*Note: This post contains affiliate links. I only recommend brands and tools I love and think you would, too!
Looking for powerful WordPress plugins and tools to help you grow your blog audience and income?
Then you’ll love this installment of my six-part series, “Blogging Secrets Revealed.”
In this series, I’m sharing insider knowledge to help those of you wanting to start your own travel (or non-travel) blogs and turn them into income-generating businesses.
So far, we’ve gone in-depth on how to brand your blog, how to engage your audience and how to drive traffic to your website.
Understanding these concepts is essential for building your blogging business.
Speaking of business, here’s the truth:
Creating a successful blog is a lot of work.
Luckily, there are a number of premium WordPress plugins and tools that have helped me create a profitable blog, which I share with you below. If you’re interested in becoming a full-time blogger, I highly recommend checking them out!
Psst! Don’t forget to pin this post for later! 🙂
Free Travel Blogging Course
Before we dive into the list, I want to share an incredible freebie with you.
Click here to sign up for my FREE 5-day profitable travel blogging course and learn fresh blog monetization strategies.
The free course will take you from setup through community building all the way to how to make money blogging.
Blogging Series Recap
This blog post is part of a larger series on turning your blog into a profitable business.
Before we dive into this post, let’s recap:
- 11 Essential Questions For Better Blog Clarity
- 7 Ways To Find Out Who Your Readers Are
- 10 Simple Tactics For Gaining Blog Traffic
- 22 Awesome Ways To Engage Your Blog Readers
- 30 Essential Tools To Grow Your Blog Business (this post)
- Your Ultimate Guide To Blog Monetization
Now, let’s dive into 30 of the best WordPress plugins for blogs as well as some of my favorite tools for running a successful blogging business. Along with using the best laptop for travel blogging, these tools help me work effectively and efficiently.
Profitable Travel Blogging [Video]
Have you tried any of the powerful tactics I share in this video?
Enjoy learning through video?
In the recording above, I share my simple step-by-step strategy for turning your website into a full-time blogging career.
Once you’ve watched, continue reading the post.
How To Create A Travel Blog With WordPress: Tools For Success
1. Jasper AI
Jasper utilizes the power of artificial intelligence to help bloggers:
- come up with content topics
- craft marketing copy
- outline and create blog posts, emails, and social media shares
- and more!
In short, it’s like hiring an assistant who writes way better and faster than any human can!
SiteGround is an excellent budget-friendly website hosting option that helps keep your site speedy and secure.
For instance, they offer a guaranteed uptime of 99.99%, and their AI-powered software stops up to 500,000-to-2 million hacking attempts from happening every hour.
Moreover, SiteGround has a great support team available 24/7 — by ticket, chat, and phone — and they come recommended by WordPress.org.
Right now I personally use Flywheel and love it. While it outperforms most hosts — including SiteGround — in terms of speed, I don’t recommend it to most people as it is very expensive (over $100 per month!).
Once you start growing your traffic though, I suggest giving Flywheel a try.
This is the theme I use for Jessie on a Journey and absolutely love how customizable it is, particularly in conjunction with the Beaver Builder page builder plugin.
The plugin, for instance, allows me to create pages by dragging and dropping elements like photos, videos, pricing tables, countdown timers, accordions, and more.
You can even drag-and-drop different layouts for different sections of the page; for instance, if you want three columns in one section and two in another.
Additionally, a few reasons I think the Beaver Builder theme is amazing include:
- It’s lightweight and SEO-friendly
- The customer support is phenomenal
- It’s simple and intuitive — I’ve honestly never seen a theme that was as easy to grasp
- It’s allowed me to get rid of a lot of extra expensive tools I was using to create landing pages and add evergreen and countdown timers for my sales funnels
This caching and performance optimization plugin does a lot.
Here’s a quick list from their website:
- Caching of all the pages for quick viewing
- Caching for mobile visitors
- Caching for logged in users
- Preloading the cache of pages
- Reduction of the number of HTTP requests to reduce loading time
- Decreasing bandwidth usage with GZIP compression
- Apply optimal browser caching headers (expires)
- Minification and concatenation of JS and CSS files
- Remove query strings from CSS and JS files
- Deferred loading of images (LazyLoad)
- Generation of Critical Path CSS and deferred loading of CSS files
- Database optimization
- WordPress Heartbeat API control
- DNS prefetch
- CDN integration
- Cloudflare integration (which is the next tool mentioned in this list)
- Sucuri integration
- Host Google Analytics files locally
- Host Facebook Pixel files locally
- Easy import/export of settings
- Easy roll back to a previous version
After I installed it, it analyzed my blog and gave me some suggestions which, once completed, increased my page speed.
In fact, after simply pressing some of their cache clearing buttons I was already seeing a boost in performance.
By the way, you can click here to check your website speed and performance for free.
This free tool helps with security and performance.
Cloudflare routes your traffic through their network and optimizes your pages for faster website load times — while also blocking threats and limiting abusive bots and crawlers.
It also integrates with WPRocket, mentioned above, to take your website optimization to the next level.
Additionally, most hosts have documentation on how to setup Cloudflare and integrate it with them — super helpful if you’re not tech-savvy.
Created by WPRocket, this plugin greatly reduces image sizes.
In almost all tests — in fact, all that I’ve seen written online — Imagify reduces image size much more than the popular WPSmush plugin.
You can choose how aggressive you want the plugin to get, with levels including “Normal”, “Aggressive” and “Ultra”.
Personally, I stick with the “Aggressive” option, as I feel the “Ultra” shows noticeable signs of grain on my photos.
Luckily, the plugin allows you to undo an optimization, so any photos that look grainy after being optimized can easily be reverted back.
They have a limited free version of the plugin, too.
If you’re at all serious about blogging, you need to connect Google Analytics — which is free to use — to your website.
It gives you all kinds of stats about your readers like demographics, income, and geography, and lets you know how individual posts are performing, how people are finding your website, and much more.
Honestly, if you want to grow without wasting time, you need this tool.
Here is an example of why:
Let’s say you get 100 visits to your website each month from Pinterest.
You want to increase traffic and get blog followers, so you implement a new Pinterest strategy.
With Google Analytics, you’ll be able to monitor your traffic growth — as well as where that traffic is coming from — to see if what you’re doing is actually having an effect on your pageviews.
One of the most important things you can do when setting up your blog is ensuring you’re protected legally.
This means you’ll want to have, at minimum, the following pages:
- Terms & Conditions
You also want to make sure that each of these pages covers all the specifics of your unique blogging business.
Free legal page generators aren’t a great option because they leave a lot out — meaning you’re typically not fully protected.
Moreover, meeting with a lawyer face-to-face can be extremely expensive.
A nice middle ground is to pay for DIY templates created by a real lawyer.
My friend, Attorney Lisa Fraley, frequently works with online entrepreneurs, and I love that her templates come with video instructions so you’re never in the dark.
While getting set up legally isn’t cheap, it can save you thousands — potentially millions — if you are ever sued.
20% off with code “JESSIEONAJOURNEY”
If you want to increase your blog traffic, it’s vital to have a keyword research strategy so that you can optimize your content to rank at the top of organic search results.
Keysearch is a tool that is easy to use and gives you all of the data you need to find niche keywords you can rank for, discover supporting keywords and topics to include in your posts, and ensure you answer all of the questions a potential searcher might have when reading your article.
Moreover, you can see what keywords other bloggers in your niche are ranking for, which can inspire your own content.
The video above gives you a quick tutorial on how you can use Keysearch to do keyword research and rank your content!
Remember, too, that having a traffic strategy can help you monetize your blog from day one, as website visitors can lead to income as they see your ads, click your affiliate links, and land on your sales pages.
WordPress Plugins & Tools To Grow Your Audience & Subscribers
While there are free popup plugins out there, none I’ve seen are as customizable and feature-rich as I need to really convert traffic into email subscribers.
ConvertPlus is only $24 and allows you to create beautiful popups that target people based on what they were reading.
For instance, you could show someone reading a blog post about summer travel a popup promoting a free summer packing list, while showing a website visitor reading about winter travel a free winter packing list.
To grow your email list, you’d make it mandatory that the person subscribes. Then they could receive the opt-in freebie in a welcome email.
It’s easy to tweak their templates to add in your own branding and photos, as well as to decide when you want the reader to see the popup.
The plugin also allows you to create info bars, in-line forms, slide-in boxes and more, helping you to rapidly grow your email list.
It’s important to share the work of your peers and not make it about yourself all the time.
Snip.ly offers a great way to share posts from other bloggers in your niche while also directing those who click back to your site.
For example, if I’ve just written a post about food in India, I might search for a post by someone else on ethical India tours.
From there, I can create a Snip.ly link for the ethical India tours post that, when clicked, shows the reader a box at the bottom promoting my post about food in India.
The video above shows how you can use Snip.ly.
12. A Good Email Marketing Service
There are a few things that I think are important to look for in an email marketing service:
- High deliverability rates
- Great customer support
- Automation and segmenting capabilities included
If you’re looking to get started with a free option, Mailerlite is great.
If you have some money to spend, ConvertKit is also worth checking out, as it’s simpler and has more features in terms of segmenting your list. I’ve actually had many of my blogging students switch from Mailerlite to ConvertKit because of this. Plus, you can snag a 14-day free trial to test it out.
Finally, I’ve demoed Constant Contact before and think this is another great option with loads of email templates and drag-and-drop elements to choose from, as well as visual analytics reports. They also offer a 60-day free trial for you to test out the service.
13. Interact Quizzes
One fun way to grow your email list:
Consider your blog’s mission, and what kind of quiz would be relevant to that mission.
For instance, if you help newlyweds plan the perfect honeymoon, your quiz might focus on showing them their ultimate honeymoon destination.
The way this helps to grow your list is you can ask for a person’s email address in exchange for their quiz results.
Here are a few of the free quizzes I’ve made using Interact:
Running contests is a great way to engage with your audience and grow your email list.
There are a few free tools out there for hosting contests, though most are ugly.
It’s got an eye-catching design and offers a slew of options for actions people can take to enter your competition — like subscribing to your email list, sharing a Tweet or liking a Facebook post.
You can also sign different point values for each action.
Additionally, you can add a contest Facebook widget to your Facebook fan page for extra views.
Gleam randomly picks the winner for you at the end.
WordPress Plugins & Tools For Growing Your Social Media
Pinterest is one of my favorite social media channels for growing website traffic, and I highly recommend adding it to your blog post promotion arsenal of tools.
There are a few best practices you should abide by, like treating Pinterest as a search engine more than a social media platform — as in adding keywords to make pins and Pinterest boards more searchable — and using vertical (vs landscape) pins.
Additionally, it’s important to be active.
But let’s be real; we don’t all have three or more hours per day to spend on Pinterest.
Luckily, Tailwind lets you schedule pins, collaborate with other pinners in “Tribes”, loop old pins back to the top to be seen by new eyes through “Looping” and more.
16. Grow Social Pro (Formerly SocialPug)
This is the plugin I use — and love — for adding customizable social media sharing buttons to my website.
Additionally, Grow Social Pro lets you easily embed clickable Tweets to your blog posts to make them more shareable, and even allows you to add a pre-crafted description to your Pinterest graphics (no coding necessary!).
HootSuite is a great tool for pre-scheduling your social media, from Facebook shares to tweets for your Twitter strategy.
I love being able to sit down at one time and think about what I want to share for the week.
Moreover, you can install their Chrome plugin to quickly and easily schedule content by others while surfing the web.
18. Pinterest SEO Traffic Secrets Course (By Anastasia Blogger)
One of your greatest assets for blogging success is website traffic.
And one of the best tools for driving traffic to your website is Pinterest.
If you’re not sure how to utilize Pinterest to grow your own traffic, subscribers, and income, then you won’t want to miss this incredible class. It’s truly one of the best online blogging courses you can find.
Inside my friend and Pinterest expert Anastasia Blogger pulls back the curtain to show you exactly how she gets 300,000+ pageviews per month to her website from Pinterest.
And if you’re thinking “Okay, she probably got lucky,” she actually replicated her strategy across three websites from different niches to prove she could grow them through the platform.
I take a lot of online courses, and this has hands down been one of the most valuable.
If you want to grow on YouTube, this tool offers a ton of features to help you succeed.
A few of these include:
- Helping you find keywords to use in your video titles and descriptions — as well as video tags — that you can actually rank for.
- Allowing you to show your best videos first in a playlist.
- Using canned responses when answering video comments.
- Updating cards and end screen templates across multiple videos.
- And more!
Note that there are different tiers (shown above), so not all features are available at every price point.
While Star is the most popular tier, you can always start with Pro and then upgrade as you see fit.
Photo & Video WordPress Plugins & Tools
If you’re not yet creating videos, you should definitely consider adding this tactic to your workflow.
Video offers an incredible opportunity to connect with your audience more deeply while making your content more valuable.
One thing to note:
Captions are important.
For one, many video viewers — particularly on Facebook — watch videos with the sound off. Moreover, it’s nice way to ensure hearing-impaired viewers aren’t left out.
Personally, my favorite tool for creating inexpensive and high-quality transcription and caption files is Rev.
You can download your caption order as an SRT caption file, which you can upload to Facebook or YouTube. Or you can download it as a transcript, which you can use as a base for a blog post to save you time writing.
While I know how to create a decent video, I just don’t always have the time to take notes, photos and shoot video — then compile and edit all of it when home.
Luckily, I can take raw footage on the road and hand it over to Veedyou to turn into a professional video.
To see a live example, check out the video they created for me above after driving around Guadeloupe.
Lightroom gives me the essential tools I need to edit photos from my trips as well as my NYC photo tours.
It’s only $9.99 per month and saves me endless hours as I no longer need to individually edit photos.
In fact, I’ve created a custom preset in Lightroom that I use almost exclusively, tweaking as needed.
If you’re as not-design savvy as me, you’ll love this free-to-use graphic design platform.
Just let Canva know the dimensions you want your graphic to be, or choose from their pre-sized social media graphics and business documents.
From there, you can work with a blank or pre-populated template, swapping in your own photos and text.
A shiny design that looks like you paid someone to make it.
I use the tool for many purposes, such as for making the Pinterest pins that go on the bottom of every blog post — a simple tactic that has easily increased my traffic.
This is the feature-rich platform I use to store all of my photos in organized folders and galleries.
SmugMug doesn’t have storage limits and won’t degrade your photo quality. Also, depending on your plan you can use it as a shop to sell your prints and videos.
One quick note with videos:
While you can also save videos on Smugmug, note that, unlike with photos, they do not save your original files. This means that video footage uploaded at 4k will be exported back out at 1080.
The affiliate link above snags you a 20% off coupon.
WordPress Plugins & Tools For Monetizing Your Blog
Do you want to make more money — in practically no time?
Skimlinks is a set-it-and-forget it affiliate marketing program. Simply add their code to your website and it will turn your non-affiliate links into affiliate links automatically.
As they work with over 48,000 merchants, there is a good chance you’ve got some unoptimized links on your website that they could convert for you, especially if you’re focused on affiliate marketing for travel bloggers or lifestyle creators.
Plus, you have nothing to lose as it is free to sign up.
As the name states, FlexJobs is all about helping people find lucrative remote, part-time, freelance, and flexible jobs.
Right now I’m logged into my own FlexJobs account. Here is just a sampling of the paying opportunities (with benefits!) I see:
- Social media content writer (40k/year)
- Content update editor ($30/hour)
- Content marketer ($60k-$100k/year)
- Technical writer ($55-$70/hour)
- Cruise holiday planner ($40-$50k/year)
You can search for jobs by category, posting date and even location.
Along with small companies and startups, there are remote opportunities with big brands like Kayak and Mozilla as well as quality publications like Culture Trip and NerdWallet.
What’s great about the writing and editing jobs on the site is that they provide regular, long-term work, so you won’t need to be constantly blind pitching outlets and then waiting for a response.
A number of the jobs also include travel as an additional perk along with being paid — not just in lieu of it!
Bonfire allows you to create a profitable apparel campaign.
You design the shirts — or use their customizable templates if you’re not design-savvy — and then run a t-shirt or sweatshirt campaign.
What is great is you can create a sellable product without any risk, as Bonfire only takes money when you make money.
The shirts are super soft and durable, so you’re truly selling a product that is high-quality.
Two-week free trial
Hosting value-packed webinars is one of my main monetization strategies.
WebinarJam makes it really easy to host live and pre-recorded webinars, offering replays, screen sharing, video injections, automated pre- and post-webinar emails, file sharing, polls, analytics, and even a live chat for people to ask questions during the webinar.
Offering a free webinar gives you the chance to educate your audience on a topic while proving just how knowledgeable you are in your field.
From there, their trust in you will grow and they’ll be more likely to subscribe to your email list or purchase your product/service.
Bonus: My affiliate link gets you a free 14-day trial! Click here to take advantage.
And if you need a strategy to make your trial more effective, I also have a podcast episode on how to make money with webinars, including advice on how to craft the perfect webinar, as well as a video tutorial:
2-week free trial, no credit card required!
Teachable is an awesome tool for creating profitable online courses, membership sites and virtual summits that help you show off your expertise and make money.
The platform gives you the ability to add just about anything you need to make your course more engaging, like:
- Text lessons
- Printables/downloadable files
- Completion certificates
On top of that, you can offer payment plans and pricing tiers — including recurring pricing if you want to create a membership site — as well as coupons and free trials.
Using Teachable, it’s easy to create gorgeous sales pages optimized for conversions, plus they can handle payments for you securely.
If you have multiple products, it’s simple to set up bundles and upsells in just a few clicks.
Plus, after trying out a few course creation platforms myself, I can say it’s downright beautiful and intuitive.
30. Media Networks
If you want to make money by working with brands as a blogger, media networks can be a huge help.
I personally join as many media networks as possible, as they make it easy for brands to find you for paid campaigns.
A few of my favorites include:
- Perlu (which I am an advisor for)
- TapInfluence (I’ve gotten some great paying gigs from this network)
- Impact Travel Alliance Media Network (which I helped co-found years back, though am now just a member)
And there are new ones popping up all the time.
You can opt-in here to get my full list of recommended media (or influencer) networks.
Most Useful Tools For Backlinking (Advanced Tactic)
I love this tool for finding backlinks.
For those unfamiliar with the importance of backlinks, having high-ranking publications linking to your content helps increase your visibility in Google search.
BuzzSumo allows me to enter in a relevant keyword — for example, “solo travel” — and see who is linking to relevant posts.
From there, email the authors linking to posts about solo travel to see if they may want to link to you, as well.
14 Ways To Grow Your Blog Audience Faster
Looking for strategies that can help you grow your blog’s traffic, community, and income faster and easier?
Then check out the video above!
It shares 14 quick-win strategies that can help you see growth in your bogging business sooner rather than later.
What WordPress plugins and tools do you love for growing your blog audience & income?
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