15 Resources for Pro Bloggers (or Those Who Want to Be)

I get asked every week about the various resources I am using. Last week, a blogger asked about my podcast equipment. Another asked about the productivity apps I am using on my Mac. Still another, asked if I could recommend some leadership resources.

Some Well-Used Tools - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/jfmdesign, Image #10304861

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/jfmdesign

So, I thought I’d write a series of posts on these resources, devoting one post to each category. When I get done, I plan to collect these into a permanent page on my blog. In this post, I want to share my blogging tools.

Here are my fifteen go-to resources:

  1. WordPress. I use self-hosted WordPress. This is the big daddy version of WordPress.com. It provides virtually unlimited control and allows you to monetize your site. It is free to download and install. However, you will likely spend money for web hosting. (More about that below.)
  2. BlogWorld. This is the preeminent conference for bloggers and podcasters. I did a workshop at the last conference in New York City. I also hope to be speaking at the upcoming conference in Las Vegas. Between the exhibition hall, the seminars, and the general sessions, this is a must-attend event.
  3. BlueHost. There are dozens of web hosting services available. This is the only one I recommend. (Note: I don’t use it for MichaelHyatt.com. My site is so large, I require a dedicated server.) It is easy-to-use, reliable, and inexpensive. It also has superb, 24–7 support.
  4. BuySellAds. This is the ad network I currently use. It manages all my ad inventory and the payment processing. It requires you to insert some code into your site, but automates everything from there. Advertisers can check your rates, browse your inventory, and make their purchases without your involvement.

    Screenshot of BuySellAds

  5. Byword. This is the minimalist word processor I use to write everything. For the record, I am not a fan of Microsoft Word. It is just too bloated and slow for me. It also doesn’t translate well to WordPress. ByWord is simple and fast. It gets out of my way and lets me write. It also uses Markdown language (actually MultiMarkdown), which I use extensively.

    Screenshot of Byword

  6. Church Analytics. Some analytics packages provide more information than you can possibly use. Some provide less than you really need. Church Analytics strikes the perfect balance and does this within the context of an interface that is simple, elegant, and powerful. Though I use Google Analytics for advertisers, I use Church Analytics for my daily tracking.
  7. Evernote. I use this to store my blog post ideas, outlines, and other resources. I have a notebook called “Blog.” In conjunction with this, I use tags for affiliate programs, code snippets, design ideas, guest posts, post ideas, and web development. I give individual posts their own note and begin with a template. I have written about it here.

    Screenshot of Evernote

  8. EZ WordPress Setup. This is a screencast I recorded to answer the number one question I get from people who want to start blogging. “How do I setup a WordPress blog if I am not technical?” This walks you step-by-step through the process. It will take you 20 minutes or less. It requires absolutely no technical background.
  9. FeedBurner. This is a free service provided by Google. I use it to manage and promote the RSS feeds on my blog. It also makes it easier for your readers to subscribe to your blog via RSS. If you don’t know what this means, read Feed 101. It will get you started.
  10. iStockPhoto. Just like newspapers and magazines, I use photos in my posts to capture people’s attention and pull them into my posts. Ninety-nine percent of the images I use come from iStockPhoto. It is the largest source of commercial photos on the web. They are not free, but you can use my affiliate link to get a 20 percent discount.
  11. MailChimp. This is the service I use to e-mail my blog to my subscribers. It’s free to start and is the most robust service I have found. It gives me near-total control over the output and also provides a very helpful statistics module, enabling me to monitor every aspect of my e-mail campaigns.
  12. MarsEdit. Once I have my post written in ByWord, I copy and paste the HTML into MarsEdit. I could do this directly into WordPress on the Web, but MarsEdit enables me to do it offline. It also provides a ton of formatting shortcuts, insert images, and schedule posts. Best of all, it connects with ByWord, so I can use them together.

    Screenshot of MarsEdit

  13. SnagIt. I use this program for all my screen captures. There are lots of programs that will do this for free. However, this one has some great annotation features and other tools. You can also quickly upload screen captures to the screencast.com website. This is handy for sharing screenshots.
  14. StandardTheme. Currently, I use a customized version of this premium WordPress theme. It is excellent for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is it’s built-in SEO optimization. Prior to this I used a theme from WooThemes. I also really like the Genesis Framework from StudioPress. (Chris Brogan uses this.) ElegantThemes is also worth checking out.
  15. W3Schools. This is a reference site where you can find the answer to just about any HTML or CSS question. It provides the syntax and real-world examples. I refer to it almost daily.

I am constantly trying out new tools. This is my list as it stands today.

Questions: What resources have I missed? What other blogging resources do you use? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
Want to launch your own blog or upgrade to self-hosted WordPress? Watch my free, twenty-minute screencast. I show you exactly how to do it. You don’t need any technical knowledge. Click here to get started.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read My Comments Policy.

  • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

    Awesome, David. I’m glad it worked.

  • Dave Hanna

    Re-reading this and trying to apply it.  Is it possible to copy a template to another folder in Evernote on the iPhone?  I couldn’t figure out a way to do it.
    Also, it looks like you’re a Mac man. In future revisions, you might recommend alternatives for the Mac-only programs for those of us who use Windows.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I am not sure how to do that in Evernote, Dave.

      Yes, indeed, I am a Mac man. Since I don’t have a Windows machine (and that’s really not my world), I really can’t recommend any resources. Sorry.

  • http://twitter.com/avoidthedrift Stephen Boals

    Great post Michael.  Thanks for the insight.

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  • http://twitter.com/ThomasMcEvoy Thomas McEvoy

    Really loved your generosity in posting this list. However, is there any hope of suggested useful items like this for us poor Windows 7 users?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Unfortunately, not from me. I’m just not a Windows user. Thanks.

  • http://www.campaignforconscience.org/ Enoch Burke

    Great list. Part way there. Part way to go. Have switched to Blue Host on your ethics-grounded recommendation. Thanks!

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  • Jeff A.

    Hi Michael, The Blogworld link still redirects to “Blue Host”. But thanks, this is a career direction I am seriously considering.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Jeff. I just fixed it.

  • Hugh Ballou

    Michael,

    Your helpful sharing of tools and strategies is very helpful saving the rest of us time and energy.

    Blessings,

    Hugh Ballou
    http://transformationalstrategist.com

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  • http://twitter.com/thompson_nat Nat Thompson

    In checking out BuySellAds it looks like their minimum threshold is 50K impressions per month.  What would your recommendation be for a site earlier on that isn’t quite reaching that mark?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Before I started using BuySellAds, I used a WordPress plugin called OIO Publisher. It allows you to manage ads yourself. It takes a little work to setup, but works well. By now there might be others. Thanks.

      • Jason

         Why do you recommend blue Host? I have my domain names registered at GoDaddy, but I have not purchased a hosting plan yet. I would appreciate and direction. Thanks..

        • Jason

          Sorry,  I was meaning to say any direction.

        • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

          I explain my reasons for recommending BlueHost in this post. Thanks.

  • Todd

    Is there an equivalent to Mars Edit for PC users? Thanks, Todd

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Some have suggested Microsoft Live Writer. I have not personally used it.

  • http://twitter.com/StyleMeKelly StyleMeKelly

    Michael,

    Thank you for sharing these tools! I’ve been working on building a website for my new business and decided to build it on StandardTheme because I’ve seen how you and others use it.  All these resources you listed are worth checking out.

    Thanks!

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  • http://www.MariaKeckler.com/ Maria Keckler

    Great list, Michael!  I was most surprised by your use of MailChimp as opposed to a more robust service like aWebber.  I’m curious about what drove your final choice.

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  • http://CraigDesmarais.com/ Craig Desmarais

    On top of W3 schools I also went through the html course on codeacademy.com  You should check that out as well.  

  • http://MacedoniaFilms.com/ Dan Baker

    I love your Evernote blog post template. Might have to give it a shot!

  • williambwalker

    First, I’d like to thank you for sharing such great tools for other bloggers.  Most people keep the secrets to themselves, and I really enjoy you sharing most of your resources with us.

    I have a few of questions about MailChimp:  

    -When I get your Weekly digest, is that a MailChimp Campaign you use?  

    -Is it automatically sent when you publish a post, or do you have to make a campaign for every post?  

    -If not, what do you use to send your post to email subscribers?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      You are welcome.

      Yes, it is a MailChimp campaign. It is sent automatically. The RSS feed fires it.
      Thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/Innovative_Chat Christa K

    Thank you very much for creating this post. It has helped me immensely with getting my blog off the ground!

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  • http://www.valuesdrivenresults.com/ Curt Fowler

    I need some help setting up my subscription service in MailChimp. I’ve got 90% of it done, but I’m struggling to get the nice social media icons like Michael uses in his emails. 

    Can anyone point me in the right direction of how to set this up in MailChimp or point me to a person who can help?

    Thanks so much!

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  • Khuebschen

    Hi Michael,
    Thank you for the great list of blogging tools. I was using feedburner for my wordpress blog, but want to switch to Mail Chimp – which I have set up and waiting. My question is what do I need to do to delete the feedburner feed sending emails so I can set Mail Chimp to go?
    Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      You will have to go into your Feedburner settings. Under the Publicize tab, you should find an option for e-mail subscriptions. Turn that off. Hope that helps.

      • Khuebschen

        Thank you very much!

  • http://twitter.com/stephaniesbell Stephanie Bell

    I followed your instructions on how to set up a self-hosted word press blog and am using blue host. Thank you so much! My question relates to photos though. For beginning bloggers, do you suggest uploading photos directly into WordPress to put in posts or to another service like Flickr or Amazon Cloud?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      It really depends. If it’s just the occasional photo, WordPress is fine. If you do a lot of photos or are a professional, you will need a gallery plugin. You might Google what is available. Thanks.

  • Pablo Ellsworth

    Thanks Michael!! I really appreciate this list!!

  • http://orgspring.com/ OrgSpring

    Two comments: one of appreciation one of warning. you introduced me to scrivener, which ive been using to write most of my articles and then transfer into wordpress. That’s workflow has been great. I love the compile feature too – works well when i just need snippets. I never found much use for things like evernote and marsedit – they just seemed like an extra step to me.

    Re: bluehost – i use them for a few sites that range in size. i’ve found their servers to be unreliable They’re not setup to offer the highest plan of vps yet, even though they advertise it on their site. That was confirmed by a conversation I had with their dedicated support engineer. Also, they dont scale – at all. If you change plans or your site outgrows a plan they have to actually move you off a server to a new server. That means downtime. I also had to request several server level changes to memory and execution times that are fairly standard on other servers, and more in-line with what wordpress requires. They’re having a cpanel issue right now that is affecting their management portals that is not present with other servers, and neither their legacy nor new backup configurations work correctly. I had a ticket go to the top level of support that we went back and forth on for over a month. Their final answer was to tell me to back up my sites using another method. I have nothing against bluehost, they’re a fine group of people and I applaud them for trying to keep porn off their servers, but for anything more than occasional blogging I would not use them.

  • Jessica Festa

    Hey Michael. I’d also say having some kind of plugin to backup your blog in case of an emergency is a good idea. I’ve been a full-time professional blogger for about three years now, and offer one-on-one consulting through my blog for anyone with questions and concerns pertaining to take their blog to the next level. More information can be found here: http://jessieonajourney.com/do-you-want-to-be-a-travel-blogger/.

    Thank you again for the great post!

    -Jessica Festa