So you want to turn your hobby into a profitable source of income? Many dream of being able to make money with their blog. This doesn’t just happen overnight: a lot of work and patience must be invested. You first need to acquire readers before you can even start to think about options like banner advertising and sponsored posts. What do you need to get a commercial blog up and running? And which...
As a blogger, it’s not always easy to get a clear view of all tasks ahead of you at one time, an issue that demonstrates the versatility of the activity. In fact, writing is only a small part of a blogger’s workflow. Running a successful blog is something like managing a small business.
It’s a long way from the discovery of ideas to the finished text, and it can also involve some technical hurdles. Since bloggers generally don’t have any employees at their beck and call, practical blogging tools can really come in handy. Here, we present some helpful programmes that make the lives of bloggers a little bit easier, and are already considered indispensable tools by many.
- Helpful free tools for bloggers – An overview
- WordPress – The popular CMS
- 1&1 MyWebsite – Blog hosting made easy
- Google Keyword Planner – Optimisation for your texts
- Long Tail Pro – Want some more keywords?
- BuzzSumo – Find your topic
- Evernote – Organisation for creation
- Coffitivity – Spirited atmosphere for the home
- Readability Test Tool – Can everyone understand you?
- Pixlr – Image processing directly in the browser
- Canva – Easily craft original infographics
- Unsplash – Original license-free photos
- Coverr – Free videos for your blog
- Yoast SEO Plugin – Improve your ranking
- Trello – Project management for bloggers
- Sprout Social – Marketing over social media
- Email marketing tools and autoresponders
- Google AdSense – Your blog as a source of income
- Google Analytics – Evaluate your performance
Helpful free tools for bloggers – An overview
A blog operator is frequently an author, editor, graphic designer, SEO specialist, and programmer all in one person. There’s a lot that you have to do before you can publish a text if you want to generate the maximum reach for an entry. You also have to search for and integrate appropriate videos and graphics. Keywords and analytics are prerequisites for the success of a blog entry. After all, it’s important to reach the right group of readers and inspire with topics.
Finding the right blogging tools is a costly venture for many blog operators. The supply is so vast and constantly gaining in additions. The following selection of the best tools for bloggers offers you optimal support from the most important offers for the successful creation and upkeep of your blog.
WordPress – The popular CMS
The first step for a blogger is to establish a basis for their content. WordPress is the most popular content management system (CMS) on the market. It’s used worldwide for more than 74 million websites and is popular among private users as well as companies.
WordPress makes it easy for you to enter the world of blogging – without prior knowledge of programming or web design. Thanks to the practical templates, you can achieve a high-quality look for your blog at absolutely no cost. The reasons for choosing WordPress are numerous, so here’s an overview of the main advantages:
- Easy-to-use content editor
- Wide selection of themes/templates for the creation of a professional looking blog
- Variety of free and high-quality plug-ins that can add helpful functions to your blog without requiring programming
- Hassle-free integration of other tools
- Large, active community with a helpful forum
- Multiple users can be set up with different authorisation levels so that multiple authors can create parallel entries
If you’ve already created a website, you can easily integrate it into WordPress.
1&1 MyWebsite – Blog hosting made easy
Finding the correct host for your own blog is a challenge for many bloggers. IONOS offers various possibilities for beginners as well as advanced users to quickly and easily create your own blog. Whether you want the blog for private use or want to create a professional internet presence for your company – IONOS MyWebsite offers a simple and reliable solution.
The IONOS MyWebsite is particularly suitable for beginners. Here, you can choose your design from numerous customisable templates and quickly and easily establish your personal blog with the ‘blog’ web app. For beginners, it’s also recommended to use managed blog hosting. Here, IONOS takes care of all technical aspects and administration of the server, so that you as the blogger can concentrate fully on creating your posts.
Google Keyword Planner – Optimisation for your texts
As soon as you’ve decided on a CMS and perhaps even found an appropriate template, you probably don’t want to spend any more time on blogging tools, but instead get started creating blog posts. But before you start to write, you should conduct some keyword research. This will help you boost your blog’s chances of success. You should incorporate various terms and phrases that your target group is probably looking for.
Some bloggers rely on simply guessing their readers’ keywords. But with the help of appropriate tools, you can take a closer look at the actual phrases that are often being searched for. The Google Keyword Planner is an essential blogging tool that can massively alleviate the stress of the search for relevant terms. You can enter keywords and get a list of the suggested search terms, sorted by search volume (the average number of people who search on Google each month for this specific term).
Long Tail Pro – Want some more keywords?
Long Tail Pro is another practical blogging tool for keyword research. The main difference to Google Keyword Planner is that Long Tail Pro provides more information and has additional filter options. Found keywords can be filtered by cost per click, search location, number of words, and competition.
If you want to conduct an even more precise keyword research, you can enter some of the keywords from the Keyword Planner into Long Tail Pro. These concentrate on so-called longtail keywords – phrases that usually are more than three words long and have a lower search volume. These keywords enjoy the advantage that they’re less sought-after, but can be focused on a more specific audience. Thanks to the numerous combination possibilities, there are lots of them.
BuzzSumo – Find your topic
You’ve chosen your keywords. Now you need to devise a suitable blog topic and title. There are many possibilities for thinking up a blog topic. If you want to be effectively inspired, keywords are the most practical option. From an SEO point of view, it’s most effective to find previously created blog posts that contain your keywords. Ideally, you should find entries that have already found social media success. BuzzSumo comes in handy for this.
With BuzzSumo, you can quickly find blog posts that have proven popular on social media platforms. Simply search for your main keywords, and you’ll get a list containing the newest and most shared blog posts that contain these keywords. You can even search for content that your competitors have shared to see what works best for the competition. Based on this new knowledge, you can optimise content to achieve higher resonance.
It’s not against the rules to use other bloggers’ posts for inspiration, but you obviously aren’t allowed to just copy the found content. You can, though, look at posts that are most shared to figure out how you can improve your own.
Evernote – Organisation for creation
Bloggers are creative people, and many creatives tend to be a bit chaotic when it comes to collecting and organising their ideas. Evernote is a blogging tool that helps bring order to your written thoughts. The programme makes it easy to put your thoughts down into writing – no matter where you are, as you can use Evernote on your desktop PC as well as your smartphone.
Evernote offers various options for bringing order to bloggers’ everyday lives. You can casually draft and discard notes, categorise addresses and lists, and save graphics. The programme also makes it easier for you to synchronise your files among all your devices. That way, the right files are always on hand for spontaneous inspiration.
Coffitivity – Spirited atmosphere for the home
You have your thoughts in order, your notes sorted, and the topic of your posts selected. But somehow, you’re still lacking the right inspiration to write. The perfect ambiance can be crucial for the creative process, and some bloggers can only find their muse in the right place. But for some, the ambiance includes the right acoustic background.
With the help of Coffitivity, you can enjoy the lovely atmosphere of a campus café without even leaving your desk. The app offers some interesting options for background noise, from which you can choose one for an agreeable mood for writing. If, for example, you feel inspired by the muted murmurs of a library, you can find that here. Some recording options are paid, such as the lively Paris ambiance, or the rustic sounds of a Texas tea house. But you can still enjoy plenty of inspirational background sounds on Coffitivity for free.
Readability Test Tool – Can everyone understand you?
Texts that are too complicated can rarely manage to amass a large following of readers. Unless you’re writing about scientifically divisive topics, you should use clear and simple phrasing to win over more readers. If your writing style is too technically held up, many readers might not have an easy time following it. So, if your target group is particularly broad, you should express yourself as simply as possible.
The Readability Tool helps you to make sure that your blog posts are easy to read. It compares your texts on the basis of specific indicators to the classroom level with which their style is matched. You should optimise your content to a middle-school reading level. If your readability result is in the green, it’s a hint that your text is easy to read. If you’re in the yellow or orange areas, then you should simplify your text to make it more understandable for your audience.
Here are some tips to help you improve the readability of your blog posts:
- Avoid using too many technical or overly complex words (i.e. words that might need to be looked up to be understood)
- Use shorter sentences
- Write your texts without flourishes and get to the point
Pixlr – Image processing directly in the browser
If you’re all finished writing your first entry, then you should visually optimiseit. There are a wealth of free blogging tools to choose from for image processing. Pixlr offers practical options for processing images directly in the browser. The programme has two special features: The intuitive operation is strongly reminiscent of Photoshop; as a consequence, even experienced and design-conscious users can easily get involved with Pixlr. It also doesn’t require a lengthy registration process; you can simply upload your photos and customise them as you like.
In direct comparison with paid software, the range of functions is not even close to equal. But Pixlr is definitely at the top of the league of free image processing programmes. The programme offers more functions than most other blogging tools of its type. If you want to quickly edit photos on your smartphone or tablet, you can easily do this via the Pixlr app for Android and iOS.
Canva – Easily craft original infographics
A blog post that looks like a textbook is not very appealing to visitors on your website. Integrate visual material like infographics, diagrams, and other images to loosen up the text flow and make the post more appealing.
Lots of bloggers have problems with integrating photos into their texts. Some choose to supplement their entries with stock images. But if you prefer something more customised, then Canva is the right programme for you. Canva is a free tool for bloggers that you can use to create your own graphics for your blog posts. It doesn’t matter whether you want to design infographics or just tweak some existing photos to fit into your posts, it can be done with Canva.
An important advantage of Canva is the access to numerous integrated templates, which allow you to customise the size of your graphics to perfectly fit any popular social media site. For example, you can easily share a picture for your readers by submitting it via Pinterest, or send a tweet via the Twitter template.
Original visual content is the name of the game for bloggers if you want to make your content stand out from the crowd. Give your blog more pizzazz with attention-grabbing graphics instead of stock photos and text blocks.
Unsplash – Original license-free photos
Meaningful photos are indispensable when it comes to properly conveying mood. Many bloggers can’t afford the expensive licenses for photos and so rely on just a small range of Creative Commons images. Unfortunately, these aren’t often available in high resolution and design selection leaves much to be desired on many platforms.
If you want to accessorise your article with photos, then you have to offer your readers something special. If you have certain artistic requirements for your photos, then you should take a look at Unsplash. Unsplash is a provider of high-resolution photos that can be downloaded and used for free. The licensing conditions of large stock photo pages such as Shutterstock or Fotolia are somewhat complicated. Some of the purchased licenses are also only available for a certain amount of time. This is where the users of Unsplash have it easy: All photos can be used without any restrictions, for all purposes.
What makes Unsplash especially recommendable? The images are divided into thematically ordered categories by curators to make searching for suitable photos simple and intuitive. On the site, you can find original and modern photos from professional photographers in high-resolution quality for various topics. You can also just click through the folders and get inspired.
Coverr – Free videos for your blog
Even more popular than original photos are videos on websites. If visitors find appealing videos on your site, then time spent on your blog will increase enormously. Videos are also proven to be good for improving your ranking on Google and other search engines. So why not incorporate videos that match your topics?
Unfortunately, the licensing costs for good videos is even higher than for professional photos. For private individuals, these fees are hardly affordable. This is why the videos offered by Coverr are especially useful for bloggers. Similar to Unsplash, the high-resolution videos are all declared as “Creative Commons Zero” (CC0), which means that there are no usage restrictions for any videos on the page.
Coverr offers a large range of videos for a range of topics. Once you’ve decided on one of the many videos, you can download it and add it to your blog. Coverr makes the HTML code available for the integration of videos so that the application is especially easy, even for beginners.
Yoast SEO Plugin – Improve your ranking
To generate traffic for your blog (and so increase the number of visitors), you’re primarily dependent on search engines like Google and Bing, among others. If users see your page in the search results for relevant terms, they may also view your actual website. So it’s important to achieve a good position on the page for relevant search queries.
But how do you make sure that you’re being found on Google and other search engines? A variety of factors affect SEO. These are basically divided into two categories:
- On-page factors: Optimised metadata, web development (“clean” source text), clear URLs, relevant and worthwhile material, sensible site structure, etc.
- Off-page factors: Backlinks, online mentions of your company or website, also in social media
The blogging tool Yoast SEO was developed as a WordPress plugin to help you improve some of the most important on-page SEO factors – even if you don’t have any experience with web development or SEO. This plugin deals with everything from the introduction of your meta-title and description to the creation of a sitemap. Yoast even helps you with more complex tasks, like the processing of your robots.txt and .htaccess.
Some of the settings appear a little complex at first glance if you have previously never done any work with SEO and WordPress. For this, Yoast practically created an entire internal tutorial to help beginners get set up:
Trello – Project management for bloggers
This blogging tool is of crucial relevance for businesses and marketers who produce a large amount of content. But it’s also helpful for any type of team with a high output level. Trello is basically a project management tool that concentrates on improving your workflow.
You can use Trello to create tasks, set due dates, and add multiple team members. The programme really offers almost everything that you could possibly need to manage your entire blogging process. There are many project management tools, but Trello is specifically targeted at the needs of bloggers. The programme is particularly recommendable because it limits itself to only the most important functions, so that you don’t have to deal with any unnecessary accessories.
The blogging editorial calendar is one of Trello’s most helpful functions. It allows you to quickly create individually-customised calendars using templates. Organisation is key for successful bloggers, and so Trello is definitely among the most important blogging tools.
Sprout Social – Marketing over social media
You’ve created visually and textually impressive content with the previously presented blogging tools and perfectly optimised your posts for both search engines and readers, so what now? It’s now time to talk about your content. Promotion over social media is undeniably one of the best ways to quickly generate activity on your blog posts. To do this, you need a good social media management tool.
Sprout Social can be used to easily plan and automate the publication of your posts. Simply define when your posts should be published on your social media profiles like Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. The blogging tool is most practical for when you want to publish your posts regularly throughout the week or month. Sprout Social makes it easy for you to post your entries via various profiles on different platforms at the same time.
With Sprout Social, you can test out different captions in your social media posts. This way you can see which get the most clicks and generate the most activity, and which don’t work as well. You can easily monitor the performance of your social media content directly from the dashboard.
Another good reason to use Sprout Social is the outreach marketing function. Many marketers think of the term “outreach” as just sending emails. But websites like Twitter and LinkedIn that thrive on interactions and building connections are also ideal for outreach. With Sprout Social you can find influencers in your branch and start up conversations with these people.
Thanks to Sprout Social, it’s easy for you to reach your followers at regular intervals so that your posts are constantly being shared. Manual sharing of your posts in every individual social network is not particularly efficient. Sprout Social thins out the work for you.
Email marketing tools and autoresponders
In addition to social media, e-mail marketing is another option for boosting the popularity of your blog posts. E-mails can be sent directly to your target group. If you want your readers to receive an important update, for example, you can do so this way. An e-mail marketing tool or autoresponder gives you the opportunity to collect e-mail addresses and automatically send out your content.
There are many different e-mail marketing tools, all of which are worthy of recommendation. These are some of the most popular e-mail marketing blogging tools for businesses and private bloggers:
As soon as you’ve set up your account and e-mail list, you should accustom yourself to sending regular updates to your readers. This will give you the best results in the form of responses to your posts. The more frequently you can offer your readers new, high-value content, the more stable your number of followers will be. If you also want to earn money with your blog, then this blogging tool is invaluable for you.
Google AdSense – Your blog as a source of income
The most well-known programme for the placement of online advertisements is Google AdSense. AdSense has been successfully operated by Google since 2003, and allows you to include text ads or advertising banners on your website. Payouts to advertisers worldwide are in the billions, so you should consider this an attractive opportunity for your own blog.
According to Google’s data, you can reach 80 percent of internet users with AdSense. The platform is the largest provider of online advertisements worldwide. Before you can place an ad, though, you have to register with Google AdSense. Then, you can integrate the advertising banners into your blog in the form of banners or links. Each click on one of these advertisements is tracked by an algorithm and brings the advertiser – also called the ‘publisher’ – a small payment.
If you’d like to register for Google AdSense, you first need to create a Google account. You also have to be of legal age, and be legally authorised to run a website or a blog. To receive your payments, you’ll be asked to enter your bank account when you register. Once you earn more than 100 dollars, Google will transfer your money to you. If your commission is later taxed higher, you’ll receive a regular transfer every month.
To generate clicks, you have the choice between banners and links. You can visually customise the advertising blocks to fit into the layout of your blog. The size of the banners is determined by Google in the user interface, but placement of the ads can be determined individually by the publisher. But keep in mind that payment is in part based on the placement of the advertising. A banner on the home page will independently bring more revenue than one on a hidden subpage. The maximum number of ad blocks per site is set at three banners and three links.
How much Google actually pays for a click depends on multiple factors. The number of impressions (how often an ad is played) is obviously crucial, but the behavior of the visitors on your blog also influences the payout amount. Whether or not you have a lot of competition in your topic area is also a factor. If you’re able to draw in a lot of visitors with a unique topic, your payout will be bigger.
Google Analytics – Evaluate your performance
You’ve successfully created your content and started promoting it via social media and marketing tools. Now, of course, it would be interesting to follow the results of your efforts. Google Analytics is the most popular analysis tool for tracking the performance of your content. It can sometimes be a bit complex to use, and beginners should especially consider the following areas:
- Acquisition: How are potential readers finding your blog?
- Target group: Who is visiting your blog?
- Behavior: What are visitors doing on your blog?
The more often you sign-in and review your analysis, the more comfortable you’ll be with the environment of the dashboard. With Google Analytics, you can measure your long-term performance. But you should include a note in your privacy statement to inform your readers about the use of the analysis tool. There are also good alternatives to Google Analytics for bloggers that are critical of Google’s data storage policies. If you’re less ambitious about evaluating your performance, you can also use the basic visitor statistics provided by some blogging services.