Blog Toolbox

Grow your blog. It might be fruitful and multiply!

Update: February 10, 2017

The toolbox is currently undergoing some well-needed redesign and additions. 

This is where majority of the content will be coming from in the near future. 

So far, I've updated the Search Engine Optimization - SEO - resource page, but I still have a few more resources to add. 

Take a look and let me know what you think in the comments. 

Recommended Blogging Tools, Services & Resources

I've compiled this list of blogging resources, services, and tools from those that I've found on my journey.

This list isn't a complete list of all the free/affordable tools or services available nor is it only for new bloggers. It's for anyone who wants to continue growing, monetizing, and converting with their blog.

It covers:

  • SEO 
  • Back Linking
  • Designing
  • Email Marketing
  • Social Media 
  • Webinar
  • Recommended Reading
  • Content Editing
  • And other areas

Over time, I'll add more resources, services, and tools.

The lists are organized by topics and will have resources and tools in each. Most of these resources are free while some have the ability to upgrade to a paid version.

Best of all, some links also provide other links to other tools, services, and resources.

You can also email me directly at shellyanna.smalling [at] gmail [dot] com if you'd like a specific type of resource.

Recommended Reading

Blogs I Read

  • Blog Tyrant by Ramsay is the first blog I came across that made sense about blogging. Very interactive.
  • Problogger.net by Darren Rowse has tons of information. There are also podcasts for you to listen while on the go.
  • Social Media Marketer is where I got my first report that I read and learned from.
  • Boost Blog Traffic is now Smart Blogger - Jon Morrow
  • Entrepreneurs-Journey by Yaro Starak gave me a blueprint that had actionable steps that I used and got results without paying him a dime. You can get a free copy of this blueprint from the sidebar. This link is an affiliate link, and at no additional cost to you will earn dotcomlifestyleyourway.blogspot.com a small commission if you signup for a product or service. This adds no cost to you but helps to keep DotComLifestyleYourWay sustainable.
  • Backlinko - actionable steps in posts and gives value for free.

Blogging Platform

  • Wordpress.org
  • Wordpress.com
  • Blogger. Google's free blogging platform.
  • IM Free

Note: Some links on this page are affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you make a purchase. These earnings are used to keep DotComLifestyleYourWay sustainable. I have experience with these companies/products, and I recommend them because they are both helpful and useful.

Hosting

  • Bluehost
  • Hostt - free

Web Toolbar

  • The Hello Bar is a toolbar that can be placed in various positions on your site. You can use it to direct visitors to a specific page, collect visitors email address, bring breaking news to your readers or other tasks. It's easy and fun to interact with.

Email Marketing


After collecting your readers email addresses with your opt-in form (from SumoMe), you're going to continue communicating with them. You're going to do this with email marketing. Here are some resources to help you along with the process.
  • Set yourself up for success with this What to Write PDF. As an added incentive, the PDF includes fill-in-the-blank email templates to make it even easier. 
  • Set yourself up for long-term success with this Growing Your business with Email Marketing PDF.
  • Aweber - an email/newsletter management tool.
  • SumoMe - a tool to help you collect email addresses through a variety of popups, toolbars, welcome mats and other innovative tools. SumoMe can also be integrated with some autoresponders. This is done with a free or a pro version. They also provide their own analytics.
  • GetResponse - email marketing platform.
  • Mailchimp - an email marketing software that's easy to use.

Search Engine Optimization - SEO


SEO is key to your rankings. It's not always easy to find quality SEO information for free - sometimes even the paid for version is crap.

My favorite go-to blog for SEO is Backlinko.com. Brian Dean makes it relatable and easy to understand. But best of all, he provides actionable steps. Here is a list of links. 

Other SEO Links

Monetizing Your Blog


Content Editors

  • Grammarly has a downloadable free version as well as a paid version. There is also a Chrome extension. It is very helpful when composing an email, writing a tweet or Facebook Post. As it's name suggests, it works on your grammar.
  • Ginger is similar to Grammarly.
  • Hemingway tells you which of your sentence are hard to read, if you are writing in a passive voice, or if you are using too many adverbs.
  • Whitesmoke works on your grammar, structure, and punctuation. 
  • PaperRater gives you a score based on certain parameters. I like this because it suggests "further reading" material to improve your writing.
  • Words API is a dictionary, thesaurus and much more rolled into one. 

Design


Designing is another important key to your blog's success. Therefore, it is up to you to have a great design for your blog and your posts.

These design tools, however, are for designing images for your blog posts and social media.

Compressing 

Images:
  • TinyPNG

Infographics

  • Piktochart
  • Canva

Changing Image from .png, jpg & others

  • XnView. I use this to change an image from whatever it is to .png or .jpg. 

Fonts

Work with three fonts at a time. One for titles, one for the body and one for accent.
Finding the perfect picture to create the perfect image for a post can be daunting. Don't wait until the post is due before you start searching. Start now!

Stock Photos (Remember to give credit when due.)


Slides

  • Present your content in slide format and upload them to SlideShare.

Icons

  • Canva
  • Noun Project has icons for everything.

Color Schemes

The following list of websites allows you to choose color schemes for free.

Try to stick with a palette of five colors, and include one for accents. 

Proofreading

  • Grammarly - has a Chrome extension and a desktop version.
  • Ginger - this too has a Chrome extension and a desktop version. In early February, the Chrome extension was not working properly. 
  • PaperRater.com 
  • WhiteSmoke also has a Chrome Extension.

Headline Generator

  • Hubspot Blog Topic Generator - its a bit limited, but usable. When you try it you'll see what I mean.

Headline Analyzer 


Social Media & Management Tools 

  • Pinterest allows you to create boards around topics you like. You can connect and share your pins to your Facebook and Twitter followers. If you add your website you will be able to access analytics. 
  • Tailwind is for scheduling your Pinterest pins. This is the best social media assistant I've come across. It has a free and paid version.
  • Buffer is a user-friendly app for scheduling social media post. It too has a free and paid version. They even allow you to try the paid version. Provide analytics.
  • Hootsuite is available in a free and paid version. The free version allows you to add three social media accounts while the paid version goes to 100. Let's say you add your Facebook, Twitter and Google+ in the free version. You can then add apps like Tailwind to schedule pins for your Pinterest account. Cool huh? 
  • AddThis allows you to add sharing and following social media buttons to your blog and analyzes their performance. They have both free and paid versions and provide analytics for their service.
  • Facebook
  • Twitter. I use TweetDeck and Unfollower to make me a more productive Tweeter. Here is a link to check out the features of TweetDeck.
  • Google+
  • Linked In
  • Instagram
  • Klout is where you find out how much clout you have in social media circles. I got 30 witter followers within 1 hour of joining them.  

Bookmarking 

  • Pocket
  • Stumble Upon. This got me to seriously think about blogging. I've been searching since 2012 and have been scammed a few times along the way. But thanks to SU I literally stumbled on the right blog post. I got the app through the Windows Store. 

Analytics

  •  Google Analytics
  • Moz: also has a Chrome extension. This gets a 5 star on my cool tool rating.

Productivity (and team management)

  • Microsoft OneNote
  • Microsoft Tool Box - downloadable through the Store.
  • Trello
  • Evernote 

Surveys 

  • SurveyMonkey - they also provide analytics to go with their service.

Keyword Tool


Website Grader

  • Hubspot Website Grader is a pretty cool tool. It tells you what needs fixing. 

Research 

  • Wikipedia
  • Project Guttenberg
  • The Internet Archive

Attended Webinar 


A webinar is like a seminar, but instead of going to a convention hall, you go from anywhere using the internet. This way, people from all over the world can attend and benefit.

I attended an informative webinar about increasing my click through rate and some other important factors that are essential for blog growth no matter what your niche is. 

It's the first webinar I've attended that I actually learned something. They are normally packed with the presenter (s) tooting their horn while saying their not, heavily promoting their product and not providing actionable information.

I normally go off web surfing, but for this one, I didn't. Well, couldn't is more appropriate because the presenter Neil Patel was extremely engaging. He gave real life examples and steps on how to implement them.

I thought of you when I was going through the notes. The notes don't truly encapsulate the experience. But, if you hear that Neil Patel is having a webinar, make every attempt to attend. 

Other Tools & Services


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