Which tools do you absolutely need to have to build a successful blog? I’m going to give you 7 free tools that you can use to dramatically improve your blog.
Today was inspired by someone called Peter Mercer, and he is from a website called One Arm Bandito, and he posted on a Facebook group called Blogging Newbs, which has around 18,000 members and it’s a fantastic resource that I spend a bit of time in and answer questions on there when I get the chance.
Peter asked this question:
As a new blogger I’m still working out if I can make a success of blogging. I’m wondering where you think it’s worth spending money for someone in my position? There’s no end of tools etc available. I just want to invest in the essentials for now to see if I get traction.
Now, I’ve been in that exact position myself when I first started blogging in 2004. I really didn’t want to invest anything beyond what I had to.
And on the Blogging Newbs group Peter received a wide range of answers – and a lot of them were fantastic.
I have permission from Albert Noah from Android Tipster to share his advice, which resonated with me.
Any article you might have read recommending certain tools are just wanting to make some affiliate sales off you.
Instead, read a lot on search engine optimization. That’s where the gold sits.
I agree with what Albert has said.
If you invest your time into learning the basics of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and doing a little bit of keyword research (which we’ll touch on again in this post) then you will immediately put yourself in a better position.
Table of Contents
Who can you Trust?
As Albert mentioned, a lot of bloggers only recommend tools as an opportunity profit from affiliate links.
But is that really true?
In my experience, yep, and it annoys me a little bit.
I don’t begrudge anybody from making a few bucks from a recommendation, I think that’s fair.
But, you’ve probably seen this yourself, some affiliate marketers will promote the tool only because it puts money in their pocket and not the tool which is best for their readers.
So for that reason there is no affiliate links whatsoever on this post.
Even though all these tools are free, most of them do offer upgrades.
I’m refusing to put a single affiliate link on this post so you know that the advice I’m giving you is coming from the right place and is for your benefit instead of mine.
The Right Foundations
These 7 tools will only come into play once you have your domain name and hosting account sorted out.
I’m not talking about free here; stay away from free hosting.
The main tool that you absolutely need is an autoresponder or some way to collect email addresses.
Along with your domain name and hosting account, your email list is essential and it’s worth investing in.
There are free ways of doing it, but if you use a professional service like Aweber, ConvertKit or Active Campaign, then you are paying a company that specialises in email delivery.
Because you’re not relying on your own server or your own hosting account to deliver those emails, they are guaranteed to arrive in your subscribers inboxes.
I’ve tried building an email list for free, and I regret it.
A few years ago I built an email list of around 30,000 people, and only a fraction of the emails were ever landing inside inboxes. It was a massive mistake, so invest in professional email delivery.
I use Active Campaign and I can recommend using that unless you are going to promote a lot of affiliate offers.
If you’re going to promote affiliate offers then Aweber is the one to go with.
But why do I recommend getting; your own domain name, your own hosting account, and your own email system?
These are all systems that you control.
You own everything, you’re not relying on platforms or third parties that can change algorithms, Terms of Service or just decide they don’t like what you’re doing, and shut you down.
So no matter what you’re doing with your blog, make sure that the core is owned and controlled exclusively by you.
Why do I recommend building an email list?
Here’s why your list is the most important tool you’ll ever buy – it’s a major source of traffic, that’s ever-growing.
Imagine this; every time you publish a new blog post you’re gonna need an influx of visitors to read it, right?
A large portion of that traffic comes from your email list, and the more you blog, the older your blog gets, the bigger your email list grows.
That means you can send to your blog whenever you publish a new article.
And that is how you build a successful blog – it starts with collecting email addresses.
7 Free Tools for Blogging
What are the seven 7 tools that I recommend you use?
If you’re starting a blog for the first time then WordPress this is a fantastic amazing platform for bloggers.
It comes in two flavours; WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
You absolutely really want to install WordPress on your own hosting account.
A lot of hosting accounts now come with WordPress already installed.
If yours doesn’t then watch this Profit Copilot video and it will walk you through installing WordPress. It literally takes two clicks so install on your own hosting account, and you can use it for free. This is called a self-hosted version.
Whatever you do: Don’t use the hosted version on WordPress.com.
The second essential blogging tools is Google Analytics.
You’re gonna need to keep an eye on your analytics because it tells you what’s working and what’s not working.
Another element of building a successful blog is to do more of what is working.
Again, Google Analytics is free to use for a limited number of impressions.
The next tool that I’ve got for you is called Grammarly.
This is a fantastic tool and it has changed the way blog.
Beforehand, all my articles were full of grammar errors and spelling mistakes.
It looked incredibly unprofessional, and I didn’t even know it.
But when I installed Grammerly onto Chrome (it’s a chrome plug-in), it started watching everything I typed in realtime as I typed. Total life-saver.
If you make a mistake it will tell you and then it will tell you how to correct it, too.
So that changed the way I write blog posts – of course the occasional mistake still sneaks through 😉
If you’re on a Mac and you’re using the Safari browser that will essentially do the same thing for you.
Grammarly is free, but they have a more advanced version too.
The next tool that I use is called Feedly.
This is simple to use and lets you keep track of other websites.
You just put in the RSS feeds of your favourite websites, as soon as they post new content it updates on Feedly and every day you have a fresh list of content to go through.
This helps to keeps you up to date with news in your industry, and it helps you to keep your finger on the pulse of what is happening in your niche.
I think that is an essential for every blogger.
Again, this is free to use but they have a more advanced version too.
This next tool is from Neil Patel.
It’s called UberSuggest and it’s an alternative to the Google Keyword Planner tool.
Just put in your keywords or search phrase and hit go.
Then it tells you the search volume for those keywords.
This is an essential for bloggers because, as I mentioned earlier its smart to consider the SEO aspect.
That way you have a better chance of succeeding, compared to someone who is not using any form of SEO.
It’s a good idea to let the search volume influence you to an extent – but don’t let it guide you into creating content you’re not qualified to cover, or allow it to prevent you from covering the topics you want to.
The 6th tool I’d like to share with you is Hootsuite.
This is awesome. If you want to manage your social media profiles and automate the process, HootSuite is a very good tool to start using.
They have a free version and that allows you to have 3 profiles to manage.
This is an essential if you’re trying to build an audience on social media.
And then the last tool this one is really for the creatives out there. I first learned about this from Ike Paz, and I’ve been hooked ever since.
We all need images and banners for our blog posts, right?
But how do you make them if you’re not a Photoshop expert, or if you don’t want to pay someone to create images for every post?
They have a free version and I have used this extensively.
I usually make my images in Photoshop, but when I’m in a rush or when I’m creating lead magnets (those ethical bribes that we use to get people to subscribe to email lists) I make them in Canva.
It’s an easy to use system and you can create all kinds of graphics quickly.
If you want to express your creativity that’s the tool to use.
So there you go, I’ve just given you 7 free tools that you can use to improve your blog.
If you’ve found just one of these useful then pay it forward and share this with your network.