There are so many tools and software out there to help you run and create a blog, it can be totally overwhelming. I’m constantly hearing about new programs coming out, things seem to be ever-changing, and it’s hard to stay on top of it all.
There are a few programs and websites though that are my absolute go-to’s as a home decor blogger and keep my business afloat. I love it when I find something that is user-friendly and makes my life easier in some way. I try to create “systems” in my business so that everything runs as efficiently as possible.
If you’re looking to create a blog or already run a blogging biz, here are my top 10 must-have tools
(Please note that you don’t need ALL of these things to run a successful blog biz. I know that costs can add up! So be sure to add new tools to your toolbox as your budget allows.)
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My Top 10 Blogging Tools:
#1 – WORDPRESS: For creating your blog
I am a wordpress lover through and through. There is a learning curve, but once you get used to it, it’s pretty easy to figure things out on your own (and worst case, google it! Honestly, there is an answer for ALL wordpress issues out there).
I love that I know how to edit my site, change up the look, ensure good SEO, and so much more. Oh and the other great thing? Because WordPress is used by a zillion people, there are plugins for everything. And most of them are free. For example, if you want to start selling products, then the WooCommerce plugin is free and waiting for you.
#2 – BLUEHOST: For hosting your blog
Bluehost is widely popular with bloggers. In my own experience, Bluehost is a great host to start your blogging journey with. Their rates are the cheapest you’ll find, and I didn’t have any issues until my blog outgrew it. Once I was getting sizeable traffic, I upgraded to a more expensive host (EvenPar Solutions).
Click here for my How to Start a Blog page for detailed instructions to get you up and running.
#3 – CANVA: For creating amazing images
Ever wondered how to create amazing graphics for your blog? Especially if you don’t have the bucks to shell out for fancy Adobe Illustrator?
Well, get ready, because you’re about to lose hours and hours of time on Canva creating the most gorgeous graphics ever. Honestly, I LOVE this program.
Their design templates are great, they have so many options, and the interface is crazy easy to use. Major heart eyes over here.
I pay for the professional version so that I can easily re-size images and have access to the full suite of features, but the free version is seriously amazing too.
#4 – TAILWIND: For scheduling Pinterest
Pinterest is ridiculously important for bloggers, and particularly those in the home decor niche, where good graphics and photography are a big player in attracting readers to your site.
My fave Pinterest scheduler without a doubt is Tailwind. This little tool will change your life. You can schedule out pins to your boards, participate in tribes, find content, and just manage your whole Pinterest presence. For me, it means that I look like an active pinner and gain lots of followers, but only have to spend an hour a week on Pinterest. Amazing, right? It’s the best money I spend every month!
#5 – BUFFER: For social media scheduling
Buffer is another excellent scheduling tool. I use it for Facebook – both pages and groups. It allows you to upload all of your pics, write out your captions, and schedule your posts for weeks and months in advance.
For instagram, it can’t actually post for you, but you get a little pop-up on your phone when it’s time to post and then it’s just a matter of hitting a few clicks to publish.
Sitting down once every few weeks to plan out your social media content will make your life so much easier.
#6 – CONVERTKIT: For your email provider
If you plan on focusing on list-building (which I reeeeally encourage you do to build your biz!), and want to have a smart email system to do it with, then ConvertKit is it.
I switched over to ConvertKit from MailChimp and LOVE it. The creator of ConvertKit built it specifically for bloggers, and it means that there are some really smart features.
-Do you have multiple opt-in’s on your site? No problem – they only get counted as 1 subscriber so you aren’t having to double pay for them.
-Want to setup an automation sequence for a free course or other marketing tool? Easy-peasy in ConvertKit.
-Need to tag folks so that you know what particular things they are interested in from you? Takes 5 seconds.
I could go on and on. There are lots of really great features at an affordable monthly price.
When I first switched over, I was a little bummed that the emails didn’t look as “pretty” and didn’t have the drag-and-drop setup feature that Mailchimp had. But then I realized that I actually like getting emails from bloggers that look more like an email from a friend and don’t take a million years to load with a ton of images. Plus apparently fewer images also means they are less likely to go into spam folders. Who knew?!
Read more here about why it’s so important that you build an email list as a blogger.
#7 – CREATIVE MARKET: For graphics, fonts, and all things pretty
Creative Market is a rabbit hole that I get COMPLETELY lost in from time to time. From amazing fonts, to gorgeous stock photography, to really cute graphics and clip art, there is so much fun stuff to browse. If you are going to create printables, do any kind of graphic design (even basic stuff) for your blog, or need stock photos for your posts, then this is where you want to go to.
If you sign up for their newsletter, you get free stuff every Monday to download! I’m always super pumped to see what they are sending out every week. Go sign up now – you’ll love it!
#8 – WAVE APPS: For your bookkeeping
One downside of running your own biz is having to handle all the numbers and bookkeeping, but I have found a tool that makes this WAY less painful. Stop using a plain spreadsheet to track your biz expenses and sign up for Wave. It will change your life (it’s free!).
I track all of my expenses and pay-days in there, create super profresh looking invoices, and can get a quick glimpse of what my overall income is in a flash on the dashboard. You can even have multiple profiles – so I separate out blog, etsy shop, and in-person design/consulting services as 3 separate entities so that I can see the income from them super clearly.
It’s an amazing tool! Makes tax time so much easier, too.
#9 – ETSY: To get started selling products
I think Etsy is the best spot to get started with an online shop. It is so quick and easy to launch, they handle all back-end logistics and transactions. There is a lot of built-in traffic since Etsy is the #1 online handmade marketplace.
#10 – KINGSUMO GIVEAWAYS: To build your email list with giveaways
If you do any giveaways on your blog, you might have used a free service like RaffleCopter or Gleam. Those are fine, but generally when I do giveaways I want the entry to focus on the thing I’m after most: the email address. Building my email list is waaaay more important to me than social media follows.
The best tool I have found to do this is called KingSumo Giveaways.
With KingSumo Giveaways, the ONLY thing you collect as an entry is the reader’s email address, which is an amazing way to help build your list. Then if the reader wants even more entries, they share the giveaway with a special URL and for every friend they refer they get a bunch of additional entries (you set the number). It means that there is major incentive to share the giveaway – total win for the blogger.
It’s a little bit pricey, but it’s a one-time cost and if you do giveaways a few times a year and have list-building as an important aspect of your biz, then I totally think it’s worth it. I much prefer a one time cost then a monthly subscription for something like this.
That’s a wrap! My top 10 tools.
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