We often get asked what tools and resources we use to design, build, scale, market and monetize niche websites. So we’ve put together the following list of tools and resources that we have personally used and are very happy with and/or have researched in-depth and feel that they would be useful to our readers.
Please check the respective product and service provider’s website for their current prices and subscription plans as these can change.
(Note: This page may contain affiliate links. We may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you if you use our affiliate link. Please read our affiliate disclosure for more info)
- AI WRITING TOOLS
- KoalaWriter: One-click publishing to create SEO-friendly blog posts, Amazon Product Roundup, and YouTube videos to blog posts Super Fast
- SurgeGraph: All-in-one AI long-form writing and SEO tool
- Quillbot: Paraphrasing tool, grammar checker, and writing assistant
- SEO TOOLS
- IMAGE CREATION AND EDITING
- Canva: Great stock images, videos, and designer templates ready for you to customize for your marketing materials and social posts
- STOCK IMAGES
- Pexels: High quality, contemporary, royalty-free images and videos
- Storyset: A great range of contemporary, customizable illustrations
- WEBSITE HOSTING
- GreenGeeks: 300% environmentally friendly web host plus a free domain name for the 1st year (from U.S. $2.95/month for 1 website)
- DOMAIN NAME REGISTRATION
- WORDPRESS THEMES
- WORDPRESS WEBSITE SECURITY
AI WRITING TOOLS
KoalaWriter: One-click publishing to create SEO-friendly blog posts, Amazon Product Roundup, and YouTube videos to blog posts Super Fast
KoalaWriter is super simple and easy to use. You simply select a few options, type in your target keywords and click the ‘Create Article’ button. This means you can generate a comprehensive and SEO-friendly first-draft article in literally under a minute.
The SEO Optimization feature allows you to specify a list of keywords to be included in the article or use the AI-powered option which will analyze top-ranking pages and extract up to 100 topically relevant keywords and entities to use in the article. This should help the article rank higher in Google.
You can also customize your output by selecting the tone, language, and point of view of the article. Users also have the option of using real-time search results and generating an article outline first.
They also have an Amazon Product Roundup articles option for Amazon affiliates and a YouTube to Video
Another great feature of KoalaWriter is that it’s very affordable, starting at $9 per month for 15k words and 250 chat messages. You can trial KoalaWriter for free, which gives you 5k words and 25 chat messages (without even needing to sign-up).
Overall, I find the articles generated by KoalaWriter to be of very high-quality and they’re also very readable. You can then do some final editing and fact-checking if you like and then you’re ready to publish. This is a real time-saver in the fast-evolving content publishing game.
SurgeGraph: All-in-one AI long-form writing and SEO tool
SurgeGraph is an AI long-form article generator and SEO tool-in-one. You can generate a 1500-4500 word article in minutes.
First, you type in your seed keywords and see what related keywords SurgeGraph suggests. The app will show you the keyword difficulty and opportunity score for your keywords and related keywords. Once you’ve decided which keywords you want to target in your article, you can then just simply follow the workflow steps of SurgeGraph.
The app will take you through the ‘Content Writer’ where you generate an outline and then get SurgeGraph to ‘write’ your article. Once the article is written, you can then manually optimize or ‘auto-optimize‘ your article by accepting the app’s suggestions of changes to make. Once you’re happy with the article, it is ready for you to publish to your website or platform of choice.
The features we particularly love about SurgeGraph are: the opportunity score given to the keywords, the powerful outline builder, the contextual terms feature, the generation of a 3000+ word article in literally a few minutes, and the ‘auto-optimize’ of the SEO suggestions feature, which is a mega time saver and which should help you rank a lot higher in the Google search results.
Quillbot: Paraphrasing tool, grammar checker, and writing assistant
Their paraphrasing tool is pretty cool. It’s good to be able to paste your writing into the paraphrase tool on the left hand side and see Quillbot rewrite it for you in the right hand panel. We often find ourselves using the same words and sentence structure in our writing and sometimes want to change it up a bit. Or we want to write more fluently or creatively, or expand or shorten some text (the premium version has 8 modes including custom). This tool does exactly that.
Their Co-Writer tool is also pretty cool. You can type in your topic and a brief description into the Smart Scan field and Quillbot will generate a blog, essay, or research paper outline for you. Next, you can also use Quillbot Search to look up articles from the web or academic articles.
Check out the differences in features on Quillbot’s pricing page to see if the Free or Premium plan suits your needs best and give Quillbot a whirl.
Ahrefs: Ultimate SEO toolset. Great for keyword research and competitor analysis
Ahrefs is a premium SEO tool for keyword research, analyzing your competitors’ keywords, looking for backlink opportunities, and more. I’ve found heaps of keywords I could potentially rank for just by typing in the URL of a site in a similar niche or just by typing in a popular keyword and looking for long-tail keyword opportunities. The only downside is that it’s a pretty expensive tool with the Lite plan starting at $99.
The good news is that you can use their Free SEO tools to get you started. I like their Keyword Generator tool and use this one a lot (even though I’m subscribed to the Lite plan). Other tools include the Backlink Checker, Keyword Rank Checker (see where you rank for any keyword in 243 countries), and the Website “Authority” Checker.
IMAGE CREATION AND EDITING
Canva: Great stock images, videos, and designer templates ready for you to customize for your marketing materials and social posts
I use Canva to create all of the featured images on my websites. I like how they’ve got so many beautifully designed and thought through templates you can select from and customize to suit your brand’s style guide and content. They’ve also got lots of royalty-free images, videos, and stickers you can drop into your design. There are also lots of font styles and effects you can add to your designs to create the perfect story and visual piece. They also have templates for creating an Instagram Story, Reel or Post, TikTok Video, YouTube Thumbnail, Twitter Post, Pinterest Pin, Facebook Post and more. Canva has both free and paid plans. Check out their pricing page to see which one suits your needs.
Pexels: High quality, contemporary, royalty-free images and videos
Their images look a lot more interesting and contemporary than those on most stock image sites.
Storyset: A great range of contemporary, customizable illustrations
You can change the color of the illustration, animate it, or take away certain elements from the image.
GreenGeeks: 300% environmentally friendly web host plus a free domain name for the 1st year (from U.S. $2.95/month for 1 website)
We enjoy using GreenGeeks as our web hosting provider as they offer 99.9% uptime, super-fast speeds using the LiteSpeed web server, top security and 24/7/365 support.
Tooltester published an article on the Most Reliable & Fastest Web Host in 2023: 15 tested for Speed, Uptime and Customer Service and GreenGeeks was the fastest out of all the web hosting services tested.
We’ve used GreenGeeks web hosting for 3 years now and are very happy with their service. They offer 24/7 support which was especially helpful when we were first setting up our account, transferring some domain names over, setting up WordPress for our websites and email accounts.
We signed up to the Pro plan from the beginning, at the intro discount price of $4.95/month (regular $16.95/month) for 3 years to maximise our savings. This plan offers you features including: unlimited websites, web space, email accounts, databases, free domain for the 1st year, free SSL certificate, free CDN, free nightly backup, and more. There is also a lite plan at $2.95/month if you want to test out their hosting with one website first.
Two Additional Features We Particularly Like
- Account isolation. “Utilizing a container based approach, accounts are provisioned with their own dedicated computing resources and secured virtual file system (Secure vFS). This ensures no single user can impact another regardless of site traffic or computing resource demands.”
- 300% Green Hosting platform. GreenGeeks work with the Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) in Portland, Oregon as a Green-e Partner and purchase Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) 3x as much as much as they’ve consumed, and put that energy back into the grid. They also work with One Tree Planted to plant trees across the world. They plant one tree for every web hosting account they service on their platform.
We’ve used GreenGeek’s services for 3 years now and have found them to be very helpful and fast in answering any questions via live chat. We’ve had no problems so far with building multiple websites on their platform.
DOMAIN NAME REGISTRATION
Namecheap: Free Whois protection and Private domain registration
We’ve found Namecheap to be competitively priced, starting from US$8.95/year for a new .com domain name.
Scroll down to their current deals section on their home page and you’ll often see discount offers around 21% off for renewals, transfers and new .com domain names. We also like how they include free Whois protection and private domain registration as part of the domain registration price.
Themeforest: Great range of theme designs
Themeforest has over 11.2k WordPress themes to choose from, so you can browse lots of themes to find the one that suits your website’s function and brand look.
Theme categories include Blog Magazine, Corporate, eCommerce, Technology, Nonprofit and Creative.
The themes have been quality checked by Envato and come with 6 months of free support from the WordPress theme seller. Theme updates are free. You can also see how many people have bought the theme, the theme’s rating, and comments from previous buyers.
There’s also a summary page for each theme so you can read about the main features of each theme, plus there’s a live demo so you can visualize the theme in action to see if you like it or not.
We’ve bought numerous themes from Themeforest as we’ve wanted well-thought-through, beautifully designed themes for our various niche website projects, that really stand out.
Blocksy: Free Starter Sites available, Super-fast theme
Blocksy is a fast, fully responsive WordPress theme that has a free option which is easy to use without needing to know how to code.
There are 28 starter website designs you can choose from. These include designs already tailored for various categories including: a business, portfolio, travel, recipe, interiors, product reviews, ecommerce store, or news website.
You can install the starter website you like and use it for free. The design interface using blocks is intuitive to use, enabling you to customize the layout, header, footer and sidebar options to achieve the design you want quickly and easily.
The theme is light and fast resulting in faster load times, eCommerce ready, and is also a fully responsive theme. It is also compatible with WordPress editors like Gutenberg, Elementor and Brizy so you can build your site using a drag-and-drop visual interface.
You can get access to more features such as: multiple conditional sidebars, content blocks (hooks), custom fonts, custom code snippets and more with the Pro version of Blocksy if needed. We have built websites using the Blocksy News starter site and found the free version of Blocksy works well.
WORDPRESS WEBSITE SECURITY
Wordfence: Keep your WordPress website secure
Wordfence is a plugin that helps protect your WordPress website from cyber attacks. You can look at their pricing page to decide which one suits your website security needs.
Ship 30 for 30: Develop a daily writing habit, generate endless content ideas, and learn to write well and write for your audience
To grow a website or content affiliate site, you need content. You can outsource the writing of the articles, which can get quite expensive quickly. Or you can use AI writing tools to speed things up dramatically, which is great, but you still want to know what to say, how to say it in a compelling way, how to structure it, and how to write the best headline so that people will actually click on and read the article.
I joined the Ship 30 for 30 writing cohort in January 2023 as I wanted to learn how to write articles that people will want to read, write with consistency, write a lot quicker, and write a lot more. I also wanted to get over my perfectionism and overthinking mindset and just hit the publish button already!
The course is run by prolific and prominent writers Nicolas Cole and Dickie Bush. I learnt a lot about generating content ideas, writing headlines, publishing an atomic essay every day on Typeshare (I managed 18/30 days, which is more than I’ve ever written in a 30-day stint), structuring articles, and how to see what people are interested in reading, and then doubling down on that and more. The cohort is structured with a gaming element to it which makes you want to complete the tasks to collect the weekly badges (great accountability incentive). There’s also a great community element to the cohort, where you’re encouraged to follow, give feedback to and support your fellow cohort members.
If you want to develop a daily writing habit, learn how to write well, and be interesting and relevant to your audience, then the Ship 30 for 30 writing course/cohort is definitely worth checking out!
If you want to get access to 90% of the Ship 30 for 30 Live Sessions course from the January 2023 cohort FOR FREE (the course now costs around U.S. $800), you can, by going to their YouTube channel playlist titled: January 2023. They’ve only left out Live Session 6: How to Write Twitter Threads and LinkedIn Posts. You can learn a lot and see if the course is the right fit for you by watching these videos. But taking part in an actual live cohort does give you lots of other benefits including the community, additional notes and resources.
Travel Blogger Shelley Marmor’s Affiliate Marketing Courses: Affiliate Marketing and How to Find Affiliate Keywords to Target
I first came across Shelley Marmor’s travel blogging success story on the Niche Pursuits podcast. I thought it was really cool that she was the living the dream making money as a travel blogger, and she was able to get her affiliate sites profitable so quickly. She started her first site Travel Mexico Solo in April 2020 (during the pandemic when no-one was travelling) and since then has launched 4 more websites and has earned over $52k in one month alone at the end of 2022.
You can watch over her shoulder so to speak, and watch her take you through her method of finding affiliate marketing keywords to target, to hopefully get a lot of traffic, and affiliate clicks so you can start making affiliate income too. Her strategies are very practical and she treats blogging like a business, not a hobby.
She has two courses and a Done for You Blog Post Template.
- Affiliate Marketing 101 MasterClass (Beginner level)
- How to Find Affiliate Marketing Keywords (Intermediate level)
So if you want to become a successful, monetized travel blogger, her courses may help you reach your goals faster.