This post contains affiliate links. To learn more, hop over to our Disclosure page.
Are you thinking about starting a blog, but aren’t sure what the heck you’ll need?
I was that way too.
All I wanted was to have a beautiful, successful blog, but I didn’t have the slightest clue what I would need.
From content creation, to photography, to learning more about the blogging world, I’ve been around the world when it comes to blogging tools and resources. And I’ve got to say, some are better than others. (Obviously.)
Now, I know that when you’re just starting out, you really want to hit the ground running.
Am I right?
You just want the right tools that’ll get you off to a strong start, fast. And you hate the idea of wasting time searching for said tools.
Well, I’ve done the legwork so you don’t have to. I’ve compiled a list of the top 10 best blogging tools and resources for starting a blog. These are things that I currently use to create my content and organize my blogging life, and that I wish I had when I was first starting off.
Of course, there are plenty more “professional” ways to accomplish these tasks. Problem is, they’re more advanced and may be too much for beginning bloggers. Heck, they’re too much for me and I’m not even new!
There’s always room for advancement, but we’ve all got to start somewhere. If I got my blog off the ground using these simple tools, you can totally do it too!
Make a great first impression with beautiful photos
Blogging is all about the visuals. People enjoy looking at crisp, beautiful photos that highlight the best aspects of your content. Honestly, what do you do when faced with a blog post with no photos, or worse, crappy photos? You probably leave.
Don’t let that happen to your blog.
Camera: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 IV
Purchase the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 IV on Amazon
I started off blogging using the camera on my iPhone 6, but I quickly realized that the photo quality just wasn’t up to par. Since photography is such huge part of beauty blogging, I decided to invest in a quality camera.
The Sony RX100 series are seriously the best cameras out there for any blogger or beginning photographer. The camera comes in five different models (I, II, III, IV, & V,) ranging in price from $398 to $998 on Amazon. The compact size makes it perfect for blogging on the go, plus it doubles as a personal camera I take with me on vacation since it’s easy to carry. It features a well-crafted Auto mode for beginners, but it also offers full Manual capabilities for when want a specific look.
Starting a blog is challenging enough without the added stress of worrying about making grainy iPhone photos look decent. Invest in a good camera, and you’ll jump leaps ahead instantly.
On that note, I can’t recommend this camera enough. When mine dies, I’ll buy another one. I love it that much.
Here’s that link again >> Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 IV on Amazon
Photo editing software: PicMonkey
Sign up here >> PicMonkey
Of course, once you have your photos, you have to edit them so they look just right. Adobe Photoshop quickly comes to mind, but unless you’ve got hours and hours to spare to learn the ropes, that route in impractical to say the least.
I use PicMonkey to edit all of my photos. The interface is super simple to understand and it gets the job done quickly and easily.
For $6.99 per month, (or $3.99 per month if you bill annually,) you get all the features you need to edit your photos, plus add text and cool effects.
It’s perfect for those of us just starting a blog, who want to edit photos, but don’t want to spend all day doing it. Does that sound familiar? (Inside joke alert!)
Here’s that link again >> PicMonkey
Graphics creator: Canva
Sign up here >> Canva
While PicMonkey is great for editing photos, there are some limitations when it comes to creating graphics and banners. That’s where Canva comes in!
Canva comes with a ton of pre-set templates for logos, social media banners, and more. Whenever I’m feeling un-creative, Canva becomes my best friend because I can throw together a professional looking design in no time.
You can upgrade to a paid Canva for Work account for $12.95 per month, although I’ve been doing perfectly well with just the free account. It still offers all the features I need, and I have no complaints.
Here’s that link again >> Canva
“Content” doesn’t just mean blog posts
Yes, blog posts are your main focus when you’re first starting a blog, but they’re not the only type of content you’ll need in order to grow your blog.
In addition to the content builder included in my blog dashboard, (WordPress, in my case,) I also create content in other places. By thinking beyond just your blog posts and creating content optimized for other platforms, your reach as a blogger becomes completely limitless.
Worksheet designer: Apple Pages
Download it here >> Apple Pages
In addition to my usual blog posts, I create plenty of worksheets and other bonuses to enhance the content on my website. I use Apple Pages for this because the learning curve is so much easier than programs such as InDesign or Illustrator, but I can still create beautiful designs.
I prefer Apple Pages to Microsoft Word because Apple makes it easier to align photos and graphics on the page, which is important when it comes to printables. Plus, I just find the interface much cleaner and easier on the eye. Hey, I’m a blogger, I’m all about aesthetics.
Blogging on a PC? You can use Apple Pages too! Although, you will have to sign up for Apple iCloud and have internet access while you work. If you’re interested, you can sign up here >> iCloud
Here’s that link again >> Apple Pages
PDF editor: PDF Escape
Try it out here >> PDF Escape
Ever wondered how to create those fillable boxes in PDF documents? I used to think it was some kind of sorcery that only “professional bloggers” were privy to. But it’s actually much easier than you think.
PDF Escape allows you to create interactive PDF documents with text boxes, checkboxes, plus more cool features.
The best part? It’s totally free to use. You can sign up for an account, but I haven’t done that, and I still use the service frequently.
This is an amazing insider resource that’ll elevate your content so it looks super professional. And that’s what you want when you’re starting a blog that you hope to grow.
Here’s that link again >> PDF Escape
Email list management: MailChimp
Sign up here >> MailChimp
You’re probably heard this so many times, but yes, you need an email list. But don’t worry, it doesn’t have to cost you anything, at least not yet.
I know, the idea of managing an email list sounds overwhelming, but that doesn’t need to be the case. MailChimp offers a free plan that you can use up to 2000 subscribers, and it provides all the basic features you need to communicate with your audience. All you have to do is write, and they’ll take care of the rest.
I started out with a free plan on MailChimp, and I have since upgraded to a paid plan for more features that suit my needs right now. If I choose, I can upgrade to an even higher plan with more features. I like that there are several tiers to choose from, so you’re never paying for features you’re not ready to use.
Even if you’re just starting a blog as a hobby, I recommend you build an email list as well. You’ll be glad you did.
Here’s that link again >> MailChimp
You’ve got things to learn — here’s where
When I first started blogging, I figured I’d just learn as I go. I thought, hey, I’ll create posts, and the rest will come naturally. Hate to break it to you, former self, but you were absolutely wrong. (But I suppose she knew that already.)
I worked fervently creating new posts 5 days a week, and reading random articles aplenty, but still getting no where. The problem was that I try as I might, I couldn’t piece everything together into a system that worked.
If you’ve got years to spare, you’ll get some epic bragging rights if you figure this all out yourself. But if you want to see success just a bit faster, I wholeheartedly recommend these two resources to kickstart your blog down the path to success.
Blog to Biz Hive by Melyssa Griffin
Click here to learn more >> Blog to Biz Hive
If you give yourself one gift when starting a blog, let it be this.
Before I enrolled in Blog to Biz Hive, I was really just floating along like a fish with no fins. I had nothing to propel me forward, and I couldn’t steer myself in the right direction. It felt hopeless.
It was only after I took the leap and invested in my blog that I finally began swimming with purpose. The course provided me with so much information and guidance, plus it helped me put all the information I already knew into an actionable plan.
On top of that, it gave me a newfound seriousness that I absolutely needed. After all, I did spend a pretty penny on the course, and I intended to make full use of it.
If you want to learn more about Melyssa, check out her website >> MelyssaGriffin.com
I wholeheartedly recommend this course above any other blogging courses I’ve taken. Blog to Biz Hive is by far the most comprehensive, supportive, and fun learning experience I’ve ever had. I wish university had been this much fun!
Here’s that link again >> Blog to Biz Hive
Guest Blogging by Jon Morrow
Sign up here >> GuestBlogging
This course may seem a bit more obscure, but hear me out. Even if you aren’t planning on guest blogging for other sites, you want to create the best content possible for your own site, right?
This course will teach you how. You’ll learn everything from how to write headlines, to how to write a valuable post, plus how to get other bloggers interested in your work.
Bonus blogging lesson: Sometimes the most valuable resources are the ones you don’t believe are valuable at all. Give everything a chance, and don’t dismiss anything until you give it a good once over. I’ve learned that many of the most valuable blogging lessons have come where I least expected them. Keep an open mind, and you’ll be surprised at what you can take in.
Here’s that link again >> GuestBlogging
Keeping your blog (& yourself) organized
When I first decided on starting a blog, I figured I’d write blog posts, and that’s about it. Totally wrong, my friend.
So much goes into blogging, it’s almost insane. Managing everything needed to grow your blog at a decent pace quickly becomes a full time job.
But of course, many of us don’t have time for a second full time job. So what do we do? We condense. We streamline. And we organize.
I’ve got a full post in the works about how I plan using a digital calendar and physical planner coming up very soon. So let’s just ignore that aspect here, shall we.
Email, calendar, etc.: G Suite from Google Cloud
Sign up here >> Google G Suite (Formerly Google Apps for Work)
The main reason I use G Suite is for the domain specific email address. It just looks so much more professional when you’ve got an “@yourdomainname.com” email address. Just having this alone is worth the $5 per month.
However, G Suite offers much more than just an email address. You can also use a calendar, and save and edit documents right in the cloud. It’s super convenient when you’re on the go, or you just don’t feel like sitting in front of your desk to work.
Now that I have it, I wouldn’t think of starting a blog without it.
*As a special bonus, I’ve got a bunch of discount codes just for my loyal readers! (They’re all different, so I can’t just dump it in here.)
If you’d like a code for 20% off your entire first year of Google G Suite, just send me a quick email at | kay [at] themillennialmaven [dot] com | and let me know you’re interested. I’ll personally send you a code right away!
Here’s that link again >> Google G Suite
Website backup: CodeGuard
Sign up here >> CodeGuard
This one is a preventative measure, but if you ever need it, you’ll be so glad you went ahead and signed up just as you’re first starting a blog.
Thankfully, I haven’t had any disasters yet, but with all the threats of cyber attacks, plus just the instability of the internet itself, having a website backup is absolutely crucial.
The basic CodeGuard plan is an inexpensive, no frills way to keep your website safe. It’s perfect for beginning bloggers.
I’ve been using CodeGuard for several months now, and I’ve had nothing but good experiences. I take comfort in knowing that should my website disappear, it can be restored with a click of a obvious download button. (I can be somewhat oblivious, so the fact that I found it so quickly says something.)
Here’s that link again >> CodeGuard
Just a quick reminder!
Most of the resources above are available all the time, so no worries there.
But Melyssa only offers Blog to Biz Hive at most twice per year. And that time is now!
If you sign up by tomorrow (December 8, 2016,) you’ll receive two special fast-action bonuses:
- Plug and Play 10-Part Launch Email Sequence Templates
- Sell Out Your Course With Affiliates (Bonus Course)
If you want these, be sure to click the link below and sign up before tomorrow night!
*UPDATE: Enrollment for Blog to Biz Hive has closed, but it’s not the end! Follow the link below to sign up for Melyssa Griffin’s newsletter and be the first to know when enrollment opens again.
That’s all for today!
Like this post all about the best resources for starting a blog? You’re sure to find this post helpful too >> Never Run Out of Blog Post Ideas w/ These Simple Tricks
If you find this post interesting, informative, or just plain entertaining, tell me about it in the comments below! And don’t forget, sharing is caring. Share this post!
Till next time. ♥︎
Sign up for my weekly newsletter for exclusive content and insights, plus get instant access to my library of on-the-go beauty resources!
FTC- Not sponsored by any brands mentioned. I purchase all products myself. All opinions are my own. Some links may be affiliated.