#Blogchat happens every Sunday night at 8pm Central, and since 2009 has been one of the largest and most popular chats on Twitter. Over the last decade, we’ve had a lot of time to chat about our favorite tools, app, plugins and more. This page will be an ongoing list of many of the favorite blogging resources that the #Blogchat community uses.
Before I get to the list, I wanted to make special note that some of the resources listed here include an affiliate link. What that means is that if you click the link and buy the item referenced from that link, that I will receive a portion of the amount you spend. The price won’t change, in fact nothing will from your end, the seller will simply be able to note that I referred you to them, and they will give me a percentage of your sale in the form of a commission. Over the years, many #Blogchat members have asked for a way to help support my efforts to keep the #Blogchat going, and this is one way you can help. Any amount I collect from affiliate links will go toward covering my hosting fees and time spent on #Blogchat each week. Thanks so much for considering!
Also, note that all the tools referenced on this page are blogging tools that I either use myself, or have been recommended by multiple #Blogchat users. I am only including the tools that have consistently been praised as being valuable by the #Blogchat community. This list will definitely grow and change over time, so maybe sure to bookmark and check back often!
Free photo sites: These are sites that allow you to download photos, for free. You can attribute if you want, but it’s not a requirement to use the photos.
The the most with Pixabay right behind, then Pexels.
#Blogchat tip from Becky McCray:
— Becky McCray (@BeckyMcCray) August 13, 2018
Image creation sites/tools
Canva – One of the most popular blogging tools according to the #Blogchat community. Canva takes a lot of the visual/graphic design headaches out of the equation and makes it easier for bloggers to create custom images, infographics, and so much more. It’s free to use and also offers some images and effects for a price, which is usually very reasonable. A wonderful resource I use and love.
Video creation sites/tools
Lumen5 – Lets you easily create videos for your blog posts.
Blogging Platforms (If you’re blogging for a company they often call this a Content Management System)
WordPress is by far the most popular blogging platform among the #Blogchat community. WordPress comes in two distinct variations:
WordPress.org – WordPress.org is free to use, but you must buy hosting, so this version is often called self-hosted. The platform is incredibly versatile, there are literally tens of thousands of plugins available that you can add to your WordPress.org blog that will add additional functionality to the site. Since WordPress is so incredibly popular, there are constantly new plugins and themes being developed for the platform, making it even more valuable. Just keep in mind that if you go the WordPress.org route, you will be responsible for providing your own hosting, which is typically anywhere from $10-20 a month, depending on the hosting provider you choose. When you hear someone mention ‘WordPress’, they are typically talking about the self-hosted version of the software.
WordPress.com – WordPress.com is also free to use. Additionally, WordPress covers the hosting for your WordPress.com blog, so it truly is free to use! Additionally, WordPress.com handles all the backups and security for you. That’s the good news. The bad news is that you can’t use plugins on a WordPress.com blog, nor can monetize it with ads. You can customize your chosen theme to a limited degree, but there’s a fee involved. Plus, WordPress.com could insert ads on your blog and make money from it. So if you simply want to blog, for free, and don’t want to pay for hosting, or worry about security and backups and don’t care about customizing your blog or adding a lot of bells and whistles, then WordPress.com could be a great option for you. If you want to sign up for a WordPress.com blog, please use this link, which is an affiliate link. Thank you!
Smartphone apps for blogging and content creation
Snapseed – Photo editor from Google
Adobe Spark – Another photo editor, from Adobe. One thing I like about Spark is it let’s you easily add text to a photo. If you’re at a conference, you can take a picture of a speaker then add a quote from them then save the photo and tweet it while they are speaking!
WordPress – This is the mobile app for WordPress. It gives you basic information on your WordPress site and, if you want, you can even blog from the app!
Google Analytics – If you have Google Analytics on your website or blog, this is a great way to keep up with your stats on the go.
Plugins, Plugins, Plugins! All the wonderful WordPress plugins!
There are so many incredible plugins for WordPress that the #Blogchat community loves. Here are some of our favorites, and this list will be constantly updated. All plugins are free unless noted as being Premium.
Thrive Architect (Premium) – Thrive Architect is a front-end, visual editor for your WordPress site/blog. It allows you to create gorgeous, functional posts and pages on your blog that will look like you paid a designed a fortune to create. Here’s a few examples of some of the pages I have created here with Thrive Architect. I cannot say enough good things about Thrive Architect. The team at Thrive Themes are constantly updating, improving and adding new features to Architect, and once you buy it, you get all the updates for LIFE. The current cost is $67 for a lifetime license, and it’s honestly worth double or triple that amount. Click this affiliate link to purchase your copy. Now I will say that Thrive Architect does have a bit of a learning curve to it, so you may make a few mistakes at first, I definitely did. But Thrive has plenty of instructional videos at their site and blog posts to help you along, plus you get support for the first year. If you are a tinker that loves working on your own blog to make it look amazing, Architect is for you.
If you have a blog, it’s vital that you keep it secure from hackers and malware. If you have a WordPress.com blog (See above), this isn’t an issue, and some WordPress.org hosts offer security as part of your hosting plan. These plugins will help you monitor your blog and its files against intrusions. A word of advice: Always update all your themes and plugins, even the ones you don’t use. Often, plugins and themes are updated to address a potential security issue. Keeping your themes and plugins up to date is the best thing you can do to make your blog more secure.
Sucuri – This is the free plugin from Sucuri, it doesn’t do a lot by itself, other than alert you to potential issues, which is really all any free security plugin would do. Sucuri also offers a premium security service that scans your blog for security issues and can correct any that arise. It’s great, and I’ve been using Sucuri to secure this blog for years. It’s a bit expensive, but when you consider the alternative, it’s money well spent.
Wordfence – Wordfence is another security plugin that is free that can help you monitor what is happening on your blog from a security standpoint.
Yoast SEO – This is probably the most popular SEO plugin among the #Blogchat community. It has all the standard bells and whistles, helps you set keywords, meta descriptions, etc etc etc for improving your blog’s SEO efforts.
All-In-One SEO – This is the SEO plugin I use on this blog. It has pretty much all the features Yoast has, and like Yoast, comes in a free and premium version.
I would suggest that you try both plugins separately, then pick the one you think works better for your blog. Both are solid choices and you can’t go wrong with either one.
Jetpack – Jetpack is a sort of all-in-one suite of features that adds to the functionality of your blog. It includes features to help with security, social sharing, analytics, SEO, commenting, spam, and much more. It even includes new themes for your WordPress self-hosted blog. The free version can be found here, and they also offer a Premium version of Jetpack with even more features (affiliate link). Additionally, Jetpack comes from Automattic, the same company that makes WordPress.
Plugins That Help You Monetize Your Blog:
WooCommerce – WooCommerce is a free plugin that makes it much easier to sell both physical and digital products on your blog. Like Jetpack, it is also made by Automattic, the same company that makes WordPress, so you know it integrates very well with WordPress blogs. You can also purchase a Premium version of WooCommerce that adds many more features such as the ability to add subscriptions and memberships to your blog. Click here to learn more about the Premium version of WooCommerce (Affiliate link).
Social Sharing Plugins:
Social Warfare – Social Warfare comes in a free and premium version. The free version is a stripped down version of the premium plugin, which I have running on this blog, so those social sharing buttons you see on my posts are from Social Warfare. You can check out both the free and Premium versions here.
Akismet – Akismet is one of the first plugins every WordPress blogger should get as it does a great job of removing spam comments. It doesn’t get all of them, but it catches most, and it’s a big time-saver for bloggers and helps keep their blogs spam-free.
Smush – We all love adding purdy, high res images to our blog posts. Our readers love them too, but it creates a problem. Those high res images also make our site load more slowly, which degrades the user experience. Smush helps address this by compressing your images, making them load faster, and by extension making your site load faster!
Misc Blogging Resources:
Pingdom’s Site Speed Tool – This is great for showing you how fast (or slowly) your site loads, and it shows you how every plugin and element on your blog adds to the load time. It’s great to identify those plugins that might be slowing down your blog’s load time.
This page of blogging resources will be updated often, so please bookmark it. Also, please check out #Blogchat every Sunday night at 8pm Central!
Have a favorite blogging resource or plugin that isn’t listed? Add it in a comment and if I add it to this post, I’ll include a link to your blog when I do! Thanks!