Best Tools for Bloggers – HOA Review
Posted on December 5, 2014
You ready for another Blogging Warfare HOA review? Of course you are! The last show Carolyn, Thomas and myself had was a real good’un as we talked about the best tools for bloggers and what we use on a regular basis.
These tools touched on different aspects of blogging, some were tools for communication and social and some were blogging tools for SEO so a nice variety of tools were discussed. The tools are broken down below with time stamps so you can jump to whatever section you want (although, my recommendation is to just grab a coffee, press play and enjoy it in it’s entirety! ;))
Best Tools for Bloggers – The Toolbox
2.20 – Rob WordPress vs Blogger. With my WordPress bias set aside WordPress is better than Blogger for a variety of reasons. There are other platforms that can be used as your “toolbox” but for me WordPress is the best one.
4.00 – Thomas WordPress is more robust than Blogger and my recommendation. Beware of the difference between WordPress.com and .org and be aware of the difficulties in transitioning from Blogger or WordPress.com to a self hosted WordPress site.
Best Tools for Bloggers – Idea Generation
7.20 Carolyn There is a lot of different approaches that can be taken for idea generation as it’s very niche specific. If you try to news jack, a la Mike Allton, then you’ll want to follow different sources than say someone who is a food blogger.
8.00 Thomas Most of my idea generation comes from Quora & Yahoo Answers as it’s a good place to identify trends there and see what questions are repeatedly coming up and I can then blog about that. Perhaps the most powerful one though is for me to ask my community of readers to see what questions that they have and write blog content based on their questions.
9.40 Carolyn Often I’ll take client ideas, problems or complaints and use those as the basis for blog content. Another good way is to go to Twitter or Google Plus and just see what other people are talking about and generate content based on their questions.
11.50 Rob Writing resources based on things that you have do repeatedly for clients can often form the basis of good blog content, particularly if it’s a useful resource or “how to” type guide. To then double down on this using tools like UberSuggest then allows you to see what keywords or phrases people are searching for relating to the resource you’re compiling and this allows you to target your posts a bit more with some SEO goodness on top.
12.50 Carolyn Subscribing to other bloggers blogs is also a good way to generate ideas for blog content and helps you be part of the blogging community and staying on top of what others are talking about.
14.00 Thomas Google Alerts can be used to find new conversations relating to topics that you’re blogging about and allows a lot of targeting. BuzzSumo is a similar tool which allows you to identify which content is getting the most shares which then allows you to determine what people are interested in and then help inform your blog content idea generation.
16.35 Carolyn For idea generation for blog content for creatives or writers who can’t use “how to” type content they should try create parallels and/or to journal the process. Peel back the onion and let people see some behind the scenes. A blog can also be used for bonus content that isn’t available anywhere else – for example a serial mini novella. It’s important to think laterally about the content for creatives.
18.35 Rob Try merge the fiction with the present day fact. For example, Mily Cyrus or someone who is all over the news, try juxtapose what you’re doing with something that is happening in pop culture to entice readers to find out more about you.
Best Tools for Bloggers – Images
19.50 Thomas Images don’t have to be super complex for them to have an impact and there are tools that help with that. 90% of the images on my site in blogs are created using Canva (another option is PicMonkey). What I’ve found is the simpler the image is the better so keep the use of different fonts to a minimum for example.
21.50 Rob All my graphics and branding (including the infographic for this post) have been done by graphic designer Elena Montes which allows me to have continuity across different platforms and consistency in branding. Once you establish a relationship with a graphic designer and workflows are understood the process can of graphic creation can be a quick one.
23.50 Carolyn I use PhotoShop to create my images and I also use sites like BlogPhoto.TV which give high quality free photos which I can then use to generate my graphics. Other sources of free images for blog use are sites like MorgueFile.com, unsplash.com, lifeofpix.com, albumarium.com, gratisography.com, startupstockphotos.com, deathtothestockphoto.com & picjumbo.com.
Best WordPress Plugins for Blogging – Special Guest Nicholas Cardot
Around the 24.50 minute mark we were very fortunate to have a special “glowing” guest Nicholas Cardot join us to talk about some tools that he uses and to also talk about his new social Warfare Plugin which he released in conjunction with Dustin Stout & Jason Wiser.
25.40 Nicholas Get a good plugin for SEO like Yoast or All in One SEO and they can help with the onsite SEO of your site. Also need to get a good caching plugin like W3 Total Cache or WP SuperCache depending on the type of server you’re on. Those WordPress plugins will allow to focus on what’s most important and help with your SEO and site speed.
26.30 Rob Totally agree about the Yoast SEO plugin and it’s the one I use. Another useful WordPress plugin is Revive Old Post which I discovered via Dustin Stout as it allows to some of the posts from the back catalog alive. Make sure you don’t tweet out content that is time sensitive and focus on re-promoting evergreen content.
28.00 Thomas A good way to ensure only evergreen content is reshared is by categorising posts as such and then allowing Revive Old Post only share posts from that category. Also be aware that social media & SEO is constantly changing so what may seem like evergreen content today may not be evergreen tomorrow.
29.40 Nicholas Relating back to ways of creating blog content one good tip is to take an old post that is now out of date and so updating it to make it relevant and useful again is a great way of reviving old content.
31.10 Carolyn One WordPress plugin that I like to use is Contact Form 7 as it can be nicely styled to make it more personal and allow people contact you – which is pretty important, a must have plugin.
31.45 Rob One Plugin or service which kind of ties a lot of all of the above together is Triberr which is a tool or platforms for bloggers to meet like minded bloggers and discover and share each others content. A really useful tool and worth checking out.
32.10 Thomas I’m on Triberr and the majority of the traffic and interaction I get on Twitter is as a result of Triberr. It’s a great platform for engaging and finding others within your niche and can really help with networking.
Social Warfare Plugin – The Inside Story
34.00 Nicholas Just launched Social Warfare (note, affiliate link) which is a new social sharing WordPress plugin, affectionately referred to as “Your Ultimate Social Sharing Arsenal”. Social Warfare had to be built for Dustin Stout & Jason Wiser who wanted to be able to better integrate social sharing and have more options on their site. In particular the option to specify which image should be pinned and to allow people to optimise that image for Pinterest.
We also wanted the Social Warfare plugin to have control over what the shared pins description was and also to allow you to craft specific tweets for when posts are shared via the plugin.
All share results are also cached as part of the WordPress post so it doesn’t really slow down a users site at all, the plugin is only about 8 or 9kb when loaded on the front end of the site and is way faster than other social sharing plugins.
Also by caching results in the post we have been able to create a widget which displays the top most shared posts on the site which can be added to sidebars. Most other popular post plugins sort by page views or comments but ours actually sorts by shares which is a more accurate reflection of popularity.
Another feature is a very intuitive click to tweet option, click on the button in the “kitchen sink” view of WordPress and you can craft your click to tweet message and include images.
Rob 37.20 I use the plugin and find it great, compared to other plugins I’ve used for social sharing it’s one of the best ones I’ve found. Not only that it’s improving on a weekly basis due to the work Nicholas, Dustin & Jason are doing. [Note: since the HOA I’ve queried something about the plugin & my site with Nicholas and his response time, coding ability, helpfulness and all round good-guy-ness in getting it sorted was phenomenal. This plugin is in, and built by, good hands.]
Thomas 38.40 I use Social Warfare as my social sharing plugin on my site and it’s a really aesthetically pleasing plugin. It loads quickly and you also have design choices about where the buttons are and how they look as well as which platforms you want to show. On top of that the plugin has an accurate Google Plus count which is very difficult to do but the plugin has found a way to work around that.
Nicholas 40.00 We’ve also just updated the social warfare plugin to make it even more responsive so make sure to check that out.
Best Tools for Bloggers – That’s A Wrap!
And there you have it, a hopefully useful guide to Blogging Warfare HOA about the Best Tools for Bloggers.
Should you be interested in getting a copy of Social Warfare plugin you can do so at WarfarePlugins.com (note: affiliate link, but, what do you expect, we’re bloggers!) and there is also a 30 day “love it” guarantee so give it a whirl. We’d also love to hear about what tools you use to keep your blogs ticking over so please comment below.. And, what about free images? – do you know of any great resources for free photos for bloggers? Comment below!
Until next time, may your keywords always be ranking and blog on!
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