I decided that with the growth of the Niche Informer brand and the influx of questions, I should probably create a tools page on this website. This way I can have all the tools and services that I use for my business all in one place, where they’re easy to find. I will add more to this list as I think of things and try to keep it updated.
Blogging tools and services that I actually use for my niche websites
Below are the tools and services that I am using or have used to help build and grow my business into what it is today. Let’s start with web hosting.
Web Hosting & Domains
For simple, shared hosting I recommend Siteground. You can start here with your first site and pre-pay about $80 for the first year’s hosting for your site. That’s a great deal in my opinion. If you are at all serious about making money from blogging you’ll have to spend a little bit up front. Between this and the domain, it’s not much to cover you for a year.
The Niche Informer website that you’re on right now is hosted with Siteground.
I currently have a managed VPS with Knownhost. I’ve been with them for years and they’re great. I probably won’t ever cancel my VPS here. I think it’s about $42/month and is where I can house any and all websites before I move them to a more premium type of host with more bells and whistles.
I have many of my small to medium sized websites hosted here.
I used WPX Hosting for a couple of years and was overall pleased with their service. They’re good to move to once you feel like your site has “made it”. The speed here is good, they have a nice built in backup system, and the support is great. It’s a little pricier than shared hosting but if your site is already self-sustaining then it’s well worth it.
I recently moved my largest site to Big Scoots and it’s been very easy going so far. The site is nice and fast and everything has gone so smoothly I’ve barely even needed to contact support for anything. The few times I did they were very responsive and helpful. All we want as website owners is speed, reliability, and good customer support for those times when something goes wrong. I’m seeing all of those things from Big Scoots.
I’ve been using Namecheap exclusively for all my domain needs for the last decade.
GeneratePress Premium is currently the only theme I use across my portfolio of now over a dozen niche websites. It’s just so much easier to use the same theme on every site. Whenever there’s a problem or a bug it’s easy to fix. Whenever you want to make a change you know exactly how to do it.
The theme is clean, lightweight, and fast. It’s simple and customizable. I stick with what I know, what works, and what’s dependable. For me that’s this theme.
WP Rocket is a caching plugin similar to WP Fastest Cache or W3 Total Cache plugins. WP Rocket is a paid plugin, but it seems to have been a game changer for me. It seems like when I was using other caching plugins, it was a constant battle trying to find the right combination of settings to pass Google Page Speed. That’s now a thing of the past.
There are several image compression tools like Shortpixel, none of which I can think of right now. It basically compresses your site’s images and converts them to the most we-friendly format “webp”. This plugin also integrates with WP Rocket well.
I just recently signed up for a 3 site license of LinkWhisper for 1 year. So far I like it, it definitely makes some aspects of internal linking a lot easier.
I figure if this plugin saves me a few hours of grunt work throughout the year then it’s worth it, and I think it’s already done that.
You may be familiar with AAWP and AMA Links Pro, I don’t use those. I just use this plugin to pull in full size images from Amazon via the API. I build the tables and all that stuff myself. I like to keep things simple, plus I don’t do that many strictly affiliate posts these days anyway.
This plugin is fine for what it is, but if I’m being honest it can be kind of buggy and the support is lacking. I’m worried that it will one day be abandoned but for now I continue to use it at my own risk.
Up until this point I’ve always used the free plan that Mailchimp offers where you can have up to 2,000 contacts. I just recently passed that mark for my biggest site so I’ll actually be signing up to the paid plan.
I know there are other providers like ConvertKit, Aweber, and ActiveCampaign out there. I’ve always used Mailchimp and I’m familiar with their dashboard so I don’t really see a reason to switch.
Plus their prices are competitive compared to these other guys. I may eventually try another service, but for now it’s Mailchimp.
This is really the only keyword research tool I use outside of Google itself. It’s simple and gives me data quickly and right when I need it. Install it right into the Chrome browser.
I’ve signed up for both AHREFs and SEMRush before, I see the value they’re both pretty awesome. I just don’t have much use for them at this point in time, that may change.
I’m embarrassed to admit how long I went without even tracking my keywords. I was fumbling around blindly in the dark with no idea how my articles were performing from day to day or month to month unless I manually searched them.
Serprobot is a cheap and easy way to track your keywords. I think it’s like $5/mo for each 300 keywords you track. I now track almost 1000 keywords and consider this one of my most valuable tools.
Right now I don’t do a lot of social stuff. We do some Pinterest by utilizing Tailwind, and I do plan on ramping up YouTube content this year.
Tailwind allows you to automate and schedule social media posts, giving you the ability to spend an entire day taking care of Pinterest stuff and then not having to worry about it for weeks.
I was using Tailwind for a while but have since quit and am only using Canva Premium and Pinterest for all pinning. If you’re focusing heavily on Pinterest then this tool is very useful.
Content is at the center of everything, it’s what our blogs are made of and what ultimately makes us money. You can write all of your own content or you can pay someone else to do it. But ultimately, there must be content added to your site(s) regularly.
I still write some content, but outsource most. I currently only use Upwork to source writers.
Upwork is simply a platform where you can connect with people providing services, in our case freelance writers. You simply create an account, post a job with details, then you’ll get applicants to that job.
You then go through the applicants, chat with them and ask them questions, and hire one or more in the end.
This is a great way to outsource content for your blog.
These are the companies that I work with to monetize my sites and help me to earn my online income.
Ezoic is a full-spectrum online publishing platform that offers a wide array of tools and features for publishers and bloggers.
I sign all of my newer sites up for Ezoic as soon as I feel they’re ready, so that I can start earning money from ads ASAP.
Ads may slow your site down, but it’s so nice to see money come rolling in early on. I’ve never see negative effects SEO-wise from placing Ezoic ads or any ads on my site for that matter.
Adthrive is the latest company that I’ve partnered up with on one of my blogs. I’ve only been running ads with them for about a month at the time of writing this, but so far I’ve very pleased with the results. The RPM’s are very high and the support is great. They really take you out of the equation when it comes to onboarding. You’re job is to publish content and grow your traffic, their job is to make you as much money as possible.
If you have the traffic, I recommend Adthrive or Mediavine.
Mediavine is a 3rd part ad management company that will take over all aspects of ads on your blog. If you can get your site approved on their platform then you basically just let them take care of everything and they’ll get you as much money as they possibly can on your site without completely sacrificing user experience.
I love Mediavine and they are my largest income stream currently.
This one probably needs no introduction. The Amazon affiliate program lets you recommend (almost) any products for sale on Amazon to try and earn a commission from the sale.
It’s a great place to get started making money online. I’ve been using this one since day 1 and will continue to as long as it’s around.
Awin is an affiliate network that has a ton of different merchants you can work with to promote their products. The main one I use with this affiliate network is Etsy.
I just recently joined Avantlink, and I’m on some sort of weird probationary status with them. They initially rejected my small outdoors related site. I reached directly out to the merchant for a referral and was able to secure that, so Avantlink then accepted my application, but only to promote that one merchant.
I haven’t made any sales yet but I have placed quite a few links on my site already and I do see a lot of potential here.
Shareasale is another affiliate network that has tons of merchants you can partner with and promote their products for a commission. I work with this network on a limited basis and don’t really earn much here.
If you were to click on the link to Knownhost above and then sign up for hosting with them, I would get a commission through Shareasale.
Other apps and tools
Canva Pro is like $12/month and is totally worth it. Everything from creating pins for Pinterest, thumbnails for YouTube, and even short videos used for displaying ads on your ad partners. Canva pays for itself very quickly.