The Ultimate List of Blogging Tools & Resources: Hosting, Design & Plugins

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For transparency, they are marked with a lil *

Hi friends! I got a gift for you today: the complete list of my blogging tools.

I’m not one to keep secrets from you – especially not when it’s something that can help you (given you are a blogger or thinking of becoming one). And today you’re getting the complete list of tools and resources I use to build and run this blog. It turned out to be such a long list, that I’ve divided the list into 3 parts:

  1. Blog hosting, design, email & plugins (that’s this post!)
  2. Blogging & social media tools (coming up!)
  3. Photography and graphics design tools (coming up!)

As a newbie blogger, this was definitely the kind of thing I wish I had known – that there’re so many tools out there that can speed up your workflow and make your life easier!

Please note that I will be using referral or affiliate links when relevant. This means that if you decide to purchase something through a link I may receive a discount on my own subscription or a small commission – at no extra cost to you. I only recommend tools I’ve personally used and love πŸ™‚


There’re so many blogging tools out there that can speed up your workflow and make your life easier!


Hosting & Design

GoDaddy*

Godaddy webhosting

What: There’s a lot of different web hosting platforms, and at the moment I have both my domain and hosting with GoDaddy*.

Why: Actually, after my recent problems and consequent bad experience with their support staff, I want to move to a new host – if I can get a refund. I’ve previously used BlueHost* without problems (on an old blog that’s not worth remembering), but SiteGround* frequently gets high praise in blogger groups, so it’s one of those two I’ll be going for.

How much? The price depends on what kind of services you need, and they frequently run offers – just make sure to check the renewal price before you jump on anything.

WordPress (org)

Wordpress org

What: This is my blog platform of choice, like the majority of bloggers. Popular alternatives include Blogger, WordPress.com and SquareSpace.

Why: Compared to other platforms, WP gives you the freedom to do anything with your blog – the only limit is your imagination (and your coding skills). Because it’s such a popular platform, there’s plenty of developers making plugins that can help add a lot of functionality to your site without touching any kind of code. I’ll talk more about my favourite plugins in the next section.

How much? It’s free, but you can’t set up a WordPress.org blog without your own domain and hosting (if you’ve ever wondered what it means to be self-hosted, this is it).

Themeforest*

Simplemag by Themesindep from Themeforest.jpg

What: Themeforest* offers a tonne of different WordPress themes and templates, and it’s where I got my theme, SimpleMag by ThemesIndep*.

Why: Before purchasing my theme I spend a long time looking for magazine themes with room for lots of customization. If you look through the most popular themes on Themeforest there’s a lot to choose from – I also had my eye on this theme called Esquise* and The Voux*.

How much? By now SimpleMag* costs $59, but it was $47 back when I purchased it. You can find less expensive themes, but this is a common price interval. If you think that’s a lot, WordPress does have some free themes you can use, but in the long term, you usually get what you pay for with these themes.

W3School

W3School.jpg

What: W3Schools is the best website for learning HTML, CSS, Javascript etc.

Why: When I’m working on my website I sometimes forget the precise way to write or spell something in relation to coding – this website has everything you’d want to know about it. There’s plenty of examples, and I’ve learned a lot from playing around with the live previews to see what effect a change has.

How much? It’s free!

Related post: Basic HTML for Bloggers

WordPress Plugins

Jetpack

Jetpack by wordpress com.jpg

What:  Jetpack simply bridges the gap with WordPress.com and WordPress.org. It adds a lot of extra features, and you can decide to turn off the ones you don’t want.

Why: Here’re some of the functions from the Jetpack plugin I love

  • Photon: Makes your images load super fast thanks to the WordPress.com content delivery network
  • Extra sidebar widgets: See that ‘Popular posts’-widget over there in my sidebar? That’s from Jetpack. They also have Facebook, Twitter, social media icons and more widgets, depending on what you want.
  • Notifications: Whenever there’s a new comment, I get a notification in the app and in the top bar on my computer.
  • Comments: I like the way it merges with your site’s look, and that users can sign in with their social media credentials.
  • Protect: This protects you against brute-force attacks, as it tracks failed login attempts across all Jetpack-connected sites, and blocks any IP that has too many failed attempts in a short amount of time. So far it’s blocked 3,735 malicious login attempts on my site?!
  • Shortcode embeds: Makes it easy to embed content from other sites (like youtube), and create and archive like I have here.
  • Contact forms: Every contact page needs a contact form, right?
  • Publicize: Automatically share new posts with a custom message as they go live
  • Their support team is super nice and quick to help!

It also connects with WordPress.com and lets you write from their post editor (which I’m currently doing). It has a more clean look and there are fewer distractions from writing.

Other features include site stats, custom CSS, beautiful math formulas, downtime monitor, control widget visibility, sharing buttons and a related post widgets (and that’s not even all of them).

How much? It’s free!

qTranslate X

qTranslatex.jpg

What: A plugin that lets you make a multilingual site – like mine is both English and Danish

Why: I only recently started using this plugin, so it’s a precatious recommendation. It’s very easy to set up and start using, I like how it lets you manage translations within a single post – it’s easy to translate anything. The main problem is that your site is going to look like a mess if you ever stop using the plugin.

How much? Free – but the developers strongly encourage you to donate if you’re a regular user of the plugin.

Shortcoder

Shortcoder.jpg

What: This plugin lets you create custom shortcodes with snippets of code with custom parameters.

Why: Shortcodes are something you need to know about when using WordPress. The word comes from shortcut + code, as it’s an easy way to insert either complex pieces of code or ones that you frequently use.

One way I use this is for my signature at the end of each post.

What I typeWhat it looks like to you

Besides being a little faster than copy-pasting the same code into the end of each post, it makes it possible to change your signature site-wide in just a second. E.g. if I changed my Instagram username, I’d  either have to go through every single post to update the link or let the link be broken. By using a shortcode, it’s easy to make changes to all posts at once.

I also use it for my pin for later prompt at the end of each post. That shortcode includes custom parameters, like this:

<img src="%%pinimage%%" alt="%%pintext%%" />

This means I can define a different image url and text for each post and the plugin takes care of the rest.

snip.PNG

The plugin’s documentation gives you more examples on how to take advantages of it.

How much? Free!

Social Warfare*

Social warfare.jpg

What: Social warfare* is my favourite sharing plugin (and I tried +10 different ones when I was setting up my site).

Why: When people love your content so much they want to share it, you’ll want to make it as easy for them as possible. This is my plugin of choice because

  • You can set a custom Pinterest image + text, instead of just using the featured image as most plugins do.
  • It comes with “Pin it” button that shows when you hover over an image
  • It’s able to count Twitter share counts – something most applications doesn’t do either since Twitter updated their API.
  • As positive social proof makes people more likely to share, displaying your share counts can be a good thing. You can set a minimum threshold of shares before the count shows up, and you can decide whether it shows the total number of shares or individual network share counts.
  • There’re buttons for all the popular social networks (and some of the less popular too)
  • You can customise how the buttons look and where they’re placed on your site
  • It shows the total number of shares, even if you change your url. This was the selling point for me, as I changed my permalink structure when I went self-hosted. Otherwise, all the repins on my old pins wouldn’t be counted, and it’s impossible to go and edit all my old pins

I’ve noticed an increase in Pinterest shares, and now that the shared images are optimised for Pinterest, they perform much better.

How much? $29

Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO plugin.jpg

What: Yoast SEO helps you optimise your site for search engines even further.

Why: If I have to be honest, I don’t spend enough time doing SEO-stuff. It’s just too boring! I like writing for people, not bots. This plugin helps me do a little better, and their knowledge base is very helpful.

How much? It’s free, but there’s a premium version too.

Emails

Zoho mail

Zoho mail

What: Zoho provides email hosting.

Why: You got a brand-spanking new domain, so why not make a professional email address that goes with? Like hello@annesmiles.com could be my email. You can then connected it with my usual Gmail account, so you don’t have multiple inboxes to check.

How much? Free when it comes to this feature (for up to 5 email addresses).

Mailerlite*

Mailerlite

What: Email marketing platforms for sending out newsletters.

Why: I’m not an expert in email marketing, but I’ve used both MailerLite* and MailChimp. Right now I use the first because they offer automation tools (so you can send out a sequence of emails to people when they first sign up). As I offer free printables as my incentive for people to sign up, I like that I’m able to make custom sign-up-forms and welcome emails.

How much? Free up to 1,000 subscribers. MailChimp is free up to 2,000 subscribers, and many advanced features require a paid plan.


Phew, we made it through! I hope you found a new tool or two that can help you.

What is one blogging tool you can’t go without? Let me know in the comments!

Gif that says lots of love, Anne xx

Since you made it to the end, you may as well follow me on Instagram – but their algorithm is a bit of a mystery, so you can sign up to the newsletter to not miss out on the best posts! ✨

The Ultimate List of Blogging Tools & Resources: Hosting, Design & PluginsThe Ultimate List of Blogging Tools & Resources: Hosting, Design & Plugins
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  1. says: STRUCKBLOG

    Love learning about the blogging tools you use, blogging can be so solitary, it’s nice to learn about what others have tried and tested. Definitely learned a few things, and have to check out some of these things that I’ve never heard of before. Thanks for being so open about your work, very helpful!

    1. says: Anne

      It can be lonely indeed. That’s why I’m happy to hear you found this helpful! I wish you the best of luck with your blog x

  2. says: mybellaforma

    Nice post! I already have a lot of these plugins but just recently started using qTranslate X. Sadly it doesn’t seem to work on my blog. Any ideas why this could be?

      1. says: Eliza @ My Bella Forma

        Haha, I only just realized I already commented on this post :p I’ll see what I can do. I checken on another pc and there my site just pops up in the users language. I’m gonna need to figure out how to get the language button up so people can chose. Thanks (;

  3. says: Dana @ Quarter Life Chic

    Thanks Anne, super useful post! Your site is amazing #blogenvy! Quick question, how did you design your signature? Thanks again!

  4. says: Sarah

    Wow, Anne, so nice of you to generously share these! I think I may spend a lot of time on your blog to understand this whole blogging theme a bit better :p. Thank you!!

  5. says: Jenna

    This post has been so helpful! I’m currently working on getting my blog set up and know I have a lot to learn. Thanks for sharing all of this great information! :).

  6. says: Eliza

    Great post! I agree with YOAST-stuff, although I find it useful to have a sense of direction. I like the Translate plugin you mentioned, I installed it after reading your post. Will need some time to figure that one out probably haha.

    1. says: Anne

      Thanks! Yeah I can see it being that! The translate plugin comes with a fairly good documentation, just look at their website if you run into trouble πŸ™‚

  7. says: Lexes

    I have also been having terrible experiences with GoDaddy! I’m trying to figure out how to get a refund as well. If you do, let me know! We’ve talked before on insta, but just incase its @hippyandflowers I’ve been trying to get a new host for awhile!

  8. I wondered, before I read what this post was about, what plugins this blogger is using. They are lovely. So funny! These are really useful tools. I may have to change my email! Thank you.

  9. says: Noemi

    Thanks for writing this post, few months ago I switched to WordPress and there’re so many plugins! I agree with you about Yoast, sometimes it’s bothering because I write for people and it seems that they’re almost unable to read a sentence longer than 10 words! πŸ™‚

  10. says: Siedah

    Thank you for the detailed blog. There are plugins I have never used and that I plan on using. Thank you so much for sharing! xo