There are hundreds of blogging tools about. There are graphic design tools, scheduling tools, productivity and time management tools, etc.
But there are three essential tools every new blogger needs to get during their first year as a blogger.
Without them, it will be harder to get traffic to your blog and it will be harder for you to make money blogging.
For the purpose of this blog post, I assume that
- you already have your domain name,
- that you already have a web host and
- that you have started your blog or about to launch.
You can find other essential tools I use here, but the three most important blogging tools you need to get during your first year of blogging are the following.
[Disclaimer: Some links in this post contain affiliate links. This means I get a commission if you purchase the product through my link at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases.]
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1. A Pinterest Scheduler
Pinterest is a massive source of traffic for most blogs, so one of the most important blogging tools for a new blogger is a Pinterest scheduler. And Tailwind is the best.
Why should you focus on Pinterest?
For me, this is THE social media you should focus on during your first year because it is where most of your traffic will come from.
By all means, get a Facebook Page, a Twitter and Instagram profiles and even a LinkedIn profile. But you can automate those while you work on your Pinterest.
- Pinterest users use it to find the things they want to read or buy, so they're more likely to read your stuff.
- Pinterest shows people the things they are interested in, so you'll appear in people's feeds when they are already engaged in the topic.
- You can create several pins for each blog post, so you can get a lot more reach for just one post.
- You don't have to spend time on interacting with your followers when you want to be concentrating on creating content.
- Evergreen pins can work for you all year round and seasonal content does well every year.
Manual Pinning vs Tailwind
You can pin manually for a while.
And it's free.
But I have found that using Tailwind will make your blog grow faster in most cases. Here is an infographic with the typical results for Tailwind members:
First, Tailwind saves you time.
If you get SmartLoop, you can upload evergreen pins and seasonal pins and it will keep pinning them for you all year round (you have to do some housekeeping every now and then to remove poorly performing pins and add new pins, though).
Even if you don't get a SmartLoop PowerUp, you can batch your pinning and use the Tailwind extension to pin hundreds of pins in one go, if that's what you want.
With Tailwind you can also use Tailwind Communities, where you add your pins and other people share them for you.
Communities are based on reciprocity, so you also have to pin from them.
But if a blogger with a much bigger following than you shares your pin, you get a lovely traffic boost to your site. It's also good when lots of little accounts share your pin.
So for me, Tailwind is the first tool every new blogger needs to get.
Even if you still don't have a lot of content, you can still use it to share other people's pins and grow your following.
If you're looking for a social media scheduler for other social media, here are my top choices.
2. A Lead Generation Tool
If you wanted to write a blog just for yourself you wouldn't need to write it as a public blog, would you? You can just do it as a Word Document or just write it in a notebook.
There are many reasons you might want a public blog.
But since you are using it to communicate with your audience, one of the best ways to reach this audience is by adding them to your email list.
Cos you can get straight into their inbox and you control when and where the message gets to them.
Landing Pages and Opt-in Forms
So, the second most important blogging tool you need is one that allows you to create landing pages and optin forms. So you can collect leads and subscribers' emails. You can do this easily with ConvertKit.
Landing pages are pages specifically designed with one sole purpose. In this case it's offering people a freebie so they subscribe to your list.
They remove all distractions so the only thing a visitor can do is sign up or leave.
These are some landing pages I was working on a while I go, when I was doing some GDPR work.
I then moved them to a new WordPress blog and hosted them myself.
You use landing pages for other purposes, like sales pages or thank you pages, but the lead generating ones will be the most important cos you are getting direct access to email inboxes.
Opt-in forms are the little pop-ups, sliders, ribbons and similar that appear in every blog post and most pages of your blog.
You can create specific forms for each of your blog posts, for a series of blog posts, or have a single freebie for your whole site. It's up to you and you can experiment with different freebies.
Here are two forms I use in this website, as examples. I make them pop up in different blog posts.
Are the paid options worth it?
This is another blogging tool I would invest in from the beginning. Most of the FREE options will limit the amount of things you can do or how you can use them.
Even with a FREE plugin like Elementor, you can't use all the features. And some features you get with a paid tool will help you get you more conversions.
This means that more people will get into your email list and you will make more money with your blog by selling your products, your services or your affiliate products.
Or if you are trying to keep costs down, use a one payment option rather than a subscription option.
Another option is to get a tool that allows you to collect leads but also allows you to email them.
And you can do that easily with some email service providers.
But I will tell you a little bit more about it in the next section.
3. An Email Marketing client
The last in my list of essential blogging tools every beginner blogger needs to get is an email marketing tool. Although you've probably already guessed I would say this, since I have been talking about how to collect people's emails in the previous section.
This is one of the most costly investments you'll have to make on your blog. Cos as your email list grows, so does the cost, and that's why I'm suggesting you start with a FREE tool that will grow with you.
If you are serious about making more with your blog, your email list is where the money is.
But if you don't believe me, here are 3 facts about email marketing that I got from WordStream:
- 77% of people prefer to get permission-based promotional messages via email (versus direct mail, text, phone, or social media).
- 80% of retail professionals indicate that email marketing is their greatest driver of customer retention (the next closest channel? Social media, identified by just 44% of those same professionals).
- In the UK, every one pound spent on email marketing has an ROI (Return on Investment) of 38 pounds; in the US, it's $44.
You can read the entire thing here.
So don't look at the 10 people you now have in your list, but think about what happens when you have 2000 or 5000 and what you want to do with them.
What you need from an email service provider.
A blogger needs a email marketing tool that is:
- easy to use
- can handle automations
- can grow with you
- has a great customer service and
- guarantees great deliverability.
You can read a blog post about how to choose an email provider here.
Why it's important to think long term
Moving from one email provider to another is a painful and complicated process that takes 2-3 weeks (unless you can drop everything else).
Cos you will have to:
- Map all your email sequences
- Map all your subscribers + tags
- Map all your campaigns and how they connect to each other
- Map all your landing pages and opt-in forms and corresponding emails/sequences
- Create the account
- Set it up for GDPR
- Learn how the new tool works
- Transfer all your emails to the new tool
- Create all the automations, if you have any
- Do any specific bits that you couldn't do in your old tool
- Connect all your landing pages and opt-in forms to the right email campaign in the new tool
- Check that everything works umpteen times
- Transfer all your email subscribers
- Any other stuff
Plus, there's always a learning curve.
All email clients are different and even if they do some of the same things, they do not do them in the same way, so you will have to learn how it works.
3 FREE EMAIL TOOLS
- MailChimp: It's one of the most commonly used because it's been going for longer. Pros: Most tools integrate with MailChimp at no extra cost. Cons: It's not the most intuitive to use and can be intimidating for some new users.
- Moosend: One of the newer options, you can do automations with the free plan and it uses Ecommerce AI, so it's good if you are selling your products. Pros: If you don't have a big budget, it's one of the most affordable at the start. Cons: Lack of direct integrations with other tools.
- ConvertKit: ConvertKit's FREE plan will allow you to create beautiful landing pages, even without a website and send broadcasts. Pros: Build with bloggers in mind. You get to increase the number of subscribers you can have for free if you recommend it to others. CONS: The FREE plan only allows you to send broadcasts at the start.
I started with MailChimp years ago, but haven't used it for years. But I went in recently and thought it now looks too complicated if you're a beginner.
It's still an option if you want to use it with all your other tools, but I prefer Moosend and ConvertKit.
BEST BUDGET EMAIL TOOL FOR Ecommerce
If you are starting a blog so you can to send traffic to your products, and want a tool that will let you create beautiful email Newsletter campaigns, I think Moosend would be a great choice. I've experimented with it a little, but I don't do ecommerce, so can't test all the features.
You can have 1000 subscribers with the FREE plan but you won't be able to create landing pages with it yet, forms are OK.
A feature I think is important for ecommerce is to be able to track and manage your contacts with ease from one place. Also you want to be able to do cross-selling, deal with cart abandonment, etc.
Moosend also lets you use shoppable email blocks and add them directly from your shop to your email newsletter, isn't that great?
Best EMAIL Tool For Bloggers
ConvertKit's Free plan is a fantastic choice for new bloggers.
So you can start using it for FREE and built your email list from scratch and start learning what your audience likes.
With ConvertKit, you can create and modify landing pages and forms like this one.
The number of subscribers in the free plan is a bit limited but you can create landing pages and they'll even host them for you, if you don't have your website ready yet.
And all you need to do to unlock more subscribers is to refer more users.
You won't be able to set up automations just yet, but that can wait until you have more content, you understand email marketing better and your list is bigger.
START Your Email List With ConvertKit
What about you? What are the most crucial blogging tools for you? Tell me in the comments.