7 Essential Tools for Bloggers

7 Essential Tools(1) I take my blog seriously.  It’s not a hobby.  It’s my business.

That means I’m willing to invest time, energy and money in my blog.

To build a successful blog, you’ve got to have the right tools.

The great news is that there are many fantastic tools out there to help you get it done right and to make your life easier as a blogger.

Instead of telling you that you MUST use a specific plugin or service, in this post I’ll share with you the TYPES of tools that you’ve got to have.

And I’ll share a few suggestions for each.

I’d love to hear what you’re using and what’s working (or not working) for you with each of these types of tools.

Are you missing any?

Anything I’ve missed that definitely needs added to this list?

1.  Content Calendar


Non-negotiable.  You’ve got to have a way to plan out your posts and keep track of what’s going on in your universe.

I use a printed calendar plus the plugin Editorial Calendar.  I’ve heard good things about Edit Flow if you have a multi-author blog.

And here’s how I plan my content (this is an older video but it’s still the system I use and it’s great for business blogging).

Or for a simpler system, try this.

2. Social Media Scheduler & Syndication Tools

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Don’t let your blog and social media take over your life.

To get traffic and readers to your blog, you’ve got to be active on social media.  But that doesn’t mean you need to be online 24/7!

Use a tool like HootSuite or Co-Schedule to schedule and automate some of your social media activity.  (I promise, automation is NOT evil.)

I also use tools to syndicate content including Triberr.

3.  Email Management System


Confession… I was in business for YEARS before I started building a list.

Huge mistake.


Don’t do that.

Your list is one of your biggest assets in business so take it seriously.

Choose a service and be consistent about growing your list and sending email out.

I use 1ShoppingCartAWeber‘s a great option.  So is GetResponse.

And for managing my own email flood, I use Boomerang for GMail and The Email Game.

4. Money Tracking System


You’ve got to deal with it… because you’re in business.

You DO want to make money right?

Make it easier on yourself and get a system in place for tracking everything.

Maybe it’s QuickBooks.  Or Wave Accounting (what I use).

Just use something, please.  Your account will thank you.

5.  Image Creator/Editor


In a world with Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook… images matter!

There are lots of cool tools for creating and editing images to use on your blog.

I’ve been using Canva a lot lately.  I also like PicMonkey and Pixlr.

I own Photoshop (check out the Creative Cloud options–they’re affordable)… but Canva’s generally quicker and easier to whip out graphics with.

6.  Idea Tracking System


Ideas are everywhere!  It’s keeping them handy and organized that can be a bit of a challenge.

So get a SYSTEM that works for you.

I tend to open blog drafts, pop in a title idea and a few notes and just save it so later I can come back and create the post.  When I’m on a “list kick” (just being honest, my organization comes in spurts…) I use Workflowy.

There’s also Evernote.

Doesn’t matter what system you use as long as it works for you.

7.  A Timer

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Simple.  But effective.

Use a timer to stay focused, write faster, and generally get more done.

I have an actual timer that sits on my desk.  Sometimes I use e.ggtimer.

And there you have it!

What’s missing from this list?  What are your favorite tools?

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  1. Hey, Michelle.

    This is an awesome list. 1) I’ve been thinking of doing the calendar thing this coming year. I need things down on paper, so I’m looking for a good sized one for 2015. 2) I use Hootsuite. 3) I use MailChimp, for now. 4) Old-fashioned paper system. 5) I use Canva quite a bit. 6) I do the same as you when I can, pop my ideas into admin and save it as a draft. 7) A timer …. now there’s a good idea. !!!

    I enjoyed reading your post! Thanks so much!

    Jeanne Melanson recently posted… No More Scooping Sweepstakes, Self-Cleaning Litter BoxMy Profile

  2. Great ideas, Michelle.
    Here are some others for those who have a different mindset:
    I use WordPress Editorial Calendar. (I use TweetDeck, but only because it works better on my crazy systems; HootSuite is cool.)
    QuickBooks is a great idea for those who have inventory- otherwise most solopreneurs would be better served with Quicken for Home and Business or Xero. (I admit that we work with Xero for our clients. We are also QuickBooks Professionals.)
    Canva sounds great- Photoshop requires one to frequently employ it- or have a super memory for details to control its (plethora of) intricacies.
    RAAckerman, PhD, EA recently posted… ZzzzMy Profile

  3. Hey Michelle, great list of tools! I use Buffer and Google Docs(for content calendar) daily.

    BTW, I was wondering if you could try out a content marketing tool I developed last year called BuzzSumo (at buzzsumo.com)

    It shows you the most shared articles for any topic or competitor, helps you create engaging content, and shows what types of headlines gets the most shares.

    Would appreciate any feedback you have on it :)

  4. I have something in all those categories, except for the timer :)
    Linda Ursin recently posted… Giving my art awayMy Profile

  5. Great list, Michelle. As a longtime blogger and podcaster, I definitely have all of these. I also use PublishThis to help with content monitoring, mixed-content (like curated posts with annotations), and easy pop-up publishing tools for mobile. Are you using anything to track what your audience is talking about to help with ideation?

  6. Hey Michelle

    Thank you so much for urging us to get back to the basics! #HUGSS

    I have never used an Email Management system on any site, but I am about to get serious about my blogging, so Chipmunk – here I come (or was it MailChimp :P)

    Much love
    Krithika Rangarajan recently posted… Furry Love is ForeverMy Profile

  7. It’s nice and knowledgeable. i appreciate the way by which u describe the topic. visit your authorship to gain more.keep posting.

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