Blogging,Productivity Tips

My Favorite Tools To Grow My Blog and Boost Productivity

Overwhelmed by all the things that you need to do to step up your blogging game?! GIRL, me too! I’ve struggled with procrastination and productivity all through college and continue to have my moments as I grow my blog into a business.

In my journey, I’ve spent time and money investing in tools that help me reach my goals quicker and more efficiently. Running a blog and a budding coaching business on the side of my full-time job means that I am always in search of balance. Getting sh*t done, but also relaxing and having a life are my top priorities.

Today I want to share my top 27 blogging tools that I use to increase my pageviews, build my audience & email list, and boost my productivity. I’ve recently gotten a bunch of questions about what tools I use, so I thought it was the perfect time to compile everything together and tell you how I use them!

 

Best Tools To Grow Blog and Boost Productivity

 

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase by clicking on one of my links, I will receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you, that will help me continue to bring you valuable content. Thanks for supporting In Search of Sheila! 🙂

Find The Tools That Work For You

Now, I know that not everyone is going to need every single thing on this list. While I believe that everything on here is working for me, I realize that we’re all on different blogging journeys.

Depending on your goals, niche or focus, and audience some of these tools might benefit you, and others may not! Remember to keep your needs in mind and not what “other bloggers are doing.” 🙂

What I do suggest is to try different tools out and see what works for you! Most of these are totally free or have a free trial, so EXPERIMENT!

Let’s hop to it!

My Favorite Tools To Grow My Blog and Boost Productivity Click To Tweet

BLOG THINGS

1. WordPress.org

I get asked A LOT about what website I have my blog on. The answer is WordPress.org! I used to run my blog on Blogger for manymany years and recently transferred to a self-hosted WordPress blog when I rebranded earlier this year.

Switching to WordPress was the best decision I could have made. I didn’t realize how much I was missing out! It makes blogging so easy and there’s literally a plugin for everything.

2. SiteGround

I highly recommend SiteGround if you’re trying to go self-hosted and aren’t sure which provider to go with! I know they are a newer company, but I did a lot of research when I was deciding between SiteGround and Bluehost and heard more positive things about SiteGround so…yep!

Their tech people helped me easily move my domain over from GoDaddy and also helped me transfer my entire blog from Blogger to WordPress in 4 hours! They saved me from so many tech-aches and were super helpful and responsive.

If you wana take your blog to a biz you need to go self-hosted with @SiteGround ! Click To Tweet

Not sure what got I self-hosting is? It’s when your blog sits on a paid server (server=SiteGround) and then operates on a platform (platform=WordPress.org or Blogger).

On the contrary, a non-self-hosted blog aka a “free blog” runs on a free platform such as WordPress.com or Blogger.

I highly encourage you to go self-hosted if you plan to monetize your blog or even turn it into a business. There are many benefits to self-hosting (like legally making money on WordPress) which I outline in more detail in point #6 in this post!

3. Phoebe Website Theme By Georgia Lou Studios

I purchased my blog template on Creative Market and the reason I love it is because it’s super customizable and affordable! Georgia Lou Studios also have a great troubleshooting page and super responsive tech support.

Are you noticing that I really appreciate good tech support and customer service?

When I was rebranding I was having an issue figuring something out with my template and they replied to my email super fast. Much appreciated.

Honestly, I love and support companies and designers that care that much about their customers. Especially when it comes to confusing stuff like website design and tech!

MY GEAR

4. Apple Macbook Pro 13.3″

I recently invested in my MacBook Pro after my 5+ year old Lenovo laptop was holding me back from blogging efficiently (sloooow af!)

I am SO glad I finally invested in one. I’ve never owned an Apple computer before and it’s honestly changed my blogging game and life in general!

Blogging Tools Boost Blog and Email List

5. Canon EOS Rebel T6i 

I shoot my own blog photos and recently invested in a Canon EOS Rebel T6i after my trusted Nikon D50 finally met its maker earlier this year. After going 11 years strong!!

I use the standard EF-S 18-55mm kit lens that came with the camera, but I hope to invest in a better lens in the near future.

The main reason I chose this camera was that it has video capabilities and is most recommended for budding videographers. I plan to start a YouTube channel next year (eep!) so getting a camera that could handle all the shooting was a huge must!

The other thing I love about this camera is that it can connect to WIFI. I can instantly upload my photos to my phone which is great for when you’re on the go and you really need to post that outfit photo on Instagram.

Okay, one more cool thing. I can use my phone as a remote! There’s a Canon app that you can connect to with WIFI and basically transfer your viewfinder to your phone. WILD. Since I take a lot of my own shots (of flat lays and myself) this REALLY comes in handy. And is quite mesmorizing.

DESIGN

6. Photoshop CC + Lightroom CC

I lease both the latest versions of Photoshop and Lightroom through the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan. It’s $9.95 a month and is perfect for anyone that regularly shoots and edits their own photos.

If you’re looking to step up your photography game, I highly recommend investing in the monthy plan!

7. Canva

Canva is AMAZING…and free! It’s where I make my Pinterest images and opt-in freebies such as my branding workbook and hashtag library. One of Canva’s best features is that you can save templates for various designs.

I do this with my Pinterest images and it saves me SO much time when designing new pins for my posts. I just need to swap out the image, adjust the text, and bam!

I prefer to make these in Canva rather than Photoshop because it’s just easier and saves wear and tear on my laptop. Having Photoshop open (with my million other programs and tab) can slow it down and even lag at times…I ain’t got time for that!

ORGANIZATION + PRODUCTIVITY

Ahh, organization. If you’re a planning addict like me you’ve been waiting for this section. I LOVE reading about how other people plan and organize their blogs so I hope this section can provide all my fellow stationery lovers some satisfaction.

8. Bullet Journal + Notebooks

I am first and foremost a paper planner girl. Always have been! I have started using some digital tools, but I prefer writing things down. It helps me to internalize the information better and commit it to memory.

  • I use a Bullet Journal to for weekly planning control. I started using one at the beginning of this year and I really love it. I haven’t found a planner that suits my needs, so I rather just make my own.
  • For planning out content ideas, I use a variety of notebooks. My favorite notebooks at the moment are the Moleskin Cahier Journals (7.5 x 10). I am a die-hard Moleskin fanatic and thoroughly enjoy investing in high-quality paper goods. It just makes writing a lot more fun to me haha. I actually found a 6-pack of these journals at T.J. Maxx at $14.99 which was a major score on my end.
  • I also use my Moleskin to outline and write my blog posts and newsletters. Sometimes I feel more inspired to actually write things out, rather than type!

Blogging Tools Bullet Journal Weekly Spread

My Bullet Journal is pretty simple but it works for me!

I'll ALWAYS be a paper planner girl when it comes to getting organized! Click To Tweet

9. Grammarly

If you don’t have this free grammar checker you need it ASAP!! When it comes to blog content, having good writing and grammar is a MUST. All you need to do is integrate it into your browser and it’ll spell and grammar (or typo check) your content.

I honestly don’t know where I would be without Grammarly…after writing so many papers in college and staring at screens for most of my life…I have gotten SO bad with my typos on my blog. Having Grammarly saves my butt on numerous occasions!

10. Google Calendar

I want to give Catherine of The Blissful Mind a huge shout out for getting me obsessed with Google Calendar. Her How To Plan Your Day video takes you on the backend of how she uses the digital calendar and now I use the same exact method. It keeps me SO much more on top of all my blogging tasks and life in general.

I use Google Calendar to plan out my day and keep in on top of EVERYTHING. I even schedule in when I need to eat dinner! Since it’s hard for me to stop working on projects, I can always look at my calendar and mentally tell myself that it’s time to stop and move on to something else.

Plus the color coding makes my brain happy!

Here’s an idea of how I plan out my days inside Google Calendar! 

11. Evernote

Evernote is amazing!! I use it for creating lists, brain dumping, drafting out ideas, and jotting down notes from books and podcasts.

It’s like having a bunch of notebooks, but it’s easier to organize them because they are digital notebooks 🙂

I have different ones for blog post ideas and I do a lot of my drafting with it. It keeps me focused rather than writing in WordPress or Google Docs because I’m not distracted by my browser. Evernote has definitely boosted my productivity my ten-fold!

@Evernote is great for storing blog post ideas, drafting, and brain dumping! Click To Tweet

I use it both on my computer and phone so it’s great for when you’re on the go and randomly get an idea. My brain is always full of blogging ideas, especially when I’m not in the blogger zone. When I get an idea I whip out my phone and put it in Evernote.

Also…since I’m officially writing an eBook (wee!!) I’ve been using it to brain dump my ideas for chapters and have been doing my free-writing and drafting with it. Highly recommend!

12. Focus Booster

Finding Focus Booster has seriously changed my life when it comes to productivity! The concept of setting a timer and taking breaks seems so simple, but it can be SO hard to do it on your own. I thrive off of discipline, so having an actual timer keeps me in check.

It’s designed after the Pomodoro Method by setting a certain amount of time, then taking a 5-minute break, and repeating. You can get it for your desktop (which I use) or your phone.

The other great thing about it is that you can name your tasks and it’ll keep a time log for you. This is great for checking your progress and how much time you spend on tasks!

P.S. Focus Booster is free for up to a certain amount of sessions per month! I went over the limit and upgraded my account because I love it that much.

13. Typeform

I use Typeform to make all my surveys I sent out to my email list and clients! It’s really easy to use plus you can make really cute, simple, and on brand surveys with it. Plus I think it’s pretty fun for the person on the other end taking it.

Google Suite

The whole Google Suite needs recognition in this post, but I’ll break it down into the top 3 I use most.

14. Google Drive

It’s so easy to store and access documents and resources right inside Google Drive because you can access it ANYWHERE whether on your laptop or phone.

Ways I use Google Drive:

  • store PDFs and eBooks
  • storing blog posts or email list sequences
  • file sharing
  • coaching client work

15. Google Docs

Easy to write, share, and access documents! I use it a lot for my coaching business when I need to upload my weekly outlines, resources, and assignments to Google Drive.

16. Google Spreadsheets

Ways I Use Spreadsheets

  • track my blog income and expenses
  • keep track of affiliate links and blog posts for easy sharing
  • tracking my time on writing and coaching tasks

My Favorite Blogging Tools

EMAIL LIST-BUILDING AND MARKETING

Building your email list is important to reach your blogging and business goals, so I invest a lot into the right tools to help me make the entire process easy and efficient and gives me RESULTS. I’ve been able to grow my email list to over 1,000 subscribers all thanks to these tools!

17. ConvertKit

Ahh, ConvertKit. Truly the apple of my eye. This is the only email list I’ve truly used and am 100% obsessed with.  Their purpose is “to make email easier and more robust for professional bloggers like you.” YUP, couldn’t agree any more!!

I know it’s not for everyone and that’s fine! At $29 a month, it is expensive–no doubt. But I pay that every month because the features make my life a heck of a lot easier and have helped me convert my readers into subscribers.

Why ConvertKit is awesome:

  • great for automation and creating easy sequences
  • you can easily segment your list with their tagging features
  • you can easily create your own opt-in forms and landing pages and integrate them onto your blog!

And lastly–I just love the company and culture around them. The SEO Nathan Barry is an awesome guy (also I lowkey have a crush on him DON’T TELL MY BOYFRIEND) and I’ve watched a handful of online workshops hosted by their employees.

They even have free courses and periodically offer free trials of the service. That’s actually how I got hooked on it. I tried it out for a month and since Mailchimp confused the hell out of me, I stuck with ConvertKit. Okay I’ll stop going on about how much I love it but I truly truly think it’s amazing!!!

18. LeadPages

LeadPages helps you capture leads to your email list in a fast and efficient way. You can build entire pages and pop up boxes then integrate them onto your blog. My signup form for my blogging workshop was created with LeadPages!

It truly isn’t for anyone and yes, it’s wicked pricey. It works for me and I’m willing to pay for it because I know it really helps me grow my list.

19. HelloBar

I honestly love HelloBar! It’s what I use to capture email addresses at the top of my blog and it actually helps me get a good flow of new subscribers every day. Plus it’s free!

I actually didn’t realize I could integrate it with ConvertKit for MONTHS so I wasted so much spend manually entering new subscribers, when it can be done automatically. Such a time saver!

20. Interact Quiz Builder

Did you know having a quiz on your blog is actually super great for building your email list? This quiz I created was built with Interact! It’s a great and fun way to capture leads and grow your list. They have a free plan you can use to get started and create your own. Click here to start creating your quiz!

Blog to Business Journey Quiz

Click here to take the quiz!

SOCIAL MEDIA

Social media seems like a pain sometimes, but it’s a growth strategy every blogger needs. I use a variety of tools to automate the process and eliminate stress when it comes to implementing it.

Automate Your Social Media, But Still Be Social

While I do suggest making your life easier by scheduling and automating your social media, I do think it’s important to be authentically active on your social platforms. Especially if you’re in the beginning stages of building your audience!

Showing up and interacting with your readers will remind them that you’re a real person and help you build trust with them easier and faster!

And with trust you can start monetizing your blog without being sleazy 🙂

Use tools to automate + schedule your social media, but remember to socialize with your readers! Click To Tweet

21. Tailwind

Since Pinterest is my #1 source of traffic, I have to always be up on my game. Since I strive to pin between 30 and 50 pins a day, I use Tailwind to schedule my pins.

Working a 9-5 means that I don’t have time (or energy) to get on Pinterest throughout the day and manually pin. I still manually pin, but mostly in the evenings when I’m not at work.

I mostly use it to schedule my new blog posts to my group boards. Plans start at $14.99 a month of $10 a month if you pay annually. You can try it out for free for a month by clicking here!

22. BoardBooster

The other Pinterest tool I use is  BoardBooster! My favorite feature is that they loop pins on selected boards, meaning that it’ll automatically pull older pins to the front, allowing them to get seen more!

Plans start at $5 a month. You can try it out for free for a month by using my referral link. Click here to try it out today!

If you aren’t using Pinterest in your blogging strategy, I suggest you drop what you’re doing and start NOW! It will do wonders for your traffic and email list!

23. HootSuite

I use HootSuite to schedule my own and other bloggers’ posts to Twitter and my daily threads in my Facebook group.

They used to have a free plan with unlimited scheduling, but recently changed it which I’m still pretty bummed about.

Now you have up to 30 free scheduled posts you can schedule per day which is still pretty good! Or you can invest in a plan starting at $19 a month.

24. Unum

I know there are a bunch of Instagram feed planning apps out there, but I use Unum. I’ve tried different ones and always preferred this one.

My favorite feature about it is that I can move my images around as a plan out my feed. Since I’m a very visual person, this helps me out and is a huge time saver so I can plan my photos and captions in advance and when I know I need to post, but don’t have all the time in the world, everything is ready to go!

25. Linktree

Linktree is a tool designed to optimize your Instagram profile by allowing you to link to multiple destinations through one link!

I use it in both my Instagram and Twitter bios to link to my latest blog post, about page, free eCourse, Facebook group, and Blogger Resource Library.

26. IFTTT

I’ve been using IFTTT for a while and I only really use it to post my Instagram photos to Twitter. It has a bunch of different features, so it’s worth checking out!

27. SumoMe

I use SumoMe to get the social sharing sidebar on the left side of my blog. This is an optimal place for putting social share buttons because it pops out more to readers!

What Are Your Favorite Blogging Tools?

And that’s it! What tools are you currently using to grow your blog? I’d love to learn about some new ones so feel free to share them below!

And make sure to share this post on Pinterest to help others get more productive!

Best Tools To Grow Blog and Increase Productivity

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  • This was probably one of the most helpful posts I’ve read yet! While I’m not an avid Pinterester, I think some of the other services would definitely benefit my blogging work. Reading this reminded me to maybe use the Linktree account I made a while back. Just put the link in my Instagram haha 🙂 You are awesome!
    xo Samantha

    • Hahah yay I’m glad this post sparked some fast action!! LikeTree really is amazing, especially since Instagram is so restrictive with the links 🙂

  • Nichole

    Yess, this is like the ultimate resources for any blogger. I especially love Tailwind, and hootsuite. They save me sooo much time! I’m glad you mentioned your laptop bc of course mine crashed so I’m going to invest in a Mac. My husband has one and I love using his but it definitely takes some time getting used too.

    Nichole // thedailypursuit.com

    • Yesss, love HootSuite! I wish they still had unlimited scheduled tweets, but I’ll have to start using Facebook’s scheduling feature because $20 a month for a tool I would only use for Twitter is a bit much haha.

      And yes, I am totally Mac-obsessed, never going back! Lol, definitely worth the investment. I am financing mine through Best Buy so I have a year to pay it off with 0 interest.

  • Woah! This list is absolutely everything! I’m all about productivity and goals on my blog so reading this made me a little giddy and excited to try out some of these tools. What’s funny is I was planning on writing a similar post very soon on the same topic. I’m so glad you shared this because as bloggers (especially those of us who work a 9 to 5) organization is key, but sometimes we don’t even have the time to get ourselves organized lol

    This list is incredibly useful and I will definitely save this so I can try out some new tools.

    Sade | http://theboldapproach.com

    • yay, so happy to hear this!! I (clearly) am obsessed with organization and planning so I really enjoyed making this post, haha!! Can’t wait to read your post 🙂

  • This list is amazing! As I was just starting to read it I was looking at your sidebar thinking about how sharp it looks and how much more likely I am to hit one of those buttons than to scroll down to the bottom of the page and hit one. I was excited to see it the tool at the end of your list!

    I also love how open you are about how you use these tools and why you’ve found them worthwhile, especially when it comes to the paid tools. I’ve heard of most of these before, but I’m always really skeptical when it comes to paying for something I could almost as easily do myself. I’ve recently finished up a free trial of tailwind, which I signed up for because of your recommendation, and have been trying out the monthly plan. So far it’s been worthwhile because there is no way I could keep up with this level of pinning on my own and I have seen my numbers increase as a result. I’ll definitely be referring to this list and checking out more of these tools in the (near) future!

    Katie | kathleenhelen.com

    • Aww, yay! I’m so glad this list is helpful!! SumoMe is great and luckily there is a free version of it!

      And yes, totally! I know we all have different goals, needs, and budgets! Plus I don’t judge people on what they spend (or don’t spend) their money on. We are entitled to do as we please 🙂 And I’m not ashamed to spend $x a month on blogging tools, because they for sure add value to my life!

      I’m glad to hear that Tailwind has been working out for you, I really love it! There’s so many features with it, so I think it’s definitely worth the investment 🙂

  • This is such an amazing list. There’s a few things on here I use, and SO MANY I’m not utilizing that I definitely need to start! Thank you for always putting together such thorough posts. x

    Kate
    http://www.thegoldsister.com

    • aw yay glad it’s helpful and thanks for always reading, Kate! x

  • Dee ☕️

    Why yo’ posts so lit though girl hahah. Every time! Super useful information too I love it. I’m definitely gonna be all over those organization and productivity tools. Just downloaded Evernote 🙂 and I want to use typeform in the future too!

    Dee // http://www.morningcoffeewithdee.com

    • hahaha thanks Dee! Every week I try to tone it down but I always expand on my ideas after I draft it out a bit. I definitely fear producing a dud though lol! And yay, let me know how you like Evernote, it’s amazing!!

  • I knew you could save templates in Canva, but I thought that was a paid feature!? Is it free and I’m just crazy?

    • When I refer to templates I just mean it says what you work on! So when I make pins I just reuse previous ones and swap out the photo and text. Hope that makes more sense!

  • These are some seriously amazing tools, Sheila! I need to try out some of these tools, especially Focus Booster because it sounds like a LIFE SAVER! 🙂

    • I think you would love Focus Booster!! It really helps to get me in the zone which I need lol.

  • Kisha Gulley

    Your website has been such a help to me this week! I just started my blog and you make everything so easy to understand.

    Thanks so much!
    Kisha
    http://www.thekishaproject.com

    • woo hoo I’m SO glad to hear that! I try my best to articulate some of these complicated things into a way that’s easy to understand because I know what it’s like to read a blog post and get confused af!

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