Every trade has tools. If you’re a doctor, you have a stethoscope. If you’re a mechanic, you have a wrench. If you are a plumber, you have a large vertical crack where your shirt and trousers come together. You get the picture, right? In a previous post, we discussed how writers have certain tools to help them writer better. Guess what? I’m a writer, so I use those tools.
But, I’m not just a writer, I’m also a blogger and a content strategist. There are blogging tools that actually make our lives easier, that many don’t consider. Some of these tools cost money. Some of them are free. Keep in mind, that I may be an affiliate for one or more of them. Let’s get started:
If you don’t have a photo editor, it is likely because you can’t afford one. But, there is a free alternative to Photoshop that is almost as powerful. Chances are pretty good that you could use one if you use your own pics on your blog–or anywhere else for that matter. Gimp is a great tool that you should have in your arsenal. You should be using pictures in your blog posts because you want to set yourself as far apart from the competition as possible.
Scaleable Vector Capabilities:
This is one of those tools that causes me to stop and wonder how I made it before the download. Seriously. I’m just starting to dabble here, but I designed the featured image for this post using Inkscape. It is a free download that competes with Adobe Illustrator. It isn’t quite as robust, but it gets the job done–especially if you’re a beginner like me. One of the best things about this program (other than the price tag) is that you can use it to create info graphics. The benefits to using an info graphic are many. And, while they shouldn’t be overused, using them in your blog can only help your readership.
A way to find new blogs to comment on:
Commenting on other’s blogs is one of the best things that you can do. You can build trust with the other blog, build trust with their readers, send readers to your blog, and even build backlinks to your blog. And, unless you’re new to the whole blogging thing, you know that one of the most important aspects about getting found revolves around the amount of links back to your website. Of course, the rules are always changing and the big G puts less of an emphasis on backlinks than they used to, but they are still the way Google checks your website’s authority. There are a few different ways to go about doing this. Of course, you could do a simple internet search and that would suffice. It’s free, which is always a plus, but it isn’t as fast. And let’s face it–when you’re blogging speed is key.
There are multiple programs out there to help you. The one I use is especially helpful, because it also includes important metrics within the search. It will tell you if the site is a “do follow” or “no follow” site, whether they allow comments, what the page rank for the site is and you can even choose to search for .edu and .gov sites. This is one of the most important tools that I’ve ever had for blogging, and it is very powerful. I find relevant blogs each day that have to do with the niche that I type in. It helps me to build relationships with the owners of the blogs (and their readers). Plus, these comments send a lot of traffic your way. The tool is called Instant Backlink Magic. Definitely worth the price I paid. Click here to take a quick gander at it.
A professionally designed theme:
There are plenty of halfway good themes out there for free. I used to use a couple of them. But, I was never completely happy with what I had. There was a certain lack of creativity involved, and when I tried to change how the theme looked, I was told that I could not because of copyright laws. Later on I heard that they had no right to tell me that I couldn’t change it, but still, I’d rather not take any chances on getting sued. So, I went where all the big boys go for their themes. I went with Copyblogger’s Studiopress and Genesis Framework. And I couldn’t be happier. Currently, I use 2 different themes across 6 different websites. I can customize them however I want to, and one of the best things about their themes, is that they are responsive. They are coded using HTML 5, which means that your smart phone or tablet can view the website awesomely. Yeah, that’s right, awesomely.
Why is that a good thing? Because almost (not quite but it’s getting close) half of your traffic comes from a smart device. People are getting away from the obsolete technology of computers, and moving toward phones and tablets. This means that if your site doesn’t show up right on the phone or tablet (or if it takes forever), you’re losing business. Period.
The bottom line:
Your main goal with your content marketing strategy is to drive people to your site, right? How can you do that if your site stinks? You can’t. They may get there, but will they stay? That is the main point with what I’m saying here. The amount of knowledge that you have can only get you so far. At some point, people need to feel right at home on your website. If they don’t, they will go somewhere they do feel at home–your competition.