11 Of The Best Blogging Tools Your Competitors Are Using (with tips for)

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Finding your passion and having the right motivation to start your blog, and consistently produce high-quality content, is half the battle of starting a successful blog. Some days are easy and the information just flows, and other days it’s common to get writer’s block and feel stuck. There are a lot of tools out there however, and they can really come in handy and help when the going gets tough. In this article, we’ll discuss a wide variety of tools for bloggers that can help with coming up with content ideas, content production, keyword research, WordPress blogging themes and plugins, high quality stock photography, and even YouTube and vlogging tips.

By the end of this article, you will have several tools at your disposal no matter which part of the blogging process you are in… Doesn’t matter if you’re just browsing with the idea of starting a blog, and looking for help on how to set up a successful foundation for yourself, or if you’ve been blogging for 12 months or more, and just aren’t getting the traction you desire… And are looking for the best tools to make blogging easier. If you have any personal tips or tools to recommend, or any questions about the tools mentioned, comment at the end of this article and let me know!

Blogging Setup Tools

For an in depth look at My Blogging Setup, head over to the my setup page to see what’s on my desk, under the hood of my blog, and what else I’m using that you might like!

Which Blogging Platform Is Best?

Self hosted WordPress is the best way to go for bloggers who want to have full control over their blog, and want to have the freedom to do whatever they choose with their site. This is what I use here on CleverLeverage.com, and recommend it to everyone who wants to start a blog.

Related Reading:


Most bloggers already have a domain registered and web hosting setup, but if you don’t here are the places I recommend you get your domain names.

  • Namesilo – Namesilo is the place that I register all of my domains now, in fact I’m even transferring the rest of my portfolio away from GoDaddy, since they keep raising their prices and forcing people to sign up for the Domain Discount Club. Namesilo’s backend interface is the easiest to use in the industry, and they DO NOT have a gazillion up cells that make the checkout process confusing either. Support is very good, and the pricing is the cheapest you’ll find anywhere, with no hassles with or without private whois registration.
  • Godaddy –  GoDaddy used to be my favorite registrar, and it’s still a good reputable place to register your domain names, I just don’t care for their pricing model or their customer service anymore… along with the checkout process which is becoming harder and harder to use by the minute, they’ve consistently gone downhill over the last two years. I used to register thousands of domains with them annually, which is why they probably call me every week STILL (and why I’m so picky about the pricing… a couple dollar difference in domain reg fees per domain, typically represents thousands of dollars to me), but their interface has gotten too cumbersome, along with a gazillion up-sells just to simply checkout which is annoying as all get out.
  • Bluehost –  Most people don’t think of Bluehost for domain name registration, but if you happen to be setting up your first blog or website, and would like to make the process easier, a great way to do that is to get your domain name for “free” at Bluehost.  But the free part is not what makes it a good deal for beginners, it’s the fact that you don’t have to learn how to connect your domain name to your web hosting account, it’s all done for you automatically. This can save you plenty of time and frustration if you’re new at setting up blogs and websites, and will reduce your domain’s propagation time (time it takes for it to sync up so you can see it live on the web) dramatically so you can work on your new website the same day you register it.

Related Reading:  If you’re looking to start your first blog or website, I have tons of info about that here:

Blog Hosting

Self hosted WordPress is definitely the way to go, and there are two main companies I recommend for most bloggers for hosting their blogs. Bluehost for beginners, and LiquidWeb for experienced bloggers. Again most bloggers already have a blog hosting account setup, but for those just getting started with their first blog, here are a few companies that I recommend for good blog hosting for beginners:

  • Bluehost – I recommend Bluehost to all beginner bloggers for two reasons: 1) they make it super-easy to set up, so that anyone with no experience can create an account and have their first blog up and running in less than an hour. 2) there simply isn’t another blog host around that has as good of phone support as Bluehost does for the money. I know when people are just starting out, cost is a pretty important part of the equation, and at $3.95/mo Bluehost is the cheapest option out there that has decent support.
  • LiquidWeb – LiquidWeb is what I use to host my sites, but it comes with a steeper price tag. I’m on a deciated server, which runs about $200/mo and up depending on specs. This simply isn’t feasible for most beginner bloggers, and doesn’t make good financial sense to start off even with a VPS from Liquidweb, which runs around $50/mo. I recommend bloggers who’ve been blogging for 12 months or more, and have existing blog income and steady traffic, use liquidweb to get faster load times, better support, etc… But not until it pays for itself. The Bluehost option above is better for all beginners, and MUCH easier to setup.

Blog Plugins

There are so many free plugins for WordPress, it’s hard to keep track of them all. That’s one of the benefits to using self hosted WordPress, is that you can install and use any free or paid plugin you want at any time! If you want to have some kind of custom functionality on your blog, there’s a good chance a plugin already exists for it… You just have to find it.

Here are a few essential plugins for bloggers:

  1. WP Fastest Cache
  2. WP Optimize
  3. Pretty Link
  4. Yoast SEO
  5. Editorial Calendar
  6. Broken Link Checker
  7. Comment Notifier
  8. Change Case
  9. Compress JPEG & PNG Images
  10. Contact Form 7
  11. Custom Sidebars
  12. Search Meter
  13. Table Of Contents Plus
  14. Wp Gallery Custom Links
  15. Word Stats

Blog Themes

Changing the look and feel of your blog is as simple as a couple clicks. However, there are some free and paid themes that can really make your blog stand out from the cloud, and here are a few of each:

Free Themes

Premium Themes

For more theme ideas, click here to see the WordPress Themes section.

Blog Content Tools

Graphics Editor

I use Photoshop for most all of my image editing, but I know that’s out of reach and experience for some bloggers. Here are a few of the most popular image editing tools for non techie bloggers:

Stock Images / Photography

My favorite place to get stock images for my blog is Deposit Photos. They have the best pricing, but more importantly the widest selection of really good sharp images to choose from in obscure topics.

Here are a few others:

Blog Post / Content Idea Tools

There are tons of tools that can make things a lot easier for bloggers to come up with content for blog posts, especially if they’re new. Even veteran and blogger sometimes hit writer’s block, and have a hard time coming up with blog post ideas, or even tailoring their content to the most popular parts of an industry. Below we’re going to go over a few free and paid tools that can make your life easier when it comes to publishing content. We’re going to go over some keyword research ideas, and we’re also going to touch on using some free Q&A and social tools, so you can know for certain what the most popular topics are in your niche.

Buzzsumo – The bloggers cheat sheet to see what’s hot in social!

You’ve probably seen on popular blogs where are content marketers commonly referr to Buzz Sumo to find Hot topics within a niche right? What you don’t often see referenced, is the ability to hone this down to a particular timeline, and compare evergreen content competitors. The most common way bloggers suggest using Buzzsumo, is to see what blog posts, videos, infographics, or images are trending for a particular topic… But if you want to build lasting presence and income with your blog, you got a sprinkle in some timeless posts that will garner interest for years to come as well. One of the best ways to do that, is to compare social shares over the last 12 months, versus the original publish date. What you’re looking for, are topics that have been published a couple of years ago, yet still retain a high average of interest over the last few months. Spending a little bit of time doing competitive research in this way, should give you a list of 3 to 5 ideas you can use to craft an evergreen piece of content for your blog. Do that a couple times a month, and you’ve got yourself a winner!

Keyword Tools

SEM Rush – This is one of my favorite keyword tools to fire up when entering a new blog niche. It’s also super useful if you hit a wall with your content production, but a number of competitors around you are still having success with the same topics.

There are a few ways you can use as SEMrush to your advantage, but the main one bloggers can use to skyrocket there organic traffic, is the competitive research portion. If you’re thinking about crafting a new blog post on a particular topic, but you want to see what blog posts are already performing well for that subject, an easy way to do that is to do a quick Google search in incognito mode. Go ahead and do your search now on whatever query you want, and make note of the top three Google results. Copy the first URL of the SERPs and paste it here in SEMRush.

Once you do that it’ll pull up the domain overview, and if you scroll down a little bit you should see the top organic keywords… And this is where most people go wrong. The majority of bloggers click on “view full report” and try to scalp particular website’s top organic keywords. But under the surface, there’s much more valuable data available to you, that you can use to craft blog posts to get more long-tail search traffic (with higher buyers intent  if you know what you’re looking for). So instead of doing what everyone else is doing, I want you to hover over the entire menu button on the left hand dashboard navigation menu. Click on entire menu, then click on pages…

By doing this in the order that I’m telling you to now, will only work if this is a niche site geared around a couple of different topics. If it isn’t, then you would want to drill down a specific URL, and then do individual searches for the related keywords associated with that URL. But in this example we’re going to continue with the idea that were researching a particular blog niche, and the majority of the site is going to be about common topics.

Once you’re looking at the page analysis for a particular domain, be sure that it’s sorted by highest organic traffic. This will show you which pages garner the most attention on this particular website, and you can see how many long tail keywords are associated with each URL individually in the keywords column. This is where things get really interesting… You can click on the keywords and this should give you plenty of ideas for long tail keywords that you can integrate into your content, but you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. These are primarily long tail keywords that page is getting traction for, but NOT the primary targeted keywords the author used.

If you’d like to see more specific guides on this topic, please comment below and let me know what type of video tutorial you want me to create next.

Term Explorer – Term Explorer is by far my most favorite bulk keyword research tool on the planet. In fact, I don’t even open the Google AdWords Keyword Tool anymore, because it’s too slow and cumbersome compared to Term Explorer. The sheer amount of keyword research one can do in a matter of hours with this tool is almost hard to comprehend.

Using Term Explorer is pretty self-explanatory, and it works like any other keyword tool out there… Whereby you enter a seed keyword, and it returns thousands of related keywords, their search volume, CPC, and average competition. There is one way that I use Term Explorer that most people don’t mention, and that is to run a Google suggest keyword scraper first, and then do a bulk shallow scan run inside of Term Explorer with those keywords.

For instance, if I’m looking for long tails for content marketing, I’m essentially trying to dig for long tail keywords that don’t come up with in the Google Keyword Tool. For content marketing, the Google Keyword tool fails to produce MANY valuable keywords that you can easily integrate into your content with high buyers intent. Most of the time bloggers don’t discover these keywords until they’ve been competing within a niche for 6 months or more, and have access to their own analytics and Google search console data. (to identify them after the fact) Once you get good at this, you can use these tools in combination to speed up this process.

Keyword Tool.io – This is my favorite keyword tool to quickly get a list of commonly asked questions within an industry. If you’ve ever wondered what people want to know about in your blogging niche, you can easily head over to this free tool and find out within a couple of clicks. For instance, if you enter in the seed keyword of “blogging” and click on the questions tab, you’ll quickly see over a hundred commonly asked questions that you could write blog posts around, if you happen to have experience with this topic. The process works the same whether you’re blogging about sewing, cars, fashion, DeWalt power drills, etc…

One common practice I use to give my blog posts a little bit more traction, is including an FAQ section right in the middle of the blog post. So for example if my blog post is about “the best budget Singer sewing machines”, I might include an FAQ section right smack in the middle of the blog post that covers the most frequently asked questions about Singer sewing machines.

Here’s a real life example:

I just did this search live for “sewing machines”, and it returned 118 commonly asked questions on this topic… You could easily embed these in a tabbed format if you wanted to truncate them a little bit, but this is a good example of how to find good opportunities to create more value out of your blog posts.

For instance, if you added, “can sewing machines embroider”? This would give you the opportunity to save aspiring sewers’ time and money on machines that can’t do embroidering. Have you had a couple of models that broke on you? Even better! Now you can educate readers on which brands to stay away from! You could also link to your favorite sewing machines that do embroidery WELL, and use affiliate links to earn a commission on those recommendations.

Simply apply the above example to whatever your niche is, and repeat the process! It works for everything…

Blog Post Idea Tools

Get industry questions quickly and easily for endless blog post ideas

  • Quora
  • keywordtool.io
  • keywordshitter.com
  • answerthepublic
  • keyword.io

— > I ended up making a monster post about keyword tools for bloggers specifically here < —-

Video And Youtube (for vloggers)

…coming soon!

These will get you by for now:

Top 11 Essential Tools For Beginner Bloggers

  1. Plugins
  2. Themes
  3. Graphics Editor
  4. Keyword Tools
  5. self hosted wordpress
  6. evernote
  7. dropbox / google drive
  8. dragon or google dictate
  9. canva
  10. editorial calendar
  11. namesilo
  12. bluehost / liquidweb
  13. buzzsumo
  14. yoast seo
  15. siteliner

My Top 10 Blogging Tools I Can’t Live Without

  1. photoshop (picmonkey alternative)
  2. blue mic
  3. studiopro lights (see review here)
  4. blue light blockers
  5. triple monitors
  6. dell laptop
  7. sem rush / keywordtool.io
  8. self hosted wordpress

1 thought on “11 Of The Best Blogging Tools Your Competitors Are Using (with tips for)”

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