Hello there! For my fellow bloggers out there, this post is for you. If you’re not into all things blog, see you back here on Monday. 😉
I’m not an expert blogger by any means, but I have been blogging regularly for almost 5 years now and have learned a few things along the way. What blogging tools do I use all the time? I’m sharing my faves with you right here.
Must-have blogging tools
Blogging may seem simple on the surface — you write a post, take some pics, and hit publish — but so much more goes into maintaining an active blog. Between social media, graphics, your mailing list, the whole tech side of things and more, blogging can get pretty complicated. To help streamline things, here are my must-have blogging tools I can’t live without.
Do typos and grammar issues make you cringe? Nothing irks me more about a blog than someone who fails to proofread (ok wait, except for annoying music on the home page that you can’t turn off! Or an About Page that doesn’t have your name or photo. Or a site that has no way to contact you! Stopping now…).
Even if the content is great, if there are errors all over the place, your credibility takes a major dive. No one is perfect, but I think that proofreading your work before hitting publish goes a long way. I won’t say you’ll never find a typo on my blog because I’m only human and we all miss stuff, but I do make an effort to proofread my work before hitting publish. I use the free app Grammarly and recommend it to anyone who doesn’t want to look like they’re illiterate online! Even if grammar isn’t your strong suit, take the time to learn the difference between awhile/a while and workout/workout and dogs/dog’s. Then turn Grammarly on. The browser add-on is FREE and you can get it here.
Eye-catching graphics make a blog way better to look at, not to mention more professional. It’s also a good idea to use relevant imagery to break up text so your eyes don’t glaze over from Giant Text Block Syndrome. From about 2014 on, any graphics you see with text on my blog (including all my Pinterest images) were created with Canva. A personal account is free and you can do everything from blog and social media graphics to business cards and any other graphic design project your heart desires — no tech knowledge needed. In addition to a bunch of perfectly-sized layouts and an extensive font selection, there are tons of free images to choose from in case you’re not a photographer.
Social media scheduler: Hootsuite
Social media scheduling is a lifesaver especially when you have readers in all different time zones or aren’t in front of your computer all the time (you sleep, right?). Use a tool like Hootsuite to schedule posts across your social media accounts at times you select or let them choose for the best engagement. I use the free version of Hootsuite (mostly for Twitter) and have never had any issues.
Reliable hosting: Siteground
Quality hosting for your blog is incredibly important. Most of the time, you won’t ever have to contact your host. It’s just there in the background. Many people opt for the cheapest option or the hosting provider that everyone else has, but when something breaks or you’re hacked like I was, you’ll want a responsive, helpful hosting company. That’s why my sites are hosted over at SiteGround and I recommend them to new and seasoned bloggers alike. They’ll transfer your site over for free and even give you a free domain if you’re just getting started. Plans start at just a couple of bucks a month. Their 24/7 customer support is unrivaled and I can’t recommend them enough.
One thing I wish I did differently when I started Oui In France almost 5 years ago was to start my email list from day 1. I had a feed subscription sign-up form that sent out my posts to subscribers, but I didn’t send out a newsletter or anything like that until last year. Whether you’re selling something or not, having a list (that you own) of your most engaged readers is priceless. You own your list unlike a Facebook page or Twitter followers that would disappear if those networks were to close down.
Nowadays, I use Mailchimp to send out my newsletter. It’s free to start, easy to use, and lets you customize the look and feel of everything you send out. If you’re a blogger and you don’t have a list, sign up with Mailchimp to start collecting your biggest fans’ emails (even if you’re not sure what you’re doing with them yet). If you’re not signed up for my newsletter, scroll down to the sign-up box just above the comment section below and join my list!
Bloggers, what blogging tools can you not live without?
P.S. I might try posting 4-6 times/month instead of the twice-weekly schedule I’ve been on since I started Oui In France. Just a heads up in case you notice a change.