebook group where I can schedule tweets for my blog posts and my group discussion threads. You can schedule Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, IG and more all in the one screen. Loves it!
Hootsuite: Very similar to Buffer, Hootsuite is another social media management app that saves you time and helps you engage with people across all your social media accounts through a single dashboard. You can see the conversations relevant to you as they unfold, then engage with your audiences quickly and consistently.
MeetEdgar: If your budget allows MeetEdgar is an awesom-er (if that’s a word!) social media scheduling tool. With Buffer, once you schedule your content, it disappears, so you always have to keep adding content to your feed, but with MeetEdgar, it allows you to loop or automatically reuse content forever. That way if you have posts you want to continually repost daily, weekly or monthly (i.e. social media prompts in your FB group) you can do that with this tool!
Coschedule: CoSchedule is the all in one editorial calendar for content marketing and social scheduling! It keeps you and your team insanely organized and is the first (and only) editorial calendar to integrate with WordPress. You can collaborate, schedule, and automate all of your content marketing and social media with CoSchedule.
Pin It Button for Pinterest: This “official Pinterest” plugin adds a pin it button to your images to encourage pins. We all love repins so make sure your blog is equipped with this awesome plugin!
BoardBooster: Can I just say I ❤️ Pinterest and BoardBooster has become my numero uno automation tool. Pinterest has skyrocketed my traffic and exploded my email I could not have done it without the awesomeness that is BoardBooster. It is sooooo good. They have a free trial, but I seriously, once you’ve started you’ll be hooked and wonder how on earth you ever used Pinterest without it.
CONTENT CREATION TOOLS (6)
MindMeister: The best place to organize your business ideas, map out your product and create a step-by-step plan for marketing that product. I start every project with a mindmap and use Mindmeister religiously to game plan the development and growth of my business.
Apple Pages: I create like 99.9% of my content upgrades, ebooks, and worksheets in Apple Pages. It’s the easiest way to format and publish your product as a PDF. It’s super easy to use and has some great features for adding images and typography. I import my words from Google Docs into a Pages document and do all of the formatting and designing in Pages. Export to PDF and you’re a publisher!
Google Docs: I love using Google Docs as part of my course creation process. I will take the mindmap I creating in MindMeister and beef up my course content in Google Docs. The reason I love it so much is because it’s super easy to use, I can create and share my work online and access my documents from anywhere. Loves it!
PDFEscape: Yes, yes, yes! If you ever wanted to create editable PDFs (you know the type your users can actually type into from their desktop) then this is the solution for you if you don’t have the full Adobe suite. It’s FREE and it’s super easy to use for both PC and Mac users.
VIDEO CREATION TOOLS (4)
Camtasia: A quick, easy to use tool for filming videos for your blog, signature courses, or lead capture pages. Record your screen or yourself. Camtasia is my number one tool for making instructional and product promo videos. It’s available in both Mac and PC versions.
Screenflow: Another awesome editing tool very similar to Camtasia that allows you to record any part of your screen. ScreenFlow allows you to record your screen and edit your videos like a pro. You can split video and audio clips, add text & transitions, music, logos, images and more!). Available in Mac.
iMovie: If you are a Mac user, the iMovie app allows you to record and edit videos. You can even start editing on your iPhone or iPad, then finish on your Mac. I will typically use iMovie when I have recorded videos or tutorials where I am simply speaking to my audience and not doing a screencast.
The Blue Yeti: An inexpensive, industry fave USB microphone that hooks up to your computer easily. When you’re recording course materials, podcasts, or webinars you want to make sure to use a real mic and not your computer’s built-in microphone. I love the YETI and use it for audio recording, video calls, interviews and more!
GRAPHICS + BRANDING TOOLS (14)
Squarespace Logo: Aimed at small businesses who can’t afford the services of a professional designer, this helps anyone design a simple logo themselves. Squarespace Logo is easy to use – you simply type in the name of your company, your tagline, choose colors and fonts then search a library of icons to pull in. I give a full blown tutorial in my workshop Create Your Campion Course. The slick interface makes it easy to position and resize your creation, and lets you see what your finished logo will look like on a website, business card or T-shirt. And more importantly, low-resolution, watermarked logos are free, while a finished high-res logo will cost just $10. What’s that you say? Yep, you can literally create a pro looking logo for just $10! #winning
Canva: No Adobe photoshop? Not a superhero graphic designer? Canva’s here to save the day! Use any one of their awesome templates to make professional and pretty graphics for your blog posts, ebooks, and photos for your social profiles – in minutes! If you want to get a little more creative you can create your own templates in Canva or you can just check out my Canva Graphics Pack if you want a done-for-you option.
Adobe Photoshop: If you ever want to take your graphics and design to another level Photoshop is the way to go. It takes some time to learn and you may need to take a class or two to get up to speed. Photoshop used to be a “for professionals only” type of tool because of its hefty price tag, however, Adobe now offers a $10/month subscription which make it super affordable even for newbie bloggers.
Piktochart: Ready to create amazing infographics on your blog or as traffic generation tools on sites like Pinterest? Turn your content into a beautiful infographic with Piktochart. They have tons of cool themes to pick from and you can start with a free account! They also have a library of hundreds of infographics that you can use to jumpstart your creativity!
Picmonkey: Use this super simple tool to create beautiful graphics for your social media profiles, ebooks, and more for free!
UnSplash: Looking for high-resolution stock photos for your blog posts? Unsplash is one of the best sites for copyright free photos.
Pixabay: Another photo site for bloggers and infopreneurs that offer an amazing collection of beautiful, royalty free stock images for your blog.
Dimpleart: Need high-quality caricatures for your branding and marketing materials. This is a really cool resource.
TheNounProject: When they say icons for everything, they mean icons for every-thing!! The Noun Project is my #1 go-to resource for free quality icons.
DesignSeeds: A color blog that creates color palettes inspired by images of nature, plants, and country living. Jessica, the creator of Design Seeds has grown an active community of over 1 million followers across all social networks and can be found on Pinterest and Instagram. If you can’t find inspiration from her collection, you just may not have a pulse!
Color Palette FX: Oh boy! This is such a cool tool. This desktop app allows you to build a color swatch from a photo. So, let’s say you were vacationing in Santorini, Greece and were inspired to build a blog based on your experience there. Well, you can take your vacation photo, upload it to the Color Palette FX site and see what this tool spits out. Oh, it’s genius.
Coolors.co: This is a quick and easy site for finding color inspiration fast. I think it’s really cool how you can hit the space bar and it will generate new color schemes for you. If you have one or two starting colors you can enter the hex code, lock them in and the software will generate a new color scheme for you.
Mockupworld: Ready to try something new? Create aw-ma-zing looking mockups to showcase your brand and products in dynamic surroundings. They offer both FREE and paid mockup templates!
PHOTO EDITING TOOLS (2)
VSCO Cam: A free app for editing your Instagram pictures to get a cohesive and beautifully branded look for your Instagram feed.
Tinypng: Photos not only make your site gorgeous, they slow down your site! Lovely, right?! So, to reduce your site speed use Tinypng to compress PNG & JPG pictures without losing picture quality before uploading then to your blog. You can use the tool for free online, a Photoshop plugin is also available for $50 which lets you save hundreds of PNG files at once.
FREE FONTS + FONT TOOLS (5)
Here’s a list of my favorite places to find FREE (high-quality) and legit fonts online:
Awesome Fontstacks: This is a really cool tool when looking for great fonts to use on your site, in your courses and marketing materials?Awesome Fontstacks helps you mix and match fonts and it will automatically generate the CSS codes for you.
SEO + KEYWORD RESEARCH (6)
Google Keyword Planner: It’s super important to learn for bloggers use relevant keywords in their content, categories, and tags so they get found near the top of the search engines and there’s no better place to start searching for relevant keywords than on Google itself!
Semrush: Ever wanted to know what your competition was doing? Semrush is a powerful resource for “spying” on your competitors. You can check out the top keywords that drive them traffic, their search positions, and tons more! It’s a great way to see what you need to focus on to drive more targeted traffic!
Woorank: This is a pretty nifty free online tool that grades your marketing. Enter your blog address and it will tell you what you need to improve and what to fix on your blog to increase your traffic. So cool.
Übersuggest: Use Übersuggest to quickly find new keywords not available in the Google Keyword Planner. This tool is seriously the bomb.com!
Grammarly: Did you know that spelling affects your SEO? Sure does! It’s hard to get found if no one is reading, liking or sharing your content. It finds and corrects grammatical errors, recommends better words for your posts to enhance clarity and eliminates 250 types of writing mistakes from your blog posts.
Coschedule’s Headline Analyzer: Want to create clickable and compelling blog titles? Use this FREE headline analyzer to see if your blog post and email titles are awesome or not. I’ve never seen anything as detailed as this and it’s amazing for writing better headlines that drive social shares, increased traffic, and SEO value.
PRODUCT DELIVERY + MONETIZATION TOOLS (8)
Digital Product Delivery: DPD allows you to accept payments and deliver digital products really easily. It takes about 20 minutes to get up and running and after that, you can add products in just a few minutes. All the buy now buttons, payment processing, and product delivery are set up through DPD. DPD has great features like affiliates programs, multiple price points, bundles, and integrations. I personally use DPD because it’s easy to set up and has tons of functionality.
WooCommerce: I just started using WooCommerce to deliver digital products through The Dime Shop and I LOVE IT!!! OMG, why did I wait so long? This WordPress Plugin is super easy to set up and it’s a recommended plugin when you set up WordPress. You can have your own store, making money and all that jazz in no time flat.
Gumroad: Another popular tool for selling digital downloads without any hassle!
Teachable: This beautiful LMS tool has changed the game. It’s an all in one solution to sell your online courses and comes complete with a sales page editor, video hosting solution and more. My income has doubled every year since I started selling my own online courses and since integrating Teachable it’s made selling courses so much easier and more fun!
Wistia: Host videos that you want to keep private and or sell on Wistia! I used to use this tool a lot more than I do currently to host my video courses, but since finding Teachable (which actually uses Wistia to deliver the course videos) it’s one expense that I can probably get rid of. I got a plan when t was $25 and it’s gone up considerably since then so I’m holding on to it just in case I need it in the future. An alternative and probably more economical alternative to Wistia is Vimeo Plus or Vimeo Pro.
Skype: A FREE and easy way to chat with your clients 1-1!
Paypal: Paypal is the most established and common payment provider out there, but it has been known for keeping payments from people who do a large volume of transactions.
Stripe: Stripe is a very good alternative to PayPal and integrates with sites like WooCommerce and DPD.
OUTSOURCING + HELP FOR HIRE (2)
Fiverr: One of my favorite sites especially for the budget-conscious entrepreneur. You can find anything under the sun starting at $5. Need a book cover, help setting up your website, an intro video, logo, voice over work, tech support, kindle formatting, you can find it here. Fiverr is the best business buddy site online.
Upwork: Another great work for hire site. You can get really amazing help from here such as making minor tweaks to your website, troubleshooting tech errors, graphic design, transcriptions, social media management and much more!
SURVEY TOOLS (3)
Google Forms: Another go-to tool from Google. They are easy to use, drag and drop form builder lets you create cool looking surveys or questionnaires and save the responses in a Google Spreadsheet!
Surveymonkey: Another great tool for creating awesome online surveys and forms.
Typeform: Like Survey Monkey, but has a different design. They offer free and beautiful survey forms that you can use to gather info from subscribers, potential clients, and customers.
Google hangouts: Ready to build your biz with webinars? Google Hangouts is a great place to start especially if you’re on a budget – because it’s FREE!! I also use Google Hangouts when I need to talk to clients during a brand consult or VIP Biz + Brand coaching session.
Chatwing: Engage your audience and make them a part of your webinar by using Chatwing together with Google hangouts. It gives your audience a full webinar experience.
Webinarjam: Crank up your webinars with this popular webinar service. It sends out email reminders, hosts webinars on their servers, and a ton of other great features. It also integrates with evergreen systems to let you replay your webinars and continue to make money the passive way!
Zoom.us: Growing in popularity, Zoom.us is another webinar platform that is reasonably priced and extremely reliable. You can see your guests in the dashboard and it’s great for recording video interviews.
LEGAL STUFF (1)
LegalZoom: Legitimize your business by getting all your legal docs in order. Customer service is awesome, prices are great and the tools they provide helps take away that overwhelming feeling when dealing with the legal side of your biz!
FREE COURSES + SUPPORT FOR BLOGGERS (2)
Free Blog Camp: My free blog course will give you 25+ videos, results driven action sheets and blog-building goodness to get your WordPress blog up and running the right way. I am always adding amazing content to the course and it’s absolutely FREE!!! Get instant access here.
Champion’s Biz + Blog Circle: My free Facebook group where bloggers and brand builders like you can ask questions, learn new strategies and give your biz and blog a boost with daily actionable prompts.
PAID COURSES FOR BLOGGERS (2)
Pinfinite Growth: Take this course if you want to be a Pinterest pro. This is the first course I ever purchased from Melyssa Griffin and it was definitely a decision I would not come to regret. I highly recommend this if you want to learn how to conquer Pinterest. You’ll leave the course with a clear, results-driven Pinterest strategy that will skyrocket you to blogging success!
Create Your Champion Course: If you want to learn how to monetize your blog with online courses, this is the workshop for you. It walks you through the entire process of creating, branding, packaging and launching your own signature online course. There’s an action sheet for every lesson and it will have you creating courses like the true biz and blog champ you are!
PINTEREST GROUP BOARDS TO GROW YOUR BLOG (4)
Group Boards have been nothing but good and if you can get into the right ones, it can be absolute pinning gold for you and your blog. If you’re frustrated with not being able to get into groups boards or you have not clue which boards can help grow your biz, here are 4 of my favorite groups for promoting your pins and driving traffic back to your site:
- POST YOUR BLOG! Bloggers promote here
- Promote Your Blog! No Posting Limit
- Blog + Biz Boosts
- Social Media, Digital Marketing, Blogging & Content Marketing Tips & Tricks
BUSINESS COACH OR MENTOR (1)
The one thing I wish I had when first launching my business was access to a mentor; someone who could show me the ropes, guide me in the right direction and keep me true to my vision and purpose as a young entrepreneur. No matter how may courses your take, their is nothing more valuable than the learning from the lessons of those who have already achieved the success you want. Having a mentor is and will always be your #1 asset for your business!
P.S. WANT A FREE ACTION SHEET THAT WILL HELP YOU CRAFT THE PERFECT ABOUT ME PAGE?
Did I hear you say heck yeah! Well, you’re in luck because I have an editable action sheet that will help you whip up a lead-generating about me page in no time flat! To get the action sheets, click here to get instant access or click one of the cute images you see above or below. Signing up will also give you access to my FREE Champion’s Biz + Blog Library which is literally busting at the seams with action sheets, e-books, guides and colorful resources for brand-building bloggers and biz owners like you!