29 Best Blogging Tools for Beginner Bloggers in 2020

Last updated on June 29, 2020  ∙ by Edwin Contreras8 comments
Best blog tools to make money online

I may earn a commission for purchases made through links in this post.

Most jobs can't be done right without the right tools. In this blog post I'm going to share with you the best blogging tools for beginners.

These blogging tools are the ones I actually use to run my six-figure blogging business.

I've already done the work of trying everything and eliminating what works and what doesn't, what you need and what you don't.

This list of blogging tools will save you time, money - even your sanity.

On with the list! On with the list I say!

List of the 29 best blogging tools

1. Grammarly (Writing)

I'm not gonna lie, my grammar is atrocious - but it would be so much worse if I wasn't using Grammarly.

The free version is good for spelling mistakes, using words in the wrong tense, and for missing commas.

However, it's the pro version where this tool helps you become a better writer.

I use it to eliminate wordiness and run-on sentences. It also helps me rid my content of weakness and uncertainty.

For example, it will change:

"I think we should be able to solve this issue."

"We can solve this issue."

And it will help you find better words:

"I was very happy when I learned that Grammarly can help my writing get better."

"I was thrilled when I learned Grammarly can help improve my writing."

Grammarly

Grammarly is a free browser extension for Chrome/Firefox, but also works in Google Docs and Microsoft Word.

Canva graphic design tool

I use Canva to design all my Pinterest pin images. It's incredibly simple to choose a template, make your changes, and have a pin created in minutes.

I also use Canva to create the featured images you see on my blog. I also use these to share on Twitter and Facebook.

Featured images built using Canva

You can drag an image into your design, add some text overlay, change the font and color, and it is done.

I have Photoshop but never use it anymore. It's just not necessary when I can get the same result in Canva much faster.

Canva

I use Canva Pro to access their library of premium stock images, resize images, and to store my brand colors and fonts for quick use.

3. Thrive Theme Builder (Blog design)

Thrive Theme Builder

As far as blogging tools go there's none better than WordPress itself. WordPress is by far the best and most popular platform to start a blog with - far outpacing Wix and Squarespace (source).

To design your blog using WordPress, there's plenty of free themes out there to choose from. But what you'll soon notice is that customizations are limited. And good luck if you want to make additional changes, as you'll need to learn CSS or pay a designer.

You can take a massive shortcut and just use a visual builder like Thrive Theme Builder or Divi. When you use a visual builder (instead of a regular theme) you can design your blog exactly how you want it using a drag and drop visual editor.

This means you can design your own blog without hiring a designer or needing to know a bit of code.

If you want more on blog design, I wrote a guide on how to design your blog from scratch here.

Thrive Theme Builder

Do Six Figures was built using this theme. 'Nuff said.

4. Elementor (Page builder)

Elementor page builder for WordPress

If you have a visual blog builder like Thrive Theme Builder or Divi, you're all set since each of these serve as page builders too.

But if you have a free WordPress theme, you need to use a page builder like Elementor.

When you use a page builder, you can turn boring text/images blog post into one with rich elements like rating boxes, thumbs up or down, click to tweet, etc.

Elementor

Visually design your blog posts using the most popular page builder for WordPress.

5. ConvertKit (email marketing)

ConvertKit email marketing

It's very difficult to make money directly from your blog. After all, readers don't know you nor do they trust you.

By starting an email list you'll start building a tribe of followers who trust you and ultimately will buy from you.

Focus on building your tribe of followers every day, they will be your business's best asset.

"To make money blogging you need to have an email list. There's just no way around it."
Click to Tweet

I use ConvertKit for email marketing. When you use this link to sign up for free, you get to build unlimited forms, landing pages, and send emails to up to 1,000 subscribers.

ConvertKit

With ConvertKit you can set up optin forms, collect & store your emails, and send automated email sequences to new subscribers.

6. Thrive Leads (List-building)

Thrive Leads list-building plugin

In case you haven't gotten the memo, nobody joins newsletters anymore. This doesn't mean that email marketing is dead. You just need to create an enticing offer to get people to sign up.

This offer is called a lead magnet. It's just a file (usually a PDF) you send to new subscribers. It can be an ebook, a cheatsheet or even a free course.

You also need opt-in forms that are a little more "in your face". We're talking welcome mats, exit intent lightbox forms, two-step opt-ins, ribbon forms (that stay on top), and slide ins.

This is why I use the lead generation plugin Thrive Leads. The opt-in forms you see on Do Six Figures were made using this plugin.

I go over more ways to get more email subscribers here.

The best feature of Thrive Leads is the ability to conduct A/B testing. Now you can truly compare two optin forms and see which one converts best.


The correct way to conduct an A/B test is to only change one thing on the form (the call to action, button color, lead magnet or headline). Then wait until you see which one works better.


Then, change something else and start another test. You keep running tests until you find the design and offer that converts best on your site.

Thrive Leads

My favorite opt-in form is the two-step opt-in. This form isn't a form at all. It's actually just a link (or button) the user clicks on to get the form to appear.

7. Tailwind (Marketing)

Tailwind Pinterest scheduler

Tailwind is the Pinterest scheduler I use to automate my Pinterest marketing. Tailwind has four main sections.

  • Scheduler

Pinterest wants you to be active on the platform, pinning every day. With Tailwind you can batch pin and let Tailwind share your pins on a schedule.

You can set up your pins to be shared for months in advance if you want.

  • Analytics

See which pins are performing the best and which ones are duds. Plus, you can see which boards are doing well too.

Analyzing your Pinterest stats is important for developing a solid Pinterest marketing strategy.

  • Smartloop

With Smartloop you can recycle your older best-performing pins and loop them back to the top of your Pinterest boards.

  • Tribes

A tribe is a group of users who actively share each other's content on Pinterest.

Tailwind

Use this link to sign up for free. In the free version you can schedule 100 pins, join 5 tribes, and add 30 pins to your tribes every month.

8. ThirstyAffiliates (Marketing)

Thirsty Affiliates plugin

ThirstyAffiliates is a WordPress plugin that hides your long ugly affiliate URLs. Here's why this plugin is a must for any blogger doing affiliate marketing:

  • Cloaking. Turns a long affiliate link into one like this: https://www.dosixfigures.com/go/thirstyaffiliates/
  • Security. Hides your affiliate code so malware can't replace your affiliate ID.
  • Centralization. You can change an affiliate link one time at the source.
  • Categories. Organize your affiliate links into groups.
  • Statistics. You get detailed stats on who's clicking on your link and from which page.

ThirstyAffiliates

The true benefit of this plugin is the ability to see which blog posts your affiliate clicks are coming from.

9. ExactMetrics (Blog stats)

Google Analytics WordPress plugin

You need Google Analytics installed on your blog, like yesterday. You need to know who's coming to your blog, how they are getting there, and what they're doing once they get there.

Each of these data points are crucial to building a successful blog.

For many beginner bloggers, navigating Google Analytics is a bit of a minefield. There's just too much data to sift through to get just the information a blogger needs.

I use ExactMetrics to see analytics data directly on my WordPress dashboard. I customize the look of my dashboard with the metrics that matter most to me. Namely, those are pageviews per session and time spent on site.

ExactMetrics

Look at only the important Analytics data that matter to bloggers right on your WordPress dashboard.

10. Cloudflare (Content Delivery Network)

Cloudflare CDN

To get better rankings in Google search you need a fast blog. One way to speed up your blog is to switch to a faster web host like the one I use, WPX Hosting.

Another way to speed up your WordPress blog is to use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) like Cloudflare.

What is a CDN?

A CDN is a network of servers spread around the world who work together to provide fast delivery of your content. A CDN will cache copies of your website across their servers, which improves page load speeds.

Note: I don't use Cloudflare's CDN, I use WPX Cloud, the CDN offered by my host.

Cloudflare

If you get traffic from around the world, a CDN is a must to improve your page speed.

11. Ubersuggest (SEO tool)

Before you ever write a thing, always start with keyword research. Otherwise, you will waste a lot of time writing articles nobody is searching for.

Using Google to search for a keyword and seeing what autocompletes is a good way to get an idea over what keywords are popular in your niche. You can do the same for Pinterest and their search engine.

But we need some more data first before deciding whether it's a keyword phrase worth writing about.

Knowing how hard it is to rank for a keyword is also important information.


For example, the last thing you ever want to do is write a generic weight loss article. While the search volume is high, it's downright impossible to rank well for that search term.

With UberSuggest you can get an idea of volume and difficulty to rank for a keyword. It's also useful for getting related keyword ideas.

You can also use it to get content ideas by seeing what other bloggers who target that keyword have written about.

12. LinkWhisper (SEO tool)

LinkWhisper plugin

Building a strong internal linking structure is important to let Google know which pages are most important on your website.

A typical structure is Homepage > Cornerstone content > Supporting content.

In this example your supporting content link to each other and all link to the cornerstone piece of content.

I used to do all of this manually - and it was a pain.

Now I'm using the LinkWhisper WordPress plugin to recommend internal link opportunities. I can also add links from old content to my new posts easily, which is what makes the plugin so useful to me.

Another benefit is the data the plugin lets you see. I can see how many internal (and external) links any given article has.

This is helpful because if I have an article that is important to me, I want it to have plenty of internal links pointing to it.

Broken links leading to 404 pages are a bad user experience. They can also hurt your Google ranking. And yet broken links are inevitable, especially if you're linking to 3rd party sites in your blog posts.

LinkWhisper can also scan your entire blog, look for broken links, then remove or fix them.

LinkWhisper

Internal links can help your SEO by telling Google which posts are most important to you based on the number of internal links pointing to them.

13. GTmetrix (SEO)

Slow-loading sites are a pain. Google doesn't like them either. Do a quick check of the top 5 search results for any given search term and you'll see all of those sites load fast, really fast.

You can test your site speed at GTmetrix.com. Rather than focusing on your score, look at the recommendations to improve your site speed.

You should also look at the Waterfall tab to see how long each element on your blog takes to load. This can help you identify what's eating up your blog speed.

Here's exactly how I get my site to load fast:

I wrote an entire article solely on how to speed up your WordPress blog right here.

Note: Don't go overboard trying to land a perfect score. The goal here is to have a fast loading blog, not reach a specific number.


Page speed is one of those blogging rabbit-holes you want to avoid wasting too much time on.

14. Pexels (Stock photos)

You can't just use any image you find on Google Images on your blog. There are copyright laws and you don't want to be caught using an image without permission.

To avoid all this, stick to using stock photos only.

There's plenty of stock photo sites, but by far my favorite is Pexels. It has everything you need, a fast website, a search bar, and oh yeah, boatloads of royalty-free images!

I use Pexels for all of the pictures you see on this blog (other than screenshots of course).

If you're doing any kind of visual marketing (like Pinterest pins or running ads on Facebook), you will want to use DepositPhotos instead. That's the premium stock photo site I recommend for finding images nobody else is using.

15. ShortPixel (Image optimization)

Shortpixel Image Optimizer | 1 of 12 Best WordPress Plugins

If you want to provide a good user experience, you need a fast blog. And to have a fast-loading blog you need to optimize your images. Badly optimized images are the number one cause of a slow-loading site.

Not only is it annoying, it can destroy your Google rankings.

Luckily there's a really easy way to optimize your images. You can download the ShortPixel WordPress plugin and let it do all the work in the background.

Simply upload the image to your blog and the plugin will optimize the image automatically. There are no extra steps you need to take.

I use the Glossy setting, which creates images that are almost a pixel-perfect copy of the original image. It usually takes a 130KB image down to 90KB.

Shortpixel

Usually images are what take the longest to load on a blog post. By resizing and compressing your images you're doing your part to make your site load faster.

16. Social Warfare (Sharing icons)

Social Warfare plugin

This is the WordPress plugin I use to add social sharing icons to my blog posts. You can also choose to add share counts for social proof.

I also use it to add a Pinterest save button on my pinnable images.

Social Warfare

Add beautiful share icons to your blog using this WordPress plugin.

17. SocialPilot (Marketing)

I use Social Pilot for my hands-off social media marketing approach. With this tool I schedule tweets and Facebook updates for months in advance.

I just upload a spreadsheet full of my messages, one per line, then upload it to SocialPilot. I choose my accounts, choose how many per day and let them do the rest.

This way I only spend about 5 minutes every few months setting up my social media updates. This lets me focus the rest of my time and energy on creating new content, updating my courses and on Pinterest marketing.

18. Thrive Apprentice (Selling courses)

Do Six Figures course

A great way to make money online is selling digital courses. You can sell a course on just about anything, but the most popular course topics are:

  • Marketing
  • Diets
  • Fitness
  • Making money online
  • Career
  • Photography
  • Beauty
  • Web design
  • Personal development

I run my courses using Thrive Apprentice. You can see it in action on blogging courses page. It's easy to start a course and add lessons. It's about as simple as creating and publishing a blog post.

19. SendOwl (Sell products)

I use SendOwl as the intermediary between my courses and the payment processor.

SendOwl allows you to sell digital goods like online courses. It connects with Stripe (so you get paid) and then automatically delivers the product to the buyer.

For my courses, once a purchase is made, SendOwl automatically redirects the user to the paid course.

It's $9/month which is a good price to pay to fully automate the process of selling digital products.

20. Stripe (Process transactions)

In order to collect credit card payments on your blog you need a credit card processor. I use Stripe for my course sales. They charge 2.9% plus 30 cents for every order. So on a $100 order you end up with $96.80.

The reason I like Stripe the most is because they integrate with... everything. For example, if I get an order, I can (using Zapier) have the following things happen instantly:

  • Order info texted or emailed to me.
  • New card created on Meistertask for the customer.
  • New card created on Meistertask for the customer.

I also like the lack of a payment lag. I get paid 2 days after every sale, direct deposit into my bank account.

21. PayPal (Payment processor)

Many users prefer to pay with Paypal instead of their credit card - totally understandable. That's why if you're offering something for sale, you need to add Paypal as a payment option.

Paypal is also the preferred way to accept payments for sponsored posts or ads on your blog and to send invoices.

22. Meistertask (Organization)

I use Meistertask for "project management". I use it in all sorts of ways, every single day. I use it as my to-do list, content calendar, to set up reminders, and blog post ideas to name a few.

I like using Meistertask to visually map out ideas and processes. I like how I can add cards to a list, then drag and drop them around. It's the one tool I use to help me see the bigger picture in things.

I use it to create my blog posts and see the "flow" or the order of things. I do the same for mapping out my courses, figuring out how to separate the modules and moving the lessons around. I use it to write my email sequences, moving around the email subjects in the right order. Finally I use it to map out a customer journey or sales funnel I'm creating.

Meistertask is actually meant for teams to collaborate on ideas, to assign projects and track their progress. But I'm a one-person show here so I don't use most if its' advanced features.

23. Dropbox (Cloud file storage)

Dropbox cloud storage

I use Dropbox to keep a copy of my files wherever I go. I have my everyday iMac, but also have a MacBook laptop I rarely use. Then there's my iPhone. Well with Dropbox everything is synced so I can work on one device and pick up where I left off on another.

Most of what I do is just done online though, through the tools listed on this page. So the way I use Dropbox most is just to store important copies of files I don't want to lose. For example, I'll keep a backup of my blog on there. I also keep past courses and ebooks I've purchased.

Dropbox has file recovery and even a version history so you can roll back to a previous version of the file.

With Dropbox Basic you get 2GB of storage and can use it on up to 3 devices. I only have 3 so the free plan is all I need. You also can get half a gig more for every user you invite to Dropbox. I'm up to almost 10GB for free.

24. LastPass (Password management)

LastPass password manager

I use LastPass at least 20 times a day, if not more. LastPass is a password management app you can use on your phone and computer. You can store your passwords there so you won't have to remember any, except for your LastPass one of course.

We're all signed up to a ridiculous amount of accounts and using the same password everywhere is a recipe for disaster. With LastPass I can have a long password automatically generated, filled out and saved for me.

When you want to log in, I have the LastPass browser extension automatically sign me in so I never even see a log-in screen, a username or a password.

As much as I use it on my computer, I use it on my phone even more. It logs me into WordPress or any other website I visit with Face ID which is pretty neat.

25. Google Docs (Blog writing tool)

Google Docs

Google Docs, as I'm sure you know, is a word processing app similar to Microsoft Word or Apple Pages. The difference being that Google Docs doesn't exist as an app on your computer, but is accessible through your browser. That means your docs are with you wherever you go.

Google Docs is good for writing because it auto-saves your files as you write and keeps your revisions so you can go back to a previous version.

Here's how many bloggers use Google Docs:

  • Write your blog posts, then copy + paste your article into WordPress.
  • To accept or submit guest (or sponsored) posts.
  • To write an ebook or guide and save as a PDF.
  • Google Sheets for spreadsheets to keep track of sponsored ads, blog income and blog growth.
  • Google Slides for creating the slides for digital eCourse presentations.

26. Zapier (Organization)

I use Zapier to connect some of the tools I use so they can communicate with each other. Here's a few examples of some "Zaps" I use:

When I get a new email subscriber I want Zapier to get the email address from ConvertKit and add it to a Google Sheets spreadsheet.

And when I publish a new blog post, I have Zapier grab the RSS feed and...

  • Add the blog post title, URL and featured image to a Google Sheets spreadsheet.
  • Create a new card for the blog post on my "Published Posts" board.
  • Send me an email that the post is now live.
  • Send an update on Twitter with the link.
  • Post an update to my Facebook page.

There are hundreds of apps you can connect to, so I know I'm not using it to its full potential.

27. Thrive Headline Optimizer (Blog writing)

Writing headlines is really important. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that if your headlines suck, your entire business will fail.

When you run a blog, you're actually running a business. Your blog is just the content marketing arm of your business. We bring traffic (future customers) to your business by writing content on your blog. And you get that traffic when users click on your headlines.

"Learn to master the art of writing the perfect headline and you will never be short on traffic."

Click to Tweet

Headlines are so important I even devoted an entire blog post on how to write headlines for your blog.

Writing a good headline is all about trial and error. But without data you won't know what works and what doesn't.

That's where Thrive Headline Optimizer comes in. With it, you can split test your headlines and let the data lead you to the best one.

Here's how it works:

  • First you write multiple headlines for your blog post.
  • Then you let the plugin run some tests in the background.
  • Different users see the different headlines you created.
  • Analytics are collected over how they interact with the article (time on page, scroll depth & bounce rate).
  • Based on the results, the winning headline is chosen and shown to the rest of your audience.

Not only will it leave your blog with only high-converting headlines, but it will also teach you how to write better headlines for your blog.

To be successful (in anything) there is no secret sauce. It takes:


The right tools + the knowledge + putting in the work.


That one formula is all you need to change your life.

28. Befunky (Design tools)

If you need simple fast image editing, use BeFunky. It's a web-based app you use right on your browser for simple image editing.

I've found it is the fastest way to crop and resize a picture, much faster than using an external program or doing it on WordPress itself.

Here's my image editing workflow:

  • Download a stock image from Pexels
  • Open the image on BeFunky
  • Resize to 1000 pixels
  • Crop the height to 650 pixels (usually)
  • Save the image as a jpg with an image quality of 80.

They have a pro version where you can make additional customizations, but I don't use it. I just need it to resize and crop before uploading to WordPress.

29. PDF Escape (Design tools)

I use PDF Escape to edit my PDF's for free. You don't need to download an app, you can do it all from your browser. To use it, you need to have a PDF file to start with.

To create a PDF file in the first place, you can create an image in Canva and save as a PDF. You can also create a PDF using a word processor like Word or Pages. Just save your file as a PDF instead of a doc.

But that is the extent of what you can do on those programs.

With PDF Escape you can bring your PDF file to life by making text boxes fillable, checkboxes clickable and more. Adding these elements bring a level of interaction to a PDF file that would otherwise just be static.

Bonus tool: UpdraftPlus (Data)

UpdraftPlus Automatic WP Backup WordPress Plugin | 1 of 12 Best WordPress Plugins

You need to make routine backups of your blog, just in case.

Some hosting companies, like BlueHost, run daily backups automatically for you. With others, you're on your own.

Backing up your blog manually is just not a good use of your time, especially when there's a free plugin that will do it for you.

With the UpdraftPlus WordPress plugin, you can back up both your database and all your WordPress files on a schedule. The updates can be sent to your Google Drive, DropBox or to a backup folder on your server.

WordPress is pretty good about preventing you from losing your work. If you accidentally delete a post it's recoverable in the deleted posts section. And if you mess up on a blog post you can go back to a previous revision.

But what if your site is hacked and everything is deleted? What if you update some PHP code and everything goes bonkers? In that case, you'll need a recent backup to restore your site.

What I like best about UpdraftPlus is that it will not only back up your entire blog, but it will also restore it back to your last working version.

UpdraftPlus is included in my list of the best WordPress plugins for new blogs here.

Wrapping it up

Did you learn about any new tools here? Let me know which ones!

And... if there's any tools you use, let me know too. I'm always on the lookout for new tools to add to my workflow.

Best blogging tools for beginners

Until next time,
Edwin, DoSixFigures.com

just a little > about me

About edwin

Edwin Contreras is the professional blogger behind Cash The Checks and Do Six Figures. Over the last 17 years, he has started over 100 profitable blogs on his way to a six-figure income as a full-time blogger. He is now obsessed with helping people just like you escape the 9 to 5 and make serious money online. You in?

learn more > earn more

continue > the conversation

  • This is really great and helpful. I really love the way you outline all those helpful blogging tools. Thanks for this article friend.

  • This is a very tidy list Edwin.

    I use a few of the tools but I always like to know of others that add more functions into the mix. It’s easy to get set in your ways with the tools you use and not they’re necessarily the best… you just get comfortable with them!

    From your list, UpdraftPlus and Zapier look interesting to me.

    Thanks for sharing these.

  • Thanks for that article! I have learned about a few tools, I did not know yet, but they seam to be really helpful!

  • Winnie Xu says:

    Very insightful article! It was so detailed and I honestly learned a lot from it. These tips/suggestions will definitely be so helpful with my blog-writing. The links attached are also very convenient so I appreciate those too.

  • This was really helpful! I’m definitely incorporating some of these in my blogging tools.

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