These are my favorite apps and services to use for blogging. I’m a fan of tools that are useful and affordable, as I love keeping my monthly overhead low. (Hey, who doesn’t?)
Some of these are affiliate links.
- Bluehost – Best for beginners. I like Bluehost because it’s really cheap (as little as $3.95 per month) and has a beginner-friendly administrative panel. Use the 1-click-installer for WordPress and you’ll have your blog set up in literal minutes. I used Bluehost myself until I eventually outgrew it. (Once your blog gets too big, shared hosting on Bluehost will be too slow.)
- Cloudways – Ideal for intermediate bloggers. If you need more power and flexibility, this is a great option. You’ll have the full power of a dedicated VPS but without needing some kind of PhD in server management. Their admin panel is very user-friendly, but if you get stuck there is 24/7 support. Cloudways offers various advanced options that can really speed up your site (such as Cloudflare Enterprise for only $5 a month – an absolute steal). If you don’t know the technical details, get someone on Fiverr to set up your Cloudways server in an optimal way.
- Hover.com – My favorite domain registrar. It does one thing well and one thing only: letting you buy a domain name. No upselling, no spam, no nonsense.
- Keysearch – Best for beginners. Starting at $17/m this is the best value SEO tool I know of. It doesn’t have every conceivable bell or whistle but it will let you do keyword research and track your important keywords just fine. While I say it’s best for beginners, I’m using Keysearch again myself as it’s simple and inexpensive. (Tip: use the coupon code KSDISC for 20% off.)
- Ahrefs – Best for advanced/intermediate. It’s not cheap (minimum $99 a month) but it’s easily the most powerful SEO tool. You can do deeper research than with Keysearch. It also makes it easy to track backlinks; useful if you do a lot of guest posting or link exchanges and are worried about losing links.
- GeneratePress – Simple, fast, lightweight templating system. Either use the default template (this blog is based on it) or use one from the site library.
- Mailerlite – Best for beginners. The best value mailing list system I know of with the richest feature set for the money. Easily spend 50% less by going with Mailerlite instead of Mailchimp, Convertkit, or Aweber, which are more targeted at corporations/agencies/etc. The basic tier is free for up to 1,000 subscribers.
- Sendy – Best for advanced. A self-hosted mailinglist solution using Amazon SES. If you’re technical enough to install your own PHP app, set up some cron jobs, and sign up for Amazon AWS, then this is an insanely affordable option. I use Sendy for a mailinglist with over 20,000 subscribers and spend only $2 a month. However, Sendy is not as feature-rich as cloud services like Mailerlite.
Popups & marketing
- Getsitecontrol – For just $9 a month you get all kinds of popups, sticky bars, and overlays that you can use to promote products and posts or collect email addresses. You can even run surveys on specific pages to learn more about your reader’s needs. Super easy to set up and much cheaper than most marketing solutions of this kind. I’ve happily used this for years.
- Affilimate – Keeps all your affiliate transactions in one place with one unified dashboard. I reviewed Affilimate here.
- Upwork – This is my first port of call for finding freelancers for my projects. I’ve hired tons of writers, coders, and editors through this site.
- Fiverr – Similar except instead of posting your job requirements, you can buy specific tasks from people specialising in them. Ideal for quick, repeatable tasks.
- 99Designs – Set up a design contest and pick your winner. I used this to get a great-looking cover for my book, which I chose from a dozen or so candidates.
- Grammarly – I can’t live without this now. Essential writing tool.
A few other blogs and resources I like…
- Income School – As you may already know, these guys teach indie-style blogging like no one else. Their YouTube channel is fantastic. Lots of beginner content and blissfully free of any hype/overselling/etc.
- DNW – Making Money From Blogging – Amazing resources for any niche blog. Also has a very active and helpful Facebook group (mostly with travel bloggers, but other niches as well)
- This Week In Blogging – Excellent blog and weekly newsletter. Worth following if you want a weekly digest of the latest SEO and social media news. Also has a Facebook group.