Every blogger was a newbie once
Like a baby learning to walk, a blogger was not instantly blessed with knowledge. They all started from nothing. As with anything in life, knowledge and skills must be acquired first in order to be proficient at something.
This opinion is perhaps influenced by my career as a teacher but I believe it is valid. We cannot ride a bike without first developing balance skills and knowledge of how the bike works. This is the same with a blog.
A successful blog does not just happen by sheer luck, the person behind it has developed the skills and knowledge to make it successful. They work extremely hard to get their blog noticed. This is similar to people with YouTube channels; the behind the scenes acquisition of knowledge and skills is often unseen by the viewer. People on the outside just think it’s ‘write something and post it’, this is far from the truth.
Share the Blog Love
New bloggers start their journeys every day and it can be a confusing and scary time. Looking back at my first blog post made me realise just how much I had learnt about blogging and how much I still need to learn.
I love to share my knowledge with others. I recently helped a blogger on a Facebook group with ideas on getting traffic and it felt good. I had little help starting out and I like to believe that I have made things more accessible for that blogger.
I sometimes wish someone more experienced would ‘take me under their wing’ and give me the secret to success, but life is not that easy. I am proud that I have learnt these things off my own back. If I ever become successful then I know it will be down to my own hard work.
Six tools that help my blogging
So, in the spirit of sharing the knowledge, I thought I would share some of the tools I use regularly with my blog. I hope that this will provide some help not only for new bloggers for everyone as many of these tools do not just apply to creating a blog.
I have the app on my phone and I cannot live without it. Every blog needs some pictures to break up the text and appeal to the visual learners out there. They say a picture speaks a thousand words and a good image can lure your audience into clicking on the post.
Pixabay has thousands of high-quality images that are free to use. It is a community of creative people who post theirimages free of copyright so that you are free to use them in your blog posts. The great thing about this is that you do not need photography skills to be able to create a professional looking blog.
If I created an Empties or Haul post, I can guarantee it will take me hours of sitting at the front door, hunched over, to get a good looking shot. As my content has grown and changed, I have used Pixabay much more and it saves so much time.
This is such a useful tool if you need to alter and edit your pictures or create collages. Many bloggers rave about using Pinterest to generate blog traffic and to make the best of your pins they need to be in a Pinterest friendly format. This app helps you create images to a pin friendly size.
This app is also great for title images. You can add text and use stickers to embellish your original image. I have had great fun adding things to pictures to make them pop more.
Grammarly and Edit minion
Proofreading is fundamental to a great blog. It is perhaps harsh but spelling and grammar errors will discourage a reader. If it is hard to read, they will not come back for more. I am guilty of this, having read many blogs I tend to not finish a post with many mistakes in it.
Due to this and my fear of failure, I always use both Grammarly and Edit minion before I hit publish. This is not a foolproof way of ensuring your writing is accurate, but it does help. I have also learnt so much about my writing style and have made changes to improve it.
Whereas Grammarly is a conventional spell and grammar check, Edit minion will help you wrote in a much clearer way. When writing blog articles it is always advised to write in the active voice and Edit minion will highlight when you use a passive voice. Writing in an active voice, where the emphasis is placed on the subject in the sentence, makes it flow better and is more concise. Edit minion will also highlight adverbs, clichés and homophones so that you can check if they are correct. I try not to use too many adverbs as they are often looked down upon, the same goes with clichés but I often just keep them in as people can relate to a cliché.
A Clipboard app
A Clipboard application is a must-have if you intend on scheduling your posts or sharing them on social media. As I blog using my phone, found I was constantly having to go back to my blog posts for the links whenever I posted to social media. The clipboard on my phone only saves the ten most recent copy of a link I have highlighted. If I was in the middle of proofing a post, my twitter posts that I had saved would often disappear and I would have to create it all over again.
The clipboard app will save everything you have copied so you can access it whenever you want. This has proved valuable when I have been scheduling my Twitter posts on Hootsuite. It is also great because I can delete the information that I no longer need; like multiple copies of the same post as I bounce them back and forth between Grammarly and Edit Minion. I can also save hashtags that I regularly use so that it makes creating my social media posts less time consuming; plus I can never remember them all.
Using social media is essential to promote your blog and gain traffic. When I started blogging I thought the majority of the time should be spent writing content, oh how wrong I was. The majority of bloggers will say the same thing, promoting on social media is the task that consumes the most time. There are many services where you can pay a subscription to promote your posts over multiple social media outlets, however, being a hobby blogger, I like free options.
This is where Hootsuite comes in handy. It is an app where you can schedule posts on social media in advance, meaning you can promote your blog even when you are not available to do it. I use Hootsuite to schedule my Twitter posts, having my tweets with relevant hashtags saved on a clipboard app. I will then set aside some time to make sure my Twitter posts are scheduled for the next month in advance. This usually takes about thirty minutes and I can do it while watching TV of an evening.
This is good because I can still generate traffic to older posts and not just have them languishing in the graveyard of my blog archive. I make sure that I only tweet posts that are relevant to that month; imagine posting about Valentines in April, it would not make the best impression. Likewise, if you have seasonal posts, you should schedule them more regularly throughout the appropriate month.
The acquisition of knowledge has to be paramount in order to build your blog. You cannot hope to know everything you need to in order to ensure success so where do you learn it? I have learnt much about blogging through researching and reading articles but being a visual learner, it does not sink in as fast and I get bored easily. YouTube has taught me everything from how to navigate my WordPress site to photography and lighting basics. I also use YouTube as a method of research, this is especially true with some of my ‘Beauty Guru Drama’ posts. To build a picture of the situation I will watch many videos on the subject. This was invaluable for posts like ‘The Tarte Foundation Scandal’.
I use Udemy to educate myself on areas I am weak in terms of knowledge. I have used many of the free courses to get some basics on improving writing, planning blog content and topics such as psychology which influence my writing heavily. You can purchase courses if you wish to get a real in-depth understanding of the subject and Udemy have many courses on ‘special offer’. I personally stick to what I can get for free as I do not have the funds to spend on lots of courses and I am a miser by nature.
This is a tool that I have recently discovered and I had been using it wrong for a while. I would suggest you search YouTube to make sure you use it properly. Ping-o-Matic is a handy tool that will make search engines aware that you have a new post. It can often take time for the computer bots to update search engines to reflect new content, so why not give them a hand.
All you do is put the title of the new blog post into the first bar, then the new posts URL in the next one. Finally, the RSS URL, which is an optional step that I am not sure how to do yet.
This will make search engines aware that you have new content and will improve your traffic. The mistake I made was to put my homepage in every time I pinged; it worked, I got traffic to my homepage but not to the blog posts themselves. With the help of YouTube, I fixed it.
I hope that you have found this article useful; what are your ‘go to’ tools for blogging? I would love to hear from bloggers big and small about the tools that help you to blog successfully.
Ciao for now beauties xx