One of the most frequent questions I get is, “What tool do you use for…?”
I finally decided to create a post to share all the things I use.
But first, let me say this:
The best tools are the ones that you have. Don’t let the lack of tools hold you back from reaching your dreams!
For example, if you only have your phone camera, you can still take awesome pictures or record videos! (and the quality will probably be better than Return of the Jedi!)
Okay, with that in mind, we can go on.
This is not a list of all the blogging tools out there. This is just what I am personally using to make things work. NOTE: Some of the links below are affiliate links and some are not. I’m only sharing them because I am using them!
I try to run a minimalist business. I like to keep my costs low and my systems simple.
I started listing these in order of most important to least significant, but it got a bit hazy at the end.
Tools I currently use for my blog business
Convertkit is the life of my business. It is the glue that holds everything together. It’s the way I connect with all of my wonderful readers. It’s the way I send them to new content on my blog. It’s the way I tell them about my products.
When someone finds my site on Google, they see an opt-in form for a freebie (that’s Convertkit). They sign up and I send them their super helpful free resource (and by I, I mean Convertkit does it automatically because I set it up to). Then, mostly every week, I log into Convertkit and send emails to help you grow your blog.
I love that Convertkit is easy to use, laid out neat and tidy, and a good user experience for everyone involved.
I pay for Convertkit on an yearly basis to get the annual discount. The price does go up as you get more email subscribers. I prune my list heavily because I am a cheapskate and never want to go up a price bracket. It also helps me maintain an active email list. I’m happier using it knowing I’m not paying for dead weight.
I recently had to accept that my list was growing too fast to keep up with pruning and embraced the price increase. Sigh. It is nice having a lot of wiggle room until the next pay increase now.
Siteground | Bluehost >> headed to WPX or Kinsta next
Hosting is a bit of a pain point for me right now. This site is currently on Siteground Go Geek plan, but Siteground gets worse and worse every day. Not only do they keep ruining things, but I need to move to a beefier hosting that can handle my traffic and content. It’s on my list of things to do Q2. I’m weighing WPX or Kinsta, maybe BigScoots.
I also have small sites on Bluehost. I love the simplicity of Bluehost for small sites.
I house all of my domain names at Namecheap. It’s easier for me to have them in one place. I was a domain hoarder for a while, but I am trying to give up that habit.
Google Workspace, GSuite
I do all the things with Google Workspace (formerly Gsuite). I use it for email, docs, spreadsheets, storing my free resources, sharing documents with clients, presentation creation, and even Pin creation!
The most important part, and what I’m willing to pay for, is the branded email. Hosting your email through your service provider is a terrible idea. I learned the hard way when I lost ALL emails. I also hear from my subscribers all the time that obviously their host for emails. How do I know? Because they don’t always get my emails. Email via a small shared host tend to bounce a lot.
It’s one of the necessities. One of the best $6/month I spend.
Teachable is the platform I use for my courses. It allows me to easily upload content into modules and have students go through the course lessons at their own pace.
I have a love-hate relationship with Teachable. I loved it when I got started, but now I wish I used a different platform for my courses. Their affiliate program was lacking. People always have a hard time signing in. The user experience is just so-so. It’s expensive.
But changing to a different course program sounds like a lot of work.
Loom | Camtasia
But Loom came on the scene, and it is easy and stores videos for me. If I’m doing a quick video for a client or student, I use Loom. If I’m making a formal video for a course, I usually use go back to Camtasia and do full editing inside Camtasia.
I started using Thrivecart last fall as my shopping cart. Everyone had been raving about it. The cool upsell, tripwire, and bundling possibilities. The increased sales because the checkout process is smoother than Teachable’s. Yada yada.
Thrivecart also has a robust affiliate program tool. My affiliates were constantly not getting credit for sharing or not getting paid with Teachable, so I liked the idea of having a better affiliate program. I chatted more with a few friends who used it, and they all loved it.
I was sold.
It took a while to get everything set up. I designed new landing pages on my site for my courses. Then, I created a new shopping cart for all of them via Thrivecart. Thrivecart is synced with Teachable and Convertkit.
I’m still not utilizing all of its cool checkout features, but sales have increased since I started using it!
It’s not a necessity, but I am glad I switched.
Splendor Theme, Genesis Framework
Currently, my site runs on the Genesis Framework and the Splendor Child theme from Restored 316. There are many other themes out there these days, but I still love and recommend the Genesis Framework.
When it comes to Child themes, though, my approval list is pretty small. It includes themes from StudioPress or Restored 316. But not just any of those themes, only those that use Gutenberg blocks for the home page.
You’d think that my minor in Language Arts would mean that I wouldn’t need a grammar editing tool. But I do. The email subscribers and commenters are quick to let me know that I make several grammatical and typo errors.
(If you ever want to get more replies to your emails, send them with a lot of typos or spelling mistakes. It is bound to improve your response rate.)
Anyway, I try to run all of my content through Grammarly now. Sometimes I’m lazy, and it doesn’t get done. But when I’m smart and intentional, I check it in Grammarly first!
I feel like this is one of the internet’s best-kept secrets. I love Noun Project and have been a subscriber for several years.
It’s just icons. Icons of every shape you could imagine.
You can download and use icons for free if you give credit to the creator, or you can pay $40 a year to download and use all that you want without credit. I use this for social media graphics, course content, ebooks, and as a Mom! It even syncs with Google Slides for easy Pin or other graphic creations.
Like many people, I use deposit photos for stock photos. I’m not as in love as other blogging gurus out there. I think they are almost getting to the point that their images are just as common as free stock photos. But the app sumo deals are good, and it is nice to have a plethora of affordable stock photos to choose from.
Ivory Mix Stock Photos
Speaking of stock photos, I needed better lifestyle “blogging” pictures, so I subscribed to Ivory Mix’s membership for a year. I probably won’t renew it when my year is up, but I have been very happy with the images I’ve downloaded. I use them for Pinterest mainly.
Dell Monitors, Webcam, Gaming Computer
People don’t often list these when they talk about the tools they use for blogging, but my tech setup makes a big difference in my workflow! I was tired of running on a slow computer, so I bought a gaming computer. Gamers like and need a fast system and top-of-the-line everything.
I’ve been using it for at least two years, and it’s still going strong!
This summer, I also switched from one large monitor to having two Dell UltraSharp 27 inch monitors. Having dual screens makes blogging so much easier! There are so many moving parts to blogging. It’s nice to have two screens to accommodate all intertwined pieces.
I use a Logitech Web Camera that I can’t find on Amazon anymore, but their new version looks similar to mine. It is currently sitting on an upside-down vase to make it the right height/angle for filming me.
Tools I’ve used in the past but am no longer using anymore
I was using Deadline Funnel to create urgency with my tripwire product, the Pinterest Analytics class. It worked great! I ditched it when I switched my shopping cart over to Thrivecart because deadlines are built into Thrivecart. No need for two products (or two expenses, remember I’m all for cutting costs!).
Tailwind is great for scheduling Pins when you aren’t able to Pin on your own.
Technically, I still pay for this one. But I’m not pinning as much anymore and haven’t found a need for it lately. Manual pinning or the Pinterest scheduler has been adequate. I love Tailwind (mostly the people behind the company!) and if I were publishing more articles I would probably use it more consistently.
Dear Tailwind, it’s not you; it’s me. I still love you, I just don’t’ find myself using you. Please still love me?
While I was recording guest presentations for my courses, I had a paid subscription to Zoom. I am not currently doing these presentations, so I don’t need of a paid Zoom plan. I might use again if needed.
I thought I needed fancy, expensive photos to stand out, so for a while, I got them at Stocksy. I still think I need fancy, expensive photos to stand out, I just am not willing to pay for them right now.
I love the idea of Bonjoro, but it got old and boring real fast. I sent a Bonjoro to everyone who signed up for my Pinterest Analytics course or my Blog Launch Plan. I wanted the personalized videos to help improve the user experience and create endearing super fans.
While they were personalized for the student, they were so repetitive for me.
Same thing. Every day. Just changed out the name.
I got great feedback on them but in the end I didn’t feel like it was a worthwhile ROI for the time and cost involved. Technically my year subscription hasn’t ended yet, so I might send a few more before it’s up. I don’t plan on renewing.
Blue Yeti and Snowball Microphone
May they both rest in peace. The darn chord. That’s what broke both of these mics. I’ve just been using my webcam lately. Eventually, I will get a new microphone ; when I’m done over-analyzing which one will sound the best and not break.
SEMRush is a powerful SEO tool to help you analyze keywords and SEO data. I love using it, but it is spendy! Every now and then, I’ll subscribe for a month and into hard core keyword research mode. I don’t stay subscribed.
There you have it. The tools I used/used to run my blog business!
Do you use any of them? What tools could you not live without when it comes to running your blog business?
One day I’ll write a course and plugin list too, because that’s a whole different topic. Hint: the list of courses I recommend is pretty small.