*Disclaimer: Affiliate links may be used in this post. If you make a purchase using my link, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. I only work with companies and products that I genuinely love & use myself. I appreciate your support in advance.
Welcome back, friends. If you are a Blogger, you know the struggle. As much as we LOVE what we do, it is very time consuming and requires a high presence on your cell-phone, computer and social media (if you want a highly engaged audience, anyways). That being said, I have done massive amounts of research and have tried countless apps and tools.
Today, I’m going to share with you the ten tools and apps that have helped me with productivity, planning, social media engagement, blog traffic and gaining subscribers. Although this is not a full-time gig for me (right now), my numbers have skyrocketed since I started using these tools, so I hope you will find them just as useful!
*Side note: In this post, I go over Instagram & Pinterest, however I’m not saying Twitter and Facebook aren’t great tools for Bloggers. 100%, they are. If you’d like, I may do a future post on how I get my traffic through Facebook groups & Twitter. Let me know down below.
Pinterest. The HOLY GRAIL of blogging and the NUMBER ONE traffic source, for real. Personally, I never knew how important Pinterest was for my blog until I started using it. In a few short months, Pinterest quickly became the source for 80% of my blog views.
Many think of DIY when it comes to Pinterest, but it is so much more than that. Pinterest is basically the visual version of Google. Don’t get it twisted- PINTEREST IS 100% A SEARCH ENGINE! If you aren’t using Pinterest yet, get going. I will link Ell Duclos’ (PS. if you don’t know about her, check out her blog now. She’s such a badass) course down below, which goes over how to use Pinterest from start to finish (including Tailwind, which I will talk about next). I took this course, and let me tell you, it is well worth every penny.
The baby sister of Pinterest. Seriously, Tailwind will become your best-friend. Tailwind is a tool that schedules and auto-posts your Pins literally while you sleep. Again, this is a huge contributing factor towards my growth in traffic.
Once a week, I sit down on Tailwind for about an hour, and schedule all of my pins for the upcoming week (side note: I schedule about 50 pins per day). I include blog posts that are doing well, as well as content from my Pinterest Followers tab & Tailwind Tribes content. I post to my own boards as well as group boards). It’s really up to you. Again, the course I linked above also goes over techniques to use Tailwind to its fullest potential. This is a tool that will become a complete game-changer for your traffic.
Price: Free Trial (up to 100 Pins)
The plan I purchased: PLUS– $9.99 / month (unlimited Pins)
I’m sure there is no introduction required here. If you are a Business Owner or Blogger though, you need an Instagram account. Stat. Whether you like it or not, marketing and advertising is slowly but surely becoming all digital, and you guessed it, Instagram is at the top of the list.
It can be an intimidating platform for sure, and is hard to grow with the constantly changing algorithm, however it’s a tool that will get eyes on your product or service. Hands down, Instagram is one of the top ways to promote what YOU do, as almost everyone has an account these days. The blogging community is also very supportive on Instagram, and I have met so many amazing blogger friends through this platform. Give it a try!
*Ps. Come say HI! I’m over at @25thoughts_
If you’re interested in creating an aesthetic & visually pleasing Instagram feed (which you should be), then this is where Planoly comes in. With Planoly (phone app), you upload your photos to the grid to rearrange your photos (drag and drop feature) however you like them best. You can then “schedule” a reminder, which reminds you when it’s time to post it on Instagram. You can do this right through the app. This app saves me TONS of time when it comes to posting on Instagram. You can also write and save your captions through this app, which is nice. A simple “paste” is all it takes when it’s time to post!
Other Paid plans are available, depends on your scheduling needs.
Another Instagram tool that I am die-hard obsessive with. If you are already using Instagram, you know the deal. You are only allowed ONE link in your bio. If you’re a Blogger or Business Owner, you would probably choose your website link. But there is so much more that your readers want to see. This is where Link Tree comes in.
Link Tree is a website, where you can add all of the links you’d like into one place. Then simply “paste” the link the website gives you, and voila! When your reader clicks the link, they will see many options to choose from. On mine, I have links for my Blog Homepage, Latest Post, Twitter Account, Pinterest Account, and Access Gourmet (the Culinary page I am working on for a friend of mine). Check it out!
Upgraded Plan available for $6 USD / month
Google Analytics is a tool you MUST use if you own any type of website, whether it’s for blogging or your business. This is the best way to figure out WHO your audience is and what they want. Using this tool, you can get demographic insights, including where people visit your site from in the world. (Side note: I think it’s so cool that a HUGE portion of my readers are based in the UK. I’m born and raised in Canada, however my Grandparents are from England.)
You can also find out your bounce rate, and which pages on your site are viewed the most. This information will really help you to figure out who your target market is & how to best cater to your readers. It can be challenging to learn at first, so I recommend doing some research.
A good article that thoroughly explains Google Analytics and exactly how to use it:
*A Blogger’s Guide to Google Analytics
Having an email list as a Blogger is so key and undervalued, in my opinion. A lot of people argue that email marketing is dying due to other sources of advertising. While this may be true, your email list is the ONE THING you actually own. For example, what if Instagram decided to shut down tomorrow? You don’t own those followers. With your email subscribers, you truly have a chance to share exactly what you want to share and get the information to your readers in the most effective way.
Another thing to consider is that your subscribers are often the most loyal to you. They are the people who will truly support you, so having a way to directly connect with them on a personal level is key.
MailerLite is my favourite platform to use, as it is very straightforward to learn and use. I send out emails to my list once per month, along with new post updates. Using MailerLite, you can track your new subscribers, un-subscribers, send campaigns, auto-send new posts, set automation flows (eg. when someone subscribes to your blog, they receive a certain email), and make pop-ups for your website. The best part, it’s all free (as long as you are under 1000 subscribers).
Article & Video to Assist with the set-up process:
*How To Start Building Your Email List With MailerLite (article)
*How To Set Up MailerLite for Your Blog (YouTube video)
Other plans are available for higher subscription lists, starting at $10 / month
PHOTO EDITING TOOLS:
As a Blogger or Business Owner, photo editing will be a big part of your business. Whether you are big into photography or not, your readers are likely still very visual, and you will need to find a way to incorporate photos into your website and social media. Personally, I’m no photographer, that’s for sure. For my blog photos, I usually use Pexels, which is a site that offers free stock photos that are unique and high-quality. For my Instagram page, I always use photos I take myself. To help me out, I enlist my trusted photo editing apps. There are 3 that I use on a consistent basis:
By far, my favourite photo editing app. If you are advanced, you can use the curve, exposure, tone and contrast tools. If you’re not so advanced (like me) there are so many presets on Lightroom that make photo editing a breeze. I purchased a preset here, which I use to edit my photos sometimes (you need Lightroom to use these presets). Other times, I will just adjust the brightness and exposure and call it a day. Whatever your level of expertise, there is something for you on Lightroom.
*Upgraded paid version is available (but not necessary for basic editing)
ColorStory is my baby. By far, THE easiest photo editing app I’ve ever used. There are tons and tons of free filters to choose from to enhance your photos. My favourite is the “Crisp” preset which enhances brightness and makes white photos look more crisp and beautiful (no more yellowish whites!) Definitely a must-have.
*Additional Presets & Filter packs available starting $1.29
This is a great photo-editing tool for removing unwanted objects in your images. I will attach a photo as an example.. The first photo is of my dog Jack on the lawn. With one simple swipe (using the brush tool), Jack is gone! Sad example. But seriously, it’s so easy. Check it out!
I hope you get a chance to try out some of these tools and apps! Let me know down below YOUR favourites, or if any of these worked for you! All the best to you and happy blogging!