The first few months of blogging is hard.
Deciding on things like self hosting options or free hosts, this theme or that theme, one plugin or it’s competitor, etc. can be extremely confusing.
And the interesting thing is that even now, many years on, I still look for new things to put in my blogging arsenal. I still keep an eye out for better tools that will help me grow my network of blogs and websites.
This post is designed to be your complete blogging arsenal. I have put together all the tools, apps, plugins and websites that you will need to succeed with your blog. This post isn’t just for beginners – hopefully everyone finds something new here.
54 tools, apps, plugins and websites that every blogger must have
As always, if you see any glaring omissions please leave a comment and let us know as I am going to add to this list constantly. I will give a back link to your blog if you suggest something that makes the list.
1. Blue Host – Hosting
Blue Host is a very cheap hosting company with amazing live support and a solid money-back guarantee. It’s a good balance between power and price for beginners who are looking to start out with their own domain name and hosting without dealing with the complication of dedicated hosting.
2. Google Sitemaps – Plugin
Automatically generates a sitemap of your blog and all its pages and sends it to Google for indexing. This is an essential for good SEO and could not be easier with this little plugin.
3. Head Meta Desc – Plugin
Turns the first few lines of each blog post into different meta description for indexation by Google. Very useful for turning your excerpt on Google results into something a little more catchy.
4. What Would Seth Godin Do – Plugin
A handy plugin that lets you add a message to your blog posts so that new readers see something different to old readers. For example, you might want to put something like “Hey dude, new here? Why not subscribe or check out our popular posts?” in order to make your blog more sticky.
5. Subscribe to Comments – Plugin
People leave comments but often forget to check back for replies. This plugin allows people to subscribe – an email is sent to them automatically when someone replies to their question. Visitor loyalty starts with this plugin a lot of the time.
6. Tweet Meme – Plugin
Adds the little thing up the top that shows how many people have Tweeted about your stuff. Handy if you get lots of Tweets, kinda sad if you don’t.
7. Wise Stamp – Firefox/Chrome Extension
This lets you add a custom HTML rich signature to any email account (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo, etc.). All you do is compose your email, click the button down the bottom and it adds it in automatically. You can even have different signatures for different email accounts. Very handy.
8. Dosh Dosh – Website
Maki from Dosh Dosh writes the kind of articles I want to take out for dinner. Well thought out, very transparent and quite helpful. He hardly ever posts anymore (not sure why) so delve through his old stuff and get prepared for anything new.
9. Viper Chill – Website
Glen is a very cool guy who now lives in Thailand where he spends his days teaching other people how to blog. I don’t actually know why he moved there. Why did you move there Glen? Anyway, his blog is a very cool place to learn how someone else had some success blogging. Its kind of like Blog Tyrant but with a cooler name.
10. Photodropper – Plugin
If you blog you need this plugin. It allows you to add any photo on Flickr with the click of a button. If you are writing a post about dolphins just search “dolphins” and click the one you like. Very handy and saves a lot of time as you don’t have to upload anything.
11. Market Samurai – Tool
Market Samurai is about the coolest thing to be released since antibiotics. Perhaps cooler. It allows you gather so much information about valuable keywords, backlinks, websites, etc. You can use it just to do research about keywords for your next post or you can build a website network empire based on the information you find about particular niches. It is amazing.
12. Akismet – Plugin
If you don’t have this installed you will be spending too much time deleting spam when you should be blogging. Get your API key now and get this bad boy up and running.
13. Copyblogger – Website
Brian Clark and his team write the most amazing articles on persuasive writing. Want to learn how to convert more readers into customers or return visitors? These guys have the answer.
14. Problogger – Website
I wasn’t going to include this on the list because everyone already knows about Darren. Daily blogging tips on how to really make the most out of your opportunity to make money from your home desk.
15. Related Posts – Plugin
At the end of every post people are looking for something else to read. Why not use this plugin to give them an automatically generated list of related articles so they stay long on your site? It is a fantastic plugin.
16. WordPress Mobile Edition – Plugin
Make sure people reading your blog on their iPhones can see it properly and quickly. Removes all the clutter and shows your content in the best way. Very handy now that more and more people do their blog reading on their phones.
17. Google Analytics – Stats
Google Analytics is, in my opinion, still the best analytics software you can get. Just install a very simple tracking code on your blog and they give you a myriad of useful information like how long people stay on your site, what pages they visit, what keywords they used to arrive, etc. Very important for planning future content.
18. Sharethis – Tool
Make sure all your social media share buttons are in one place. This also includes email so people can send blog articles to their friends really easily. Every blog has this on it.
19. Wibiya – Tool
Wibiya is a pretty new toolbar that sits on the bottom of your reader’s window and gives them useful stats like how many people are on your site, etc. It also lets them search and bookmark it easily as well as share it on social media networks. Darren Rowse uses it on his photography blog.
20. Clicky Analytucs – Stats
Another stats service but this one is more easy to use and digest. Very simple things like page views, number of readers, etc.
21. Crazy Egg – Tool
Crazy Egg is stats, but with a difference. This creates heatmaps showing you where your visitors clicked on your site. This is extremely valuable to find out where the “hot spots” on your page are, allowing you to put ads and important bits in important places.
22. SEOmoz – Website
A blog and a set of tools, this is the premier place to be if you want to learn how to get good at SEO. Rand Fishkin (the CEO) is an absolute legend in the industry, mostly because he wears yellow shoes everywhere. 😉
23. Photoshop CS5 Extended – Full – Software
Photoshop is the ultimate photo editing software and can be used to touch up photos or create nice header images for your blog and blog posts. It is very expensive but if you have the cash floating around it can be a good tool to have. I use it everyday.
24. Gimp – Tool/Software
Gimp is an alternative to Photoshop that gives you fairly good editing power for a free tool. It is sort of a step in between Microsoft Paint and Photoshop. Takes a little while to get used to be can be very handy for changing images.
25. Google Feed Reader – Tool
If you aren’t reading your favorite blogs in a feed reader yet then you are wasting a lot of time. All you do is sign up for a free account and then add all your favorite websites – every time they update you can see it in the feed reader as opposed to having to visit each site individually. Add my feed here.
26. Yoono – Firefox Extension
This is a social media extension that allows you to add all of your social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc.) and update them in one place. Very handy having your social media stuff happening in a sidebar as opposed to having heaps of windows open.
27. Invisible Hand – Firefox Extension
This is not strictly a blogging tool but it can help when you are buying things for your blogging arsenal. Invisible Hand discreetly warns you when a cheaper item is available. For example, if you are looking at a book on Amazon it will tell you if there is a cheaper one available.
28. LastPass – Firefox/Chrome Extension
This is one of the coolest extensions around. It saves all your passwords and lets you automatically fill out forms. A must have for anyone who works online.
29. FastestFox – Firefox Extension
Seriously, this is how your web browsing should be. Fast. What more is there to say? Oh, endless pages is really cool.
30. Lazarus: Form Recovery – Firefox Extension
Don’t ever lose your work again with this extension that securely saves your forms and lets you get them back after a crash or a server time out. Great for bloggers who leave comments, sign up to lots of different tools, etc.
31. ShoZu – iPhone App
This app basically does all your social media and uploads from a single place. Facebook, Twitter, Photobucket, etc. can all be done in one place. I think it is one of the best time savers if you run multiple sites.
32. Idea Organizer – iPhone App
Don’t ever forget a post or blog idea again with this very simple to use iPhone app that allows you to log your ideas and work with them in multiple ways. Can be very handy at times.
33. WifiTrak 2.6 – iPhone App
Sometimes when you need to do some work from your iPhone the amount of bandwidth your network gives you is kinda slow. This app scans the area for better WiFi reception and helps you to log into one that will give you better speeds and so on.
eBay Partner Network – Tool
The Partner Network allows you to place relevant eBay listings on your blog. Every time someone clicks a listing you earn some money and if your blog sends a lot of quality traffic (people who buy while on eBay) to the site they pay you higher and higher commissions. This isn’t as good as it used to be (payments are way lower) but it is still a good way to make money from your blog if Adsense isn’t doing it for you anymore.
35. Mashable – Website
Stay up to date with everything that is going on in the world of social media. Sometimes it can be a little overwhelming but often you get a good idea or two from their posts about upcoming trends.
36. WP Super Cache – Plugin
This is a great plugin as it stores an old version of your blog to show to readers thus dramatically reducing the loading time and the amount of bandwidth you use. If you have a “graphic heavy” blog then use this straight away. Some people say it mucks with Adsense codes, I’m not sure.
37. Headspace SEO – Plugin
This WordPress plugin is probably the best free SEO optimizer on the market. It allows you to do all your optimizing in one panel – tags, analytics integration and of course fixing all your META information. A very good all-in-one resource.
38. WPtouch iPhone Theme – Plugin
Another plugin that converts your blog into a iPhone readable version. Necessary for all your phone readers out there.
39. SEO Slugs – Plugin
Remove all the unwanted words like “and” and “a” from your permalinks so they are shorter and better optimized for SEO.
40. SEO Book Toolbar – Tool
This amazing free toolbar shows you all the SEO data that you need to know when you visit a website. Things like how many links they have, where they come from, etc. Amazing information at a quick glance.
41. Programmer’s Notepad with Line Numbers – Software
This is just the regular Notepad but with line numbers – makes editing code so much easier if you see a warning like “error on line 148”.
42. Adsense Notifier – Extension
Do you HAVE to log into your Adsense account every 30 seconds to see if you have any more clicks? I used to. This Adsense Notifier displays your stats down the bottom of your window so whenever you get a click you can see it without having to log in at all. Helps to ween you off the addiction!
43. Tweet Adder – Tool
This amazing tool (which isn’t free) lets you find all the relevant Tweeters you need. If you are a web designer just type in “web design” and it will find anyone who has Tweeted about that topic. Very handy for growing a big list. I’m not sure it is completely above board in Twitter’s eyes so don’t use it to spam or mass follow. Keep it organic and real.
44. Tweet Deck – Tool
Update multiple Twitter accounts at once, use it on your phone or just on your desktop. Still the most popular way to manage Tweets.
45. Get back unverified subscribers – Tool
This is a Greasemonkey tool that allows you to send out an email to all those email subscribers who didn’t complete the subscription process. I did this on one of my other blogs and got a good 20% or so increase in my subscriber count. I was shocked at how many people didn’t verify the subscription.
46. Open Office – Software
Open Office is like Microsoft Word except it has better range of fonts and perhaps more features. It is also free. The reason I added this to the blogging list is because it allows you to save things as a PDF right out of the program. This means you can create eBook to sell from your blog really quick and easily.
47. Feedburner Email Subscriptions – Tool
Everyone uses Feedburner for their RSS but you should also be collecting email addresses. In my opinion these are way more important because you can actually get the email addresses out of your Feedburner database and send email about other offers or events that you don’t post to your blog. Very valuable.
48. Scribefire – Firefox/Chrome Extension
Pretty simple, very cool. Post to all of your blogs at once amongst other things.
49. Vizu Polls – Tool
Allows you to easily create a sidebar poll so you can gather more direct marketing information about your readers. This is a fantastic way to increase loyalty and learn new stuff about the people on your blog.
50. coComment – Firefox Extension
This is a great extension that allows you to keep track of all the comments you leave on other people’s blogs. Ensures you don’t miss out on conversations, replies, etc.
51. Copyscape – Website
Just type in your URL and find out who else is using (borrowing, stealing) your content. Very important if you outsource any of your blogging to freelancers.
52. Stock.xchng – Website
All the royalty free photos you could ever want if Photodropper doesn’t do it for you. Make sure you read the license term first as some of them are restricted.
53. Redirection – Plugin
Sometimes you need to redirect a post to another place (301) and this helps to make sure you don’t have any broken links.
54. FBML: Make you Facebook Page Pop – Extension
FBML stands for Facebook Markup Language and allows you to use images and a few other fancy things to spice up your Fan Page. This is a fantastic way to make your Page more branded and get users interested straight away.
I hope these tools, apps, plugins and websites are useful to you all. I would really like to keep this list growing and evolving so if you know any more that are missing please leave a comment and I will add it to the list with a back link to your blog as a “thank you” present.