Blogging Hacks: Tools I Use to Stay Organized & Efficient
Bloggers don’t get nearly as much credit as they deserve. Us bloggers aren’t just writers, we’re editors, models, photographers, negotiators, social media experts, (and more!) all in one. For this reason, it’s far too easy to get overwhelmed – so I’ll take all the help I can get. Over the years I have discovered a number of time savers to help me stay organized and more efficient. So without further ado, here are some of my favorite blogging tools:
Y’all, thank goodness for Excel Spreadsheets. Every entrepreneur knows when it comes to tax season, it’s stress city. To stay organized, I have an excel spreadsheet to track my blog income and expenses. I track my sponsored posts, affiliate income, total income, and total expenses each month. Further, I track my blog’s growth by inputting my website traffic (sessions, users, page views, session duration, bounce rate) and my social media followers on each platform.
Apple Calendar is another life saver. I’ve tried to like physical planners, but nothing is as easy as Apple Calendar. Plain and simple. To stay organized, I categorize all my entires by color. Purple posts are work deadlines, green posts are doctor appointments and pink posts are my fun activities! Bonus: my calendar automatically syncs to my computer and phone so I can access it at all times. It’s love.
In my opinion, Dropbox is hands down the easiest photo and file sharing system. I use my Dropbox daily to upload photos from my computer to my iPhone, without diminishing the photo quality. I also use Dropbox to share photos with my friends. I simply create a folder and “share” it with one or more recipients and voila! Easy as pie.
If you’re a fan of lists, you will love Wunderlist! My mom introduced it to be a while back and I have been hooked ever since. Wunderlist allows you to organize and prioritize all of your do-lists! From work to household chores and grocery lists, Wanderlust makes it easy to get stuff done!
I have been recently introduced to Evernote and I have to say – I’m in love! Evernote is a cross-platform app which allows you to take notes, keep a journal, collect recipes – and much more! You can literally collect your entire life into Evernote – photos, notes, web pages etc. This app also features a pretty cool tagging system, which allows you to organize your items by topic, priority etc.
As a blogger, you’ll have the opportunity to work for numerous companies. The good news: you’re always writing about something new. The bad news: getting paid can be a pain in the butt. Luckily, Square Cash, a free money transferring app, makes it super simple to receive money from clients. Downloading the app and creating an account takes about 3 minutes, and links straight to your debit card. Square Cash allows instant deposits for a 1% fee and is the only app that allows instant transfers! You can also buy things online straight from your cash account.
To my ultimate horror, I discovered Grammarly the final semester of my Masters Degree. Grammarly is amazing. Think of Word’s spell check on steroids. You simply copy and paste your post into Grammarly to check for spelling errors, sentence structure, punctuation and more. I find it to be more accurate and detailed than Word spell check, and it’s free!
Google Docs is a super handy blogger tool for two main reasons. First, it is a great template to use when writing a collaborative post. Google Docs are stored online and therefore can be accessed from any computer. Further, when sharing your document to another blogger, you can grant them edit access. This means they can edit the content and leave comments on specific portions of the document. Additionally, Google Docs works brilliantly with clients who need to approve of a copy before it goes live.
Content Optimization Tools
WordPress Yoast SEO plugin
First off, if you’re a blogger and you’re not using WordPress – it’s time to make the switch! WordPress is by far the best platform for SEO (search engine optimization). In English? WordPress allows bloggers to integrate plugins, such as Yoast SEO, which ensure your blog posts are search friendly. Remember, the better your SEO – the more page views you will receive! Yoast SEO should be #1 at the top of your list of plugins to download. It brilliantly offers a step-by-step guide on how to make each blog post SEO friendly. Once you’ve ticked off all the items on the list you’ll get a green light – and you’re ready to post!
Google Keyword Planner
To make your blog post SEO friendly, you’ll need to include popular keywords. You need to think like an average Internet user. What keywords do users type in to find a Fall jacket? If you’re stumped on which keywords to use, Google’s Keyword Planner is at your rescue! This nifty app allows you to enter numerous keywords and it will give you the search volume and popularity of each keyword. Related keywords are also provided, allowing you to
Similar to Google’s Keyword Planner, Google Trends allows you to discover which ideas – or trends – are popular at the moment. Not sure whether flared jeans are still a thing? Now you’ll know with Google Trends! Simply type in your topic to see the search volume for different keywords and phrases you’re using.
Content Publishing Tools
So many social media channels, so little time. I can easily become overwhelmed with keeping up with my Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram and Google + accounts. However, Hootsuite allows me to execute campaigns across all of my social media networks on one dashboard. Hootsuite offers several packages for managing social profiles, as well as offering detailed analytics of each platform. While you do have to pay for an account, you can do a free 30-day trial to see if it’s for you!
CrowdBooster offers an amazing insider’s look into the analytics of your Facebook and Twitter platforms. It suggests when your engagement is highest on each platform and the best times to post. This includes analytics on the number of likes, comments, shares, rewets, replies, impressions, reach and followers! You can also schedule tweets and Facebook posts! You do have to pay to set up an account with CrowdBooster, however, they offer a free 30-day trial!
Want a Pinterest virtual assistant? Want your pins scheduled and posted without lifting a finger? Meet Tailwind. Tailwind allows you to schedule pins to post to Pinterest boards throughout the entire month! Tailwind gives you the freedom and flexibility to choose a time, date and Pinterest board to post each pin! I have been using it the past 4 months and grown my Pinterest following by 12k!
Yes, Bitly shortens links but it does so much more than that! Bitly offers awesome analytics on how well your links are performing. It also works across several social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter. And did I mention it’s free! Awesome.com
In order to monetize your blog (who doesn’t want to make some extra cash?!) you’ll need a web hosting service. Web hosting is the place where all the files of your website live. Hosting services offer help in retrieving lost data, keeping backup files of your content and so on. For example, Hosting Foundry offers web hosting for various countries, explain how they work and why you would need that specific type. Find the cheapest web hosting plans here.
Mental Health Tools
Bloggers know all too well if you’re not in the correct mindset, blogging can be near to impossible. Productivity goes hand in hand with the quality of sleep – so you want to make sure you’re getting those z’s in. Your girl suffers from over-thinking syndrome (if that’s not a real thing it should be), and as a result, it often takes me hours to fall asleep. I avoid sleeping pills like the plague and instead like to use more natural methods of sleep induction. I was introduced to Melatonin by a former sleepless friend, and have noticed a huge difference in the time it takes to fall asleep. For those nights where deadlines are swirling around in my head, I like to take 1 capsule of Melatonin 30 minutes before I head to bed.
Essential oils have absolutely changed my life. Feeling Congested? A couple drops of tea tree oil do the trick. Headaches from staring at my computer screen for hours on end? Peppermint essential oil on the temples is a Godsend. Trouble winding down from a stressful day? A couple drops of lavender essential oil on your pillowcase works wonders. I encourage you to experiment with essential oils if you haven’t already – and thank me later!
Ahhh, massages! After a long week with my back hunched over my computer – my muscles are often tight and sore. I love treating myself to a monthly massage! I’ve noticed my levels of productivity are higher during the week if I indulge in a monthly massage – and you should too! Make sure to check your health insurance as a portion of many massages can be written off!
More Blogging Resources:
10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Blogging
The Importance of Goal Setting