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Growing your blog is on every blogger’s wish list. And because of this, that’s the #1 sales pitch of most blogging tools, be they products or services.
So, among all of the crap, how do you tell which blogging tools are helpful and which ones aren’t worth the investment?
Experience. Whether it’s your own experience or someone else’s.
So today I want to share the seven blogging tools that have helped me grow my blog over the last 2+ years.
7 blogging tools that helped me grow my blog
There are many more tools that I’ve tried, but these are easily the top seven that have changed my blog for the better.
Some of them cost money, which is a bit of a bummer, but for the sake of being transparent, I’m sharing with you how much I spend on each of these tools.
Mailchimp – $9/mo
I’ve said before that growing your email list is super important, and I’m saying it again. Growing your list is just as important as growing your blog. In fact, the two go hand-in-hand.
The problem, though, is that there are so many options for email marketing providers out there, and so many bloggers seem torn about it. I personally love Mailchimp (or Mailkhimp for all of you Serial fans out there…) and don’t have any plans to change in the near future.
I’m currently paying $9/mo for it because I use the automation feature (and get $1 off for adding a security setting). Depending on how many subscribers you have, you might pay more. If you don’t need automation, you can use the service for free up to 2,000 subscribers.
It’s all drag-and-drop, so it’s really user-friendly and easy to get the hang of. I use it to send out weekly newsletters and content upgrades, as well as reminders about courses and webinars I’ve got coming up. It can get clunky really easily if you want to send out content upgrades to your readers, but the lower cost makes it worth it to me.
Adobe Photoshop – $40/mo (part of Creative Cloud)
Photoshop is one of my top two programs that I use for my blog. It’s how I create all of my blog post header images, my social sharing images, and more. It’s awesome for editing photos (obviously), and can really help take your photography game to the next level.
Pinterest is one of my top referrers (no surprise there…), and that’s thanks in part to Photoshop. It’s helped me create a ton of brand consistency thanks to my blog post image templates, plus it’s helped me make some passive income on Etsy.
DSLR Camera – $650
Going hand-in-hand with Photoshop is my amazing DSLR camera. I honestly can’t say enough good things about it. When I first started out with DSLR photography, I purchased a Nikon D3000 (here’s a similar model) and loved it. But, let’s be honest, despite my Basic Media Photography class, I didn’t really know how to use it.
About a year ago, I ended up selling my Nikon and buying a Canon EOS Rebel T2i with the kit lens, a 50mm f/1.4 lens, and a 100mm f/2 lens for a whooping $650. It was like, the best deal ever. If I tried to buy those on Amazon right now, I would be spending over $1,000.
When I was sharing DIY projects on the blog, photography was incredibly important. People want to know what you’re doing, and they want nice-looking photos. DSLR photography is the way to go.
Plus, thanks to some of those photos (and therefore Pinterest shares), I was able to do a sponsored post with Fancy Feast. Not bad, eh?
Adobe InDesign – $40/mo (part of Creative Cloud)
So, now that we’ve talked about Photoshop and DSLR photography, it’s time to get to my favorite stuff: InDesign and graphic design. I love Adobe InDesign. I’ve been using it for more than 10 years and am super comfortable with it, thanks in part to how easy it is to use.
It’s very user friendly and has so many capabilities. I’ve made logos, worksheets, workbooks, ebooks, and a physical book all thanks to Adobe InDesign. I know a lot of people prefer Illustrator for more drawing-based projects like logos, but a lot of those tools are also available in InDesign (albeit in a limited capacity), so I decided to get 100% comfortable with InDesign before venturing into Illustrator.
I’ve used InDesign to grow my blog like crazy with content upgrades. My favorite part is making the interactive, so you can fill out forms and checklists right on your computer rather than having to print them out and write on them.
Oh, and have you heard about my brand new course, the InDesign Adventure Guide? I walk you through everything you need to know about how to create kick-ass interactive content upgrades for your blog!
Creative Market – Price Varies by Product
When Angela first told me about Creative Market, I was so excited. My life was forever changed. It’s an online marketplace where you can buy photos, WordPress themes, vector graphics, and more.
It’s where I got my current WordPress theme, and every Monday I get free graphics because I’m on their email list. It’s amazing.
I honestly believe that having access to all of these resources has improved my blog quality 100-fold.
CoSchedule – $10
About a year ago, I wrote a blog post about the 7 reasons I love CoSchedule. And they all still ring true, plus some. It’s not only an amazing editorial calendar for WordPress, it’s also a social media scheduler. I can tell it to post something between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m., and it chooses the time for me. Which is great, because one less decision means one less thing to take up my time.
I’m in the legacy version, which is only $10, but there are a ton more features you can get for more expensive options. Headline analyzers, Google Docs integrations, and more. And they’re always expanding it.
Honestly, if I didn’t have CoSchedule to keep me organized, And Possibly Dinosaurs would not be what it is today.
Bloglovin – $0
Social media is one of the most obvious blogging tools to grow your blog, so I’m going to focus on my favorite one: Bloglovin. Okay, so it’s technically an RSS feed, but I lump those into social media.
So, what makes Bloglovin so great for growing your blog? Lots of things. It’s very image-based, so if you’ve got eye-catching graphics (you should!), people are more likely to head over to your blog.
It also has features similar to Pinterest where you can create Collections of your favorite blog posts and save them for reference later. You can even share one blog post in multiple collections, just like you can pin something to more than one board on Pinterest. I use this to organize different resources and keep track of blog posts I’d like to share on social media. That way, I never run out of things to share!
I also save my own blog posts into a My Posts Collection, because the people who follow you can see what blog posts you’re saving. So, if you’re saving your own posts, that’s just one more way for your posts to get in front of more people.
Check out this blog post I shared a while back about how to really utilize Bloglovin for your blog.
Those are my 7 favorite blogging tools that have really helped me grow my blog. What tools do you love? Let me know in the comments
Creative market is such an amazing site!! There’s so many beautiful things, but I know I can’t afford to buy everything pretty I see – so happy they have the weekly freebies!
– Anne @ Annesmiles
Same, Anne! I just got the email about this week’s free goods and I’m SUPER excited about them!