10 Tools That You Need to Start a Blog That Matters

March 11, 2012

One of the most frequently asked questions that I get is “How to Start a Blog”.

As blogging becomes more mainstream, everyone wants to get in on the action. Whether it’s choosing to start a blog to keep your friends and family up to date on your travels, or just a place to share your side hobby- blogging has become the new way to documenting your life.

I am a very goals orientated person. I like making lists and crossing things out as I go. I am also a firm worshiper of my Moleskin agenda. I know this sounds backwards, but I use that agenda for everything even though I have all of my appointments in my Blackberry, Ipad, and on my Google calendar. There is something so secure about having things written on a piece of paper.

Because of most of my work involves some sort of project management, and time management, sticking to deadlines is key for me.  And because I am technology geek, I am always on the lookout for things that make my life easier and allow me to save valuable time that I can spend on my blogs. I know there are a lot of people who live by SMART goals, and have no problem setting them, but get stuck on the execution. I want to share some of my favourite time management tools that help me reach my goals and allow me to take action on tasks that seem daunting initially.

Everyday tools.

1) EVERNOTE. I can not live without this tool. It is kinda like Pinterest, but I use it for , you know, work. It allows you to clip infomation from around the web and post it in one central location. You sign up for an account and can use it on your mobile and computer. Take 3 minutes and check it out.

2) MOLESKIN agenda/notebook. Please see above. Also, I want to buy shares in this company if possible, or become a spokesperson, or both. Seriously, I  love my planner. They cost about 2-3 times as much as a regular planner but there is no comparison.

3) BOOMERANG for Gmail. It is an add-on for Gmail that allows you to schedule emails in advance. For example, I just finished writing 35 emails but I don’t want them hitting peoples inboxes until tomorrow morning, so I have them set to be sent then. The free account allows you to schedule 10 a month. Definitely worth the upgrade if you write emails late at night.

4) DROPBOX. All my files are in the cloud. Enough said.

5) PODIO. Amazing Project Management software along the lines of Basecamp, but free. We have a standard one at work, but I like this one for my side business.

6) A GIANT PURSE. At any given time, I have my laptop/IPAD, my notebook, and a million other knick-knacks (lotion, contact solution, highlighters, pens, my huge wallet) with me. My purse keeps me sane. Ladies, you know what I am talking about.

7) GOOGLE Calendar and GOOGLE DOCs. This is where I back up everything.

8) WAVE ACCOUNTING. Its free, and it keeps all my finances in order. I use it for both personal and business.


Blogging tools.

1)  HOSTGATOR. Some of you might remember the fiasco that happend a  month ago when the server that hosts my blog crashed. Well, it took my old hosting company 1.5 to get my site back to normal. I finally gave up and moved to Hostgator since I had them for a few other sites, and haven’t looked back.

2)THESIS THEME for WORDPRESS I can build sites left, right and centre. Once you get the hang of it, it only takes a few hours and I can customize to look however I want.

3) PICNIK. Niki, from Debt free by Thirty, told me about Picnik, and it has become my go to place to make simple graphics. I normally outsource anything complicated, but the simple ones (including my header) are made by me.

4) AWEBER. While I don’t use a mailing list on this blog, I do use it for a few other sites that I manage and I can’t say enough good things about it. The auto-responders alone save me sooooo much time.

5) EDITORIAL CALENDAR plugin. This is fantastic for anyone who uses WordPress. This allows me to sort all my thoughts and keep a somewhat decent writing schedule.


There are a few more tools that I use, and I will keep adding them as I go, but for now, I would like to extend a thank you to all the people who created the tools above. My life and schedule has been benefited immensely.

Ps. There are a few affiliate links above.

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  • Newlyweds on a Budget March 12, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    I’ve always been curious to know what other plug ins people use to help with their blog. it almost feels like it’s a giant secret or something! i like the editorial calendar too!

    • Marissa March 12, 2012 at 9:19 pm

      I share everything. Send me a note if you need anything specific.

  • Rafiki March 12, 2012 at 11:05 pm

    I use a couple of these. Any tool that improves organization and time management is gold in my books.

    • Marissa March 13, 2012 at 6:42 pm

      Me too! I feel more productive knowing that I have the tools.

  • Mikhaila March 13, 2012 at 3:19 am

    I am bookmarking this post so I can improve my organizational skills! All of this stuff looks amazing. I can’t live without my giant purse (wallet, water bottle, iPad, phone, makeup bag, book, etc) either!

    • Marissa March 13, 2012 at 7:19 pm

      I can’t remember how I survived with a smaller purse.

  • Analytical Planner March 13, 2012 at 7:21 am

    This is a nice list of things to check out! I love to keep everything organized as well. Mostly right now I have a notebook where I right down all the groceries and things I need to buy for my family. I think I will go check out the editorial calendar plugin. Thanks!

    • Marissa March 13, 2012 at 6:43 pm

      You will love it. Its like having a giant calendar on wordpress.

  • femmefrugality March 13, 2012 at 11:44 pm

    I love Picnik, too. All of their premium features are free right now until they move over to google in April.

  • Kari@Small Budget Big Dreams March 14, 2012 at 5:25 am

    I’d never heard of boomerang, but feel like it could be really useful for someone like me that works non-traditional hours. I always feel like people are thinking, “hmm, what was she doing sending e-mails at 1am?”. Either they think I’m really diligent, or really weird (or maybe both).

  • Natalie - Broke Newlyweds March 14, 2012 at 4:52 am

    Great list! I love Evernote, Dropbox, Thesis and Aweber. I could not live without any of them… especially dropbox. I’ve heard a lot of great things about Wave before but not Podio. I will have to spend some time this weekend looking them both up.

  • Aloysa @ My Broken Coin March 15, 2012 at 2:58 am

    Love this post! I use Evernote for work and blogging. How do I clip anything from the web to it? I cannot figure it out.
    Picnic is closing in April. I am really impressed with your header! I need to try it while I can.
    Question about Aweber – can it be used for a newsletter?

  • Ryan @ Planwise May 22, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    Nice post!
    I am a huge advocate of just about anything Google.

    With my android phone my google calendar is on my phone, tablet, and computer.
    Being a student Google docs is excellent for collaborating.
    I use Springpad for my note taking. This also syncs up to my computer.
    Dropbox is nice, but I hardly use it. But it does come in handy no doubt.

    I love technology and all the awesomeness its brought to everyones lives.