The Best Tools for Blogging on WordPress
WordPress is one of the most popular blogging platforms for many reasons. It’s easy to use, and you can build it as you like and host it wherever you want. It has a community of support and plenty of plugins, making it one of the quickest to learn and easiest to build on.
When it comes to blogging on WordPress, some tools are better than others for this type of content management system. When creating a WordPress blog, you’ll need a domain, hosting, theme, and special plugins that can help optimize your site for speed and performance and make it easier to manage your blog site.
Here’s a selection of the best tools for bloggers using WordPress that can help you build a good foundation to work from for a successful blog site.
Web Hosting & Domain
There are two ways in which you can create a blog with WordPress.
One is using WordPress.com, which is a website builder like Zyro and Wix, but uses the WordPress platform, letting you set up a free WordPress blog that has many limitations, or take the WordPress Pro for $€$15/month, which includes premium themes, unlimited plugins, and more storage.
The second is to use self-hosted WordPress, which you install on a web host like WP Engine giving you greater control over what you can build your blog site into. By using WordPress on a web host, you’ll be able to add whatever theme you like, add whichever plugins you want, and unlock the CMS’s full potential.
Self-hosted WordPress is what TuffYeti is built on and is what I recommend for many first-time bloggers.
To do this, you’ll need to buy a domain name from a reputable domain registrar like Namecheap, as well as hosting.
Your budget and requirements will determine what type of web hosting you go for, with shared hosting being a good option for many starting. You can always upgrade your plans or servers to VPS hosting or Cloud hosting later as your blog gains more traffic and needs more resources.
Here are three web hosting sites optimized for WordPress blogs:
- Easy to use dashboard
- Powered by Google Cloud
- Fast CPU's with performance monitoring
- 24/7 Wordpress expert support
- Pick from Managed & Enterprise Wordpress Hosting
- Automatic updates & daily backups
- Free SSL & SSH
- Award winning 24/7 support
- Free SSL & CDN
- Free nightly backups
- Fast load sites out of the box
- Custom packages available
When it comes to designing your blog, there are thousands of themes for WordPress you could pick. Over the years, developers have gone wild imagining many different themes for different types of websites for various industries like photography, restaurants, online stores, and blogs.
Not all are made equal, though. You’ll want to use one optimized for mobile and desktop so you can appeal to all who view your site. Thanks to the introduction of the Gutenberg editor in recent WordPress releases, you can now create, edit and design pages as you like. The drag-and-drop editor means no coded is needed for many aspects of WordPress designs.
However, there are a few themes that offer features that provide you with optimized performance.
- Generate Press – a WordPress theme that’s built for stability and speed. You’ll get a theme with a small footprint but packed full of features that let you easily design a new blog. You can use it for free or upgrade to the GeneratePress Premium for $44/year to unlock premium features like updates, support, theme builder, and styling options.
- Kadence – Kadence Pro is a theme that gives you access to features that can help you build your blog the way you want. From $59/year, you’ll get access to pre-made templates making it easy for you to put together a site quickly.
Once you’ve got your domain name, set up your hosting, and designed your WordPress blog with a theme you’re comfortable using, it’s time to start optimizing and bolstering your blog’s speed and defenses.
Image Optimization Plugin
Image optimization is an important part of running a website. Making sure your images look good but are optimized for speed can help with your website’s overall speed performance and load times which is a ranking factor for search engines like Google.
One image optimization plugin for WordPress that can help you do this from within your WordPress account is ShortPixel.
ShortPixel is an image optimizer that resizes and compresses any images on your website. It’s lightweight, and you can compress even your existing images at the click of a button. You can choose the compression type you want, lossless or lossy, along with many different image types, including JPG, GIF, PNG, WebP, and AVIF. You can even compress PDF files.
You can even convert JPG, PNG, or GIF to the smaller WebP or AVIF file formats if you like.
It’s free for 100 images per month, with up to 7,000 images per month costing around $3.99/month.
WordPress Security Plugin
When setting up your blog, you want to make it as secure as possible. If you’re not technically minded and haven’t got access to your server to set up IP blocking and your firewalls, then a security plugin is a great option.
They will help protect against malicious hacker attacks, help block IPs, and detect any potential threats or changes to your files that could indicate you’ve been hacked.
They are a necessary part of any website, big or small, which is why I recommend Wordfence for WordPress.
The Wordfence Security Plugin
Wordfence is one of the world’s leading security plugins for WordPress, helping protect your site agains hackers, blocking attacks from malicious malware, and keeping track of any vulnerabilities your site might have.
There is a Wordfence free version available which is best for small websites that need some basic website security with firewall signatures updated every 30 days and scheduled security scans that track file changes, intrusions, and theme and plugin vulnerabilities.
If you’re after up-to-date firewall rules, real-time malware signature detection, unlimited scans, and real-time IP blocking, then the Wordfence Premium from $99/year is a good option.
If you want Wordfence to take care of installing, configuring, optimizing, and dealing with any threats, then the Wordfence Care plan from $490/year is a great option. It also opens up a yearly security audit and constant monitoring from the Wordfence team.
The Wordfence Response plan for $950/year has a 1-hour response time, customer support, and 24/7 incident response available for mission-critical businesses that can’t afford downtime. They will monitor your site constantly and tackle any issues as soon as they arise, helping you keep your blog updated.
For many starting WordPress blogs, the free version or premium plans are a great defense against many attackers.
Speed & Performance Plugins
To ensure your blog is as fast as possible, you’ll need some way to help speed it up. On its own, a lightweight website can be pretty quick, but as speed is a Google ranking factor, you will want to maximize your blog’s full speed potential through caching and content delivery networks.
Speeding up your website has many benefits including:
- Gives your users a better experience & can decrease bounce rates
- Helps to increase conversion rates
- Helps you site rank higher in search engines
WPRocket Caching Plugin
Caching plugins designed for WordPress like WPRocket help increase your website load times and PageSpeed score by adding browser caching, page caching, CSS, and JS minification to your site. This type of caching plugin provides you with improved page load speed and can even remove unused CSS from your files.
A great way to test whether WPRocket works is to grab the $49/year plan for a single website, install it, run through the setup, and then check your PageSpeed score against your site without it.
If you see a good reduction, which I think you will, it’ll be worth the price tag. If not, you can get a 100% 14-day money-back guarantee.
Bunny CDN Plugin
Content delivery networks can help speed up your website further by caching your cached files on servers worldwide.
For example: if your original web hosting server is in the US, but you have customers in the UK or Australia, a well-configured CDN will load your website from servers in or close to those countries. Serving your website this way helps speed up the time it takes for your visitors in the UK and Australia to load your website.
Bunny CDN uses super fast edge servers across 94 different locations to provide up to 5x faster download speeds than traditional cloud storage. You can pick which locations you want your websites to be replicated on and get a price per GB transferred per month. The plugin is easy to install and set up and will replace your image links with CDN links and automatically configure HTTPS for you.
You can also sign up for Bunny CDN without using the plugin if you wish via their website. But this will take a little more configuration and setup than using the plugin.
Cloudflare for WordPress
Another great CDN solution is Cloudflare. For $5/month, you’ll get access to the Cloudflare plugin, which combines caching and CDN in one to help seep up your WordPress site.
It also works on lightning-fast edge servers and can be configured and optimized as you need. The $5/month includes everything you get with the Cloudflare free plan, like DNS, Free SSL Certificates, Global CDN (200 locations), DDoS attack mitigation, analytics for websites, and the automatic platform optimization for WordPress (APO).
Sign up free or optimize your site with Cloudflare paid plan for added benefits.
SEO Plugins for WordPress
There are many search engine optimization plugins for WordPress that you could install and set up on your blog. You’ve got SEOPress, AllInOne SEO, YoastSEO, RankMath, and Squirrly SEO, to name a few.
These plugins can help you with your ongoing SEO strategy helping optimize each blog post before you’ve even hit the publish button for better results in search.
The few features of SEO Plugins include:
- Optimize your content for keywords
- Add meta titles and descriptions
- Add rich snippet schema to posts
- Add social media open graph and meta cards
- Content analysis
- SEO web audits
RankMath SEO Plugin
One of the best WordPress SEO tools for blogs, though, is RankMath. It is recommended by SEO websites like Ahrefs, Semrush, and Backlinko, the RankMath WordPress plugin. Once installed, it will take you through a setup wizard guiding you on what to add and what not to.
From your posts lists page, you’ll get a new column showing your SEO score out of 100, the keyword for that post, and how many internal, external and incoming links from your site letting you optimize for them too. The overview page lets you see an overview of your site’s performance and what’s missing and gives you hints on how to fix them.
RankMath can detect broken links around your site, so you can either go into the pages and fix them or use the redirection tool to set up a redirect to another page quickly. You can choose from a variety of rich snippet schema to add to your post on a post-by-post basis and set the post type as necessary.
There’s a limited free version that’s great to get started with the RankMath Pro plan from $59/year (exc. VAT) able to use across unlimited websites, track 1000 keywords, and comes with all the schema types. Well worth the look if you’re after an SEO Plugin that helps with some technical and many on-page SEO factors.
Affiliate Management Plugins
When you start getting decent traffic to your WordPress blog, you will want to look at the various ways you can monetize your blog. You could add multiple advertising networks like Google Ads or Ezoic, add sponsored content, you could sell merchandise, create a course, or set up paid membership for exclusive access.
However you want to make money blogging online, an alternative to all of those is through affiliate marketing.
Affiliate marketing is where you sign up for an affiliate program run by the company you want to promote or the affiliate network they are part of. You then add affiliate links to your posts, and every time a person clicks and makes a purchase (via your link), you’ll receive a one-off fee or ongoing commission.
Affiliate programs are free to sign up to, even though some might have limitations on what you’re promoting and how much traffic you have, so it’s best to wait until you have traffic before you think about monetizing your blog.
If you have lots of different affiliate links, you’ll want a way to keep track of them and change all the links for a product or service at the click of a button and without hassle.
Solving this problem is where affiliate plugins for WordPress come into play. They make it easy to add, cloak, change, redirect and manage your links without any coding needed, as and when you need to.
Thirsty Affiliates Plugin
One of my recommended affiliate plugins is ThirstyAffiliates. With this, you’ll be able to protect your affiliate links from others by cloaking them and easily adding links to your posts and pages.
You can automatically link specific keywords to specific links, so every time you mention them in a post, it will be linked. Set up geo-targeted links to switch out depending on which country your visitors are from. To comply with the Amazon affiliate program, uncloak your links as necessary.
The automatic 404 checker ensures your links are working and shows you ones that aren’t so that you can update as appropriate. With built-in reporting, you can also get stats on which links are clicked to see what’s working and what’s not.
Price: basic plan from $49/year.
Lasso Affiliate Marketing Tools
Lasso is more than just an affiliate link plugin. Lasso gives you access to a full suite of affiliate marketing tools that can help you get higher conversions from your affiliate programs through stunning displays, cloaked links, and by finding missed linking opportunities.
The various product displays help you add variety to your posts and have been tested to maximize conversions. The opportunities side lets you find keywords in your posts that you could turn into links to help drive more conversions.
It has Amazon integration which lets you fully comply with their T&Cs, with the ability to keep your links organized, grouping them, making it easier to add them to different displays or posts. The in-built click tracking also lets you analyze which links or displays perform best for your content, and you’ll get notified of any broken links that need fixing.
Overall, Lasso is a great affiliate tool that can help any blogger keep track of their affiliate links and help drive more conversions from $29/month or $289/year for one website. You do get a 14-day money-back free trial to test them out, which is well worth a try.
Moving past all the blogging plugins, you could add to your site and on to content creation, a major part of any blog site that wants to generate traffic and make money, no matter how big or small.
If you’re starting a new blog, you’ll probably be creating all of your content yourself. A time-consuming task, but one which lets you know more about the overall topic and sub-topics you’re blogging about.
Finding ideas and ensuring you write SEO content that will rank high in search is a must to maximize your chances of ranking at the top of the SERPs. I recommend a couple of online writing tools to help you write better content.
Surfer SEO Content Generator
Surfer is an AI content generator that helps you find content to put into your articles to help them rank higher. It uses the top results for a given search query, machine learning, and natural language processing to identify the type of content you need to add to your posts.
You’ll be able to plan your content by finding keywords and content ideas. If you’ve reached that stage in your blogging, quickly create content outlines you can pass over to freelance content writers with all the keywords they need to add, making it quicker and easier for you and them.
It can generate snippets of content for you at the click of a button and analyze your competitors’ content to find new keywords and linking opportunities. Along with any SEO errors your content might have.
Price: from $49/month (paid annually)
Grammarly – Spelling and Grammar Checker
After you’ve written your content, you’ll want to put it through a spell check and grammar checking software to ensure it reads right and looks more professional to your visitors.
Checking your grammar and spelling is easily done with Grammarly by copying and pasting your text into the online tool or uploading a document.
Then you can set your goals based on the intent of the piece, audience, and formality of your writing. Grammarly will scan your content for mistakes to help with correctness, clarity, engagement, delivery, and styling.
You can skip or accept any highlighted changes quickly as you try to reach the top score of 100. Grammarly also has a plagiarism checker, which will check your content against billions of web pages to see how much of your content is the same as other sources. It will even bring back the different sources that use the same phrases for you to check. A score of 1% or less is considered ok.
You can use Grammarly for free, but plagiarism detection, tone adjustments, and word choice is only available in the Grammarly premium plan for $15/user/month.
Creating and running a WordPress blog as a business means you need to look at improving your SEO game from what the SEO plugins like RankMath can offer. They are suitable for on-page SEO efforts and fixing SEO issues. However, many other tools can help in different areas of SEO.
A few include:
This is where online SEO software like Ahrefs, Ubbersuggest, and SpyFu come into play.
- Ubersuggest – an easy-to-use SEO tool that keeps adding more functionality. Use it to find keyword ideas, keyword gaps from your competitions, and content ideas, and perform a basic SEO audit of your website. Price from $£39/month or get a lifetime plan from $£290. It’s one of the cheapest SEO tools around.
- Ahrefs – a comprehensive SEO tool that does all that Ubersuggest does and more. Ahrefs lets you drill down into specific issues and areas of SEO. You can analyze your site and your competitors, find keyword suggestions, find content that’s ranking and shared, and track relevant keywords and links. It’s for WordPress bloggers with the time and budget to shell out around $74/month.
As you write great grammar-correct, SEO-rich content, you’ll want to start growing your email list. An often overlooked area of marketing for bloggers, collecting emails from your visitors ensures that you have a continually growing list of people interested in what you’re writing.
Growing your email list makes it easier to promote products and drive traffic back to your blog website to help improve your analytics stats and search engine rankings.
There are a few email marketing software tools that I recommend to help you with this:
- MailerLite – lets you create embedded sign up forms and popups to help grow you audience. An easy-to-use drag-and-drop email editor lets you easily design professional-looking emails and landing pages to help drive more conversions. Analytics, segmentation, and personalization are all part of what MailerLite offers in its plans. Free for up to 1000 subscribers with paid plans starting at $9/month.
- ConvertKit – from email signup forms to landing pages, email templates, and email design, ConvertKit gives any blogger the tools they need to maximize their email subscribers’ growth and email campaigns. Free for up to 300 subscribers with limited features. $9/month for added features like automated funnels.
To help your blog stand out from the crowd, make it faster, more reliable, safer, and provide value to your readers, the tools I’ve listed above can help you do all of that and more.
There are many tools for blogging, especially a wide range of WordPress plugins available that I don’t cover here. This article is a good starting point so you can find the WordPress blogging tools stack that works best for you.
Not everyone will find the different tools as easy to use as others but starting on the right foot is a benefit that many first-time bloggers at least can take advantage of.
If there are some you use, then let me know.