Are you new to blogging and looking for the best tools to get your blog off the ground?
Are you on a tight budget and need to find cost-effective solutions?
Here are the tools I used and continue to use that save me serious money each month whilst still providing key features.
- Domains – Name Cheap
- Blogging Platform – WordPress
- WordPress Theme – Kadence + Kadence Blocks (free)
- Hosting – Bluehost & Site Ground to start then WPX
- Keyword Research – KeySearch
- AI Writer – Katteb
- Content Optimization – NeuronWriter
I started my blog with a limited budget and I I detail the blogging tools I’ve used. I include alternatives to those that I’ve tried and mention some I wouldn’t strongly recommend against for beginners.
Whilst many coaches / gurus / Youtubers will recommend costly tools and WordPress plugins, they don’t take into account that people are a budget.
You may, like I did, want to prove that blogging works before forking out hundreds of dollars each month on tools.
This blog post contains affiliate links. I may receive a commission if you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link on this site. This does not cost you or impact your purchase in any way.
Many hosting providers will sell you a domain that will sit with them alongside your hosting. This is ok, but when you move hosting, it starts getting messy.
I have always liked to have my domains registered in one place leaving me free to use whichever web host I want.
As their name implies NameCheap sells domain names at really good prices. They are simple to use and offer easy configuration for things like Google Search Console.
WordPress – My Chosen Platform
WordPress is an essential website platform that has become THE choice for blogging. It is a content management system (CMS) that allows you to easily create, manage, and publish content on the web.
It is easy to use and offers users the ability to create stunning websites with minimal effort. WordPress also offers built-in support for SEO optimization and social media integration, making it an ideal choice for those looking to create an effective online presence.
Top Tip: Do not sign up to WordPress.com You need to sign up to a web host (see below) and install WordPress there (usually takes just one click).
To host your WordPress site, you need a web hosting service. Here are a number to get you going.
My Starter Webhost – Bluehost
Bluehost is an excellent choice for new bloggers who are looking to get their websites up and running quickly and easily. As an added bonus, Bluehost offers a free consultation so you can discuss your website needs with a qualified expert.
Ideal for those on a really tight budget Bluehost’s pricing plans start as low as $2.95/month. So, if you’re a new blogger looking to get your website off the ground quickly and affordably, Bluehost is a perfect choice.
Top Tip: Set a reminder in your calendar for 11 months after you sign up. Bluehost renewal prices can be high so get ready to migrate after 12 months.
A Great Alternative Webhost – Site Ground
For new bloggers, Siteground is an ideal hosting provider. Arguably a step up from Bluehost, Siteground provides a range of plans to suit any budget, with prices starting at just $3.95 per month. Site Ground is recommended by Authority Hackers as THE host to build your first site on.
You’ll also get access to helpful features like automated backups, a free SSL certificate, and their own Content Delivery Network (CDN) to speed your site up. With Siteground, you can be confident that your website will be secure, reliable, and lightning-fast.
I Upgraded to – WPX
WPX Hosting is the perfect choice for bloggers who want to take their blogs to the next level. They offer reliable, secure and fast hosting for your WordPress site at a competitive price.
WPX Hosting offers plans starting from $20.83/month which covers up to 5 websites and includes a free migration. Their customer support is second to none. I use them for this site having started out on Bluehost but recently migrated once my site started to get some traction.
My Theme Of Choice – Kadence
Kadence is a fairly new theme that has already amassed over 200,000 downloads. The theme coupled with Kadence blocks makes a great lightweight & fast theme that I use for this blog. It’s free and scores 5/5 on WordPress theme library. The starter sites included enable you to install a ready-made site and just add your content. This helps you get up and running super fast.
There is a pro version and many additional add-ons so the theme can grow with you as your blog takes off.
A Great Alternative Theme – Astra
Using the Astra theme for a blog is a great choice. It is lightweight and fast-loading, making it ideal for those who want to get their blog up and running quickly. It is highly customizable, making it easy to personalize the look and feel of the blog to fit your brand.
Another Alternative Theme – GeneratePress
GeneratePress is an excellent choice for bloggers who want a fast and lightweight theme that is also highly customizable.
GeneratePress users can customize their website with an intuitive interface, while also benefitting from a range of SEO-friendly features.
The theme is completely free, although users can opt for the premium version which offers additional options. GeneratePress is also optimized for speed, with a page speed score of 100%, YSlow score of 95%, and a load time of 1.8 seconds.
Essential WordPress Plugins I Use
All bloggers should consider using Rank Math to optimize their websites for SEO best practices. Both Yoast SEO (an alternative to Rank Math) and Rank Math are suite-style plugins that are packed with features to ensure your website is set up correctly and optimized according to search engine guidelines. They have very user-friendly interfaces that make it easy to include structured data in blog posts with a single click.
I use Rank Math but both are great tools recommended by big names in blogging. You only need one so choose the one that you prefer. There is no need to upgrade to a paid version. The free version has more than enough functionality to get your blog up and running well.
Once you start adding affiliate links to your site you should consider using an affiliate link management tool. Thirsty Affiliates helps manage your affiliate links, provides a way to cloak the link so that it isn’t obviously an affiliate link, and provides click reports showing each time the link was clicked.
The plugin is free which is sufficient when getting started. Thirsty Affiliates also offers a number of paid plans from $79.50 per year to $199.50 per year for up to 10 sites.
Google Site Kit
Google Site Kit is a powerful free blogging tool from Google. Installing one free plugin connect 4 Google tools to your site
The tools are critical for the management of your blog as they give bloggers and website owners insight into their online presence.
With Site Kit, users can quickly and easily set up analytics to track their website’s performance. This comprehensive analytics tool can be used to monitor traffic, engagement, and conversions, giving bloggers and website owners the data they need to make better decisions about their online presence. Site Kit also provides actionable insights to help users optimize their website for SEO and improve their overall user experience.
Keyword Research Tools
Most people (including me) will tell you that aHrefs is the market-leading keyword research tool. It has so much data. Every 24 hours their crawler visits over 6 billion websites and updates the aHrefs databases every 15-30 minutes. Access to such data comes at a premium. aHrefs cheapest plan is $99 per month. If you’re early in your blogging journey that may feel like far too much money to spend. If it does, check out these alternative tools to help with your keyword research.
Keywords Everywhere is a freemium Chrome extension that helps with keyword research. It provides users with monthly search volume, cost per click, and competition data right in the SERPS and Search bar.
Simply install the Keywords Everywhere Chrome extension, buy some credits and start seeing the most important keyword data every time you search.
Additional information is provided on the righthand side of the page which includes
- Trend Data For keywords everywhere (Global)
- Trending Keywords
- Related Keywords
- Longtail Keywords
Under each search result in the SERPS you see additional data relating to that page and the site. The data includes:
- Domain Authority
- Referring Domains
- Referring Links
- Spam Score
- Link To See the Backlinks
- Page Traffic
- Website Traffic
- Page Organic Keywords
- Site Organic Keywords
Those items underlined in red below are clickable. Clicking through gives you the detail for that item e.g. the actual keywords that the site is ranking for.
All the data can then be exported into a CSV or Excel file for future use.
Keywords Everywhere Pricing
KeywordsEverywhere works on a Credit basis for $10 you get 100,000 credits. One keyword = 1 credit. I bought 100,000 credits many many months ago and Im still at 70,000+ left.
I have Keywords Everywhere installed and leave it turned on. This means whenever I am searching, whether blog related or not, I get to see the data.
I think this is one of the best blogging Chrome extensions and one you should install.
Keysearch.co is an easy-to-use web-based keyword research tool that helps users to gain insight into their competition, analyze keyword difficulty, and access keyword suggestions. It also includes features such as YouTube research, up to 200 daily searches, and more.
Keysearch.co provides users with the ability to research, track and analyze their keywords to get the most out of their campaigns. The Starter plan costs just $17/month or $169 for one year and offers users a range of benefits including in-depth competition analysis, keyword difficulty checker and keyword suggestions.
This cheap monthly price makes Keysearch.co an ideal choice for businesses looking for a cost-effective way to gain an edge in their digital marketing strategies.
Keysearch includes some functionality like content gap analysis that you have to pay ahrefs $179 per month for. The keyword data is more than good enough and it has helped me find keywords that I now rank on page one of google.
KeySearch Key Features
Keyword Research – Put in a search term and get the difficulty and difficulty for the word. You are also shown search trend data, the top 10 results for the term, summary data for each site in the top 10, the links required to rank, and lots and lots of related keywords.
Explorer – Explore any website and get key data. You can enter your own site in and get data such as:
- Domain Strength
- Keyword Difficulty to target ( a really useful metric)
- Organic Keywords
- Top Pages
- Backlinks and referring domains
- Traffic Overview & Backlink Overview (trend over time)
- Top Referring Domain
- Top Competitors
- Keyword Ranking Distribution
Competitor Analysis which allows you to deep dive into any site’s organic keywords, backlinks, URL metrics as well as do a detailed audit.
Read my detailed KeySearch Review to see what the tool really offers.
Rank Tracking – To track your keywords to see how they rank and the movement from day to day.
Given its low price, I feel that KeySearch is a powerful tool that every blogger on a budget should use. Its data isn’t as up to date as aHrefs as backlinks can time some time to show up. However, functionality like the Content Gap is something you would need to pay $179 per month to get with aHrefs.
SE Ranking – A Worthwhile Alternative
If KeySearch isn’t for you then SE Ranking could be. It offers a similar feature set and a 14 day free trial. Its worth checking out.
I found the interface a little less intuitive and whilst it could be argued that SE Ranking provides more data, it isn’t as well laid out or simplified as KeySearch.
SE Ranking cheapest paid plan is more double the price of KeySearch. The cheapest plan is $49 per month when paid monthly and $39 if paid annually.
For people starting out who are on a budget, I just don’t think its worth the additional expense when KeySearch can provide enough data and functionality to get you on your way.
UberSuggest – A More Well Known Alternative
Ubersuggest is a great tool for SEO and keyword research. It comes with a wealth of features at an affordable price if you a willing to pay a bit more.
It has a large keyword database, reliable backlink data, and comprehensive competitor research capabilities. All the functions you need for basic SEO research are provided.
The tool also provides accurate keyword trends, monthly search volumes, and other useful insights into how people are searching online. Ubersuggest also has a user-friendly interface which makes it easy to use.
Overall, Ubersuggest is an excellent choice for anyone looking to do SEO and keyword research at an affordable price point. With a wide range of features, reliable backlink data, and comprehensive competitor research capabilities, it is an invaluable tool for SEO professionals.
Test out the tool via the free trial and see whether its for you.
I’ve tested Ubersuggest a number of times thinking I must be missing something as I always preferred other tools. I prefer the interface of KeySearch and aHrefs and the way they display their data. You may prefer UberSuggest but it comes at a premium over Keysearch.
AI Writers are all the rage at the moment with headlines full of Open.AI and ChatGPT. AI writing tools when used correctly can boost your output and enable you to get more content on your website fast.
The market leader is Jasper.ai which has grown to be a huge $1.5bn business. However, Jasper costs $59 per month and that gets you 50,000 to use each month. If you want Jasper Art, their AI Art generator its another $20 per month. That becomes expensive fast. Below are some alternative tools that I have used and continue to use instead of the costly Jasper.
Katteb AI – My Tool Of Choice
Most AI writers offer similar functionality and use the same AI models i.e GPT3-5 . The AI models are correct up to a point in time. If you ask an IA tool to write about something that happened last week, it cant as it hasn’t got access to that data and hasn’t been trained to search the web to get it.
Katteb AI is different. Katteb includes all the usual AI writing templates and has two templates that make this tool stand out. Credible Writer and Katteb Plus.
Katteb AI’s credible writer template allows you to put in a data source for the AI writer to use to create the text you want.
Check out my full review where I put the tool to the test with surprising results.
The Katteb Plus template with create content using sources it finds itself to fact-check the text provided.
I was blown away by the results so I have signed up for a lifetime deal for the tool.
With tools like Content At Scale costing $200 per month, Kattebs LifeTime Deal of $200 for 150,000 words a month is great value.
ChatGPT – Free Alternative ($20pm for priority access)
It’s a free AI tool recently released by Open.Ai (partly owned by Microsoft). It is a free AI tool with a chatbot-type interface.
While you can get good content out of ChatGpt there isn’t the AI templates that you get with other AI writing tools. Templates make it easier to create content for specific use cases such as paragraphs, blog intros, outlines and conclusions.
Now that everyone knows about ChatGPT it can be hard to get access as its always at capacity. Its worth signing up for it and testing it out. If you like it, they have just released a $20 plan that gives you priority access. This isn’t available in all regions though.
WordHero – Alternative Tool on an LTD
WordHero is one of the better know Jasper challengers. It offers 60+ AI writing templates to choose from that can be used to create blog posts, articles, social media posts, and more.
WordHero also comes with a new keyword assistant feature that helps make the content flow better and be more relevant to the term you are trying to rank for.
At the time of writing you can get a lifetime deal for WordHero on AppSumo. Depending on how much content you expect to write the lifetime deals start at $89 for 20,000 words per month, up to $267 for an unlimited amount of words.
The great thing about AppSumo is that you can test a tool for up to 60 days and if you don’t like it, you can get a refund. This is ideal for testing out which AI Writer you prefer.
Creaitor AI – My Fav Alternative
Similar to WordHero, Creaitor.Ai offers 60+ AI writing templates that cover the same bases that WordHero does.
I personally preferred the output from Creatitor compared to many other tools I’ve tried. It felt that templates like the Outline Builder were far better than WordHero’s. So, it’s worth testing the tool to see which works best for you.
AppSumo no longer offers lifetime deals for Creaitor but the monthly prices are more than reasonable.
Bloggers have many options when it comes to finding the best blogging tools for optimizing their content. Keywords are an essential part of any blog post, as they help with search engine optimization (SEO) and therefore SERP ranking.
Content optimization tools help bloggers optimize their posts by providing keyword suggestions. They also help with creating an outline and analyzing competing articles.
Here are the content optimization tools that I recommend.
NeuronWriter – My Tool Of Choice
My tool of choice. Having started my blogging journey using SurferSEO, I got fed up with the high monthly price and limited volume of content analyses included for that high price.
I stumbled across NeuronWriter and haven’t looked back since. I have used it to create numerous blog posts that rank on the first page of Google with more on the way.
- NLP-driven Search Engine Optimization based recommendations of terms to use
- Quickly create a document outline and draft using suggestions from high-ranking competitors
- Content Planner to track completed and planned articles
- Internal Link Building suggestions
- Next Article Suggestions to give you content ideas
- Plagiarism Checker included in Gold Plan to ensure your article is unique.
- AI Writing assistant with 16+ templates
One of the best things about Neuron Writer is that, unlike many tools in this space, NeuronWriter includes an AI Writer with 16 templates as part of the monthly fee.
The owners are continuing to develop the tool adding new functionality all the time. A WordPress plugin has just been launched and an updated outline builder and a new chrome extension are imminent.
Prices start at $19 per month, 25 content analyses which is 2.5 time more than you get with SurferSEO for less than half the price. There are 5 price plans on offer so one to suit every budget.
For a limited time, only NeuronWriter is offering a lifetime deal starting at $69. I recommend getting the gold plan to ensure you get all the awesome features NeuronWriter offers.
Content Pace is another Content Optimization tool that enables blog owners to increase their chances of ranking their content.
The platform offers a variety of tools including a topic report which provides users with insights into how their competitors are performing, as well as a lifetime plan (via AppSumo) that is affordable.
Content Pace makes creating outlines and writing easier than ever before.
Key features include Content planner, Content audits, Topic reports, Content briefs, and Content projects (content analyses).
Pricing is competitive with the lowest priced plan being $27 per month and includes 20 content analyses a month.
Content Pace isn’t as simple to use as NeuronWriter as the workflow is more complicated.
There is a free trial that is worth trying out to see if it suits your way of working or whether you would be better suited to NeuronWriter.
Blog Images & Graphics
Images make your blog look professional. Featured images, graphics for your posts or social sharing images for example. Here are a few tools to consider.
Canva allows bloggers to easily create logos, WordPress-featured images, blog images and blog banners as well as social sharing images, and provides many templates to make it easy to get going. It is an online tool but also comes with a desktop client, tablet and mobile app so you can create on the go.
Canva is easy to use and has a free plan that gives access to thousands of graphics and images. Their pro plan ($10.99 a month) is a no-brainer and comes with a free trial.
Canva Pro provides more graphics, more stock images, more templates, and more functionality like background remover.
Canva has also recently added an AI Writer and AI Art Generator to the Canva suite of tools which can help in the blogging process of creating unique content.
Once your blog is starting to get traffic, building an email list is something you may want to consider. A simple popup with an enticing freebie can help capture email addresses to be used at a later date for a newsletter and marketing campaigns.
For this, you will need an email marketing tool to manage your email list. MailChimp is ideal for this as it’s free and integrates into WordPress seamlessly.
Install the plunging and start capturing emails. You can decide what to do with them at a later date.
My spelling and grammar isn’t great so I wouldn’t be without Grammarly.
Grammarly is a powerful writing tool that lets you quickly and easily check the grammar of your text. Whether you are writing a Word document, Google Docs file or a WordPress blog post, Grammarly can help.
Grammarly quickly identifies errors in your writing and suggests how to fix them. It also offers helpful tips on improving sentence structure and style.
Best of all is that the free plan provides more than enough functionality to get going.
Once your blog is bringing in money, it is worth considering upgrading to their premium plan as it adds:
- Full-sentence rewrites
- Word choice
- Tone suggestions
- Plagiarism detection
The premium plan costs $30 a month or $144 when paid annually. Its a big jump from the free plan and whilst its a tool that allows you to easily spot errors in your writing, that can be done with the free plan.
Best Blogging Tools For Beginners Conclusion
For every beginner blogger on a budget, the tools recommended in this post are the perfect combination for success. whilst limiting the impact on your wallet.
WordPress is the most popular platform for blogging and THE platform to use,
Bluehost provides reliable hosting services at a fraction of the cost of other hosts.
NeuronWriter helps optimize content for SEO and does so at a price point that is hard to match.
Canva provides powerful design options for all your blog images, most of which can be done on the free plan.
Katteb AI is a great AI writer that can help you with creating your content whilst checking the facts its giving you.
With these useful blogging tools for beginners, you’ll be on your way to becoming a successful blogger in no time!
Once you are making significant money, aHrefs, Jasper and Surfer SEO are the market-leading tools.