Blogging is like baking: There are certain things every baker has in common (an oven, something to mix with, something to measure with) but at the same time no two bakers are exactly alike. Each has their favorite tools of the trade, unique ways of getting the same job done. Blogging is no different! We’re all the same, and we’re all so different. Here are the tools I use — my “recipe” of favorite blogging tools.
Self-hosted WordPress with WPX Hosting
Self-hosted is the way to go if you want to make money blogging. And as hosts go I did my research and switched to WPX Hosting this past November and have been very happy. They aren’t the cheapest but they are fast! Customer service is fast, they handle stuff for you instead of making you do it yourself, and my site improved by almost 2 seconds when I made the move from Siteground.
Kadence theme (free version)
I came from Divi and have been pleasantly surprised with the options available with just Kadence and Gutenberg. This website doesn’t use any additional builders!
Nothing kills a good read faster than bad grammar — it’s not only distracting but it degrades your authority and makes you appear unprofessional and/or uneducated. No one wants that! Grammarly is an amazing tool that not only helps make sure your sentence structure is sound (it checks for articles and modifiers, etc) but also checks for appropriate punctuation and spelling. And that’s just the free version! A serious must-have. FREE (Paid version also available)
Canva is a graphic and photo editing app and I use this every darn day to make social media and blog post graphics, Pinterest pins, headers for Facebook and Twitter, and more. What makes it really handy is it has templates for everything, either prefilled with images and text or just blank but in the ideal size for whatever it is you want to do (Instagram, etc). Also there are templates for media kits and brochures, resumes, you name it! It has a full web version and a mobile phone app. FREE (paid version also available)
There are so many planner stickers out there, but Erin Condren’s cheerful designs, inspiring quotes, and upbeat colors and patterns hit my happy place. Plus I’m a sucker for subscription boxes — I love the surprise! It’s a seasonal subscription — Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring — and really makes “being organized” a lot more bearable.
Snapseed is a photo editing app for mobile and it tops many “Best of” lists for good reason. It has filters as well as every high end editing function you could wish for. I use this for all my Instagram posts (it also remembers the edits you made last, so it’s easy to get a cohesive theme going) as well as for all my blog photography (in combination with my trusty iPhone 6). FREE
Old favorites I’ve grown out of and/or no longer recommend
This post was updated in spring of 2021, and below are a few of things I used to recommend but no longer do (for reasons listed):
Siteground (website hosting)
Why I quit: They were trendy and up-and-coming and I was with them for 3 years. But while they started out awesome for the first 2, the last year was a little frustrating. Basically they changed around their cpanel/internal structure, discontinued free migrations for new accounts (didn’t impact me but made it harder to recommend them to other bloggers) and then I had a 6 month fight with malware and no idea how it got into my website. I paid to have it cleaned out and it kept recurring every few weeks, eventually spreading to 3 other domains I had hosted on the same plan. That made me think it was perhaps happening on a server level (Siteground’s area of responsibility) but they wouldn’t even acknowledge that possibility. They insisted it was “impossible” for their security to be compromised, but of course we all know nothing is impossible for the right hacker. Now of course maybe it was something on my end, but their blanket response was frustrating. When my contract with them was up at the end of 2020 I moved to WPX and now, about 6 months later, no malware recurrence to be seen (plus I got a major speed boost!).
Divi theme (Elegant Themes)
Why I quit: Website loading speed. That’s the single reason I left. I was a Divi fan girl for many years. It is such a fun theme to use and you really can customize anything with it. That being said the rumors are true: it is slow. I optimized it as much as I could, and definitely saw improvements, but couldn’t get it where I wanted to be (under 1 second). And after much digging and research it seems Elegant Themes isn’t going to be speeding it up anytime soon. So, sigh, I made the leap to a new theme and gave it up. And you know what? I’m just fine! My new site looks great and it loads almost 2 seconds faster. I’m glad I made the switch. It was getting stressful to hang on as a supporter.
What I recommend instead: Kadence. It’s lighting fast! I’m currently using the free version (this site is built with only Kadence and Gutenberg, no website builder) but they also have a paid version that comes with even more features. I also hear Astra is very fast.
Tailwind (for Pinterest)
Why I quit: Oh how I loved the days of scheduling the same pin to 10 different boards and automatic Tailwind loops that brought my holiday content back around right on time. Pinterest has changed, and with it Tailwind seems all but obsolete. I do still love it for Instagram though — I run my mom’s art business and spend 1 morning a month setting all of her IG posts for the month (which then automatically go to Facebook as well! Such a time saver).
What I recommend instead: Pinning a few times daily manually or the native scheduler within Pinterest. It lets you schedule up to 2 weeks at a time.