Blogging is my absolute favorite thing to do in the world besides spending time with my loved ones, writing and reading a good book.
I started blogging as a hobby and to stay sharp on all the skills I learned in college but it quickly became a possible career and now it’s something I do full time in conjunction with media consulting. As you can guess, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to build a successful blog and a lot of it boils down to the tools that you’re using.
In this post I’m sharing the Top 10 tools I use to keep this blog going and at the end, there’s a free download for you. :)
My entire site has been built on the WordPress content management platform and I absolutely love it! There are other content management platforms out there like Square Space and Tumblr, but in my opinion WordPress reigns supreme.
There is a free version (WordPress.com) and a paid version (WordPress.org) and I’ve used both. The free version is great if you’re just starting out and want to learn the basics or if you’re just planning on blogging as a hobby. If you want to have a more professional and flexible look, I’d advise you to go with the self-hosted (paid) version.
Photoshop is the G.O.A.T. Seriously, it is. I use it to create the images I share online here as well as across social media. I use it to watermark my photos, create thumbnails for my YouTube videos, resize and edit images and to create documents for download.
An alternative to Photoshop is Canva, which a lot of bloggers use (I didn’t really like it). Because I use other products in the Adobe Creative Cloud, it makes sense to use Photoshop. For one, I’m already paying for it and two, it gives me an added skill set to put on my resume or offer as a service to someone else.
3. Final Cut Pro
I use Final Cut Pro to edit the videos that I upload to YouTube and across other social media platforms. Final Cut Pro is only available on Apple computers so it won’t work on anything other than a MacBook. If you happen to have one, I would definitely recommend using this video editing software. It’s super easy (think an amped up version of iMovie) and many professionals use it for their videos too.
4. Premiere Pro
I also use Premiere Pro to edit my YouTube videos. This video editing software comes with the Adobe Creative Cloud so I use it every now and then. It’s much more complicated than Final Cut Pro but it gives you more options for making your videos one of a kind.
There are tons of email management software offerings out there, but I haven’t really tried any besides MailChimp. For what I need it to do, it works great for me. There are different types of plans but I use the free version for now. By the end of the year, I’ll probably switch over to a paid plan…hopefully my email list will have so many subscribers that I’ll have no choice but to!
Speaking of my email list… if you like this post so far and want more content like this along with free downloads and other updates, subscribe to my list here: http://eepurl.com/bsG6Ib
6. VSCO Cam
VSCO Cam is a photo editing app. I use this app to edit my photos for Instagram. It has a lot of different editing options, but I use it for the colored filters.
I learned about this website while interning for The Jasmine Brand. This website will tweet your blog posts out automatically for you and keep count of how many clicks you get on each post from your Twitter followers. I’ve used this for about two years now and it gets the job done. Every now and then I have to go into my account and reconfigure some of the settings as and when I notice that my posts are on my Twitter timeline.
Buffer is a social media scheduling tool similar to Hootsuite and a little similar to Twitterfeed (mentioned above). I like Buffer a lot because it’s simple to use and so far, has been very reliable. There are different plans you can choose from but like with much of what I use, I am currently using the free plan.
9. Editorial Calendar Plugin
This plugin is a life saver for WordPress users like myself. I’m not sure if it works for other blogging platforms but on WordPress sites, you’re able to schedule your posts and see them mapped out over the course of the entire month or however you’d like to see them. You can drag and drop posts if you decide to have them go live on another day and there’s a pane that allows you to see all the drafts you have in your system that have not been scheduled for publishing.
10. CreateHER Stock
CreateHERStock is a stock photo database for creatives of color. I absolutely LOVE this website and the photos that are available. It’s such a pain to find images to use on your blog that won’t get you sued but CHS has been a blog saver! I started off receiving free images once a month but I’m now a VIP member so I actually have access to the entire stockpile of images.
I hope that this list was helpful to you and you’re able to use some of these tools to enhance your blogging efforts. If you need more help with your blog, I offer blogging consultations and strategy sessions and I’ll be glad to help you! You can schedule one with me here.
If you’re a beginner blogger, you can also download my 16 Things Your Blog Should Have To Attract (And Keep) Readers Checklist.