Blogging can be a time-consuming endeavor, especially if you’re determined to be successful at it. No blog is successful without readers and readers don’t want to read a blog that isn’t informative. To be informative and to attract and keep readers, a blogger must be a master of time leveraging. To leverage your time, you’ll need a good assortment of tools.
Learning to use new tools can be frustrating at first, but once you master them, they can make all the difference in the world. What I’ve found in my time as a professional blogger is, you need 3 different kinds of tools:
- Tools for cataloging interesting content.
- Tools for promoting your content.
- Tools for keeping your writing schedule on track.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at the 5 tools I couldn’t live without. I use these tools, literally, every single day and they save me a ton of time and a boatload of brain cells.
5 Blogging Tools I Can’t Live Without
This list is not an exhaustive list. As an overworked inbound marketing consultant, I have an entire toolbox full of apps and software that helps me with everything from SEO to grammar. However, for the beginner blogger who is just getting started, and even for the semi-pro blogger, these five tools are all you should need to keep you ahead of the game.
Of course! What blogger doesn’t love Evernote? Evernote is an app that focuses on a notebook, a writing application, and, in my case, a huge box of categorized saved stuff. When it comes to keeping blogging content ideas flowing, I rely heavily on Evernote to help me out. A good many bloggers even use Evernote for all of their blog writing and notes.
You can see how Michael Hyatt uses Evernote with his system of tags here. I don’t necessarily like his method of Evernote because I don’t use it in the same way. I use Evernote solely as a blogging idea, research, and resource catalog.
I recently wrote an entire post about how I use Evernote for blogging.
This is the most expensive tool I use for blogging. The only way to explain Scrivener is that it’s a writing app built for writers. The nice thing about it is the features thrown in to make it a super-charged blogging tool.
Basically, it allows you to write in a distraction-free environment and export the post format in a way that’s quick and easy. After the export, adding the post to WordPress is quick and painless. There’s already a tutorial video on what’s called Multimarkdown, or MMD. You can watch it, but I don’t mess with most of the capabilities.
I admit I don’t take full advantage of the MMD functionality. Most of my fine-tune edits, I do right in the WordPress editor. However, I do take advantage of the high-level formatting with MMD. Here’s how I do it:
- I write the entire post in Scrivener. Nothing fancy, just the copy, plain and dirty.
- Then, I go back and add my headers and subheadings, rotating them with a single pound sign for H1 tags*, 2-pound signs for h2 tags, 3 for h3, and so on.. (#)
- I export from MMD to HTML.
- I open the HTML file and copy/paste it into WordPress
- Add photos, and hyperlinks using the WordPress editor.
- Hit the blue publish button and have a little party! Yeah, another post is done!
* In this post, “5 Blogging Tools I Can’t Live Without” is an h1 tag. This means, in the MMD version, it’s signified by a single #. Each tool that I highlight is an h3 tag, meaning three ###.
This one is free and is fun to use. I feel kind of like a detective looking for clues when I start using this tool. You already use it, you just may not know it. When you type a search term into Google, the suggested items that are listed for you automatically are all common search terms related to what you’re searching for. This is valuable for what used to be called Keyword Research.
Using this tool will give you insight on long-tail search terms you can target. This is important because, as Google’s algorithm advances, long-tail keywords are becoming more and more valuable. They even released an algorithm called Hummingbird specifically to make long-tail keywords more important than ever.
For a living example, I’m writing about blogging tools. If I want this post to show up for common search terms, which I do, I need to make sure I’m targeting them on purpose. Here’s what comes up when I search for tools for blogging: (I added best just to see if it made a difference and these are the suggested searches.)
Here’s a bonus tool. Check out UberSuggest which will do all the heavy lifting for you. Add a short-tail keyword like “tools for blogging” and watch as it explores just about every variant and long tail there is. If you’re doing keyword research for the main subject of your blog, UberSuggest will give you a goldmine of information.
4. Google Docs
I know it’s a bit of a faux pas in the blogging world to be in love with Google products. The fact is, Google Docs just makes life easier, especially if you are dealing with more than one writer.
When it comes to blogging, this is how I use Google Docs:
- I use a Google spreadsheet to plan out an entire month (90 days for my clients) of content. This allows me to see a high-level view of all of the content that needs to be created and assign due dates to them.
- I make a separate table for keyword research, ensuring I keep SEO in mind while making my content plans.
- I make another table for blog post ideas. I do sessions of intense brainstorming to come up with topics I think are interesting. Then I choose the best ones and add them to the plan, or publishing calendar.
Here’s a screenshot of my planning calendar in a Google spreadsheet. Notice the many different areas for different kinds of content, even emails that need to be sent.
There are many other uses for Google Docs, not counting the 15-30 gigabytes of storage on Google Drive. I use Google Docs all day long every day for my own web properties and for my clients. I use the word processor to collaborate and write blog posts. I use the spreadsheet to keep a lot of data all in one place.
If you’ve never ventured in and tried Google Docs, I highly recommend using it. Best thing, it’s free.
5. Headline Suggestion Tools
This is really four tools in one, but it’s all for one purpose so I lumped them all in together.
One of the most important parts of your blog post is the headline, the title. If no one likes your title they’ll never read the content of the post, no matter how amazing it is. The title has to do the heavy lifting of sparking enough interest to take time to read, watch, or listen to the great content you create.
To brainstorm titles, I use three of tools:
Then, when I decide on a headline for my new blog post, I make sure and run it through a headline grader. While this tool is pretty valuable, I always take the grades with a grain of salt. After all, no matter how much we program, AI never reacts as humans do. So use this tool as a gauge and a learning opportunity, but if you have a really awesome title and it scores low… use it anyway!
Tools for Bloggers
These are the tools I use on a regular basis, and I use them a lot. There are a lot of tools out there that bring their own valuable offerings to the blogging workflow but these seem to be the ones I lean on the most.
How about you?
Do you have any tools you couldn’t live without? Share them in the comments section below!