Every successful blog owes its success, in part, to the blogging tools, platforms, and software it uses to publish content and connect with its audience.
And that’s why having the right tools is one of the keys to online success.
Here are the tools I use at Rob Powell Biz Blog, divided into eight main categories:
[Note: some of the links in this article are affiliate links. If you purchase from these links, I will receive a small commission]
- WordPress (Content Management System, blogging platform)
WordPress is far and away the best blogging platform on the Internet. Thousands of plugins (most of them free) allow you to extend the functionality of your site in any direction you want.
It's SEO-friendly and offers you everything you could possibly need to operate a successful online business.
There's a bit of learning curve (compared to some other blogging platforms) but it's time and effort well spent.
- GeneratePress (WordPress theme)
GeneratePress is a smart and fast-loading WordPress theme (it's the theme this website uses).
It’s widely considered one of the most SEO-friendly WordPress themes available. GeneratePress has everything you need to design a smart, responsive website while avoiding the ‘feature bloat’ that makes some WP themes slow to load.
When customizing WP themes, you're inevitably going to need help - you're in safe hands here, as the support from GeneratePress is outstanding.
- WPX Hosting
WPX Hosting is the web host I use.
Having a web host with a fast server response time is the single biggest factor affecting the load time of your web pages. That’s why investing in a fast web host is money well-spent.
Fast load times mean higher rankings in the search engines. And that in turn means more subscribers and more conversions.
WPX Hosting is one of the few web hosts that combines speed with affordability. It also has great 24/7 support through online chat.
Here's just some of what WPX Hosting offers:
Don't believe me? Here's Shane Melaugh of Thrive Themes:
- StackPath CDN
A content delivery network (CDN) is one of the blogging tools you simply must have if you want to get your website loading un under 2 seconds. StackPath CDN is one of the best content delivery networks out there, with dozens of Points of Presence (POPs) around the globe. This is an affordable way to get lightning fast load time for your website (without changing web hosts).
- WP Rocket (speed optimization)
WP Rocket is possibly the best WordPress speed optimization plugin on the market. It minimizes and optimizes everything you need for a fast website with good Core Web Vitals. If you’re serious about getting ready for Google Page Experience (rolls out in May 2021), you need this plugin.
- Imagify (image optimization)
Imagify is WP Rocket’s image optimization service. It speeds up your website by reducing the size of your images without losing quality:
KWFinder is my go-to tool for quick keyword research.
What I like about KWFinder is that I can see everything I need to see on one screen. In the left panel I can see the keyword with its monthly search volume and its keyword difficulty score. And in the right panel I can see an analysis of the SERP results, including the domain authority (DA) and link profile of the pages that rank for that keyword.I’ve found that the DA of web pages that rank for a given keyword is the single most important factor that determines whether I can rank for a given keyword. So it's really important (for me) to be able to see the SERP results on the same screen as the keyword metrics. And that’s one of the features I like about KWFinder.
SEMrush is the tool I use when doing SEO work for clients. It’s great for competitor analysis and also good for scoping out the keywords for an entire niche. The Keyword Magic Tool (in SEMrush) is arguably the best keyword research tool on the Internet - it finds long tail keywords that simply don’t surface on other keyword research tools.
MonitorBacklinks is the tool I use to eliminate toxic backlinks from my website. Every website accumulates toxic backlinks (don’t ask me why) and you need to periodically tell Google that these are links you ‘disavow’. If you ignore them, and let them accumulate, these ‘poison links’ will eventually harm your SEO.
- Link Whisper
Link Whisper is one of the few blogging tools that I absolutely couldn't do without. It's the plugin I use to add internal links to every new blog post I publish.
Internal linking is a vital part of SEO but one that most bloggers and content marketers ignore, because it’s time consuming and hard work. That’s why Link Whisper is a tool that should be in every blogger’s arsenal. If you’re not adding incoming and outgoing internal links to every new blog post, you write, you’re operating with a handicap.
With Link Whisper, it's just 3 to 5 minutes of work every time you publish a new article. Easy!
I use SchemaPro to add Structured Data Markup to my blog posts and pages. Structured Data Markup tells search engines what your content is about. It’s essential if you want your content to appear as rich snippets in the search results. If you’re not using schema on your website, you’re going to be left behind.
- Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO is still the best On-Page SEO tool for WordPress. Turn all the indicators green every time you publish a new blog post and you can relax, knowing that you’ve got most of your SEO covered. The free version of Yoast is all you need.
Lead Generation and Email Marketing
- Thrive Leads
Thrive Leads is easily the best lead generation tool you’ll ever find.
Thrive Leads allows you to create popups, exit intent popups, slide-ins, inline (or embedded) opt-in forms and other kinds of opt-in forms. One feature I really like (and use a lot) is the A/B testing.
Create two variations of your opt-in form, split test them for a couple of weeks, and then choose the winner. Then, simply rinse and repeat. This is the formula for coming up with opt-in forms with high conversion rates.
Thrive Leads interacts seamlessly with other Thrive tools, such as Thrive Architect (WP editor) Thrive Ultimatum (WP countdown timer), and Thrive Quiz Builder (Lead Generation). Another nice thing about Thrive Leads is the price - a one-time fee of $69 (similar online tools will charge you more than that every year).
TryInteract’s Quiz Builder is an easy-to-use platform for designing personality quizzes (and other types of quizzes) that you can use to get morte sign-ups to your newsletter. I use TryInteract to create personality quizzes about blogging. Quizzes have much higher conversion rates than other kinds of lead magnet, so this is a great way to build your list fast.
MailerLite is an easy-to-use email marketing service, at an affordable price.
Use it to add opt-in forms to your site (popups or embedded forms) and to create automations (called ‘workflows’) that send emails to your subscribers when they join different groups within your list.
Don’t let the price of MailerLite deceive you: it has everything you need to start doing some fairly advanced email marketing based on segmentation and automated sequences.
Social Media Tools
- Social Warfare
Social Warfare is easily the best social media sharing button. It’s clean and smart-looking and highly customizable. Social Warfare generates more social shares than other sharing buttons.
- Sketch App
Sketch App is the design tool I use for creating logos and lead magnet ‘covers’.
Sketch App is a vector graphics editor for macOS. It’s primarily used for user interface and user experience design of websites but it’s also very handy for quickly creating featured images for your blog posts.
I also use it to design the logos for this website:
Canva is a graphic design platform, for creating blog graphics, freebies and lead magnets, social media graphics, presentations, posters, documents and other visual content. The app comes packed with templates that you can adapt to your own needs.
This is an amazing tool for quickly creating professional looking art work for your website. What’s great about Canva is that the templates and the font combinations have been designed by graphic design experts - all you need to do is change the content and colors and you have some impressive looking artwork.
Here are some examples of lead magnet covers that I designed very quickly using Canva:
Content Creation Tools
- Co-Schedule Headline Analyzer
Co-Schedule’s Headline Analyzer will help you create eye-catching titles for your blog posts. I use this tool religiously every time I publish a new article. Keep experimenting with variations on your title until the score turns green (i.e. > 80).
Of course, you need to use your own judgement as well, (after all, it’s just an algorithm). But the value of this free tool is that it makes you think about your title and try out different versions. The worst thing you can do, when it comes to titles, is simply go with the first thing that comes to mind. There’s huge value in spending 15 or 20 minutes trying out 5 to 10 different titles and that’s what this tool makes you do.
- Thrive Architect
Thrive Architect is the WP drag-and-drop editor I use to create my blog posts.
I’ve used a lot of different WordPress editors over the last 3 and 1/2 years and this is the best of the lot, by far.
There are two WP drag-and-drop editors that are contenders for the title ‘best WP editor’: Thrive Architect and Elementor. I’ve tried them both, and Thrive Architect is the winner.
What I like about Thrive Architect is that it focuses on conversion. It also offers an amazing number of widgets (such as Table of Contents, pricing tables, quotes, product comparisons, etc.) that really make your blog posts pop and shine.
And of course, if you’re using Thrive Leads, Thrive Architect interacts seamlessly with your lead generation tool.
ScreenFlow is screencasting and video editing software for macOS.
It can capture audio and video from your computer, edit the captured video, add highlights or annotation, as well as transitions to create really smart instructional videos. This is the software I used to create my video SEO course, SEO Traffic Surge.Screenflow is most often compared with Camtasia (for the Windows platform but also available for Mac). I haven't used Camtasia but out of the two, the general opinion seems to be that ScreenFlow is more reliable. Some users have reported various glitches that make Camtasia a frustrating experience.
- Thrive Ultimatum
Thrive Ultimatum is a WordPress countdown plugin for creating scarcity campaigns.
Scarcity marketing gets a bad rap in some quarters, but the fact is without a reason to act now, most people will put off a decision for another day.
And that’s why deadlines can dramatically increase your sales. Thrive Ultimatum is the best WordPress countdown plugin on the market.
You can use Thrive Ultimatum to create countdown campaigns that are triggered when a person visits a web page or when a person clicks on a link in an email. You can create inline countdown timers or ribbon-style timers.
Thrive Ultimatum offers quite advanced features: for example you can choose which pages of your website the countdown timer will appear on and you can set the target pages by WP category, by page lookup, etc. And you can exclude specific pages etc. The only other countdown timer it compares with is Deadline Funnel (and with a one time fee of $99 it’s a lot more affordable than DF).
- Thrive Ovation
Thrive Ovation is a testimonial management plugin for WordPress.
It’s a really useful tool for collecting and displaying testimonials from your customers.
Once you create a testimonial in Thrive Ovation, you can display it anywhere on your website at the click of a mouse. Instead of designing your testimonials from scratch, there are about a dozen smart-looking templates to choose from. Testimonials can dramatically improve your sales, so this is a tool that pays for itself quite quickly.
Teachable is the online course platform I use to create and sell my online courses.
I’ve tried various course marketing platforms (including Thinkific and Thrive Apprentice) and this is the one that works best for me. The Course Curriculum tool makes it very easy to create and manage your course. Teachable also allows you to use coupons for promotions and create different pricing for the same course, pay by instalments, etc.
All in all, it’s a hassle-free platform for turning your expertise into an income stream.
[One caveat: the page builder that Teachable provides for creating your sales page is clunky and pretty outdated: it won’t give you a state-of-the-art sales page. The solution is to create the sales page on your own website and then use ‘order’ buttons that link to your Teachable checkout page].
Ezoic is the ad platform I use.
It uses AI to test and optimize the placement of ads on your website. It's Ad Tester is probably the most advanced of its kind. This means that with Ezoic you’re able to get more ad revenue from your website traffic than you would from othef ad platforms.
Ezoic is much more than an ad network: it’s a technology platform for websites that improves website ad earnings, site speed, & UX using artificial intelligence.
- Thirsty Affiliates
Thirsty Affiliates is a WordPress plugin that turns ugly-looking affiliate links into a short and tidy link that look like this:
Thirsty Affiliates provides a screen in your dashboard where you can see and manage all your affiliate links in one place. There’s a free version and a paid version. The paid version does various extra things, such as suggesting keywords in your content that you can link using an affiliate link.
These are the blogging tools I use to create content, reach my audience, and monetize my website. They are the end result of years of trying different online tools.
I hope this list will help you become more productive snd leverage your website so as to get more done wit less time and effort.