Back in the early days of blogging, the tools you needed were simple: a computer and a blog. And maybe a camera, but that’s it. You typed away on your computer sharing your thoughts with the world and then hit publish. End of story.
Nowadays, blogging is much more complex. Long gone are the days of writing and publishing. There’s researching, marketing, networking, and creating graphics. The list goes on and on.
While each and every blogger has their own system and favorite tools for blogging, there are 5 types of blog tools every blogger should have in their toolbox. These are the things that not only make your job blogging easier, but will allow you to create a successful blog.
1. Image Archive
You know that popular saying “a picture is worth 1000 words?” Well when it comes to blogging, it couldn’t be any more true. Blogging is not just about words on a page. Images are incredibly important at illustrating your story or getting your point across.
Plus, people just like looking at images. Remember when you were 4 and would flip through a book looking at the pictures? Well regardless of how old you are, it’s still second nature to do that. We like visuals.
That being said, it’s important to incorporate them into your blog posts! If you have a decent camera and a good eye take some of your own for completely custom and unique images.
But if you’re like me and not a great photographer, don’t be afraid to utilize the many stock photography sites available. Sites such as Unsplash, Picjumbo, and Kaboompics all offer free stock images that you can use on your blog. Sure, they won’t be 100% unique to you, but they will add some imagery to an otherwise text heavy post. Use them!
2. Graphic Design Program
So you know just how important the use of photos in blogging is, but as a blogger there will be times when you need to take it a step further. Whether it’s to create Pinterest friendly images, Twitter graphics, or the cover of your latest ebook, you’ll need a graphic design program in your blogging arsenal.
While photos play an important part in blogging, I would say graphics are what takes it to a whole other level. Think about it… photos are pretty to look at. But graphics? They’re informative! They include the best of both worlds – imagery and text – to engage your readers and create a consistent brand for your blog.
Two popular graphic editing programs are Photoshop and Canva, but there are a bunch of other options available too (like PicMonkey, GIMP, or Illustrator). It all depends on your needs and experience level.
Photoshop is a great solution if you want to use the industry standard. And while it’s not free, it will definitely come in handy often, making it a worthwhile investment. However, Photoshop does come with a decent learning curve. It’s feature packed and can be quite overwhelming for a newbie.
If you’re looking for something a bit more basic, Canva is the way to go. Canva is a free online graphic editing program that is easy to use since it doesn’t contain all the bells and whistles that Photoshop does. Because of this, it’s perfect for beginners who just need something to create blog post graphics, social media images, or even a basic logo.
3. Email Marketing Service
One of the most overlooked tools in a blogger’s toolbox is an email marketing service. An email marketing service allows you to collect the email addresses of your readers and send them regular emails in order to keep them engaged.
Many bloggers (especially those with large followings) are building themselves an email list, but something I see often is smaller bloggers not doing the same. Now here’s the thing — it is never too early to start building an email list!
An email list gives you a direct line of communication with your readers. And this line is something that is much more permanent than any social network. Think about it… social networks come and go (hello, MySpace!). But an email address? How long have you been using yours? It’s not something many people change often.
With that being said, if you’re not already using an email marketing service, start! Mailchimp is excellent for just starting out. For free, you can start growing your list (up to 2000 subscribers). The platform is incredibly easy to use; you can get started in about 5 minutes.
If you’re just starting out, I recommend you start simple. Start collecting those email addresses by offering a freebie that provides value to your readers. Then send out a weekly email. It doesn’t have to be anything super complex. The point is to keep your list active and remind them that you exist. Then later on down the line when you are ready to start selling or just want to take things to the next level, you’ll have an email audience waiting.
4. Social Media Scheduler
What good is a blog post if no one reads it? Unless you’re blogging for yourself (in which case that’s not blogging, that’s journaling), you want people to read what you write. And one of the best ways to get your content out there in front of people is via social media.
But as we all know, social media is a job in and of itself. Who has time for that? Between all the other your other blogging tasks and your job/client work, your time is limited. Luckily if there’s one thing you can automate when it comes to blogging, it’s social media.
Enter social media schedulers. Using a social media scheduler, such as Buffer, Tailwind, or Latergram.me allows you to automate your sharing via social media. Now of course a scheduler isn’t completely hands off. You still have to do some work to get everything scheduled and ready to go, but it allows you to have a constant social presence without actually being on social media all day.
When you publish or schedule your blog posts, take a few minutes and schedule your social media as well. Boom. Your content will now be shared with your audience throughout the day (or days) with no extra effort on your end.
And beyond sharing your own content via social media, social media schedulers also allow you to curate links to other people’s content and share that throughout the day. Because let’s face it, if you likely batch your blog reading and pinning, right? You’re not spending one minute here, one minute there. Instead you’re taking a chunk of time and spending it reading blog posts or scouring Pinterest.
Now if you didn’t use a scheduler, you would bombard your followers with links during that time. But when you use a social media scheduler, you can push those links out over a period of time. No more bombarding your followers. Plus, you get the benefit of being active over that period (versus just those 30 minutes).
5. Editorial Calendar
You know that quote “failing to plan is planning to fail?” It’s 100% true when it comes to blogging. That’s why having an editorial calendar in place is super important when it comes to having a successful blog.
Creating valuable, information heavy content takes planning. There’s research, writing, creating images, etc. If you want to be of value to your readers, you can’t just sit down the night before publishing a post, come up with a topic, and knock it out of the park. It takes planning!
An editorial calendar allows you to plan a week or even a month ahead. By having a list of blog topics all planned out, you can take the time needed to create content heavy blog posts. No more last minute scrambling to put together a blog post. Your editorial calendar acts as a roadmap so you know exactly what’s due when.
When it comes to creating an editorial calendar, there are a ton of tools you can use. I personally use the Editorial Calendar plugin for WordPress, but some other options are CoSchedule, Google Calendar, and even good old fashioned pen and paper!
What other tools do you have in your blogging toolbox? Tell me in the comments below!