Today I renewed my self-hosting subscription. Which means that today is one year from when I decided I was going to dedicate myself to this blog more than any other I’d written before (and there are so, so many abandoned blogs across the internet of mine..). It’s truly been a learning curve; I’ve discovered interests in things I never thought would appeal to me; things like graphic design, SEO, even just general social media mastery – as well as getting to practice and get out there doing the thing I love to do, write. Along the way I have discovered some rather fantastic blogging tools which have helped me turn my scribbles into something which I’m actually quite proud of, tools I feel would benefit anyone starting out blogging from a very basic stage like I was.
So without further ado, here are my Top Five Essential Blogging Tools.
I was late enough to the game with Canva, and only took a look upon recommendation from some other bloggers. I would have classed myself as artistically crap, and wondered how all these other bloggers had amazing graphics and titles etc. Then Canva came into my life and I became less crap, or rather, I spotted how others did it and tried to follow that. The real joy of Canva is that as well as being an image creating/editing wonderland, it’s also got a design tutorial section, which has taught me lots about different filters and effects which can completely change the way your pictures look and feel in your blog posts. It’s got a selection of different frames, icons, free images you can use, as well as optional elements which you pay for (a dollar each, not bad!) and have use of for 24 hours while editing, once saved, you’re home and free. As a good picture can really help to draw people in, this one is definitely a must-have in my blogging toolbox.
Personally, I use Canva For Work, which is a paid subscription service, but many of the incredible tools they’ve got are free of charge.
If you want to check out my step by step guide to making a blog graphic in Canva, you can find it here.
2. Google Analytics
This one is a must-have for the stats-obsessed (and if you’re in any way serious about blogging, that will most likely be you!). Easier to work from the mobile app than the website, in my opinion, this baby will show you absolutely everything you need to know about who is reading, where they’re from, how they got there and if they stuck around or not. Can make for an interesting look and may help you with seeing where you’re doing great or not so great at improving your bid for blogging fame. For something inbuilt, I’ve also found Jetpack to be quite good with WordPress for this and many other things (Jetpack is really a whole post in itself tbh).
3. Facebook Pages and Twitter
Ah, Facebook, an addiction like no other. My feed these days has thankfully changed from what it started out as in 2009 – filled with FarmVille requests, people harvesting plants after coming home from nightclubs and the like – but is now filled with groups containing different bloggers offering advice and links to their latest blog posts. It’s a great tool for not only getting to know other bloggers out there and asking for advice, but also for getting to reach out to your readership through social media – fantastic for running competitions, or even just trying to set up a community vibe. Setting up a Facebook page for your blog is definitely a must-do for the promotion of your blog, it definitely does help with referrals (which you’ll see when you check your Google Analytics). You can check out (and follow, if you wish) mine here.
Where Facebook is filled with advice and blog posts, Twitter lets me know what is going on in the world. A citizen-journalism dream, hashtags let you know what is going on and what you need to know. It allows you to connect to people you never would otherwise – I’ve had conversations with writers I adore, people on the other side of the world, lots of other bloggers – and set up somewhat of a virtual relationship with them. It’s fantastic for Promo purposes as well; there are a lot of accounts set up specifically for the purpose of Retweeting posts for bloggers in different genres, these can be quite useful for disseminating your posts to a whole new audience. It’s also a great way to get in touch with brands, for praise or for complaints, as most companies do have quite an active Twitter presence and due to the potential of mob hash-tagging, are much more likely to get back to you to fix any potential issue. You can check out the BadMammy twitter account here if you need to check out an example, but definitely, add this one to your tool belt.
I’m quite new to the game with Pinterest. As a not particularly crafty person, I looked at it as something that wasn’t quite me. Then I discovered what it could actually be used for and it has transformed my blogging and my usage of it. As well as providing a valuable place for my spare time to go disappear to; Pinterest is absolutely brilliant for inspiring blog posts, checking out what other ideas to go for when something fails or just finding other blogs in the same vein that you’ll love. As well as that, it’s fantastic for promotion purposes – I use a WordPress Plugin Pin It Button for Pinterest which I find works really well to make the pictures easy to pin and share – I’ve gotten a lot of clickthroughs since I started using Pinterest properly so I hope that this definitely keeps up.
5. Backup To Dropbox
This one isn’t shiny, or pretty, and doesn’t make your blog do a million and one cool things. Nor will it draw huge crowds to your latest post. It will, however, save you from many tears and much begging of other internet people when your website inevitably at some point decides to take a holiday and you need to get it back. Content can go missing with updates, entire websites can be (and have been) made vanish and lots of coffee, wine and tears have been used up trying to get it all back. All completely unnecessary if you have the content all backed up. I’ve been using Dropbox since college for things that are important to me to back up so when I discovered a rather lovely WordPress plugin that would back up my blog to it, I was happy out. I thankfully have not yet had to use it, but I do feel a lot safer knowing that it’s all backed up if I do. Definitely, one I recommend – and if not this, another backup option – this isn’t really an optional one if you are serious about your blog/website.
Those are my main essentials – obviously, there are lots more which I use on a day to day basis, but these are the ones which I use most frequently. Please let me know of any others you use or have used that you think I should know about, and if you’d like to see more of this kind of post in the future – I like passing on little bits like this and getting this kind of advice from others, hopefully, you do too. Let me know in the comments below!
BadMammy is over on Facebook.
If you liked this post on Blogging Tools, you may also like How To Embed Pinterest Images Invisibly Into Posts or How To Set Up Google Adsense on Your WordPress Blog.