Creating a successful blog post is not as simple as just sitting down and writing it then posting it to your blogging platform of choice. Usually you'll need to use a few blogging tools, this post will use 13.
There is a lot of planning and tweaking that goes into your finished masterpiece. Currently, I am already working on two posts for next month; that’s three weeks away.
I also have 3 or 4 draft articles listed in my posts.
With that in mind, I decided to do an audit of all the tools I use to create a blog post.. on this blog post. It will give you an insight into the processes involved in writing a post.
None of these blogging tools are needed to create a great post, they just make the process of researching, writing and distribution easier.
Blog Post Ideas
Sometimes writer's block can manifest itself at the most inopportune times. Like when you promised to put out two posts in a week, and it’s Thursday, and you have nothing to write.
Well it’s Wednesday, and this is the post I said I would publish tomorrow. I’ve been in bed with a cold all week and haven’t had an original thought for about three days.
Never fear, I reached into my bag of tricks and pulled out this post.
My bag of tricks is a combination of 2 tools:
Feedly, which collects the feeds from blogs.
And Evernote, which can store ideas and clippings in different notebooks.
So today when I was struggling what to write about, I looked at my notebooks and saw a podcast that Problogger did about the 19 Blogging Tools they’ll be using in 2016
Great idea thinks I, I’ll document the tools that I use to write a blog post!
Once or twice a day I jump into Feedly, either on my desktop, iPad or phone and read the latest content from the blogs I follow. If I see one I like, I click on the Evernote icon, and it’s saved into one of my preset notebooks.
Occasionally something I read will trigger an idea for a blog post so I'll create a quick note in my future blog posts ideas.
If you want a more in-depth content research solution, then you can't get much better than Ahrefs I've only started using this in the past week so once I get more of a handle on what it's capable of I'll do a much longer post.
Ahrefs allows you to dig deep into your own and your competitors' content and see what's working. It is particularly useful if you follow Brian Dean's Skyscraper outreach methodology.. (more of this to come late this month!)
Content Planning And Creation
Next in our list of blogging tools are the three I use for content planning and post creation.
I use Coschedule to plan my posts a few weeks in advance. I also like the fact that it has a cool headline analyzer built in that scores your headline.
Once a post is published, it is a simple task to schedule distribution within WordPress or via the Coschedule calendar.
Although Coschedule allows me to create the content and post it, I prefer to stick to my old favorite, IA Writer. I’ve used this for several years as it focuses on distraction free writing.
All you have is a white canvas where you can write your post. If you want to do some formatting or check the word count, you just hover your mouse over the footer.
As I don’t do any search engine optimisation, using the relevant topic terms in IA Writer helps with the on-page SEO.
Thanks to the wonders of iCloud drive, I can start work on a blog post in IA Writer on one device and continue it on another.
I start off by writing a to-do list at the top of the page. I’ll then add a list of topically relevant words that I feel should be included.
As I write, I'll remove the to-do list items when I've completed them, and I delete the topically relevant keywords as they are used.
When the post is finished, I use Grammarly; I know some people will be surprised by this! But since I've used it the grammar nazis have faded away and I now know what a squinting modifier is!
Look it’s not that I can’t spell or construct a sentence … it’s that I just can’t bloody type! (BTW Autocorrect is the bane of my life!)
Grammarly helps keep those mistakes in check and highlights possible errors. As well as a paid version, Grammarly also has a free tool, so there is no excuse for not using it.
If you aren’t building a list on your blog, then you are making a huge mistake. There is simply no excuse not to. It will allow you to engage with your readers and if you ever create a product or do a promotion, you have a ready audience.
It is estimated that email marketing generates $44 for every $1 spent. If you are already driving traffic to your blog, then you can almost build your list for free.
I use three tools to build my list. Look around you, and you’ll see 2 of them in action.
First up is the SumoMe welcome mat. I know some people will hate it (probably the people who don’t build lists!) but it only shows to people who haven’t opted in and then only every 3 days.
The other thing — which is the main reason for having it — is that it gets opt-ins at between 8 and 12%, that’s why it’s staying.
Next up is Leadpages which I primarily use for the content upgrades I provide. You’ll find one at the bottom of most of the posts.
Those are averaging a 27% – 38% opt in rate which is I feel is pretty good and a great reason why you should consider adding content upgrades to your site.
The bit of my list building you don’t see is on the backend; I use Active Campaign to manage my lists. It is many times better than Aweber, Mailchimp, Constant Contact, etc.
The simple reason: it allows you to use Marketing Automation. This means that what a subscriber gets sent depends on the actions they take. The more engaged a subscriber is, the more perks and rewards they receive from me.
Check out one of my previous posts on Marketing Automation if you want to know more.
Social Media Distribution
Now we come to the juicy bit: once I've written the post I want to get it seen by the masses. For that, I use social media and distribute my content to various social networks.
First up is a tool that I am in love with, have you ever had a case of love at first sight?
I’ve had that except instead of a beautiful woman it was a pale blue octopus called Edgar.
Edgar is easy to use, you just import your content, tweets, Facebook posts, etc., connect up your social media accounts, then use the calendar to create a posting schedule.
That's it! Edgar will populate your social networks with your content on autopilot.
You can also create different categories of posts and send them at different times.
I suspect I’ll be replacing some of my other tools and solely using Edgar in future.
I have a lot of followers on Twitter, so I like to keep a steady flow of content in my Twitter feed. The idea is to have great content on your feed whenever anyone sees it.
For that, I use Tweet Jukebox. I have over 100 tweets queued in there ready to be posted on a random schedule. It takes about 3 or 4 days for a tweet to be repeated.
There are two other tools I occasionally use, Buffer and Hootsuite. I don’t use them to the maximum ability, so I may get rid of them shortly thanks to my blue octopus friend.
A quick heads up for the SumoMe share tool, I use it to get you guys to share the posts here, so why not click it now and see what happens!
Miscellaneous Blogging Tools
There are two tools that I have yet to mention. The first is Yoast SEO, a WordPress plugin. It’s no secret that I hate Search Engine Optimisation.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve followed what Google wants only to see my sites disappear in an algorithm update. NO MORE!
There are only three things I do for SEO now. The first is to use topically relevant content (there are a videos about this in the Traffic Case Study I am running).
The second is to try to get the Yoast SEO plugin to give me a green light.
Finally, I'll try to get links back to the content from relevant resources like blogs in the same niche.
That’s it, anything more is too much!
The last tool I use is Neatly, which I only found this week on an Appsumo special deal. It’s a true no-brainer.
It’s going to save me several hours a week.
My normal morning routine is to check into my analytics account, my AdSense account, check the overnight sales in PayPal and Stripe. Then pop over to bit.ly and see which content is getting traction. Then over to Facebook and Twitter to check if I've got new followers.
Phew! I am tired just thinking of that lot.
Tomorrow all I need to do is to log into Neatly and check all the stats on the dashboard.. YES! Neatly is a one-stop shop that pulls all your analytics into one place.
It’s like a dream come true.
Ok, that’s it for this post, who said that blogging was easy?
As I said at the start of the post, none of these blogging tools are must haves, they are all “nice to haves.”
If you are just starting out, use what you have access to and add to your blogging toolbox as you go along.
Several if not all the tools have free trials, and some of them have free versions. If you are making money from your blog, then none of these will break the bank.
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