I've been blogging since 2008 (man I feel old!).
When you've been blogging for that long, you inevitably use 100s of different blogging tools.
I've blogged on Squidoo (remember that site, haha), Blogger, and WordPress. The latter is the only CMS that stuck.
As a blogger I've had big wins and many flops.
I've taken multiple blogs from zero to 100k+ visitors a month, and also failed miserably (even after investing tonnes of time and money).
In this article, I want share the blogging tools I use today.
Unlike many of the articles on this subject, I'm not going to try list every blogging tool under the sun.
Instead I'll show you exactly which tools work for me and why I love them. Most are free and great for beginners, but a few cost money and are a little more advanced.
Buckle up, let's go.
Best Blogging Tools
Tools to Generate Blog Ideas
You'll never have a successful blog post unless you can generate good blog ideas.
Nowadays I use advanced keyword research for generating blog ideas (covered further below), but I also check in on the following free tools.
Quora is an incredible resource for bloggers. Not only can you find great ideas for your next blog post, but the Quora platform is also amazing for researching insight.
Simply type in a broad topic and look at questions that people are frequently asking. If you see the same or similar questions coming up, or you see questions with lots of answers, you know this is potentially a popular topic for a blog post.
Answer The Public
Another free service I sometimes use is Answer The Public. This tool provides insight on what people are asking online.
All you need to do is type in a broad topic, and tool will generate a keyword map of the most common questions related to the topic.
It also provides keywords with prepositions (in, at of, to etc.) in them, and my personal favourite, comparison keywords (x vs y, a or b etc.). You can easily generate many great blog ideas using Answer The Public.
Other tools I use for blog ideas are: BuzzSumo (great to see what content performs well on social channels).
Tools for Keyword Research
If you're looking to take your blog to the next level, then I'm afraid you're going to have to invest in paid blogging tools for keyword research.
I use two paid tools for keyword research.
Ahrefs is in my opinion, the best SEO tool on the market. It has incredible features for checking backlinks, tracking rankings, analysing the SERP and competitors, conducting site audits and of course doing keyword research.
In terms of the latter, I always start a new blog with Ahrefs Keyword Explorer. Using this tool, I'm looking to analyse the search volume potential, the keyword difficulty and the competition. Basically, Ahrefs helps me figure which keywords to target.
KeyClusters does this by analysing a set of keywords and seeing which keywords share the same ranking pages. Where 3 or more pages rank for a set of keywords, they are clustered together. Using this tool I'm able to figure out all the keyword variations I need to build into a blog post to rank for a universe of keywords.
For example, above you can see an output from KeyClusters showing the keyword variations related to "chicken recipes". Each line is a unique blog article idea.
Tools for Organising Blogs and Getting Sh*t Done
To scale a blog efficiently you need to be super organised. A haphazard approach without a clear blog strategy and process for getting the work done, will not generate results.
I use three main tools to manage my blogging efforts.
There are tonnes of fancy tools for project management - Monday.com, Asana, Trello, Click Up etc. - but when it comes to blogging I remain convinced that all you need is a good Google Sheet.
For example, here is a snapshot of the content plan for Contentellect's blog.
I really like Google Sheets as you can collaborate with writers, hyperlink to Google Docs and track an articles progress. It's also free!
You can have all the blogging tools in the world, but ultimately, if you procrastinate and avoid the work, your blog will never come to life.
I'm a big procrastinator. I've tried all sorts of ways to fix this vice and the one that has stuck is timing myself. Here's what I do.
- Remove all distractions from my desk. My #1 distraction is my phone, so I literally put my phone in another room.
- Head over the egg timer, and setup a 90 minute session.
- I then commit for the next 1 and half hours to do nothing else but write my blog post.
This is by far the most important and effective tool I use. It's amazing how much you can achieve in 90 minutes of focused work. Try it out.
Tools for Content Optimisation and SEO
During the writing process I use a few content optimisation and SEO tools to ensure my blog posts are web-ready!
Frase helps me generate a detailed content outline based on the Google SERP. It helps me identify which topics and questions I need to cover, and how to structure my article in such a way that demonstrates topical authority.
I write all articles inside Surfer SEO. This tool provides guidance on how I can optimise my article based on insight from the Google SERP.
The tool helps me decide on how long my blog post should be, which words need to be naturally included in the text and even how many paragraphs, headers and images need to be in the text.
Finally, when I upload my article to WordPress I use the free Yoast SEO plugin to ensure I cover all on-page SEO bases.
Tools to fix my terrible spelling and grammar
Grammarly is another amazing free tool, which I don't think I could live without. The tool helps correct all my poor spelling and grammar errors. I make a lot of these.
Grammarly integrates seamlessly via a Chrome extension or you can install their WordPress plugin. I use both and it's an absolute game-changer. There really is no excuse not to use this tool.
Other tools I use for improving blog grammar: Hemingway (great to optimise a blog posts for readability). It's also free and easy to use.
Tools for Pictures
A blog post that is all text sucks. You need to add media to your blog posts to encourage engagement, improve time on page and help convert readers to customers.
Here the image tools I frequently use.
Pixabay is a massive free stock image library. I'm not a huge fan of stock imagery, but it beats no images at all or risking the use of a copyright free image. You can also get free illustrations, vectors and videos on Pixabay.
Sometimes, if I can't find an appropriate image on Pixabay, I'll also check Unsplash or Pexels.
I love memes (there, I said it). But in all seriousness, memes are a great way to engage readers and illustrate your points in fun ways. I use the meme generator from IMG Flip.
I also love using illustrations for blog posts. In fact, most of the featured images on Contentellect's blog posts are illustrations.
I use Undraw for these images. They have a massive library of illustration files and you can add your brand accent colour to customise each image.
Here's the image I created for this blog post.
Tools for image editing
Sometimes I like to jazz up my images. This is especially true if I'm planning to post the image to social media or if I need a Youtube thumbnail to accompany a blog post that I've turned into a video.
Canva is my go-to tool for image editing. They have an amazing library of templates for every design need, and many are free!
GIMP is an open-source free software that basically gives you the same functionality as photoshop. I use GIMP to compress images (ain't nobody like large file sizes), and I also use it to add highlighted sections to images, like this one below.
It has loads of more features, but that's all I use it for.
Tools for Video
I mainly use Loom to record short SOP videos for my team. But sometimes I also use Loom to create a screen share tutorial for blog posts. I like Loom as it's free and easy to use. It comes with a Chrome extension that allows me to quickly record my screen, and it has a neat feature that also records me whilst sharing my screen. Here's a video I did recently for a blog post on finding question keywords.
If I want my blog post videos to be a little more polished, I really like using InVideo's online video editor. As I'm not the most technically savvy person, I find InVideo very easy and intuitive to use in terms of stitching clips together, transitions and editing. It comes with a massive library of stock media and music.
Tools for blog post distribution and promotion
Finally, with my blog post ready it's time to get generate buzz. I keep things pretty simple and use just two tools for distribution and promotion.
Every blog post I write gets added to our email newsletter sequence that gets sent weekly to our clients, subscribers and prospects. I use ActiveCampaign for email marketing. It's a fairly advanced tool with great automation features. For example, here is the start of the Contentelllect email sequence.
You can setup triggers (for example, when someone clicks a link in an email you can add a tag or move them to a different sequence etc.). It also integrates with most platforms, making it easy to capture and nurture leads.
I also add new blog post into the social media scheduling tool, Buffer. I've used Buffer for years and really love their scheduling software. It's easy to use and integrates with all the main social media channels I care about.
Blogging Tools FAQ
What are the best blogging tools for beginners?
The best blogging tools for beginners are WordPress for a CMS platform, Google keyword planner for keyword research, Grammary and the Hemingway App for improved spelling/grammar and readability, and Pixabay for free images and video.
What are the best free blogging tools?
Some of the best free blogging tools are Quora for blog ideas, Grammarly for spelling, Yoast for search optimisation and Google Sheets for managing and tracking blogs. There are many other free blogging tools like Pixabay for free imagery and Canva for image editing.
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