There are so many tools and resources out there that can help you grow and maintain your blog and business. The trouble, sometimes, is knowing that they even exist or which ones are actually worth your time and money.

Since I have been blogging since 2010 I have tried my fair share of tools and platforms. I want to help you out by recommending a variety of resources that I personally have used and love.

WEBSITE & HOSTING & SITE BACK UPS

SiteGround (affiliate) – I just recently switched to SiteGround from Bluehost since Bluehost was having a lot of downtime lately across the board for numerous sites. I am beyond thrilled with my decision. The transfer from one host to the other was practically seamless and SiteGround has the most amazing customer service. They are fast, friendly and super helpful. I would highly recommend SiteGround to anyone – in fact, you may have seen me do so in Facebook groups!

Related Posts: How to Start a Blog in 2017 | How to Switch from HTTP to HTTPs on Siteground

WordPress – So I am a total WordPress girl. I have been using it pretty much since I first started blogging. I love the self-hosted route of WordPress.org with SiteGround. There are so many beautiful themes and plugins for your site.

StudioPress // Genesis Framework (affiliate) – Speaking of themes, I personally love the Genesis Framework from StudioPress. You can find beautiful child themes and it is pretty easy to customize yourself if you know some code. My site uses Genesis and I created my own child theme. While I love Genesis, StudioPress offers so many more themes to choose from.

UpdraftPlus – If you have taken Week of Code, then you are already familiar with UpdraftPlus. This is what I use to back up my site every week without any effort at all. I get copies emailed to me as well as uploaded to Dropbox! I absolutely love this plugin for WordPress.

ANALYTICS & SEO

Google Analytics – This is the only analytics tool I am using. It is what is commonly accepted in the industry and if advertisers ask for your stats they will be wanting your Google Analytics stats, not your Jetpack stats. You can learn so much valuable information about your audience, where you are getting traffic from and how visitors behave on your site. Oh, and it is free!

Related Posts: How to Install Google Analytics on Your Blog | How to Find Your Most Popular Posts in Google Analytics | The Difference Between Users, Sessions and Pageviews

Google Search Console – Another free tool. It used to be known as Google Webmaster Tools. It is essential for SEO. This is where you can see search analytics (you should connect it with your Google Analytics account), see how many pages of your site are indexed, find crawl errors (such as 404 pages), and even submit your XML sitemaps.

Related Post: Google Search Console – What It Is, Why You Need It and How to Set It Up

Yoast SEO Plugin – Some believe that Yoast SEO is the be all end all for SEO on WordPress. While I do not agree with that, I do think it is a majorly valuable tool. If you have a blog or website on WordPress, you should have Yoast SEO. The free version lets you do so many things such as add breadcrumbs, set your titles, create XML sitemaps, add meta descriptions and so much more!

Related Post: How to Add a Meta Description to Posts

Simple Sitemap Plugin – You might be wondering why you need another sitemap plugin when Yoast creates them for you. Well, Yoast creates XML sitemaps. You need those to submit to Google through the Search Console, but it does not create an HTML sitemap for visitors on your site. I think an HTML sitemap is just as important. In fact, I have one linked in my footer!

Redirection Plugin – You know those pesky 404 pages you discover by using the Search Console, well you can fix them by using this plugin. You just get the bad link and redirect it to a correct link or your homepage. That way there are no 404 pages on your site. Making it a better user experience.

COMMENTING PLUGINS

Akismet – This is an anti-spam service made for WordPress. It helps lower (if not get rid of) SPAM comments. This is an absolute must if you allow comments on your blog.

Comments – wpDiscuz Plugin – I am not a fan of Disqus as it can be quite difficult to comment on some blogs. I know many love it because it helps prevent SPAM since you need to log in, but it still is not for me. Instead, I love Comments – wpDiscuz. It is designed to extend the WordPress native comments. You can see it in action on my blog!

Comments Not Replied To Plugin – One thing I do not like about WordPress is that it does not (by default) show you which comments you have responded to and which comments you have not. And since the comment show in chronological order rather than grouped in messages it can be a real pain to figure out which ones you still need to respond to. That is where Comments Not Replied To comes in. This little plugin adds a column to your comments page and lets you know which ones are missing a reply. Pure genius in my opinion.

Resources

Resources for Bloggers and Creative Entrepreneurs

There are so many tools and resources out there that can help you grow and maintain your blog and business. The trouble, sometimes, is knowing that they even exist or which ones are actually worth your time and money.

Since I have been blogging since 2010 I have tried my fair share of tools and platforms. I want to help you out by recommending a variety of resources that I personally have used and love.

Feel free to scroll through the resources or click one of the links below to be taken to the section you are most interested in!

WEBSITE & HOSTING & SITE BACK UPS

SiteGround (affiliate) – I just recently switched to SiteGround from Bluehost since Bluehost was having a lot of downtime lately across the board for numerous sites. I am beyond thrilled with my decision. The transfer from one host to the other was practically seamless and SiteGround has the most amazing customer service. They are fast, friendly and super helpful. I would highly recommend SiteGround to anyone – in fact, you may have seen me do so in Facebook groups!

Related Posts: How to Start a Blog in 2017 | How to Switch from HTTP to HTTPs on Siteground

WordPress – So I am a total WordPress girl. I have been using it pretty much since I first started blogging. I love the self-hosted route of WordPress.org with SiteGround. There are so many beautiful themes and plugins for your site.

StudioPress // Genesis Framework (affiliate) – Speaking of themes, I personally love the Genesis Framework from StudioPress. You can find beautiful child themes and it is pretty easy to customize yourself if you know some code. My site uses Genesis and I created my own child theme. While I love Genesis, StudioPress offers so many more themes to choose from.

UpdraftPlus – If you have taken Week of Code, then you are already familiar with UpdraftPlus. This is what I use to back up my site every week without any effort at all. I get copies emailed to me as well as uploaded to Dropbox! I absolutely love this plugin for WordPress.

 

ANALYTICS & SEO

Google Analytics – This is the only analytics tool I am using. It is what is commonly accepted in the industry and if advertisers ask for your stats they will be wanting your Google Analytics stats, not your Jetpack stats. You can learn so much valuable information about your audience, where you are getting traffic from and how visitors behave on your site. Oh, and it is free!

Related Posts: How to Install Google Analytics on Your Blog | How to Find Your Most Popular Posts in Google Analytics | The Difference Between Users, Sessions and Pageviews

Google Search Console – Another free tool. It used to be known as Google Webmaster Tools. It is essential for SEO. This is where you can see search analytics (you should connect it with your Google Analytics account), see how many pages of your site are indexed, find crawl errors (such as 404 pages), and even submit your XML sitemaps.

Related Post: Google Search Console – What It Is, Why You Need It and How to Set It Up

Yoast SEO Plugin – Some believe that Yoast SEO is the be all end all for SEO on WordPress. While I do not agree with that, I do think it is a majorly valuable tool. If you have a blog or website on WordPress, you should have Yoast SEO. The free version lets you do so many things such as add breadcrumbs, set your titles, create XML sitemaps, add meta descriptions and so much more!

Related Post: How to Add a Meta Description to Posts

Simple Sitemap Plugin – You might be wondering why you need another sitemap plugin when Yoast creates them for you. Well, Yoast creates XML sitemaps. You need those to submit to Google through the Search Console, but it does not create an HTML sitemap for visitors on your site. I think an HTML sitemap is just as important. In fact, I have one linked in my footer!

Redirection Plugin – You know those pesky 404 pages you discover by using the Search Console, well you can fix them by using this plugin. You just get the bad link and redirect it to a correct link or your homepage. That way there are no 404 pages on your site. Making it a better user experience.

 

COMMENTING PLUGINS

Akismet – This is an anti-spam service made for WordPress. It helps lower (if not get rid of) SPAM comments. This is an absolute must if you allow comments on your blog.

Comments – wpDiscuz Plugin – I am not a fan of Disqus as it can be quite difficult to comment on some blogs. I know many love it because it helps prevent SPAM since you need to log in, but it still is not for me. Instead, I love Comments – wpDiscuz. It is designed to extend the WordPress native comments. You can see it in action on my blog!

Comments Not Replied To Plugin – One thing I do not like about WordPress is that it does not (by default) show you which comments you have responded to and which comments you have not. And since the comment show in chronological order rather than grouped in messages it can be a real pain to figure out which ones you still need to respond to. That is where Comments Not Replied To comes in. This little plugin adds a column to your comments page and lets you know which ones are missing a reply. Pure genius in my opinion.

 

SOCIAL MEDIA PLUGINS

SumoMe – I love SumoMe. I use it for the Social Shares, it is the social sharing bar on the left-hand of the screen. It is great because I can customize the color and have some control over the size and placement. But SumoMe basically has a lot of tools to grow your website’s traffic, build your list, etc.

jQuery Pin It Button for Images Plugin – I love Pinterest but I am not a huge fan of the red pin it button. That is because it does not go with my branding whatsoever. So I have found a solution. With this plugin, you can upload your own image for the pin it button. You probably have seen this on my blog posts as I have it on all Pinterest sized images.

Instagram Feed Plugin – This plugin in allows me to have the Instagram box in the footer of my site. It lets me customize the number of images, the size, the color of the button, etc. What is great about this plugin is that when someone clicks and image, they go straight to Instagram rather than to a third-party site that just displays the image.

Better Click to Tweet Plugin – Curious how I have the tweetable text in my blog posts? Well I use this plugin. I have been so surprised at how much the shares of my blog posts have increased on Twitter. I get a few notifications a day! It is great because you set the text you want to go along with the link which makes it a no brainer for your readers to share.

SOCIAL MEDIA SCHEDULING TOOLS

Buffer – I used to use Buffer. I loved the beautiful, clean interface and how easy it was to schedule social media. The awesome part is that it works with Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Instagram and for FREE you can connect 1 account to each platform and schedule up to 10 posts per profile. Their paid plans start at just $10.

Loomly – This is a tool I recently discovered. What I love about it is that it is a perfect solution if you are looking to have collaborators or say you manage multiple brands. I can set up a calendar (or like a brand) for Blog Me Lovely, The Lovely Entrepreneur Society and even Lately Lindsey all on one account. The best part is the pricing is very affordable for what you get! Okay, I lied. The best part is that cats are part of their branding and it is seriously a beautiful tool with cute cat illustrations incorporated here and there.  Definitely a tool you should look into.

Hootsuite (affiliate) – I have used Hootsuite for several years now. I will admit that I am letting my subscription run out but that does not mean it isn’t a good tool. I like that I can schedule Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram and more from one tool. I love that the Instagram scheduling can be set up on your computer. That saves so much time.

SmarterQueue (affiliate) – This is a new tool that I started using. It is basically like meetEdgar but more affordable. It is still in Beta, so the link above will get you on the wait list. But looping content is such an amazing time saver!

Tailwind (affiliate) – If you are on Pinterest, then you should be using Tailwind. It is a great scheduling tool. But the best part is actually the tribes! Now you need to have a link or be invited to them but right now that feature is still totally free! My Pinterest traffic is definitely on the rise since using this tool.

Plann App – This is the app I am currently using to schedule my Instagram posts. I absolutely LOVE that you can see how it will look in your feed. It is very easy to use. The only downside is that it is purely an app and you cannot schedule posts from your computer.

PinSprout – This website helps you discover Pinterest Group Boards. It is a newer website with fantastic up-to-date information. You can quickly search a collection of over 100,000 Pinterest group boards to discover quality group boards within your niche.

EMAIL MARKETING

ConvertKit (affiliate) – When I started growing my email list, I immediately went with ConvertKit. The reason is that I wanted my list set up and segmented properly right from the beginning. I have made a few mistakes here or there but the tagging and segmenting are one of my favorite features. It really helps me keep my emails targeted to the right audience.

Related Post: Why I Started with ConvertKit for My Email Marketing Platform

PROJECT MANAGEMENT & ORGANIZATION

Asana – I love Asana. It helps me keep tracking of my projects and to-do lists. It has a nice, clean interface which makes me happy. And flying unicorns across the screen when you complete a task! The cool thing is that Asana just released boards. So you can create a project as either a list or a board.

Evernote (affiliate)- Evernote is another tool I use practically daily. It is great because I can take notes and access them from any computer that has internet access as well as my phone!

Related Post: How to Manage Blogging Group Tasks

Google Drive – Google seriously has so many great tools. I could not live without Drive. It allows me to access my files from anywhere with internet access. I love to use Sheets and have multiple spreadsheets to keep track of finances, course logins, Pinterest boards, etc.

Dropbox (affiliate) – Even with the above tools, I still need and use Dropbox. I use it to deliver and back up client files, save stock photography, and backups of my graphics. Upgrading to Pro for the extra storage is totally worth it. I have so many files on there and I am no where close to using it all up!

CLIENT MANAGEMENT TOOLS

Dubsado (affiliate) – Have you heard of Dubsado? It is my latest obsession if you offer services! You can send contracts, accept credit cards, send questionnaires, track leads, set up workflow and automation, create client portals, sync with your iCal or Google calendar and even manage to-do lists! They just released bookkeeping with two more updates to that section planned. They have so much planned and it is run by an adorable couple! The awesome part is the trial is based on 3 clients rather than a time period. For 20% off use the code lindseyaleson.

DESIGN PROGRAMS

Adobe Photoshop – I use this program to create all of my graphics and I have created social media templates for a few clients. It is a must-have in my opinion!

Adobe InDesign – This is the program I use to design ebooks, workbooks, checklists, etc. It is fantastic for page design and layout for print and digital publishing.

Canva – While not my first choice, if you are looking for a free design program you could use Canva. It has so many templates and is very easy to learn.

DESIGN TOOLS

Creative Market (affiliate) – This is a fantastic resource for paid fonts, graphics, templates, themes and photography. When you buy these resources, there is less of a chance that everyone else will have them.

Related Posts: 10 Beautiful & Responsive WordPress Themes from Creative Market | 10 Beautiful Script Fonts That Will Make Stunning Graphics | 10 Killer Display Fonts That Immediately Stand Out

Haute Stock (affiliate) – This is the site I use for my stock photography. I love that the photography is feminine and especially geared for women entrepreneurs.

Design Seeds – If you are looking for color palette inspiration, I highly recommend Design Seeds. They create beautiful palettes with inspiration taken from photography. So many options to discover.

Coolors.co – This is another option for color palette inspiration. It randomly generates a color palette. You can lock certain colors, edit them, and keep generating until you find one you are completely in love with!

Adobe Color Wheel – I absolutely love playing with color wheels. Adobe has a great one too. You can choose your color combination type and play around until you find one you like. As you move the colors around the wheel, it makes sure to keep your color combination type.

Placeit – A place to find mockups for laptops, iPads, and more.

Boxshot – A place to find 3D bookcovers and more!

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