Blogging Tools for Beginners
When I first started blogging many, many years ago (anyone remember Livejournal?) I just published my posts and hoped people would stumble upon them. No one ever did of course, but it didn’t really matter back then because I was just documenting my travels for friends and family. Fast forward to the present and I want readers! I love writing and sharing, what I hope are, interesting and helpful posts with all of you. Today’s post is going to be a roundup of some of my favourite blogging tools for beginners; all the tools I wish I had known about all those years ago when I first dipped my toes into the online world.
Quick disclaimer – I am not anything even approaching an expert, nor would I ever claim to be, however, if you’re just starting out on your blogging journey you may find these tools useful.
I started out on Livejournal, moved over to Blogger, and then moved yet again to WordPress. WordPress is, in my opinion, the best and most user friendly blogging platform. There are a ton of blog templates (many of them free) to choose from, depending on the look you want, and many helpful features to help you get everything looking just right before you hit the publish button.
WordPress Plugins – Blogging Tools for Beginners
I use quite a number of plugins but I’m just going to touch on my favourites.
SEO stands for search engine optimization. Bascially good SEO means that when people do a Google search, your post will show up if it is related to what they are looking for, which in turn drives more traffic to your blog. The Yoast SEO plugin helps you make sure that you are using your keywords effectively and that your post is a good length and readable.
Google Analytics is an incredibly useful tool. It tracks your blog traffic and gives you all kinds of information including the number of visitors to your blog, the time of day that most people are reading your blog, your audience demographics, and where your traffic is coming from.
80% of my blog traffic comes from Pinterest. I’m going to go in to more detail about that a bit later on. The Pin It button allows your readers to pin your images to their Pinterest account with ease so they can bookmark posts and also help increase your readership.
Traffic – How to get readers to your blog
My blog is small. It’s my hobby, not my job. I do still want people to read it though and I’m going to share how I get most of my traffic.
I love Twitter. The blogging community there is great. I’ve made a few blogger friends on Twitter and have built a bit of a blogger support system. I’ve tried a few different things to generate traffic through Twitter and have found that it’s most effective to just tweet my own content and tag a few accounts that retweet blog posts, such as The Bloggers Post and The Blogging Tribe. Twitter is also a great place to discover new blogs. Interacting with other bloggers (reading their posts, commenting, etc.) in a genuine way is key to building your own audience. Bloggers are a pretty supportive bunch!
After several months of trial and error Pinterest has become the source of the majority of my traffic. The trick is to discover the right balance between pinning your own content (I’ll get into creating your own pins a bit later) and repinning other people’s pins from the Pinterest homepage. I took Ell Duclos’ Pinterest Course and it was amazing. It cost $32 US and taught me everything I know about using Pinterest effectively. It was well worth the investment. She does offer the occasional sale if the price is still too steep for you. I’ve linked it here if you’re interested.
I get very little traffic from Instagram. I think that’s the case for most bloggers. However, I still promote my posts in my stories because I know I have a few followers who will only know about a new post if I share it there.
Useful Apps and Websites – Blogging Tools for Beginners
Lightroom is a free photo editing app. You can make your photos brighter, amp up the colour saturation or tone down certain colours. Lightroom comes with some built in presets that can help change the mood, saturation, etc. of your photos. You can also buy other people’s presets or you can get some free, which I’ve done. I’ve linked my favourite free set of presets here. You have to sign up for Beth’s newsletter. Once you have done that you will receive your free presets and installation instructions by email.
Tailwind is a Pinterest scheduling app. It is arguably the most important of all the tools in this post. It allows you to schedule all of your pins so that you don’t have to do it manually. Tailwind schedules your content at the times it will get the most views, 24 hours a day. I learned all about Tailwind in Ell Duclos’ Pinterest course which I have linked above.
Canva is the website (there is also a Canva app) that I use to design all of my pins, as well as my Instagram stories. One of the pins I have designed for this post is the one just above this paragraph. Canva is free and incredibly helpful.
I like taking photographs but I only have the camera on my phone which is definitely not great. Sometimes I want to use a beautiful photo that I just can’t take myself. Fortunately, there are a number of places where you can get beautiful free pictures that you can use on your blog or to create pins without violating any copyrights. My favourite sites for free photographs are Ivory Mix (this is where I got the photos I’ve used in this post), Pexels, and Canva.
Phew. This was a long post – congrats if you’ve made it this far! I hope you find my list of blogging tools for beginners helpful. Let me know in the comments if there are any blogging tools that I’ve missed and need to be using! And hey, help a girl out and sign up to get an email notification when I upload a new post!
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