Hi friends! Today on Sequins and Sales I have a post I am SO excited to share with you. It’s 10 Tools That Every Blogger Needs for Success! These are tools I wish I had known about when I first started my blog, and tools that help me every day as a semi full-time blogger (I say semi because I still have a full-time job but spend just as much time blogging lol).
In this post, I’m going to share why and how I use each tool, as well as how much each costs! I would say about half of these tools are (or can be) completely free to use. There are just some things I prefer using that will cost you an account! It’s 100% up to you if you want to put out the money though. Alright y’all, let’s get started!
10 Tools That Every Blogger Needs for Success
Preview is the first tool I wanted to talk about in this post! It’s something I utilize almost every day and it makes planning my Instagram feed so easy that I would never use anything else. I used to use UNUM to plan my feed, but Preview just lays it out better and also offers additional features (like gathering up my Top 9 of last year). The main reason I love Preview is that it allows you to add placeholders into your feed!
There aren’t any apps (that I’m aware of) that automatically pull in IGTV and Reel covers to show an accurate representation of your feed. Preview allows you to do this by clicking the + sign in the top right corner and clicking “Placeholder”! I always pick “Add Cover Image From Library” because I’ve found the import option doesn’t work as well. It’ll then let you pick a date and time so that way it shows up correctly in your preview feed!
In the spirt of accessibility, I wanted to add Descript as the section tool in this post! My blogger friends and I did a Black Bloggers Share series last year and we realized quickly that adding closed captions is something that EVERYONE needs to do on videos. There are a multitude of reason for this as well. A few include: someone being deaf, someone trying to watch your video while their kid is asleep, and it can help people focus on the information better!
Instagram added this option as an automatic option in 2020 and I couldn’t have been happier. I remember spending 5-6 hours trying to get my video to save on Kapwing last year. The way you can utilize this function is by going to “Advanced Settings” at the end editing screen for your IGTV. There should be a button you can just turn on and then you’ll have automatic closed captions on your video! On top of it helping people, it’ll also help your video get more traction.
Now what is Descript? Descript is a COMPLETELY FREE desktop app (yes forreal, like no free trial either) that has many different video editing options. The reason I’ve used it is because it can give you a FULL video transcript in less than 5 minutes. With my current IGTV Black History series, I have been adding a full transcript of each video to my blog for additional SEO traction, and for accessibility reasons.
Canva is bae and if it ever goes away I will CRY! Who needs photoshop when you have Canva? If you’re a blogger who wants to make gift guide collages, IGTV/Reel covers, or literally any type of content roundup, this is for you! My favorite feature is that you can remove the background of images in the app. You just have to click on “Effects” and then “Background Remover”! I’ve found it’s better at removing backgrounds than Photoshop and one reason I pay for the Pro version (which is only $12/month).
Another thing that I love is that I can get thousands of free stock photos from the Pro version! I try to make 3-5 Pinterest pins a day and instead of paying for stock photos on another site, I use the ones included with Canva. I also mix in my own content of course, but overall this is a great tool to use for so many different reasons. If you’re going to spend money on anything from this post, CHOOSE CANVA!
See some examples of content I’ve made using Canva:
Quickbooks is something that I just started using in January of 2021, but honestly I wish I had started using it sooner. Quickbooks is perfect for individuals, sole proprietors, and small businesses alike! It’s a one stop shop for everything you need related to business and taxes. As a blogger, it’s hard to keep track of everything! You’re one person handling up to six figures worth of payment and expenses. With Quickbooks, it handles everything for you! That’s the main reason I signed up.
At $25/month, it IS an investment. That said, if you’re making over $30,000/year with your side hustle I highly recommend opening an account. You can create/track invoices, keep track of bills/expenses (automatically!!!!), and track mileage (track this if you’re a blogger)! This is just a few of the services offered, but these are the main ones I wanted to be automatic. You can also just bulk send everything to a CPA during tax season or connect it to TurboTax directly!
Handy dandy PayPal is next on my list. She has been my homegirl since I started monetizing my blog! It’s the easiest FREE way to send and receive invoices. A lot of companies use wire transfers or send checks for payment, but a lot also send invoices directly through PayPal! Even if a business uses another method of payment, it’s great because you can save all your info and just use it to craft your invoices.
You can also save brand/PR emails in the system in case you work with one multiple times! This has been helpful on multiple occasions for me. It’s also helpful to use for payments. You can track all money that comes in and out. Now that I use Quickbooks too, I’m able to sync them! Any payments I send or invoices I receive, it is automatically tracked in Quickbooks.
6. Google Drive
Girl (or guy or non-binary pals) you getter yourself a Google Drive account! I started first using Google Drive in college because it was a great way to have a shared folder among partners in group projects. Now it’s JUST as useful when sending copy back and forth between you and a brand! Generally I create folders for my stories and my IG post(s) then add copy into a Google Doc. I’ll then send this all over to a brand at once using a link!
Most brands request all content to be sent over through Google Drive or Dropbox, but Google Drive is free and Dropbox is only up to a certain amount of storage. I’ve also found it’s just easier from a functionality perspective to use Google Drive! It automatically syncs up with your Gmail account and you can easily make edits or check the edits a brand may have made.
If you want your blog to have better SEO and rank higher organically on Google, then you NEED to get Keysearch. I first heard about it from a “Make Traffic Happen” course that I took and it’s the ONE thing that’s helped me write better blog posts. Although my organic views COULD be better, I get roughly 4K-5K sessions per month from search engines! At the beginning of last year I was barely getting 1K sessions so this is still an improvement.
Keysearch is basically a search engine for search engines and is really similar to Google Ad Words. I generally start with a title for my blog posts and see the competition score for the keywords I’m using. For this specific post, there’s a 10 search volume and a 34 competition score. The lower the competition score, the better! You also want to make sure that there is an actual search volume for the keywords you’re using, or else your efforts will be fruitless. I aim for 10-20 keywords per post!
Whenever I post my IG stories, everyone always asks what app I use to make them! I am FINALLY giving y’all a blanket response because I suck at replying to DM’s. I use the Mojo app to create all of my cool, dimensional video stories. I decided to just buy the Pro version because it’s $30/year and then you can utilize every single thing on the app and not have to worry if it’s included in Pro or not.
Instagram stories are an amazing way to drive traffic to your blog as well as connect with your followers! Whenever I create a new blog post, I’m always sure to share it with a Mojo video. I’ve also found that brands LOVE when you create story videos like this. It elevates your content and helps them to differentiate you from everyone else they partner with.
9. Google Analytics
Google Analytics is the HOLY GRAIL of tracking traffic and metrics for your blog. I actually had this set up incorrectly for like a year and was so mad at myself. That said, last April when I revamped my entire blog, I made SURE that Google Analytics was set up correctly. I wish I could give you tips and tricks for how I got it set up correctly, but frankly I just got lucky figuring it out! If you are worried about also doing it wrong, be sure to find a developer who can do it for you.
Google Analytics is important for a few reasons! Companies always want stats. Often a brand will ask you for your sessions or pageviews per month, but Siteground and WordPress ARE NOT ACCURATE when it comes to traffic. The easiest way to be accurate with your data is by using Google Analytics. Some things you could be asked to share with a brand (or have on a Media Kit) are pageviews, sessions, bounce rate, unique monthly visitors, and demographics (location, gender, etc.)! It’s good to know where all this info is located in your dashboard.
The last tool every blogger needs is Lightroom! I use this less now that I have a photographer who edits my images, but I still use it for some content. If you have wondered how bloggers/influencers edit their images (with or without presets), then that platform is Lightroom! I get the photography package that also gives you access to Photoshop (which I honestly rarely use).
Some things that you can use Lightroom for is changing the orientation of a photo, editing the brightness of an image, using the brush tool to lighten only certain aspects, and so much more! It’s a do-it-all editing tool and couldn’t be better. If you don’t have the money to sign up for a desktop subscription, download the app for free in the App Store! I like the control I get editing on desktop, but mobile works fine too especially if you’re just starting out.
I hope you guys enjoyed this post! I have been wanting to write a post like this for so long and finally got around to creating one. These are 10 Tools That Every Blogger Needs for Success and will help you grow your own side hustle just like I did!
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Photos by Hannah Lozano