3 crucial tools for beginner bloggers
There are hundreds of blogging tools about. There are graphic design tools, scheduling tools, productivity and time management tools, etc.
But there are three crucial 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 am assuming that
- you already have your domain name,
- that you already have a webhost and
- that you have started your blog or about to launch.
You can find 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 of the links in this post may include affiliate links. This means that I get a commission if you purchase the product through my link at no extra cost to you.]
1. A Pinterest Scheduler
Pinterest can is a massive source of traffic for most blogs and using a scheduler like Tailwind that can help you automate some of your work is a must.
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 is going to come from.
By all means, get a Facebook Page, a Twitter and Instagram profiles and even a LinkedIN profile if you want, 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, which means that 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 it can be hard to keep pinning consistently throughout the day if you're not near your computer. Plus keeping track of what you have pinned and where can get complicated. Here's a guide to help you organise your pinning if you need it.
But I have found that using Tailwind is going to 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 the Tribes, where you add your pins and other people share them for you. Tribes 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.
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 Optin Forms
So, in order to collect these leads or subscribers, you are going to need to use landing pages and optin forms.
Landing pages are pages in your blog that are specifically designed with the sole purpose of offering people a freebie so that they susbscribe to your list.
They remove all distractions so they only thing a visitor can do is either sign up or leave.
These are some landing pages I was working on last May or April, as I was doing some GDPR work.
I have since being moving them to a new WordPress blog and hosting them there.
You use landing pages for other purposes, like sales pages or thank you pages, but the lead generating ones are going to be the most important cos you are getting direct access to email inboxes.
Optin forms are the little popups, 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 a couple of 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 tool that I would invest in from the beginning. Most of the FREE options are going to 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 of the features you get with a paid tool are specifically designed to get you more conversions.
This means that more people are going to get into your email list and you will be able to make more money with your blog by selling your products, your services or your affiliate products.
Having said this, if you want a free tool to put you on, you can try the Elementor plugin, Popupally or the Notification Bars plugin. Or if you are trying to keep costs down, use a one payment option rather than a subscription option.
3. An Email Marketing Tool
The last tool every beginner blogger needs to get is an email marketing tool. Although you've probably already guessed I was going to say this, since I have been talking about how to collect people's emails in the previous section.
Anyway, your email list is one of your most important assets as a new blogger or online entrepreneur. Because you own it and you can do what you want with it.
If you are serious about making more with your blog, your email list is where the money is.
But if you dont' 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 whole thing here.
Why you want to choose the right tool from the start
Most people start using Mailchimp because it's free. And after a while they have to move onto a different tool.
Don't get me wrong, I think Mailchimp is fine for somebody like my Pilates instructor, who has a very small list and writes, at most, once a month; bloggers need a better tool.
This is the tool that you need to get for the future, not for now. I mean, that you shouldn'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.
In my opinion, a blogger needs a tool that is easy to use, can handle automations, can grow with you, has a great customer service and great deliverability.
You can read a blog post about how to choose an email provider here, but if I had to recommend a tool for beginner bloggers it would have to be ConvertKit, which is the tool I am going to move to when I get the time.
Is this what is stopping you?
I understand, you have just started your blog and you don't want to be spending all this money on tools.
And, to be fair, this is likely to be the most expensive thing you are going to get for your blog. Because it's a subscription and as your email list grows, so does your bill.
But getting a FREE tool now does seriously limit what you can do. I know I said this earlier about the lead generation tools, but it also applies here.
Moreover, it's a WASTE OF TIME to change tools later on. Moving from one email provider to another is a painful and complicated process that can take weeks (unless you can drop everything else).
Cos you're going to have to:
- Map all your email sequences
- Map all your subscribers + tags
- Map all your campaigns and how they are connected
- Map all your landing pages and optin 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
- Do any specific bits that you couldn't do in your old tool
- Connect all your landing pages and optin forms to the right email campaign in the new tool
- Check that everything works umpteen times
- Transfer all your email subscribers
- Any other stuff
It's one of the barriers to entry, once somebody starts using a tool, they find it very hard to move to another. So choose the right one NOW.
There are lots of different tools you need to use as a new blogger.
You can get away with using a lot of them for FREE during your first year. But if you take your blog seriously, these 3 crucial tools are something that can make a difference to how much your blog grows and how much money you make.
What about you? What are the most crucial blogging tools for you? Tell me in the comments.