Whether you're new to blogging or you've been doing it for years, there's no denying the time and effort that goes into crafting a stellar post. But being a blogger these days is about more than writing a stellar post: whether you're distributing your content, jazzing it up with images or jumping into new mediums like podcasting, the world of blogging continues to evolve in exciting, sometimes unpredictable ways - and it's up to us to keep up with it.
For many of us, these new avenues are out of our comfort zone. If we're blogging for business, we don't have time to play with new tools, and for some of us all this tech stuff might be a bit much. But if you're looking to explore new ways to level up your blog, I've got a list of killer tools which save time, are easy to use, and make you look like a pro.
Here are my favourite tools for creating stunning and shareable blog posts, from concept to finished product:
Get your words down
For many of us, our focus is on our business. Blogging might be a form of content marketing to get our brand, values and skills out there in the world. So grammar isn't always our first thought. But as the old joke goes, "Let's eat, Grandma!" as opposed to "Let's eat Grandma!" - grammar matters. And it helps our business and brand look more professional.
For this, Grammarly is my BFF. Spellcheck will pick up regular typos, but if your word order is incorrect, or if you've repeated a word, Grammarly will be all over it. There's a free Chrome plugin for your browser for the basics, or you can pay for the advanced features. It works all over the web - whether you're creating a post in Wordpress, LinkedIn Pulse or drafting in regular old email.
Make it gorgeous
Canva is the darling of Australia's start-up scene - the graphic design tool that is drop-and-drag simple, but has the eye of a brilliant graphic designer at its core. Canva is amazing for creating all kinds of content. While it's most famous for pulling together gorgeous Instagram quotes, I use it on my blog every week, whether I'm creating a title image, a banner ad to cross-link between posts, or an infographic for a post. If you level up to a paid subscription, your business colour palettes and folds can be saved as a default. Love it!
Make it shareable
Did you know that SEO takes into account social links? So the more your community shares your content, the greater the SEO love. There are a few nifty tools out there to help you help your audience share your content.
Click-To-Tweet lets you pull a quote from your blog to highlight and embed it so that your reader can tweet that quote in one click. There's a straightforward wizard which means it's easy to use, and embeddable with a simple bit of code.
But not everyone is on Twitter. If fact, if you're a creative businesswoman, you're far more likely to be on Pinterest. If you're targeting other women on Pinterest, make sure your content is easily accessible to your fellow pinners.
One method you might consider is to take a quote from your blog, pop it in Canva, and jazz it up so that it's utterly Pinterest-able. Make it easy for your audience to share your content on their Pinterest boards so it's a new traffic generator for you.
Looking for new content ideas for your blog? Use the data you've already got! Turn to the analytics of your social media channels to find out what your audience is passionate about, and turn that data into blog posts.
Look at the articles you've tweeted over the past month (even if they aren't yours!), export the analytics and see what content people have retweeted the most. From there, see if you can pivot on those ideas for new content.
I recommend cutting the data over different time frames to see which kinds of content engage people - you might see different kinds of content if you look over a week, a month or a year. What topics, headlines, themes or mediums are people sharing? Go bold and give them a go!
Using a social media scheduler like Hootsuite means that you can create content and schedule it over the course of the week without posting it to each of your social media channels each day. Hootsuite also has a rad bulk upload feature which makes it even easier to upload hundreds of posts at once.
If you have a lot of evergreen content, you might find a social scheduling tool like Buffer or Meet Edgar is more useful for you as they perpetually recycle your content over months, alleviating you of the burden of perpetually scheduling it yourself.
Cross it over
While cross posting to other sites can be controversial from an SEO perspective, it can be useful to cross-post to gain new audiences, especially if those sites are social media sites. With the shift in sites like Medium and LinkedIn Pulse having their own community and algorithms, posting your content there using the right keywords or hashtags might just expose you to new audiences.
If you're using Wordpress, there are a few nifty plugins which automatically cross-posts all your posts to Medium as you publish them.
Explore new territory
There's a time in every bloggers life where they might want to experiment with a new medium. It might be a one night stand, or the start of a new relationship. Either way, new mediums help you share your content in new ways, spice it up for your audience and give you a new outlet to sink your creative teeth into!
There are some amazing services out there to help you mix up your content. Wideo.com, for example, provides a cloud-based video editing option on a subscription basis, while Biteable lets you create cute animated videos which are incredibly flexible. Similar to Canva, you can choose templates – either animated or stock footage – and completely customise them.
You might even want to branch out and host an interview on Facebook Live (using an extension like BeLive.tv to add guests) and embed it in your blog, or recycle it (the mantra of every blogger!) and turn it into a podcast for easy listening (and embedding!) later on.
I hope I've given you some new tools to play with and inspired you to jazz up your blog - and if you've got recommendations for any others, I'd love to hear about them in the comments!
Rachel Beaney is a freelance social media specialist who writes over at rachelbeaney.com. A freelancer with extensive experience working on big brands like Microsoft and Samsung, she enjoys teaching businesses of all sizes how to level up their social media with strategy and killer content. You can catch her regularly posting about dogs on Twitter or Instagram @beaney.