Blogging is about getting your ideas and thoughts in front of people. Though it makes it sound easy, just write your thoughts, and publish it but there’s much more of it. You need all diverse kinds of tools and services to not only write the content but also to do content marketing.
I always like to separate the tools in three distinct categories – Beginners, Growing and Expert.
Beginners – Tools and services with decent performance and cost-effective structure. These tools help you stand on your own with less expenditure and gives you a good base to start your Blogging journey. Most of my new blogs use these tools and services before they start earning some money.
Growing – Tools and services which can start taking some work out of your hand and gives you more time to start growing your blogs. These may be some extra services or helps in which you should look for faster growth of your Blog.
Expert – Tools and Services which I will look for my established blogs. These tools make managing established blogs extremely easy. They might come with a bit higher price range, but it also means more customization and automation. You would be able to spend most of your time on the activities which really matter.
So, you might see more than one tool being listed for similar functionality, but they will be for distinct phases of the blog.
Blogging Toolkit – Tools & Services For Online Sites
Many people have asked about the tools and services which I use to run my blogs. So rather than keeping it at various places, I have created this page. I will list all the tools and services which have helped me manage multiple blogs easily.
The idea is to have the Tools and Services list, and keep it updated as an when some old tool goes out of the toolbox or a new tool enters the toolbox. I have also separated these tools into the below categories.
The first and foremost service which every blogger need is Domain & Web Hosting. In my 10 years of blogging, I have tried all different kinds of domain and web hosting providers.
I prefer using separate hosts for domain hosting and web hosting. This gives me freedom from completely depending on one host and extra security by dividing the access to multiple accounts.
Here are the providers which I currently use for my blogs.
AWS LightSail (Web Hosting)
AWS LightSail is a hosting service that is built on AWS EC2 infrastructure and gives decent computing resources for your buck.
This is my preferred hosting solution for anyone who has some technical background and can handle the VPS server on its own. I always recommend to start your blog with AWS LightSail and move it to the different managed solution later-on once it has been established.
The good thing about AWS LightSail is there is no long-term commitment and you can start a blog for as low as $3.50. This way you will get a good idea about Blogging and the efforts required to run a blog without spending too much money upfront.
If you are looking for more information around AWS LightSail, I have written some extensive tutorials which can provide some help. Go ahead and check the AWS LightSail Tutorial.
Bluehost Web Hosting
If you are not familiar with managing the VPS server by yourself, sometimes AWS LightSail can be over-whelming. In that case, I prefer Bluehost WordPress Hosting to start with.
Bluehost has one of the best-shared server resources that will make sure your sites are served properly. Also, the optimization is on point to give you good WordPress Managed solutions. They are also a preferred partner to WordPress also and recommended by the official team.
In case you are not comfortable to manage your own server, go with Bluehost WordPress Managed Solution. It will still be easy on the pocket and will provide a good set of resources to start your blog.
Kinsta Web Hosting
Kinsta is one of the best web hosting providers which are optimized to provide WordPress hosting. Their hosting solution comes with pre-optimized servers which can take away a lot of work from your hand.
Caching, CDN services, WordPress optimization – you don’t need to worry about anything. It’s a solution that I prefer for my established blogs.
Once your blog is established your major efforts should be spent on creating content and promoting it. Kinsta takes always all the time-consuming tasks so that you can spend your time wisely.
It also comes with exceptionally good customer support which can look at any issue around your server and respond quickly.
If you want to know more about Kinsta WordPress Managed Services, you can read our detail review of Kinsta Web Hosting.
Google Domains (Domain Hosting)
I prefer Google Domains to buy and host my domains. DNS servers for Google Domains are hosted on Google networks and have a fast response time.
You can also create email forwarders easily to get email addresses for your domain. If you want the complete email functionality, it can easily be integrated with Google Suite.
The domain management services are on par with any other service provider and there are no extra charges for domain privacy. The user interface is easy to understand and allows us to get most of the work done with a few clicks.
You can easily manage your domains or renew them with your Google Account. Most of the TLDs are available for the purchase and rates are nominal. Though there are no discounts available for first-year purchase like other domain providers.
Namecheap (Domain Hosting)
Namecheap is another good domain hosting provider. They have one of the best domain management services with good customer support.
Costing wise also you do not spend much on managing your domains, so if you have many parked domains, you will love their services. Their DNS servers are also good with fast response time, so you can use their DNS services for your domains.
Their domain renewal rates are good, and you do not get charged for anything extra services like other domain name providers. They also provide support for most of the TLDs and have a good DNS network across the world.
Another service that you should look at from the start of the blog is CDN (Cloud Delivery Networks). These CDN services help you deliver your content faster to your readers by caching the big files to the closest location of your readers.
AWS CloudFront is a good CDN network with fast delivery and no monthly commitment. You pay based on your bandwidth usage and location of your content served.
The network performance is on-par with most of the top CDN providers, but the cost is on the higher side. You can get more cost-effective services from other CDN providers.
Though the cost is high, I still prefer to start the blog with AWS CloudFront because of pay-per-use costing. At the start of the blog, the CDN bandwidth requirement will be less. It grows as your traffic grows. So, most of the blogs at the start will only need to spend less than a dollar on AWS CloudFront.
As your blog grows and you reach a point where you are spending as good as other services, you can plan to move on those. Check our detail review of AWS CloudFront for more details.
KeyCDN is a CDN network that has good delivery centers set up across the world. The network performance and features are again on par with other networks.
You can easily setup up the service with WordPress by using a plugin from KeyCDN or with the help of cache plugins like W3 Total Cache. The CDN content can be served over a subdomain which can be set up as an alias.
KeyCDN also comes with pay as you go payment but the minimum payment is around $50 per year. This means you should have CDN service expense at around $4 per month before you can move to this service from AWS CloudFront.
You can check my detail review of KeyCDN services in case you want to know more.
StackPath is one of the cheapest CDN services available in the market with a good delivery network across the world. Their performance is also on par with the best CDN networks.
The minimum plan available is 1TB bandwidth at $10 a month. The only issue is that you need to spend $10 a month whether you use it or not. That’s why I prefer to start with AWS CloudFront and would like to move the established blogs to StackPath so that they can get the best CDN service network with the lowest monthly expense.
If you want to know more about the StackPath, check the detailed review of StackPath CDN Services.
SEO & Optimization
Another category of tools which every blog need is SEO & Content Optimization. This will include the plugins for caching, technical SEO, etc.
Though, I have separated other plugins in different category, this is different. Most of the plugins here will be a key to long term performance of your site and will be hard to change once you have used it for some time. Also, its exceedingly rare that you will be able to setup correctly in the first go, you will need to fine tune them as you go. So, I am only mentioning the plugin I personally keep in my Blogging Toolkit and recommend setting them from start.
Let’s check what tools I use or recommend in this section.
One of the basic requirements of any site is loading speed. This is where caching software’s like WP Rocket comes in. They allow you to optimize the delivery of your content so that it can load fast for your readers.
WP Rocket is one of the software which needs truly little setup to optimize the content delivery. It automatically detects the server config and provide configuration. You can easily customize with the provided setup panels.
This is one of the best WordPress caching plugins which can improve the loading speed of your site. I always use it on all of my WordPress sites and highly recommend it to my readers.
Technical SEO is one of the basic requirements to make sure you can provide relevant information to search engines to understand your content. Rank Math is one of the best SEO Plugin which helps in getting it done for your site. Support for all different kind of schemas are available in the plugin so that you can easily get the benefit of your SEO setup.
The plugin provide support for AMP pages, WooCommerce products, Articles, and all different schemas. Pro version increases the functionality by providing the data from Analytics along with Rank Tracker on your WordPress site.
You get most of the tools to complete the technical SEO for your site with this plugin. Best part is that free version should be sufficient for most of the site. In case you need advanced schemas, news or video site map and rank tracker, you can update to pro version.
Work Management Tools
Blogging is a full-time job, and you need tools to not only manage but streamlined your work. This is where tools like video conferencing, Notes app, Editors, Emails, etc is useful.
Microsoft 365 Basic
I have used many different project management and work streamlining tools across my professional and Blogging journey. The one I rely on, in my business is Microsoft 365.
Microsoft is a big name in the Enterprise IT Infrastructure and most of the top Fortune 500 companies use their tools. Though it’s a big company, they still have plans for SMB webmasters.
Microsoft 365 Basic combines all the required tools like Office Apps, Microsoft Teams Collaboration and Video Conferencing, OneNote, Outlook, OneDrive Cloud Storage, etc, and provides a complete package. The good thing is that their plans start from $5 per month.
They offer 1TB cloud storage with the Basic plan which itself is more valuable than the cost of the plan. It also comes with Domain Email services which can be used with AWS LightSail installs. Just subscribe and set it up easily with basic DNS settings.
One of the major work of doing blogging is creating content. Though WordPress provides its own editor to create content, you would need a tool to create content offline. I personally use Bear App to write my article and capture my thoughts.
The interface of the app is easy which allows you to write content without any distraction. You can easily create Hashtags for your writing projects and organise content under those hashtags. It also provides a direct integration with WordPress through WordPress Mobile App and can upload the completed articles to the site.
The app offers a single subscription on all the platforms including Mac, iPad or iPhone. You will get Safari extension to easily collect information from the web while doing your article research. It also provides multiple different format export options including PDF, ePub, HTML etc.
Now, let’s talk about some of the tools and services related to Podcasting. I have an active Blogging Monthly Podcast, where I talk about the monthly news and update around blogging.
I use certain tools and services to create and publish that podcast. Below are some of the important tools which make it easy for me to manage that podcast.
Blubrry Podcast Hosting
Like any other blog network, the first thing which any podcast needs are hosting. Though the blog already has a hosting, it’s better to take a podcast optimized hosting.
It solves two purposes; it removes the extra load from your web server and makes sure that the audio is streamed without stuttering. Normal web hosting solutions are usually not optimized for audio and video streaming, so they will have a tough time serving the blog pages and audio files.
I use Blubrry Podcast Hosting to host my podcast audio files. There are other good podcast hosting services but my decision to go with Blubrry is based on a few things.
First, though they have a monthly storage limit, they allow up to 25% over-usage any month. So in case, I need extra storage for any specific month, I can use that over-usage capacity without spending any extra money. Other networks ask you to purchase the extra storage for those one-off cases.
The other thing is their hosting comes with basic stats package and works nicely with their PowerPress Podcasting Plugin, which I am using to manage podcast pages on my blog. If you want to know more about their services, go ahead and check out their services.
Libsyn Podcast Hosting
Libsyn is another podcast optimized hosting which I have used with my earlier blogs. The good thing is that their minimum plan starts with $5 which gives around 50MB rotating storage per month.
The performance of the hosting is on par with Blubrry, so if you want lower storage options or want to explore podcasting, you can try Libsyn hostings.
The stats plans can be added as an optional service along with mobile apps and other features.
Blubrry PowerPress Podcasting Plugin
Though you can host your files on any of the podcast hosting, your blog still needs to understand and display podcast on your blog. Blubrry PowerPress WordPress plugin does the work for my blogs.
It allows you to define the podcast description, show-notes, and other properties. It also allows you to create iTunes friendly podcast feed which can be submitted to podcast networks.
You can also display a good looking podcast player on your pages with a podcast episode. So, this plugin can give you a complete solution to integrate podcasts on your WordPress site. It can also manage multiple podcasts shows attach to the same WordPress site.
There are some advanced option and additional HTML5 Player layouts which get unlocked if you are using the Blubrry Hosting solution.
One of the most important tools for podcasts is a good Microphone. I prefer condenser microphones to record my podcast audio and use the Samson C01U Pro microphone for the recordings.
Condenser microphones are good to record a wide verity of sound and can pick every little detail. Though if you are recording in a noisy environment, it can be a problem.
I record a podcast from my home without any proper noise insulation in the room. As long as the noise is not happening directly in the room and not very loud, it can filter it with the noise cancellation feature.
Though I have to make sure that I choose the time of the recording properly to filter any external loud noises. The final output of the Samson C01U is good enough for a starter to medium podcasts. You can go to more expensive solutions once you start earning from your podcast.
A podcast needs software to properly edit and update metadata for the audio files. I use GarageBand for all that work that comes free with any MacBook.
GarageBand allows easy editing of the files, trimming the extra noise, humming, etc. One of the best features is to create a template or starter file, which can act as a basic template for your podcast. I always create a starter template that will have a podcast start and ending section, to use it as an episode template.
Once I start working on the episode, I copy the template and start with it. This way I make sure that users are getting consistent experience on the Podcast episodes.
GarageBand is a much bigger tool and has a lot more capabilities then editing the podcast. It also might take some time to get used to but with its multi-track editing capabilities, it makes good software to generate audio files for your podcasts.
Another thing that we need for a podcast site is a theme that can highlight the podcast correctly. SecondLine Themes are one of those Theme providers which have multiple themes for podcasting sites.
Their WordPress themes not only can highlight a single podcast but can also be used for a podcast network. You can host multiple podcasts easily and show them to your readers with these templates.
If you are planning to create a subdomain for your podcasts and would like to create a separate WordPress site for them, you will like their themes.
Their themes have many predefined layouts that can highlight your podcast episodes and shows. You also get a professionally designed audio players to play your audio or video files.
Elegant Themes (Podcast Layout)
Elegant Themes is another WordPress Theme provider which has a good theme builder – Divi for WordPress. Though you can use it for almost any kind of WordPress site, they have a free Podcast layout that can be used for a podcasting site.
You can build the WordPress site for a podcast with the help of Blubrry PowerPress WordPress Plugin and use Divi Podcast Layout to display it on your pages.
Divi WordPress Theme is one of most versatile themes which can build almost any kind of layout for your pages. Using the free layouts templates provided by them, we can easily build any type of site.
You can check my detail review of Elegant Themes and Divi for more information.
WordPress Plugins & Themes
This is one of the areas which gets changed frequently, so I have decided to create a separate post about it. I will update the section once that post is live and available.
These are some of the extra tools and services which I use to manage my online presence. All of them serves a specific purpose or a need but may not fit in any of the category mentioned above.
Ecamm Live is one of my go to software for social media streaming. You can easily install it on your MacBook and set up a stream for Facbook or YouTube.
Social Media live streaming is becoming one of the fastest ways to engage with your audience and create authority. Your tools should be capable of making it easy to interact with the audience and stream quality video.
Ecamm Live can integrate easily with other services like Restream to stream the video to multiple platforms simultaneously. This is a good way to reach an audience on multiple platforms and you can easily engage with them also. For more details check the detailed review of Ecamm Live.
Social Media can bring a lot of people to your blog but at a similar time, it can be really time-consuming to keep posting on the different networks. SocialBee makes that work easy with automatically scheduling the social media posts across different networks and times.
You can connect different channels and create posting schedules for those channels. Now, if you want to share any content, you can easily add that to the channel by a chrome extension. It will automatically be posted on your social media accounts based on the schedule defined for the channel.
So, if you are looking for a solution that can help you manage your social media accounts, give a try to SocialBee.
So, these are the tools and services which help me run my blogging network smoothly. Did you find this list useful or do you think I am missing any blogging tools and services which should be part of this page?