Blogging today is much easier than at the beginning of the blogosphere boom. There are so many tools available that supposedly make our lives easier and our schedules less hectic. On the other side, I feel that with so many resources available that it’s hard to pick which ones work the best for the blogger. I thought it would be helpful to create a list of blogger services that I am currently using. I will update this post every time I start using a new service so I highly recommend bookmarking this for your future reference.
17Hats: Manage Your Contacts & Collaborations
This is an all-inclusive online tool that allows you to manage all of your blog related matters in one place. You can create an Editorial Calendar, save all of your contacts, manage projects you are working on, keep track of your expenses, and send invoices to your clients. Prior to signing up for a 17Hats membership, my blogging life was total chaos: I couldn’t keep track on what was going on and I became more and more frustrated with my organizational problems. Luckily, I found a single tool that brings clarity and structure to my blogging process.
Meet Edgar: Schedule Social Media Posts
Prior to signing up to this service, I was tracking my social media platforms 24/7. It’s not only about Twitter chats or using all of the hashtags trending on this particular day, it is more about sharing my personal content. I hear from marketing professionals all the time that you have to spend as much time promoting your content as you are on actually writing it, and until recently I didn’t follow this advice at all. I used to spend hours working on a post…and then share it just once and forget about it. Then, I listened to Pat Flynn’s interview with Laura Roeder that completely changed my understanding of how social media works. Laura provided stats that proved that a regular Twitter user spends around 15 minutes per day using the platform. It means that if you didn’t reach your reader within those periods of time they are online, your message will not reach them at all. What MeetEdgar does is help you to reach your audience during those periods of time when they are online. Basically, it is a tool that allows you to schedule your content and then ‘recycle’ it (i.e., use it again for as many times as you wish, without spending any more time on adding new content to the queue).
MadMimi: RSS Subscription & Newsletters
There are many e-mail marketing systems available for bloggers these days, but I love MadMimi because it is the easiest to use tool. It literally takes a couple of minutes to create your RSS subscription (i.e., allows your readers to receive e-mail notifications each time you publish a blog post) or create a customized newsletter. I tried using other e-mail marketing services before (such as MailChimp and iContact) and I believe that those can be too complicated for beginners. It’s great to know what the open rate of your e-mail notifications is and where exactly people click while reading an e-mail from you, but I personally believe that it doesn’t really matter for personal style and/or beauty bloggers. Your readers remember you for who you are, not for how cute your e-mail looks. At the end of the day, you are not selling anything online and considering how low the typical click rate for e-mail updates is (according to Smart Insights, it’s about 2.3% for the personal care and beauty segment), you don’t want to spend too much time on e-mails that people don’t even open. In other words, I recommend MadMimi because it is a reliable and super easy to set-up system.
PicMonkey: Photo Editing
Most of the bloggers I personally know use Adobe Photoshop to create their collages and other layouts, but I think that PicMonkey is more than enough when it comes to blog related photo edits. It allows you to create beautiful looking collages, add text to your photos, and correct your images in respect to exposure, colors, sharpness level, etc. The best thing about this website is that it is super easy to use and it doesn’t cost a fortune. If you use it for simply resizing your images and adding some text on top, you can use PicMonkey for free. However, some of the fonts and editing features are available for Royale members only (which is just $33 per year compared to $119.88 per year for a basic PhotoShop plan). You can also sign-up for a free 30-day trial of PicMonkey Royale features and then decide whether you like it or not. You can also compare this app to its competitors, Canva and Pixlr (those are also great tools to try, I just got used to PicMonkey).
Unroll.me: Clean & Organized Email Inbox
As a blogger, you are probably subscribed to a bunch of e-mail updates from other bloggers and brands. Talking about myself, I have to admit that I am an e-mail girl and subscribe to all of my favorite blogger updates via e-mail. I don’t have a separate e-mail address for my subscriptions and sometimes my inbox becomes too crowded. Every once in a while I conduct an audit of my e-mail subscriptions and unsubscribe from all e-mails that I no longer want to receive. There are many services like that available online, but I prefer Unroll.me because it saves those subscriptions that you opted out for. Sometimes when you clean up your subscription list, you accidentally delete important notifications, and this service helps to make sure that no important information gets lost.
Buffer App: Share Content
You probably wonder why do I need a Buffer App if I am already using Edgar for scheduling my posts. It’s easy: I use it for sharing other people’s content. Being a blogger, it is important to be a part of a community and spread the word about what other people and publications write about. So every time I find something useful online, I save it to my Buffer queue and it is automatically shared on my social media channels at a specific time. I believe that people react better to posts illustrated with images; this is why I installed a Buffer App for my Google Chrome and share images by using a Buffer button.
Evernote Web Clipper: Organize Information
There are so many great sources available online and those could be very distracting. It’s great to constantly educate yourself, but you don’t want to spend too much time on learning about things that you might never use. I am an information hoarder and I love bookmarking articles that I found interesting, but regular browser’s bookmarks are too disorganized for my taste. I prefer saving interesting articles using Evernote Web Clipper under specific categories that I created (for instance, Pinterest Tips, Twitter Chats, YouTube How-Tos, etc.) and then refer to them when I really need them as opposed to reading them right away and then losing them among other bookmarks. I also use Evernote on my iPhone to draft my posts while on the go and save photos of important documents.
Bit.ly: Shorten Your Links
Some people use this service for those instances when they need to shorten their links, but I primarily use it as a tracking system. I am trying to use Bit.ly for all the links that I share on my social media and then track which ones perform best at the Stats page. Also, you probably don’t know but you can use Bit.ly for shortening your affiliate links. For instance, I have a weekly series Friday Five where I share my top five favorites on a selected category (such as summer totes, beach throws, and cute dresses). Instead of sharing just a link to this post on my Facebook page, I create short links for each of the five picks and list them on the Facebook page. By doing so, I know exactly which picks from the post my readers liked the most. Also, you can earn extra bucks if you are a part of the pay-per-click affiliate program.
SimplyStats: Keep Track on Your Stats
This is my absolute favorite app to keep track of my blog visitors. I’ll be honest with you, I am a bit obsessed about my traffic numbers, and Google Analytics for WordPress is not enough for me. SimplyStats breaks down for you how many page views and unique visitors you have, as well as provides you with the bounce rate information. Also, you can track which posts and pages on your blog attract the most amount of visitors and check which referring sites bring the most traffic. The good thing about this app is that it breaks down complicated Google Analytics stats and makes it easy to digest.
VSCOcam: Edit Instagram Photos
There is no doubt that brands are primarily looking for those bloggers who are successful on Instagram. What makes your IG account stand out from other bloggers is great photography. There are many photo editing applications available these days, but I personally prefer VSCOcam. I learned about this app just a couple of weeks ago and I can’t stop using it since then. The app is very easy to use, and it really improves the quality of your images. Also, you can create a collection of your ready to go images and save them on your camera roll and then use them as needed.
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Whether you are just starting at blogging or looking for some improvements to your blogging routine, these are the ten tools that you should know about. I use them because they make my life easier, and I hope these will be helpful for you too.
P.S.—All fashion & beauty blogger hashtags organized by the day of the week.