As a novelist, it’s no secret that I enjoy writing. I’d rather spend the day at my keyboard or with a notebook than doing just about anything else. So when I started my first blog a few years ago, I was surprised to find that it takes much more than being an effective writer to be an effective blogger. To succeed at blogging, you also need to know how to edit, design, and market your hard work. So much for spending the whole day writing the next New York Times bestseller. *Sigh.*
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Actually, as I’ve blogged, I’ve found some tools along the way that have helped me tremendously. In other words, tools that have helped me dedicate maximum time to writing instead of all the other little details that come with running a blog. The more time we writers get to spend writing, the happier we are, right? Write! 😉
Here are my top 10 blogging tools that have helped me focus on my writing:
(I hope they help you as much as they’ve helped me!)
You know all those pretty blog graphics you see on Pinterest and Instagram? As a blogger, you’ll either have to make those yourself or hire someone to do it for you. There’s just no easy way to succeed as a blogger without clear, cohesive graphics.
I like words, but graphic design is my biggest enemy as a blogger. PicMonkey has made it easy for me to create graphics quickly so I can spend more time writing and less time fussing over hex codes and layers. (Yuck.) And if it’s easy for me, then it’ll be easy for just about anyone. I mean it.
Grammarly has saved me in countless blog posts and emails. You simply install it as a browser extension and it’ll recognize errors in your writing. Even better? It offers suggestions for how to fix those errors. I’d like to think I’m a good speller, but there are some words I always stumble over, like recommend and embarrass. (And for a writer, spelling simple words wrong is always embarrassing.)
Here’s one example that it caught for me from this post:
I almost feel like Google Docs goes without saying, but honestly, this is how I’ve been keeping myself organized. I have a separate folder dedicated to each blog I run, and it allows me to keep everything categorized (and color coded!) in one place, including post ideas, affiliate info, graphics, and more. Without Google Docs, I’d be crying into a mountain of paper on the floor of my office. Not good for a pregnant lady who’s already overly-emotional.
I also used it to plan and organize my social media content, which I eventually turned into a free social media cheat sheet for novelists. (Have you downloaded yours yet?!)
Speaking of social media, Tailwind is excellent for Pinterest and Instagram scheduling so you can focus less on promotion and more on writing. This is fantastic for visual marketing. Features include uploading images, pinning to multiple boards, scheduling Instagram posts, and tracking your analytics, just to name a few. Plus, isn’t it always easier to have everything in one place? (Here’s a hint: Yes.)
Another handy tool I’ve used for scheduling pins is BoardBooster. There is some setup time involved, but once I got the hang of it, my scheduling went quickly. I set up a campaign that automatically pins to my group boards for me so I don’t have to spend an hour or more every day making sure I’m pinning enough. This is a serious time saver, and it cut my promotion time in half while freeing up more writing time.
Infamous to Influential
This Instagram course by Alex Tooby is legit. She runs multiple Instagram accounts with hundreds of thousands of followers, so I *think* she knows what she’s talking about. If Instagram is a tool you’d like to use but you’re not sure where to start or how to maximize your efforts, this is the course for you. She also offers a Hashtag Hero course that’ll teach you how to reach your target audience by using hashtags effectively.
Ivory Mix is by far one of my favorite blogging websites. I signed up for Kayla’s newsletter and got access to all of her helpful resources, including blogging tutorials and gorgeous (free!) monthly stock photos. And don’t even get me started on the Adobe Color Wheel. I didn’t even know it existed until I watched her tutorials on creating consistent branding. Talk about a life saver.
Create 365™ Happy Planner
Will I ever stop talking about my Happy Planner? Probably when I stop drinking coffee. (So … never.) I bought my 18-month planner last year and immediately got to work filling in important dates and scheduling my blogging and publishing goals. I also picked up an expansion pack that came with a few extra inserts and folders so I could organize ALL the things. Plus, it’s pretty to look at, so if you also like pretty things, it’s a win.
I’m currently using the free option to send my monthly newsletters, so I can’t speak to the paid options yet. However, a lot of bloggers also seem to be transitioning from MailChimp to ConvertKit. There’s no free option for ConvertKit, so if you’re working on a shoestring budget right now, MailChimp will make blogging easier on your wallet. But it’s only free up to 2k subscribers, so depending on how serious you are about building your email list, you may have to upgrade eventually anyway.
Restored 316 Designs
I used this when I built my new author website. The Novelty theme was perfect for me (she offers plenty of other gorgeous themes, too), and she provided a handy how-to guide that helped me as I set everything up. I’m very happy with this, and any blogs or websites I build in the future will start with a theme from Restored 316.
Want more resources?
Check out some of my favorite tools, books, and other resources for blogging and writing right here.
What are some of your favorite blogging resources? Let me know in the comments below!