Take it from me, starting a blog isn’t easy. There’s a lot of work that goes into just starting it, not to mention maintaining it. Don’t let this discourage you though because this is the 21st century and there are a lot of blog tools out there to help with the heavy lifting. That’s why I put together this list of great sites you can use to help you get started. For the sake of simplicity, I put them in order of what you’ll need to get started, get writing, and then make the most of your posts.
This is just a small sample of what’s out there, but in my opinion, they are the most crucial to get started. Once you get your feet firmly underneath you, you can start playing around with the dozens of other tools out there.
The first thing you’re going to need is a place to post your blog. There are a couple of sites out there you can use. But I’m a diehard WordPress fan. It’s really easy to customize and you don’t have to know how to do any programming (though it helps). If you don’t want to spend money on purchasing a domain and buying hosting, you can sign up for a free site with them, or pay for more advanced features. Honestly, I recommend WordPress to everyone who asks.
Yoast WordPress SEO plugin- SEO is a pain. This plugin pretty much does it for you.
Jetpack- This is a free plugin that adds a ton of features to your blog.
Now that you’ve got your blog set up, you need to write something. Yeah, this is where the hard part comes in. It seems like every time you have to write something you mind draws a blank. Especially when you start to put a little pressure on yourself. Luckily, Google trends offers a great blog tool that lets you know what everyone is talking about. It will give you a good idea of what sort of topics will be relevant for you to write about. Just don’t lose focus by forcing a topic just to be relevant.
Now you kinda have an idea of what you want to blog about. Well, you’ve got a vague idea of what you might want to try to blog about. However, writer’s block still won’t loosen its deadly grip. Before you throw your computer against a wall, check out Blog Topics Generator. It’s an awesome tool from Hubspot that takes your vague idea and gives you 5 potential topics based on it. Say you want to blog about pizza, type it in and it will give you headlines for potential articles. Sure, they might not be perfect, but when you’re slamming your head against a metaphorical wall they’ll get the creative juices flowing.
So, you’ve got your blog topic. Now it’s time to do some actual work. You need to focus your topic down for SEO purposes. Keyword planner will let you know what keywords or phrase (think 1 to 3 words) is getting the most searches each month. After all, if you’re going to take the time to write a blog, you might as well make it one people will actually find. This in conjunction with the WordPress Yoast plugin will help you get the most out of your blog. Best of all key words don’t mean you have to change the topic of your blog, they’re just something you need to work in throughout it. They make a ton of difference.
There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to blogging. You come up with your idea. Then you have to write a draft. After that, you need to edit it. Next, you have to find media to put in the post. Of course, there’s link building and SEO after that. Plus, every good blogger has several topics in the pipeline. Like I said, there are a lot of things pulling your focus in a million different directions. That’s why I use Trello. It’s a project management app you can sync online and on your phone. It’s a great way to set up the steps for every article and see what blog is in what stage. This is a great tool to help you stay organized and focused.
I’ll be the first to admit that my grammar sucks. It’s bordering on embarrassing. If you have the same problem, you will love Grammarly. It’s a website that checks your articles for correct grammar, and I mean, really gets in there deep. Grammarly is way more in-depth than Word and catches a lot of mistakes that are easy to miss. Despite how amazing it is, it’s still just machine. So, it can miss a few intricacies of the human language. Needless to say, you’re going to have to keep an eye on it. Still, it’s a great tool for any blogger who isn’t perfect at grammar.
There’s the annoying little thing called readability. Essentially it’s how easy your article is to read. It might not sound that important, but most Americans read at about an 8th-grade level. That means you need to make sure your blog is accessible without dumbing it down. You might be thinking “there’s no way I’m going to need this.” Well, American’s are so bad at reading, that there is an actual scale to determine how hard something is to read (Flesch-Kincaid scale). It might not be the most important part of the blogging process, but it can help you reach more people if your articles are easy to read.
Great your article is written, the grammar is perfect, and it’s readable. Now you just need to make some graphics for it. Wait, you’re not a professional graphic designer!? Don’t sweat it. Canva is a site that helps anyone put together great designs for your site. It’s an easy to use site that will help you make your blog really stand out. It lets you design infographics, logos, cover images, and more. There are a lot of blogs out there, and making sure that yours has a bit of flair to it will help you stand out and be memorable.
You’re so close to posting your blog, you can probably taste it. However, there’s one last little thing you need to do. Make sure you headline doesn’t suck. After all, what do you think makes people click on an article to read it? I’m sure you came up with a perfectly lovely headline, but if you want to make sure it’s the best it can be. You’re going to want to check out CoSchedule Headline Analyzer. It takes a hard look at your headline and breaks down what’s good about it and what kinda sucks. It’s probably not the most crucial of these tools, but it is one that will give you that extra little boost when it comes to traffic.
Last, but definitely not least, is Hootsuite. I cannot tell you how valuable this is for any blogger. Once you’ve posted your blog, you’re going to want to share it with the world. This tool will let you organize, schedule your posts on social media, and just walk away. It’s that simple. Best of all, the free version lets you connect three social media platforms to it. So you can schedule it on your twitter, facebook, and your Facebook page without having to worry about being around to actually post it. It might not sound like a useful tool, but once you’ve got enough blogs written, you’ll want to mix up sharing the new ones with some old ones (what the pros call “evergreen”). It’s just a great tool that makes getting your blog out there even easier.
Like I said earlier, there are a lot of tools out there for bloggers to use. These ones though are a great starting point for those that are looking to create their first blog. Honestly, this list could have easily been twice as long, but once you figure out your needs it will be easy to find more tools pretty easily. If you’re currently a blogger and have any tools that you suggest, be sure to leave a comment below.