29 of the Best blogging tools to grow your blog in 2021
We’ve compiled a smart and sassy list of 29 of the best blogging tools to grow your blog in 2021, and the best news is … most of them have a FREE option!
I’ve been involved in online marketing for a long while now and have developed a preferred stack of goodies I use to simplify my workflow around content writing and distribution.
This list of resources and blogging tools to grow your blog is tried and tested! I love every one of these tools. They are all vital to helping my days run smoothly. They get me organized and keep me consistent!
Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links for which I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase.
1. Planning and Strategy
This is one of those tools that you’ll either wonder how on earth you ever lived without OR … you’ll go meh…. Not for me! … I personally LOVE Trello and have used it for many years as a Chief Marketing Officer. It keeps track of ALL THE THINGS… and is perfect for either solo entrepreneurs or even better if you have a team.
You can make boards, lists and add links and notes. Best of all – it’s mega super intuitive. They have templates for you to get started if you’re stuck! And it’s FREE.
Microsoft To Do (formerly Wunderlist)
Quick and simple. Just install Microsoft To Do and you’ll have an easy list builder for all the things you need to remember. I liked this better as Wunderlist to be honest… but MTD is pretty great for a quick note on the fly.
I can hear some of you screaming from alllll the way over here in New Zealand. Ha ha ha … bare with me for a minute. One of the most overlooked ways to keep track of things is a simple spreadsheet. So, if you’re in the market for easy. This is your go to. I use Google Sheets for all things statistical… or listicle…
I run my monthly numbers through google sheets for simplicity- especially since you can program formulas into the sheets that allow you to see progress MOM (Month on Month) really fast. Set it up once and no mucking around.
Bonus: Free Google Sheets Blog Stats Template
I’ve whipped up a really simple blog stats template for you over on Google Docs here… just make sure you COPY and use your copy only, once added to your drive, BEFORE you change anything… Don’t change the original!
The cells have example numbers in them. You don’t need to enter anything in the % difference cells. These will update automatically for you as you add your own data.
2. Scheduling/ Publishing
Nothing to be sneezed at! I always, always make sure I draft up my posts in Google Docs prior to adding them to the CMS. This gives me space to free write and get my thoughts down quickly without having to worry about formatting. It also enables me to add my extra admin details at the bottom of every draft.
I’ll add blurbs for social sharing, hashtag suggestions and long tail keyword suggestions for Pinterest Pins. This way, everything is all there ready to go once I drop my draft into the system.
I use Tailwind to schedule my Pins to Pinterest. Tailwind makes it super simple to get fresh, new content up on Pinterest without having to think too much about it. I direct post my best Pins To my best boards to start with per new blog post, then schedule the rest (with 10 day intervals) to other relevant niche boards across the coming weeks. More detail on exactly how I schedule can be found here.
I also use Tailwind Communities (formerly Tribes) to maximise my reach. Tailwind Communities are pretty cool wee groups within Tailwind. Make sure you pick your Communities carefully and use them mindfully! I wrote an entire post about Tailwind Communities you can check out here.
If you’d like to try Tailwind for free – you can use this link.
Buffer is the quintessential social scheduler! It’s been around for ages and is reliable. I use the free version as I only need Insta and Facebook scheduling. Really easy to use and fast to set up.
Even though I have Buffer for scheduling my Facebook and Insta posts, I still use Hootsuite. I’ll use Hootsuite to scan my social profiles at a glance… and to also schedule in any recurring posts that go out to my Facebook Group. Like Monday, Wednesday and Friday member threads.
Hootsuite makes it easy to reschedule recurring posts, which is what I need. You can upgrade to get access to analytics etc.
ConvertKit is my number one all time favourite email provider!It is, once again, one of the mainstays. Super reliable and easy to complement. Has a great free option and a WordPress plugin for pop ups and subscribe widgets.
ConvertKit also allow you to use THEIR address if you don’t have a physical company address or a PO Box for compliance. So, it’s perfect for beginners.
If you’re creating a digital product, like a course, an ebook or a digital download or printable and need a place to sell it then Podia is your platform!
So, so easy to use and really great pricing options. They don’t take an extra fee either. It’s all included in their monthly pricing plan.
3. Distribution & Amplification
Grow by Mediavine
Ok so, this plugin is the best social sharing plugin IMHO out there. You can set it up to either show the scroll bar on the right or not. And use settings to decide on share counts etc. I LOVE this plugin.
So simple to install and set up. The Mix extension lets you add any content off the net to your Mix collections. Makes it super simple to add your latest blog posts to Mix.
4. Imagery/ Graphics
I have a Pro Canva account and was a very early adopter of Melanie Perkins’ absolutely fabulous platform! Such a game changer for the non designy folk out there…. Like me! Canva also offers a realllllly good FREE version.
I mainly use Canva for Pinterest pins and have a set of templates I use and switch out the main imagery and text. There’re a million different combinations you can use on Canva and soooo many templates to choose from.
Great design encourages your audience to want to move to the next thing… it’s all about driving your readers through a journey and great design helps with that!
Lightroom for iPhone
Ahhhh such a simple tool… and not at all scary! Even if you have zero ability when it comes to photography or editing. Grab it here.
One of my favourite sites for free stock imagery. Always make sure you credit the artist where you can! They make this easy by giving you a copy link whenever you download an image. Unsplash also has an app for iPhone which makes finding the perfect image unbelievably simple.
Same same as Unsplash. Great fresh imagery. Updated daily. Pick your vibe and create your own collections so you can easily grab what you need. Also has an app for iphone. Win win win.
5. Stats tracking
A no brainer for me. Free and FULL of info. The more you use this tool the better at it you get and the more you discover.
The easiest thing to find is your site sessions. And if NOTHING else you should be tracking this number.
Go to your account, go to Audience/ Overview and your sessions plus users and new users will be right there.
You needn’t get too clever in GA… but one wee tip is to look top right and click on Insights. This super clever wee tab will give you loads of info! It will show tips on things that have been going well…
And will also slightly further down give you a list of basics to choose from! So, so simple and one of my favourite hacks of ALL TIME.
Google Search Console
Another great free tool where you can actively track how you are doing in the search rankings day by day. GSC will also highlight if there are any errors on your site, which is super helpful!
SEMRush is a very, very cool tool that helps you to run all sorts of marketing and paid ads campaigns… but most importantly SEMRush helps you to find AMAZING keywords, search for content ideas pertinent to your niche and topic ideas, see backlinking opportunities, optimise your website and landing pages for SEO and kick competitors butts!
I’m totally IN LOVE with SEMRush and all it can do… there’s a tonne of FREE features and you can easily upgrade to a monthly plan if you need more.
Moz Free SEO tools
Moz has some crazy good free resources to use to help you find keywords nad check out your competitors.
One of my faves is MozCast! Which tells you what the weather is like at Google on any given day.
We all know how rubbish it is when we hit an algorithm change… but MozCast will let you know if something’s amiss if your traffic suddenly tanks! The hotter and stormier the weather the more Google rankings have changed. So look out!
Ohhhh this is a goodie! Easy peasy to install, the MozBar extension is one you can pop on and off at your leisure. Turn it on and your search query on Google instantly becomes SO MUCH MORE valuable! It gives you PA and DA for each search result. Oh my gosh! So you can instantly see what sort of sites are ranking for the keywords you are researching. Simple.
A freebie on Neil Patel’s website. Ubersuggest allows you to type in a keyword or domain URL and get access to keyword suggestions. Super simple. The free version allows for a limited number of results. But still worth it.
Clever wee plugin for wordpress.org. Free! And enables you to check your SEO on any post you write. Yoast SEO helps you create snippets that work well with your keywords and also let you know tips on how to up your SEO game on any particular post. Pretty cool tool.
Yoast will also give you a readability score. Which, to be honest I often don’t pay attention to. But! There are always some handy tips in there to make your post better.
Plain old Google. Yep ,that’s right! Start there. So,so simple. But if you enter your idea… you can easily see what others are =writing about that idea… see long tail keywords that you might be able to use and also pick up on how your competition fears for these keywords, especially if you’re also pairing it with the MOZbar.
Pinterest is no slouch when it comes to researching keywords. Theres a few different ways you can do this. Know your ideal audience. And then type a query that they may be earching for in the Pinterest search bar. This will give you a liost of recently queried terms.
If you then click on one of these results it will take you to a new screen… where it will expand upon this with subtopics! the world is your oyster!
Another way to to go into ads on Pinterest. Head on down to keywords. Type in your query and it will literally show you how many monthly searches this term has! WOWSERS!
Lastly you can go to Analytics/ Audience Insights and garner a wholllle heap of info there about what your audience is searching for.
7. Website & hosting
I’ve added this in, even though most aren’t really tools! Because I think it’s important to build your foundation on solid ground. So, I’m sharing my foundational platforms as well.
There’s a massive difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com. Sure, they both use the same open source software. And have the same name. But the big difference here is that WordPress.org lets you do much much more with your own blog than wordpress.com can.
WordPress.org is a self hosted platform for bloggers. You need to get your own domain name and secure your own hosting. But a self hosted blog allows you to monetize, customize and optimize your blog! See here for a full run down.
If you go the self hosted route – like I mentioned above, then you’ll need to get yourself some hosting to go with that funky new blog.
There are some pretty great cheap hosting companies out there and my preference is Siteground or Lyrical Host.
Siteground were super helpful with me moving my site from wordpress.com and have continued to offer amazing support ever since.
They are pretty cheap to start with. I pay around $7 per month. But watch their renewal pricing can jump a bit, so make sure you lock yourself in for a few years at the great rate!
Another amazing Host company. Lyrical Host are Super friendly, and their prices are really reasonable. Lyrical prides itself on being the host for bloggers. And they live up to that reputation.
Lyrical Host will even migrate your current site for FREE. So good.
The great thing with Lyrical Host too is that their renews are not super high. So you wont jump form a starter price to a massive one when you renew.
Bonus: Lyrical Host also has a free resources library. With loads of great blogging resources.
Tip: Use my code LOUISE10 to get 10% off your first payment at checkout.
Bluehost is a fabulous option if this is all really new to you! You can literally get started for $3.95 a month. This is a fabulous option if you’re testing the waters and want to keep costs down.
Soooo, when you host your own site- this means you’ll also have to take care of things like doing back ups and making sure plugins are up to date.
Plugins are pretty easy as your dashboard on wordpress.org will show you when one is in need of an update, and often your hosting provider might offer a backup service. But best to be covered. I use Updraft Backups, a plugin on wordpress.org. Easy to use and you can also back up to an external source like Google Drive or Dropbox.
There’s so many great tools and resources to help you make your blog successful! Every ambitious blogger needs to find the technology stack that’s right for them.
Picking the right tools for your needs means you’ll not only get a massive productivity boost but you’ll also take back a huge amount of time!