A writer needs tools. An author needs a subject. A journalist needs a story. A technical author needs facts and figures. So, what does a blogger need? Perhaps, we need a bit of everything. We need a combination of all of the things I just mentioned.
10 Social Media and Blogging Tools
I recently wrote a post celebrating my first year of blogging mistakes. Yes, you read it correctly. I celebrated the mistakes because of the lessons learned. (To read more about those lessons, click here.) Today, however, I would like to focus on the blogging and social media tools I used during 2013.
Think of them as Coke and Pepsi – both are colas but with different tastes. Such is the same with WordPress.org and WordPress.com. Both are blogging platforms based off the same underlying software with the difference being the “taste”. I chose WordPress.org.
I’ve used more than one hosting platform but found that I prefer Go Daddy over the others. The service is economical but also provides an award-winning level of customer service. Go Daddy is the world’s largest domain name registrar and Web Hosting provider with more than 55 million domains under management and more than 4,000 employees. (Information courtesy of godaddy.com.) Rates are determined based on selected service(s).
There are some really nice themes available for free but I found that you the old saying is often true. You get what you pay for so I chose to pay. An afternoon of research led me to Elegantthemes.com. For $39/year I gained access to all available themes. This was a bargain with a total of eighty-six (86) themes available as of December 13, 2013. UPDATE: I just visited the site and found that the latest theme, Divi, has been released bringing the number to eighty-seven (87)! Choose the developer package and get access to PST files and a set of fantastic short codes for $89/year. Before trying Divi, my favorite themes are Nexus and Foxy.
Anyone wanting to maximize their social media process would benefit from using Hootsuite. I have used it since 2008 or 2009 and would rank my satisfaction as “Above Average”. The only thing that hinders my ranking as “Excellent” would be the user interface. A few tweaks to the visual appearance would be great; however, I find it difficult to argue the ROI since I am grandfathered at the old rate. Plans start at FREE with the Pro Plan (starting at $8.99/month) as the most popular option.
Google retired one of the most well-loved products in its product catalog when it decommissioned Google Reader in July. (Read more about the demise of Google Reader by clicking here.) Thankfully, Feedly was there to pick up the proverbial slack. I am sure that there are others as good but my personal preference has been Feedly. It is available on my iPhone, iPad and my Mac and it integrates very well with the next tool. Best thing about Feedly is…it is free. A paid version (Feedly Pro) is available starting at just $5.00/month.
My use of Hootsuite is focused more on interacting with various social media accounts. While Hootsuite does provide scheduling messages and re-blogging of articles, I find that I like Buffer’s interface better. Buffer has a free and paid version and has just released a business version. They also offer outstanding and courteous customer service.
I like creating my own images so that I don’t have to buy or worry about properly attributing photographs. Last year I used Picnik, a service that was bought by and integrated with Google+. Picmonkey.com offered a service which was, for the most part, almost identical to Picnik. This is a great tool if you need perform basic adjustments to photos. Upgrade your account and access all the options for just $4.99/month.
I primarily use Google Drive when writing my first drafts unless I use the old-school pen and paper. While not 100% satisfied with the service, I like the research panel option. Google Drive is free and available on Mac, PC, Android and iOS. Click here for my previous post discussing Google Drive.
Google provides a tool allowing your Google+ photo to appear in search results where articles you’ve written appear. You must have a Google+ profile and properly attribute your work. Visit Google Authorship to learn more.
I saved the best for last because it is all about YOU. You must be present on social media. You must be providing great and original content that can be beneficial to your readers. You must be a contributor to the blogging landscape. You must devote time to blogging. You must work to establish a reputation of credibility and authenticity. You are going to need time. You are going to need patience. You will need help. You will fail. You will make mistakes. You will learn.
The key is…YOU.
The tools I mentioned above work for me but there may be others out there that are even better. What are your favorite tools? Do you use something different or do you use some of the same mentioned above? What works for…you?
I use the paid versions of many of the products mentioned in this post. I am not a paid spokesperson for these products and anyone who may choose to use these does so using their own judgement and accept full responsibility for use (and payment) of such products. My comments are solely intended to provide insight into the tools used during my first year as a blogger.