Saturday, April 18, 2015

13 Tools That Revolutionized My Blog & They Will Work for You Too!

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While I have written before about tools that have made running my small business easier (check out “7 Super Easy Apps & Sites Even ‘Technically Challenged’ People Can Use”), my recent success with “Click to Tweet” got me thinking about what other blogging tools have really worked for me.


My criteria in compiling this list was that these tools increase my blog reach and interaction and, most importantly, they must be easy to use!


While there are surely other tools that help many bloggers (Instagram and YouTube come to mind), these are the ones that I have tried personally and use regularly!


These 13 Tools Will Revolutionize Your Small Business Blog!  “Tweet This”





“Click to Tweet” tops my list.  After reading an article by Mike Allton of The Social Media Hat, I was intrigued by this tool.  

Not only did Allton explain what “Click to Tweet” could do, he gave step-by-step instructions on exactly how to use it (truly invaluable to someone like me!).

Click to Tweet helps you create “tweetable” links you can place within your blog post.  These links will not only give your readers an easy way to tweet interesting information, it will share a link back to your article (a great way to increase traffic to your blog!).

And if you sign in via Twitter, your Click to Tweet Dashboard will keep track of your links, with access to edit and copy them at any time.  The Dashboard will also show your links’ stats.

Using “Click to Tweet” has not only been a huge boost for my new posts, it has increased clicks on my old articles too!

Check out the article by Mike Allton that started it all!, “How to Create Tweetable Links in Your Blog”, 





I won’t argue the WordPress/Blogger debate, but I use Blogger. For “tech challenged” people like myself, I have found it to be easy to use.  I also like the ready made connection with my existing Google account.

Blogger comes with a Template Designer tool. It is extremely easy for initial set-up and I am able to revamp the look of my blog whenever it suits me.  For example, I recently added a new logo and extra pages ~ all without any angst.  

I also appreciate the Statistics page.  Here I can see the number of views for my articles, traffic sources by referring URLs and referring sites, and my audience demographics by country, browsers, and operating systems.




  • Google Analytics / Webmaster Tools / Alerts

Google is a triple threat.  They offer 3 great tools to help you with the sticky side of blogging - tracking sources, traffic, and more. Their in-depth information is definitely valuable, and they are all free.

Google Analytics  

This is tool helps me track my blog statistics.  I can find where my traffic is coming from, what they click on, and how much time they spend on my site. 


Google Webmaster Tools   

This tool is invaluable for SEO.  I can discover where I rank in search engine results and what key words will help me better my rank.  
  
There are also some great trouble-shooting tools.  I can see if there are any critical issues with my blog like site errors or connectivity problems.  

I am still toying with some of its other features (like the Data Highlighter) but overall I am happy with how it has helped with my blog. 

Google Alerts 

Google Alerts is a content generation service.  You get to choose topics of interest, and Google will search for relevant content and send it directly to your email.  For example, my topics are background checks, employment screening, small business, and women in business. 

I have found many articles I end up sharing on my social sites or even cite in my blog posts.





I also use these tools for content curation.  They each allow me to set up parameters (much like those in Google Alerts) and will send me articles that match.  Both Sway and Scoop.it allow you to share directly from their site, while with Prismatic you have to save the article or share from the article’s source.  

Out of these 3, I am a little more partial to Sway.  Sway allows me to choose the day and time for each article I share.  This works great with my overall content sharing strategy.  





Quora works a bit differently.  While this site also lets you choose topics of interest using keywords, it is what else it can do that really counts.

Quora is the ultimate “Question & Answer” site.  Users post questions on a variety of topics.  Then, other users will post responses.   I have answered many questions on background checks and hiring here.  

I think it is a great way to find out what people find confusing or are interested in learning.  Perfect for choosing my blog topics!





Having a compelling headline is crucial in attracting people to read your blog.  If you don’t grab them with your title, or at least get them thinking, you have lost the battle.”  (quoted from the article "7 Super Easy Apps" I cited earlier) 

While I have mentioned this tool before, it is worth repeating.  This Headline Analyzer has really helped me tweak my blog titles for the best impact.  






Images Matter for Your Small Business Blog  "Tweet This"
  

Every blog post needs at least one good image to capture attention and the simplest way of creating these images is using Canva.

Canva offers a variety of templates you can use to start creating your image or you can upload your own image.  You can then easily customize these images by changing colors, adding text, adding other images, and many other options.  

I have had the greatest success creating “title” images for each of my blog articles (like the one in this post!).  I love the fact that I can easily tailor the images to fit my blog.  It also doesn’t hurt that Canva is free! (although there are images you can use that cost a nominal fee, I have not had to go this route).  

Canva also helps me avoid copyright issues since I am able to use my own pictures.  

Here are some other examples of Title images I have created with Canva:

These 2 were created using pictures I had taken myself (and tweaked with Canva tools):








And these were created using Canva's free images:








Now that you have made the perfect original image,  you will want it seen ~ and images on Twitter get noticed.

That is where Twitshot comes in.  

Twitshot is a tool to help your image show up nice and big in the Twitter feed. 

All you have to do is type in your tweet, add a link for the post you want to share, and Twitshot extracts images from your article.  You then get to choose which pic will show up on the Twitter feed.  It is that simple!

I recommend shortening the URL for your article before copying it to Twitshot.  I use Hootsuite for this purpose.  This will help you keep to Twitter’s optimum character count for re-tweets.

You can also install the Twitshot Chrome extension to make it super easy to tweet great pics.





While I also use Hootsuite to schedule and share content, Buffer is by far the best way to share my blog articles.  For me, its main selling point is the ability to share my blog posts across multiple channels, on multiple days and times, all with one click!

I have mine set up to share posts across Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.  It really helps me get my content the exposure I need.



Face it, You work hard on your blog.  It takes time to find a topic, research it, write it, tweak it, share it...and the list goes on.


That is why when I find something that makes it even a little easier, I am on board!


If you haven’t already, give some or all of these 13 Blogging Tools a try.  Let me know what you think!


Please Share This & Leave a Comment!  I would love to hear about your favorite Blogging Tools too!


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