Managing a standalone WordPress blog requires a lot of tools. Whether you are a blogger or a WordPress developer, you need to use multiple tools on a daily basis for different needs. For example, you might need to test the installation before deploying it live, prepare an infographic for an article, or edit the main PHP file. We list the top 10 categories of tools with examples that every WordPress blogger needs to effectively manage a blog.
Many bloggers make the mistake of relying on free tools and are not ready to invest in premium products. With great free tools available, make sure you choose effective tools that require an investment. This small investment can save you a lot of time and increase your productivity. The tools listed here include both free and premium tools primarily aimed at making life easier for a WordPress blogger.
1. Set up local WP
The most important thing a WordPress blogger needs is setting up a local environment. WordPress requires regular updates to the core, theme, plugins, and PHP version. You cannot directly make major changes to live sites, such as updating the PHP version. Whether you have a Windows computer or a MacBook, there are free apps available to install WordPress locally. This will help you test any changes before trying out the site in real time. Below are some local configuration tools for WordPress bloggers:
- Local is a free app from Flywheel that we highly recommend to WordPress bloggers. It comes with a pre-built WordPress installation and you can simply create multiple WordPress installations for free.
- MAMP is the best app for Mac and you have both free and pro versions. While it requires manual WordPress setup, it works without issue. Alternatively, you can try XAMPP if that works for you.
- WAMP is a local web development customization tool primarily for Windows computers.
2. FTP client
Working with files is one of the inevitable tasks when working with WordPress sites. As a WordPress blogger, you can easily edit files on your server using the File Manager app from your hosting account. However, every time you need to edit a file, logging into the hosting account is difficult. While there are file management apps that you can use from the admin panel, they are always a security risk, especially when multiple authors/editors are blogging. Using the File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is the best solution for working with files in WordPress.
You can easily edit wp-config.php, .htaccess, functions.php or any other file remotely using FTP software without having to login to your hosting account every time. We recommend using FileZilla, which is available for both Mac and Windows clients.
3. Plain text editor
When working on a blog, you will need two types of test editors. One is for a content preparation editor such as Microsoft Word, Apple Pages, or a similar rich text editor. After preparing your content, you can simply copy and paste into the WordPress editor to keep all your formatting. Second, it’s a simple text editor that you need to edit the content of PHP, CSS, HTML, and JS files.
As mentioned above, you need to edit the core WordPress files frequently to control the behavior of your WordPress blog. While you can access the server’s files via FTP or the File Manager app, you’ll need a clean text editor for error-free editing. You can’t use default editors like Notepad on Windows and TextEdit on macOS, nor can you use rich text editors like Word or Pages to edit code. Fortunately, high-quality free tools are available for editing codes in text files. The best available option is the open source Visual Studio Code application developed by Microsoft. Other than that, you have other tools like Sublime Text or Atom for editing files.
4. Image editor
As a blogger, you need to regularly take screenshots and prepare tutorial images. Photoshop is the most famous image editing application for designers and bloggers. However, you don’t need such a heavy application for simple blogging needs. The alternative and most popular option is to use Snagit. This is a premium tool that you can try for 15 days with a free trial. We’ve been using Snagit for almost a decade without even looking at any other tool.
5. Video editor
Video editors are not needed if you are primarily focusing on blog content. However, if you’re a regular video cooker, you might want to give Camtasia a try. This is a top notch video editing tool from the same developer Snagit. You can purchase Snagit and Camtasia bundled at a discount.
6. Speed test tools
The next tool that every WordPress blogger needs is to measure the speed of loading a web page. You need to make sure that the blog loads faster on desktop and mobile devices. While you can test by opening a site on different devices and different browsers, it’s impossible to test how fast it loads in another part of the world. The solution is to use website speed testing tools and follow the best practices to optimize your website. GTmetrix is one of the best options for bloggers with a neat interface and clear suggestions. Also, you can try Pingdom and Google PageSpeed Insights.
Remember, don’t get hung up on page speed if you think your site is user friendly. If possible, you can get the opinion of readers and improve the user experience.
7. Browser Console
WordPress is powered by PHP. However, basic knowledge of HTML and CSS is required to make minor changes. For example, you can customize the background color, add a border to an element, or apply shadow effects to a text field. You can’t hire a developer to make these minor changes and pay a huge bill. The solution is to check the live site preview in the browser and use the default browser console to view the CSS box model on the page.
The Google Chrome Developer Tools can help you understand the CSS associated with each element on the page. You can edit the code in real time to see the effects and then apply it on your site.
8. Tools for collaboration.
One of the biggest mistakes WordPress bloggers make is doing everything themselves. You must understand that an individual person has limited knowledge and ability and cannot manage a large blog after a certain amount of time. WordPress offers a powerful user management system by default. Using this, you can allow multiple authors, editors, contributors, and an administrator to manage your blog at the same time. Plus, you have platforms like ManageWP to easily manage multiple blogs.
Apart from the WordPress options, you can use tools like Jira or Slack when you need to manage a large project with commands.
9. Code management
As a WordPress blogger, you don’t have to manage code regularly. If you want to go beyond blogging skills, then code management is the first step to learning. You can start learning Git and create an account on platforms like GitHub to understand version control and code deployment. GitHub is also a hosting platform where you can host your own code repository and share your work with others. Most popular code editors also support Git integration, for example, you can integrate Git with Visual Studio Code using extensions.
10. Online help
The last tool that WordPress bloggers need is a handy portal to get free online help. Content is important for any blog, however you won’t be constantly creating content when managing a WordPress blog. There are other activities that need to be managed, such as updating, backing up, troubleshooting, etc. WordPress is complex enough to give you various types of errors while managing your blog. Instead of racking your brains on your own, look online for help to find a solution to your problem. Due to the popularity of WordPress most of the time, you can easily find a solution with a simple Google search.
In addition to searching Google, you can directly search for help on the official WordPress support portal and search on community sites like Stack Overflow. These websites are funded and supported by large investments and the responses are moderated to maintain a higher quality. This way you will get an accurate answer, which will save a lot of time.
Using effective tools can save you the time you spend on repetitive tasks like creating images or editing files. The tools listed above are some of the essential tools that all WordPress bloggers can try and use. Depending on the need, you may also need complex tools (such as Figma for prototyping). Feel free to try new tools and use the free trial available to test premium tools before you buy.