May 11, 2015
Blogging Tools to Help You Write Better, Smarter, and Faster
Gaining traction as a freelancer is tough from the start. There are a lot of techniques that are tried and true when it comes to gaining new clientele or interactions with your peers. Depending on what services you provide as a freelancer, blogging will always be a great way to attract new partnerships. Sharing your knowledge or evening citing someone else’s knowledge is a sure-fire way to progress further in your career.
As a blogger, you can keep things simple and just write but sometimes you hit a wall when it comes to developing engaging content. This post is meant to share some great blogging tools to help you surpass that wall and write better and smarter than ever before.
Twitter might not seem like a good contender for blogging content but if you have ever checked the trending topics you can find great content, to begin with. The key thing to remember is that these topics are trending at that exact minute, hour, day, etc.. so you will likely need to author your own writing fast to beat any other blogger who may be writing about the same topic or using the same content. Recently Twitter redesigned its home page to feature the new trends. You can search and preview what’s as soon as you visit the site.
Sometimes figuring out the title of a blog post can be tricky. This is due to the fact that like me you may be interested in good SEO for your blog posts. You need to make use of specific keywords as well as make it sound compelling enough for someone in your audience to click on.
Portent brings us a useful tool to help generate blog titles. You enter your main subject and the generator does the rest. Some of the titles are kind of cheesy but others may give you a good starting point. I would suggest building, upon what the generator produces otherwise the titles may repeat here and there if you rely on this sole for your blog titles.
Quora is a great place to ask questions and get answers. You can search for your specific question or subject and see results from people within the community who have contributed their answers. Chances are high that you will find what you are looking for in terms of quality content that is fairly accurate.
Buzzsumo is a neat tool that provides analytics for topics, websites, and more. Do a simple search for a topic and you will get back the highest shared articles based on your topic. Using this tool can give you access on how to properly author your content in effort to get more traction through outlets like social media and SEO.
Stay organized and on schedule
I love Dropbox. It was the first web service I paid for and felt I got my money’s worth instantly. Trying to send large files via email is a thing of the past. Now I use Dropbox to version my work, share large files if needed via a privately shared link, and just keep things neat and tidy as I work. This blog post is being saved on Dropbox as a markdown file. I back up each and every post and know that Dropbox will keep everything secure.
There are a lot of apps out there to help you stay organized. Many are “To-Do List” style apps which in my own work are unappealing. Lists help people outline what needs to get done and what is done. To me, no better service/app does this better than Trello. I like to work in an Agile kind of space. With Trello, I tend to set up columns titled To Do, Being Done, and Done. I then create cards for each task to be performed. Once I’m working on something or complete something I’ll drag the card for that specific task to the appropriate column. If you have a lot going on as a freelancer and need a way to help schedule your time, Trello is for you.
Google Calendar and Calendar for Mac
I sync my Google calendar to my mac using the native calendar application. I’ve tried a lot of alternatives, but this works best for me. I don’t typically schedule blog posts on a calendar-based basis, but I will schedule any type of meetings or appointments I need to make to run the business smoothly. When you get busy you need to know at a glance where and when you are available. Having my calendar open on my mac just makes things way easier than having to navigate to my Google calendar online. In the end-use whatever method works for you. As long as you are staying organized there’s no wrong way to go about it.
I hear a lot of praise about Evernote which is a note-taking tool with a lot of other built-in features. I personally am not a fan of the application. To me, it is just a bit too bulky for a note-taking application. I like to keep things simple and write or work within a Markdown editor, but I am only one voice. Evernote is useful for taking notes of course, but you can also share these notes, chat with other Evernote users, and even go into presentation mode to pitch some ideas to clients or co-workers. All in all, I can understand the appeal.
Many writers go straight to their CMS of choice to write. I personally can’t stand doing this. For me, the screen needs to be clear of clutter so I can concentrate on my content rather than worrying about if a panel is hiding or showing or if something is formatted correctly. The tools below are great for this very thing.
Google has it down. Users can collaborate, write, edit, and share documents more easily than ever before. Of all things, Google has made this has been my most used application. Best of all is it’s free.
I like to write in Markdown. At first, I didn’t know what Markdown even was until I studied some best practices from the original creator’s website. Once you get the hang of it, you begin to realize what it’s so powerful. WordPress even supports markdown with the JetPack plugin installed. This means that the content I write within my Markdown editor can simply be copy and pasted into a new post on WordPress thus making my life not so painful.
Some markdown editors I like are:
- Whiskey - Currently using this. Love it.
- StackEdit - Browser based Markdown editor
- MarkdownPad - Markdown editor for windows.
- Mou - Markdown editor for Mac
- Sublime Text - Sublime does a great job with Markdown. My second choice.
I really like Grammarly. If you try this make sure to download the Chrome extension. You’ll be glad you ever did. Every text area on your web page becomes accessible by Grammarly thus giving you real-time hinting and checking as you write anything from comment replies to emails.
I edit all of my own articles. Grammarly is the first step of the process to help find misspelled words, sentence fragments, and more. Before this, I used the Hemingway App and had good success but to me, Grammarly is a much more rewarding experience.
I tried Desk when it first came out. It’s a great editor that provides some neat features to any freelancer or blogger. Your posts can be synced directly with your WordPress site if you like. My only gripe with the application is that I like to author my posts with Markdown and exporting that content can be a pain as the code that gets output to say for an HTML file becomes littered with extra tags and things that aren’t needed. This problem has probably already been addressed as the app has had several updates since I last opened it, but I see great things for the future of Desk.
Tools to help share your blog posts
Buffer makes sharing pretty dang easy. So easy in fact you can schedule your posts for the week all at once. Each post is delivered to whatever social media you choose at whatever time you choose.
Before Buffer was dlvr.it. I would describe this application to be pretty much the same as Buffer. Use whichever tool you prefer. They both are very useful.
I’m fairly certain if you’re reading this post you are already familiar with what MailChimp is and how it can help your blog. Newsletters and email sign up forms are what this company does and they do it well. You can easily add one of their opt-in forms to your site and begin sending newsletters in any way you like to your active subscribers.
Click to Tweet is a simple WordPress plugin that adds a button to the end of your blog post which upon clicking tweets the post. It’s that simple.
While I’ve only covered a handful of the available tools I recommend honing in on a few and make use of them in your own way. Too many tools can be a bad thing in my experience. Keeping things simple, organized, and uncluttered is why we need tools to help our blog better. I hope you’ve found this useful. Be sure and take a second to share them to help get the word out!