I can clearly remember the time when I discovered WordPress for myself.
It took me months to find my way around the platform.
So many features, options, and not to mention the various themes and plugins available.
Kind of reminds me of the London Underground, actually.
Because if anything confuses the heck out of me, it’s the network of lines that make up this underground maze.
I’ve traveled to London dozens of times, and I still get confused and lost when it comes to using the underground.
Discovering and using WordPress for the first time was no different.
Fast forward to today and to simply put it, I couldn’t live without using WordPress.
I’ll never get to master my way around the London Underground, but WordPress is now my playground.
Since discovering WordPress, I’ve built every single personal and client website using the platform.
In my mind, it is the best platform out there for building any type of website.
In the last 7 years of using WordPress, I’ve come across hundreds of plugins, themes, apps and various other online tools that make WordPress what it is today.
Out of the hundreds that I’ve tried out over the years, only a small handful of these tools truly stand out, for me at least.
So, today I’m sharing my personal list of must-use tools that have helped me run and grow my WordPress blog and business like a true pro!
Hopefully, if you’re yet to discover any of these tools for yourself, you’ll find one or two of them to be very useful.
So let’s get to it!
Must-use tools for WordPress bloggers – Themes
Themes are what makes your WordPress website or blog truly unique to you and your personal brand.
Themes come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and styles.
Out of all the ones that I’ve used, only two theme designers stand out for me.
Genesis theme framework and the abundant of child themes available for it, and of course, Thrive Themes.
I started experimenting with Genesis way back in October 2010, the same month actually that I launched my first blog.
Since then I’ve been hooked on using Genesis.
I’ve powered every single site that I’ve created with a Genesis child theme. And StudioPress do make some very tantalizing child themes to work with Genesis too.
When it comes to customization, however, using Genesis and the child themes can throw up some challenges at first, especially if you’re a complete newbie to WordPress.
However, there are tools you can use that can help make customizing Genesis child themes very easy.
One of these tools is called Genesis Design Palette Pro.
Read: Check out my review of Genesis Design Palette Pro here.
Genesis Design Palette Pro is a plugin dedicated to making it easy to make style changes to any Genesis child theme.
You can use it to customize things like typography, margins, paddings, background color etc, all without touching a single line of code.
If you’re wondering what theme I’m using for Magnet4Blogging, it’s called the Digital Pro child theme for Genesis.
However, I’ve made a lot of modifications to it to suit my needs.
Download: You can get a copy of the Digital Pro Theme here.
02. Thrive Themes
Thrive Themes is the other premium theme that I’m crazy about.
Thrive Themes haven’t been around as long as Genesis or StudioPress, but they are getting increasingly popular every day.
Thrive Themes create more than just themes, they also offer a range of conversion optimization and marketing tools and plugins for online businesses.
Read: Check out my review of Thrive Themes Membership here.
I have worked on countless client website design projects using Thrive products.
When it comes to customization, just like with Genesis, it helps to have some knowledge of CSS.
You can play around and add your own custom CSS into the built in “Custom CSS” box provided.
With a Thrive theme you don’t need to install or use any additional plugins to achieve simple things like;
- Adding social share buttons,
- Adding related posts widget
- Uploading a custom Favicon.
Because most of these features and options are built into each theme.
Must-use WordPress tools for bloggers – Plugins
This list was very difficult to put together and could have quite easily been much longer.
However, I’ve kept it short because I already have a blog post listing my favorite premium plugins here.
Below I’ve listed the plugins that I truly believe to be professional in every way!
When I first discovered this plugin back in 2015, it was like rediscovering WordPress all over again.
I was absolutely blown away by TCB and what you could do with it.
The Thrive Content Builder plugin, also known as Thrive Visual Editor, is by far the most powerful front end page builder, visual editor plugin for WordPress.
Since its launch, we’ve seen many other front-end page builder tools crop up, but none of them coming close to TCB.
I’ve used this plugin to build many types of pages, including:
- Custom home pages.
- Landing pages.
- Sales pages.
- Email opt-in pages.
- Podcast pages.
- Video page and more.
If you love WordPress and want to create eye-catching custom pages and blog posts easily, using a combination of drag-and-drop editing tools and custom code, then check out TCB.
Read: Check out my detailed review of Thrive Content Builder here.
04. Thrive Leads
And the trend continues with Thrive, but I won’t talk too much about Thrive Leads as I only recently reviewed it in great detail here.
What I will say is that this plugin is a professional tool for serious bloggers and online business owners who are serious about growing their email list.
Here’s what you get with Thrive Leads:
- Powerful email opt-in form builder (Canvas).
- HelloBar style opt-ins.
- Post-footer opt-ins.
- Slide in opt-ins.
- Pop-ups with the ability to create 2-step opt-ins
- Scroll-mat forms.
- Full-page forms.
- Full control over how your forms behave.
- Built in metrics, conversion tools and analytics, plus much more.
Thrive Leads is easily one of the best investments I’ve made for my business in the last few years.
Read: Check out my list building strategy study post here.
Also, check out my walkthrough video of Thrive Leads here.
No WordPress website should exist with this nifty little plugin.
I put this on my list because using LLA over the years has really helped me tackle a lot of unwanted spammy login attempts.
The combination of using this plugin and blocking IP’s in my web host SiteGround works a real treat, and I’m sure you’ll find it useful too.
The ultimate SEO plugin for WordPress… period, lots of on-page options including social med optimization tools, site-wide SEO options and much more.
The biggest plus point of using this plugin is that it’s completely FREE!
There is another plugin that I love to use as well called SEOPressor Connect. You can compare these two plugins here.
So guys, before I discovered this plugin for myself I was using the Easy Social Share Buttons plugin, which is another awesome premium plugin with mind-blowing options.
However, these days I use Social Warfare because it’s sleek, easily customizable and blazing fast to load.
There’s also a ton of cool social media optimization options available, including tweet counts.
Social Warfare is free, however, you can purchase the Pro add-on and add even more options to the plugin.
Read: Check out my review and tutorial of the plugin here.
A simple but very practical plugin to help you organize your blog posting schedule.
If you run a guest blogging blog, this would be perfect for you.
This had to make it on my list because just a few weeks ago this plugin helped me to identify a few existing rogue plugins that were really affecting my page load time.
Sadly though this plugin hasn’t been updated for the last 2 years, so please install and use this one at your own risk.
I’ve been using Disqus since the birth of this website in 2013, and yes, I am well aware that it’s NOT everyone’s cup of tea when it comes to enabling comments on a blog.
I love this plugin because it has so many useful features actually built in. Features that I would otherwise have to install an endless list of various other plugins to achieve.
Read: Check out my post where I compare the benefits of using Disqus, over using the native WordPress commenting system here.
11. Better Links Pro
If you want to know what I use to cloak most of my affiliate links here on Magnet4Blogging, it’s a plugin called Better Links Pro.
I love this plugin because it has some cool features like click tracking, integration with Google Analytics, redirect from multiple sources, automatic keyword replacement and more.
Read: You can check out my full updated review of Better Links Pro here.
Online services, tools, and apps for bloggers!
Right! Now for some of my other favorite online tools, apps and services that simply make using WordPress a greater pleasure…
12. Google Analytics
You can’t build a successful or profitable blog or online business without using Google Analytics, unless, you’re using an alternative.
Google Analytics is essential for keeping tabs on traffic, visitor behavior as well as setting goals to help you boost your conversions.
I think MailChimp is simply the best and most cost effective email marketing service provider available for bloggers.
If you’re just starting out I would recommend using MailChimp, as it’s free for up to 2,000 subscribers.
In addition, if you use the Thrive Leads list building plugin, integrating MailChimp couldn’t be easier.
Every blogger should have a Google Webmaster account. Well, at least that’s what I think.
Because the webmaster toolbox contains essential tools and features that will help you better understand what’s going on with your website, health, and performance wise that is.
If you have too many 404 error pages on your website, your webmaster console will have that information and you can use it to help you identify those pages and fix them.
If your website has a penalty applied to it, that information will also be available in your webmaster account.
LTP is a powerful and useful tool for helping you do some good old fashioned keyword research.
I love to use the Long Tail Pro to find and research keywords for my blog posts. In fact, I wrote a detailed tutorial article on how I do this here.
This is one tool that I often use when working on client projects and my own personal projects of course.
If your website is taking too long to load, you need to know about it.
Because a slow loading website affects a lot of things, search engine rankings and most importantly user experience and conversion rates.
Use Google PageSpeed Insights tool, and the mobile-friendly test tool to check your site frequently.
So, folks, that’s it!
That’s my personal list of pro WordPress tools and other various online tools, apps, and services I like to use in my business.
Some of these you’ll be familiar with no doubt, but I’m sure there are a few here that you’re yet to discover and use.
Many of the tools I’ve mentioned above are free to use. Some, however, are premium tools.
Here’s my disclaimer should you need to read it.
Affiliate disclaimer: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. That means if you click on one of them and make a purchase, I will be paid a small commission. This will come at NO additional cost to you, of course. If you do use my affiliate links, I would like to thank you for your continued support! I truly appreciate you. I also want you to know that I NEVER recommend tools or services that I haven’t used, tried or tested myself.
Hope these will keep you busy for now, have fun exploring.