You’ve finally made the decision: you’re going to start a blog. You’ve started to dream up content that you want to create, your niche is decided, and you’re excited to finally dive in to this new project. But blogging requires some prep work, and you can’t do it all on your own – you need the best blogging tools in your back pocket to help you as you begin your blogging journey. You wouldn’t start baking a cake without a mixing bowl, and you wouldn’t start building a desk without a hammer – you need your tools. Blogging is no different – but you might not know what tools you really need to get started.
I’ve been blogging for many years now, and I’ve tested and tried a litany of tools of the trade as I have perfected my own blogging process. That’s why I’m so excited to share with you today some of the best blogging tools for beginners so that you are able to know exactly what you need to get started. You’re passionate about your blog, and you want to make sure that you do it well, right? That’s where I come in. I’m here to give you all the tips and tricks you need to start your new blog off strong and set yourself up for success. Read on to learn everything that you need to know!
What Are the Best Blogging Tools for Beginners?
You’ve selected your blogging platform. You know your niche. You’ve purchased your domain name. You’ve gone through the fun process of selecting colors, identifying the kind of content you want to be creating, and brainstorming and dreaming up everything you want this new blog to be. But let’s be honest – there’s more to creating a successful blog than that, and you know it.
When you first start blogging, it can be super overwhelming to try to figure out what tools you need to be using. As a blogger, you’re trying to come up with inspiration, create content (and ideally optimize it for monetization!), share with your audience, market yourself on social media, and keep yourself organized amidst it all. It’s a lot to juggle! You know that you need to have tools in place to make this process as simple and straightforward as possible while maintaining the quality that you know your audience deserves. When people come to me with a freshly started blog, one of their most frequently asked questions is what they need to use to get their blog off the ground successfully. That’s why I’m here to walk you through the best tools to help you move forward with confidence.
Content Planning and Organization
First things first: you need to plan out your content. You can only fly by the seat of your pants for so long – if you want to have a consistent blog with quality content, you’re going to need to do some planning, and you’re going to need a way to stay organized.
Everyone has a different method of organization that works best for them, so if the first thing that you try doesn’t feel like the right fit, don’t be afraid to try something else! You want to aim for an organizational method that is sustainable longterm as opposed to just jumping into the first system you find. Hopefully, you’ll be blogging for the long haul, and you want a system that will support you through it!
Trello is one of the best organizational platforms on the market – and it’s free! I like to think of Trello as the Pinterest of planning. Within Trello, you create boards in which you can plan out projects and organize them into cards. It’s intuitive and easy to use, and also makes collaboration simple if you want to bring other people on board – no pun intended – with you.
For example, if you create a Trello board for your blog content, each month could be split into its own list, with each blog post you plan having its own card on the list. On that card you could brainstorm, store links and images, set due dates, or assign tasks to other team members. Trello also offers over 100 integrations, so you can connect your Trello with platforms like Google Drive, Google Docs, or Slack. Trello is also available not only on desktop but as an app, so you can plan out content on the go – perfect if you travel as frequently as I do!
Personally, I have found ClickUp to be an absolute lifesaver when it comes to organizing my content as a blogger and content creator. I plan and prep all of my content within ClickUp, and it has made my life so much easier. I love that it keeps all of my tasks in one place, and that I can view different dashboards for different aspects of my blogging life – for example, I can have a dashboard for blog content, a dashboard for podcast prep, and a dashboard for YouTube. The flexibility is so nice!
I also love that ClickUp offers a ton of automations, so that I can take certain tasks off my plate completely. I can set up recurring tasks and reminders so that I no longer have to worry about remembering to add something to my list each week – with ClickUp, it’s already that. ClickUp, like Trello, also has great functionality for collaboration, so if you want to work with a team, it’s a fantastic option.
As a blogger, your job doesn’t end with creating and publishing content to your blog. If you want to have a proper web presence and get your work in front of the people who care to see it, you have to build up a presence on various social media platforms. And if you want to do social media well – you guessed it, you’re going to need to plan out your content in advance.
UNUM allows you to plan out your social media feed so that you don’t find yourself opening up Instagram and wondering what you’re going to post today. Instead, with UNUM, you can plan out your content weeks in advance – choosing photos, making sure that they look good together in your feed, and even taking the time to add in captions and hashtags so that when the time rolls around, all you have to do is post. With UNUM, you know that you’ll maintain the look on your Instagram that you love, and can rest easy knowing that you don’t have to scramble at the last minute anymore to throw a social media post together. It’s already ready to go! Trust me – planning out your content will make your life so much easier.
Graphics and Visual Tools
When you first think about blogging, you probably think of writing the posts themselves, but what about the visual elements? There’s more to a blog than just the written content – in today’s digital era, you need graphics and images to make your blog pop in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Not really your thing? Don’t worry – it’s easier than you might think. You don’t have to break the bank on expensive photography equipment, or spent years of your life learning to perfect Lightroom and Photoshop – though it’s always worth taking the time to learn new tools. As a new blogger, however, you’re just trying to create good content – and you can do that quickly and easily.
Keep reading for my favorite tools to take the visual elements of your blog – whether that’s content within your blog posts, or pieces to be incorporated in your overall site design – to the next level.
I cannot sing the praises of Canva enough. If you aren’t trained in graphic design but still need graphics and visual elements for your blog and social media presence, Canva has you covered. You’ll be creating professional looking graphics in no time, and it couldn’t be an easier or more intuitive process. Canva has great templates to get you started, with so many customizable elements to make them your own and to fit your branding.
When you’re first getting started, you can sign up for Canva’s free plan, which honestly is one of the best free blogging tools on the market and has everything that you need to begin creating graphics you’ll love. However, if you’re planning to blog for the long term, I would recommend investing in a Canva Pro membership. It’s only $12.99 per month (or $119.99 per year if you want to sign up for a year at a time!), so it won’t break the bank, and it will allow you to create visual content that both you and your audience will love. You’ll look more professional, and you really won’t believe just how easy it is.
It’s no secret that if you are going to be a blogger, you are going to need aesthetic photos to share on your blog, as well as to use on your social media. You might think that you have to invest in an expensive camera, fancy equipment, or purchase high-end editing software, but that is no longer the case. You can actually get great quality photos by simply using your phone and editing them within an app. Some of the most popular are apps within the Adobe Creative Cloud, but there are so many options available!
As a blogger, you need to know which photo editing apps best suit you and your needs, and you need to be comfortable using them! I could spend forever talking about the importance of photo editing apps, but if you don’t yet know which ones you love, I actually have a blog post about the best aesthetic photo editing apps. Be sure to pop over and give that a read if you are still new to photo editing – it will make your life so much easier more quickly than you can imagine!
After all – don’t we all want life to be a little more beautiful?
3. Stock Photo Websites
Being able to take your own photos is an important skill for any blogger, but let’s be honest – no one has the time and resources to take all of your own photos, especially when you are just starting out as a first time blogger. One of the best blogging tools for a beginner blogger to have in their tool belt is a good aesthetic stock photo site that you can quickly pull from as the need arises. That way, if you need a photo but don’t have the time to go and take it yourself or don’t have the resources for what you need – for example, if you need summery photos for content while you’re stuck in the middle of a snowy January day – you can quickly go and grab exactly what you need.
Lucky for you, it’s never been easier to have the best stock photos at your fingertips. There are some fantastic stock photo websites out there that offer FREE stock images for you to use. Unsplash offers stunning stock photos, and Pixabay is another favorite of mine for free photos. If you truly are serious about blogging, it also might be worth investing in a stock photo site you love that specializes in photos for creators. On these sites, you’ll find photos that are geared towards aesthetic content creation. Haute Stock and Social Squares are both great sites where you can find gorgeous stock photos. You do have to pay for a monthly membership on both of these sites, but if you take into account the time and money that they save you from having to take the photos yourself or outsource to a photographer, it’s well worth the investment.
Writing and Content Optimization
Let’s get down to the nitty gritty – the content. You know when you start a blog that you are going to be spending A LOT of time writing. But how can you make that process easier for yourself? And how can you make sure that your content is best optimized to reach the people you want it to? Whether you need help tweaking the details or are searching for the best way to dive into SEO, there are tools ready to get you exactly where you want to be.
Keep reading to learn how to take your written content to the next level!
You might be familiar with Grammarly from your school days, but if you’re not, your life just got so much easier. Grammarly is a plugin that will save. your. life. because it checks your work in real time for grammatical errors, making sure that you produce clean, grammatically correct work. It has a fantastic built-in plagiarism checker to make sure that you aren’t accidentally pulling too much content from any one of your sources, and it integrates with Google Chrome for easy use. You also have the option with Grammarly to type directly into their browser, which can help eliminate distractions and allow you to easily make the changes they suggest.
If you’re trying to up your blog posts’ ranking in search engines, Hemingway is a great tool to improve your writing and make it more search engine friendly as it pays specific attention to the readability of your work. It highlights sections that are too dense or wordy, and gives suggestions for how you can simplify or make the piece more readable. It also can pick up on grammatical errors, which is great if you want to use one tool for everything. Hemingway does not require internet, which makes it great for working on the go, but it also does not integrate with Google Docs or Microsoft Word, so know that you will not be able to access it as a plugin.
Readability is almost as important as SEO! You want to be certain that your readers are having the best possible experience on your blog, and using a tool like Hemingway is a great way of ensuring that is the case.
For my newbie bloggers: I cannot emphasize enough the importance of SEO. SEO, or search engine optimization, will truly make or break you as a blogger because a good SEO ranking is what ensures that your blog posts are found by people online. The better your SEO, the more likely that you will be one of the top choices on Google when users are online looking for answers to their questions or for the kind of content that you are creating. SEO can be daunting at first, but like anything in life, the more that you master it, the easier it will become and the more it will work to your advantage.
Yoast SEO is one of the best blogging tools for improving your blog’s SEO. Basically, it’s a plugin that scans your work as you write and lets you know how it will score both in regards to SEO and readability – like Hemingway, it checks to make sure that your blog posts aren’t too dense or wordy, so that they do as well as possible in search engines.
From an SEO standpoint, it will let you know when you need to be using your keyword more or less frequently, and will help you optimize your meta description, slug, and more. It will suggest how often you should be using internal and external links, and will give you concrete, specific feedback as to how you can improve your blog’s SEO ranking. Yoast is compatible with a large variety of content management systems, so no matter your process, Yoast can be your go-to SEO tool.
I use Yoast to improve the SEO ranking of all of my blog posts, and love how easy it makes the whole process. As I create posts in WordPress, it gives me a color ranking – red, orange, or green – to let me know how I’m doing. Yoast breaks down SEO in a way that is easy to understand, and helps me make sure that all of my blog posts are optimized for the best possibility of high ranking!
Another great SEO resource is All in One SEO. This SEO plugin is specific to WordPress, and will analyze your on-page optimization. Like Yoast, it gives you concrete tips to improve your ranking and make sure you’re scoring high on your SEO.
Additionally, it helps improve your image SEO, social media integration, and provides tips on improving your click-through rate, resulting in higher traffic – and, if you’re monetizing your blog, higher sales.
All in One SEO is a fantastic tool for making sure your SEO is ranking well. Again: SEO is SO important, especially as you work to establish your new blog’s presence online. You want to make sure that you’re starting off strong, and using a good SEO tool is the key to doing that!
Before you even begin diving into SEO, however, you need to dive into keyword planning. After all, you can’t begin working on ranking for SEO if you don’t know what keywords you want to rank for! Having a keyword planning tool is vital to making sure that you have strong, well optimized content on your blog.
Keyword Planner is a great free keyword research tool that is perfect for beginning bloggers just starting out and hoping to better understand the process of selecting keywords. Keyword Planner was actually initially created for ad creation, but many bloggers have found it to be an invaluable tool for their blog posts. Remember: choosing the right keywords for your blog can increase your organic traffic in huge ways!
Essentially, Keyword Planner helps you research keywords to discover what the search volume of that keyword would be. It also provides you with related keywords and phrases, so if the word you initially planned to use isn’t the best choice, you can find another option that is a better fit.
By taking the time to research keywords, you will be able to create a content strategy that works best for you and can discover the best topics and phrases to be focusing on as you create content. Better keywords = better SEO = more people finding your blog. Why wouldn’t you take the time to learn all you can?
Other Great Blogging Tools
Okay, we’ve gone through the basics. You know how to organize your content, and you have a plan in place for how to best go about creating both the written and visual content for your blog. Hopefully, you’re starting to feel good about the tools you are going to be using moving forward, and are excited to begin creating content that you’re passionate about. But the list of blogging tools out there really is endless, and I couldn’t help but leave you with just a few more of the best blog tools, just for fun.
And remember: you don’t have to dive into everything at once! After you have taken the time to get into a rhythm with the tools that will make your everyday life easier, you can begin learning and incorporating new tools to your repertoire. There’s never a point to stop growing! There is always more to learn and discover. Piece by piece, you’ll find yourself discovering what works best for you – and once you hit that stride, that’s where the true magic begins to happen.
I know, I know – talking about analytics can be scary and a little bit daunting. But it’s also really important, and well worth the time it takes to better understand it.
That being said – Google Analytics is not always the most beginner-friendly tool. However, it yields results that matter, so whether you want to take a course to better understand it or outsource the initial setup to a pro, it will be worth it in the end.
Essentially, Google Analytics tracks the behavior of your users. You can gain an understanding of where users are interacting with your blog and where you’re losing them so that you know how to better structure future content. It gives strong insights, and from those insights, you can discover how to keep your readers active and engaged with your content.
Starting Google Analytics early on in your blogging career also means that you’ll have a great history to be able to look back on and see specifically how your blog’s readership has grown and evolved with time. After all, as you grow, it’s always good to be able to look back and see where you started.
Email marketing is a big deal when it comes to blogging. There are few better ways to reach your audience than by showing up in their email inbox – after all, think about how often you find yourself scrolling through your own inbox when you’re bored at work or looking to see which of your favorite brands are running a sale this week. Instead of waiting for your readers to come to you – to check out your blog or care enough to tap through your stories on social media – with email marketing, you come to them.
Mailchimp is an easy way to get your newsletter list going strong. Whether you want to email your audience when new blog posts drop or you’re looking for a fun, personal way to connect with your readers on a biweekly or monthly basis, I strongly recommend starting up a newsletter list. After all, if you can get in their inbox, it’s just one more way to remind your audience that you’re around and that you have content that’s valuable to them.
Like I said earlier in the post, as a blogger, you also need to establish your presence other places outside of your blog – namely, on social media. Social media is one of the fastest and most effective ways to reach people, and it would be ridiculous not to utilize that however you can. Social media marketing is the name of the game nowadays, and the sooner you’re able to begin using social media to drive traffic to your blog, the faster you’ll see real, concrete growth.
But let’s be real here – no one has time to sit around posting on social media all day. You have things to do, places to be, and amidst the ever-growing list of tasks on your to-do list, it can be far too easy for posting on social media to fall to the wayside, even if you have already taken the time to plan out your content in advance. After all, all the planning in the world doesn’t do anything if you don’t remember to open up the app and post!
That’s why I love scheduling out my social media content in advance. When my content is scheduled, I don’t have to worry about being online at the right time or missing my ideal posting time window. Automating my social media is a huge time saver in my everyday life, and it also saves me a lot of stress and mental energy. I love knowing that everything is going to go out when it’s supposed to, and I can just focus on the other things I need to do. I also love that it allows me to spend the time that I am on social media focusing on the things I love, like engaging with my followers. Connecting is always better than worrying about manually posting!
That’s why social media scheduling apps are such a valuable tool for bloggers. Planoly is a great option because it’s totally free – no extra fees, and it gets the job done. It allows you to store your hashtags in-app, so you don’t have to type them all up every time, and it even provides the ability to get creative with planning out your feed just like you can with UNUM! It’s such a valuable tool in the long run, but even if you don’t go with Planoly, trust me – you need a social media scheduling app.
There’s no denying it – at some point, you are going to find yourself stumped for content. No matter how much you love what you’re writing about or how passionate you are about your niche, writer’s block will hit, and when it does, you’ll find yourself wondering how you can possibly come up with a single new piece of content.
Never fear – writer’s block doesn’t last forever. But when it hits, you’re going to want to kick it to the curb as quickly as possible. That’s where HubSpot’s Blog Ideas Generator comes in.
With this blog idea generator, you plug in up to five words that describe your niche or the content that you want to be writing about. You are then provided with an auto-generated list of blog ideas! If that alone isn’t enough to get you through your slump, you can also fill out a form to receive a year’s worth of content ideas, as well as advice on how to up your SEO strategy. And it’s all free! Idea generators are incredibly useful for keeping you from getting stuck in a paralysis rut of not knowing what to do next, and as you get better and better at keyword research, idea generation tools will help you to create more specific content.
Trust me – it never hurts to have some extra help when it comes to brainstorming your next step forward.