You just got back from picking up that totally sweet new MacBook Pro you ordered, you’ve got a stack of handwritten notes a foot high and you’re finally ready to enter the exciting world of blogging.
Not so fast! You’ll need more than an expensive computer and some notes to make your blog a success.
Fortunately, there are plenty of (mostly free) tools available online to help you create a truly great blog. I use many of the tools named in this article myself, so I can personally vouch for their efficacy.
Check out my top picks for superb blogging tools, in no particular order.
- A robust blogging platform or content management system
Don’t be put off by the tech jargon; the terms I used in the heading really just refer to which developer you’ll be using to do your blogging.
Personally, I use WordPress. Besides being the most popular blogging platform by far, it’s super easy and intuitive to use (the editor is very similar to MS Word) and there are heaps of cool, free plug-ins and themes to choose from. What I really love about WordPress is how easy it is to personalize.
Grammarly checks your writing for mistakes relating to grammar, spelling, context, correct punctuation and so on. Good quality writing is essential if you want to be taken seriously as a writer, and Grammarly is an indispensable tool for any serious blogger.
There is a paid version with some additional features such as a vocabulary enhancer, but personally I find the free version to be more than adequate.
- Access to images
Stock photo websites will become your best friend as you go along.
Eye-catching images will enhance the overall aesthetic of your blog, keep readers engaged and break up blocks of text, making content easier to digest.
Top-quality stock photos will cost you top dollar, but there are plenty of websites that offer free stock images from highly talented photographers that are also high quality.
The best source of free stock photography, in this author’s opinion, is Unsplash, a collection of stunning, hi-res photos at absolutely no cost! I use Unsplash all the time and I really can’t recommend it enough.
As a writer and blogger, my mind is always busy thinking of fresh new ideas for content and topics for articles. Often, I find myself walking down the street, sitting in a meeting or out with my wife when I’m suddenly hit by a wave of
inspiration. Naturally, I don’t always carry my laptop with me but I don’t want to risk losing the idea either, so I rely on Evernote to remember for me.
Evernote is a nifty, light-weight mobile app that allows you to write down notes on the go, add images and even “clip” content that you find online. You can download Evernote from the iPhone App Store or from the Google Play Store.
This versatile platform is especially useful for social media marketers as it allows you to schedule posts on a variety of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and so on. As a blogger, it’s important to post regularly to keep your readers engaged and I’ve found that Hootsuite is a fantastic way to schedule blog posts and automate the process. You can also schedule Facebook posts and Tweets to promote your blog article once it goes live.
- A dictionary
Yeah, yeah, I know it seems silly. After all, you’re not planning on writing the sequel to War and Peace anytime soon.
Still, a dictionary can help you enrich your vocabulary and produce even better content. You don’t even need to go out and buy a hard copy dictionary. Just download the Merriam-Webster mobile app and you’re on your way to literary greatness.
Personally, I use SimpleMind for studying, but it’s also a great app for plotting your next blog post or article. SimpleMind is a really easy-to-use mind-mapping application that enables you to create expansive and colorful maps of your ideas with central themes and sub-themes that branch off. I really dig this app, and recommend it for aspiring and established bloggers alike.