Whether you are have been blogging for years, are a new blogger, or thinking of starting a blog, it’s important to have the right blogging tools. Blogging is a lot of work. But, with the right tools, we can lighten our workload and have more time to focus on our writing.
Sharing our thoughts, experience, and knowledge with others is why we began blogging. Our blogs make it possible to help and reach people all over the world, people who because of our chronic illness, we would have never had a chance to meet in person.
I blogged hard for years before my site began to really get noticed. It was exhausting and frustrating. I felt like I was wasting my time. By December of 2019 I knew I had to find ways to blog smarter, not harder. And that is exactly what I did!
My page views for this blog increased by 159% in 2020!! This wasn’t a fluke or an accident. I didn’t work harder, in fact, I actually worked less because I finally had the tools I needed to take over the tasks that were taking up all of my time. Keep reading to learn more about the tools that reignited my love for blogging and how they can help you blog smarter in the new year.
Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission to fund my coffee drinking habit if you use these links to make a purchase. You will not be charged extra, and you’ll keep me supplied in caffeine. It’s a win for everyone.
Blogging Tools For Writing
This free tool was a game changer!!! It is easy to use and has helped me create posts that get read. One of the mistakes I made early on was only going after highly popular keywords. The problem was that being a tiny fish in an ocean of bloggers, there was no way I would ever rank high enough to get noticed. With Keyword Surfer, I enter the keyword I want to write about and it gives me a list of extensions of that phrase and their rankings. Each month I write a mix of lower-ranked phrases which are easier for me to rank higher on with a couple of highly popular phrases. The result has been an increase in my SEO growth. It has been slow, but steady.
The great thing about blogging is that it allows us to write as we speak or without rigid rules. With that said, nobody wants to read something that is filled with misspellings and grammatical errors. Editing your blog posts is easier with Grammarly. There is a free and paid version. The free version is wonderful for new bloggers and in my opinion a necessity if you want to spend less time editing and more time writing.
Writing headlines used to be one of the most frustrating aspects of blogging. That is until Headline Studio entered my life. It helps me create headlines that include my keywords, make the point of the post clear, and get noticed.
Tools For Creating Images
Every blog needs images. Even if you do not have any relevant photos throughout the post itself, at the minimum you should have a logo, featured image for your social media posts, and a pinnable image for Pinterest. Whether you use Pinterest to drive traffic or not, your blog posts should have at least one pinnable image for others to share on their Pinterest boards. There are many blog posts from others that I would have loved to have shared on my Pinterest boards but didn’t because they did not have a proper-sized Pinterest image.
This is one of my favorite tools. Canva has templates for everything from social media images, pins, downloadable printables, etc. There is a free and paid pro version. I began with the free version and later upgraded to the pro version because I wanted access to more images, features, and to be able to add team members.
Canva’s video and animated templates/images/elements have boosted my Pinterest traffic. It’s no secret that Pinterest favors video pins at the moment and the easiest way to create them is through Canva. I created a variety of branded pin templates so all I have to do is add text and a video.
Ready to try Canva? Try their free version today!
While I love Canva for the majority of my visual content needs, I also use Tailwind Create. With this tool, I create multiple high-quality Pinterest images with just a few clicks. The time I save is invaluable and worth every penny spent. There is a free version, but it comes with a very limited amount of pins that can be created each month. With that said, the free version is a great way to take it for a test ride. Try it today!
Blogging Tools For Scheduling
With CoSchedule I am able to schedule posts to my personal/professional pages and groups on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. One-click is all it takes to set up my evergreen posts to share for life. With their WordPress plugin, I am able to complete the schedule for the social accounts listed above before publishing the post. Once published I no longer have to think about it.
This app is also fantastic at scheduling my posts at times when they are most likely to be seen. It has also brought life to older posts that had been ignored when first shared. This scheduler is a time saver and traffic driver.
What I appreciate the most out of this scheduling tool is I am able to set it up to post for me whenever I am flaring severely. If I fall behind, CoSchedule pulls from my evergreen content and posts as many times a day to the social media channels I have chosen. Flares no longer result in my social media accounts going silent.
Tailwind for Pinterest
There was a lot of talk about Pinterest being an amazing traffic driver. Wanting to bring more traffic to my site I attempted to manage my Pinterest account on my own. The result was a very small uptick in traffic and more work than I had time or energy for. That’s why I joined Tailwind for Pinterest in January of 2020.
Tailwind for Pinterest helps me choose the best times to post, prevents me from over-pinning, and gives me access to communities where my pins are shared and given more life by others. This tool is worth every penny spent. Pinterest is now my highest traffic driver! In addition to helping new posts get noticed quickly, it has brought life to my older posts. Once a week, I spend an hour creating new pins for a couple of old posts and watch them come back to life after scheduling on Tailwind for Pinterest.
Tailwind for Instagram
Posting on Instagram used to be a waste of time. Although my images received attention, they didn’t result in blog traffic. This wouldn’t have been an issue if I was an Instagram blogger, but I am not. My goal is to get people to visit my blog. And that is what Tailwind for Instagram has done for me!
Along with being able to schedule my Instagram posts, this tool allows me to preview my grid before publishing, helps me choose the best hashtags for my image, and gives insight into when I should share them. Tailwind for Instagram is an Instagram approved app which allows the app to post directly to my feed.
Speaking of interaction, like I said before my blog rarely received traffic from Instagram before Tailwind. But in the six months that I have been using it, my blog has seen daily Instagram traffic making it one of my favorite blogging tools. Along with the features I mentioned above, this tool also comes with a smart link. The smart link is one link that I have placed in my Instagram bio and does more than any other one link program I have tried in the past. Like with other apps, my followers first see a few basic links that I want to share. Below those links are all the images that I have linked to a blog post. All that is left for visitors to do is to click on the picture and voila, they are reading the blog post I wanted them to. I post and forget, no need to update the links.
Social Media Message Optimizer
Scheduling your post on social media is not enough. A killer graphic won’t go far without a great message! That’s where Social Media Optimizer comes into play. This free tool takes the message you want to post with your links and images on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn and helps you optimize it for each social media outlet. It also advises on the best times to publish on each platform.
Blogging Tools For Your Readers
While important for all blogs, having an accessible plug-in is a must for the chronic illness community. I use the WordPress Accessibility plug-in which gives my readers the option to change text size/font and more to make my page easier for them to read.
There is no greater reward for your work than having your readers share it! But that won’t happen if you don’t make it easy for them to share it. Having social media sharing buttons at the end or on the side of your post is a great way to nudge your readers to share when they finish reading.
Speaking of social media. Unless you do not have any branded social media pages, you should have where you can be found. Having mine placed on the sidebar has worked best for me and have seen others with their social information at the top of their blog.
MailerLite is affordable and easy to use. There is a free and paid version, both of which are perfect for bloggers. I started with a different brand and quickly grew frustrated while trying to figure out how to use it. Ready to give up on having an email list and newsletter, I thankfully found MailerLite.
I have been using this product for several years and have grown my list through free downloads, having a subscribe link on my sidebar, and occasionally placing a link at the bottom of some of my blog posts. This strategy which I only began in the past year yields new daily subscribers. Whereas only a few per month when I used a pop-up subscriber form. It has become clear that my readers hate pop-ups as much as I do.
Where to Find More Blogging Tools
I learned about AppSumo earlier last year. They have great deals on digital downloads, apps, and plug-ins to help you blog smarter. They have everything from SEO to accounting to social media. There is something for everyone! Just don’t wait too long if you see a deal you want. I got lucky last year and grabbed a lifetime subscription to Relay That (A program for creating bulk images) for less than lunch for two at Applebees! That offer is no longer available on AppSumo or Relay That, but it is available for a monthly fee on their own site. You never know what you will find, so be sure to check out the freebies and deals at AppSumo often!
What areas of blogging are bogging you down?
Which blogging tools have you found to be the most helpful?