We digital marketers sure love our tools, don’t we. I don’t know how I’d survive without my social media tools in particular, not to mention email management, analytics, and monitoring tools.
Just the mention of a shiny new tool has me like…
The problem with blogging, though, is that it doesn’t lend itself well to tools, at least not in the same way as other digital marketing disciplines. With a few clicks, you can schedule a full day of Tweets, but no tool can write a blog post for you. And if there is a tool like that, it’s probably not very good. Who knows what kind of AI blog writers we’ll have in the future, but for now, blogging relies on the human touch.
But that’s not to say that blogging is a tool-free zone. There are a few things I have found to be essential to successful blogging.
- A blog platform. You have to have a great blogging platform to create a great blog. There are many to choose from, but I, along with many other digital marketers, recommend WordPress.org. It’s the most popular blogging platform, and it’s what I’ve used most of my career. It’s easy to use and reliable. Once it’s setup, you can use it with virtually no knowledge of HTML, and those who do have at least a base knowledge of HTML will also find it easy to customize posts with coding.
- Note taking/keeping app. You need a central place where you can record blog bideas as soon as you have them to ensure you don’t forget them. This helps immensely with the dreaded writer’s block because you always have a list of ideas to refer to. This can be as simple as a notebook you keep with you to record ideas, but many people prefer to have some type of app on their phone or computer. I personally like Evernote.
- An editorial calendar: This is a must to ensure consistent blogging and to plan engaging material. You will want to take all of those awesome ideas you jotted down in #2 and strategically schedule them with your editorial calendar. You can find tons of templates by doing a Google search for “editorial calendar,” or you can just click here to get ours ☺️ It’s also simple to create your own just using Excel or Google Spreadsheets. At minimum, you want to record the title/topic of the post and the expected publish date. You may also want to include the author if you have multiple writers, as well as the core keyword, any calls-to-action you want to include, visual ideas, etc.
- Keyword research tool. This step is often overlooked with blogs, but I think it’s important. Before you start writing, or at least before you publish, do some quick keyword research to make sure you are using the words and phrases that your readers are most likely to use to talk about the article’s topic. This doesn’t have to be a full-blown keyword research process, but just taking the time to plug some of your main words into a keyword research can do a lot to improve the readability and searchability of your posts.
- Multi-media tools. It’s not just about the written word anymore. It is becoming increasingly important to include compelling visuals and multi-media on your blog posts. Here are a few tools that help me with my creation of visuals:
- Free stock image sites. My favorites are Pixabay, Free Images, Morguefile, and Pexels. Rememember, before you use any stock photo, be sure the use is in compliance with the image’s license in terms of how and where you are using it, if you are modifying it, and whether or not attribution is required.
- Image creation software such as Canva and PicMonkey. These make it super easy to create awesome images, even if you have no background in graphic design (like me).
- Gif creators. I just started playing around with this and found http://gifmaker.me/ pretty easy to use.
- Video editing and creation software. I’m just getting started with this, too, and have a lot to learn, but I’m really liking Adobe Spark to turn important points from blogs into a video.
These are great tools that will help you create a sucessful blog, but of course, the most important tool is your own mind. Don’t underestimate the knowledge and creativity you already have.
What tools do you find essential for blogging?