9 Awesome Blogging Tools and Services I Pay For
One of the great things about blogging is that it can be a completely free activity. It is possible to have a free website where you have the freedom to express yourself, you can find fans and followers through social media, and to some extent, you can even make money blogging, all without spending a dime.
There will probably come a time, though, especially if you choose to make money blogging, that you will need to spend a little money on your blog.
That being said, you really don’t have to spend a lot of money on your blog, especially at first. As your readership grows, you may need to invest more, but don’t worry if you choose to start small. It will still have a positive impact on your blog. Here are 9 awesome blogging tools and services that I pay for. (Some of these are affiliate links. If you choose to purchase through my links, I will earn a few dollars. However, all of the listed tools and services are those that I use and pay for myself.)
The first investment I made in Coach Debbie Runs (formerly Live from La Quinta) was to purchase my own domain name. It costs about $10 a year, but it is priceless in terms of branding your website. I originally purchased mine through Blogger, which was actually through Go Daddy, but in the course of creating my blog URL collection (yes, I have one) I have also purchased from Domain.com and through my blog host.
When the time came to go self-hosted I chose Hostgator and I’ve been very happy. I started with the Hatchling, their basic plan, but I recently upgraded so that I could host multiple websites. It has been a virtually worry-free experience, downtime is extremely rare, so I am always happy to recommend Hostgator. Price range: $3.95 per month and up
Yes, there are free themes on both Blogger and WordPress, but I decided when my blog became a business it was time to look more businesslike. After talking to other bloggers, and doing some other research, I decided to go with Studiopress Genesis Framework, and for my child theme, I chose Beautiful Pro theme. Before I made the change, I used to switch up themes every six months or so. I love my theme so much now that I haven’t changed it (except a few tweaks) for over two years. With no plans to do so. Price range: Genesis Framework: $59.95. Beautiful Pro theme: $99.95.
Design Palette Pro
You know those tweaks I mentioned? They are made so much easier with Genesis Design Palette Pro. It is perfect for blogging do-it-yourselfers like me (and probably for blog designers too!). It allows me to make changes in fonts, colors, modify my header or footer, navigation, sidebars, or content area without knowing how to write a single line of code! It’s one of my 13 Essential WordPress Plugins! Price range: $49 to $199 per year.
I may be a do-it-yourselfer, but I do know when I’m in over my head. When I first installed the Genesis framework, Rita from Blog Genie did the work. And again, when I rebranded and changed my domain name, I called upon Rita to make sure that I didn’t lose everything.
If you’d rather use a designer, Rita is a great choice, as is Lindsey and the crew at Pretty Darn Cute Design. While they specialize in feminine blog design, they can create the site you want to your specifications. Some of what PDCD has to offer: 20+ WordPress Video Tutorials with purchase of any theme, WooCommerce Ready, Header Uploader (Retina Ready & Responsive!), Completely Mobile Ready Design, Multiple Page Layouts and much more! Price range: varies
One of the best investments I made in my blog was Blog School. I was a participant in Rita’s inaugural class several years ago and I learned so much. It covered many topics from getting started, to design, social media, making money and so much more.
Several years ago, shortly after I went self-hosted, my site got hacked. All of a sudden weird things were happening and when people came to my site, Google warned them away, saying that it was dangerous. Not a good thing when you’re trying to bring more people to your blog.
Through a Facebook group I was in, I was referred to Ryan Sullivan and WP Site Care. Within an hour, Ryan had fixed my problem, cleaned my files and got me up and running again. He didn’t charge me for any of this, but I decided right then and there that I needed someone to protect my website. There are several different packages, but all include for 24/7 security monitoring, daily cloud backups, WordPress, theme, and plugin updates, access to WordPress tutorial videos, and real-time activity tracking. Best of all, if I’m concerned about anything that’s going on, I can send an email, and get a quick response, telling me either not to worry, or that they already fixed the problem.
That is peace of mind and totally worth the price to me. Price range: $79 per month and up.
I love PicMonkey because it is easy to use and very versatile. There is a free version, but I found that the extra fonts, frames and other goodies were worth the upgrade. Price: $33 per year.
I am a recent convert to CoSchedule and so far I’m loving it. It makes planning and scheduling blog post easy, plus you can set up your social media schedule from within the calendar. I resisted for a while because I had a hard time using an editorial calendar consistently. I started by using the free WordPress version, then when I felt I had committed, I took the leap. I made a few changes with some of my other paid social media tools so that I wasn’t putting out a lot of extra money a month, but CoSchedule picks up the slack. Price range: $15-$79 per month.
When I made changes to afford CoSchedule, I made the decision to keep Board Booster, which I use to schedule pins to Pinterest. It is just so easy to use, customizable, and has great reports, so for the few extra dollars a month I pay, I decided it was worth it. You get your first 100 or so free to try it out (I actually had about 300+ pins before they asked for any money), then there are plans starting at $5 a month.
So there you have it, the nine tools and services that I feel are worth my precious money. I estimate I pay around $75 a month for these services (not counting themes and services I paid for previously). Considering these tools have helped me grow my blog and actually earn more, I consider it money well spent.
What blogging tools and services have you found are worth the money?
My weekly linkups! Please stop by and check out all of the great recipes, workouts, and information that all these awesome bloggers share every week!
Meatless Monday with Sarah and Deborah
Meatless Monday with Annmarie and Dixya
Tuesdays on the Run with Marcia, Erika, and Patty
Inspire Me Monday with Janice
Wild Workout Wednesday with Annmarie, Michelle, Jen, and Nicole
The Plant-Based Potluck Party with Deborah
The Running Coaches’ Corner with Rachel, Suz, Lora Marie, and Me!
Friday 5 2.0 with Rachel and Lacey and Meranda