I’ve been blogging for quite a while now. It has been almost 8 years since I made my first post on this blog. Over that time my process and blogging tools have changed quite a bit. I started by writing something straight into WordPress then hitting publish.
I’ve moved on since then and as such have found some tools to help me with the whole blogging process. So today I thought I would share 10 of my essential blogging tools.
Long-time followers of my blog might remember me doing a similar post 4 or 5 years ago. Like I said since then my process has changed quite a bit. If you want you can go back and take a look at that post. At the time I was still figuring out the best way to blog. My focus was more on the tools I used rather than things which help my blog.
I found it quite interesting looking back on that post. In a way, my process has simplified quite a bit over time. Though it seems that I use more tools now, they make the process faster because they automate parts of my blogging process.
MY TOP 10 ESSENTIAL BLOGGING TOOLS
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I used to use a Canon 600d SLR camera to take all of the photos for my blog. That was a great camera, I’ve had it for over seven years now. I love it and still use it, but I don’t use it any more for taking blog photos.
SLR cameras are great but they can also be a hassle. They are big and bulky, you need different types of lenses depending on the situation. If I’m in a restaurant or at a museum, I don’t want to deal with a big camera to take a quick photo. So I use my phone instead.
I’m now at the point where I use my phone to take all the photos on my blog. I’ve been working this way for the last two years. There are a few reasons for this. Cameras on phones have improved to the point where they are almost as good as an equivalent point and shoot camera. In some cases, they are better than an actual camera.
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There is also the fact that it’s much easier to take a photo with my phone. Its something I have on me all the time anyway. If I’m out and decide I want to take a photo because I could use it for a blog post then I can do that. I wouldn’t be able to do that with a DSLR because it’s not something I take with me everywhere.
If you have a reasonably good phone try using that to take photos instead of going out to buy a camera. Though I have to admit we are now at the point that phones are more expensive than cameras. Even then phones are still easier when it comes to taking photos.
Out of everything on this list, the Adobe Creative Cloud software is probably my most used tool. I know there are a lot of good reasons why someone wouldn’t want to use or can’t afford to get Creative Cloud.
It’s slightly different for me because I need it for university anyway. I have a student Creative Cloud account which means I get access to the full suite of Adobe programs and it costs me £25 per month. Some people say it’s worse that you have to pay per month now rather than just buying the software. But honestly, there is no way as a student I would ever be able to pay the full price for all the programs I use.
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For blogging specifically, I use Lightroom and Photoshop. Lightroom helps me organise all the photos which I’ve transferred from my phone. I can then make edits in Lightroom or open the photos in Photoshop to do more detailed editing.
When it comes to editing photos for blog posts you don’t need fancy Adobe software. You don’t even need a computer. VSCO and Polarr are two apps available for Android and iOS. They are both free but offer in-app purchases and are great for editing photos. In fact, for a while, all the photos on my blog were edited with VSCO.
I can’t talk about blogging tools without mentioning my bullet journal. As well as managing university work, my bullet journal is essential to keeping my blog organised. I think I might do a post at some point on how I use my bullet journal for blogging.
As part of my monthly setups I create pages specific for my blog. On these, I do little check-ins with my blog. See if things are progressing the way I want. I keep track of analytics and some important social media stats. This gives me an overview of how my blog is performing. It also means I can look back at the end of the year and see how my blog has improved.
My bullet journal is especially useful when it comes to planning. Instead of constantly writing posts for my blog, I’ve condensed the process and take a full week to bulk write a set of posts. There is a lot of planning involved with this because I want to have a set of fully finished posts by the end of the week.
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If there are specific photos I need to take while out. Or if there is one specific item I need to buy for a post. All this has to be planned out in advance so I have those items.
The daily log in my bullet journal is also really important when it comes to managing my blog. As I’m working throughout the day I will be constantly adding notes to my daily log. Some of these notes will be about my blog. So if I’ve come up with an idea for a post I note them in my daily log. Or I’ve come across a website or some piece of information which is relevant to my blog.
From this, I can then take these notes and create tasks from them. So maybe there is a specific post I want to write. Or from learning a new piece of information there might be something I want to implement on my blog. My bullet journal is essential because its a place where I can keep all of these notes and tasks together.
IPAD PRO / APPLE PENCIL
I recently bought an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. Now I need to make it clear, you don’t need an iPad to run a blog. I bought mine to help me with my design work and to take lecture notes at university. But I’ve come to find that my iPad is a fantastic tool for blogging.
I love my iPad Pro. I admit it was very expensive but it has helped me. A lot of the tools which I’m going to mention below are available on iOS which means I don’t even need a laptop any more for blogging. I could do the whole process on my iPad. This makes it much more portable. I could be sitting in a coffee shop or on a train and be updating my blog.
Of course, it wouldn’t be much harder to take my laptop with me but I love the iPad because it’s so small and light. And I don’t need to worry about bringing big charger cables or anything with me.
My iPad has also become the place where I manage my Instagram account. I mentioned in a recent blog post about how I was trying to reduce the amount of time I spend on social media. Instagram is the place I spend most of my time. As part of this, I decided to disable Instagram on my phone. This has turned out to be a really good decision because I’m not as distracted while trying to work.
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So instead I use my iPad in combination with CoSchedule to manage my Instagram account. It’s not necessary from a technical standpoint but that distance has made me feel much happier. Which is the important thing.
Here is something I’ve never actually told anyone before. Years ago I was sent an email from someone at Grammarly asking if I would mention Grammarly in a blog post.
Grammarly is an online platform which will check spelling and grammar in a piece of text. At the time I couldn’t understand why anyone would trust some random website to check grammar. Well, I have now realised how wrong I was.
Grammarly has become an essential tool in my blog writing process. I write all my posts in Google Docs, I will then go through and do a first edit. I will then copy the post over to Grammarly which will pick up spelling mistakes, punctuation and any other small errors I might have missed.
I’m not entirely sure why it took me so long to get on the Grammarly bandwagon. I was never that good at English at school and I still find writing blog posts to be difficult. When it comes to punctuation and grammar I don’t really know what I’m doing. Grammarly has helped me so much with writing my blog posts.
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You can tell Grammarly the type of tone and what audience you’re speaking to. It will then go through checking spelling and grammar. I’ve found it useful because it will make suggestions for punctuation or where a sentence is unclear. The best thing about Grammarly is that it’s free.
There is a premium version of Grammarly but honestly, I’m not sure if the benefits are worth the cost. I would love to try it out at some point. It seems that the premium version will make even more change suggestions. But at almost £30 per month its not something I can afford.
The free version of Grammarly is fantastic and I would highly recommend it if you’re not already using something similar.
Google Drive is one of the best blogging tools to ever be invented. Google Drive is Google’s online file storage system. If you have a Gmail then you have a Drive account. Pretty much everything to do with my blog is stored on my Drive.
I love it because that means all my files are backed up. If my laptop broke tomorrow it would be fine because I have a backup of all my data on the cloud. As part of Google Drive, you get access to many different software packages. Docs, Sheets and a few others. These are Google’s version of Microsoft Office.
All my blog posts and most of my university essays have all been written in Google Docs. I love it because not only does it work seamlessly with Google Drive. I can access those same files on multiple locations. So I could be working on one file and access it from my laptop, iPad and phone.
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This makes it even easier to work on my blog while on the go. I can access my drafts through the Google Docs app. During my last semester at university, I wrote my essays in sections every morning while standing on the platform waiting for a train. It’s so much easier because I’m not tied to a computer.
If I have ideas for a blog post I can just pull out my phone and write something down. As much as I love my bullet journal this means I don’t need to bring it everywhere with me. The best part of Google Drive is that it’s free. You can pay extra each month for more storage which I currently do. But that extra is something like £1.50 per month. I spend far more than that just at Costa.
SOCIAL MEDIA BLOGGING TOOLS
When it comes to managing the social media side of my blog CoSchedule is one of my essential tools. This is something I came across a few years ago and has become one of my most used blogging tools. Originally because I found its WordPress plugin while making the transfer over to a self-hosted blog.
I think CoSchedule was originally intended for marketing agencies but I’ve found it massively helpful for managing my social media. CoSchedule offers far more tools than just social media management. This just happens to be what I use it for.
So like I mentioned CoSchedule has a WordPress plugin which integrates with my blog. From that, I can log into CoSchedule and see all my blog posts on a calendar. I think you can also write blog posts within CoSchedule but I haven’t used that aspect. CoSchedule allows you to manage a marketing campaign.
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It can integrate with Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms. But unlike sites like Buffer you can associate those marketing campaigns with a blog post. So I could schedule a blog post then go into CoSchedule and write social media posts advertising that blog post. I can then tell CoSchedule to post those messages a certain number of days after that blog post went live.
So instead of remembering to advertise my new posts each week, CoSchedule will do it for me. CoSchedule also has a feature where you can write social media posts which will then be reshared on a set schedule.
I love CoSchedule. I use it all the time when I’m blogging. It’s really handy because I can just write my social media posts and then forget about them. I can also use CoSchedule to automate my Instagram posts which helps. I also haven’t had any problems with CoSchedule breaking, unlike some other social media publishers that I’ve tried.
I’ve used Pinterest for years now. I think I had a Pinterest account before I even started blogging. While I was in college we were recommended to use a Pinterest account as a way to save research for projects.
I’ve done that ever since and Pinterest is now an essential part of my research process. For the most part, I will use Pinterest heavily during the research phase of a project and not use it for the rest of the time. Well, something changed at the start of 2019.
I used Pinterest for a project and as a result, my Pinterest stats spiked. More specifically the number of monthly viewers increased, basically the number of people in a month who view my pins. That number went from under 5000 to over 50,000 viewers in a month.
Pinterest likes users who stay on their site. They promote people who use Pinterest a lot and show those pins to other people. It turned out that from using Pinterest just a little more than normal Pinterest then recommended my pins to other people.
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At this point, I decided I should start using Pinterest to advertise my blog. Pinterest became one of my top referrers. In the past, I had read about how you should use Pinterest to advertise your blog posts but never really did anything about it. I decided to give it a try since it was already directing traffic to my blog.
This was when I came across Tailwind. Tailwind is a social media scheduler, similar to CoSchedule. The only difference is that it works much better with Pinterest. If you remember way back when Tumblr the in thing. Tailwind works like Tumblr’s queue system but for Pinterest.
So you can tell Tailwind how many posts you want to put up on Pinterest per day. You can then schedule posts on Pinterest using the Tailwind platform. The way you do this is slightly complicated but it works well. I’ve continued to use Pinterest as I normally do, saving inspiration for design projects and sometimes blog posts.
I haven’t seen a huge increase in the number of people visiting my blog from Pinterest. But my monthly stats on Pinterest has increased quite significantly and I’ve gained quite a few followers. I’m still in the process of figuring out how Tailwind fits into my blogging system but so far it seems to be a useful platform.
Canva is another product that I use with Tailwind. Canva is a design tool and can be used to create images for social media and all sorts of other uses. I think I should do a post at some point about using Canva as a designer. I mentioned earlier that I have the Adobe Creative Cloud suite and could just use Illustrator. But there are some cases where I’ve used Canva instead because it is so much easier.
Canva is free with in-app purchases. It’s not quite as robust as something like Illustrator but for creating social media images it works perfectly well. I make all my Pinterest images using Canva because it is so much easier.
When you log into Canva the first thing you will see is all sorts of different templates. These templates are sized correctly for different social media sites. So you just need to pick the social media platform where you’ll be posting your image and it will be sized correctly.
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Instead of having to create an image entirely from nothing Canva has all sorts of different image templates to get you started. You can then edit these templates with your own pictures, change the fonts, sizes and colours. The colour picker in Canva isn’t the best, Canva only gives you a limited colour palette. You need to have exact hex codes if you want something outside that.
But considering its a free product the options you do have are pretty great. All your images are saved in Canva so if you have a design you like you can make a copy of that and change it into a new social media image. If you want to spend more time promoting your blog on Pinterest, you should look at Canva to help you with this.
I know this isn’t technically a blogging tool but I thought I would mention it anyway. Over the last few months, I’ve got into podcasts. There are a few which I’ve been enjoying. One which has helped me improve my blog and stay motivated is called Thrive.
This is a podcast run by a blogger called Bree Pair. Bree is a lifestyle blogger from the US. She runs the company Thrive which is a blogging conference hosted in the US, and also runs the Thrive podcast.
The Thrive Podcast is a series of interviews with bloggers and other creative influencers. I’ve listened to a few blogging podcasts and I think Thrive is one of the best. There have been a few podcasts which at first came across as interesting but ended up just being advertisements for other products.
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Though Bree does have adverts within the podcast I think the use I’ve still got out of it is worth that bother. Bree has interviewed several really interesting people. One of the first episodes in the series is an interview with Erin Condren where she talks about starting up her planner business.
Bree has interviewed many more bloggers who are knowledgeable in their specific niche. Though the podcast has a slight focus on mummy blogging I still really enjoy it. Not only have I learned new things from the series but I’ve come away from it with actionable tasks that can be applied to my own blog.
I know I talked about using Tailwind on Pinterest earlier on. But a large part of that dramatic increase in monthly viewers came from a Thrive episode all about making the most out of Pinterest. If you want to learn more about blogging then I would highly recommend the Thrive podcast.
That was 10 of my essential blogging tools. Okay so maybe I stretched the definition of tool in some cases. Especially with the podcast series. But the 10 items I’ve mentioned in this post have helped me with my blogging process.
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It’s quite interesting comparing this to my last blogging tools post. There is a lot less emphasis on specific items that I need. I’m not tied to my laptop anymore. So long as I have access to WordPress I can blog on anything. I think it would be really interesting to see if I could produce an entire blog post on my phone.
But what do you think? What blogging tools do you like to use? Is there something you use that I’ve forgotten to mention. Let me know in the comments.