Is THIS the year that you are going to concentrate on your inbound marketing and commit to creating a blog that generates results for your business? Great news!
It’s a little scary though, right? Believe me, you’re not the only one who spends hours staring at a blank page with that impatient blinking cursor, willing ideas to appear. What should you write about? Where do you start? Will anyone even find it? Shall you just try again tomorrow?
Thankfully, the internet is here to rescue you from the depths of your blogging despair. As a writer, I make use of plenty of tools to make things easier for myself – so I thought I’d share my picks with you to give you a helping hand!
Here are 50 online tools that you should add to your blogging arsenal:
Idea generating tools:
Quora is a great place to start looking for ideas to get you started. It is a site where people pose questions to do with every industry and topic under the sun. The questions might get you thinking about issues you could answer through your blog.
InboxQ uses Twitter to find questions related to your business, industry, products or interests and feed them in realtime to your browser. What kinds of questions are people asking that you can help with?
3. LinkedIn Pulse
LinkedIn Pulse offers you news, content and insights that are relevant to you. You can follow what’s trending and source relevant ideas and resources for your own content.
4. Blog Topic Generator from HubSpot
Blog topic generators are never flawless, but they can be a helpful place to get your creative juices flowing using the suggestions provided.
Buzzsumo allows you to see which topics related to your business or industry get the most attention from your target audience. You can identify content that is performing well in a particular niche – and then create even better content!
Yes, Twitter is a social sharing tool, but I think it’s also a great source of idea inspiration because you can see what’s trending, what people are reading and sharing and ensure that your posts are current and on point.
7. Quick Sprout
This site allows you to enter competitor URLs and see a breakdown of the most popular content that they have written for their site. While you certainly don’t want to copy your competition, it may help you generate ideas for content you could write better, offer a differing view or give you ideas on what NOT to write!
Blogging becomes a breeze when you’re super organised! Trello helps you keep your ideas and tasks in one place, and is perfect for collaborating with team members or freelancers.
Once you’re on a roll, the ideas will keep on coming. Organise all your ideas in one place so you can get rid of all those Post-its with your random musings stuck everywhere!
If you’re a lover of lists, then this app is for you. Wunderlist is pretty handy if you’re compiling a list post and want to keep a record of all your ideas to include in the list. You can also access public lists and get ideas off others.
11. Editorial calendar
Editorial Calendar is a WordPress plugin that makes it easy to see when your posts are scheduled and manage your blog.
If you’re like me, you come across lots of articles, ezines or posts that you think look interesting, but you don’t want to divert your attention from what you’re currently doing. I always think: ‘I must read that later’ but then can never find it again. With Pocket, you can put articles or videos into Pocket and come back to view them later.
13. Mind Meister
This app allows you to mind-map on the go as well as collaborate with others and brainstorm on ideas.
14. Google Calendar
Google has a free online calendar perfect for keeping track of your content schedule. Share with others and collaborate on your content ideas.
Don’t forget your awesome ideas! Wridea is a free idea management service which allows you to enter and categorise your ideas, and then share those ideas with others for a virtual brainstorming session.
Content creation tools:
16. Google Keyword Finder
This free tool can help you plan your content and ensure that your articles are getting found by your customers by including targeted keywords.
17. Google Docs
Using Google Docs is particularly handy if your work is reviewed by peers or you work collaboratively on your blog content. It will also help ensure you pick up any spelling or grammar errors before you enter your content into your blogging platform. Plus, you can access the content from anywhere!
18. Write or Die
If you’re the kind of person who needs someone cracking the whip behind them to get words on a page, then try Write or Die. It provides, er, encouragement, to help you beat down writer’s block.
19. Omm Writer
I’m guilty of having four browser windows open with 20 tabs each on two different screens (that’s probably a good reflection of how my brain operates). So if you’re like me, try Omm Writer. It gives you a distraction-free zone (complete with relaxing forest or ocean sounds if you want them) where you can concentrate, think, write and be productive so you can knock out your next post in no time.
20. My Hours
Writing is one of those tasks that is hard to measure time-wise. Sometimes you might be riding a brainwave and the words flow easily, other times it’s a painfully laborious process. Keep track of your time easily with this free time management app, My Hours.
21. ProWriting Aid
Not everyone finds writing easy, but ProWriting Aid is your personal writing coach that will have you looking like a pro. Not only does it check grammar and spelling but will also help improve readability, improve sentence structure, check for consistency, eliminate redundancies and more.
The thesaurus is my best friend – but now I don’t need to keep one on had at my desk. Expand your vernacular repertoire and use Thesaurus.com to smarten up your articles (and improve your crossword-solving game).
23. Brainy quote
In the words of Letitia Landon “An apt quotation is like a lamp which flings its light over the whole sentence”. Brainy Quote is a library of quotes where you’ll find a quote for just about any topic to complement your writing.
24. HARO – Help A Reporter Out
Need some real-world examples? HARO connects you with experts on a variety of topics, just pose a question, specify your target, and you’ll receive responses from sources that match your needs.
25. Portent Title Generator
Writing one sentence for your title is often the hardest part of the whole blog post. Use this title generator to give you a helping hand with the creativity.
Tools for images:
PicMonkey is a free online photo editing tool. With its suite of effects, fonts, designs and more, you’ll give your blog photos a completely professional touch.
With Canva, you go from business owner to design pro. Canva makes graphic design easy for everyone, so you can turn your ideas into a professional design without fuss. There are also templates for creating social media posts for those of us with zero design skills.
Don’t want to pay for average stock images? Try PhotoPin, a collection of free photos for bloggers and creatives.
29. Meme Generator
Everyone loves a good meme. Create your own with this meme generator and sit back and watch your image go viral.
Skitch certainly isn’t on par with Photoshop, but it’s much easier to use and perfect for screen captures and quick edits to photos.
Give your pics a photo-edit finish with Pixlr. It lets you use photo editing tools and effects so you can customise your blog images.
32. Free Digital Photos
This is a free stock images site with a massive library of photos, so you’re sure to find a pic that perfectly complements your post.
Tools for infographics:
This site is targeted at people who want to create visual resumes, but the tree map and pictogram tool is perfect for using in blog posts to display stats and data.
Infographics can seem like an epic task, but not with Easel.ly! They have a tonne of templates to get you started so you can effectively present your message visually.
“Making information beautiful has never been easier” with Piktochart. Use ready-to-use themes or create customised infographics with their editing tools.
Bring out the best in your data with graphs and charts. Also perfect for professional presentations and pitches.
37. Keyword Planner
I’ve already mentioned this one above, but just to reiterate that it’s super important to include keywords and search terms in your blog content, tags and titles.
38. Tag Crowd
This tool helps you visualise word frequencies in text by creating a word cloud, text cloud or tag cloud often seen on blog posts. It’s useful to improve onpage SEO and to help your readers digest topics and relevance in a single glance.
39. Google Webmaster
This tool helps you understand where you rank in search engine results, understand your search traffic and how people are finding your site, and make optimisations that will improve your visibility.
If you don’t mind paying for software, then check out Scribe. It gives you on-page optimisation advice plus content development guidance to help your page start climbing up the search result ranks.
Tools for sharing your content:
Hootsuite is an all-in-one dashboard where you can manage all your social networking accounts and schedule your posts, monitor community and engagement and view all your stats for each platform.
42. Click to Tweet
Click to Tweet boxes can be included anywhere in your blog post. It makes it super simple for readers to tweet out a quote from your article to their followers with a link back to your page.
Sending your blog posts out to email subscribers doesn’t require complicated systems – spread the word with emails sent to your database through MailChimp.
If you want to get a lot of eyes on your post then Outbrain will send you plenty of traffic at a low cost. It works by promoting your content on other media sites so it is discovered by a wider audience. However take note – lots of clicks doesn’t necessarily equal qualified traffic.
Professional networking site LinkedIn is perfect for sharing industry specific content, particularly if you can target industry group. Post your blog content here and watch your stats soar.
Use hashtags to reach readers who are interested in your blog content. Don’t forget to include social share buttons on all your blog posts to make it easy for readers to share your content on their own social platform.
If managing your social platforms can feel a little overwhelming, then try buffer. Similar to Hootsuite, it allows you to push out content to all your accounts with just one click.
Bitly is a URL shortening service. It’s handy because it allows you to include links in your social media posts without a long link taking up all your character space, giving you more room to get creative with your promotion.
Tools for measuring results:
49. Google Analytics
Google Analytics is essential for measuring how your content is performing, where your search traffic is coming from and the keywords that people are searching for to find you. You can then use this information to drive your content plan going forward.
Follow your brand online and get real-time alerts whenever your name, brand or a chosen term is mentioned anywhere online, including social media, news pages, websites or blogs.