If growing your blog is one of your goals, these are the best blogging tools for 2020 to explode your blog growth. Using these tools helped my blog grow by over 4000% in 2019, from 700 page views a month to Mediavine numbers (25,000+ sessions in 30 days). Since starting to take my blog seriously this year, I have learned quite a bit about what all actually goes into blogging.
Some of these tools are meant to help you learn. As you learn more, you can apply what you learn to your blog. Other tools are meant to help you grow. Some of them help you understand what is happening with your blog now so that you can correct anything that may be holding you back. Others help you write and create blog posts that get traffic. All of them can help your blog reach your goals for 2020 and beyond.
Investing in your blog and business helps you grow. While I do not advocate going into debt, I do advocate investing in yourself and your business when you can afford it. If you are going to put money into something though, it helps to know that it is worth it. These resources are 100% worth it – and some of them are free!
Looking for some one-on-one help to grow your blog? Want someone to answer your blogging questions? Sign up for one-on-one strategy session and coaching with me.
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TOOLS THAT HELP YOU LEARN TO BLOG (OR BLOG BETTER)
Maybe you are just starting to blog or maybe you are like me and have been blogging for a while but want to take it more seriously. Maybe your traffic has been stuck and you are wondering what you need to change. These are the tools I have used to learn more about blogging and Instagram to help grow my traffic.
#1: MAKE TRAFFIC HAPPEN BOOKS
HOW MUCH: $75 each or $190 for all 3 (BLACK FRIDAY SALE: 40% off on Friday only with code blackfriday19)
WHERE TO BUY: Make Traffic Happen website
I thought I knew SEO until I read these books. I highly recommend all three, but I know that may be out of the price range for some. These books walk you step-by-step through each thing: SEO, updating old content, and speed optimizing your site.
I am not a technical person at all, but these books use pictures and screenshots to guide you through step-by-step. Plus, their Facebook group is the perfect place to ask questions if you have any. In addition, as they update the books, you get an email notifying you to download the update. These books also come with other resources like tracking sheets and workbooks that the writers use to grow their blogs.
SEO the Easy Way is perfect for new bloggers or bloggers who do not understand SEO. If you think you know SEO but are not getting much traffic from search engines, this book is for you. Since getting this book four months ago, my search traffic has grown from 50 – 70 clicks a day to about 400 clicks a day. SEO takes a few months to kick in, and my search traffic continues to grow over time.
Revive Old Content is perfect for bloggers who have been around a while but might struggle with getting search traffic. If you have a basic understanding of SEO and already get some search traffic each day, this may be your best option. This book walks you through the steps to find posts that are not performing to their potential. From there, it guides you through the process to fix them up and get them working for you and not just sitting there. This has been huge for me in growing my search traffic as I fix up my old posts.
Speed Optimization the Easy Way is the most technical of the three books. It helps you get your site running faster without needing too much technical knowledge. I seriously doubted I would be able to do this on my own even with the book. I put it off for a while. When I finally went for it, I managed to work through the book in a day. Thanks to the screenshots and step-by-step directions, I did it myself and got my blog running much faster which gave me an immediate boost in search traffic.
#2: HELENEINBETWEEN’S FREE BLOGGING RESOURCES
HOW MUCH: FREE!
WHERE TO FIND IT: HeleneinBetween.com
Helene Sula’s blog offers lots of free blogging advice. She has been blogging for years and blogging full-time for half a decade. With her background in social media marketing, she knows her stuff when it comes to blogging and Instagram.
I call her blog a black hole, and I’m only half-kidding. I tend to start on one post and then an hour later have 15 tabs open with more opening with each post I read. Not only do I spend hours on her blog at a time, I also tend to go back to her blog over and over again to find what I need to know. Plus, if you are just starting out, she has a great guide to starting a profitable blog.
If you are trying to grow you Instagram, she also has a couple of classes to help you grow an engaged following. I took both courses and recommend them if you want to focus on Instagram. One of them only comes out in January/February of each year. It is an in depth guide to growing your Instagram and working with brands. You can see my full review of it (and questions to ask before taking an Instagram or blogging class) here.
The other class focuses specifically on writing Instagram captions that grow engagement (see my tips here). She did in depth research to look into which types of captions work. In this class, she shares those insights to help you grow an engaged community on Instagram. The class is $99, but it is on sale for $29 for Black Friday!
#3: FACEBOOK BLOGGING GROUPS
HOW MUCH: FREE!
WHERE TO FIND THEM: See below for my favorite groups
I did not join my first Facebook blogging groups until this year. I did not know they even existed before that. The blogging community is so helpful, answering questions to help other bloggers no matter where they are in their blogging journey. Even if you do not feel comfortable asking questions, just turning on the notifications and reading answers to other questions can teach you quite a bit.
Here are some of the best Facebook groups for bloggers:
Wandering Women Travel Bloggers: Find blogging tips and tricks, Pinterest tips, and weekly threads to help grow your blog.
Make Traffic Happen: Find blogging tips and tricks from all niches of blogging
DNW – Making Money Blogging: Find blogging tips and tricks from all niches with a focus on earning money blogging
Female Content Creators: This group is not just for bloggers. Even if you only have an Instagram page, you are welcome in this group where tips cover social media and blogging.
BEST TOOLS TO GROW YOUR BLOG TRAFFIC
As you learn more about blogging, you realize there is a lot more to it than just writing a post, adding photos, and hitting publish. These are some of the best tools to grow your blog in 2020. While many of them do have a cost involved, they are worth the price for the job they do.
#4: GOOGLE ANALYTICS & GOOGLE SEARCH CONSOLE
If you don’t already have Google Analytics and Google Search Console for your blog, stop reading this and get them now! These are the best tools for understanding what is and is not working on your blog. Plus, they are completely free! Just make sure to sign up for them with the same email address.
Google Analytics is the industry standard for blog traffic and analytics. If you plan to apply for Mediavine, they require you to submit your Google Analytics data. Google Analytics shows you your traffic, your audience, how people find your blog, and what they do once they are on your site. It can be overwhelming at first, but there are lots of guides out there if you aren’t sure what you are looking at on your dashboard.
Google Search Console gives you more information about your search terms. It shows which pages are getting the most hits from Google, which search terms are getting them there, and your search traffic trends over time. While I do check Google Search Console, I spend much more time on Google Analytics.
To link Google Search Console and Google Analytics, go to Admin, and then choose Property Settings (top of the middle column). Scroll down to Search Console near the bottom, and click Adjust Search Console. Click Add, and you should see your site to link. It does take a day or two before you start seeing data and closer to a week before it is completely accurate.
Once they are linked, go to Acquisition in Google Analytics. I look at both the Landing Pages and Queries sections. Landing Pages shows you information broken down the page – how many times it was seen in search, how many times people clicked on it, etc. Click on any of the pages to see the search terms for that page and where they rank. Queries shows your search terms and where they rank for all of your posts.
Google Analytics also has an app, but please don’t be like me and check it a thousand times a day. It is helpful for checking in to see your daily stats on the go though, and it is a completely free app.
HOW MUCH: $17 a month or $169 a year (Use code BLACKFRIDAY for 40% off from Nov. 29 – Dec. 2)
WHERE TO BUY: Click here to get started on Keysearch
I can’t say enough good things about Keysearch. SEO does not help if you don’t know which keywords to target. Sure, I can write a post that targets Paris, but I am not going to rank for it. There are too many big websites that will outrank my blog. That’s where long-tail keywords come in – keywords that are phrases.
Keysearch shows you the volume for each term you search, how difficult it is to rank, the trend for when the search term is more or less popular, and the top sites you compete against for that term. It also shows you similar terms. Look through them to see if there is another term that might be easier to rank for with more search volume.
Keysearch also shows you what difficulty to shoot for with your site. While it is not 100% accurate, it at least gives you an idea. Realize that if you are starting out, your difficulty will be low and may feel impossible. Just try to find easier words with some search volume that you can grow into over the next year or so.
You can also track your keywords to see how they are doing. It updates them every day or two, but you can manually update them daily if you want. It also lets you look at the history of the rank for that term. This helps if you suddenly drop from a term or if you want to see how your new post is slowly moving up.
There is a pro version of Keysearch that costs more, but I do not use that or need it. The starter version comes with 200 searches a day, and I have never come close to hitting that. I do pay a little extra to track more than the 80 search terms now, but I just starting doing that a month or so ago.
Keysearch is a game changer for growing your search traffic. With the information you get in Keysearch, you will know which terms to target and be able to grow your search traffic over time.
#6: TAILWIND FOR PINTEREST
HOW MUCH: $15 a month for limited pins or $119.88 a year ($9.99) for unlimited pins + free trial
WHERE TO BUY: Click here to get started on Tailwind
Pinterest is one of ways I drive the most traffic to my site (search traffic is the other). In fact, once I corrected my Pinterest mistakes, my growth on the platform exploded from 40 clicks a day to 400 clicks a day in just four months. Tailwind is the tool that makes Pinterest easy for me.
With Tailwind, you schedule your pins out in advance. You tell Tailwind how many times you want to pin a day, and then it sets a schedule based on your optimal times for pinning. All you have to do after that is fill up the scheduled spaces. Upload your pins manually or schedule from Pinterest or from your blog (get the Chrome extension to make this even easier!).
Plus, with Tailwind you get access to Tailwind Tribes. Easily share your pins to a Tribe of bloggers in your niche who pin your pins to their boards. See who pinned your pins and reciprocate for better success. Try sharing different pins for the same post to different Tribes as there tends to be overlap in niche Tribes.
Even if I go out of town or do not have time to get on Pinterest to pin anything manually that day, Tailwind makes sure my pins go out on time. Plan months in advance or schedule out a day at a time – it’s up to you.
Tailwind is the best tool out there to grow your Pinterest traffic. I recommend doing the annual plan if you can because it gives you unlimited pins. With the monthly plan, it limits you to 400 pins per month. That sounds like a lot at first, but some months that is less than 13 a day (I schedule about 40 a day).
#7: CONVERTKIT EMAIL MARKETING
HOW MUCH: Starting at $29 per month for up to 1000 subscribers or $290 a year (about $24.17 a month)
WHERE TO BUY: Click here to get started with ConvertKit
I started using ConvertKit in early 2019, and I love it. It lets you add a form to your website for people to sign up for your email list. It also lets you create landing pages not on your site if needed.
ConvertKit lets you schedule out emails in advance, set up sequences to send out automatically when people subscribe, and create freebies for your audience. Plus, it lets you tag subscribers and track where they signed up so that you can target only certain subscribers with emails if needed.
With so many algorithms out there, your email is is something you actually own. It is your direct link to your audience. If social media goes away, the latest Google algorithm update drops your rankings, and Pinterest stops sending you traffic, you still have your email list to send out blog updates and new products. ConvertKit helps you grow that email list so that you can contact your audience anytime.
HOW MUCH: FREE!
WHERE TO FIND IT: Canva.com
Canva is the site I use to design my pins. While you can use other software, Canva is free and easy to use. Once you create a few templates you love, simply copy them and fill in new images and text. Then download them and add them to your post for beautiful pins in minutes.
Canva does have a paid version, but you can do everything you need to do with the free version. If you are at a complete loss on where to start, use their templates to get started. 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.
#9: LIGHTROOM AND PRESETS
HOW MUCH: $9.99 a month for Lightroom + Photoshop; presets range in price starting at $15
WHERE TO BUY: Click here to get started with Lightroom; see below for presets
Lightroom is the best photo editing software out there. Using Lightroom helps you develop an editing style to keep your photos consistent on your blog and Instagram. The mobile app is free, making it perfect for creating beautiful Instagram photos. For your blog though, you need the desktop version. It costs $9.99 a month or $119.88 a year and comes with Photoshop as well. There are lots of tutorials on Lightroom including my tutorial on IGTV.
Once you get Lightroom, the easiest way to edit is to use presets, especially when you are just starting out. They help you learn the different settings and develop your own style. I love starting with a preset and then tweaking it to fit my own personal style. I share one of my presets developed from scratch in the IGTV episode linked above. You can also click here to get my free preset emailed to you.
While I do not sell my own presets (yet!), here are some presets I use and recommend:
TRAVEL IN HER SHOES PRESETS: My favorite pack overall is the World Tour pack, but I am starting to use the Sour, Spicy and Sweet packs more and more. I also love the Happy Blues pack from the original preset packs. These presets do tend to make my skin more orange than I like it to be, so I typically adjust the Orange hue, saturation, and luminance. Click here to check out the different options.
HELENEINBETWEEN’S PRESETS: I use and love Helene’s Winter Wonderland presets. These presets work well on all seasons, not just winter. Because they add warmth to your photos, they work especially well on sunrise and sunset photos. I use the Cozy and Fireside presets the most of this pack. The best part? They are only $15 for the pack with a how-to guide! Click here to try them out!
CHARLIE’S WANDERINGS PRESETS: If you are after a dreamy feed, look no further than Charlie’s Wanderings presets. She sent me some to try out months ago, and they definitely give your photos a dreamy look with just one click. You can purchase just the mobile presets or the mobile and desktop presets. You can even purchase just a single preset to test them out. Check them out here.
NOW THAT YOU HAVE THE TOOLS, WHAT NEXT?
Now that you have the tools, you are ready to explode your blog growth in 2020. You can do this! I know it is overwhelming at first, so feel free to check out my list of the things I’ve learned blogging – it addresses what to do when you feel overwhelmed with how much there is to do and learn.
If you want to see more about how I use these tools, click here to see how exactly these tools helped me see a 500% gain in just 6 months and a 4000% gain in 12 months. If you’re struggling with Pinterest, find out what turned my struggles with the site around – you may be making the same mistakes.
Finally, if you’re like me and you love Instagram, you need to use this little trick to drive more traffic to your blog from Instagram. It only takes about an hour to set up and it uses one of the tools on this list!
Would you rather be able to have a one-on-one conversation about blogging with someone who has been where you are? Sign up for a one-on-one coaching call and get your blogging and Pinterest questions answered so you can start growing your blog today!
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