Blogging is a laborious, tedious, and sometimes delirious activity for marketing professionals to pursue. That may explain why there are very few companies that do it well.
Despite the challenges, blogging on a regular basis can and does deliver impressive results, not the least of which includes higher search engine rankings, new leads and thought leadership.
So we decided it was high time to share some of the tools we rely upon to produce our weekly blogs (okay, sometimes bi-weekly blogs). Here is a short-list of the must have blogging tools you will find useful:
1) Twitter: use Twitter trends to see what topics are hot and potentially worth building into a theme for your post. Remember when the Hunger Games came out last year? There was an explosion of Hunger Games references in blogs. This wasn’t a cheap way to rip-off a title but a smart way to associate a blog post with a popular search term that can move the needle on site visits.
2) Blog Topic Generator: built by HubSpot, this tool can help you brainstorm some nifty titles for your upcoming blogs. The results can seem pretty canned from time to time, so don’t take the suggested titles as gospel but as a starting point for your topic creation.
3) BuzzSumo: this tool helps you find topics similar to yours that have performed well and breaks the metrics out by social media platform. It does have a flaw in that the best performing articles/posts often tend to come from the most popular media outlets. For example, an article on “real estate agents cars” will show that Inman, a popular real estate site, had the most shares. Go figure.
4) CoSchedule: a marketing planning tool that includes strong blogging scheduling support. Its intuitive calendar scheduling feature allows you to set up blog posts weeks out and even add social media posts in support of the blog post. It will also help you measure the popularity of your posts so you can dial in on what your followers enjoy the most. It’s also easy to work alone or in teams using CoSchedule.
5) Google Calendar: similar to CoSchedule, it helps you plan out your posts in advance to ensure you stay on track. The great thing is that it’s free, but the bad thing is that it lacks many of the integrated social media and blogging functions of CoSchedule. You get what you pay (or don’t pay) for.
6) Grammarly: a must have for the writing-challenged among us. Not everybody went to school and studied English Literature or Journalism. Mastering those dangling participles and misplaced modifiers is no easy feat. Copy and paste your blog post and Grammarly will catch the mistakes faster than your high school composition teacher.
7) Google Docs: Google’s word processing app is exceptional, automatically saves updates, is shareable with others on your team and doesn’t have all the distracting options that a Word doc has. In short, it allows you to write efficiently and easily copy over to your blogging platform. We are using Google Docs to write this post now, in fact.
8) Yoast SEO: this free WordPress plugin is essential for applying best SEO practices to each of your blog posts. Yoast sits at the bottom of your post and you can quickly optimize a post with just a few clicks and text entries.
9) PhotoPin: a high traffic blog usually has photos to draw in a visitor. The problem is that most sources of quality stock photos can cost an arm and a leg. PhotoPin to the rescue! You can search millions of Creative Commons picture files to add them to your blog post without the high cost. There are sponsored pics on the site in case you run across a particularly good photo and you don’t mind making an impulse purchase.
10) Digg Digg: a floating share bar, this free WordPress plugin makes it super easy for visitors to your blog to share it across their social media platforms. It’s a no-brainer and we’re planning to add it to our blog soon, too!
Thanks for reading our post and please let us know if you, too, have any blogging tools you can’t live without.
About the author: Dave Manzer founded Manzer Communications, an Austin tech PR agency specializing in communications & strategic inbound marketing for startups and fast-growth businesses in 2009. If you have any PR or content marketing questions about your business, feel free to tweet him at @davemanzer or email him at dave(at)manzercommunications(dot)com.