Managing self-hosted WordPress blog needs lot of tools. Whether you are a WordPress blogger or developer, you need multiple tools on daily use for various needs. For example, you may need to test the installation before deploying it live, prepare infographics for an article or edit a core PHP file. We will list down top 10 category of tools with examples that every WordPress blogger needs for effective blog management.
Choosing Effective Tools
Many bloggers make a mistake relying on free tools and not ready to invest on premium products. Through there are wonderful free tools available, make sure to choose effective tools which need investment of money. This small investment can help you saving lot of time and improve your productivity. The tools listed here include both free and premium primarily focusing on making WordPress blogger’s life easier.
1. Local WP Setup
The most important thing a WordPress blogger needs is setting up a local environment. WordPress needs regular updating of core, theme, plugins and PHP version. You can’t directly deploy major changes in live sites like upgrading PHP version. No matter, you have Windows computer or MacBook, there are free applications available for local WordPress setup. This will help you to test any changes before you try out in live site. Below are some of the local setup tools for WordPress bloggers:
- Local – this is a free app from Flywheel we highly recommend for WordPress bloggers. It comes with pre-built WordPress setup and you can simply create multiple WordPress installations for free.
- MAMP – best app for Mac and you have both free and pro versions available. Though it needs manual WordPress setup, it works seamlessly. Alternatively, you can try XAMPP if that works for you.
- WAMP – this is a local web development setup tool primarily for Windows based computers.
2. FTP Client
File handling is one of the unavoidable tasks when working with WordPress sites. As a WordPress blogger, you can easily edit files on your server using File Manager app from your hosting account. However, it is a hassle logging into hosting account every time you need to edit a file. Though there are file manager apps you can use from admin panel, they are always a security risk especially when multiple authors/editors handle a blog. Using File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is the best solution to handle files in WordPress.
You can easily edit wp-config.php, .htaccess, functions.php or any other file remotely using FTP software without every time logging into hosting account. We recommend using FileZilla which is available for both Mac and Windows clients.
3. Plain Text Editor
There are two type of test editors you need when working on your blog. One is for content preparation editor like Microsoft Word, Apple Pages or similar rich text editor. After preparing your content, you can simply copy and paste on the WordPress editor to keep all your formatting. Second is a plain text editor that you need for editing PHP, CSS, HTML and JS file content.
As mentioned above, you need to edit core WordPress files frequently to control the behavior of your WordPress blog. Though you can access the server files through FTP or File Manager app, you need a clean text editor for editing without mistakes. You can’t use default editors like Notepad in Windows and TextEdit in macOS, neither use rich text editors like Word or Pages for code editing purpose. Fortunately, there are high quality free tools available for editing codes in text files. The best available option is the open source Visual Studio Code app developed by Microsoft. Besides that you have other tools like Sublime Text or Atom for file editing.
4. Image Editor
As a blogger, you need to capture screenshots and prepare instructional images on regular basis. Photoshop is the best known image editing app for designers and bloggers. However, you do not need such a heavyweight app for simple blogging needs. The alternate and most popular option is to use Snagit. This is a premium tool which you can try for 15 days with free trial version. We are using Snagit for almost a decade without even turning to any other tools.
5. Video Editor
Video editors are not necessary if you are primarily focusing on content blog. However, if you are regularly preparing videos then you can try Camtasia. This is a top-notch video editing tool from the same developer of Snagit. You can purchase both Snagit and Camtasia as a bundled tool for a discounted price.
6. Speed Testing Tools
The next tool every WordPress blogger needs is for measuring the webpage loading speed. You have to make sure the blog loads faster on desktop and mobile devices. Though you can test by opening the site in different devices and browsers, it is not possible to test how fast it loads in another part of the world. The solution is to use website speed testing tools and follow the recommendations to optimize your site. GTmetrix is one of the best option available for bloggers with neat interface and clean suggestions. Besides that you can try Pingdom and Google PageSpeed Insights.
Remember, do not get obsessed with page speed when you feel the user experience on your site is good. If possible, you can get opinions from readers and improve the UI.
7. Browser Console
WordPress works based on PHP at the backend. However, knowing basic HTML and CSS is essential to do minor adjustments. For example, you may want to adjust the background color, add border to an element or apply shadow effects to a text box. You can’t hire a developer for doing these minor changes and pay hefty bill. The solution is to check the preview of live site in a browser and use default browser console to view the CSS box model on the page.
Google Chrome developer tools can help you understanding the CSS involved with each element on the page. You can edit the code live to see the effects and then apply it on your site.
8. Collaboration Tools
One of the biggest mistakes WordPress bloggers make is trying to do everything themselves. You have to understand that individual person has limited knowledge and capacity and can’t manage a larger blog after certain point of time. WordPress by default offers a powerful user management system. Using this you can allow multiple authors, editors, contributors and administrator to manage your blog at the same time. In addition, you have platforms like ManageWP to maintain multiple blogs with ease.
Beyond WordPress options, you can use tools like Jira or Slack, when you need to manage bigger project with teams.
9. Code Management
As a WordPress blogger, you do not need to manage code on regular basis. If you want to explore beyond blogging skills then code management is the first step to learn. You can start learning Git and create account in platforms like GitHub to understand version control and code deployment processes. GitHub is also a hosting platform where you can host your own code repository and share the work with others. Most of the popular code editors also support Git integration, for example you can integrate Git with Visual Studio Code using extensions.
10. Online Help
The final tool needed for WordPress bloggers is to have a handy portal to get free online help. Content is important for any blog, however, you will not be creating content all time when managing WordPress blog. There are other activities to manage like updating, backup, troubleshooting, etc. WordPress is complex enough to throw different type of errors when managing your blog. Instead of breaking your head alone, be free to look for online help to find solutions for your problem. Due to the popularity of WordPress, most of the time you will get a solution easily with a simple Google search.
Other than doing Google search, you can directly look for help in official WordPress support portal and search in community websites like Stack Overflow. These websites are funded and backed by heavy investment and the answers are moderated to maintain higher quality. Therefore, you will get precise answer that can save plenty of time.
Using effective tools can save time you spent on repetitive tasks like creating images or editing files. The above-listed tools are some of the basic tools every WordPress bloggers can try and use. You may also need complex tools depending upon the need (for example, Figma for prototyping). Do not hesitate trying out new tools and make use of the free trial option available to test the premium tools before purchasing.
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