You can’t build a house with only your bare hands; you’ll need tools. The same thing goes for your blog. If you’re only starting your blog, you’ll need tools that get the job done. In today’s blog post, I list down the best blogging tools for beginners that you can use.
If you’ve only started blogging, you’ve probably read about all sorts of tools you can use to build and maintain your blog.
Bloggers with more technical knowledge may be having a whale of a time in the early days, but if you’re a complete and utter beginner, you’re probably overwhelmed from all the possible tools you can use and wondering which ones do you really need and which ones will be the best fit.
Today, I list down the best blogging tools for beginners that you can start using for your blog. Check them out, then bookmark or download them, whichever is applicable, so you can start using them immediately.
Important note: They’re not all free, but I’ve done my best to only include paid tools that offer great value for money. Prices are correct as of the time of writing, but are subject to change.
Important note 2: This post contains affiliate links, which are clearly indicated. If you click through and subscribe or make a purchase, StoppingScams.com may earn a commission at NO EXTRA COST to you.
First things first: let’s deal with the foundation of your blog. This includes where your blog resides and where your blog content is stored.
These are crucial to get right the first time because if you change your mind and switch to another service in the future, it’s going to be a huge pain in the butt to do it.
And… that’s it. This is the only CMS I would recommend, beginner or not.
First and foremost, you have full ownership and control of your blog from the start, which means when you’re ready, you can monetize it any way you want. Plus, because it has plenty of room for customization, you can make it into anything you want to in the future: membership site, ecommerce site, or remain a blog.
Admittedly, it has a bit of a learning curve, but this is one of those times when learning to do something takes some effort but then it’s totally worth it.
WordPress runs 30% of the entire internet. There are a lot more WordPress statistics in that article, if you need more convincing that WordPress should be the only choice you should be considering.
Domain registrars are where you buy your domain name. I strongly recommend buying this separately from your hosting, because they’re typically more expensive when they’re packaged together for almost no value added (i.e., for no good reason).
Namecheap is a bit pricier upfront, but definitely less expensive in the long term.
GoDaddy remains one of the most popular domain registrars, and while they offer one of the deepest discounts upfront, they turn out to be one of the most expensive ones in the long term.
Hosting providers offer storage for files and software so that your blog is functional.
When you’re only starting with your blog, shared hosting (i.e., you share storage with any number of other website owners) is more cost-efficient than dedicated hosting (i.e., you have dedicated storage space). Aim to get dedicated hosting when you’re consistently getting tens of thousands of visitors a month.
Bluehost offers one-step WordPress installation plus an enhanced control system to set up your hosting quickly and painlessly, plus they offer 24/7 customer service. All in all, Bluehost offers the best value for money.
SiteGround is a close second to Bluehost, as you receive less disk space and bandwidth compared to the same-priced package in Bluehost. Nonetheless, their customer service is stellar, which is a big thing if you’re only just starting out.
In the beginning, you don’t want to spend too much time tweaking and tinkering with your theme, but because you’re going to do this anyway down the road, let me give you my recommendations. Note that since the only CMS I recommended was WordPress, I’m only recommending WordPress themes.
Also note that these are premium (i.e., paid) themes. You can find plenty of free themes, for sure, but premium themes are consistently updated, which means they’re more secure and developer support is available.
What’s unique about Thrive Themes is that the themes they have on offer are designed to convert. That is, convert casual readers into subscribers or buyers or even members.
With that in mind, Thrive themes are focused on the user experience (UX): usability, readability, speed, etc. Not to say that themes from other companies completely discount these, but there is a tendency for aesthetics to be prioritized rather than UX elements.
Plus, if you spring for $19 per month per website for access to the entire suite of products, you get an entire toolkit for converting your readers. An opt-in form builder (affiliate link), a general page builder (affiliate link), and a comments plugin are just some of the nifty tools you can use.
You’re probably like, “You said ‘for beginners’!” and yes, some of the features may be advanced for you at this point. But wouldn’t you rather buy your theme, which is a basic need for your site, from a company that offers all these tools that you’re likely to use in the future when you monetize your blog?
The Genesis framework by StudioPress is the most popular theme framework for WordPress. It’s not hard to imagine, as Genesis and its child themes (i.e., themes built on the Genesis framework) are search engine-optimized and responsive.
Plus, because there are so many users, the support system is amazingly helpful.
Aside from the basic Genesis framework, StudioPress also offers the child themes bundled with the Genesis framework for roughly $130, or the Genesis framework with their entire existing library of around 60 child themes plus all child themes they develop in the future for roughly $500.
These are one-time payments for lifetime access, updates, and support. The prices are jaw-dropping for a beginner, yes, but you don’t need to buy all the child themes at this point. Just pick one and buy that.
If you’re finding it difficult to choose a child theme, the good news is that these themes have been reviewed by other bloggers and website owners, and you only have to do a Google search to read about them, which will help you decide which one best fits your blog.
When you get your website and your blog all set up, the next thing to consider is creating your content.
Content is the lifeblood of your blog; it’s what’s going to keep your readers coming back for more. So it’s best to pick tools that will help you create the best content you can.
You probably chose your niche because you know a lot about that subject. But there will be times when you’ll be at a loss as to what to write. Here are some tools to use when you’re out of ideas.
Input up to three nouns, and then click a button. The blog idea generator will give you five titles you can write about. If you don’t like the first set or if you need more, click the button to try again.
Simple, a bit imperfect, but useful to get your creative juices flowing.
This one is even easier. Just click the button and it’ll generate titles with blanks for you to fill in.
Straightforward topic generator; there’s nothing else to really say.
Riding on the popularity of a trending topic on Twitter may be time-sensitive (as in you only have a limited time to type up a blog post before it becomes irrelevant) but can be effective in driving traffic to your blog.
Look no further than the trending topics on Twitter to get an idea of what’s happening in Twitterverse. If you’re not writing for the people in your location, you can change the location where Twitter gets the trends it displays to you.
While we’re on the subject of trends, you can also check out Google Trends to see what people are searching on Google in a particular location. As with Twitter trends, you can change the location settings to see what’s trending in different locations.
Given all this, I don’t advise writing about trends too frequently. Evergreen content, that is, content that is still relevant after a long time is still the best type of content to focus on.
Writing blog posts around keywords that your target audience is searching for is the smart way to go about creating your content. Knowing the right keywords that should lead your audience to your blog determines whether your blog will get traffic or not.
In addition, writing around long-tail keywords gives your content a better chance of being found by your target audience.
Long-tail keywords are phrases that are more specific and normally longer than more commonly searched keywords. Because these are more specific, these get lower search volume, but they’re more likely to attract visitors that are interested in your topics and will come back for more.
Ahhh, the oldie but goodie keyword tool.
Use this to search phrases related to your niche and discover new, long-tail keywords, see how often these keywords get searched in a month, and get an idea of how the competition looks like.
Google Keyword Planner is a handy tool, but it gives you keywords that may not be related, and it’s pretty difficult to sift through all the keyword suggestions it gives.
Answer The Public does a better job of finding long-tail keywords that are more accurate reflections of what users are really searching for. This is a more effective means of figuring out what your target audience wants to know more about.
Its unique feature is it allows you to visualize the data almost like a mind map. You get questions related to the word or phrase you input, phrases with different prepositions, and comparisons with other words or phrases.
As you can see, the results aren’t perfect either, but having the data visually arranged like this makes it easier to see which ones are and aren’t going to work for your purposes.
At the bottom of the results page, it also gives you related phrases that you can search for as well to give you even more keywords. You can also download the data as a CSV file that you can then open on a spreadsheet application so you can see it in list format.
The downside is that they don’t give data on search volumes. You’ll need to use this with another keyword tool, say Google Keyword Planner, to have an idea of how competitive your keyword will be.
Premium keyword tools are an excellent investment, when you consider how much keyword research you will actually do during your entire blogging journey (hint: A LOT) and how much time you’ll save by having a single, reliable keyword research tool.
Long Tail Pro (LTP) is such a premium keyword tool. What makes it so easy to use is that it takes all the factors you consider when choosing a keyword and boils them down to a single number called Keyword Competitiveness (KC) through a proprietary algorithm.
Based on your website’s traffic, backlinks, and many other factors, LTP will calculate a range of KC values that is ideal for you to target. When doing your keyword research, all you need to check is if the KC value of that keyword is within the recommended range to know if that keyword is worth writing about.
They even provide a keyword research course via Long Tail University, which is included in the starter plan.
LTP is feature-packed and certainly worth the price, so if you can spring for even the starter plan, go for it.
Ever fired up Microsoft Word, Notepad, or TextEdit, start typing up your blog post, and then think to yourself “There must be a better way.”
And this is not to say that these applications suck; it’s just that as a blogger, you have different needs than the average writer or note-taker.
You want a place to jot down and organize your ideas, a distraction-free environment to write in, and a means to check your work for correct spelling and grammar.
Evernote started the whole “notes in the cloud” trend that is now the norm, and they’re still in the game. Evernote allows you to take notes, create checklists, and paste images in notebooks that you can access from two devices in the free plan and from unlimited devices in the premium plan.
Evernote is versatile, but Google Keep is a good alternative in case you want more of a simpler, “sticky-note” type of application.
This is good if you just want to write down blog post ideas or simple to-dos for your blog. It has a reminder feature as well, so you can receive an alert for certain notes.
When you’re researching for an article you’re writing, you’re likely to be reading plenty of other articles or watching instructional videos. Instapaper is a convenient tool for saving articles, videos, and images into one place that you can access later from your other devices, even your Kindle, even when you’re offline. This is certainly preferable to having thousands of bookmarks on your web browser.
Truth: Not all bloggers are great writers.
Most of us need a little (or plenty of) help in that department.
Hemingway Editor is minimalist text editor that checks your grammar, but more than that, it checks how readable your article is by checking sentence length, passive voice usage, complicated words, and other indicators.
After you’ve written and edited your article here, you can then publish it directly to WordPress as a draft or as a live post, eliminating a few steps from your workflow.
It’s important to note that this isn’t meant to “kill” or “suppress” your writer’s voice. We all have our own distinct styles of writing, and it’s meant to appeal to our target audience and make our writing resonate with them. But it’s also good sense to correct glaring grammar errors, like “you’re, your” and “their, there, they’re” errors.
If what you prefer is a minimalist text editor that helps you achieve your writing goals, you’ll like FocusWriter.
Its interface is a hideaway one; that is, you move your mouse to the edge of the screen to access it. It has basic spellcheck, built-in timers and alarms, and you can set it up with writing goals (either writing time or number of words) and it tells you if you’re meeting your goals.
If you’re the type of person who gets visually distracted, or if you’ve set up a writing routine that involves you having to write a minimum number of words a day, you’ll find this application useful.
Grammarly is primarily a spelling and grammar checker for proofreading text, but it also features a plagiarism detector and gives you suggestions to enhance your vocabulary.
You can use it online as a web app, or you can download the desktop app if you don’t want to open your browser when writing (distractions, amirite?).
When you install the Chrome extension, it’s going to work on compatible text boxes where you can type. You can tell when Grammarly is active when you can see the little green logo at the bottom right corner of the text. It works for emails and social media updates.
And yes, it works with the WordPress text editor, so if you’re the type to type your article straight into WordPress, rest assured Grammarly will check your spelling and grammar.
The premium version of Grammarly gives you more insight into your grammar errors and adjusts the feedback for whether you’re writing formally or informally. But honestly, the free version should be enough for your needs as a beginner.
Headlines are crucial in convincing your target audience to click on the link to your article and proceed to read. Your article’s headline is generally what your audience sees first on their search results page and when it’s shared. That split-second decision to click your article is mostly influenced by your headline.
Content Row’s Link Bait Title Generator comes up with link bait titles for your topic that will get your article stand out among the noise of other articles vying for your target audience’s attention.
As you can see, the results aren’t perfect, and some of you may not like their style of headlines and want to stick to more formal or factual headlines, but this tool can still help you when you’ve been beating your brains out for an hour trying to make a great headline.
It’s hard to know what type of headline your audience will find “clickworthy.”
CoSchedule considers words and phrases in your title, counts the number of characters and words, and boils it down into a headline score that indicates how well your headlines will theoretically.
Remember, though, that just because you scored high on this analyzer doesn’t guarantee clicks (and just because you scored low doesn’t automatically mean your headline sucked).
Sharethrough Headline Analyzer works the same way but has a different algorithm. Thus, it normally gives a different score than that given by CoSchedule. You also get a bit more information than CoSchedule gives.
Just like CoSchedule, take the score with a grain of salt. Don’t get overconfident with a high score, and don’t get disheartened with a low score.
Images also play a big role in making your content engaging; they provide visual breaks from chunks of text, they add to your SEO (through the image attributes), and they make your content shareable on social media.
Naturally, you want to get photos that are visually appealing, but you don’t have the budget to pay for stock photos.
The solution? Get your stock photos from websites that offer royalty-free, CC0-licensed images. If you’re unsure what “CC0” means, this summary of its legal text should clarify that for you.
Pixabay is a pretty simple image repository that boasts of a large collection of high-definition photos and a search function that is pretty accurate.
Despite Pixabay’s large database, sometimes you’ll need photos they don’t have. Look for them in Unsplash next.
While their search function gets a little muddled when your search query is two words or more, Unsplash has more aesthetically pleasing photos (to my amateur, untrained eye at least).
There will be times that you’ll need a little more than a simple stock photo to convey a message. You might want to make infographics instead, or maybe you’d like some text superimposed on a photo for posting on social media.
You may already have image editing software like Photoshop, or graphics design software like InDesign, but if you don’t already have them installed or you think they’re too expensive for what you plan to use them for, here are a few alternatives.
The GNU Image Manipulation Program, known as GIMP, is a desktop software that is an excellent free alternative to Photoshop. It can open almost any image file type and offers plenty of features and functions to retouch and refine photos and images.
Canva is a graphics design web application that has gained popularity for being a budget-friendly version of InDesign.
The free version of Canva already offers so much: user-friendly interface, huge database of stock photos, icons, fonts, and templates, and easy resizing for different social media platforms and email newsletters.
Canva offers a wide variety of online graphics, but Stencil is designed more for bloggers and social media influencers that are looking for a quick way to design images for posting.
Stencil has fewer images on their database than Canva, but they make up for it by making all of it available for everyone, even free users. Another cool feature is that they can send photos to your mobile through SMS so you can post it on Instagram in a snap.
Optimizing your content for search engines is an important way to drive traffic to your blog. You’ll need a tool that helps you analyze your on-page elements, such as your headline, text, images, and all other components of the pages on your website so you can make improvements.
Another oldie but goodie, Yoast SEO is a WordPress plugin that is still the SEO tool to beat. And yes, this is the only SEO tool I’m recommending because other tools just can’t hold a candle to Yoast SEO.
It allows you to set a focus keyword (one in the free version, several in the premium version) for a blog post or a page. Yoast SEO then analyzes how optimized your on-page elements are around that focus keyword and makes recommendations.
This saves you a lot of time and energy from doing all the analysis yourself and allows you to focus on creating stellar content for your audience.
Veteran bloggers know this: before you even create a massive promotion plan through any channel (social media, email, or content marketing), you need to know the baseline data; that is, you need to know the current behavior of your site visitors.
Where are they coming from? Did they find you on Google, Facebook, or Twitter? Did someone email your link to them? Do they read through your articles? How long do they read before they skip away? Do they click your recommended links at the bottom of your article?
These are just some of the questions that a good analytics tool can answer for you.
Another granddaddy of the internet marketing tools is Google Analytics. Every veteran blogger has likely used this tool to track the metrics of their website, such as how many visitors there were, where they were coming from, and what they do on their site.
It has all the information you need, but then it gives out so much information that Google and so many other websites offer numerous tutorials on how to use it. The learning curve is steep, but once you figure it out, it’s going to be worth it.
Google Analytics has been around for ages, but even if numerous tutorials are available and so many users have experience with it, Google Analytics presents so much data that even advanced users have a hard time with it at times.
Clicky offers a user-friendly alternative to Google Analytics that’s free for pages that have a maximum of 3,000 pageviews a day, which makes it perfect for beginners. Its dashboard looks way different from that of Google Analytics, but it offers a great overview of the metrics you need to know.
Initially, you’ll need email autoresponders when you send out email newsletters for your subscribers. Later on, when you delve into monetizing your blog, you’ll need this service for your email marketing and promotions.
MailChimp is free for the first 2,000 subscribers, with up to 12,000 emails per month, which makes it an ideal marketing service when you’re only just beginning to grow your subscriber list.
Drip has a free plan, too, but only until the 100th subscriber. Nevertheless, their features such as tracking, automations, and personalized campaigns are well worth their monthly fee.
AWeber offers plenty of features as well, such as automations, integrations, and great customer service, but they’re slightly less developed than Drip. Choose AWeber if you want more features than MailChimp but you’re on a budget.
You can make this right in WordPress, but landing page creators save you so much time and effort.
You don’t have to think too much about how to optimize conversion for your opt-in forms and landing pages because their templates are already designed for conversion. Landing page creators also take care of integrating your page with your email autoresponder.
Plus, landing page creators are typically either drag-and-drop builders or block-on-block; you don’t need any coding experience to create your landing pages.
If you’re already using MailChimp, you can create landing pages with their free drag-and-drop landing page creator. They only offer 2 templates but are customizable with fonts, colors, and images.
It’s relatively new (a few months old as of this writing), so it’s very bare-bones. You can’t use your own domain name and you can’t do A/B testing. But if you’re just beginning to explore landing page creation, you can definitely try this out.
QuickPages is a free landing page creator that offers 6 templates and a point-and-click functionality, meaning you don’t need to have too much technical knowledge to make it work. This is a great, simple way for beginners to have landing pages ready to go in a few minutes or hours.
It doesn’t allow A/B testing, but it does give you the number of times it was visited, how many conversions, and calculates the conversion rate for you.
ONTRApages is another free landing page creator that offers an additional function: creating opt-in forms.
There’s branding because it’s free but otherwise it’s not hard to master. Plus, the free version doesn’t allow you to use your own domain. They offer 40 templates, certainly more than QuickPages, and greater flexibility in designing. Also, connecting to your email service provider is simple and straightforward.
ONTRApages offer A/B testing, so you can test which version of your landing page converts better. They also offer metrics, so you know how many visitors your page has, plus they calculate the conversion rate for you.
If you’re ready to take your email marketing to the next level, you can go with LeadPages.
It’s best to use when you already have a product or two to promote, like an eBook or an email course. LeadPages offers more features than the free landing page creators I mentioned above, like more templates (from super basic squeeze pages to more advanced Thank You and Coming Soon pages), easy integrations, displaying payment providers right on the page, and A/B testing.
The right tools will help you get the job done. Always choose the best ones you can get.
Here again are my recommended blogging tools for beginners:
Which one of these tools are you already using? Did I miss any other great ones? I’d love to hear them! Share it in the comments!
JoAnne is your average, everyday, sane stay-at-home mom who believes in the power of the internet to make dreams come true. She has an insatiable appetite for chocolate, as well as all things internet marketing. She keeps up with the latest trends in blogging, affiliate marketing, e-commerce, and more.