6 Blogging Tools All Bloggers Need to Use

In theory, blogging doesn’t sound that hard. You start up a site, pick a layout, write some content, and hit the post button. For casual bloggers, that’s all it takes—you’ve got a site up and running in no time at all.

Actually getting and maintaining traffic is another matter entirely. You have to understand how to bring in traffic, where it’s coming from, how to appear in the search engines, and how to make sure your site’s appearance, functionality, and content is the very best it can be. That’s where it starts getting complicated.

Fortunately, there are a lot of great tools out there available to bloggers. Some are free, and some are not. Either way, if they’re on our list of the 6 blogging tools all bloggers need to use, they’re worth the investment.

If you’re serious about blogging—especially if you want your blog to gain a lot of traffic, help your business, or make you money—these are all tools you need to have and know how to use.

1. Google Analytics

I know, I know. How many times now, in how many posts, have I talked about Google Analytics? A lot. But it’s for good reason.

No matter what platform you’re on, Google Analytics is one of the—if not the very most—important tool that you could be using.

Google Analytics tells you exactly how your site is performing. It tells you how much traffic you’re getting, where it’s coming from, how long users are staying, and what pages they visit.

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You can use this information to evaluate what’s working and what isn’t, and then to come up with a plan to increase traffic, pages visited, and the amount of time spent on your site.

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Best news! It’s free and easy to set up on your site. And so, so valuable.

2. WordPress

There’s a lot of great blogging sites out there, but WordPress takes the cake. Like Google Analytics, it makes your job easier, more effective, and it’s free to get started on (though there are paid options with WordPress).

WordPress is a Content Management System (essentially this just means how you publish your blog posts), and it’s got great support, is easy to customize, and easy to navigate. It’s also extremely easy to optimize, which for a busy site (which yours may not be at first, but may become) is extremely important.

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WordPress has an interface that’s easy to navigate and use.

 

As far as CMS platforms go, WordPress also comes with what seems like an endless number of plugins available to help you achieve your blogging goals. We talk about one a little further down.

3. Pingdom

It’s frustrating to go to a site that always seems to be down, especially when you’re trying to get business taken care of. You don’t want that site to be your site, particularly if you’re trying to run a business from it (or it is your business).

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Pingdom lets you know if your site is down, and for how long. This way you don’t lose customers without even knowing there was a problem. More than that, you’ll be able to see if there is a recurring problem either with your site, or perhaps with the host of your site. No matter where the problem is coming from, Pingdom will help let you know if you have one, before you start losing customers and visitors for good because of it.

Pingdom can detect even relatively minor server flakiness and shakiness, and it’s because of that we recommend it above all the other server monitoring tools.

4. WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast

WordPress SEO is an amazing plugin that we’ve been using for months—and a lot of the other big name sites and blogs are using it, too. This plugin breaks down each page individually, letting you know the strong and weak points that contribute or take away from the page’s SEO influence.

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This plugin has helped us a great deal with our SEO practices.

 

SEO is crucial to getting your site ranking on search engines—if you don’t rank, users can’t click because they can’t find you. SEO is crucial to expansion (even if not right away). SEO can also be incredible complicated, and using this plugin will help you to monitor what you’re doing right and wrong. Overtime, this will make a huge difference when it comes to helping you show up in search engines. And we all know that’s a really big deal.

5. MailChimp

MailChimp is one of the most frequently used e-mail applications, and for good reason. Not only is it affordable, it’s easy to alter customizable sign-up sheets and templates, and just as easy to embed them on your websites or Facebook Page.

MailChimp has great features like pre-made and easy-to-customize templates, subscriber profiles, automation, and some great analytics. All of these features are unbelievably useful.

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Having an e-mail subscription sign up is so important to long-term success. It helps you remind users that you’re there. Whether you use this information just to let them know about new posts, or to push them along in the buying cycle, getting their contact information and using it will help expand your blog and your business.

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Added bonus: MailChimp’s low cost and easy-to-use interface, like WordPress, makes it ideal for both beginners and professionals alike.

6. Free Stock Photos

Sites with free stock photos. While many bloggers are able to take their own stunning, beautiful, artful pictures, many—definitely including myself—are not able to do so. For those of us who don’t excel in photography, photo editing, and/or graphic design, we have two choices: we can either have a mediocre-looking blog that screams amateur hour (even if the rest of it is really great) or we can use stock photos.

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The problem with stock photos: they’re often really, really expensive. If you google “free stock photos,” the first ten sites that come up are not actually free. Fortunately, there are great sites out there with beautiful high resolution, high quality stock photos—all for free.

To see more about our recommendations for free stock photos, you can see our entire blog post on the subject here.

 

 

What blogging tools do you use to help your blog find success? Do you use something not on our list? Leave a comment and let us know!

 

To see more about our blog and our content marketing strategy, you can see posts about how we do it here and here.

6 Sites With Gorgeous, Truly Free Stock Photos

I know some bloggers out there are naturally (or are trained to be) phenomenal photographers, fantastic photo editors, or experts in graphic design. I am not one of those bloggers. Not even a little bit. My sister was granted that gift, not me. I’m actually famous in my family for always accidentally cutting off the top part of my dad’s head in all the family pictures I took.

I excel at the written word, not so much in creation of stunning images.

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Image courtesy of Unsplash.com.

So, for those of us like myself who lack some creativity and skill in this area, there’s the struggle of finding really spectacular images to use in our blog. After all, images are good for SEO and are important to getting users to click on the blog post, and to keep reading it. The solution for us non-photographer bloggers? Stock photos.

But those suckers can get expensive, fast. You start paying chunks of money to different sites to get images that sometimes the client will reject and that you don’t get paid for. That one’s always particularly fun. While a few dollars per image isn’t much (and sometimes it can be factored into the cost you charge), it adds up very quickly, especially when you’re putting out multiple posts in a week.

The solution to this problem: free stock photos. When I first started blogging, I searched high and low for free stock photos, and couldn’t find any. Even the sites that popped up on Google as “free stock photos” were never free and were a few dollars a pop.

Finally, I found these amazing sites that offer truly free stock photos that you don’t have to pay a cent for. Some sites will require you give credit on the image when you post it, but some don’t even ask that. I’ve used each of these sites multiple times (a lot of them on other blogs covering everything from wedding cakes to fishing techniques), and I’ve always had great results.

These images go beyond the use of bloggers, too; they can be used by web designers, for professional projects, printed works (in most cases), and (again, in most cases) ads like Facebook Ads online.


Unsplash

I think the last four blog posts I’ve posted on this site have featured images that came from Unsplash. Their high resolution pictures are all stunning and easily beat out a large number of stock photos that you actually pay for on other sites. They look professional, and their free. They just ask you subscribe so they can send you images to your inbox once a week, and they add ten gorgeous new pictures every ten days.

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Image provided by Unsplash.com

 

You are free to “do whatever you want” with these images—no credit or links back need to be given. They are 100% free to use however you wish, and they are at the very top of my list.

PicJumbo

PicJumbo is another great site, and easily ranking in as my second most frequently used site, right behind Unsplash. It was created by a web designer who understands the industry’s need for high quality images in full resolution and offered up his own images for free to use how you see it (except reselling them, of course).

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Image courtesy of PicJumbo.com

 

Attribution and credit is not required, though it is appreciated. As he says, anytime these sites are getting more traffic and downloads, it means that they keep providing more content to their growing audience. Win-win for everybody.

While Picjumbo has a ton of great images for free, you do have the option of purchasing a premium package for only $6 a month (and all the bloggers out there know that this is nothing—some sites want that just for a single image) for extra hi-res images, some of them unpublished, sent right into your inbox.

Pixabay

Pixabay features those really awesome images, some of which are stunning photographs and some graphics that are created by some seriously skilled graphic designers. They do feature a few images under each category that you have to pay for from another site, but don’t be fooled—everything else is free.

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Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

 

You can use these images without any kind of credit or attribution, so again, these images are completely free for you to use however you see fit.

StockSnap.io

Another site with page after page after page of beautiful images that are all completely free is StockSnap.io. They are constantly adding tons of new pictures to the site daily, increasing their variety and making sure that every time you come back to the site, there will be new images you can use.

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Image courtesy of StockSnap.io. Tell me that doesn’t make you hungry, I dare you.

 

StockSnap doesn’t require any credit or attribution when you use their images.

Gratisography

Gratisography offers even more breathtaking, “use as you please” high resolution pictures for free, though there is a place to contribute to the site’s “coffee fund,” which is one of the most awesome ways to ask for donations I’ve ever seen.

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Image courtesy of Gratisography.com. This image is just begging to have a short story be written about it…

 

All images on the site are 100% free from copyright restrictions. Post away on commercial projects!

SuperFamous

Dutch interaction designer Folkert Gorter created SuperFamous—a Los Angeles based studio—and the site that shares its incredible work. This is another great site with page after page of stunning pictures (I know, I’ve said that about all these sites, but it’s true).

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Unlike almost all the other sites on this list, SuperFamous still offers their images for free but does require credit and attribution for them when you post them. If you’re curious about the legality of all this, check out the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license for more info.

Conclusion

You now have a ridiculously large number of gorgeous photographs and graphics all at the click of your mouse—for free! These sites make it easier to do my job, and to do my job well. Hopefully it can help you do the same!

Even when the sites don’t require it or ask for it, giving attribution and credit wherever possible is always good. It’s an act of goodwill and saying thank you; it sends them more traffic, which in turn allows them to create more images.

 

Where do you get your favorite stock photos from? What do you use them for? Leave us a comment and let us know!

How to Setup a Responsive Website for Free in 10 Minutes

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Do you own a WordPress site? Me too! I tried searching for a really good and use theme and plugins for YEARS! Most of them are not really helping my site and it’s getting slower. I’ve been searching for few months and I just discovered a theme and plugins to help my WordPress site really quick and very responsive.

Here’s the theme I really recommend for you get a very responsive and fast WordPress site.

Responsive Themes

The future of the internet is in mobile. This means your websites need to be mobile friendly. We recommend responsive themes. However, you need to have a good one to make this work for you.

Take a look:

This WordPress theme is a full fluid grid system that adapts your WordPress site to MOBILE DEVICES and Desktop.

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Theme link : http://wordpress.org/themes/responsive

Download Here: http://wordpress.org/themes/download/responsive.1.9.5.2.zip

 

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Recommended plugins for your WordPress site:

Akismet

This protects you from spam. If you have a WP site that has more traffic and lots of users are commenting to your post, I highly recommend this plugin. This will check if its a comment spam or not. This plugin is already in your WordPress site. By default, its turned off. You just need to Enable it.

Link: https://wordpress.org/plugins/akismet/

All in One SEO Pack

This will help Optimize your WordPress blog for SEO (Search Engine Optimization). See features below:

  • XML Sitemap support – submit your sitemap to Google and Bing and improve your SEO
  • Google Analytics support
  • Support for SEO on Custom Post Types
  • Advanced Canonical URLs
  • Fine tune Page Navigational Links
  • Built-in API so other plugins/themes can access and extend functionality
  • ONLY plugin to provide SEO Integration for WP e-Commerce sites
  • Nonce Security built into All in One SEO Pack
  • Support for CMS-style WordPress installations
  • Automatically optimizes your titles for Google and other search engines
  • Generates META tags automatically
  • Avoids the typical duplicate content found on WordPress blogs
  • For beginners, you don’t even have to look at the options, it works out-of-the-box. Just install.
  • For advanced users, you can fine-tune everything to optimize your SEO
  • You can override any title and set any META description and any META keywords you want.
  • Compatibility with many other plugins

Link: https://wordpress.org/plugins/all-in-one-seo-pack/

Contact Form 7

Contact Form 7 can manage multiple contact forms, plus you can customize the form and the mail contents flexibly with simple markup. The form supports Ajax-powered submitting, CAPTCHA, Akismet spam filtering and so on.

Link: https://wordpress.org/plugins/contact-form-7/

Google Analytics for WordPress

You need a tool where it will show you where are your viewers coming from. Track your WordPress site easily and with lots of metadata: views per author & category, automatic tracking of outbound clicks and pageviews.

Link: http://wordpress.org/plugins/google-analytics-for-wordpress

Google XML SiteMaps

Do you want your WP site to show on Google Search Page? This plugin will generate a special XML sitemap which will help search engines to better index your blog. It will generate a special XML sitemap which will help search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask.com to better index your blog.

Link: http://wordpress.org/plugins/google-sitemap-generator/

Jetpack by WordPress.com

Are you a WordPress.com user? Jetpack is a WordPress plugin that supercharges your self-hosted WordPress site with the awesome cloud power of WordPress.com.

Link: https://wordpress.org/plugins/jetpack/

How to install WordPress plugins.

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Hi everyone if your running up a Blog or a Marketing site using WordPress you might want to check how to install a WordPress plugins to maximize your productivity.

What is a WordPress plugin?

One very popular feature of WordPress is its plugin architecture which allows users and developers to extend its abilities beyond the core installation. WordPress has a database of over 26,000 plugins,[10] each of which offers custom functions and features enabling users to tailor their sites to their specific needs. These customizations range from SEO (Search Engine Optimization) enhancers, to client portals[11] used to display private information to logged in users, to content displaying features, such as the addition of widgets and navigation bars.

So there are two ways to install WordPress plugins automatically and manually; here’s how to install WordPress plugins automatically.

First to install a WordPress plugins you need to log in on your WordPress site. using your WordPress admin username and password

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If you successfully log-in you will be directed to your dashboard screen.

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1. Here’s how to install WordPress plugins automatically.

On your dashboard screen look for the plugins link on  the left hand corner.

Point on the plugins link and a sub link will appear left click on the add new sub link and install plugins page will appear.

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Now you can search a plugins on the search bar or you can select from the choices above the page.

After you have selected a WordPress plugins. You can also check the plugins details by clicking on the details button. and decide if the plugins fit your site.

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install

Click install to install the WordPress plugins. and activate the wordpress plugins after it has been installed succesfully.

Activate

Note: To check if your WordPress plugins is activated go to your site or go back to the plugins link and left click installed plugins and check if it’s activated.

A plugins is activated if you can see a deactivate button below the installed plugins.

Finish

Installing WordPress on a localhost using Xampp

Hi everyone I will walk you through installing wordpress on a localhost using Xampp.

1st. on you need to download the wordpress software on the wordpress siteLink: wordpress.org/download.

2nd Look for the download link. click download wordpress your download will automatically start

Note: you will get a zip file.

Note: Please see screenshots below.

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3rd After downloading wordpress we need to download xampp we need to go www.apachefriends.org/en/xampp-windows.html. On the xampp page scroll down and look for the xampp latest installer. Click on the installer and your download will start automatically. When the download is complete install xampp.

Note:there’s a pop-up windows click on yes. And there’s another pop-up labelled Set-up. Click next on every pop-up you encounter . Wait for the set-up to complete the Installation and click finish

Note: see screenshots below

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4th Open xampp and and click start apache and mysql service.

Note: please see screenshot below.

5th   Create Database by clicking on  Admin MySQL service. Click on the Database tab. Create a name: and click on create after I was created look for the database you created and click on privilegedes and check all the boxes below click on add new  user and click on go to create your database. Your database is created if you can see GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON Mywordpress` . * TO  ‘newuser’@’localhost’; after you click on go.

Note: please see screenshot below.

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6th  Now we will install the wordpress file that we download. Look for the wordpress zip file. We will extract the wordpress zip file on the xampp folder.

Open wordpress and look for the wordpress folder, highlight the wordpress folder and click on extract  to. Look and open for xampp folder and install wordpress under htdocs folder file. And click okay below.

Note: please see screenshot below.

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 7th Open your Internet browser example: google chrome, internet explorer or mozilla firefox. And type in Localhost/wordpress and click enter on the keyboard. You will get a screen that tells you to create a configuration file. And another page will open read and click let’s go. Then a screen will open and you need to create your credentials. Click on submit a new page will pop-up and click run the install to install set-up for wordpress.

Note: please see screenshot below.

Note: please write down or remember the credentials you created.

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8th After Completing the initial set-up you will need to fill up the information needed to complete the installation for wordpress. and install wordpress. Log-in to wordpress using the username and password you created. If you log in you have installed wordpress using wordpress using local host xammp  successfully.

Note: you can personalise your username and password to your own liking. This will be the credentials that you will be using to open up your wordpress site.

Note: you will also see a success page click on  log in

Note: After logging in on wordpress site you will see your wordpress dashboard and you can see your site by clicking on my site on the upper left hand corner.

Note: please see screenshot below.

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