I'm talking about blogging all week. See all the posts in this series here.
Now that I’ve laid out how much time it takes, I want to be clear that we’re not exactly spinning yarn here. There are a plethora of tools and resources to help you grow, manage, and maintain your blog. I’ve tried a lot and have settled on a few.
Here are my must-have blogging tools:
Typepad. I built my blog on the Typepad platform and couldn’t be happier about it. I go into all the reasons why I love and stay with Typepad here. It drives me batty that a huge percentage of “serious” bloggers will try and tell you that self-hosted Wordpress is the only way to go. Typepad makes my blogging life about 4,000 times easier than all of my Wordpress friends.
But there are other platforms with a huge online presence, too. Squarespace has been making a splash. And two of the best (and biggest) bloggers I know are still using the free Blogger! Which just goes to show that you don’t need to pay or need all the bells and whistles to have a wildly successful blog.
Mail Chimp. I’ve only been using Mail Chimp for less than a year, but I have a major crush on it. Mail Chimp is an email delivery service, and first I put all of my email subscribers there, and now it’s what I use to deliver the Secret Posts.
Mail Chimp is intuitive and friendly to use. You can build newsletter and email campaigns by just dragging and dropping where you want pictures and text. It’s fun to use and now my blog emails look so pretty.
Evernote. When I’m on the go, Evernote is how I keep track of the ideas and To Dos that float through my mind. I have notebooks for the blog and for our life and they all sync wirelessly from my phone to my iPad to the computer. So if I make a note in my phone while standing in Target, it will be on my computer when I get home.
I can keep a notebook for Friday Links and for sites where HH is featured. I can snap a picture and keep it in Evernote to remind me to do a post about it. It’s a handy and easy little tool. (Side note: I just started experimenting with Wunderlist this week, which I’m still figuring out. I’ll report back.)
DSLR. They say that the best camera you have is the one you have with you. In that case, it’s usually my iPhone. But when I’m not being lazy about it, a DSLR makes the whole world prettier. I have and love the Nikon D7000. My favorite lenses are the 50mm 1.4 and the 35mm 1.8. And Ken Rockwell is one of my favorite resources when researching camera stuff.
Flickr Creative Commons. Of course personal pictures are the best way to go on a personal blog, but when you just need a generic looking photo to break up all the text in a post, I try Flickr Creative Commons. These are photos in the Flickr pool that photographers (sometimes professionals, but mostly amateurs) have give free license to use, as long as you link back to them.
You can search for anything and weed through the results to find an image you like. Say you want a photo of a rainbow in your post. Flickr creative commons is a great tool for bloggers. Just remember to credit the photographer!
For twitter, on my computer I use tweetdeck and on my phone I use echofon. To read blogs, I use Feedly on both the computer and the phone.
To keep up with my blog stats, I use Google Analytics, which is the industry standard. Typepad has built in analytics, too, so I check in there daily to see how a post is doing. I try to check Google Analytics once or twice a month.
Since I love to talk about and read about blogging all the time, I’ve amassed quite an arsenal of blog resources that I turn to if I’m interested in a subject or need an answer to a blog question.
ProBlogger is one of the biggest and most well-known blogger resources. If you have a questions, there’s probably an article or 10 over there that addresses it. There are so many things I love about Problogger, not the least of which is Darren himself, who is friendly and approachable on twitter.
Blog Clarity (formerly MomComm) has been another good resource for me. I happened to meet Melissa at the Type A Conference one year, but I had already been reading her for awhile. (And this blog was mentioned in her book Blog Design for Dummies.)
Amy Lynn Andrews has some really good articles about blogging and all kinds of stuff, but what I’ve really valued lately has been her Useletter. It’s a regular newsletter that has useful links and tips (hence the name). It’s not sent too often, and it’s not too long. I always learn something from it.
Yes and Yes. I found this one within the last year, and it has been a great resource for me. She has interesting posts and emails and she has turned me on to some of the other people listed here.
Braid Creative. Braid is run by fellow Oklahoma women (Kathleen and I are bloggy friends and she is awesome) and even though it’s geared toward creative business owners (a category I don’t quite fall into, but sort of?) I love their emails. I’ve been meaning to sign up for one of their online courses, but the timing just hasn’t been quite right. I will do one, though.
The Blog Maven. I can’t remember how I found Blog Maven (it has been recently), but she has some great emails for bloggers.
Two podcasts I listen to that talk about blogging:
How They Blog. This is a great, usually pretty short podcast by Kat Lee that is packed with information on every episode. Most of the time it’s an interview with a blogger (How They Blog), which is interesting in itself, but I also like Kat’s commentary. The podcast has a Christian bent and the interview is often a faith blogger, but the conversation is all about the business of blogging.
Fizzle. I’m pretty sure I was introduced to the Fizzle podcast from Yes and Yes, and I blazed through a bunch of their episodes quickly. I like the personalities there and they’re talking about some of things you hear bloggers discussing in the halls at conferences, but aren’t speaking about from the stage.
I hope I’m not forgetting anyone. If there’s a tool or resource I missed or that you think I should check out, let me know. I’m always on the hunt for more ways to talk about blogging.