Many, many years ago when I was a hobby blogger I gave very little thought to resources, tools, educational materials, or project management systems to help me with my writing. Like most part-time or “for fun” bloggers I simply wrote what was on my heart. I didn’t plan for the holidays, didn’t plan for seasons, and certainly didn’t manage an editorial calendar.
When I made the jump from hobby blogger to professional blogger I knew things would have to change if I was going to succeed.
After a great deal of trial and error I have finally widdled down the 5 must have blogging tools in order to be a successful blogger. These are the 5 things that I can not live without in my blogging career. These tools make successfully blogging and building an online brand easier and possible.
5 Must Have Blogging Tools
1. Tablet/Mobile Device
Let’s face it, life is busy. We are on the move more in our daily lives now than ever before. You’ve likely seen Facebook memes with a large group of 20 somethings all with their faces in a mobile device. There is just no getting away from it, our lives center around mobile devices and the convenience and freedom they provide.
Blogging is not any different. In order to build an online business such as blogging you need to be able to get in touch with your colleagues and blogging network throughout the day. You also need to stay in touch with your readers and customers if you are going to build a brand that is strong in customer service. In order to achieve these objectives you need to have a mobile device which can access all of your social media platforms, blog, and email.
Tablets and smart phones are great options for staying mobile with your business. You might prefer one over the other or even both used in combination. Personally I do most of my work on my iPhone but when faced with a situation when I need to write a blog post or even help a client edit one of their blog posts and I am mobile, a tablet is my must have tool. Tablets have become so advanced that they are essentially mini computers when paired properly with apps and software. Their size and convenience make them a must have tool in the bloggers toolbox.
2. Blog Planner
Building an online business including a blog is similar to a machine running that has countless gears and spokes on a never ending rotating wheel. There is always something to do for your blog, always a new idea for your business running through your head, and always someone you need to reach out to for a project or networking purposes. There is simply no way that we can keep all of our to-dos in our head. Let alone the social media planning, blog post planning, meeting notes and so much more all stuck in our brain.
Blog planners keep all of that scrambled information in our head neat and organized in one spot for easy access. A word of caution however if you are tempted to download any of the free planners you see floating around Pinterest, a good blog planner is comprehensive. The free ones typically only include a small portion of all of the blog planning aspects that a successful business owner needs to succeed and properly plan their business.
I’ve tried numerous blog planners but found them all to be lacking until I discovered The Blog Like a Pro Planner which I have discussed before. The Blog Like a Pro Planner tracks, manages, and organizes every aspect of your blogging business. Every form, tracker, and organizer that you could possibly need for growing and managing your online business is in this planner.
While I first purchased this as a blog planner I’ve also been able to transition it to use with my virtual assisting business and I love it even more!
3. Project Management System
Blogging is like any other business, there are always multiple projects in various stages of completion and possibly multiple people working on those projects. To keep your projects organized and productive a project management system is a must have.
There are a variety of project management systems available and I suggest researching a few and choosing your favorite. Personally, the two systems that I recommend are Teamwork and Basecamp. Both systems are robust, versatile, offer a wide variety of features, and nicely integrate with other social media and business platforms.
Project management systems are a wonderful tool for planning all of your to-dos regarding a particular project, coordinating completion and progress on the project, and managing communications among team members. These systems also allow for file storage, calendar management, and much more.
4. Stock Images
Stock images are a HOT topic among bloggers and online business owners. Image quality can make or break the success of your blog articles. Clean crisp appropriate topic images are essential for every online article. In an ideal world we would all have plenty of time to create our own blog post images. However, in the real world that just is not reality which leaves blog and business owners scrambling for high quality images to use in their posts.
Images are copyrighted material. You can not simply take any image you see off of the internet and use it in your blog posts, social media, or your blog in any form or fashion.
Stock photo sites are a convenient way to find and purchase royalty free images for your online business.
Deposit Photo is a high quality site where you can find royalty free images for a very low price.
Pixabay is my favorite site for free royalty free images.
Yes, you read that correctly. Networking is a must have in every bloggers toolbox. While it is not a physical product you can purchase through a retailer it is an essential tool for growing your business and making a name for your brand.
Networking by definition is “a group or system of interconnected people or things or a group of people who exchange information, contact, and experience for professional or social purposes.”
Networking can occur online or in person. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Periscope all allow for online networking opportunities. Conferences open up a new avenue of networking that is invaluable to the growth of your business. At conferences you will meet and find a commonness with people and businesses you never knew existed. Conferences also allow for the strengthening of friendships and relationships that you have already begun to establish either thorough online or in person networking.
Networking gives you the opportunity to introduce your brand to a new group of people that have likely never met you as well. You can exchange information, start collaborations, and forge partnerships that might last a lifetime. If you have never been to a conference in your niche make 2016 the year that you finally take the leap. The investment in a conference is well worth it for the growth and opportunity that it provides your business.
If any of these 5 must have blogging tools are not currently in your toolbox make 2016 the year round out this list. Your business will surely see marked growth when you utilize each of these tools to their fullest.