How do I maintain three blogs, write books and prepare teaching material?
I write a lot.
But without my little toolbox of online tools for writing and blogging, I would be struggling to keep up. There are so many vital elements to consider when you are writing online and it is often difficult to keep them all in mind.
Of course, writing accuracy is the number one priority because any errors or typos will distract from your message and lose your readers very quickly. Then there is the consideration of how your writing is going to be found on the Internet, so SEO becomes another priority.
While writing is one thing, presentation and appeal are what attracts readers. Whether it be a blog post image, a book cover for an ebook or even graphics I include in much of my teaching material, designing eye-catching graphics and images is extremely important.
Then comes the hard work of promoting your writing. Blogs, books and ebooks all need systematic promotion to help you gain traction in what is a very competitive market.
So much to do and so little time. However, there are literally thousands of online tools that can help in all these aspects of writing and promotion. Yes, some are great, some are okay, while others are not worth the bother.
I have tried many of them over the years, but there are a handful of online tools I use now that have become indispensable to me.
My essential writing and blogging tools
Grammarly works, everywhere. (Free and Paid)
Number one without a doubt for me is Grammarly. I use it every hour of every day. What makes Grammarly so effective is that it not only integrates with Microsoft Word but also with most browsers. I use it with Safari and Chrome, so it is helping me whenever I am writing online.
It works with every text field in the Wordpress editor, plus on any web page text field such as when I write Twitter and Facebook posts, or when I comment on blogs or newspaper articles. This one feature alone has saved me from making silly typos so many times.
While no online grammar or spell checker is perfect, Grammarly helps me quickly eliminate close to 95% of my writing errors or typos, which then makes proofreading of long texts much easier.
Never forget SEO (Free)
There are many SEO keyword finders available, but I find the Ubersuggest keyword generator the quickest and easiest to use. Google Adwords Keyword Tool is very popular too, but with Ubersuggest I don’t need to register or open an account.
Another great feature is that you can search for keywords in different countries as well as for images.
Writing a great blog post is one thing, however, writing around strong keywords and finding the right 50 character title that will have a good chance of ranking highly on Google Search is what will bring traffic and readers to your blog. Great writing still needs good SEO.
Another tool I use for keyword research is WebSEO. While I use this tool essentially for trying to find effective post titles, WebSEO offers many other free online tools to help get your message out in a form that will suit search engine indexing. No matter how well you write, spending a little time on SEO research can only improve the chances of your blog post being read.
Create eye-catching images for your blog posts with Canva (Free and Paid)
Well designed images that attract the attention of readers, especially on social media, are becoming increasingly essential for bloggers. Canva is a free app that is easy to learn how to use to create your own images for your blog.
Copyright is always an issue to consider, so forget about copying images from Google Image Search and start creating your own images that will attract more readers.
Since I started using Canva, my blog traffic has increased noticeably, so taking the extra few minutes to design unique images for my blog posts has been well worth the extra effort. I use the free version and find it does everything I need.
Sharing buttons are essential blog tools (Free and Paid)
While not a writing tool, social sharing buttons are a must have on any blog as your blog reach can be extended by encouraging readers to share your posts. Many free social share plugins slow down your site speed by adding unwanted tracking code, spam, malware links and ad links.
I have tried so many of them over the years and was almost always disappointed or even upset at the damage some free share buttons could do.
However, I stumbled on Social Warfare a couple of years ago, and at last, I found a social sharing plugin that not only works but is super fast and clean.
I run the free version on some of my sites and the paid version on others. Apart from the share buttons, Social Warfare has a lot of extra functions such as ‘Tweet This’ and image formatting for social media. It is also the only social sharing tool that counts Twitter shares.
Spread your blog further and more effectively (Free and Paid)
Without a doubt, Revive Old Post is the most effective tool for increasing blog traffic. I have been using it for years now. Initially the free version, but as the paid version has so many additional features, I have the paid version on most of my sites now.
With Revive Old Post, you can share all of your existing posts and pages on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Tumblr using automated schedules. For re-posting book promotional pages and blog posts, it is the best tool available. Image sharing and Google Analytics integration is also included in the paid version.
If I had to choose the single best tool for my blog and book promotion, Revive Old Post would be my number one choice by a very long way.
How safe is your blog? Do you have a backup? (Free and Paid)
Your WordPress blog and all your writing and hard work over the years are extremely valuable. But do you have a complete backup of your WordPress site and its database? And if you do, are you 100% sure you can do a restore if the need arises?
Many free backup plugins do not offer a full restore function, so they are useless. Don’t necessarily trust your hosting service either, as most only offer short term backups of usually only 7 days.
UpdraftPlus has the huge benefit of being able to save backup files automatically to Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, Amazon S3, email, plus more remote locations. Off-site backups are the most secure means of protecting your site.
Updraft is a free and paid backup plugin that works without a hitch. I have been using it for a long time now, and it has saved me on many occasions, particularly when a plugin update goes horribly wrong.
Your writing ability is your number one asset, but you only have so much time available to you. Saving time on checking and proofreading gives you more time to write, as does a little automation in getting your blog posts shared on social media.
I use all of the tools I have mentioned above, some are paid and some are free, but each in its own way saves me hours of work and lets me get on with what I do best. Write.