When all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. This proverb accurately describes how writers try to make money online – through writing alone.
Neil Patel recently demonstrated that a blog can generate $100,000 a month, when it forms part of a full spectrum approach.
I’ve covered that in the part one of this series and then discussed the skills to master to achieve that kind of success in part 2.
Now, besides your trusty hammer, I’ll give you some other tools to play with.
A full-stack marketer might know every trick in the book, but he can’t do it all at the same time. Not without the right tools.
I’ve talked about being a full stack marketer – the one-man army that knows every trick in the book. If you managed to make it past Part Deux and into this blog, then you likely have the resolve it takes to make a success of your attempt to become one.
Now you might be thinking. Even if you’ve mastered all the skills needed to run a money making blog on your own, there’s too much workload to handle for a single person. It’s just impossible to manage!
Well, you might be right.
If you do everything manually the old-school way that is.
What if I told you that every facet of running a blog can either be simplified, automated, or even outsourced.
Every facet of running a blog can be simplified, automated, or outsourced.
I mean it!
Every. Single. Process.
You just need to be industry savvy and knowing how to find just the right tool for the right job.
The internet is a big place, and exploring this vast wilderness in search of useful tools can be intimidating. That’s what I’m here for – to guide you to the best and battle-proven tools that make even the hardiest task effortless.
Even better: a lot of these tools are free of charge, some require only a nominal charge, while a precious few can offer game changing results, but at a premium.
From Part 2, you know what you need to learn and execute. In this post, is where you find the list of tools to arm yourself.
Let’s break this down one-by-one:
1. Social Media Tools
There are three main aspects to effective social media management. These tools can help do 75% of that work for you.
Manually managing social media is a full time job. Full stack marketers don’t have time for that. Management software will help you cover multiple social media accounts effectively, schedule updates, synchronize posting across multiple accounts and platforms, and more.
- HootSuite – the most popular brand out there. They offer a thirty-day free trial, which you can take advantage of to quickly establish your presence and do most of the work up front.
- SproutSocial – Less well known but more aimed at the business than prosumer market, Sprout specializes in nailing cross-platform coverage. It also comes with a free trial.
- SocialOopmh – A 7-day free trial, and has a lot less bells and whistles when it comes to UX and front-end design. That said, it’s the most competitively priced and can still do everything you need.
A fancy word for finding nice stuff and sharing it. But being consistently good at content curation is not as easy as it sounds.
You need content to make your page popular, but you can’t create every single piece of content you’ll need. You need to update regularly, and that means you have to curate content.
Curation can take hours of Googling, identifying reliable sources, and syndicated selected pieces.
Or you can automate it.
Content curation platform like Scoop It lets you find relevant and reliable contents easier. Sharing can also be done effortlessly across different social media platforms.
Scoop.It – This works in a way that will be more familiar to those already working on SEO. It identifies high performing content based on keywords, and brings it all together for you to choose from, add your own commentary, they automatically share on your social media profiles. Personally my favorite as the free version is not time limited.
Buzz Sumo – This offers curation, but it also massively expands the implications by running constant data on content performance, and trend analysis to help you make sure you push the right stuff at the right time. BuzzSumo is super popular for being so great at identifying viral contents with most shares.
Curation Suite – Curation Suite is another great tool you can use to specifically focus on content curation. They just added a new feature called the Listening Engine, which “listens in” to your social media followers and provides content suggestions based on what they’re talking about.
Analytics are essential to making sure your social media profiles are performing as well as they can. You need to observe and respond to the reality of your audience engagement in order to improve it.
While most social media often provide built-in analytics, there’s far more data to be gathered than they give you for free. Equally, picking up a third party software will enable you to analyse data across multiple platforms.
- Social Metrics Pro – is our top pick for this. It offers color-coded popularity indicators, cross platform signal tracking, and full excel compatibility for custom analytics.
Caution on Automation:
Automating too much means you won’t be using each medium to its fullest potential. You need to. By having partial automation, you can pick and choose which formats to best syndicate each piece of content to and time the release, while still saving most of the time sharing to each one manually.
While convenient, putting your content sharing on a full-blown autopilot might lead to less engaging and wrongly-timed contents.
2. Web Development Tools
You don’t even have to know HTML to build websites these days.
Web development is essential to create the platform your content is displayed on. This is an industry where the competition has been based around making it as easy for users as humanly possible. That means big savings in time and effort for you.
Content Management Systems
Content Management Systems allow you to create your website out of existing templates without the need to code it from scratch.
Content Management Systems are pieces of software that are installed on your web hosting, creating a more user friendly interface for quickly posting polished content to your site, without having to custom code every page and piece of infrastructure.
- WordPress – WordPress is the gold-standard when it comes to CMS’. WordPress has a massive 24% of the market share, and by and large some of the most successful websites in the market overall. It’s fully scalable, comes with outstanding support, and its intuitive standardized user interface means you can run ten websites once you’ve learned how to run one.
- Alternatives – There are also other CMS platforms such as Joomla and Drupal as well as easy website builder like Wix and The Grid. But for this particular article I’m highly leaning on WordPress as there are other factors like plugins and features I will be mentioning later are exclusive to WordPress.
You’ll need to know a web hosting provider that offers the best package for your needs.
Your website won’t exist online without hosting. Hosting is also one of the most competitive fields out there, with a lot of different hosting companies competing to offer the best possible packages. You can register a domain with practically any web host these days, so you can fold that into this.
- GoDaddy – GoDaddy is the biggest hosting provider online with 59 million domains. They offer great prices and impressive starter package speeds and uptime. They also make it easy to upgrade a package if your traffic takes off.
- HostGator – HostGator has a 99.9 percent uptime guarantee and will allow you to renege on your package at any time in the first 45 days if you are unsatisfied with any aspect of their service. That’s confidence.
You don’t actually need a degree for this. Just the art of choosing pretty templates that suits your image.
Once you have the fundamentals, it’s time to express your brand on the front end, and that means a premium website that looks great, is easy to use, and more.
- Premium WordPress Themes – You can get some of the best WordPress themes, together with HTML themes if you’re so inclined, at the Envato Market. This also includes millions of plugins and tools, graphic interfaces and other WordPress additions that can create a robust website. They also have a loyalty reward scheme and some of the best developers on the web. SomoThemes is also a good place to get great-looking and SEO-friendly themes.
- Stock Photos – Unsplash and Death To The Stock Photo are free and cheap respectively, and offer high resolution images that will help you characterize your page. VectorPortal is my favorite when it comes to finding modern, flat design vector images.
- Typography, Icons and Patterns – creating a site that feels professional requires a robust approach. You can get free fonts from FontAwesome, Icons are often packaged with premium themes on ThemeForest but can be sourced for free from FontAwesome too, and clean, modern design elements from SubtlePatterns.
3. Email Marketing Tools
Email marketing is the only way you can personally reach your audience.
Email marketing is likely to generate most of your sales, so you need the tools to do this well, and do it easily. Analytics are included in almost all email marketing tools, and you need to make the most of them.
- MailChimp – MailChimp is the most comprehensive and accessible toolkit available right now. It allows you to split out your subscribers into targeted lists, creates subscriber profiles and analytics on open rates, click-throughs and more. They even let you contact your first thousand subscribers free of charge. It has all the answers you need.
- Aweber – Aweber offers a good alternative, with autoresponders to keep the energy and commitment down on making customers feel engaged with, email templates that can cut down composition time, and even a mobile app to track the data.
4. Copywriting Tools
No matter how pro you are at writing, there are always tools to help you write faster with less mistakes.
There are two really important aspects to your content – the content itself, and the title. The title is what determines whether people will read your content, which makes it the most important part. The content is what will help you sell your products and services once people have decided to engage.
- Blog Title Generator – The Headline Generator helps you develop snappy titles for your work, and can even create avante-garde titles that can provoke you into generating new content that will sell well according to the latest trends in your niche. Trust us, it’s awesome. We made it.
- CoSchedule Headline Analyzer – If you think you’re better at writing headlines than a generator, this Analyzer will tell you whether or not you’re right. It’ll look at your headlines and tell you what you can do better.
- Hemingway – This tool is genius. Write your draft, put it on WordPress. Hemingway will take apart for you in color-coded prompts. Too complicated? It’ll turn red. Pretty complicated? Yellow. Adverbs? Blue. It’s a wonderful tool to give yourself a professional editing.
- Grammarly – Grammarly is a WordPress plugin that will give you advice on any grammatical errors you’ve made, and help you clean up your writing so even the fussiest reader won’t object.
- Evernote – Evernote is more for keeping track of your inspirations. You can have Evernote on your mobile, laptop, and even as a WordPress plugin, so you can access it, add and edit anywhere, any time, on any device (so long as it’s connected to the internet). It also helps you build and tick off to do lists. This app has got your back when it comes to productivity.
5. Graphic Design Tools
Don’t know Photoshop? No worries. Modern graphic design tools allows you to drag-and-drop your way to great looking banners and infographics.
To say most of the content right now is text, the web is nevertheless a visual medium. Currently estimates see video content being 80% of all content by 2019. That means you at least need to have cool imagery to stand a chance.
Canva – Canva is an essential tool. It allows you design social media graphics, presentations, even your blog layout using simple tools and preset templates that can be customized to your brand colors, fonts and so on. All the templates are high end, minimalist, modern designs, so it takes seconds to make your content look swanky.
Piktochart – Piktochart helps you create infographics in the shortest possible amount of time, creating crisp, high definition images with low, fast-loading file sizes. The emphasis is on share-ability, and the tools help you create short and succinct, colorful explainers using text, iconography and more.
Infogram– Infogram helps you create dynamic and beautiful data visualization without having to be a mathematical genius.
6. E-Commerce Tools
If you’re selling online, you need an online store to sell through. Here are three of the most popular options.
WooCommerce – WooCommerce is the world’s most popular eCommerce plugin for WordPress. It’s simple to set up and easy to maintain and update.
Shopify – Shopify is ideal for startups looking to get product online as quickly as possible. It doesn’t have the scalability that other options have, but it’s a great first stepping stone.
Magento – The most powerful and feature rich option available, it creates an amazing experience for both users and you, but it needs a serious set up to support it, with fast servers and considerable bandwidth.
If you’re selling online, you have to take payments. Having a great payment system that’s easy to use and highly secure will increase customer confidence, which increases sales.
Authorize.net – This is a reliable credit card authorization program compatible with every major e-commerce platform.
Gravity Payment – This is a processing merchant, which you’ll need to combine with your authorization program in order to take card payments.
If you want people to buy more than once, and if you don’t want disgruntled customers throwing shade at you online, then you’re going to need to nail down customer service efficiently.
- ZenDesk – ZenDesk creates a one-stop solution for all customer query management needs. The software creates automated replies, as well as enabling you to assign issues to individuals or update the progress of the query, allowing you to keep track of customer service from first enquiry to resolution.
- Help Scout – A more affordable alternative to Zendesk, Help Scout delivers all the features including premium support. No contracts, no upsells, no surprises.
- Get Satisfaction – Offers a robust community based solution, with forums and incentivised memberships that help people get rewards for helping other customers, effectively taking you out of the equation.
- ClickDesk – Offers a live on-site chat app, which offers help to all visitors, automatically gets the important details, and refers them to a representative (at this point, you), with all the information needed to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.
7. Marketing Tools
There are more online marketing tools than you can shake a stick at, and most of the tools on this list fit that bill. Marketing is about hitting every touch point with a coordinated approach. That coordination will require some help.
- CoSchedule – CoSchedule is the most powerful tool for planning, timing and implementing a robust marketing strategy. It offers a marketing calendar, workflow management and many other great features to add value and cut down your organisation time, as well as the mental investment required to keep all your plates spinning at once.
8. SEO Tools
You can spend months to learn about SEO, or you can let a plugin handle everything for you.
Search Engine Optimization is the most important automation you can achieve, because it’s what will get you traffic passively, and start saving you having to spend so much of your time hustling.
Unfortunately, it does take some time to get your SEO up and running. But not as much as you might think, using these tools.
Keywords and Backlinks
These are the two biggest influencers on how much online traffic searching for the topics you cover will be able to discover your site and posts. Getting these in order and working them as hard as you can will be what makes your income more passive over the long term.
- SEOPressor Connect – A WordPress Plugin we have developed to offer a complete solution for content marketers, from just $9 a month. You won’t find better ROI for a plugin anywhere online, and we stand by that.
- LSIGraph – LSIGraph helps you generate LSI keywords around your existing content to strengthen its contextual theme.
- Ahrefs Backlink Checker – This will help you keep track of who is linking to your site and how often, how influential they are, and even help you find key websites to try and attract for backlinks, as well as comparing your backlinks to those of your competition.
Using analytic tools is important in order to know if your blog is performing well.
As with every one of the strategies and tools we’ve suggested over this series, nothing works as well as it can without analytics. People sometimes lose track of what optimizing means. It means getting the maximum impact from the minimum effort. These tools will help you do just that.
- Google Analytics – Google wants you to be great at search engine optimization, because they want to be able to provide searchers with the best and most accurate results. For this, they created Google Analytics, for you to track all kinds of metrics to gauge the performance of your website. From traffic amount, traffic source, time-on-page, bounce rates etc, everything can be found through Google Analytics.
- Moz Rank Tracker – The tracking tool that will help you improve SERP rankings by tracking keywords, pages and websites on Google, Yahoo! and Bing. These rankings are essential to your success.
9. Online Advertising Tools
Knowing where and how much to spend on advertising is crucial for your site’s growth.
Paid advertising is a necessary evil, to be used sparingly. However, it can create real results as long as you’re smart about where to go. These are three of the best methods.
- Google AdWords – AdWords helps you build, test, optimize and implement advertising campaigns on Google, creating advertisements that automatically see you put at the top of search results for key terms around your industry.
- Social Media Advertisement – Each of the major social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus have their own advertisement program. Ads on social media can be used to target very specific group of audiences, ensuring that you don’t waste money on the wrong crowd.
- Paid Press Releases – Services like MarketersMEDIA or PRWhirlwind can get your brand syndicated to hundreds of news outlets by submitted a press release, or even writing one for you. This is one of the best ways to generate backlinks while getting coverage on real news websites, legitimizing your brand for the future.
So, you’ve just managed to get through a list of over forty tools that will help you make a success of your quest for $100,000 a month.
You can hone these down to maybe 20 over the course of your journey, but you should start with the ten you’ll find most valuable, invest in those and spend the time it takes to become an expert at using them. Once you’ve done that, you’ll have a basis to hit the ground running and upskill yourself as you go.
By this point, you should understand that most all of your processes can be at least partially automated, and this can open up your time and energy, making full stack marketing a real possibility. Without these tools, the pursuit of $100,000 might kill you. With them, it’ll just be exhausting. But hopefully, totally worth it.
Have I missed any tools you use every day? Or better yet, any tools you don’t have to use every day, because they take care of themselves? If so, leave them in the comments below.
Read the complete series:
Part I – How To Make Money From Blogging
Part II – Skills You Need To Master To Make Money From Blogging
Part III – Tools To Help You Create And Manage A Money Making Blog
Updated: 23 August 2017