We have it very good as bloggers. We have access to amazingly powerful tools at prices that are low enough that we can easily justify as investments rather than "nice to have" expenses.
I believe there are 4 core tools that all bloggers need to use.
- Hosting - You don't own your content if you don't own your hosting
- WordPress Theme - Blogging without WordPress is like running without shoes. You can do it, but it's painful, slow and inefficient.
- Email Marketing Services - The money is in the list. This has been true for many years and will be true for many more to come.
- Research Tools - Blogging at scale requires deep research for both keywords and link building opportunities.
With over 600,000,000 blogs on the internet, there is no shortage of tools to cater to them. Deciding which ones you use can be difficult and I wanted to leverage the experiences of other bloggers to give you a better idea of what the pros are using.
I'm going to include each blogger in the order that I received their replies and I'll mention my own recommendations at the end (or you can view them on my recommended resources page).
To make this article easier to skim, I'm going to use the styled list below for each blogger's recommendations, followed by
Disclaimer: Assume that the links below are affiliate links. I've allowed the content creators to provide their own links to the tools they promote. Some did and others did not. This comes of course at no additional cost to you.
Theme: Authority Theme - "It is fast, SEO ready, customizable and gives you complete control over the future of your site."
Hosting: WPX Hosting - "I have done a number of tests on WordPress hosting providers and WPX hosting have always come out on top. They are fast, offer fantastic support and are super affordable."
Email Marketing: Drip - "It is one of the most important tools in my toolkit due to the advanced tools, ease of use and fantastic features. It is the best tool I have for bringing people back to my site."
Research: AHREFs - "It is one of the most important tools in my toolkit due to the advanced tools, ease of use and fantastic features. It is the best tool I have for bringing people back to my site."
Theme: Marketer's Delight - "It’s a conversion-centric theme specifically made for marketers. None of the frills that make most WP themes over bloated. It’s fast, it’s sexy, and it’s constantly kept up to date by a team working with some of the biggest marketing names in the blogosphere. You get the same updates / enhanced features all those big names do, too."
Hosting: WP Engine - "Simply the best managed WordPress hosting that exists. You get enterprise level speed, security, server architecture, and more - without ever knowing what any of that actually means. WP Engine is like having a world-class developer manage your site for you. You sleep well knowing you’re on THE cutting edge, and if anything ever goes wrong - their support is there to help."
Email Marketing: Active Campaign - "ActiveCampaign is miles ahead of Infusionsoft (Keap), Ontraport, and many others. It’s much more than an email marketing system - it’s a full CRM with marketing automation features throughout. For most new marketers, you can probably get by with ConvertKit or something a bit cheaper when getting started. But when it comes time for a CRM & mktg automation, ActiveCampaign is a great place to start."
Research: AHREFs - "Ahrefs is simply the best all-purpose SEO tool that exists. It allows us to dig into keyword or back link data on the fly, and has become the only SEO tool we use daily. Outside of ahrefs, I also LOVE to simply type in partial keywords & use auto-suggest search data to find new keywords people are searching for. Auto-suggest tends to react even quicker than ahrefs (or any other historic data tool)"
Theme: Schema - "I love that it is flexible, I was able to make my website look really professional without a developer. It is built to do well for SEO, which seems like it should always be important. The Genesis themes have also done really well for me with minimal SEO for Google/Bing.."
Hosting: SiteGround "Anytime I have needed support I have got helpful, prompt service. They have saved my bacon more than once. I would recommend them or WP Engine as now with EAT the server you are on and the speed of your site is even more important."
Email Marketing: MailChimp - We used Infusionsoft for years and it was great, but it is super complicated. If you don't need a robust CRM then I think Mailchimp is a great little product. It has great deliverability rates."
Research: SEMRush - "SEMRush is a treasure trove of data for your site and your competitors. You can spend hours looking through and improving your site. They also have the SEMRush Academy that has free coursed from industry experts."
Theme: Astra Theme - "Fast, lightweight, and works good with Elementor."
Hosting: SiteGround - "Great support snd simple backend that has never had issues."
Email Marketing: Active Campaign - "The animations are unreal. Insanely powerful."
Research: AHREFs - "The filtering and ability to sort data is unmatched."
Theme: Thrive Themes - "I like to have full control over my theme so Shapeshift in conjunction with Thrive Theme Builder is perfect for me."
Hosting: WPX Hosting - "Having had bad experiences with cheaper hosts in the past, WPX has truly blown me away with their quality hosting and top notch customer service."
Email Marketing: Active Campaign - "The automation builder in ActiveCampaign is super intuitive and easy to use."
Research: AHREFs - "Whilst it isn't cheap, AHREFS leads the pack when it comes to keyword and backlink research."
Theme: Thrive Themes - "Thrive offers a full suite of tools to help you build just about anything you want on your blog, even courses. It's easy to use and the knowledgebase is robust."
Hosting: WPX Hosting - "WPX is incredibly fast, the support is over the top responsive and they actually know what they are doing. They also have features like CDN's to help increase speed."
Email Marketing: ConvertKit - "Convertkit seems like a bare bones email software however I have found that it is just right for me. They offer landing pages, easy to use editors, tagging, and they are welcoming of content creators and affiliate marketers without breaking the bank."
Research: AHREFs - "AHREFs is expensive but it offers a ton of value if you do a lot of keyword research. I have found that their data seems to be the most accurate and they have a ton of training to help you become a better SEO. Do need to offer a shout out to Neil Patel's Ubersuggest. He is creating something that is becoming excellent at a great price, free."
Theme: Generate Press - "Simple, lightweight, easy to use and beginner friendly."
Hosting: SiteGround - "SiteGround offer high quality, fast and reliable hosting, with multiple domains, without breaking the bank."
Email Marketing: Moo Send - "MooSend offer a variety of tools that many other platforms don't, especially at this price point. Including automation flows, landing pages, banners and sign up forms for websites and so much more. It's like ActiveCampaign, but at GetResponse prices!"
Research: SERankings - "SeRanking is an affordable, yet powerful SEO platform. Offering bloggers the ability to keep track of hundreds of keywords and do deep dive keyword research with full SEO reporting included."
Theme: Modern Events Calendar - "I am the founder of the largest Amazon Seller Meetup group in the world, which hosts 16 events per month that are different topics, different organizers, different speakers, in-person, Zoom, in-person, AND Live Streamed,...this theme has thought of it ALL and has a built-in count down timers, event-specific self-generating QR Codes, and a lot more."
Email Marketing: ActiveCampaign - "It allows me to easily build out automated scoring and keep a robust CRM."
Research: SEMRush - "Easy to set up reporting."
Theme: Thrive Themes - "It helps me create very "clean" and great-looking pages and is super easy to use."
Hosting: SiteGround "I am able to talk with support (real person) and wait time has been minimal."
Email Marketing: Get Response - "It is affiliate friendly, easy to use, and not very expensive to start."
Theme: Astra - "I'm a huge fan of Astra since it's a lightweight freemium theme that doesn't lack customization. They have starter templates and work seamlessly with your favorite page builders. It's the most popular theme of all time for a reason!"
Hosting: WPX Hosting - "I use WPX on my websites for a bunch of different reasons. To start, their support is amazing! I've never had to wait more than 30 seconds to chat with a customer support representative. They're always happy to help. Aside from that, WPX includes free backups, a free CDN, and a lot more. They'll have your site running super fast if you pair it with a good theme.."
Email Marketing: ConvertKit - "ConvertKit fills all the boxes. It's easy to use, has high deliverability, and it's as powerful as the other tools. I made the switch back recently and haven't had a complaint!"
Research: Keyword Chef - "Keyword Chef is an awesome tool for finding long-tail keywords. I've found a bunch of keywords that other similar tools didn't have! The best part is that they're easy to rank for since it only shows low competition keywords."