Did you know I LOVE blogging?
This has been one of the best projects of my life over the past 12 years. I love the challenge, the constant change, and the endless possibilities for creativity.
Last year, when I did my reader survey, lots of people wanted to hear more about blogging and running a business and I’ve loved writing more posts about this topic because it’s so near and dear to my heart.
I’ve wanted to put together a post about the blogging tools I use for quite a while, since I get lots of questions about the equipment I use to keep Everyday Reading running.
If you’re thinking of starting a blog or want to take your blog to the next level, these are the blogging tools I couldn’t live without.
My Essential Blogging Tools
MacBook Air Laptop
I did pretty much all my blogging on a desktop until January 2014 when I bought a MacBook Air and that thing was such a little workhorse for me for nearly five years. I loved how small and light it was, and it made it so easy for me to work even as moved all over the place. In November, I finally replaced it with a new MacBook Air and I’ve loved it too – it’s even smaller and lighter!
Canon EOS 5D Mark III camera
This camera was my 30th birthday present (and probably every birthday after that too) and I just LOVE LOVE LOVE it. It takes great photos and I saw an immediate improvement in my photos, plus it meant I could shoot video too. I don’t take many of my own photos anymore, but I love having it available. I use the 50 1.4 mm lens almost exclusively – it’s so darn good. Even if you have a more basic camera, this lens will make a world of difference. I’m on my second one because I smashed my first one accidentally when my camera was on a tripod on a windy day. I don’t want to talk about it.
When I switched over from Blogspot to WordPress two years ago, I cycled through several hosts but BigScoots is BY FAR the best. My site speed is so much better than it was with anyone else and their customer service is unmatched. I can’t recommend them enough.
This is my email service that I use to send all my free book quote prints, plus my twice-weekly emails about reading related topics, and my Raising Readers free course. I used to use Mail Chimp, but after I took this course about email, I switched over and I’ve never looked back. I LOVE ConvertKit and that it’s designed for bloggers and creatives specifically and if you want a very long boring conversation about email, I will talk your darn ear off about how obsessed I am with ConvertKit. I love it like a fifth child and it’s worth every penny.
In the past year, I’ve gotten quite into SEO (search engine optimization for the non-nerds in the room, which basically is how highly Google shows your posts when people search for things related to that post) and SEMRush is the tool I use to track and research everything related to that. It’s on the expensive side ($100 per month), but it’s worth every penny.
I use this to schedule out my Instagram posts. I’ll admit I’m not as good at using it as I could be, but it’s helpful for sponsored IG posts that I know are coming up or seeing how certain photos will look next to each other. And the more I use it, the easier my life is.
This is the free accounting software I use to keep track of all my invoices, how much I’m making, how much I’m spending, and I basically couldn’t live without it now. It’s not perfect, but for a free product, it’s pretty darn good.
I had an ancient version of Photoshop Elements that I bought when we were students for super cheap and I just kept on using it, never updating it, because I didn’t want to switch to a monthly subscription for Adobe. But it finally started crashing every single time I opened it and when I tried to download it to my new laptop, it wasn’t any better, so I’ve finally grown up a tiny bit and joined the world of Adobe cloud subscription.
I make all my videos in iMovie and have for years. It’s very intuitive and I can now crank out most videos in less than 30 minutes. Plus, it’s free as part of the Mac software, so that’s very handy.
Whenever I make videos, either for my blog or for personal use, I use music from SoundStripe. It’s super affordable, royalty-free, and so easy to sort by length, genre, mood, etc. It’s made my life a thousand easier when I’m making videos for brand collaborations or just my own family videos (like the one on this post). You can use the code JANSSEN10 for 10% off a membership.
For all the fancy features of my high-end camera, it doesn’t have wireless capability, so I bought a wireless SD card so that I could transfer photos directly from my camera to my phone. I LOVE this thing and its’s made my life a whole lot easier.
I keep a running list of blog post ideas in the sidebar, I circle the date when the post is scheduled and ready, I use a separate color to mark due dates and deadlines (I use these erasable pens so when dates change, as they so often do, it doesn’t make the whole thing look hideous), I track what emails I’ll be sending out on Tuesdays and Fridays, and I keep a running list of how much money I’ve earned on each month through sponsored content so I can see how I’m doing.
Basically I live and die by this calendar – it’s number one (after my laptop) in my arsenal of blogging tools. I usually just get whatever is on sale at Target or Walmart. My main requirement is that the boxes for each day of the month don’t have lines in them.
You probably already know that I’m a complete conference junkie. Attending blogging conferences is one of my favorite parts of my job. I basically never miss Alt Summit (you can use the code READING for $50 off a ticket) or Mom 2.0, and I also like SNAP and the AdThrive conferences too.
I think it’s such a great way to meet other bloggers and brands, learn about what’s going on in the industry, get inspiration, and, of course, attend some unicorn dance parties.
Any other question about blogging tools? I’d love to talk endlessly about it (or any other blogging questions you might have!).
If you liked this post about blogging tools, you might also find these posts helpful:
- All my advice for starting a blog
- How I make money on my blog
- 12 years of blogging – what I’ve learned, what’s worked, and what I love
Photos by Heather Mildenstein