If growing your blog is one of your 2020 goals, then take my hand and let’s take this journey together, ma friend! After a bit more than a year of blogging, I finally understood what my main focus should be for my second year (which, you guessed it, is driving as much traffic to my blog as possible).
Unfortunately, during my first year of blogging I put way too much effort into trying to grow my Instagram for very little returns. I played the game and was met with frustration towards how slow it was to actually grow there. The ever-changing algorithm is enough to drive anyone crazy and make you want to give up.
Indeed, by investing so much time on social media growth, I was neglecting investing my time in activities that gave me a better ROI (return on investment). Ever since I ‘’abandoned’ my Instagram efforts I feel more free and in control over my outcomes. I am seeing much higher returns from my hard work, and I wake up every morning excited to apply everything I’ve been studying regarding blog growth.
Table of Contents
What Are the Best Blogging Tools and Courses Available Online?
As a keen learner, it is needless to say that I have purchased way too many courses and ebooks this past year in order to understand all the different blogging nuances and how to grow strategically. Some of them were absolutely groundbreaking, while others, well, not so much.
Investing in your blog might seem costly at first glance, but it is necessary if you want to grow smarter and faster. As a businesswoman myself, time is money. I’d rather personally invest a few bucks into a few things I personally struggle with in order for me to grow quicker. There is nothing quite as demotivating as taking ages to reach your desired outcome.
After many misses (there is a lot of crap available out there, guys), and a few golden hits, I decided I was finally ready to create a complete list of tools and resources that I truly believe every blogger should go through in order to succeed. These are all resources that I have personally used and strongly recommend you try if you’re struggling with any of the below subjects.
For the sake of organization (you know I love it), I have divided my blogging tools and courses into the below categories:
- Start Your Blog
- Blogging Traffic
- Make Money from Blogging
- Graphic Design
- Social Media
***Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. Purchasing through these links earns us a commission at no extra charge to you.
1) If you need BLOGGING guidance
Content Style: Course, with videos, interviews, case studies, webinars ……. Phew!
Nomadic Matt’s ‘The Business of Travel Blogging’ was my first ever course purchased and I am so happy I started with this one. If you’re just starting out, my first big recommendation is to try and buy courses that are related to the niche you are in.
While the content within The Business of Travel Blogging’ can be applied to every niche, I learned it the hard way that some specific tips work better for some niches rather than others (for example, only after I read an ebook for Pinterest for travel bloggers that my traffic REALLY spiked, but more on that below).
That is why if you are in the travel niche and just starting out, an amazing way is to go through Matt’s The Business of Travel Blogging’. They guide you on a step-by-step on setting up your travel blog in WordPress. Furthermore, Matt recommends specific plugins, types of posts that work, interviews with other bloggers, and so much more!
Ah yes, and they have a super engaged Facebook community and a tech assistant called Nick that replies to all your emails almost immediately to help you with any tech doubts you might have on the way.
The Business of Travel Blogging’ was 100% smooth sailing for me to start out and I am so glad this was my first purchased course.
Check out the course syllabus below:
2) If you struggle to understand PINTEREST
Ok, I must admit it took me longer to understand Pinterest than I am proud of acknowledging and because of that I have purchased way more courses in the hopes that by observing different strategies I would learn better. It worked, but at a price ($$$). Because of that, I have 4 best Pinterest resources for bloggesrs. You definitely don’t need them all, but I will list them in order for you to see which one would fit your needs best.
Content Style: Course with Videos
Carly is very well-known around the blogging world for her manual pinning strategy. To her mind, manual pinning is a way of understanding how Pinterest works (Carly is a strong advocate for manual pinning methods). The best part of her course is that she also teaches you how to understand Google Analytics, and how to use it altogether with Pinterest in order to really boost your traffic. Ahhhh, did I mention that her course is extremely affordable?
Missing: how much traffic she makes with manual pinning
Other Carly resources that might possibly interest you:
The She Approach’s Making Pinterest Possible
Content Style: eBook
Ok, I must admit that the first time I read this book I felt like I owed Ana more money. Every word put in this book is gold. Furthermore, Ana has a beautiful style of writing, that is engaging and motivational. She didn’t leave anything out and shares all her secrets, from her to strategically arrange boards to get the most engagement. There is so much valuable information here that I already even told Ana she should be charging more for her books.
This book is pure genius and I love The She Approach’s content. Her newsletter was one of the first ones that I signed up when I was starting out blogging and until this day is one of the few blogger’s whose emails I ALWAYS open (it is always jam-packed with value).
To this day, I have purchased so many of Ana’s ebooks that I will soon have her whole library. I really am an advocate for all of her content because everything she creates is made with love and filled with value.
Buy Ana’s Pinterest Ebook here (Apply TSAOFF for 5 euros discount)
Other of Ana’s Courses well worth looking into:
Somto Seeks’ Pinterest Traffic Takeoff
Content Style: Ebook (currently being transformed into a course)
I found Somto through Pinterest (big surprise, right?). Somto’s ebook was my first acquired Pinterest resource that was travel-focused, and this was game-changer to me. Up until that point, I was studying generic strategies, or strategies from other niches. Even though I did get valuable content from my other courses/ebooks, having a travel-oriented approach was what really helped me take off.
Somto gives specific tips on what types of images work best for travel, how to make yourself an expert in a certain topic to the eyes of Pinterest,
What is included upon purchasing the Ebook:
- 7 Viral Pin Templates
- A private Facebook Group
- List of 50 Travel Group Boards
- Pinterest Group Board Outreach template
Tailwind is not exactly a course, but for the sake of this post being as complete as possible, I’d like to leave you with this little amazing tool. If you’ve ever taken any Pinterest course, you probably know that you need to Pin a certain amount of times per day, every day, in order to keep your account active. This of course is not possible in case you have a life, so Pinterest has partnered up with Tailwind as an approved service for automating your pinning routine.
With this tool you can schedule your Pins in advance and call it a day. Then, whenever you have time, you can go to Pinterest for some quick manual pinning, just for an extra boost.
I honestly couldn’t live without Tailwind’s on-going support to keep my account active. Furthermore, the tool also comes with Tribes, which are kind of like Pinterest Group Boards on steroids (meaning, by participating in tribes you can reach millions of people).
3) If you need to quickly improve SEO
For SEO, instead of recommending courses and ebooks, I will recommend game-changing tools. If you don’t understand the basics of SEO, don’t worry because these tools come equipped with online resources, such as videos and written content, that teaches you everything you need to know regarding SEO. Not only will this save you money
After a lot of research between which is best, Long Tail Pro or Key Search, I have finally opted for Long Tail Pro, simply because it is the one recommended by Pat Flynn, a top SEO leader from Smart Passive Income, and I haven’t regretted.
As aforementioned, Long Tail Pro comes with a library of video tutorials covering topics from finding seed keywords to creating content that easily rakes in quality backlinks. Go over the fundamental of keyword research at their Long Tail Bootcamp, or dive deeper into more advanced lessons that range from digital marketing and competitive analysis, to link building and content strategy, all at their Long Tail University.
All these lessons are included with the monthly/yearly plan. This means that by buying Long tail Pro not only you have access to an platform that allows you to effortlessly do a thorough keyword research, but you are also equipped with all the knowledge you need in order to succeed. It is a win-win and it honestly can’t get better than this!
Ah, wait, it CAN! >>> By purchasing Long Tail Pro through my link below you instantly get 30% OFF the original price.
Alternatively there is always Keysearch, another favorite platform used by many bloggers. I myself haven’t used it, so I can’t exactly talk about its features. However, I will leave it here as a popular (and cheaper) alternative to Long Tail Pro.
4) So you want to make some MONEY?
During my first year blogging I was using Mailerlite simply because it was free up to 1,000 subscribers, while Convert Kit was more on the expensive side. However, I kept seeing that almost every email I got from other bloggers were sent via Convert Kit. Furthermore, I was not too convicted with just how user-friendly Mailetlite was up until that point. After a year had passed, and I realized I was not using the tool as I should, I decided to give Convert Kit a try, and I haven’t gone back ever since.
Don’t get me wrong, the tool worked well (extremely well for a free tool). But the ease of navigation of Convert Kit quickly convinced me to make the change. Yes, I LOVE Convert Kit! The tool allows you to easily add a form to your website for people to sign up to your email list. It also lets you create landing pages not on your site, if needed. For example, you can see the landing page I created for my eBook waiting list here! With convert kit, this took me no longer than a few minutes, no joke! It’s THAT EASY!
Furthermore, ConvertKit allows you to quickly schedule out emails in advance and to set up email sequences to send out automatically whenever someone subscribes to your email list. Moreover, it lets you tag subscribers and track where they signed up so that you can target send them only information that is relevant to their interest. How cool is that?!
5) It’s all about DESIGN
Want to easily learn how to graphic design like the pros, but have no patience for InDesign or Photoshop? (I feel ya, sis!) Enters CANVA! This is the site I use to create all my Pins, my graphic designs, banners, invitations, Instagram stories, etc. In fact, Canva is so easy and fun that you will have to force yourself not to waste all your time creating beautiful visuals (guilty here).
Canva’s free version is more than enough for you to do everything you need (and more). HOWEVER, I have recently decided to go Canva Pro for a 3 huge reasons:
- It is more efficient, because you can save your fonts, brand colors, preferences, etc.
- You can also resize your designs, so you can repurpose your content in a matter of one click.
- Canva Pro offers more images and elements to improve your graphic design. I used to pay for both both Haute Stock and Deposit Photos for my stock images, but since I purchased Canva Pro I didn’t need the other two stock photos sites because I had everything within Canva
PS – Pin design is one of the most important things for success on Pinterest, so don’t be afraid to play around with your designs until you find some that work. Keep in mind to use warm colors, bold fonts, easy to read text (keep in mind that most Pinterest users access the platform from their mobiles).
See below some of my most recent pin designs:
Lightroom is the without a doubt in mind the best photo editing software available out there. In simple words, Lightroom is Photoshop’s easygoing younger sister: infinitely easier to use and to learn on your own, Lightroom helps you develop you unique editing style to keep your photos consistent on your blog and Instagram.
The mobile app is free (yaaaay), making it perfect for creating beautiful Instagram photos. If you edit a lot, however, I strongly recommend going for the Desktop version, which costs $9.99 a month, or $119.88 a year (and comes with Photoshop as well, in case you ever want to go more advanced). Win-win!!!
A quick word about Presets (and where to find free ones)
Presets are nothing more than unique filters created either in Lightroom or Photoshop. Bloggers design a Preset that is unique to their style and, many times, they sell it to their audience to help newcomers who are struggling with creating a cohesive feed (the struggle is real, my friend. If this is something that you’re struggling with, don’t worry. We have all been there!).
Below I will give you different resources to get a free preset from trusted bloggers:
La Belle Society preset (my own) – Coming Soon!!! – check my Instagram to see how my feed looks!
If you are in the travel niche, don’t think twice about purchasing Deposit Photo. They honestly have the most beautiful travel imagery available and every time I use their image I get the most beautiful pins.
Not in the travel niche? No problem! DepositPhotos has images for every niche. I simply brought up the travel niche because until I found out about DepositPhotos I struggled with finding beautiful and authorized images to use on my graphic design.
Another stock photo website that has the most delicate and feminine images out there. All the images you see in this blog that are not about travel are from Haute Stock. My website has become much more professional, cohesive and feminine with these beautiful images.
Sign up to Haute Stock here
6) If SOCIAL MEDIA isn’t your thang yet
Wandering Women Travel Bloggers: Find blogging tips and tricks, Pinterest tips, and weekly threads to help grow your blog. Every wednesday they have a post sharing group and ti really works!
Female Travel Bloggers
7) If you want to collaborate with HOTELS AND BRANDS
La Belle Society – How to Easily Pitch Hotels & Brands for Collaborations
Content type: eBook
My beloved ebook is currently being made with a lot of love. After so many years of experience as a sales agent, and from being graduated in a top tourism and hospitality university in Switzerland, I know a thing or two about successfully pitching. My first ever time pitching to hotels I hot 8 luxury properties saying yes to me, when I had only 5k followers on Instagram.
My ebook not only teaches you the step-by-step to pitching success, but it goes further and gives you insights on how to get the most out of a collaboration (such as free dinners, treatments, services, tours) and how to turn one time-customers into long-term collaborations, and (sooooo much) more!
I share all my industry knowledge with you so that you have all the tools to become a pitching pro!
That’s a wrap guys! I tried my best to make a one-stop resource of all my favorite courses and tools that I have been using during this one year blogging. There is a lot of content available online and it is easy to get overwhelmed (I know I bought more courses than I needed when I was starting). I don’t want you to waste your money, so you can rest assured that if you need help in any of these topics, all these resources have everything you need to know!
Pssssst, don’t forget to PIN THIS POST!
Have an existing blog in need of powerful growth? Check out some services I use and love:
- Tailwind: Pinterest + Instagram scheduling tool
- Envato Market: Premium blog templates (the one I use)
- Deposit Photo – THE place for stunning travel stock photos
- Long Tail Pro – Keyword research tool for SEO (w/ course included)– 30% Off with my link
- Canva – Ridiculously easy Graphic Design