The Complete Tool Kit I Use To Run My Blog Smoothly

The Complete Tool Kit I Use To Run My Blog Smoothly

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It’s never a one system show.

At least not the blog that doesn’t overwhelm you and that you actually look forward to working on daily.

Blogging is like directing an orchestra, with each piece needing to fit in and do the work seamlessly for the harmony to make magic, right?

I could come up with a million more comparisons—but, these are the reliable and easy to use systems that keep Teal Notes up and running like a boss.

Read through to find out the good + not-so-good of these tools. And of course, steal and use as many as you’ll find helpful for your own blog.

Running The Site 

This is arguably the most important part of it all.

Making sure your site is running reliably on good fundamental systems is key to not feeling overwhelmed, avoiding technical headaches in the long run, and making things as budget conscious as possible.

WPZOOM

I remember scrolling through themes for HOURS trying to find something that spoke to me. I don’t exactly remember how I got on WPZOOM but once I did I found my theme within a few mins.

But never mind that. Every. Single. Time. I’ve had an issue or want to change something but don’t know how their customer support answer within hours or within a day.

They’ve even gone as far as helping me with some HTML code modification (which I’m not good at…yet). So far WPZOOM rocks for responsive themes and even more responsive customer service. Check them out.

WordPress

Ah, WordPress. The bane of…no one’s existence, really. In my own journey, it has definitely facilitated my blogging TONS. What else can I say? It simply makes putting up your very own site a doable everyday thing.

So far, in the words of my little brother, ‘WordPress is bae.’

Google Analytics

This is such a helpful tool to avoid being blind sighted in terms of what all is happening with your blog’s traffic. Google analytics, the tool almost every blogger swears by, helps me look at actual traffic patterns and loads of additional useful data about my site.

This can help a lot when it comes to the when and where’s of marketing your content. The best part is that it’s free.

Don’t leave for tomorrow what Google analytics can do for you today.

Bluehost

In my experience, Bluehost has been a reliable entry level hosting site for bloggers on a budget. Have they answered my emails pretty quickly? Yes.

Have they offered an easy to use interface? Not necessarily. That takes some getting used to. But have they crashed or done anything weird with my site? Not at all.

Their customer service is responsive, which with things like hosting, is important to me. I’ve spoken to them live a couple of times to retrieve certain blog info and it was mostly hassle free ( such a requirement) and super helpful.

They’re pricing comes as low as $3.95 a month. That’s about what I find in spare change under my couch.

Have they been overall good hosts? Yes. Check them out and see which plan fits your blogging needs the most and start your blog…well, right now.

I wrote a looong post on how to get started with blogging here. It’s super useful as a beginner roadmap.

Marketing

Tailwind

Tailwind or BoardBooster? Tailwind or BoardBooster (or both)? The theme question of the Pinterest marketing strategy every blogger wrestles with at some point.

I finally decided to go with Tailwind because at a glance it just seemed like it had more features and…it honestly just looked more reliable to me.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard many good things about BoardBooster (even thinking of using both systems) but for right no I’m really happy with my Tailwind results.

While the user interface takes a bit of getting used to ( it has many categories and subcategories) it’s a great tool for bulk pinning your content and letting it work its magic in the background while you sip coffee ( or mate) and write content.

I’ve disciplined myself to set one day during the week where I concentrate and get all my pinning done for the following week.

Tailwind makes all this super easy.

ConvertKit

First I was afraid. I was petrified.

What if I accidentally send everyone pictures of my dog in my underwear (I don’t even have a dog)? What if I send a highly personal email to a bunch of people by accident?? What If…??

But, after watching a few tutorials (Patt Flynn’s is one of my favorites), and taking the plunge ( I invested in a solid email system from the get-go) I found ConvertKit to be one of the easiest and intuitive email marketers to use.

There’s literally no excuse for confusion on the system. It’s laid out for you in plain English and in a sequence that is easy to understand.

I had previously toyed around with MailChimp, but I soon got frustrated and had no idea what I was doing with it. That’s when I turned my gaze onto ConvertKit and its been a heck of a lot easier ever since.

ConvertKit is worth the investment. Give it a try and check them out here.

Their plans start at $30 for your first 1,000 subscribers.

Design + Content Creation

Canva

I was the biggest snob whenever I came across a Canva post/ad. I thought my ‘design skills’ were too good for a ‘basic’ online graphics creator—but is it too much of a stretch to say that Canva has changed my life?

My design life anyway. It. Is. So. Easy. To. Use. And intuitive. It’s designed so that anything you need, whether it’s an image you uploaded, a shape, or an icon it’s never more than two or three clicks away.

I love that downloading your stuff is basically a one step process and every time you get back on the site it has got your every project saved.

I use it for pins, Instagram images, and any blog graphics I might need.

Unlike Illustrator who would sometimes slow down my laptop and take a while to load (though it’s got more features that I love more than hate), Canva is just quick. It’s just convenient.

Grammarly

It’s the editor every blogger seems to be using. And for good reason (It just pointed out I needed a comma for “it’s” right now).

Grammarly is one of my favorite tools to use + check my writing with. Simple spelling and grammar on Word just doesn’t cut it anymore for any written content.

(I wrote a post on the best online tools to make you a better content writer you can look at for upgrading your written content that goes beyond just checking spelling and grammar).

For a small fee of $0 Grammarly checks for grammar AND style. So you aren’t stuck with pristine punctuation but horrible sentences.

I love that it quietly follows you around the internet catching any mistakes you might make on a blog comment or application.

If I were to make a slogan for it, it would be ‘Grammarly: Making you look smarter…since whenever it was launched.’

Give it a try. You’ve got nothing to lose and great content writing to gain.

Pexels

Hands down, after going through list after list of free stock image sites, this one is my very personal favorite (amongst a list of close others). I hesitated to even include it on this list because I feel like it’s my own little (not so secret) secret.

Best photos. Nuff’ said.

Oh, and they have a WIDE variety of photos for most anything you’d need for a blog.

Oh, and you can choose which size to download them in.

Oh, and it’s free.

Dropbox

It took me forever to get on the Dropbox wagon, but after much frustration with organizing and keeping content and images in one reliable place, I felt it was time to look for a secure and hassle free option.

Enter the box. It holds my files across all my devices and is seamless to use (you don’t need a bunch of clicks to achieve storage of your goods).

WhatFont

WhatFont is my favorite little undercover tool that I thought would be worth a mention here. I’m sure you can relate with me when I say I’ve visited countless sites where right away I want to find out—

“WHAT is that font they’re using that makes everything look so damn good?’

The answer? WhatFont.

Just get on the site, download the app to your browser bookmarks bar, and anytime you need to find out what font someone is using just click the app and click on the font. It even tells you the sizing and line spacing.

Go investigate fonts.

Adobe Illustrator

Though this is a more advanced (and costly) design program, it’s still excellent to use and can do the unimaginable design wise. It’s no wonder it’s the industry leader in graphics creation.

Plugins

(Since there are so many plugins out there I might have to draft a separate post about all the useful ones I’ve found. Otherwise, these are my top 3.)

I Had no idea what plugins were when I started this blog, but once I did, I used the heck out of them (tastefully, of course). The best ones:

Yoast SEO

SEO doesn’t have to be a hassle especially if you’re a beginner. Once installed, Yoast looks through my posts and find things to fix or add to optimize your SEO for better rankings on Google and better overall findability online.

I’m currently using the free version and it gives me peace of mind about the overall SEO of my content.

Disqus

A great plugin for moderating comments on your blog. Easy to install and use once you open your own account.

Shareaholic

This button makes sure all my content is as easily shareable as possible and it’s also responsible for the ‘additional reads’ section at the bottom of every Teal Notes page.

It’s a useful plugin and can be customized according to your own blogging needs.

You can download the plugin here.

Support

Billionaire Blog Club

My friend Scrivs hosts a BBC for all of those interested in making it in this big bad world of business blogs (don’t let the name intimidate you). It’s got helpful insider knowledge on marketing and is currently growing its network of bloggers.

Scrivs has been a huge motivator and an even bigger helper in my blog journey. After spending more than a decade building sites and working on various blogs he builds and markets himself, he knows a thing or two.

My first blog comment ever (which took me forever to grow the balls to post) was on one of his posts and he responded so quickly my heart jumped. #firstsuccesfulbloggerinteractionever.

Check out Scrivs’ wizarding traffic skills here and see if BBC is something you’re interested in joining.

P.S. If you do join the club, after registering, look for my blog and shoot me a message! 😊

Facebook Groups

The Facebook groups I’m loving and have witnessed to be the most helpful to me and many other bloggers all in different stages of their blogging careers are (in no particular order):

My Pro Blog and Biz

Blogging Boost

Freedom Hackers

Boost Your Blog

Blogging 101

So far these are the tools I’m in love with and rant about constantly. I don’t know where my blog would be without them!

Actually, I do. In the black hole of non-existent blogs. Seriously.

Using these blogging tools= make your life easier= laser focus on your content.



 

  • Vivian

    I’m currently using the free version of Canva. It’s great for drawing up guidelines and quick Insta images. I definitely don’t use it for bigger, more complex jobs.

    I’m an absolute Adobe head. Totally in love with Illustrator for vector images and find plenty of nice free images out there too!

    Yes! I’ve been seriously considering using Boardbooster. It’s on the to do list for sure. I’ve heard too many good things about the looping feature to ignore it. Thanks for commenting!

  • I used Canva for about 4 minutes. Once I realized that most of the “good” images weren’t free I was like, “pass”. I’m just too much of an Adobe freak from a design standpoint to let Canva get in the way. I’d rather have access to 700+ images/month via Shutterstock for a lot cheaper per image-wise.

    Try using the best features of both Tailwind and Boardbooster. In my PInterest Secrets course I encourage the use of both, because neither offer the best features of each (Boardbooster with the looping, Tailwind with the tribes and content controlled scheduler). Big fan of Yoast. I’m totally with you there.