When I first started out, I genuinely had no idea how much of a rollercoaster of a learning curve blogging would be. I thought putting myself out there on a website was enough. Turns out, tumbleweed….. Not so good. You can pour out your heart onto the electronic page and still; nada, nothing, zilch.
So with time came learning and with learning came experience. I researched, tried and tested lots of tools that were all recommended, pinned and tweeted. I checked every free and affordable blogging resource and finally landed on the tools that have helped me to grow my blog and business. From getting noticed to saving time, producing products to selling them, managing emails to editing documents, there is a tool for everything, and I use a lot of them.
I thought I might take some of the hard work out of the process for you and give you a list of the actual tools I use to manage my blog every single day. I don’t want this article to take you a week to read, so it’s to the point and straightforward – like things should be!
This post contains affiliate links
I built my site with Wix and continue to use the platform and hosting service for both my little blog and for the small family business that I run, Grandad’s Wooden Toys. The site is simple to navigate and even has an SEO wizard to catch any areas that could be improved upon. It doesn’t need you to have a degree in code or even understand much beyond basic I.T. techniques. Their customer service team are quick to respond if you ever need to contact them and the vast database of Q&A’s can answer all of the questions you might stumble upon in the first few weeks of set up. They have an app for mobile which allows me to blog ideas on the go, speak to visitors live on the site and manage orders for ecommerce. When I first started blogging, everyone is literally wordpress crazy and I’m sure it’s awesome. I just didn’t want to play that game, so Wix won the battle of the remainder for me.
UPDATE: November 2017 – read here why I joined the game and swapped to WordPress after all *eat my words*
eMail and “The List”
Convertkit is the awesome mail provider that I finally settled with. It is super simple to use and allows me to see and manage my list (which has doubled in size since I moved to Convertkit!) They ensure my audience engagement is top notch providing not only the platform and tools, but also the education to go along with it! You can grab their free ebook herewhich covers everything you need to know about email marketing 101. I did try mailchimp, and using Wix’s own platform but couldn’t get comfortable with either. Convertkit is more than comfy, it’s the sweat pants of the email world – practical, comforting and simple….Amen to that!
Social Media and Promotion
I changed tack recently and started to make social media work for me instead of against me. It takes up less time now that I use automation and scheduling tools. These ones are the dogs pyjamas!
Buffer – I schedule the majority of my social media posts using Buffer, including Facebook Page, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter. By using these tools to get the basics out there, I can engage properly with my audience when I need to. It makes for a more authentic experience for everyone because I do post “off the cuff” and “moment” announcements, but I have the meat and veg going out automatically. I use the Buffer App on my phone too, to manage Instagram quickly and “Buffer” any other posts that pop into my head while I’m out and about.
Tailwind – I use Tailwind as my Pinterest guru! Since I began to use it, my followers have increased by about 40% (without me actually doing anything!) and my traffic has had an increase of over 60%. I play with my pins regularly and use group boards as part of my strategy and so should you if you’re serious about growing your blog.
InsTrack (App) – simply put, this app allows me to manage my instagram followers – ta da!
Followers (App) – same, for Twitter!
IFTTT – This is a brilliant way to automate certain business things and can potentially save you hours every week. I use theApp but it’s also available on desktop and it’s entirely free. For loads of amazing inspiration on biz automation, head on over to visit Brittany Berger and Work Brighter! These posts are all about IFTTT recipes that will help you to get your biz moving more fluidly. Please don’t just stop there though; Brittany will have you being the productivity queen of the world if you stick around….
Pin Groupie – A great place to understand and grow your Pinterest following. The awesome folks here have listed the Group Boards so you can check your niche and hey presto, group boards to apply to!
Hashtagify.me – check your social media hashtags and related tags to ensure you’re engaging at the right level. Brilliant for generating ideas if you get stuck like I do sometimes!
Networking and Documents
Evernote – I’m just getting into using Evernote to try and wean myself away from the old school document formats (I really need to lose my grip on excel and word!) I’m getting there slowly and seeing lots of benefits in productivity since swapping to the App on both my phone and my laptop.
Slack – Again, introduced to me recently by some amazing and very talented ladies that I met in one of my favourite Facebook groups, this is another tool I’m just getting to grips with. I will get there eventually as I know I’m capable of learning but I just need to spend more time playing with it. I know it’ll be brilliant and has already opened my eyes to a world of engagement and sharing that I didn’t know about. The Mastermind I’m now a part of is playing a huge role in boosting my confidence and making new friends in the world of copy writers!
pdf Merge – if I’m creating large files or having a play with an ebook or resource, I use pdf Merge to do exactly that. Brilliant tool!
Send Owl – I use Send Owl to sell my products and manage affiliates (both my own and partner programmes.) It is so simple I think even my Mom could figure it out (sorry Mom!) so a definite must for anyone wanting to sell their own awesomeness! You can also find more in this post about the tools I use to create and sell my digital products.
Graphics and Design
Canva – Design yourself some stunning graphics and really get your brand and business noticed!
Pixabay, Pexels, picjumbo and Dreamstime are all amazing spots to grab free stock photos.
I’ve talked in more detail in this post about how much I love Awin and Ultimate Bundles as affiliate networks; they’re just so easy. Out of all the programmes I’m a member of I use these four the most often:
I hope these resources and tools are as helpful to you as they are to me. I don’t go one week without using each of these brilliant platforms and gadgets for my blog. Let me know your favourite tool in the comments? Am I missing something awesome that takes your productivity to the next level?