Blogging activities have developed a bad stigma for many businesses. That’s totally understandable, since with all the myriad of tasks involved, it does take a toll on you.
For each post that you’ll ever write, you come up with some research and ensure it’s worth your while; then you compose your thoughts and finally write that 1,000+ words article.
However, it doesn’t end there. You have work out your SEO, source images and schedule social shares. You do everything in your power to spread the word and hopefully, make your post viral. Quite a process, right?
How many bloggers make a living from their blog?
Bloggers can earn a decent living from their blog and it can be from multiple streams. What are the different business models for bloggers? Here is a simple infographic:
With the blogging tools available it does not have to be that hard anymore to earn a living from blogging. Let’s take a look at some that are above the mark and can do wonders for your blog.
So here are the top blogging tools that are broken up into these seven categories:
- Blog management
- Social media
- Graphic design
- Traffic and marketing
- Landing pages and pre-launch tools.
BuzzSumo is my go-to search engine for content research. Just put your keywords or the URL that you want analyzed and it will give you insights into the most popular content and the influencers who sharing it. Let’s say you want to know more about what’s trending for “make money blogging” subject. Let’s say you’ve got an idea for a post and want to make sure it’s killer. How do you do that? Add the keyword in BuzzSumo and see if it has any potential social-share wise.
Ever wanted to make sense of the bazillion tweets on Twitter since 2006? Now you can with Topsy. Simply put, Topsy is a search engine for Twitter. You can use its search operators to search all content on a specific topic by a particular influencer, find influencers on new topics, and do a detailed social analytics for three keywords and compare them.
Feedly is a daily dose of reading materials – be it a magazine, a blog or a newspaper. It’s great for content research and to keep up with what your favorite bloggers talk about. If influencers pay attention to something in your niche, you should too. Feedly saves you time from hopping from one blog to another, and gives me my content straight all in one place. You can also categorize publications based on their niche.
Quora is the best Q&A site online. Forget Yahoo! Answers and the like as most content posted there isn’t usable for any serious research. Basically, it’s an ever-growing user-generated database of questions and answers that can be edited by Reviewers. Questions are community-owned and can be edited by anyone.
Simply go on Quora and look for questions posted on topics in your niche. Make a list of these to convert into fresh blog posts. Since you’re writing posts based on demand, you’ll see a likely increase in your incoming traffic. And not just posts – you can create videos, newsletters, podcasts from these questions.
B. Blog Management
If you run a multi-author blog and maintaining excel spreadsheets of Google docs is getting on your nerves, you’ll love Wrike. If you have a small team that writes for your company’s internal (or external) blog, Wrike facilitates direct communication between various contributors involved and saves you hours. It’s easy to use, fast and reasonably priced free for basic account or less than $10/mo/user for a five person Professional account).
You can assign tasks, add new contributors and create folders for your upcoming blog posts – everything you want in a good project management app. In addition, team members can simultaneously edit a task and @mention others to collaborate without having to leave the tool.
C. Social Media
If you want to turn social activity into something more meaningful and measurable for your blog, try Rignite. You can monitor keyword search streams and schedule new social media posts from a single dashboard. However, what sets Rignite apart is the Campaigns feature. Campaigns are a guided social media strategy where you can create a series of posts across multiple platforms on social media. For example, you can create a campaign to share a blog post three times per week for 6 months.
Research says that re-sharing old posts can work magic for your blog in terms of traffic. Each post in the campaign can be slightly tweaked so as not to annoy your followers.Campaigns can be targeted to schedule a series of posts, grow your list, host contests for your fans, or promote a discount.
With their campaign-level analytics, you’ll know what’s working and what’s not.
7. Rival IQ
In today’s super-competitive online world, the gap between being a blogger and a marketer is non-existent. If you’re a blogger, you want to know how to market well. You want to be constantly analyzing what’s hot, paying attention to SEO and “spying” on your competitor’s successful digital activities. If this sounds like too much work, there’s good news.
Rival IQ is one of the most robust competitor analysis and marketing intelligence tools there is. Simply set up your “Landscape” with your blog/website being the focus “company”. You can add as many competitors as you like.
In short, in a few seconds of signing up, you get:
- How your competitor blogs are leveraging social media
- How well you rank in comparison to them
- What content was posted
- What’s working for you SEO-wise, and what’s not
- Detailed and summary reports
Under each detailed report, you get a ton of metrics to compare (social audience, engagement, applause etc). If you’re after a deeper analysis, give Rival IQ a try (they have a 30-day free trial).
Tribber is a community of bloggers and influencers who come together to share each other’s content. Think of it as a very responsive, supportive bunch of bloggers in your niche who are happy to send more traffic your way. It’s a social network for bloggers that sends over 2 million new visitors to member blogs. Just like any other social network on the web, the principle is to be nice and give before asking. However, there’s more to it – you can start your own Tribe as an expert on a certain topic. It’s natural that this will tie in tightly with your blog.
D. Graphic Design
9. Death to the Stock Photo
Did you know that the human mind craves visuals? A vast majority of us are visual learners (65%). Photos and visuals are stimulating and engaging, thus making your pages “sticky” and keeping readers hooked. But the problem is cost.
Here comes Death to the Stock Photo. It’s a free photo database that delivers a fresh hi-res pack right in your inbox each month. There’s one for every ocassion!
10. Awesome Screenshot
Awesome Screenshot is a neat little annotation tool for screenshot and picture that sits as your browser plugin. You can capture full page or the visible part, delay capture for drop-downs and menus, and capture a selected area. This tool is super-handy when you want to explain a point using a screenshot.
E. Landing Pages & Pre-Launches
LeadPages offers slick ways to create a mobile-responsive squeeze page, launch page, event registration or sales page easily and quickly. It has an intuitive user-interface that can get your new page ready in less than 10 minutes. They have some nice free templates too.
LaunchEffect is a free, responsive, one-page theme that you can use as a placeholder before your new shiny blog is launched and collect subscriber emails. It’s a smart way to get your blog to work even before it’s launched. Upon signing up, a visitor is redirected to a special URL that they can use to share with their friends, which you can then use to track referrers and reward them once your blog is launched. Pretty neat.
This is a cool plugin by KingSumo, Headlines lets you run A/B tests inside WordPress. It costs $99 for a lifetime and works in three steps:
- You come up with as many relevant titles for your post
- Readers are shown different titles as they share your posts
- The best-performing title wins overtime.
You also get detailed, inline reports about headline performance.
Got grammar gremlins? Worry no more. Hemmingway comes to your rescue. Quite simply, the app makes your writing bold and clear. Just add your content in the text box and click Edit. It tells you whether your sentence is hard to read, very hard to read, and if you could do with simpler phrases. It also marks any adverbs and usage of passive voice. Based on this, you get a Grade out of 10.
G. Traffic & Marketing
14. WordPress SEO by Yoast
If you’re serious about blogging, sooner or later you’ll pay attention to Search Engine Optimization or SEO. If your content is optimized, search engines like Google and Bing will send you more visitors by putting your posts in the search engine rankings, thereby increasing your conversions. SEO by Yoast makes optimization easy and you can do a ton with it. Just set the parameters once and it’s taken care of forever. You have other alternatives in the marketplace too, such as the All in One SEO plugin.
MailChimp is a popular email marketing service that knows how to combine usefulness with humor. Secondly, they have a great customer support system in place which never ceases to impress me. It’s used by more than 7 million people. One of the reasons is the low cost to entry barrier with their Entrepreneur plan – send 12,000 emails to 2,000 subscribers for free (forever). As your list grows, you start upgrading to paid accounts.
H. Other Essentials
16. Amazon S3
Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) is a secure backup and archiving service for anywhere on the web. You can offload all your critical content into the cloud and pay only for storage you use. There is no minimum set up fees involved. If you have a huge blog, Amazon S3 can help you scale it without putting too much load on the servers or eating up bandwidth. No more running out of bandwidth in shared hosting accounts and no more paying extra in lump sum (as in the case of VPS or dedicated server). Pretty cool!
Losing passwords is such a pain. LastPass remembers all your passwords in a simple and sophisticated manner. Just save your website’s username and password in LastPass and you’ll never have to worry about forgetting them, ever. All your accounts and passwords get stored centrally in your “vault”. When you first install the app, it shows you a list of all passwords stored insecurely on your computer that need to be imported to the vault. You’re saved form the hassle of remembering all passwords – all you need is a Master password. They also have an independent app, so you can always be carefree on the go.