The Tools You Need for Successful Blogging

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I’ve been blogging since 2004. Back then, none of the tools I use today existed. Blogging has gotten bigger, it’s gotten faster and easier, and it’s also gone mainstream. In other words, every leader and influencer, with few exceptions, ought to have a blog.

Why not just be really good at social media? Why not just be awesome on Facebook or Twitter or Youtube? Because you never own those platforms. You’re creating content for those companies. Which is fine. In fact, social networks are the primary way that great content gets spread around and promoted.

But at the end of the day, you need to be able to publish your heart and mind on your website. It’s the difference between borrowing property for a while and owning it.

So, blogging and online publishing is an essential element of leadership and influence in today’s digital culture. But, there are plenty of blogs out there – millions of them, in fact. What will set yours apart?

  1. YOU! Nobody else will ever write your heart and your voice. The world needs to hear what YOU have to say. Your personality, your brand, your perspective, your expertise, your approach is something that other people can learn from.
  2. Your tools. Good tools don’t make a leader successful, but it’s way easier to be successful with the right tools.

When it comes to blogging and online publishing, these are some of my favorite tools.

The Basic Tools of Successful Blogging

(Already have a blog? Skip to the pro tools.)


A domain name.

I use GoDaddy so that I can manage multiple domains in one easy spot. They’re cheap and I’ve noticed that when I make changes, they take effect much more quickly than with other providers. Choose carefully – a domain name is really, really hard to change once Google has indexed your site.

Register a Domain Name


Hosting from Dreamhost.

Dreamhost offers easy setup, automated updates and backups, 100% network uptime with no bandwidth limitations and 24/7 WordPress support. Use any WordPress theme or plugin you want. And in case you aren’t sure what this means, “hosting” refers to the server (computer) on which your website will live and be connected to the rest of the internet.

Get $25 OFF a Dreamhost Plan


WordPress

WordPress is web software you can use to create a beautiful website, blog, or app. WordPress is both FREE and priceless at the same time. The core software is built by hundreds of community volunteers, and when you’re ready for more there are thousands of plugins and themes available to transform your site into almost anything you can imagine. Over 60 million people have chosen WordPress to power the place on the web they call “home” — we’d love you to join the family.

If you use Dreamhost (see above), you will be able to install WordPress and start blogging literally with a few clicks. But if you have hosting on a server that doesn’t offer this kind of convenience, you can always download WordPress for free and install it on your server yourself.


When you install WordPress, it will come with some basic themes. You’ll be ready to start blogging right away. You can set up a “page” that tells more about who you are and start publishing “posts,” which are date-based blog posts and articles.

Here’s a great guide to getting started with WordPress…

Book: Digging Into WordPress

And, if you’re looking for more advice about blogging, here’s a great course to start with…

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And, here are a few of my favorite websites to learn from…

Congrats if you’ve come this far. You’re a blogger! And you’ve only begun to scratch the surface of your blogging potential. Now, onward…

Professional and Advanced Tools for Successful Blogging

Ready to take your blogging to the next level? These are some tools that I use and that I recommend to others on a regular basis.

A Beautiful WordPress Theme

WordPress is the software that runs your blog, but your “theme” is the front-end. It’s what people see. You’re looking at one right now. When you install WordPress, it will come with several nice-looking but common themes and you can even find more free themes in the WordPress repository. When you want to make it uniquely yours and get premium features, you’ll need a premium theme.

My favorite marketplaces for premium themes include…

Content Creation Tools

Within WordPress is an excellent writing system. You can write using a nice what-you-see-is-what-you-get editor. You can also easily upload photos, documents, and other kinds of media using the Media Upload tool. It will all be resized and aligned according to your preferences. But at some point, you may also want to get creative and go beyond what the basic editor allows, especially with video.

For Creating Graphics

  • Pixelmator (my go-to app for graphics creation)
  • Canva (create social media-ready graphics quickly)
  • Snappa (very easy-to-use graphics-creation tool)

For Video

  • Final Cut (Apple’s pro video editor – complex but powerful)
  • Motion (Apple’s tool for special effects – even more complex)
  • VideoMakerFX (an easy way to create great video content)

For Audio

Marketing and Promotional Tools

Blogging is great, but for whom are you writing? Who is your audience, and how do you get your content in front of them? Here are some of my favorite tools for promoting and distributing my blog posts.

Email List Growth and Management

  • MailChimp (my favorite email list app)
  • OptinMonster (a great list-building plugin)
  • SumoMe (an amazing collection of tools for your blog)

Social Media Tools

Affiliate Marketing Help

Other Favorite Apps and Tools

  • Dropbox (my favorite cloud storage solution)
  • Brydge Keyboards (awesome keyboards for Ipad)
  • Mighty Deals (great deals on creative design resources)
  • Fiverr (for hiring someone to do a small creative job for $5)

And by the way, this list is ever-evolving. I will add and remove tools from time to time. Feel free to share this toolbox with the links below!

And remember, if you’re looking to understand how to grow a successful blog, check out

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