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5 Tools that I’m Happy to Pay for as a Blogger

There are so many free applications and services available for bloggers that many of us get into a mindset of being anti paying for anything. However sometimes you get what you pay for in life and as a blogger wanting to build your blogging into a business there are some things that can be well worthwhile paying for.

In this post I wanted to look at some of the tools that I do pay for:

images-1.jpegSkype – Skype has become the backbone to my online communications. I use it as my primary instant messaging tool as well as to chat voice to voice with business partners and in networking. For the main it is free – however I pay for a couple of extras to make it even more useful.

The main thing I pay for with Skype is calls to landline phones and mobiles with SkypeOut. I regularly call overseas and the rates on Skype are considerably cheaper. I also pay for SkypePro which gives free calls to landlines within my country, free skype Voicemail and a discount on having an online number (something I also have). I spend around €20 a month on Skype.

aweber.gifAweber – For a long time I used a free newsletter service to send out weekly newsletters to many thousands of subscribers. However I increasingly found that you DO get what you pay for. Emails were not being delivered in greater and greater numbers and I was finding the service quite unreliable. Since switching to Aweber I’ve felt a weight lifted from my shoulders.

It works – every time. Emails are delivered in much higher numbers and the tools that Aweber offer are leave anything else I’ve used for dead. This is one tool I should have paid for years ago. Pricing varies depending upon how many subscribers you have but starts at $19 a month.

images.jpegImageWell – this image editor (for Macs) is amazing. It is a light image editor that gives you the power to do a whole heap of image editing quickly yet professionally. It is how I edit most of the images that I use here on ProBlogger and allows the adding of text, cropping, adding borders, reshaping and in it’s latest version the ability to change contrast, brightness, saturation and sharpening.

Yes you can do all this in photoshop – but this is a much lighter and easier to use tool. It used to have a free version but recently it became a paid only tool – well worth the $19.95.

pq128.pngPicturesque – this tool is similar to ImageWell as it is another Mac image editing tool. In many respects it leaves ImageWell for dead as it’s got some great extra features (it allows you to make images 3D, add reflections etc – however the only thing that it doesn’t do is add text to images (something I need).

Still – I’ve paid for this one too and am using it more and more. It costs $34.95.

Picture 1-17-tm.jpgecto – regular readers will know about this one already as I’ve been an ecto (for Mac) fan for quite some time. I’ve tried other Mac desktop editors and they are quite good but ecto ‘fits’ with my own posting rhythm so well. The only one that I’ve been playing with lately that I’ve found increasingly useful is Scribefire (a firefox add-on). However I tend to do a lot of offline writing so ecto works well for me. It costs $17.95.

Other Expenses

I’ve only picked out five tools that I pay for – but of course there are many other services and expenses that can come into blogging including hosting, domain names, paying writers, advertising, ISP costs, computer costs, blog design etc

With most of these you can find ways to do them for free – however sometimes the outlay can be worth it.

What blogging tools and services do you pay for?

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. One tool that (as a blogger) I’m more then willing to pay for is Transmit, possibly the best FTP client for the Mac ever.

  2. @MJ Ray: Do the SIP options you’re suggesting allow me to call the majority of my suppliers and clients who are lucky if they know what email is (ie on a landline)?

  3. Right now it’s just the domain and hosting for me. And of course the Problogger book!

  4. Here are a couple that we pay for as a company that help us collaborate:

    Basecamp: We use this as our internal milestone tracker and file store as well as our client extranet. And to think for years I used MS Project.

    Harvest: We use Harvest to track our time. Comes with a cool widget and iPhone support

    Lighthouse: We use Lighthouse as our bug tracking tool while testing development items

  5. Use Photoshop to rightsize, and tone our illustrative images and we use aWeber for sign-up.

    Both pricey, and both professional-grade tools. Saves time and captures opportunities over the long haul.

  6. @Ben Helps: Yes, there are SIP-to-landline services offering similar things to SkypeOut. I own my telco, so my landline is usually cheaper and I don’t use SIP-to-landline much, but I do have accounts with two of the providers listed on http://www.voipinfo.org/wiki/view/VOIP+Service+Providers that I sometimes use. (Page currently looks spammed by IPage Telecom, so don’t go with them, please.)

    Hope that helps!

  7. Gee man… I think I’ve fallen behind regarding technologies. I just had idea about skype only. But regarding image editing I always rely on photoshop. It’s the best in business.

  8. thanks for the suggestion on the email service. I am going to sign up with it when I am ready to put out my news letter. Right now I am working on a new design for my blog.

  9. How about Feedburner or Feedblitz? These free tools allow your RSS feed to be sent to be people automatically as email.

    The #1 mistake I see web site owners (of any type, including bloggers) make is not using email to communicate with their customers. These free tools automate your publishing so you can touch your customers more often but without any more work.

    As we talk about all the time on my E-Commerce Success blog (http://www.ScottFoxBlog.com), there is a much larger audience outside of the blogosphere than in it…

    Why not give as many avenues as possible to people who want to hear what you have to say?

    Scott Fox

  10. I find SkypeOut totally UNRELIABLE for business calls since the calls are dropped too often. There’s nothing worse on a business call with a potential client than to have the person on the other end suddenly not hearing you, shouting “Are you there? Are you there?” With Skype you run the risk of appearing unprofessional.

  11. Quote: I’ve only picked out five tools that I pay for – but of course there are many other services … paying writers …

    Do you have any tips or articles on how to find, judge, evaluate, and negotiate wiht freelance writers?

  12. Only one of those tools I’ve used is Skype which was when it first came out but I haven’t used it since, maybe I’ll check it out again and get back into it.

  13. What about feedblitz or feedburner for email delivery?

  14. I think the best tools for blogging has to include the Web Browser FLOCK

    Why pay for for a program like Ecto or MarsEdit to post to your blogs when there is a tool that works the same built into Flock.

    I know I am highly delighted with the tool. Once I have the various blogs set up all I have to do is write the post and choose which one I want to post to.

    Just love it.

    The next tool I would have is for those of us bloggers that are podcasters also. Well it is more of a service than a tool. But it is inexpensive and is a super insurance in terms of knowing that you will never get caught by a massive bandwidth bill. This could happen if all of a sudden your podcast gets popular and thousands turn up to download your latest podcast.

  15. Most money i spend on wireless access, mostly i use free app.

  16. @WizardGold: I’d suggest a little caution in using Flock, based on my own experience.

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great browser and I used to use it, until I tried Firefox 3. FF3 is just so much quicker and less crash prone than Flock. Given they’re built from the same base, I may switch back to Flock once it starts using the FF3 code base, but until then, I’m happy to do without a browser that crashes multiple times per day and takes up to 400MB memory.

    So far even under duress (a dozen or so tabs including Flash and Java heavy pages) FF3 only occasionally crashes (once every few days), renders pages heaps quicker and never seems to use more than about 100MB RAM, no matter how much you push it.

    Just my 2c.

  17. I’ with Eric. Hosting and domain…also…so far.


  18. Photoshop is poetry.

    I’m also more than thrilled that I… scratch that…. more than thrilled that my husband paid for the Thesis theme (http://diythemes.com/thesis/). The designer, Chris Pearson, is, in my opinion, the absolute best. His SEO knowledge, his attention to detail, his style, his perfectionism, and his professionalism set him apart – and, frankly, must make it difficult to be humble.

    He honestly cares about the people who purchase his theme and works a lot harder than he has to – answering questions, giving tutorials, coming up with new additions, etc.

    My self help blog is my “baby,” I’ve only changed the theme 3 times since having it, and each time they have been Chirs Pearson themes. It’s a matter of trust.

    Bonus Points? He has a kicky sense of humor that makes me giggle.

  19. Thanks for the ImageWell recommendation – it was exactly what I needed.

    ~ Elizabeth

  20. lol, I’m just a newbie. I only need a webhosting + cheap domain :)

  21. dokrothomas says: 06/16/2008 at 6:35 am


    you mean the golden arches??


  22. I uses Skype constantly for all my interviews.

    I would add CallRecorder (on Mac) to record Skype calls with one track for me and another for my guest.

    I also have switched to Skitch from ImageWell as I like some things it does better and it is free.

    I use ecto, but I am not convinced someone won’t make something better this year as I am not completely satisfied with it. Sometimes I find it gets a bit glitchy.

  23. I have been contemplating buying Aweber for a while now, and you have almost pushed me in to buying it, might go and have a look at some pricing :)

    I just pay for my domain at the moment,

  24. Great article, but Skype is the best option for me.

  25. I did not know about the tools for blogging until i logged into problogger site. I am getting informations regarding blogs through this site. Its been interesting to know new things..


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