Blogging Tools That Help You Save Time
Over the years, these blogging tools have helped me make the whole process easier and helped me save time. Blogging can seem like an overwhelming amount of work if you’ve never done it before. But blogging is like anything else; it just takes practice. Once you get into a good workflow, it gets much easier.
Plus, there are a ton of great apps, websites and plugins available to make your blogging easier and help you save time (which is so precious to us entrepreneurs!). I’ve put together a list of my favorite blogging tools that I think you’ll find helpful. These blogging tools are in alphabetical order, because I couldn’t rank them by importance. They’re equally important!
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(Real quick, I just want to let you know that this email includes affiliate links. I earn a small commission if you buy something by clicking on an affiliate link, at no extra cost to you. Not only is this disclosure a requirement of the FTC, I also want to be completely transparent with you about how I do business. Please know I would recommend these services even if I wasn’t an affiliate. I use them and stand by them.)
No doubt you’ve heard of Canva if you’ve spent any time reading about blogging. Canva came on the scene many years ago and instantly became the favorite graphics tool for a ton of online writers and bloggers. (I take full credit of telling a previous company I worked for all about Canva. I was way ahead of the trend, I swear!)
Canva offers a free and a paid service, but even the free plan is fantastic. Canva has a ton — a TON — of templates for just about every kind of graphic you might need to make: Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, YouTube, flyers, media kits, etc. You can use templates as is or customize them with your own text, brand, colors and photos.
Once you’re happy with your graphic, you can download it as a .PNG, .JPG, .PDF or other formats.
Crowdfire is a social media scheduler, like Hootsuite or Buffer. However, I prefer Crowdfire over the others for a few different reasons. First, I can schedule the same post to more than one social network without a lot of steps or technical know-how. For instance, I can post an image to Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest at once. That doesn’t mean they post at exactly the same time, because Crowdfire automatically figures out the best time to post to each platform. It means that I can set it all up at once, rather than three different times for three different platforms. Huge time saver!
Second, Crowdfire walks you through a social media strategy every day at the time you designate, making it really easy to build followers and engagement. It works like a set-up wizard. Once a day, you tap the bell icon and then another tap starts the wizard. Then, Crowdfire tells you who to follow, who to unfollow, and which tweets and posts to like.
The third, and perhaps the most fantastic, reason I love Crowdfire is that it finds quality content for me to share. After you choose categories for your profile (for instance, the categories for my business are things like social media, online marketing, email marketing, etc.) Crowdfire will have a running list of articles and blog posts for you to share on any platform you’re connected to. Again, you can choose one piece of content and set it up to share to several platforms all at once. It’s a miracle blogging tool! And a huge time saver.
One of the reasons WordPress is such a popular platform for websites and blogs is because you can add plugins that do lots of things to make your life easier and your blog better for users. One of my favorite plugins is the Duplicate Post plugin.
The Duplicate Post plugin essentially copies an entire post. Then you can change the title, the slug (or link url) and anything else that needs to be changed for the new blog post. It’s a way of quickly using the same format for more than one post, like a template. For instance, if you write book reviews, you could copy a review using Duplicate Post in order to keep the same formatting and outline. Then, you would just update the title, content, etc. That way, all of your reviews have a consistent look without you having to reinvent the wheel, per se, every time you write a review.
Read the WP Beginner blog for instructions on how to add and use plugins on your WordPress site.
Maybe adding Google Tools to this list seems live a given to you, but Google Tools are often overlooked. Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and Drive can be used for so much more than just typing up an agenda or making a list.
I’ve used Google Docs to make .PDF templates, like the blog post template I created for last week’s blog post. I’ve used Google Sheets to make production management timelines and budgets. I also use Google Sheets to track analytics, plan my content and keep my blog post ideas organized. I’ve used Google Slides to make ebooks.
Because Google is a search engine first and foremost, finding something in any of their tools is a snap. It’s easy to organize and sort all of your files. Plus, I frequently use Google Drive to move a file from one location to another, like from my desktop computer to my laptop. I just upload it to Google Drive from the first device and then download it to the next device.
Jetpack is a free WordPress plugin that does a multitude of things for your WordPress site. Jetpack gives you stats, like pageviews and visitors. Jetpack can broadcast your recently published post to all of your social media accounts, including LinkedIn. Jetpack can optimize your website for faster loading.
Seriously, the list goes on and on, but I consider Jetpack a required blogging tool for every WordPress website. Visit Jetpack’s website to find out more about its many features.
Mailchimp [affiliate link] is a great starter email newsletter service because your first 1,000 subscribers are free. Not just that, it talks to WordPress without much fuss. Even beginner bloggers can connect their WordPress site to Mailchimp in just a couple of steps in order to easily add opt-in forms (email sign-ups) and landing pages.
Plus, MailChimp’s clean user interface makes it easy to navigate. It doesn’t have a lot of the bells and whistles a service like ConvertKit [another affiliate link] has, but beginners don’t need to be overwhelmed and confused by the more elaborate and complicated services the other services offer.
Building an email newsletter is as easy as clicking and dragging blocks. Their templates will also help you make gorgeous newsletters in a snap.
Mailmunch is a service that helps you easily integrate email opt-in forms into your WordPress blog. By setting up a form in Mailmunch and clicking a few settings, you can have a sign-up form appear in your site’s sidebar, header, footer, in a pop-up or in the beginning, middle or end of a blog post. Or all of those places!
Mailmunch works with many email service providers, including Mailchimp. You can create forms or landing pages at the Mailmunch website or from within your WordPress site.
You can get loads of options, even on the free plan. If you want detailed stats or fancy templates, however, you’ll have to pay.
Pexels is my favorite place to get copyright-free and license-free photos. Pexels is a collective of photographers who share their work for free to get exposure or hopefully sell some of their other work to you.
Their collections expand daily. You can search for something specific, such as “laptop.” Or you can search for more abstract things, like “innovation.”
Tip: Search for your brand’s strongest color. When I search for “blue,” I get tons of photos with blue in them. I download those photos and keep them handy for social media posts or blog posts. They help me promote my brand, or my clients’, by using brand colors.
This will seem like an odd item to have on this list, but stick with me. I discovered the Simple Pin Media podcast about a year ago. I listen to it every week because Kate Ahl, of Simple Pin Media, offers terrific, actionable strategies and tips to help DIY your Pinterest marketing. She also interviews folks who have in-depth Pinterest know-how.
Simple Pin Media’s lead magnet (or freebie or content upgrade or whatever you want to call it) is the Ultimate Pinterest Planner. This thing is GOLD, especially if you’re a lifestyle, fashion or food blogger. The planner tells you what to Pin and what to promote each month. But the most valuable information is their content planning ideas.
Every month, the planner gives you content planning ideas well in advance of when you need to promote them. For instance, January’s content planning idea includes St. Patrick’s Day. Sure, the holiday is about two months away, but that gives you time to research and write a solid blog post. It also gives you time to make graphics for all your social media channels and start promoting it on Pinterest. (It’s best to start Pinning content on Pinterest a month or two before the actual date because Pinners like to plan ahead.)
You can sign up, download and print this planner, then use it to plan your entire year of content. There’s also a section for tracking your analytics.
Oh, and did I mention, it’s gorgeous? It’s gorgeous.
Pretty Links isn’t what it sounds like. It doesn’t turn your website links into pretty graphics or colors. It does something much better and much more useful. It works like Bit.ly or Tiny Url.
Pretty Links turns any URL into an easy-to-remember link that’s based on your domain. For instance, I used to create YouTube videos for my previous blog, Media Medusa. My YouTube channel URL is https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAkdhef8o5gLpJ1pGQhqsvQ. But wow, that’s pretty hard to remember, right? If I wanted to tell my readers or viewers or podcast listeners how to find my YouTube channel, there’s no way that URL would work.
After installing the Pretty Links WordPress plugin, I was able to create a link – www.mediamedusa.com/youtube – which pointed to my YouTube channel’s clunky URL. It essentially forwards all traffic from the Pretty Link to the ugly one. It’s a lot easier to remember www.mediamedusa.com/youtube, right?
You can use Pretty Links to forward traffic to anywhere. For my videos about how to use Alexa on Echo devices, I created a Pretty Link – www.mediamedusa.com/alexa – that sends people to all my blog posts about Alexa. You can also create Pretty Links to affiliate websites. The possibilities are endless!
There is a free and a paid version.
ProBlogger is one of my favorite podcasts to listen to. Darren Rowse not only has a ton of incredibly valuable tips and strategies to share, but he also is a charming podcast host and easy to listen to.
His website, ProBlogger, is a treasure trove of helpful advice for bloggers of all kinds. I find the most valuable ProBlogger tool to be their lead magnet (again, freebie or content upgrade): 6 Months of Blog Post Prompts. When you sign up for their free email newsletter, you’ll get a .PDF with literally 30 different writing prompts for each month, for six months.
It includes a disclaimer that not every prompt will fit your blog, but there are enough that you’ll have no trouble finding inspiration for a blog post. Combine 6 Months of Blog Post Prompts with the Ultimate Pinterest Planner (above) and you’ll be an unstoppable blogger!
Kickass Headline Generator
The Kickass Headline Generator by Sumo as helped me craft several viral-worthy blog post headlines. I mentioned this tool in my blog post about 8 Ingredients for an Engaging Blog Post with SEO, but it bears repeating.
I find it very difficult to come up with catchy headlines that not only capture a reader’s attention when they’re scrolling through search engine results, but also fulfills good SEO practices. The Kickass Headline Generator has saved me from racking my brain too hard.
You can choose what kind of blog post you’re writing (how to, list, commentary, etc.) and then fill in the blanks with keywords or details. Sumo will generate several headlines from you to choose from. Even if you can’t use them as is, you can tweak a word or two to make them work.
Last, but certainly not least, on this list is the Yoast SEO plugin. This free plugin is probably responsible for the SEO of about 90% of the bloggers online.
The free Yoast plugin adds boxes and info to each of your blog posts in draft mode. Their easy-to-read stop lights (green, yellow, orange, red) tell you, in a glance, whether your SEO and your readability are up to snuff. If they’re not, the Yoast plugin will tell you what you need to fix. I mean, can on-page SEO get any easier?
Keep in mind, that not every suggestion Yoast makes will be appropriate for your blog post. You should always keep the reader’s needs first and foremost. If making a change to your blog post title, for instance, will satisfy the SEO requirement but will sound like a robot, don’t do it. Or re-do your title to satisfy both needs.
There you have it! My favorite blogging tools for making the whole process easier and quicker. Use these plugins, apps and websites to make your blogging efforts go much more quickly and efficiently.
Do you have a favorite blogging tool? Let me know in the comments or on my Facebook page!