A blogger's essential toolkit
Sharing other people’s content on social is great but it’s even better to create your own. And blogging is a fab way to do this. Following on from my last post all about finding and sharing great content on social media, here are some essential tools I think every blogger needs to create their own original content.
Once you’ve committed to blogging, sharing regular content is a must. Planning your posts in advance gives you a single place to collate all your ideas and also keeps your posts on track. If you know what you’re going to be writing about, you can also pre-draft some content for those busy periods when it’s not always easy to sit down and gather your thoughts. A simple spreadsheet is all you need.
For any post, you need to do your research. I read a lot of other people’s blogs and often take inspiration from these for my own blogs. I’m spending any spare time I have at the moment preparing for my blogging masterclass next month and online research plays a big part in backing up my theories. Obviously you need to be careful not to plagiarise other’s content, however reading around your subject is highly valuable.
Whichever writing software you use, make sure your language is set to English - UK. I see so many posts written in American English, using organization instead of organisation and color instead of colour. These are simple mistakes that can be easily avoided by using the correct language setting for your spell check.
If you want to go one step further with your proofing, Grammarly’s free proofreading tool checks your writing for adherence to 150 grammar rules. You can install the free version as an app on your browser. Upgrading to the premium version will give you advanced spelling and grammar checks and a plagiarism detector. It also offers a thesaurus and points out words you overuse (particularly good if you’re one of those people who says ‘basically’ a lot!). Grammarly is more powerful than Word as it reviews the context of your work and highlights any words that don’t fit.
Photo editing software
No blog is complete without some inspiring and engaging images. I like to use the free online tool Canva to create my banners. You can upload your own pictures or browse the gallery for inspiration. Many of the images are free and paid for images are generally very cheap ($1 - $2 for one-time use). They also have a stock of endless templates pre-sized for all the main social media channels.
First things first - blogs are meant to be read online. You should publish the full version of your blog on your company or personal website, not in a newsletter or email. Once it’s available on your website, you will get most value out of your content by sharing it online via a number of different channels. Every blogger needs to share their work to get their message heard so online sharing platforms like Hootsuite, Buffer and Mail Chimp are invaluable tools.
Once your blog has landed in the blogosphere, you can’t just sit back and relax. It’s time to get geeky! Anyone who knows me knows that I love a good analytics session. Ex-colleagues often recall my excitement at the end of the month when I realised it was time to do the monthly reporting on my sites. Even if you’re not as into stats as I am, you should always take some time to review the viewing figures for your blogs. It’s your opportunity to review what’s working well and what type of posts your readers are engaging with and sharing. Just half an hour spent on this task will ensure you spend your writing time wisely and deliver posts that your audience enjoys.
If you read my last newsletter, you’ll recall an article I shared about how coffee boosts creativity.
Whether that theory is true or not, getting up to make a cuppa does allow you take a break from your writing and a change of scenery is a great source of inspiration. A short walk around the garden whilst the kettle boils works wonders for me. Personally, I can’t work without good quality coffee on tap, but you could always *substitute another hot drink according to your own preference!