If you ask me what one of the biggest surprises I’ve had from blogging is so far, my answer would be the amount of time and effort that it takes. When I started a year ago, I didn’t expect that there would be this much to do in any given day! There are the posts (brainstorming, drafting, writing, editing, formatting, scheduling), the images (sourcing, creating, editing), the social aspect (commenting, replying, social media), the actual reading… the list goes on and on.
No matter what your blog is focused on, it takes a lot of time and effort to maintain it. I don’t post every day and already I spend maybe at least an hour or two daily doing all the above, and I know people who spend triple or quadruple that. Blogging is a demanding business, and personally speaking, it takes dedication to stay committed to it and to work hard at it.
Thankfully, technology is the most advanced it has ever been and has made my life so much easier. In no particular order, here are my must-have blogging tools! 🙌
Todoist is an online task management app and to-do list. For Web, iPhone, iPad, Android, Chrome, Outlook and many more!
Todoist is something of a lifesaver in my line of work and my type of personality. I’m a horribly forgetful person, and I get a kick out of checking tasks off. I have in a lot of cases actually added tasks like “Publish Post A” after I actually publish the aforementioned post just so I could check it off and feel accomplished. 😛
WHAT I LOVE: It’s simple, clean, and uncomplicated. It might not be the most ‘complete’ of to-do list apps (it lacks, for example, the ability to add notes to tasks), but it does what I need it to do.
- The Ultimate Guide to Personal Productivity Methods! I’m really liking the Personal Kanban (because sticky notes!) and Don’t Break the Chain (because I’m seriously bad at keeping new, healthy habits). 😀
- It’s so intuitive that I don’t think anyone will need this, but here’s a guide to using Todoist.
- If you want more complicated tools, I can recommend either Trello or Asana. They’re both project management web apps that offer heavier functionality than Todoist.
Enhance your social media management with Hootsuite, the leading social media dashboard. Manage multiple networks and profiles.
A social media management tool, Hootsuite is basically a platform where you can schedule and manage posts to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, etc. This is actually more of a work thing for me because I do communications for a living — and I’LL BE HONEST, I’m kind of lazy with it when it comes to my blog — but I do love how easy and quick it makes social media managing for me. 👍
WHAT I LOVE: Hootsuite’s dashboard comes with ‘tabs’, where you can organise your social media ‘streams’ (retweets, tweets, replies, mentions, people you follow, etc.) on. I generally have two tabs: a ‘Feeds’ tab so I can check out what everyone else is posting, and a ‘Scheduled’ tab, so I can check out what posts I have waiting to be published (and schedule more if I don’t have any). It’s nice to be able to see everything on one or two screens.
- How to Manage Multiple Social Media Profiles, which is just a quick guide on using Hootsuite.
- Buffer, which is another social media management tool that I sometimes use in place of Hootsuite. I find Buffer a bit more limited but ‘simpler’ in interface. Their blog is also forever more useful than Hootsuite’s, personally speaking. 😍
3) Google Sheets
Create a new spreadsheet and edit with others at the same time. With Google Sheets, you can create, edit, and collaborate wherever you are.
Most of you probably know this if you’ve been following me for a while, but Google Sheets is my chosen blogging schedule organiser. I know, I know, there’s this magical thing called Google Calendar that probably does everything better than an ordinary spreadsheet, but I can’t help myself! Spreadsheets are my poison of choice, you guys. I use it to analyse my yearly expenses, to draw pros and cons lists, to compile a project overview and contacts, etc.
WHAT I LOVE: You start out with a completely blank canvas, and with a wave of a hand (read: various formula), you can pretty much make a spreadsheet that does anything you want. I probably have spent more time playing around with the look of a spreadsheet than actually using that spreadsheet. 😛
- My blogging schedule template, if you’d like — now with 2017 on another tab!
- You can also look at these very useful templates provided by Google itself.
4) Google Docs
Create and edit web-based documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. Store documents online and access them from any computer.
Google Docs is where I do most of my blog writing. I have documents where I draft different things like reviews, Top Ten Tuesday posts, discussions, etc. I also have a document titled ‘Ideas’ that I use to brainstorm and another titled ‘Deleted’ for anything I didn’t end up using, but might use sometime in the future.
I think this is why I tend to have quite a few posts drafted at any given time (currently 15+): I make sure that the space is there for me whenever I want to write, so whenever inspiration strikes, all I have to do is put pen to paper (or well, finger to keyboard).
WHAT I LOVE: It’s like Microsoft Word, but faster and cleaner and simpler. The built-in outline is also pretty nifty as you can quickly navigate to other headings in the document.
- This guide on how to use Google Docs for blogging! It has way more information than you need, especially if you’re a solo blogger like yours truly, but ~the more you know~. 😂
5) Google Drive
Get access to files anywhere through secure cloud storage and file backup for your photos, videos, files and more with Google Drive.
Gone are the days when I have to send files to my own email so I could access them elsewhere! There are many, many apps out there that you can use for file transfer and cloud storage: Dropbox, OneDrive, etc. but I love Google Drive for the very simple reason that you can create, edit and delete files pretty much on your browser. There’s no need to download the program and sync it with your computer, because their online editing apps (Google Docs, Google Spreadsheets, Google Slides, etc.) all work really well.
WHAT I LOVE: 24/7 access to your files no matter where you are? This is the stuff of (my) dreams! You don’t even need an internet connection as long as you have made your files available offline. Oh, and the ability to revert very easily to past versions is god-sent. 😛
- 9 Google Drive Tips You’ll Wish You Knew All Along, aka things that will make your life infinitely easier.
6) Adobe Photoshop
Create and enhance your photos, images, 3D artwork and more with Adobe Photoshop CC, the world’s best imaging and photo editing app.
I’m by no means a graphics whiz but I do enjoy tweaking images here and there! I use Photoshop to do all of my headers and blog design elements, and I also use it a lot at work to design print banners, newsletter headers, flyers, posters, etc. I honestly don’t think I can blog without some sort of image editing program — nowadays having just text on your posts seems a little outdated.
WHAT I LOVE: Once you get to know the program, it’s very easy to use! The ability to work in layers and group those layers into folders is also really, really helpful when you’re dealing with graphics that have tons of customisable elements. 💗
- First up is GIMP, which I like to say is a free, limited version of Photoshop — GIMP might not have all the functionalities that Photoshop has, but provided you’re not doing anything too complicated, it should work for you.
- Second is Canva, a graphics app that does most of the designing for you. They have templates for social media images, documents, marketing materials, email headers, ads, etc.
- Third is Pixlr, which is just a super simple image editing web app. I’ve used this when I need to quickly edit or create an image and I don’t have my usual laptop anywhere near me.
What apps or tools do you use for blogging? What would you recommend?