My life is in blogging. Obv. I have this site and I also run The Broke-Ass Bride. I make money off of both (though I'm not like a six-figure blogger or anything. Dreams ... ) and a large part of that is because I have tools in place to help me be more productive, efficient and create aesthetically pleasing posts. Different tools work for different blogs -- I use some for The Broke-Ass Bride, which is a Wordpress blog, and some for Bourbon & Sparkle, which lives on SquareSpace. I like both platforms, and both have different functionalities.
I see a lot of bloggers, both big and small, struggle with managing their time or finding the ways to help them be better and more efficient at what they're doing. I'm frequently involved in discussions about which tools are awesome, what functionalities are needed and the like, so I figured I may as well lay it all bare so you can decide for yourself.
For Content Sharing and Social Media:
-HootSuite: I currently use the free version of HootSuite for B&S to share out social media posts. It gets the job done, but since B&S isn't currently making enough money to justify a paid plan, I don't get all the analytics goodies I'd prefer to have.
- Shareist: Shareist is a great tool for social and content sharing. It goes well beyond just the basic social media stuff to allowing users to generate posts and capture content ideas within the platform. Recycled shares also allow you to re-share a post after the original, which is awesome.
- CoSchedule: This is how I manage our contributors, calendar and social on BAB. A Wordpress plugin, CoSchedule allows me to assign posts and tasks to my team, track their progress on posts and schedule their posts for specific days and times. Like Shareist, CoSchedule also has the recycled shares functionality, and I can schedule social shares before a post is even live. I have 11 contributors on BAB, and this tool makes it a total dream to manage them all. Plus the design is pretty.
For Subscription Captures and Newsletters:
- OptinMonster: Dummy-proof functionality, drag 'n' drop design capabilities and custom options make this email capture service a dream. Newsletters are important, but so is how you convince your readers to subscribe. OptInMonster's reporting tools are awesome for figuring out what's working and what's not and starting at $49/year, it won't kill your wallet.
- MailChimp: For an easy way to get started with your newsletter, MailChimp is a great option. A free version allows you to get your toes wet before fully committing, which is nice for those who have no clue as to what they're doing. Customize the look to match your branding.
For Links and Content
- PrettyLink Pro: This tool is like literally a godsend for me. I use it for nearly every outbound link on BAB. It's a WP plugin, and if you're going to go for it -- seriously go for it. The one-time paid fee gets you on-brand link cloaking, keyword and URL replacement capabilities, click tracking, link shortening and customization and nofollow options. It's of course perfect for affiliate links, but I also use it to track sponsored campaigns. The branding and shortening is amazing for social media shares, too.
- Clicky: I use Google Analytics for both sites, but I also use Clicky for BAB to track analytics in real time and to have a secondary source for reporting. As a data geek, I love it -- I love being able to see how content is performing throughout the day and getting insight into whether a certain social strategy is working or not.
- PicMonkey: This is another tool I use for pretty much everything -- in fact all of the images on this site have been created using PicMonkey. The free version is good for a few things, but I rely on the Royale subscription to get access to better tools, fonts, overlays and more. At just over $30 per month if billed annually or $4.99 per month if you go month-by-month, it's a great alternative to the super pricey PhotoShop. PicMonkey also provides easy tutorials and the ability to easily create collages.
- Canva: Canva is a free design tool. I haven't messed with it too much, since I'm so PicMonkey loyal, but I do love the educational materials they publish -- especially this one with color combinations, as it's where I got the scheme for Bourbon & Sparkle!