The Best 18 Tools to Run a Successful Blog
It is August of 2016 and a blog is a must if you want to stay competitive in the market today. The companies that generate the best rankings in Google, generate massive amounts of profit, and have consistent leads are those that run blogs. Now a blog isn’t a business—you don’t really make money directly from blogging. That being said there are 13 tools that are paramount to running a successful blog.
#1 Bluehost + WordPress
You can’t run a successful online blog unless you have someplace to host it. Bluehost and WordPress is bar none the best combination. Sure you can use other tools like blogger, tumblr, or medium but 99% of the time they will come up short. The honest truth though is find what works for you. Marketing guru, author, and thought leader Seth Godin started on Typepad and hasn’t left.
Bluehost is one of the cheapest domain and website hosting solutions on the market. They have a clean user-interface, tutorials on their site, and excellent customer support. They have been recommended by some of the top entrepreneurs like Patt Flynn. Very rarely would I recommend people someplace other than Bluehost.
WordPress.org is also one of the top content management systems on the market. WordPress sites are so popular they consistent of about 20% of all websites in the world. This is higher than any other platform by a very large margin.
Bluehost has a “one-click WordPress install” button that makes setting up your WordPress site extremely easy. It honestly is less than 10 minutes of work on your end. While Bluehost installs WordPress you can go make yourself a sandwich.
#2 WordPress Templates
After you install WordPress, you will have the basics of your website built. You most likely will have a theme pre-installed. This is the stock theme that comes with every WordPress website. You could start blogging right away, but I would guess you would want to build your custom brand.
This is where WordPress templates or themes come in super handy. Various developers have built themes that you can purchase for a small fee of about $50 each. These themes are usually on WordPress Theme Marketplaces. Massive websites that have thousands of themes to choose from.
Our favorite marketplaces are:
When purchasing your theme make sure to look for “Demo Content.” This will allow you to put in placeholder content that makes the theme look exactly like the demo. From there you can swap out photos and customize to your heart’s content.
#3 Yoast SEO plugin
One of the main benefits to blogging is snagging those coveted first spots in google. Landing on the first spot of Google will net you roughly 30% of all search traffic. This can be hundreds to thousands of hits a month to your website for the cost of a single blog article. YoastSEO plugin is the best plugin for handling all the technical aspects of SEO.
They have a step by step walkthrough on setting up your SEO. The team at YoastSEO also has one of the best SEO blogs possible. That way even if you are a newbie when it comes to SEO you can learn. If you really want to dive in deep to SEO make sure to read the DIY guide to becoming an SEO expert.
#4 Google Analytics
Google analytics is the tool to use for monitoring the performance of your website. It is 100% free, and gives you so much information to use. One of the best pieces of advice I can give you for Google analytics is to take it in chunks. Learn how to do one new thing a day and you will master google analytics in a year. The university of Youtube and Google are your friend!
Oh Grammarly, how art you my secret lover. Grammarly is like Microsoft spell check if it was jacked up on ‘roids. Grammarly helped land me a $70,000 salary and is well worth the investment. Hint hint, that investment is $0.
Coschedule is a bloggers best friend. Every blogger knows the need to have a content schedule. A content schedule helps keep you organized and never running out of blog ideas. Imagine having to come up with 3-4 blog articles a week without thinking ahead and planning out your content. My guess is you would be bald from ripping out all your hair in frustration.
Not only is Coschedule a massively powerful content calendar, they also have additional features to die for. Integration with all your social media profiles, so you can schedule content right from their interface.
A headline analyzer to help you generate more clicks to your website. 8 out of 10 people only read the headline after all.
If I had to recommend only 1 tool for a blogger it would be Coschedule, it is that important to a blog’s success.
#7 Keyword Research
To hit those number 1 spots in Google you need to do some research. Keywords like “Goal Setting” are extremely competitive to the point where you will not hit the number 1 spot. Sites like entrepreneur, Forbes, and Huffington post have covered that topic and locked it down. Long-tail keywords or Google searches with 3 or more words in it are less competitive. Sure they don’t generate 10,000 hits a month but locking in a single keyword that generates 200-300 new hits to your site a month is nothing to scoff at.
Keyword research can be done for free using Google’s very own keyword research tool or with paid programs like Longtail Pro. No matter how you do it, start finding keywords that you can achieve the first page of Google on and blog away.
I have a confession to make, I cheat in business all the time! No, not on my taxes tho! … I cheat when it comes to figuring out what type of content does really well. When my brain is absolutely stumped on what to write, I cheat with Buzzsumo.
Buzzsumo is an awesome sites that lets you scour the internet for the top headlines of any subject matter. You can research your competition’s website and see their best articles, and what social media’s they use the most.
If you go to Buzzsumo right now and search dscience.co you will see this.
Now if you go search Buzzsumo for a keyword like Personal Branding, you can see all the really great headlines to steal. Never run out of headline ideas again, just cheat like me!
When I first started in the online world,It used to cost hundreds to thousands of dollars to make landing pages. These are single page websites that collected people’s email address or sold products. Then Leadpages came along and made it ever so easy to build massive successful marketing funnels.
With Leadpages you can build landing pages, opt-in boxes, sales pages, webinar registration pages and so much more. I have actually built entire businesses with only using Leadpages. Leadpages will pay for itself as soon as you get it.
Convertkit the newest content when it comes to email marketing. For those who are just starting out in blogging and email marketing, nothing beats Mail Chimp‘s price. That price being free for the first 2000 subscribers.
But for those people really wanting to crush email marketing, Convertkit is killer. What makes Convertkit so amazing is it is geared towards bloggers. The user interface is extremely intuitive and everything just makes sense. Trust me when I say it is the best platform (IMHO) after using Aweber, Getresponse, Mailchimp and Infusionsoft.
Have you ever wondered wow is your site performing? Where are people clicking the most and from what source are they coming from? Crazyegg will tell you exactly that! Crazyegg is a super powerful heat map that shows you exactly what your customers are clicking on.
Why does this matter to you?
Because if you understand how your readers think and what they want to consume you can optimize.
• Optimize content to get more visitors.
• Optimize ad placements to increase revenue
• Optimize user experience to reduce bounce rates.
#12 Design chops + Canva
If you have 0 design chops you need to hire on someone pronto. There is no way around it anymore, the market has spoken. We the market will not put up with poorly designed websites, blogs, and images. Here is a list of 10 cringe-worthy blog designs to steer clear of!
Thankfully designing isn’t challenging anymore. You don’t need to be an expert at Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator with Canva. Canva is the number one design tool I use, and I can’t design to save my life.
They have hundreds of templates to utilize, high quality images to use, and so many tools at your disposal.
#13 Pages for the Mac
If you’ve been blogging even for a short time, you know that building an email list matters. Opportunities and sales come from big email lists. That being said, to build the list you must have ebooks/audios/downloads of value to your audience to give away in exchange for that email address.
Pages is really easy to use to create new ebook offers with which to build your email list.
#14 Photo Resources
We’ve been using Death to the Stock Photo for a while now, mixed in with Emelina’s original photography. You’ll need high-quality pics to use for your blog, and DTSP is a terrific resource.
You can check out these 12 killer stock photography resources too, most of which are free!
#15 Buyer Persona
To run a successful blog you must know exactly who you are selling too. Even if this is purely a blog to document your journey, know who you are writing for. A buyer persona is a great tool to have at your disposal. It is also something that can be worked and reworked as you hone in on your real target market.
#16 Membership Site: Thinkific
Remember how I said earlier a blog is not a business. Well that blog can easily be turned into a business with a membership site. If you are an expert in your field and can provide VIP resources, training, and exercises monthly a membership site might be perfect. Sites like Thinkific (which we use for our shop page) solve all the troublesome backend work needed to successfully host a membership site.
You can store all your videos, workbooks, and audios on the site. Create landing pages and even launch content in a drip campaign.
Now that you have your entire site set up, you are gonna want to generate some free traffic. The best source of free traffic is social media. Sumome is a plugin that not only has one of the top social sharing tools but a plethora of other tools. Some of the tools are redundant to this list like Google analytics and their heat map. But Sumome has so many useful tools they deserve a spot on this list all to their own.
Plus their basic level is free—my favorite price tag for tools.
#18 Google Docs or Evernote
Ultimately, you’re going to need some sort of word processing software to write your articles in. Both of these programs keep your notes safe online and are easy to use.