Writing is easy. Blogging is easy. Effective blogging, not so easy. People have busy lives, no time for your life story about finding the best apples for your apple pie. They just want the recipe. Grammar also plays a large role, spelling too. My days are quite full, so I don’t have time to spend a whole week on one blog post. And, if it’s for a client, time is even more crucial. Perhaps you know a few of these, but here are my top 5 tools for effective blogging.
It’s never easy coming up with ideas. It’s even harder to find ideas that your audience will find engaging. BuzzSumo is ideal for this. Whenever I want to start a new blog piece for myself or a client, I’ll go here first and see what posts people are engaging with the most. It doesn’t mean you need to copy the highest entry, but it gives you a feel on where your blog should be focused or named.
BuzzSumo is very simple to use. Type in a keyword (or keywords) or website, and the site will give you the posts that have the most engagement overall. This of course can be filtered by social media platform or country. There are also a whole bunch of other insights you can get your hands on, but for a simple “hot topic” search, this does the job perfectly.
I have to say, I’m an official Grammarly addict. I use in my Google Docs, blog posts and even on my phone. It’s something that once you start using it, you can’t fathom a life without it. Simply put, it’s the new Spellchecker. It’s great with spelling, but grammar too. It does go a bit overboard sometimes (especially with the commas!), but eventually, common grammar mistakes will become a thing of the past for you.
There are free and paid versions with this addon, or app. I’ve been using the free Chrome extension since it was released a few years ago and haven’t looked back since. The paid version is better, naturally, with features such as more advanced checks for punctuation, grammar, context, and sentence structure. However, I’ve been happy with the free version and don’t really find the need to spend anything extra on it.
One feature I particularly enjoy is its “double-click definition and synonym” option. Simply double click on a word you’ve just typed and it will give you a list of different words to use instead. No more using “nice” to describe everything.
It must have been around 2015 when I first actively started using Unsplash. At first, I used simply to get incredible-looking wallpapers for my PC and phone. However, once I started blogging, it became my go-to place for all my images. The biggest win here – all the images are free to use.
All photos published on Unsplash can be used for free. You can use them for commercial and noncommercial purposes. You do not need to ask permission from or provide credit to the photographer or Unsplash, although it is appreciated when possible
Moreprecisely, Unsplash grants you an irrevocable, nonexclusive, worldwide copyright license to download, copy, modify, distribute, perform, and use photos from Unsplash for free, including for commercial purposes, without permission from or attributing the photographer or Unsplash. This license does not include the right to compile photos from Unsplash to replicate a similar or competingservice.
I still credit the photographers, but as mentioned it isn’t necessary. Something to note is both how much variety you have as well as how beautiful the images look.
Something else I quite enjoy is that they aren’t your generic photos. Quite often I’ll find myself reading 5 different blogs on the same, all using the same images. You know the ones I’m talking about. Google “Business Man At Desk” and chances are that you’ve read an article with one of the first few images. Yes, you might still one or two of those within Unsplash due to its popularity. But, with new images added daily, you’ll be sure to find some unique gems.
People often see SEO and run for the hills. To someone new to the field it can seem quite daunting, especially if your blog is simply a hobby. However, if you want to turn it into something more than that, a little SEO can go a long way. To me, Yoast SEO (search engine optimisation) is a great way to help people find your blog. Sharing it on social media is great, but there are many factors that you might not be aware of affecting the way people find your blog posts.
Many experts shun Yoast, claiming it’s not as effective as other addins or doing the SEO
You’re now finished with your post and want to send it out to the world. Problem is that it’s 3am and everyone is asleep. No problem, just send it off in the morning. Problem is that you’re in meetings all day and posting your content to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram is the last thing on your mind. Buffer solves this by allowing you to throw in all your posts and sending them out according to a schedule.
It’s not for everyone that has a blog. If you’re writing one post a month, it won’t be crucial. However, if you tend to post frequently, Buffer becomes an asset. I’ll often do 3 or 4 posts all at once, then schedule them so that only one per week is released.
Lastly, we have planning to do. Again, for the less-frequent poster, this isn’t really a concern. However, if you want to effectively boost your website with regular curated content, Microsoft Excel is a winner. I originally wanted to say Google Calendar, but I find I use Excel more for planning. Don’t think of it as that boring spreadsheet tool, but rather a tool to efficiently plan your posts and review your old ones.
You don’t even need Excel to be installed onto your computer or laptop. Excel Online is free to use, saves automatically and can be used anywhere where there’s an internet connection. Where it stands out is when working with other contributors. You’re able to edit in real-time, adding comments and making changes with your team members without the hassle of waiting hours for a response.
These are just some of the tools I use on a weekly basis, there are a lot of others, but these serve as a solid base if you want your blogs to be as engaging as possible.