My Blogging & Web Developing Tools of the Trade

Today I’m going to share some of the tools and applications that I use as a blogger and web designer. Maybe you’ll get some ideas for new applications to try out!

The Quick List

If you just want a fast overview, here’s the list of all my tools:

Two 23″ Monitors

Dual Monitors

Once you have two monitors, you can never go back to one! This particularly comes in handy when I’m coding a new website. I can have the Photoshop mockup on one screen and the code/web page on the other screen. Then I can quickly compare the two side-by-side.

Or, I could even put a movie up on one screen and web browse on the other.



JPEGmini is an image compression tool. It can reduce the file size of your photos by up to 5x, while still maintaining the same quality!

When making any kind of website, page speed is important. You want your site to load as quickly as possible. Large images can easily slow down your site’s load time, so anytime I upload an image to my site, I first run it through JPEGmini to compress it. This was particularly helpful when I used to make slider images (which are often very large).

For example, see the monitor image above? That was originally like 550KB. When I ran it through JPEGmini, it became 158KB!


Kindle Paperwhite

Well this one needs no explanation! I have a Kindle Paperwhite. This was a must-have for me because I love being able to read in the dark, but it’s still important that I have E Ink technology for when I want to read in the sun.

Adobe Applications

Adobe Product Logos (Photoshop, Illustrator, and Lightroom)

I have Adobe CS5, but I only really use three applications on a regular basis:

  • Photoshop
  • Illustrator
  • Lightroom

I usually use Photoshop for graphic design, blog images, and web design. I use Illustrator for opening vector files (I don’t personally create anything in Illustrator—I hate it!). And I use Lightroom for editing the photos I take.


Dropbox Logo

I use Dropbox to store all my important files. All of my client works are in there for safe keeping, along with my own blog design files and assets.

Notepad++, Textwrangler, and PhpStorm

PhpStorm Text Editor

I need a text editor to do all my coding. Up until recently, I used two programs religiously:

But recently, my fiancé has been nudging me towards PhpStorm. PhpStorm is an amazing text editor, I’m just really set in my ways and it’s hard for me to transition into a new program! But I’m slooowly working my way over there. It’s cool how you can import entire libraries (like WordPress) then it can auto-complete the functions and fetch documentation for you.

Bitbucket and SourceTree


Bitbucket is what I use to store and manage all my coding projects (like the Ultimate Book Blogger Plugin). In short, it allows you to upload “copies” of your coding projects. Then you can view and roll back to previous versions at any time. So in my Bitbucket panel I can see version 2.3.1, version 2.3.2, version 2.3.3, etc. And for each one of those, I can see the changes I made.

SourceTree is an application that allows me to upload my changes straight from the files on my computer to my Bitbucket account.



WampServer allows me to have a web development environment straight on my computer. More specifically, it allows me to have a WordPress installation on my computer. This is where I develop and test all my themes and plugins!

I also have the Mac equivalent—MAMP—on my Macbook Pro.


Shutterstock Logo

Shutterstock is basically a huge image database. You can download THOUSANDS of stock images.

I mostly use Shutterstock for client projects, but I do occasionally use an image or two on my blog. It’s an amazing resource, but it is really expensive so it’s hard to justify using it for only a blog.


Starbucks Hot Chocolate

Every girl needs her fix. For me, it’s Starbucks hot chocolate. It’s part of my morning routine. Sit down, check morning emails, sip hot chocolate. Delish!


I actually only just got TweetDeck recently. I’m probably the last book blogger to start using it. I mainly got it when I created my third Twitter account. Previously I’d have my @NoseGraze Twitter up on Chrome (my primary browser) and @BloggerDB up on FireFox. That way I could easily manage both accounts.

But then I created my THIRD Twitter account, @BookHosting. Using a third browser just seemed silly. So I migrated to TweetDeck, which allows me to easily manage multiple Twitter accounts in one application.

What are your tools of the trade?

Share some of the tools, devices, and apps you use on a regular basis for blogging/reading/working!

Photo of Ashley
I'm a 28 year old California girl living in England (I fell in love with a Brit!). My three great passions are: books, coding, and fitness. more »

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  1. Wah! I also have 2 screens. Can’t live without it now. Btw, do you use JPEGmini after using Photoshop? Because I always thought that Photoshop was good enough. So I never ever thought to further compress the image using another program. I like this type of post! So informative for me. Am going to check out WampServer πŸ˜€

    1. I used to save images in Photoshop with about 75-80% quality. You can do that without any visual loss of quality, but reduce the file size quite a bit. However, I’ve found that JPEGmini is A LOT more powerful. It will always reduce it more than Photoshop does, and automatically does it enough so that you don’t notice any visual difference.

      So now I always save images at 100% quality in Photoshop, then run them through JPEGmini. πŸ™‚

  2. Thank you so much for this post! I’m definitely going to check out JPEGmini. Right now, the only thing I use is Photoshop and Dreamweaver every now and then. I must see what’s so cool about using two screens! πŸ˜€

    Laura Plus Books recently posted: LGBT Month: Sign Ups
  3. So jealous of your two monitors! Minimising the screen while watching a show and typing up reviews seems so restrictive now haha.

    Thank you so much for sharing! I’m definitely going to be using TinyPNG which you mentioned to Laura in the comment above πŸ˜€

    Charlotte @ Gypsy Reviews recently posted: Making the Tough Decisions
  4. I love Photoshop! I have the entire CS6 Adobe Creative Suite since it was bundled together with my purchase but I mostly use PS, which is a shame since I’ve heard great things about Illustrator and Lightroom. I need to experiment with the programs to get the hang of things.

    Tweetdeck is amazing! I love scheduling tweets and having all my streams (lists, mentions etc) on one screen. I also use Buffer to schedule tweets since it automatically gives your tweet a scheduled post time based on a tweet schedule.

    1. Personally, Illustrator drives me bonkers. I just think it’s so not user friendly. Maybe it’s just because I’m so used to Photoshop and I think the way Illustrator works is super different (just the tools, the lengths you have to go to just to select a colour, etc.).

      I find it pretty much irrelevant anyway since you can make vectors with Photoshop already.

      But Lightroom is awesome! I usually use a combination of Lightroom and Photoshop for editing my photos. I process the RAW images in Lightroom, then sometimes do a few extra tweaks in Photoshop. It rocks!

  5. I use 2 screens for work, and really want to make it work at home too. So nice to have more monitor space.

    I’m also a Starbucks hot chocolate addict. Do you drink it just straight? I tend to go fancy and add peppermint and raspberry to make it decadent.

    Sarah recently posted: Review: Ryder on the Storm
  6. Great list of tools. I’m nowhere close to even being able to use them yet but it’s nice to know them. I love the two monitor setup and didn’t know about tweetdeck. I’ve had a hard time jumping back and forth between twitter accounts so that looks like a great idea. Not that I am very good at tweeting yet. I haven’t really used it until recently. Yeah I’ve been living in a cave lol.

    Great list. I’m sure it will come in very handy over time to me. And JPEGmini sounds super useful even if I just want to upload photos to my site πŸ™‚

    Jamie Pinson recently posted: Top Kindle Deals: My Top Daily Picks!
  7. Haha yeah I used to LOVE Tweetdeck just because it’s really easy to be able to see your timeline and interactions without having to constantly switch between, but recently I stopped using it because I’ve been on Twitter less and less often. But I’m definitely going to check out JPEG mini! I have Photoshop Elements because it was the cheapest option, and I’m fine so far with what it has! If I ever want to start designing my own blog or something like that, I’m definitely going to look into getting the full Photoshop, but I feel like I’m just so uncreative and my blog title is so LONG that it was be super annoying >.< Maybe I'll look into that lol. Thanks for sharing, Ashley! <33

    Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain recently posted: Ask Again Later by Liz Czukas
  8. Adobe and I are BFFs πŸ™‚ I have Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign CS6 on my laptop. I use Photoshop to edit photos and create banners for my blog. I use Illustrator for designing graphics for newspaper, but I don’t use it for my blog very often. InDesign pretty much only gets opened on my laptop when I have a newspaper deadline. It doesn’t really serve a purpose with blogging. Out of those three programs, I’m least comfortable with Illustrator, but I’m forced to use it for newspaper because vectors are better for resizing.
    I have a Nook first edition for reading outside and on really long trips, but I generally read on my tablet because I bring it with me everywhere.

    D. @ The Nerdy Journalist recently posted: Top Ten Popular Authors I’ve Never Read
  9. My husband set up a two-monitor system when he got our new iMac a few months a go, but I’ve only started taking advantage of it in the last few weeks and already, I can’t imagine going back! I’ve usually got my music/media player on the smaller screen (I think it’s 17′?) and then my blogging on the 27′. I’ve got stickies with ideas running down the left hand side of my desktop, and then my browser in the middle. And I still have space left over if I need a 4th or 5th thing open haha. It’s a little overwhelming sometimes, but mostly I love it!

  10. I did not know about Lightroom, but I have Adobe CC so I will look around on it now. I am taking a class on illustrator right now, I am interested to see how it goes. These are great tools. I use a couple or similar kinds. But I love that you showed us this. I always wondered what kind of stuff you use in your genius hours!

    Jennifer Bielman recently posted: Review: Wallflower Gone Wild by Maya Rodale
  11. I’m in love with this post!! So great to see all the great programs you use.

    I have yet to install WAMP..It’s on my massive to-do list..

    I’ve been meaning to use Sublime Text as my editor from now on since I’ve been hearing great things about it. I’m going to have to check out PHPStorm, Sublime looks way too advanced for me :S They have all these massive shortcuts that make coding a breeze.

    Also, super uber jealous of your two monitors. I need ’em too. Productivity soars when one has two screens.

    Giselle @ BO-OK NERD recently posted: Waiting on Wednesday #72: ‘Hungry’ by H.A. Swain
  12. Girl, I am so jealous of your double screens. I can’t even coherently express my feelings towards having double screens because I really want ’em.

    Is Lightroom easy to use? I’ve only used Photoshop’s native RAW editor for the DSLR pictures I take and that’s pretty good for me already.

    1. Yeah Lightroom is very easy! The first time I launched it, I was a bit overwhelmed, but you’ll adapt to it quickly, especially if you’re familiar with the Photoshop RAW editor. They’re not all that different. Lightroom is just a bit better.

  13. I’m very jealous of your two monitors. I would love to be able to stream a movie and do work at the same time! And ditto to Starbucks. Sometimes, I just need those sugary, caffeinated drinks to get me through my work! I haven’t heard of JPEGMini but I think I’m going to try it out! I take photographs with my camera and they’re just so big that it’s always a hassle to upload them so I definitely need a solution and JPEGMini sounds great!

    1. JPEGmini would be PERFECT for your photographs! That’s where JPEGmini really shines: with large, photographed images. I recently used it for a website I was creating for a real estate developer. He had a ton of super high resolution real estate images and I just ran them all through JPEGmini. It reduced the size of the images SO much!!

  14. lol – Your two screens made me chuckle. While we both know I am not very good at computer stuff, my husband is the tech guy of our home. Man, has every gadget and all kinds of stuff to do his job. Not to mention two monitors and a lap top. lol Yep, he gets his morning drink too before work.

  15. Very impressive web design and web developing tools. Using such tools for web designing project can definitely save a lot of time and provides a way to make appealing websites.

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