Welcome to part seven of my series for new bloggers. Last time I shared my WordPress plugin recommendations. In this post, I’m following a similar theme by looking at handy tools for bloggers.
I use all of these on a regular basis and they make a range of blog-related tasks a lot more straightforward. All of them can be used via websites or browser extensions, but some are available as mobile apps too.
I mentioned Grammarly in an earlier post and it’s worthy of inclusion again. Once you’ve installed the Chrome extension and set up a free account, it will go through any copy you write online.
Much like spellcheck in Microsoft Word, it underlines perceived errors and makes suggestions for spelling and grammatical corrections. You also get a weekly report via email detailing how many words you’ve written, your accuracy and vocabulary. I particularly like this as it informs my thinking when writing blog posts.
Photos are a must to draw in readers and it isn’t always easy to produce your own. There are lots of free image sites to choose from and I use two or three, but my favourite by far is Pixabay.
With over 1.3 million images to choose from, I always manage to find something relevant to my posts. The quality is always top notch and the pictures are free for commercial use with no attribution required. You can edit them to suit your needs too.
Another great site when it comes to visuals is Canva. It offers a user-friendly interface as well as a wide variety of templates that you can customise with free images, design elements and your own uploaded content.
I’ve used it for blog post images, social media posts and banners among a great many other things and find it incredibly versatile. I’m no designer by any stretch of the imagination but am happy that it adds a professional look to my content.
Sharing your content on social media can be an arduous task but tools like Buffer can eliminate a lot of faff. It allows you to quickly devise a posting schedule and build up a queue of content for your social media platforms.
It also provides at-a-glance analytics which show how well your posts have performed. As tweets have such a short shelf life, I use it predominantly for resharing posts on Twitter. I do this to ensure that they go out at different times of day and, therefore, to a wider audience.
If you’re at all likely to make any money out of blogging at some point, I recommend setting up Google Analytics. It provides all kinds of in-depth insights into your blog traffic that you can learn from accordingly.
It’s easy to set up and use and provides you with numerous stats and customisable reports that will help you improve your content. For example, I found that three of my best-performing posts last year were topical. This has given me the confidence to broaden my horizons with more news-based content this year.
Email remains one of the best ways of attracting readers but is often overlooked. I imagine that this is because many wouldn’t know where to start. I’ll tell you where though; MailChimp.
It guides you through the entire process from choosing templates, building up subscriptions and producing emails. Of course, it provides data on the completion of each mailing too. I use it to send out a monthly digest of posts people may have missed. It would be remiss of me to not include a link – you can sign up here!
Running giveaways is a great way of attracting extra traffic and new readers but, as with email, it might not be obvious where to start. One such option is Rafflecopter.
It enables you to use existing entry methods – such as following a Twitter account or visiting a Facebook page – or create your own. It takes minutes to set up and generates the code that you simply embed in your blog post. Naturally, it also randomly selects winners. Job done!
These are the handy tools for bloggers that I recommend. What are yours?
Next time, I’ll address the admittedly boring but nevertheless vital task of blog maintenance.