Running your own blog and business means it all falls on you.
Sure you may outsource some things, but it still requires you to ensure what is outsourced, gets done.
It’s a lot to keep track of and handle. But these tools can help you save time so you don’t run yourself into the ground, start working smarter, not harder.
Tools I Use Every. Single. Day.
These are the tools I use day in and day out. They will help make your life super easy and allow you to focus on work itself. Rather than chasing your tail trying to figure out what you’re supposed to be doing you can spend your time actually getting the work done.
1. ClickUp gives you a home base for all your work
ClickUp is my daily headquarters. I know if I get everything on my ClickUp list done for the day, I’m in great shape. I love that it allows for all the elements of every other tool I’ve used in the past:
- recurring tasks,
- time tracking,
You name it, chances are it does it. It also makes it easy to have a team help you out.
The templates you can create also makes it easy to ensure I don’t miss a step in publishing a blog post, or podcast episode or whatever it is you do.
2. Bookafy helps keep your calendar under control
I heard about Bookafy when it was a lifetime deal on AppSumo, which I snagged. It helps me manage my calendar. Rather than going back and forth via email to set a meeting time, I send my Bookafy link and they can choose a time that works for them.
I have set hours I’m available in Bookafy and I can build in buffers to meetings and set “vacation” time. That way appointments don’t get scheduled at times I can attend. But Bookafy is hardly the only game in town, two other popular ones are Acuity and Calendly. And AppSumo often has some similar deals, so I’d keep an eye out there.
3. Google Drive to help automate workflows
Google Drive is something I use every day to automate and keep my business organized. There is so much you can do with Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Forms. And it all gets stored in my Google Drive.
4. SmartMailBoxes in iMail keeps your inbox manageable
Smart Folders to make sure emails that need attention get attention. I have way too many email addresses (am I the only one with 10 different email addresses?!) and I put them all into iMail. I set up smart folders so newsletters go into that smart inbox for when I have time to look at them. Emails from clients are marked as VIP so I can recognize and get to them quickly.
5. CopyClip helps you save time copying and pasting
I don’t know how I lived without this tool before. It lets me copy and paste multiple things. Which speeds up content creation by a lot.Any of the last 40 things I copied is listed in a drop down from the top of my screen:
6. RescueTime helps you see how productive you’re being
RescueTime is great to help you measure how productive you’re being. It runs in the background and doesn’t require you to manually track your time. It will calculate both a daily and weekly productivity score based on how you’ve categorized various websites.
For example, Tailwind can be categorized as “very productive” and Amazon “less productive.” Knowing how much you’ve been working can make it easier to know when you should just stop working and take a break.
The Tools to Get Yourself Paid
Doing the work is only half the battle, the other half is making sure you get paid. I have, on more than one occasion been paid late and I’m sure you have too. It’s a pain to track down payment, but by staying organized, I never forget about an unpaid invoice.
Using so many tools to send out and request money means I needed a central place to keep track of everything, which is where Quickbooks comes in. I use Dubsado to send invoices to clients, but sell products through Podia and ThriveCart, but I always get paid in one of two ways, via Paypal or credit card through Stripe.
7. Paypal is great to recieve payments and for issueing affiliate payouts
I use PayPal to collect payments for services rendered and for digital products sold on Podia. It’s easy to set up a business account. Though it’s important to keep in mind that Paypal is not FDIC insured, which means it’s not a bank. You’d be wise to primarily use Paypal as a clearing account, which means you don’t keep money in it. However, most affiliate set ups require you to do affiliate payouts through Paypal, which is a reason to keep some money in there.
8. Stripe for credit card processing
I use stripe to process credit card payments, I find the more options you give people to pay you the faster you get paid. So I allow clients and customers to purchase using Paypal or a credit card.
9. Use Thrivecart for a checkout process with all the bells and whistles
Thrivecart is another payment gateway with a ton of functionality and a lifetime plan.
I just recently jumped on the Thrivecart bandwagon, it’s a lifetime access for one cost and is opening up a lot more choices for me in other ways. So while it was a bit pricey, I like that it makes it easy to manage payments, coupons, and affiliates. While I can do all those things in Podia, I didn’t like the limitations in Podia on subscription products.
Plus now I’m not tied to any one hosting program, or at least I won’t be once I get all my affiliates moved over. It’s a process.
10. QuickBooks Online to get a big picture view on your business finances
Quickbooks Online is a bookkeeping software that helps you to keep track of your payments, expenses, and overall bookkeeping. It lets you link both PayPal and your bank account, and estimate how much you’ll owe in taxes so you can set that money aside.
I had previously used Quickbooks Self-Employed but was swayed to use Quickbooks Online by my friends Katherine (The Bookkeeping Artist) and Eric (Accountlancer), and while I’ve had my fair share of challenges, I love the reports feature. Once you get your Chart of Accounts all set up, it’s easy to see how much you earn from various revenue streams like:
- affiliate marketing
- digital product sales (broken down by product)
- ads on your site
- client income
That way you can see where your time is best spent and cut your losses if something isn’t working.
11. Dubsado is amazing if you are freelancing too
Dubsado is amazing if you do any freelance work. It let’s you send a new client the proposal, contract, and invoice to get started all at once. Personally, since most of my clients are monthly management clients, I can also set up recurring monthly invoices. So I no longer spend a day each month sending out client invoices, it’s done automatically.
But Dubsado does so much more than this if you want to learn more, check out our Dubsado review.
12. A P.O. Box helps you keep your home address private
An address is required to comply with the Can-Spam act for email marketing, and a P.O. Box is a great way to comply without having to include your home address.
Having a P.O. Box can also come in handy to give clients an address to send payments, if by some chance they don’t want to do online payments. Not that there is anything wrong with giving them your home address, it just something I like to keep somewhat private.
Tools to Manage Your Business Money
It’s super important to separate your business money from your personal money. This means all income you make from your business goes into its own business checking account and then you can pay yourself (send money to your personal account) from that account. It helps to keep everything on the up and up and to figure out taxes. So here are the tools I use to ensure I keep things organized and am setting aside enough for taxes.
13. Separate Checking Account
It’s important to have a separate checking account that is a business checking account. Note that you need to have an entity registered in your state to open a business checking account. If you’re still operating as a sole proprietor, a separate “personal” checking account will work.
14. Separate Credit Card
A specific credit card to use just for business expenses is another way to help separate your business and personal finance. Personally, I have bills on autopay, and I prefer putting any auto-pay on a credit card versus a bank account.
It also gives you an opportunity to earn rewards depending on the credit card program, you might look at which would benefit your business most. Again it doesn’t necessarily have to be a “business” credit card, it could be a personal credit card that you only use for business.
15. Qapital is great for automatically setting aside money for taxes
Qapital is an app that lets you set up savings goals; you can do all sorts of things like save when you hit the step goal on your Fitbit, it’s a super fun app.
They also have a freelancer’s rule that will automatically save a set percent (I do 30%) when you get a deposit over a certain amount to your bank account, and pull that amount out of your bank account. It works for both personal and business checking accounts.
Content Creation Tools
Blogs require content, though when you started you probably just thought of the content as written posts. Then you learned about images/ blog graphics, videos, and more. These are great tools to help with your content creation.
16. Google Slides/Google Sheets to automate graphics creation
I create all my graphics in Google Slides and automate it through generators, like my Pin Generator, that I’ve created. It makes it fast and easy to create multiple graphics for a single post or multiple posts all at once.
17. Screenflow will help you record your screen and edit videos
I bought Screenflow years ago and still use it. It’s what I use to create videos that show my screen and my face at the same time.
While there are tools like Loom and Dubb that do this, ScreenFlow also lets you do a lot of editing. So you can adjust the audio, cut out parts in the video, add transitions, speed up sections, and I’m sure much more – though I’m a pretty novice video editor.
18. InVideo has fantastic video templates
InVideo is a tool to quickly create videos – but like fancier ones when you (like me) aren’t a very talented videographer. I grabbed it as a deal on AppSumo, but they have very reasonable prices starting out at $10/month. Here is an example of intro and outro videos I made with their templates:
19. HappyScribe helps to make your videos and podcasts more accessible to a wider audience
HappyScribe is AMAZING to create transcripts and subtitles. It’s an artificial intelligence software and is much less expensive than having a human generate the transcript of video or audio. One of the things I love about it is that it automatically gets rid of all my “uhh”s and “ums” in the subtitles it produces.
You can also edit the transcript within the app while listening to the audio which is nice. It’s currently on AppSumo for a lifetime deal of $69, which gets you up to 2 hours of transcripts/subtitles per month, with an option to purchase additional hours as needed.
20. Use Hemingway App if you need to simplify your writing
Hemingway app is a great tool, if you struggle with the quality of your writing. It will help you write more clearly and simply.
Because no one likes fluff, don’t use 17 words if five will do. Hemingway is basically a digital content editor, it’s different from Grammarly which is more like a digital proofreader.
Content Promotion Tools
Just because you write it doesn’t mean anyone will come. You have to actually promote your content, it’s called marketing. And these tools will help you get your stuff out there for the world to see.
21. Tailwind for scheduling Pinterest quickly
Tailwind is my go-to Pinterest scheduler. I’ve used it for years and require all my Pinterest clients to have it too. I know that Pinterest has a scheduler feature, but it doesn’t save nearly as much time as Tailwind does. And I don’t have a ton of time to spare so I need to save time every chance I get.
The Board lists, optimized schedule creation, and a newly released beta offering that lets you edit images inside Tailwind are boss. You can check out my video on how to get started with Tailwind here:
22. MissingLettr helps put out social media campaigns in minutes
MissingLettr is social sharing automation at it’s finest. You connect your blog(s) and each time you publish a post it generates a social media campaign. You just have to go an approve (or tweak) it and then hit publish. Voila! You’ve got a year’s worth of social media posts for each blog post.
Works with: Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn
23. SocialBee is great for it’s evergreen social sharing queue
SocialBee is another favorite social sharing tool of mine, it’s comparable to SmarterQueue or MeetEdgar. It differs from MissingLettr in that it’s great for automatically sharing other content (RSS feeds) and for creating an evergreen social sharing queue.
Micellaneous Blogging Tools
I mean technically everything on this list is a blogging tool. But these didn’t quite fit in the other categories I’d outlined.
24. BigScoots is affordable blog hosting
BigScoots is what I use for hosting my site. They are affordable and have great customer support. Overall, I’ve had a good experience with them but it’s hosting, nothing too exciting to write home about.
25. Convertkit is great because it’s an email marketing solution created by bloggers for bloggers
I feel like an email marketing Goldilocks. Way back in 2015 I started with Mailchimp, got booted off there with no explaination. Went to Aweber, struggled with figuring out all the features, and by the end of 2015 I was with Convertkit.
I stayed with Convertkit for over 3 years, but then had an issue with them which they eventually solved – but it took them 6 months to work it out. By then I had moved to Drip.
Drip also felt overly complicated. So back to Convertkit I went. Admittedly some of the issues I had with Convertkit previously, apart from the bug on their end, was self-inflicted because I had no idea what I was doing in 2015/2016 and so my account was just a mess.
I started fresh with a new account and have been back to enjoying Convertkit ever since. It’s not surprising really since Convertkit was made by a professional blogger, specifically for bloggers. Unlike some of the other solutions out there that are more for eCommerce platforms.
So even with my ups and downs, I can say that I absolutely recommend and am a fan of Convertkit. I think it’s also pretty sweet that they now offer a free plan. You can check it out here.
26. Deadline Funnel helps make sure no one can access a deal after time runs out
If you really want your deadlines and cutoffs to be hard outs then Deadline Funnel is a must. I don’t know how they do it, it’s like some kind of voodoo magic. But it works. Set up a timer and when it expires – ain’t nobody going to be able to get back to that deal.
It’s a solid product, and I used it for more than a year. Eventually, I decided that using the Countdown Timer in Elementor was good enough and I didn’t need to pay for two different softwares.
If you do decide to use Deadline Funnel, a pro tip I learned after the fact: there is a checkmark or something that you can select when setting up Deadline Funnel in WordPress that prevents you from getting locked out of your own pages.
27. Elementor makes building beautiful websites simple
Elementor is a great page builder, I moved to it away from Thrive Architect. While I loved Thrive Architect it was ultimately slowing down my site.
While there was a bit of a learning curve, my friend Pete from Do You Even Blog was kind enough to show me around using it as part of a Blogger Breakthrough Summit session. I’d highly recommend you watch a few tutorials on Elementor before trying to use it, otherwise, you’re likely going to end up frustrated. Though perhaps my initial frustration was from being so used to another platform.
Now that I know how to use it and have gotten used to it, I love it. Though I found out after I’d already paid for it, that I could get access to the Pro version through another subscription I already have, so before you plop down the dough, see if you can get access to it for free through something else.
28. Podia is a product hosting tool that does so much more than Teachable
Podia is my current digital product hosting of choice. I like that they make it easy to sell different kinds of digital products, you can sell digital downloads, courses, and even memberships.
Plus they don’t take out any fees, so the only fees for processing payments is from Stripe and Paypal which are pretty standard.
I like that Podia is constantly improving, they have done a lot in adding new features in the last year, including a messenger feature for potential and current customers to contact you as well as some email marketing.
It’s got a long way to go before it’s really an all in one solution, but it’s definitely awesome for hosting products.
29. Attract.io makes it easy for anyone to create an amazing lead magnet
If you struggle with lead magnet design, especially checklists (moving all those boxes around in Canva can be soooo tedious and stuff just doesn’t look as pretty in word), then you’re going to love this free tool.
Yep it’s free and super easy to create lead magnets. Though for the ease of use you sacrifice some customization options.They have 4 types of lead magnets you can create:
- Resource Guide
- Case Study
- How-To Guide
You simply choose your type of lead magnet, pick your theme, and then type in your content. Plus you can host it there to so you can get a link to share it once people opt-in to your list.
30. Remove.bg makes backgrounds transparent for free so you don’t have to pay for Canva Pro
I’m gonna be honest, one of the reasons I used Canva Pro for so long was the ability to download with a transparent background. But with Remove.bg you can get a transparent image with photos. It’s super easy just click and bam! Transparent background.
31. LunaPic helps you adjust colors of elements quickly and easily for free
LunaPic is great for creating a transparent background for images that are of object (think a product mockup) you can also use it to change colors of various elements. Plus it’s free, which is awesome.
Overall it does a lot but it’s a little clunky and takes some getting used to.
Let me show you what I mean, here is how you would make a background on a logo transparent.
32. Google Tag Manager makes managing tracking codes easier
Google Tag Manager can give you a place to manage all your various pixels (like the Facebook Pixel, Pinterest Pixel, Deadline Funnel, etc) all in one place.
Rather than having several different plugins or places on your site where you insert the various codes. It can also help in a way with the speed of your site since you can decide when the pixels/codes “fire” and in what order.
33. pdfescape to help you create and edit PDFs
I’ll be honest, I don’t know a ton about this tool it was brought to my attention by one of my readers.
But at a glance it looks awesome if you find yourself needing to edit PDFs, this sounds like a great free tool to check out. But I’ll let Danielle who recommended it explain why she loves it:
“PDF Escape is a really good free tool that helps you to create fillable pdfs. “
34. Capitalize My Title
If you hate having to edit text to be properly capitalized then Capitalize My Title can save you some time.
It was brought to my attention by a reader, Cheryl Spencer, who is a big fan.I definitely could have used this years ago, but with GeneratePress (my current theme), I can designate the titles to be any of the following:
- Uppercase (all)
- Lowercase (all)
I can do the same for my headings. So if this is something you struggle with it might be worth looking at your Theme settings to see if you can just automate it there.
35. iMarkInteractive Monthly WordPress Support (Sersiously, the best money I spend)
This is quite possibly the best money I’ve spent in terms of blogging help. I gladly pay for it every month.
They keep my site up to date, and anytime I have a tech issue, they help me get it sorted the same day, usually within an hour or two.
The subscription also comes with access to tons of great software. As I mentioned earlier – I mistakenly paid for Elementor Pro because I didn’t know I could get it for free through this subscription.
I also have WProcket, Grow by MediaVine, and some other premium plugins that are included in my monthly subscription. So I save money on tools and have amazing technical support. It really is the best.
36. Prowriting Aid
This is another submission from one of my readers. Karen had this to say:
“I’m using ProwritingAid to edit my blog posts before posting. I’m an experienced therapist but a newbie at blogging so I appreciate the work this program does for me (spelling, grammar, and styling). I do know that the fee is lifetime and is the same as what Grammarly charges per year. Hope that helps someone!”
I took a look and it looks a bit like Grammarly on steroids. If you struggle with the writing side of blogging it could be very helpful to you and they do let you try it for free.
37. Grammarly, the proofreader you never knew you needed
Grammarly was the first proofreading tool I’d ever used and man I wish it had been around when I was in school.
It does a great job of checking your grammar, way better than the typical spelling and grammar checkers that come standard. Plus it’s free, though there is a premium plan if you really need it. I used the premium plan when I was freelance writing for other sites.
38. Thirsty Affiliates help you kick your affiliate marketing up a notch
Managing my affiliate links also provide a Goldilocks experience for me. Like most bloggers, I started with PrettyLinks, which is great and very basic.
Then when Lasso came out I was one of the first to jump on board. I loved that I could see what pages people were clicking on what affiliate links plus tons of other data. Unfortunately, there was a bug (which has since been fixed) that messed up my Google Analytics data, which was frustrating.
When they changed the pricing structure and I finally figured out that it was Lasso causing my Google Analytics issue (again, they’ve fixed this and I think Lasso is an awesome tool), I decided I just wanted to simplify things a bit.
Thirsty Affiliates was one of the premium plugins included in my iMarkIntereactive subscriptions, so it didn’t cost me any more money and provided me with a lot more control and information than PrettyLinks. I’ve been with them for a few months now and have zero complaints. It works really well for what I’m wanting to do with affiliate marketing and I’d recommend it to others.
39. Yoast SEO
Most people mistake Yoast SEO for actually setting the keyword in “Google”, but in reality when you enter a keyword in SEO it’s just telling you how well you did in optimizing for that keyword.
The real power in Yoast SEO comes from customizing your post’s or page’s meta description and controlling whether you want them to be found by search engines like Google.
For example, you may not want the free PDF that you’ve uploaded to WordPress to be found by people searching on Google, you’d want them to find your opt-in page. With Yoast, you can set that page to not show up in Google.
40. Convertbox is amazing at creating targeted opt-ins for your site
Convertkit is great on the back end, but I’m not a huge fan of how thier forms look. Enter Convertbox, which not only helps me create beautiful Forms, but also makes it super easy to display them across my site.
I especially like that I can target if people have been to my site before and based on what post or page their on. For example it doesn’t make a lot of sense to have an opt-in to my Perfect Pin Checklist, on my Legal Guide Page. Covertbox makes it easy to ensure I’m showing the best opt-in all the time.
While it isn’t cheap, the nice thing about it is that it’s a one-time cost, not a subscription model, because those subscriptions can really add up.
Staying Organized As a Blogger
There are approximately a gazillion moving peices when it comes to blogging, and trying to keep it all organized can be a challenge to say the least. But these tools help make that challenge a little easier….
41. Airtable, spreadsheets you’ll actually enjoy
I am not a huge spreadsheet fan, but they can be super handy to stay organized. And even though I don’t love spreadsheets I friggin LOVE Airtable.
It’s free and it does so much, it basically makes using spreadsheets super easy for those of us who don’t totally love them. Plus you don’t have to use spreadsheets in there if you don’t want to you can layout the information in all sorts of ways.
I also love using it for Forms to collect information, and the ability to easily link records between different tables in one base.
Best of all, it’s free.
I’m pretty sure every blogger needs some sort of cloud based storage, my default is Dropbox. While I have Google Drive too, I found Dropbox just works better on my computer, Google Drive likes to disappear on me.
43. iPad/Pencil help you to keep everything in one place
Okay, so hear me out on this one. Because this has been a recent obsession of mine. I’ve taken tons of blogging courses, and of course I have ideas pop in my head all the time, which meant I had notes, EVERYWHERE. And trying to find the right notebook that that that one note in it was annoying and lead to a very cluttered desk.
So I invested in getting an iPad, and I swear it’s been a game-changer. I use the GoodNotes app (more on that next), and with a Pencil – not a stylus, but a Pencil and an off-brand one, because I’m frugal. I can write everything down, which helps me remember better than typing. And then, and here is the kicker….. I can actually find it again when I need it.
44. Good Notes for keeping tack of all my notes
This is the app I use to keep track of all my notes on my iPad, it is a paid app but it’s a one time cost of $7.99 (at least at the time I’m writing this).
It’s amazing because you can have different notebooks and you can import PDFs and scan documents so that you can even continue on notes you made before going digital.
Using the app, also makes planning much easier, paper planners almost always result in a mess for me, but with this, it’s easy to erase or just move the text around, based on how my plans change.
You Don’t Have to Work Harder, You Need to Work Smarter – These Tools Will Help
Even if your blogging income is a side hustle, you still need to be taking care of business. If anything, being a side hustle means you don’t have a ton of time to work on your blog so it’s more important you work as efficiently as possible.
These tools have helps me considerably when it comes to saving time and getting more done. Hopefully, these tools will not only help you save time and stay on top of everything but help you get further faster too.
Do you use a tool you love for your blog that I didn’t include? Let me know in the comments!