40 Tools I Use for Blogging
Blogging is easy! Just write your stuff, post it on the web, and you are done. But there is an amazing amount of tools that go into preparing and displaying a single post. Sure, some people go to Blogspot or TypePad. But for others here are the tools that I use in this blog, researching and writing. I hope this will serve as a handy checklist when setting up your new blog.
Select your hosting provider. I suggest one that is not the cheapest as cheap usually comes from poor service and technical instability. Host your blog on your own domain. This way you’ll be building an asset YOU own, not some service provider.
If you are expecting huge traffic – be prepared, so that you will survive traffic spikes when you are featured on the front page of Yahoo or other top sites. CloudFlare protects and accelerates any website online. Your website’s traffic is routed through CloudFlare’s intelligent global network. It blocks threats and limit abusive bots and crawlers.
Use WordPress for blogging. It is an amazing tool, has tons of features, is easy to use and you can find a plugin for almost every need you might have. Most hosting providers have an one click WordPress install option.
WordPress is great out of the box but you can make it even better! Here is the list of WordPress plugins I use in this site:
@DanZarrella’s Readability Analyzer – Readability Measurement for your Blog. Simple language gets shared more.
All in One SEO Pack – Out-of-the-box SEO for your WordPress blog. Pretty much all you need to get search engines to love your blog.
Cforms – cformsII offers contact forms across your blog. Spam protection, Ajax support, backup and restore, multi-recipients, role manager support, database tracking, etc.
Date Exclusion SEO – Gives your blog a feeling of freshness by turning off the display of date information after a specified number of days or immediately after posting. You also have the option of removing dates from category and tag pages as well as the front page of your blog. We are experimenting with removing the dates from older posts as they still have value but a date two years in the past may change how people perceive it.
Duplicate Post – Creates a copy of a post if you want to post a new item in a series of posts including all the tags and categories.
FeedBurner FeedSmith – This plugin detects all ways to access your original WordPress feeds and redirects them to your FeedBurner feed so you can track every possible subscriber.
Get Recent Comments – Display the most recent comments or trackbacks with your own formatting in the sidebar.
Google XML Sitemaps – This plugin will generate a special XML sitemap which will help search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing and Ask.com to better index your blog.
Dreamgrow Scroll Triggered Box – A scroll triggered box for easy call-to-action or a newsletter sign-up form. This is the newsletter signup box you see in the bottom right corner of our site when you scroll past 20% mark.
SEO Friendly Images – Automatically adds alt and title attributes to all your images. Improves traffic from search results and makes them W3C/xHTML valid as well.
Share Buttons Simple Use – This is a simple use plugin which displays the share buttons (Facebook Like, Tweet and Google Buzz buttons) on the bottom or on the top of the posts and pages. There are a lot of these plugins around, this is probably one with least options.
Subscribe To Comments – Allows readers to receive notifications of new comments that are posted to an entry.
TinyMCE Valid Elements – Allows one to add “invalid” and custom HTML elements to the TinyMCE editor.
WordPress Gravatars – Makes use of Gravatars and MyBlogLog Avatars, places Gravatars, OpenAvatar, Wavatar, Identicon, monsterID or MyBlogLog Avatars in the comments section.
WP-Table Reloaded – Create and manage tables. Easy manipulation of table data. Tables can be imported and exported from/to CSV, XML and HTML.
WPtouch – A plugin which formats your site with a mobile theme for visitors on iPhone, iPod touch, Android, and other touch-based smartphones.
Start collecting your opt-in email list right now! We use GetResponse to communicate with our readers. When you sign up for our newsletter you will receive welcoming emails with links to our best posts and then you will be moved to a regular mailinglist where you get a few emails per month.
Add a Follow button and ask people to follow you on Twitter.
Use Feedburner to track your feed readers.
Add a Facebook like box to your site so that visitor see they are not the first person who visits.
Google Analytics is a tool that I use every day to find out what people like, where they come from and what actions do they take on our site.
To see the social reactions to your post use PostRank Analytics. It was acquired by Google and will probably be merged int Google Analytics.
Always be testing. The simplest free testing tool for your site is Google Website Optimizer. Find out what works and what does not with Google’s free website testing and optimization tool. Test and optimize site content and design so you can get better results, increase revenue and ROI.
Facebook Insights for Domains offers a consolidated view of key metrics for any website, even those that have not implemented Facebook Platform. For example, if a user links to your site in their Facebook status message, that data is included in the analytics for your domain.
OpenOffice.org – I suggest you write your posts in an external editor. I feel that this helps me to avoid disasters like loosing the content due to browser crashes and other calamities. Always use spell checker even if you are better writer than me. SAVE after every sentence. If you need to display graphs and charts create them with OpenOffice Calc and then edit with image tools.
In some cases I have started using Google Docs as it saves automatically and enables sharing with other writers. I save post topics and blogging calendar in Google Spreadsheet. You can use Google Spreadsheet for research when you need to create simple surveys.
Every post needs an image. Make it colorful, shocking, interesting, but most importantly make sure it’s about your subject matter. People ignore stock images. Whenever possible select or create images so that they expand the story. I always add image credit at the bottom of the post with a link to original image source.
Flickr Advanced search lets you find images that are licensed under Creative Commons license. You can check: only search within Creative Commons-licensed content, find content to use commercially and find content to modify, adapt, or build upon.
Another great site for free images is Stock.XCHNG. It has a huge gallery of more than 350.000 quality photos by more than 30.000 photographers.
Sometimes you need to change a picture. For simple resizing and image manipulation I use IrfanView. I think it’s one of the best small image applications on PC. It opens almost anything, plays videos and more. Press F12 and a annotation toolbox jumps out so you can draw on the sceenshot to point out elements on the image.
If you need more robust editing tools then the free option is Gimp. With Gimp you can great your own images or modify existing ones.
For simple flow charts and line drawings I use OpenOffice Draw.
Disqus a comments platform that helps you build an active community from your website’s audience. People can use their Facebook, Twitter and other existing accounts to identify themselves. We had some problems getting it to work with this site but I use it on other blogs.
Facebook Comments Box is a social plugin that enables user commenting on your site. Features include moderation tools and distribution. I sleep better when I know that Facebook can’t screw up my comments.
If you write it then don’t hold your breath. To get people to your site you need to spread the word. Select the social networking sites, that are most relevant to your audience and post your fresh content there. Facebook and Twitter are probably for everybody. If you are in a B2B sector add LinkedIn. And select the most important social sites for your industry.
This post serves, as a reminder to myself but I hope you get some value out of it. If there is a tool that I haven’t mentioned but you find really useful? Post it in the comments.
Some other blogging related posts:
- 22 Blogging Tips That Will Get You More Visitors
- 20 Steps to Write a Blog Post
- Why Businesses Need to Blog?
- How to Get Your Blog to 30,000+ Visits per Month
Image credit Sergio Ianni