It’s hard to believe that I’ve been blogging for over 10 years! After all this time I thought I would share the best blogging tools that I’ve used and come to love. I’ve tried so many different apps and programs over the years but feel like I finally have a solid set of tools down that have made my life easier and helped contribute to my success as a blogger. Luckily it seems like every day there are new things coming out to help this industry which has been fun to witness!
iPhone XS: The most valuable tool in our photography toolbox is my iPhone. We shoot all video on it and the majority of my Instagram photos. You just can’t beat the quality and ease of use when on -the -go.
Nikon D750: We’ve had this body for a few years now and love it for our photography needs. It’s easy to use and takes good photos – but it really comes down to what lens you use.
Camera Lens: I recently upgraded our everyday lens a few months ago – and it made a big difference in the quality of the images we are producing. Because I shoot a lot in our small home the 35mm allows me to get a larger image area in my photos – so this is the 35mm f/1.8 lens we have right now. We also have a 50mm f/1.8 lens that we use for outfit photos outside sometimes.
Tripod: Austin got me this tripod for Christmas and it’s been a game changer for shooting video!!! We LOVE it. It took a while for me to easily/quickly get it set up but now that I know how to do it it’s simple. It’s a great investment if you want to start shooting video and allows for overhead shots, too.
Selfie Stick: I got this last year and we use it way more than I thought – especially the bluetooth remote! I use the bluetooth remote from this selfie stick when I stick my iPhone in our tripod. It works great.
Server: I laughed when Austin told me he was getting us a server but it’s been life changing – because we shoot and share soooo many photos every week we save everything on the server so it doesn’t take up space on our laptops.
Battery Case: I use my Loopy case at home, but whenever I’m out and about I like to swap it for this battery case because my phone is always dying.
Photos & Editing:
Adobe Creative Cloud: I’ve been using the Adobe Creative Cloud for a few years now – we pay a monthly fee and right now just use Lightroom (in the past I used Photoshop). I love this service and program, it’s really easy to use and there are great tutorials online if you need help. I edit all of the photos I shoot with my Nikon and many of my iPhone photos in Lightroom using a variety of presets. Many people also get the free Lightroom App and use it with presets they purchase on their phone.
Presets: In the last few years presets have become all the rage on Instagram – to be quite honest I’m so sick of the overly curated feeds of images like this, but I do use a few different presets for editing my photos! Right now I use a combo of VSCO & Monika Hibbs Presets– I love the natural, light and airy look they give my pictures.
Software & Apps:
Trello: Trello has been such a game changer. I have used it a few times in the past at different jobs and never fell in love with it until recently. It’s really helped me organize all of my different to-do lists, but also has become a place for me to easily add ideas/brainstorm and write things down so I don’t forget. Here’s a snapshot of what my Mama Notes Trello board looks like. I also have one for my oil business and a new business idea I’m working on. I use the free version! And you can invite team members!!
ToDoIst: I’ve used this app on and off over the years. I like the no-fuss, simple format and find it helpful when I want one master list of everything I need to get done. Right now I’m exclusively using Trello for my to do list – but I thought ToDoIst was worth mentioning if you just need something for to-dos. You can create different lists for categories which is helpful! There is an app and desktop version.
Wave: I use Wave for all of my accounting and have done so for years. I send and track all of my invoices through it and pull reports for my accountant. I use the free version!
MailChimp: MailChimp is the only email software I have experience with and I love how user friendly it is to design newsletters. Growing my email list was one of my big goals for 2019, so I have been looking into alternatives but for now MailChimp is working. I do pay a monthly fee.
Google Analytics: There was a learning curve for GA with me, but I’ve been using it for years and really got to understand how it worked when I was the editorial director at Glitter Guide. I now have the app on my phone which makes checking my daily stats super easy when I’m on the go and not at my laptop. I’m a little addicted to it.
Tailwind: Ahhh Tailwind has been so helpful in growing my Pinterest followers AND creating pins that have gone viral. A large percentage of my referral traffic comes from Pinterest so this is another focus of mine for 2019. Tailwind is kind of tricky to figure out at first — but you can join and start tribes, which is really how you get more exposure to your pins. They all have different rules, but generally speaking, you pin your content to a tribe, and then have to pin other people’s content on your feed. So basically it’s an easy way to exchange. The toughest thing for me has been finding other accounts with a similar aesthetic to pin with. I did start my own motherhood tribe – so if you are a mommy blogger or have relatable lifestyle content and want to join please click HERE!! Tailwind also allows you to schedule your pins and has great analytic tools.
Planoly: Could not survive without Planoly!!! I use it to plan out my Instagram feeds for both @CaitlinKruse and @TheMamaNotes. I love that they have a desktop version (so I can easily upload hi-res images after I edit them), offer simple analytics and you can also schedule your posts through the app!
Unfold: I use the Unfold app for most of my Instagram stories templates. You will probably notice lots of other bloggers do too because it’s so simple to use, easy to customize and free/affordable purchases are available.
WordSwag: I started using this app a few months ago to make graphics and quotes (like this and this). It allows you to add fun text to images and create graphics. I use it for my stories sometimes and really love it. It’s worth the monthly fee for me !
Canva: Ahh, Canva has been a GAME CHANGER for my business! I use it for all of my graphic needs – it gives unskilled graphic designers like me the tools to create beautiful graphics. It allows you to drag and drop and create content for blog posts, newsletters, social media, resumes, posters and more. There are thousands of templates or you can build your own documents. I use the free version and pay for things as I need to!
YOAST: I use this plugin for SEO and I love how easy it is to use. It makes adding this extra step to my blog publishing routine quicker – and I love how the light turns from red to green once your post is SEO ready!
Website + Hosting
Here’s a rundown of my website set up right now!
I use WORDPRESS. Made the switch probably 5 years ago from Blogger and it’s been amazing. I haven’t upgraded to the new version yet.
I’m hosted by ShowIt. My design is created through them too, it’s kind of confusing to explain but it’s been soooo amazing. The service is geared towards photographers, but it works for me, too! Their support is SO quick and helpful. They ago above and beyond. I can customize any and everything myself (kind of how I think SquareSpace is) from my slideshow to the side bar graphics, really anything on my site!
My developers & designers are Krista & Davey and they are amazing and help me with so many things (like my holiday shops etc.).