If you have decided to join the ranks and become a “blogger,” you're most certainly in need of some helpful blogging tools. I want to share my best resources with you. If you want to take blogging seriously, these are the must-haves.
Monthly or Annual Services
SiteGround Hosting (for your WordPress Site): If you are going to create a blog that will be able to grow and adapt with the future, you probably want a “self-hosted blog.” This means it’s not existing on a blog platform, like Medium or Blogger.
A self-hosted blog is usually built on the WordPress platform and needs to be “hosted” on a server somewhere. That server is provided by a hosting company. The hosting company I use is SiteGround. SG is cheaper than Bluehost and has better customer service, in my opinion.
Convertkit: Manages your email list and allows you to deliver scheduled newsletters, email sales funnels and blast emails pretty easily. It also allows you to put those “email capture boxes” on your site (that you see all over the web). Again, if you are planning on making money with your blog, you will need to build an email list, and send them emails in an automated way.
Calendly: A break-though service that makes scheduling calls and meetings so damn easy. It also makes charging for hourly coaching or consulting services so damn easy, too. Using a PayPal integration, clients schedule their call and enter their payment info right then. Once the call is complete, it charges their card. It’s as streamlined as it can get!
Platforms (plugins that perform high Level functionality)
LearnDash: LearnDash is technically a plugin, but it’s really a platform for making online courses that actually live on your site (as opposed to living on another outside platform like Teachable or Tablet Wise). It’s both easier to use than other platforms, and also gives you credit for all the traffic your courses are taking in!
Cartflows: A WP plugin that allows you to create email sales funnels that are hosted on your own site. The funnels include built in purchasing, just like something in ClickFunnels. Similar to LearnDash, CartFlows is more of a platform for your website than just a mere plugin.
Elementor: A custom page builder for your word press site. People say it’s one of the easiest to use, and I agree. I recommend it for customizing your CartFlows pages.
WooCommerce: An e-commerce platform that works within your WordPress website. You can have an endless amount of products on it, or just a few, like I do. It not only facilitates selling stuff, but handles the credit card transactions with integrations from services like Paypal or Stripe. It also connects directly with LearnDash and CartFlows to have a seamless funnel, email capture, up-sell and purchase experience.
Yoast: Another WP plugin that allows you to easily SEO (search engine optimize) all of your posts and pages in WP. It’s pretty much a must have if you want your posts to rank. You can also buy add-ons to optimize products in WooCommerce, videos in Google and a few other things.
Word Press General Plugins
All-in-One WP Migration: This plugin does a couple of things. It allows you to fully back up your whole site and migrate it to a new WordPress host. But that backup can also just be used to restore your site on your current host. It has saved me a couple of times!
Anti-Spam Pro: Anti-spam Pro plugin blocks spam in comments. It distinguishes automatic and manually submitted comments and uses different spam checks to block spam. Seems to be doing its job!
Broken Link Checker: This plugin constantly scans all the links on your site, and reports if any of them have broken. For example, let's say one of your affiliate links stops working…it will alert you! Then you can easy replace the link, and even the link text, right there on the BLC display page!
Envira Gallery: This one allows you to make nice-looking image galleries on your posts. I create before and after photos for my real estate projects, so it's very handy. You get a nice layout for thumbnails, and then a good lightbox for full-size viewing.
Header & Footer Scripts: This is a simple plugin that allows you to add various snippets of code to your header and footer, without having to edit any of your theme's files. I mostly use it to place tracking codes for analytics and pixels.
Learn Dash Designer: This is a plugin that allows you to customize the look of your Learn Dash courses to a far greater degree than the LD plugin generally allows for. I found that it made the UI much more solid.
List All URLs: This is really handy for getting a quick look at all of the posts you have done or exporting them to a spreadsheet. At some point, you will want to do this, and this plugin will help!
Pretty Links: PL is quite helpful for organizing affiliate links. It allows you to shorten them and make them part of your domain. Your “pretty link” forwards to your destination link. Then, you can easily swap the destination link, and it updates everywhere! It also gives you a count of clicks on your links.
Social Warfare: This is the plugin I use to allow for social sharing of my posts. Not only does it allow for easy sharing, but it allows you to customize what images and text load for the post when someone shares it. It's pretty intuitive, and it looks good.
SG Optimizer: A plugin offered by my hosting company, SiteGround. It is a cache optimizer. Basically, you want your site to be as fast as possible. Cache optimizers help you achieve better loading speeds. It has all sorts of options I don't completely understand, but it works!
SEO Research & Strategy
The Money Mix Insiders Blogging Group: The TMM Insiders group is a blogging membership group I pay to be a part of. It's actually pretty amazing how much value it offers for the price tag. TMMI aggregates the purchasing power of a bunch of bloggers and gets a lot of the critical services for us at a lower cost. But that's not all it does; it also provides a ton of value through shared marketing resources, guest-posting opportunities, lead generation, and email list building help.
The Hoth: A very handy service that tries to deliver all of the outside help a blogger, or small business, needs to execute on SEO. Through them, you can get SEO research and strategy, content writing (delivered right into your WP site), link-building help, guest-posting opportunities, and a host of other services. You can purchase all of this à la carte, or as a monthly package. They fill a much-needed gap for many of us!
Ahrefs: Top-level monthly service where you can access all sorts of SEO data for creating and executing an SEO strategy. The three main services that do this are Ahrefs, SEM Rush, and MOZ. I personally like the Ahrefs interface the best, and their lowest tier at 100/month is relatively competitive. But, it’s still 100/month.
Uber Suggest: A smaller, less robust web-based SEO data service than Ahrefs. It’s owned by SEO expert Neil Patel, and competes with the big three I just mentioned above. It’s much cheaper but admittedly does not have the level of detailed information. Because it’s less expensive, I utilize it to save money. Then, when I go into major keyword research mode, I upgrade to Ahrefs for a month.
HARO: A brilliant service where reporters can find experts to give comments or information for their stories. HARO literally stands for “Help A Reporter Out.” It’s a very cool tool that helps bloggers in two ways…1) if you’re selected for a quote, you get exposure for your brand as an expert, and 2) you very often will get a backlink to your website, passing on link juice! It’s a win, win, win (two for you, one for the reporter)!
Joe DiSanto is the founder of Play Louder! He has built multi-million dollar businesses, produced critically acclaimed documentaries and an Emmy-winning TV show, invested millions in real estate, and semi-retired at age 43. Now, Joe serves as a Fractional CFO for several creative firms and is sharing a lifetime of fiscal know-how via Play Louder, an invaluable resource that helps individuals and business owners increase their net worth and plan better for their future.