As bloggers, we all know that our role is so much more than that. We are the blog writer, the social media manager, the graphic designer, and the Chief Marketing Officer of our blog. There is never a shortage of things write better and share more effectively.
Because of this, I’m always researching the latest tool that will make that possible. This means I spend A LOT of my time testing out new tools and trying to find that perfect mix. Lucky for you, I like to report on my findings. Sometimes I find a game-changer, and sometimes I am reminded that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
So after 4 years in the blogging game, here is my favourite list of tools that I use to manage each step of my blog process.
Editorial Calendar: Google Sheets / Excel
My blogging process always starts with my editorial calendar. I consider myself a pretty digital-savvy person, which is why it may shock you that I am still using good ol’ faithful: the EXCEL SPREADSHEET.
Here’s what my calendar looks like. Each tab represents a month, which includes a calendar that lists out awareness days and monthly trends to help inspire blog ideas. Below each calendar, I include a list of blog ideas. Some of them I write, some I don’t. This is a good example of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” No matter what tools I try, I always go back to this baby.
When it comes to getting blogspiration, I spend the majority of my time reading news and other blogs. What are the trending topics? Did news just come out impacting the blogging world? Do I have any original insight I can share on these topics? Feedly is an RSS reader that brings together all your favourite blogs and websites. With it, you can see chronologically everything that’s been posted when you log in to your Feedly. The iPhone App is especially great when you’re not at your laptop. This is a huge timesaver as I don’t have to visit every one of my fav blogs each day.
Evernote is a cross-platform tool that helps collect and nurture ideas and is the main way I collect all the research I need for a blog post. Once I decide on a topic I am going to blog about, I research everything else that’s been said about the topic. What do I agree with? Do I have original thoughts to share? Where do I find stats that support my argument? I collect all of these things using the Evernote Chrome Extension. This allows you to clip and save articles to your Evernote as you read them. I usually create a “Notebook” on each blog topic, and clip all the research I’ve collected on that topic. Then when I get into the writing phase, I have all my research in one place.
I could write an entire blog post on the awesome ways you can use Evernote for blogging, and I probably will. But in the meantime, here’s what CoSchedule has to say about it!
Graphic Design: Canva
I am quite positive there’s not a single blogger out there who isn’t already using Canva in some shape or form. So I don’t feel I need to get into too much detail here. But what I will tell you, is to make TEMPLATES! This is a huge time-saver when it comes to creating graphics for Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter etc. Make 3 to 4 templates that match your blog’s look and feel, and re-use them. When it comes time to create the visual for your blog post, just switch out a photo and the title and you are good to go!
Blog Workflow: Trello
For years I managed my blog workflow on Excel. But then I found Trello, an online tool that made managing the workflow much more fun and engaging. Trello! Trello is a FREE tool that lets you organize and manage your projects in a fun and flexible way.
On Trello’s blog, they shared exactly how their team uses it to manage their blog pipeline. With this tool, you can create a “List” or column that represents each step in your blog workflow. From the Idea phase to Published. Each blog post idea is a “card” that you can move from column to column as you go through your workflow. If your blog has a team of more than just you writing, all your bloggers can use this tool to collaborate. You’ll get a view of every blog post that’s in development, and what stage it’s at.
I would need a full blog post to truly explain my love of Buffer…but I’ll try to fit it into this paragraph. I LOVE BUFFER. I currently use the free version, but even with no cost this is a powerful social sharing tool. My favourite part about it is the Queue. There is tons of research out there on the best time to send a tweet, a Facebook post, a LinkedIn update, etc. But the point is, I don’t want to have to think about that. I love the set it & forget it mentality. I schedule each of my blog posts to go out in the time Buffer suggests, giving me more time to engage & connect with my followers.
Analyze: BuzzSumo Extension
This is one of those little tools that was a game-changer for me. You may have heard that BuzzSumo is an awesome tool for seeing what topics are trending. But, did you know they have an extension that lets you see how many times an article has been shared on social media? That’s right. If you have the BuzzSumo extension, you can find out how many times anything you’re reading gets shared on social media. Same goes for your blog posts. The paid version even allows you to see who has been sharing it and which other websites are backlinking to your post.
What tools do you use to manage your blog workflow? Share in the comments below!