Bloggers know that there’s a lot more to blogging than typing your thoughts. In addition to having some knowledge or skill to share with our audiences, we have to learn html, photography, SEO, and social media, among many other things.
Most of us bumble along learning as we go and our greatest resource for information is typically other bloggers. So, in the spirit of sharing (which is an intrinsic characteristic of the blogging community), I’m sharing what I consider to be the best resources for bloggers. Unless your a newbie, you’ll probably know a lot of these but hopefully you’ll also discover a few new ones that you can add to your own toolkit.
Before we get to the list though, I’d like to state that for most of the resources listed below I use only the free version. Almost all of them offer a premium or pro version or paid features. I’m so happy with the free versions, I haven’t felt compelled to pony up for the paid versions so I can’t speak to the benefits of doing so.
I’ve tried a number of WordPress SEO Plugins and this one is my favorite. You simply input your keyword and it analyzes the entire post. The checklist is easy to follow so in a matter of minutes you can tweak your post to improve your SEO score.
Although I like to use Google Analytics to see where my traffic is coming from, I prefer to use Google Webmaster Tools to find out what content on my site is the most popular. I check search queries to see what people are searching for that leads them to my site. I also analyze the links to my site so I can see what other bloggers find good enough to share and link to.
Social Media Resources
When it comes to scheduling social media sharing, I don’t think any application does the job better than Hootsuite. It’s easy to schedule and share across several social media networks at once (Facebook profile and page, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn). It’s even easier if you install the Chrome extension on your browser toolbar and the app on your phone.
Buffer is similar to HootSuite in that it allows you to easily schedule sharing of your content to several social media networks. You can set the share times to peak periods to improve the odds your posts will get seen. The only thing I don’t like is that with the free version I can only store 10 posts at a time and I can’t vary the posting schedule throughout the week. Consequently, I use Buffer until I hit my daily limit and then switch to HootSuite to schedule the rest of my shares.
Commun.It is only for Twitter accounts and it is amazing at helping you network there. The free version limits the number of interactions but I find the service invaluable even if it’s not unlimited. You can easily identify the most influential people in your network, the most engaged people in your network and get recommendations on who to follow and unfollow based on influence and engagement.
This community is a great vehicle for connecting with other bloggers and getting your content out to a broader audience. You earn points by sharing other people’s content and then use those points to promote your own posts for others to share.
Pinterest is the lifeblood of most bloggers. Viralwoot is one of the few services that is designed specifically to help you leverage influence and increase visibility on Pinterest. Similar to Viral Content Buzz, you earn “seeds” by following other pinners and pinning others’ pins. In turn, you offer seeds to incentivize others to follow you and repin your pins. Within Viralwoot you can also schedule pins, which is a major plus since other social sharing services don’t include Pinterest.
Triberr is one of my favorite ways to connect with other bloggers. You simply connect your social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn) and then find Tribes to join. Once you have been accepted as a member, your content will appear in other tribe members’ streams. You can scroll through your own stream to view tribe members’ posts and choose which posts to share with your own network. In just 5-10 minutes each day, you can interact with dozens of other bloggers plus get your own content out to a broader audience.
Though I prefer to work at my computer, as a busy mom of four, I’m more often away from home than at my desk. If it weren’t for the WordPress app on my phone, I wouldn’t be able to get as many posts done. If you have a WordPress blog, this is a must-have app for your phone or tablet.
I know a lot of bloggers gripe about the ever-changing Facebook algorithms that make it harder and harder for our posts to be seen. I’m actually glad that Facebook tailors content to user behavior so that my news feed isn’t clogged up with hundreds of posts I don’t care about. If you interact with your audience on Facebook (and they interact with you), then you will show up in their feeds. Pages Manager makes it easy to engage with your audience throughout the day since you can do it no matter where you are.
Though I have an expensive digital SLR camera, I still take a lot of photos with my phone. Phonto lets me add text to these photos from my phone. I don’t use this feature a lot since I tend to do most of my photo editing at my computer, but if I’m traveling or in a hurry, this is a great alternative.
Pocket is a lifesaver for me. It allows you to save almost anything (website, tweet, videos) so you can access them later EVEN IF YOU ARE OFFLINE. This is wonderful if you know you aren’t going to have wifi and you don’t want to use up all your data. You can load it on your computer and it will automatically sync to your phone (and vice versa).
Photos and Photo Editing
Foter has over 200 million free images. Even better, they have a WordPress plugin that lets you access the photos while drafting your post and insert them (with attribution already included).
Formerly Stock.Xchng, FreeImages is the most touted source of free images. Though they have far fewer images than Foter (over 400,000) and no plugin, the images are REALLY good and always FREE.
I know most of you already know about PicMonkey. But until a program comes out that does so much, so easily for free, it has to be included on a list of Blogger Resources even if everyone already knows about it. Professional photographers and graphic artists might find it lacking, but for the rest of us it’s a godsend. Photoshop quality results with none of the know-how or financial investment.
For those bloggers who do want more than what is available in PicMonkey but still want it to be free, Pixlr is the best choice. Truth being told, though I have an account, I don’t use it much because I feel like I need to take a class in it first. There’s definitely no shortage of tools and options though and you can access it anywhere.
Fonts and Graphics
Looking for some holiday-themed fonts to use for a printable you are making? Want to make some cute printables for your child’s zoo-themed birthday party? Type in your keyword at Dafont and pull up dozens to choose from. You download them from the site and install them directly on your computer so you can access them in any program you work in.
Easel.ly is great for creating infographics. There are tons of templates to choose from and the editing tools are easy to use. You can use it for free or for $2 per month you can unlock images and fonts and dump the ads.
Canva can also be used to make infographics but its uses extend far beyond that. You can use it to design a cover for Facebook, Twitter, or Google+, or your business cards, or an ad. You can register and use Canva for free but there are options to pay if you want to use certain images or features they have available.
Recite makes it super easy to turn a quote into a graphic. You simply type in your saying, choose a template, and hit “create.” You can then share and download the image. You may have noticed that I created the image for this post on Recite.
I know there are hundreds more noteworthy blogger resources out there. These are the ones that I personally like and use the most. For those of you who have tried them, please share your thoughts on them in the comments. Also, please share any other resources that didn’t make my list that are a must-have in your opinion.