10 Blogging Tools Worth Paying For

The best blogging tools worth paying for

I’ve been blogging for a VERY long time.  I started blogging in May of 2007, so in blogging years, I’m practically an antique!  Over the years, I’ve learned a LOT and one of the best things I’ve learned is which are the tools worth paying for and which are garbage.  

I started as one of millions of hobby bloggers on a shoestring budget.  Originally, I started on Blogger (then called Blogspot), didn’t own my own domain name (so I was AdriansCrazyLife.blogspot.com) and basically didn’t pay for anything.  I also didn’t have any traffic to speak of or any source of income.  My, how things have changed.

Now I’ve got all these things like business cards and licenses and all these various tools that are worth paying for to keep my blog up and running.  These are the things I need to drive my traffic and earn my income from my blog and the products I sell.  The nice thing is that I’ve been through the good ones and the bad ones, so I can hopefully steer you in the best direction.

Disclaimer – Many of the tools I have will carry my affiliate links.  This is one of the ways that I use to support my site and pay for all these lovely tools.

1.   Tailwind

Price – Starts at $15/month, but varies depending on services.  

Use the new Tailwind find a Tribe feature

Tailwind HAS to be first on my list.  Obviously Pinterest wasn’t even on the horizon when I started, but it’s definitely the 800 lb. gorilla in the room these days and Tailwind is definitely the gold standard for schedulers.  Well, I’ve heard that Board Booster is pretty good too, but I haven’t used it personally.  I did use an early product called Viral Tag and I do still maintain a membership for it, but it’s definitely an inferior product.  It doesn’t have the analytics or the flexibility of Tailwind, but it is useful for building boards in large volumes and quickly.

I’ve had a very beneficial relationship with Tailwind over the past several years.  They’ve not only been helpful in scheduling hundreds of thousands of pins for myself and my clients, but they’ve also managed my analytics, and my Tribes.  I also use it for my Instagram scheduling, such as it is.  They’ve also given me hundreds of dollars in $15 commissions for referring people to their services – see my post on How I get my Tailwind for FREE.  Even nicer, they are paying to promote that article and a couple of others on all their social media, which drives a lot of my traffic.  See why they’re my favorite?

2.  WordFence Premium

Pricing:  $99/year per site

WordFence would probably be my #2 favorite tool worth paying for.  My move from Blogger to WordPress was critical to my success, and actually went smoothly, but WordPress has many more security risks.  That means security is critically important and hackers are getting more and more sophisticated.  I run another site for a charity I work with.  Surprisingly, hacking attacks on that site are at least double than what I see on my site.  So I upgraded to WordFence Premium on both sites, so I can block attacks country by country and get updated blacklists of all the most current threats.

3.  SendOwl

Pricing – $9 to $49

This is another good and bad situation.  When you sell Ebooks and other digital products, you need a service to handle your online payments and deliveries.  I first tried a service called E-Junkie.  It was cheap – just $5 a month, but it was BAD.  It was so unprofessional looking, I think it was scaring off my potential customers.   I only had a handful of sales for nearly a year.  I actually feel pretty dumb that it took me almost a year to figure it out.

The switch to SendOwl was dramatic.  It was not only hugely easier to set up and use, but my sales quadrupled.  I’ve also been able to easily set up affiliates to increase my sales.

4.  Convertkit

Prices – $29 – $99  

Ironic that this ISN’T the mail service that I’m currently using.  I’ve got Active Campaign, but I wouldn’t recommend it and I’m moving away from it soon.  Even Mailchimp’s free service that I use for my charity is a better product.  I did a newsletter with them last week and it looks SO much better than my Active Campaign newsletters and was much easier to set up.  ConvertKit is one of the premium products and I’ve heard gets one of the best open rates in the industry.  You really DO need a good newsletter service if you’re going to get anywhere with your subscribers.

I’m trying to get my nerve up to switch to ConvertKit, but it’s pretty pricey – about $50/month at my level, plus I’d have to switch over all my automations, subscribers, and newsletters, so it’s a big job.  But I can definitely NOT recommend Active Campaign and even though it’s free in many cases, I’d steer clear of MailChimp also (poor open rates).  Don’t do like I did – start off with the gold standard from the start – go with Convert Kit.

Update:  After consultation with my blogger peeps, I’ve had a big change of plan.  I’m not switching to ConvertKit, I’m going to switch to Mailerlite.com instead.  It’s a LOT cheaper – starting at FREE to 1000 subscribers and just $10 a month for the 2500 I need.  PLUS it has popups, landing pages, automations and segmentation.  And it has beautiful templates for Emails with columns, photos, and custom headers.  I hadn’t even heard of it, but it sounds AWESOME!  

5.  Thrive Themes

Pricing:  $228/year for full access or individuals modules

Yet another happy ending in the blogging world.  I tried several inexpensive options to create pop-up ads on my site.  First I tried Opt-in Monster (awful!) and an off-brand software called Pop-up Ninja (worse!).  Then, I finally wised up – again and spent the money for Thrive Themes.

Thrive Themes is frankly AWESOME!  It has a number of modules for all sorts of things – beautiful WordPress themes, any number of gorgeous customizable pop-ups, fabulous landing page templates, ways to create beautiful blog posts, adding those little timers into your Emails, solicit user feedback for your products, just TONS of stuff.  There’s a bit of a learning curve as there is with all technical products, but it’s a great package.

6.  Updraft

Pricing – from Free to $35/year for 5 gigs storage

Have you ever lost your whole site?  Like GONE?  I haven’t actually lost my site, but I came dang close one time after I hired a foreign guy from Fiverr and he hacked into my site.  Here’s my post about Being Hacked.  I would’ve lost nearly 10 years worth of posts, all my photos, comments, and just everything.  Major devastation.

Now I hear you saying that your host backs up your site for you.  Yes, so did mine.  I even paid extra for it.  But what I didn’t know was that the backups were only kept for ONE DAY.  So, by the time you find out there’s a problem, figure out what to do about it and try to contact somebody – one day could have already passed.  Boom – your backup is GONE and you are screwed!

I purchased Updraft that same day and I also bought it for our charity’s site due to all the excessive hacking attacks.  It automatically saves backups on the schedule I set – I usually keep 4 to 6 days worth of backups.  That makes this one of my most valuable tools worth paying for!

7.  Social Warfare

Price:  $29 for small sites up to $250/year for multiple sites

Yet another case where I tried to go with a freebie tool and found it unsatisfactory.  I loaded Sumo.me on my site to manage my social shares.  It was OK, but not fabulous.  It kept track of my social shares just fine and offered heatmaps and some other tracking options, but didn’t offer good share options for my fans and readers.

On the 4th of July, I found a special where they were offering Social Warfare for just $20 for the year.  So, I figured it was worth a try.  It’s a great tool.  You can control which images and specific text bytes to each social media platform and it makes it very helpful for your site visitors to share your posts.

And it’s easy to use – no big learning curve.  Downside – you do need to manually edit each post to set up the images and text descriptions.  I have over 400 posts, so it’s a work in progress, but I am finding it to be a helpful tool worth paying for.

8.  Mailstrom

Price – $4.95/month

This isn’t specifically a blogger tool, but staying on top of your Email is a critical part of being a blogger.  And honestly, most of us SUCK at it.  I’ll see posts on Facebook about people bragging about having 10,000 or even 20,000 unread Emails.  That’s just not efficient.  You need to keep track of comments, social media posts, sponsored campaigns, and collaborations with other bloggers.

Goodness!  Are we seeing a pattern here of me trying the free or cheap tool and then switching to a paid tool for better results?  I started with just regular Gmail, tried a free service called Unroll.me for about a year – it was good, but not great.  Then I switched to Mailstrom and it’s really brilliant!

Here are my two favorite ways to use it.  I love the “expire” feature.  If I don’t read newsletters or other information-type Emails in a few days, I’m not gonna.  So I can set them individually by user to simply disappear from my Inbox after a set number of days.  They all appear in an Expire folder, so I can rescue them if needed, but it’s SO helpful.

The other way I use it is to gather up Emails by type.  I can grab 10 different threads from my son’s Scout Troop and pop them into a folder in 3 seconds.  Or find all my Facebook or Pinterest notifications for a month and delete them all in one pop.  This is the first time I’ve ever felt so in control of my inbox.

9.  My Pinterest Ebooks

Pricing – $25 each

I couldn’t have a list like this without having my own products on it.  I have not one, but TWO Ebooks for Pinterest.  I have one for bloggers and regular types.  The other one is designed for people who sell products, like Etsy sellers and people in Direct Sales like Mary Kay, doTerra, etc.

Each is 40-pages jam packed with all my BEST Pinterest tips – how to get Followers, how to set up your boards, comparing different schedulers, pin examples, and how to find group boards or better yet, create your own.  Each one comes with a bunch of bonus items – lists of no-limit Group boards and Tailwind Tribes for all niches.  Plus my unique style guide with over 100 different color combinations and a series of font pairings to make gorgeous pins.

10.  My Coaching Sessions

Price $100

Pinterest seems simple, but it’s sort of like chess.  There are moves within moves and arcane strategies.  It can be really complicated to do it properly and there are multiple ways to use it.  I’ve worked with over 100 different clients so I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly.  REALLY ugly in some cases.  And I love to give advice, so this is perfect for me.  I actually put a lot of time into these sessions – I review your competitors, look at your analytics, tell you what you’re doing wrong or right.  At the end, you end up with a big list of changes you can make to improve your account.

I have one more option – if you want to make the changes, but don’t have the time, energy, or technical know-how, you can hire me as a VA (Virtual Assistant) to make the changes for you, and even do your weekly pinning schedule for you.  My monthly plans start at $100/month for a small-to-medium sized account.  You can Email me for more details at adrianscrazylife at gmail.

10 blogging tools worth paying for

 


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Over the years, I've learned a LOT and one of the best things I've learned is which are the tools worth paying for and which ones suck.  There are so many choices available and I'd like to help you learn from my experiences to find out which tools are the MOST helpful for your site and which ones to not bother with.

Comments

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this! I’m always looking on ways to advance and move forward as a blogger, and I know that sometimes means investing in services. I’ve heard so many great things about Tailwind but haven’t tried it yet myself. And I’m also looking for a new service for my email marketing (I just started an ecourse actually so was going to try out the ones recommended, to see what works best). I need idiot proof, really. Something that has a nice layout is great, too, but really I want to keep it simple because technology isn’t always my friend 🙂 Ha!

    Thanks for sharing this, and hope you have a great weekend, Adrian!

    • Adrian's Crazy Life says:

      Tailwind is awesome. If you like, I’ll send you some quick little videos that show you how I use it. Some people have found them very helpful. If you do sign up with them, I’d appreciate it if you use my affiliate code. I am actually going to update the post. My friends have convinced me to use Mailerlite rather than ConvertKit. It’s cheaper and has some great pre-built newsletter templates.

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