It’s hard to believe, but I’ve been blogging for almost five years now! The landscape has definitely changed, but also, I’ve learned SO many things along the way. Running a digital business can be complicated and there are numerous things that I *wish* I knew when first starting. My readers occasionally ask me for tips on how to get started with their own blog or are curious about what my personal favorite tools are. So let’s take a behind-the-scenes look at my favorite programs and resources that make my life a million times easier! 👩🏼💻
What this post covers:
- Blogging, Website, & SEO Tools
- Social Media Tools & Scheduling
- Content Planning & Project Management
- Design Programs & Photography Equipment
- Email List, Freebie Opt-Ins, & Digital Downloads
- Legal Guidance & Contracts
- Finance Tracking
Blogging, Website, & SEO Tools
Affluent: If you use multiple affiliate platforms, you NEED to sign up for this! Wow, I’m honestly obsessed. It pulls in data from all of your different platforms (ShareASale, Pepperjam, Refersion, etc.) so you can see all of your earning, commissions, clicks, etc. at a glance. There are dashboards, charts…all the things. I’m so happy I found this because it’s a lifesaver. Instead of constantly logging into multiple services, you can just use this one!
Bitly: A link shortening service that is especially helpful for affiliate linking and making vanity URLs. For example, I have a link to my media kit (https://organicallybecca.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/OrganicallyBecca_MediaKit.pdf) which is long and obnoxious, but I can shorten it to https://orgnclly.link/media_kit which is much better looking! I also use this to redirect old URLs if something changes.
Google Analytics: The best way to get insights and reports for your website! 📊 I appreciate being able to see how my website is performing, where traffic comes from, how users interact, etc. You essentially put a little code snippet into your website’s code and it all syncs up with your Google account.
Google Trends: Part of blogging is keeping up with what’s trending! This website helps me discover trends and how to gear my content towards them. For example, I can type in “microneedling” and “dermarolling” which are the same thing, but when I compare them on Trends, I see that more people search for microneedling. So that means I’ll use that term instead more frequently. Trends can also guide you to certain topics or headlines that are currently popular.
Grammarly: A free plugin for Google Chrome that highlights spelling and grammar errors. It works anywhere that you compose text in a browser, so think emails, blog posts, Google Docs, etc. It’s incredibly useful and always catches mistakes that I overlook!
Headline Analyzer: If you struggle with writing captivating blog post titles like me, then you need this! It rates your headline with a score and then explains why it sucks or why it’s amazing basically 😆 It factors in ideal title length, keywords, SEO (search engine optimization) score, powerful emotional words, and more. This has assisted me a lot with writing attention-grabbing titles.
Namecheap: Where I purchased my domain name (organicallybecca.com).
Siteground: This is where my website is hosted. To be honest, my husband is my web developer and he set this all up for me, soooooo I can’t tell you much more than that. But from what I understand, Siteground is definitely more advanced so probably not recommended if you aren’t super tech-savvy.
WordPress: I’m sure you’ve heard of this! It’s the content management system I use for my blog. It’s easy to navigate, create new posts, organize content, and there are tonssssss of plugins you can use. For example, I use AIOSEO (All in One SEO) which is a plugin that analyzes my blog posts and gives me a score regarding the readability and how I can improve the ranking of the post. You can’t expect your posts to do well if nobody is finding them! 💻
Related post: “How I Built & Monetized My Blog | #Empowerista Podcast Interview”
Social Media Tools & Scheduling
Campsite.bio: You know when people say “link in bio” on Instagram? This makes it easy to have multiple links in one place so you don’t have to constantly update your profile link. Also, a shameless plug, because my husband is the co-founder of Campsite! 😊 But, it truly is so helpful. You can have categories, animations, track your analytics, schedule links, and more.
Tailwind: I kid you not, my blog traffic skyrocketed after I started using Tailwind! Pinterest is a powerful tool that should NOT be overlooked with blogging (but that’s another story for a different day). If you do use Pinterest, then essentially Tailwind can schedule out your pins automatically at intervals so it looks like your account is always active, even if you only spend an hour a week scheduling. You can also join Communities that help get your pins seen by similar accounts and audiences. There are also features for designing pins or Instagram scheduling. I highly recommend it 📍 If you sign up for a Plus account with my link, you’ll get a $15 credit!
Content Planning & Project Management
Google Drive: I store all of my files here and they just sync automatically to the cloud from my laptop. I write all of my blog posts in Docs, use Sheets for spreadsheets, and send large files via Drive as well. It’s my file hub!
Trello: I would literally die without Trello…not being dramatic at all. I’ve used it since the very beginning of my blog to keep ALL of my ideas and content organized. You can have boards and within each board, different cards. So, for example, I have boards like: Social Media, Content Ideas, Administrative, Consultations, etc. and then within each board, there are more specific task cards. Within a card, you add details like attachments, notes, and checklists.
Trello is seriously the best and I also love being able to see a calendar view of my tasks! I don’t personally use any apps or anything to schedule and post to my Instagram for me, but this is where I plan it all out, write captions, and assign date reminders to my post ideas. I use the free version and it works perfectly for what I need.
Design Programs & Photography Equipment
Adobe Creative Suite: All of the design software such as Photoshop, Illustrator, Lightroom, and InDesign. I use these to edit photos, create graphics and Pinterest pins, and basically anything design-related! Keep in mind, I went to school for this type of stuff so I’ve been using this software for years. It has a learning curve and you can always watch tutorials or take courses to learn on your own. You could also use Canva which is similar and free but not as robust! 🎨
Canon EOS Rebel T6 DSLR Camera: Blogging requires you to pick up new skills, such as photography! I was just using my iPhone to take photos but that wasn’t cutting it. If you’re willing to learn, then it’s worth the investment of buying a nice camera. This one is fairly easy to use and is good enough for what I use it for! 📸 I use this shutter release remote control to take self-timed photos or selfies.
Creative Market: This is a marketplace where you can find so many things like fonts, icons, templates, and graphics. It’s nice being able to support small, independent designers through here!
Replica Surfaces: Pretty backdrop boards for photography. These are not cheap, but they are durable and beautiful. I also have a million poster boards from the craft store which are not as strong, but they are inexpensive and get the job done.
Riki Skinny Vanity Mirror: A must for beauty bloggers! It’s a portable LED vanity that comes with a magnifying mirror and an attachment to hold your phone. I use this all the time to record tutorials and Instagram stories! 📱
Unsplash: Free high-resolution stock photos that don’t require a license or attribution. A lot of stock photos can look really cheesy, but this site has some lovely images. I try to take a lot of my own original photography, but this is awesome in a pinch!
Email List, Freebie Opt-Ins, & Digital Downloads
MailerLite: My advice would be to start building an email list ASAP! 💌 It’s an effective way to stay in touch with your readers. Social media can be hard to reach people, but an email is way more personal! I previously used MailChimp but it was WAY too expensive, so I switched to MailerLite and it works so well for me. If you sign up with my link then you’ll get a $20 credit applied to your account! (and I will too 😄 win, win!)
You can use MailerLite to do automations so everything is hands-off. If someone joins your email list, for instance, it will trigger the automation to send them a welcome email that you set up. I also use automations for opt-ins that send freebies to users!
Shopify: You can sell physical products through here too, but I use this for my digital downloads and ebooks! It makes the checkout process for customers seamless and they’ll automatically get their downloads. Plus Shopify is not complicated to get installed on your website; it’s a widget that you can customize and have a “cart” feature on your page.
Typeform: The software I use for my Consultation intake forms and to capture payments. They are the prettiest and most user-friendly forms ever. There are tons of integrations such as Zapier where I can grab emails from a form and automatically have them added to an email list. I also use these for general feedback forms, but there are endless options!
Legal Guidance & Contracts
Adobe Sign: This comes with the Creative Cloud suite and is what I use to send contracts to brands for partnerships ✍️ You can keep everything digital and get e-signatures and it keeps track of who signed and when. No need to print out or scan anything. So cool!
I don’t do anything too fancy here. I primarily use Google Sheets to keep track of all of my income and expenses, then hand that off to my tax guy each year (yes, you should get a tax guy unless you want to rip your hair out). I use PayPal to send invoices to brands for collaborations. Easy peasy.
As you can see, there are expenses when it comes to running a blog, but there are also plenty of free options! What else are you curious to know about blogging?! I love sharing my experience and helping others so I’d be happy to put together more posts in the future. Drop your questions or topic ideas below in the comments! 💚