25 Jul 2012

10 Tools to Improve Your Blogging Process

By Ginny Soskey at Social Media Today:
Sometimes a blog post flows out of you like you were born to write it. You’re typing at 100 words per minute, just trying to keep up with how fast the words are coming to you. You know that this will be the most glorious blog post ever written.
Other times, it's like pulling teeth. The blogging checklist is long: after you think of an original idea, you have to write, edit, add media, optimize for the web and try to promote it through your social network.

To help you better work through the blogging process, here are 10 of the most helpful tools:

1. Gather ideas with Springpad

Similar to Pinterest, people create notebooks using images and text around topics and then share them with the Springpad community. Springpad makes it really easy to explore new content with large categories like Food and Drink, Design and Technology and specific tags like #beer, #Boston and #startups. Use this tool as a jumping-off point for your brainstorming—you can discover and save content in your own notebooks to help you write later.

 2. Save ideas with Evernote

When you’re brainstorming, you need to save your ideas in a central location. This app allows you to create and edit notes that are synced across all of your devices and currently it’s supported by almost every browser and mobile device. When you’re on a run and inspiration hits, you can put a note in Evernote and have it available on your computer later. Use this app to keep your blogging inspiration organized wherever you might be.

3. Vet your ideas with Quora

Quora is the perfect place to have feedback on your content before you write it. A much more sophisticated version of Yahoo! Answers with a tremendous user base, Quora allows you to have a Q&A with some of the smartest people in your industry. Use this resource to ask other people questions or have a critique of your content.

4. Manage your time with E.ggtimer
It’s easy to get too deep into your writing and neglect the other things on your to-do list. Use this online timer to block out an hour or two to write and then step away. This tool is perfect for helping organize your time, which is crucial when you are managing multiple projects at once.

5. Get focused with Songza
Everyone has music that gets them focused to write. Unlike Pandora, Songza is a collection of playlists that people have put manually put together. If you aren’t sure what type of music you’re looking for, use the Music Concierge to help you decide based on your mood or current activity. Find music to get you fired up or keep you calm—whatever keeps you focused.

6. Start your post off right with Headline Split Tester

Having a catchy headline is crucial to the success of your post—you only have a few seconds to hook your readers. If you’re having trouble deciding on a good headline, use this WordPress plugin to help you decide. All you have to do is put in two different headlines, and it will test them for you. If one is getting more clicks than the other, the plugin will automatically display one on your blog. It’s definitely a smart way to help you find which headlines are effective.

7. Optimize your post with Google Keyword Tool

You have to make sure you blog can be found if you want a large reader base. Determining which keywords to use in your blog is just one aspect of optimizing your blog for search engines, but it is one of the most important aspects of your marketing strategy. Use this tool to find the best keywords to attract users to your site.

8. Get visual with Flickr

We all know that humans are visual animals, so make sure to include photos and videos on your blog. To ensure you are finding images that you can rightfully use, use Flickr’s Creative Commons search and then add them to your blog. Don’t forget to properly attribute them to their author!

9. Check your work with After the Deadline

Use this WordPress plugin to make it editing your posts a breeze. After the Deadline checks spelling, grammar and semantic usage, making it almost as good as another person editing your work. While you still can’t skip editing your post by hand, this tool can hopefully take some of the load off your shoulders.

10. Share your content with Shareaholic

Once you’ve brainstormed, written, edited and optimized your blog post, you have to share it to your social networks. Shareaholic offers quite a few options for you to share your content. Embed our social media sharing buttons on your blog to make it easy for your reader to share or just use our browser extension to share new content with your favorite social networks. I’m a little partial, but Shareaholic is definitely an easy way to share and discover content online.

Do you have some favorite tools to help you blog? Let me know in the comments!

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