If you’re new to blogging, you may be unsure about where to start and what tools to use. Certain tools and systems have the potential to speed up your blogging progress and make it much easier to carry out this online activity. Below are some of the most important tools every novice blogger needs.
– Blog Post Planning and Management Tools
A successful blog requires a certain amount of planning and organisation. This is why you need to invest in tools that make it easier to manage your blogging activities. For example, a spreadsheet system like Excel allows you to create a plan for your future blogging tasks, include deadlines, highlight completed activities and much more. If you don’t know how to use spreadsheets or you need to brush up on your Excel skills, you can get help through articles like this one which gives a great introduction to Excel or through websites like www.excel-easy.com.
– Blogging Platform
You have to choose a blogging platform that is easy to use and includes all of the features a modern blogger requires. WordPress leads the way in this area and is used by millions of bloggers around the world.
When WordPress is installed on a website, it comes with all the basic blogging functions you need. However, it can be expanded to become a much more versatile blogging system. A huge number of free and premium WordPress themes are available that allow you to improve and customise the look of your blog. More advanced themes also include additional features that turn your blog into much more than just a content generation website. For instance, you can have a blog that also includes an ecommerce store, forum or membership area.
– WordPress Plugins
WordPress is an open source blogging platform and has a huge user base that often contributes to the development of this system. As a result, a large number of add-ons to the system, also known as plug-ins have been developed. Some plug-ins are free, while premium plugins have to be paid for. Installing certain plug-ins can help you optimise your website (Eg Yoast), make it more secure and allow you to share your content (Eg. Simple share buttons adder) and interact with a wider audience through social media channels.
– Graphic Design Systems and Meme Generators
When we think of blogging, most people only focus on the text that is published online. However, images are just as important and every blog post you create should feature at least one optimised image. Images can be modified in a number of different ways. You can change their size, brand them, make memes out of them and much more.
However, in order to make these alterations you need specialised graphic design software. A range of different graphic design packages and online image generators are available to help you with this task. Photoshop is one of the best known paid graphic design systems available, while Gimp is a free alternative that includes all of the functions most bloggers will ever need.
These two examples of graphic design software systems usually have to be installed on your computer, but a range of online meme generators and image design generators like Canva are now also available. These websites allow you to easily create images for blog posts and also have features that make it simple to create other types of images such as infographics. Once you find the appropriate images for your blog, you can edit them to your heart’s content.
– Video Hosting and Video Sharing Websites
Video is an even more powerful way to communicate with an audience online. A short video can demonstrate, explain or entertain people in a much more effective manner than text or simple images. However, it’s not always easy or suitable to host your own videos on your website and this is where video hosting and video sharing websites come to the rescue. You can upload your videos in almost any format and these websites will display your video on their website in a format that others can view on every type of device. These websites also make it easy to share your video by embedding it in your blog.
Once you attract someone to your blog who is interested in your content, it’s crucial to find a way to keep in contact with these individuals. Email is the most effective way to do this, but it takes time to manage a list of emails and send out messages to each person on your email subscriber list.
Autoresponders automate this process for you. They allow you to add an opt-in box to your blog, so that visitors can subscribe to your email list by entering their contact details, such as their name and email address. Once a person subscribes to your email list, their contact details are stored in a database and you can send these people automated or manual emails whenever you wish. This is perfect for blog owners who publish content on a regular basis and want to automatically notify email subscribers about these blog updates.
As you grow your blog, you want to know how well your blog is performing and what type of content is the most popular. It’s almost impossible to guess this, so you need a way to track your blog’s progress.
To do this, a blogger should install a website analytics program, the most common by far being Google Analytics which is free. The latest analytics programs record the number of visitors who read each blog post, how long they stayed on your blog, what actions they took, their location and much more. This gives you a clearer picture of the people who are visiting your website and how they are interacting with it. Based on this information you can make more informed decisions about what is currently working well for you and what isn’t.
Blogging is one of the most effective and affordable ways ever to publish content and speak directly to people who are interested in your industry, niche or the topic you discuss on your blog. However, to get off to the best possible start, as with anything in life you will need the right tools.