When I started blogging way back in 2009, my list of blog tools basically amounted to a) Blogger.com and b) my brain. That’s it! I knew basically nothing about how to create, maintain, or grow a blog. Fast-forward several years and I’d like to think that I’ve radically stepped up my game—but even so, there are a few awesome blog tools that I only recently discovered, and I wish I’d started using years ago! From photos to social media, there’s so much that goes into the day-to-day running of a website, but these tools make that job easier.
MailChimp: If you subscribed to IRBR via e-mail, you’ll soon find that you’ve been switched over to my new MailChimp newsletter. (Not a subscriber? Sign up here!) For a long time I used a generic plug-in with a sad little text link and no post excerpts. The new notification e-mail includes excerpts, which means less mess in your inbox and a better preview of the post before you click over to it (even on mobile). Plus, subscribers can choose from daily, weekly, or monthly updates to fit their preferences. MailChimp is free for subscriber lists of 2,000 or less and you can create and manage a bunch of different newsletters for your blog—I can’t wait to get creative with it!
Buffer: Buffer and HootSuite are very similar, but since I’ve only used Buffer, I’ll stick to what I know. These blog tools let you schedule your Tweets and Facebook posts in advance, so your feed stays “active” throughout the day. I find Buffer especially useful for scheduling links to my blog posts throughout the week. Even better: you can set up a second shout-out to revive interest in an older post for a few months down the road.
PicMonkey: Everybody and their mother knows about PicMonkey, and Royale costs less per month than a single Pumpkin Spice Latte. So why on earth did I wait so long to sign up?! Big, beautiful images are always touted as the key to blogging success and this program has improved my photo editing game 200%.
Unsplash: Speaking of photos, if you want interesting photos for your posts, there are several great sites that offer free options. However, my favorite thus far is Unsplash—in fact, this post’s header image was created from an Unsplash image by Dustin Lee! The photos are beautiful and can be edited, used and shared however you like. (Though, it’s pretty awesome if you link back with credit to the artist…just sayin’.)
If This Then That (IFTTT): One of the biggest issues I used to have in cross-promoting posts on social media was that it was just a time suck. Manually entering links and photos on Instagram, Twitter, etc. is a long process. If This Then That lets you easily concoct “recipes” that do the sharing for you; for example, I created a recipe to post my Instagram photos to my Twitter account. As an added bonus, the photos show up natively in my feed, rather than as links, so they create more of a draw to the audience.