One of the biggest challenges for any blogger is making efficient use of your time. It doesn’t matter if you are blogging part-time or full-time, there will always be more things to do than time available. Learning how to make the best use of your time is critical if you want to maximize the results of your blog.
Recently I reached out to a number of successful bloggers to get their feedback and advice in regards to tools and resources that they use to improve efficiency. You’ll find an interesting variety in the responses of these bloggers. Some of the same tools are mentioned several times, some are only mentioned once. Some of the bloggers use several different tools for efficiency, and others use very few, if any.
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The question asked was:
What are your favorite tools/apps/sites/plugins for keeping your blogging efforts organized and making efficient use of your time?
And here are the answers from each blogger on the panel.
Yaro Starak of Entrepreneurs Journey
Evernote is the main resource I use to collect my ideas and write into. WordPress of course is my blogging platform, and I use Ontraport as my email list and product delivery system. These three tools are by far the most useful in my business right now.
Efficiency I believe comes down to mindset more than the tools you use. It’s about determining the best tasks to work one each day knowing they will lead you to your goal. Knowing what NOT to work on is just as important as knowing what to focus on.
Jon Morrow of Boost Blog Traffic
I’ve tried every productivity tool and app under the sun, and in my experience, none of it really impacts my productivity very much. On the other hand, I learned an organizing technique from Dan Sullivan that helped a great deal. The idea is to have three different types of days: focus days where you work on one or two big tasks without interruption, buffer days where you do dozens of small tasks, and free days where you take the day off entirely to rest and recuperate. In general, the more focus days you can create, the more productive you will be. It’s certainly been true for me.
Adam Connell of Blogging Wizard
I’m a bit of a tool junkie so there are a lot that I use; I find the following particularly useful.
Evernote – The best note taking application ever. This makes allows me to keep all my notes synchronised across multiple devices.
Canva – I create unique images for each blog post I publish, I use Canva to make the creation process easy. I make better images faster than I used to with Photoshop.
Dropbox – An incredible file sharing tool that sync’s my files across multiple devices.
Trello – Probably the best project management app that I’ve found so far, it’s straight forward and free.
SEMrush – This makes researching my competitors easy. I can find out what keywords my competitors rank for and what positions they are ranking at. The platform also performs site audits, rank checks and keyword difficulty checks.
Daniel Scocco of Daily Blog Tips
Gmail is my activity hub, and I recommend it to everyone. Don’t think about it only as an email client, it’s so much more than that. For instance, you can have ‘Canned Responses’ stored to save you time, you can use the integrated to-do list to manage your daily tasks, you can chat with your contacts directly from the Gmail interface, you can use it as a file system to store your backups, and so on. The tip, therefore, would be to learn about all the Gmail features and to start using the ones you are not yet.
Neil Patel of NeilPatel.com
I just need WordPress. Other than that I use an internal tool that we’ve developed that helps my analyze my content and gives me ideas on what to blog on next.
As for making the most of my time, I use Rescue Time. It helps maximize my efficiency.
Ryan Biddulph of Blogging from Paradise
Hootsuite Pro and Triberr are my 2 favorite blogging tools for cultivating effectiveness. Hootsuite Pro saves me 2 to 3 hours daily, helping me post to multiple groups and respond to folks on multiple networks in seconds. I need effective tools to blog while traveling the world and HSP is one such tools.
Triberr is the great influencer reacher. You can meet and connect with so many blogging pros from your niche through Triberr so join up, be an active member, share posts, comment frequently and you can’t help but to make a positive impact on your target audience.
Ramsay Taplin of Blog Tyrant
To be honest, my setup is insanely simple. As much as I try I can’t get used to online tools for organization. All I use is some simple email folders and filtering and a little notepad that I use for writing down lists, blog post ideas and things I have to do. Keeps my head clear knowing that I only have to use a few things. Lame I know.
Pauline Cabrera of TwelveSkip and Start Your Blog Online
I love automation tools! They help a lot. I use HootSuite, Friend+Me, IFTTT and ViralTag to schedule my posts. They save me tons of time and keep my accounts fresh. I know some people dislike them but as long as you use them properly and don’t abuse them, there should be no problem, right? Only share useful and relevant content. And, don’t over share!
Adrienne Smith of AdrienneSmith.net
I’m more old school and if you can believe this, I have a notebook that I write out my daily activities and check them off as I go. Technology is great but when it goes down I like to be able to see what I need to be doing right then and there. I also jot notes, schedule things ahead of time in my notebook and on my wall calendar. So that’s how I keep things organized and I don’t use any other tool, app, site or plugin for that. I do love Buffer though and use it daily to help schedule my tweets since I can’t be everywhere all the time but want to make sure that my followers are able to see the content that I enjoy sharing.
David Risley of Blog Marketing Academy
One tool that I’m in pretty much every day is Workflowy.com. It is basically a list maker on steroids, but it mirrors the way I think. Very useful for planning all aspects of my life, including my blogging.
I also use Evernote pretty extensively.
Henneke Duistermaat of Enchanting Marketing
When I struggle to get into writing, I use Focus Booster. I set the timer to 25 minutes and try to do nothing but write. Evernote is great for keeping track of ideas, quotes, and other material. But I also keep an old-fashioned notebook as I like to scribble down ideas. I’m often more creative when I’m writing than when I’m typing.
Ashley Faulkes of Mad Lemmings and Entice Online Marketing
Honestly, I am not the most organized person in the world, so I don’t use many tools for this kind of thing. But one thing I do find super useful is Google Calendar. I can sync it with my Mac. I can share calendars with my girlfriend. I can send appointments to people via gmail and have it appear in the right time zone for me and them (and working all over the world, that makes a huge difference). For me, this is my number one organizing tool!
Ron Sela of RonSela.com and PageWiz
Google Spreadsheets – Marketing automation benefits its users with time saving and increased efficiency. In the ever changing landscape of publishing platforms, and social networks it is important to track your blogging activities.
Content managers need to track article names, keywords, author names, external links, internal links and much more. Tracking is important for published and future articles.
An updated spreadsheet is a source for understanding your blog performance. especially when combined with data from your analytics software. Google Spreadsheets is the most convenient tool to track your blogging spreadsheets.
Commun.it – Commun.it is an awesome tool for streamlining your blog promotion efforts. It helps to find valuable contacts and influencers.
It is easy to get lost in your Twitter stream, especially if you manage accounts with hundreds or even thousands of followers. The Community tab of this social media tool is where the magic happens. Commun.it scans your activity on Twitter and suggests tweets that you want to consider to reply to. It also highlights people that you can consider to re-engage, and other users that you might want to follow or unfollow.
Additionally, Commun.it can help you find new leads in your Twitter stream.
Tagboard – Managing the promotion of your blog posts on social media ia campaign Tagboard is a must have tool.
Tagboard provides a dashboard for monitoring #hashtags in real-time. Monitoring is available across some of the most prominent platforms available. Platform include Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Vine and of course Google+.
Tagboard provide a unified view for all networks, and the campaign manager can switch to a specific network. When running a campaign, it is usually advisable to use a unique #hashtag.
Monitoring #hashtags in all the relevant social networks helps in following the conversation as it is happening. It also allows you to engage in the conversation when appropriate.
Sue Anne Dunlevie of Successful Blogging
I always recommend and use Evernote. You can capture your future blog topics and even draft your posts and synch them to your phone, computer and tablet so you always have them with you, whenever inspiration strikes.
I really enjoy writing in longhand in a moleskin notebook and then I take a photo of each completed page with the free CamScanner app on my smartphone and save it to Evernote. I’m just slightly obsessed with Evernote – I don’t know what I did before it was around.
Stuart Walker of Niche Hacks
I don’t really have many tools for that sort of thing hence why I’m probably so unorganized.
I’m quite old school in that I find a spreadsheet and a notepad and a pen serve me well.
There are plenty of plugins I have on the blog that save me a little time like the SNAP plugin for auto-posting content to social media, CleanTalk anti spam to deal with approving comments and filtering out spam, WordPress SEO etc to make SEO much easier.
Matthew Barby of MatthewBarby.com
I use a ton of different tools to manage all of my blogging activities, but if I had to drill it down into a small list, here’s what I would have:
Kevin Muldoon of KevinMuldoon.com
I started using a todo service a few months ago entitled Todoist that I now use every day. It allows me to check my scheduled work on any computer, tablet, or smartphone.
Google Docs is important to me too as I store a lot of notes and research there. On my blog, I use the Editorial Calendar plugin to help me organise future posts and VaultPress to ensure my blog is backed up.
Greg Narayan of Dear Blogger
My favorite mobile app by far is YouTube. I’m always watching videos from bed, lunch or the train to keep my stream of blogging thoughts seamless. Otherwise, pretty old fashioned with online tools.
Erik Emanuelli of NoPassiveIncome
I always try to be prepared and not find myself working till the last moment. I research, write and organize my blog posts, so as to schedule them depending on my frequency of publication.
I do not use specific apps or tools to manage my time. I like the old school. I’ve some sticky notes on my desktop to remind me of certain things and then I use a lot my email.
To be able to manage all my blogs, I forward to my main email a copy of each message I receive, so I do not waste time checking every single email connected to my different niche sites. Then I take care of the various requests, depending on the priority.
Finally, I’d like to mention HootSuite Pro, a fantastic tool I use to manage multiple social media accounts.
Kevin Duncan of Be A Better Blogger
For someone who has two degrees in computer science and who taught computers for three years, I’m surprisingly “old school” when it comes to my blog’s organization. Give me a giant whiteboard and I’m happy. Of course, I don’t have a giant whiteboard. Thankfully, I have Todoist and Google Docs to help me out.
Todoist is a to-do list and task manager I can access in Gmail, on my phone, and in any web browser. It’s insanely helpful to have, because in a given week I will have several dozen blogging-related tasks. With Todoist, I can add a task, give it a due date, and mark it complete when I’m finished. It’s super handy.
Google Docs allows me to create documents and spreadsheets I can access anywhere. So, if I want to maintain a list for great guest blogging opportunities, a Google Docs spreadsheet is perfect. If I want to write down ideas for future blog posts ideas, a Google Docs document makes it easy.
Is it very high tech? No, but it’s simple. And I like simple.
Rajesh Namase of TechLila
- WordPress SEO by Yoast: It is one the best SEO plugins for WordPress. I must say it’s ALL IN ONE SEO plugin for WordPress.
- VaultPress: Premium Backup plugin – No worries about site hacking, it takes backup of your site/blog on daily basis. You can restore your blog with one click.
- W3 Total Cache: For optimizing site speed.
- Google Analytics: Very advance and most powerful tool to get detailed statistics about a website’s traffic and traffic sources. Also you can use it to measure sales and conversions. If you’re looking for alternative to Google Analytics then you can try Clicky.
- Scrapebox: Very powerful SEO Tool. Checkout this guide to get most out of this tool: http://www.jacobking.com/ultimate-guide-to-scrapebox
- BufferApp and HootSuite: For social Media Management and scheduling
- AWeber: For email marketing
- SerpFox: To track keywords ranking
Catherine Holt of Blogging Tips 101
There are so many things that help me keep on track and I could seriously write an entire blog post just on this question!
In fact, I recently did just write a post about my favourite top 10 Word Press Plugins for a new blog. I use all the plugins that I mentioned in the post and I couldn’t live without them!
Plugins are so incredibly important for a blog to run smoothly and they make your life a whole lot easier (especially when you have no previous IT experience like I didn’t). For instance, WordPress SEO, WP Super Cache, Akismet, Google XML Sitemaps and IGIT Related Post With Thumb Images After Posts are all plugins that I would add to every single blog I set up. These plus the others I mentioned in my post are the absolute basics for a site to run smoothly!
One of the things I love to do with blogging is network. I believe that engaging with other bloggers not only helps you leverage your profile, but it helps you learn and can keep you accountable to what you do!
One of the problems with networking however is that it can send you kind of all over the place and then a strategy actually goes out the window! I found that joining communities helped to give me some direction because I am now concentrating on building networks in just a few areas.
I find Triberr to be an excellent place to meet other bloggers but also help with my networking strategy. It keeps me to task as it gives me the places to network with right there in my Tribes. I don’t constantly have to keep checking in to see what blogs have updated new content or who I should connect with. I just simply check the newsfeed from my Tribe.
On the same tone with engaging and networking, I also find Hoostuite incredibly helpful for keeping up to date with my social engagements. I am not a huge fan of automating connections, but I find that it helps manage time as you can’t actually be everywhere at once (as much as we would like to think that we can).
Time management is a biggie for me. Running two blogs, as well as a part time job and having a young child means I have to stay focused. I have to have great time management. A tool I use is my own personal tool and that’s my PLAN! Every blogger should have a plan and this will look different for everyone. Unless you have that plan, you are going to struggle!
I have also started looking at outsourcing some of my tasks because I have a business mindset. If you want your blog to progress you simply can’t do everything yourself (and still sleep and keep sane!). It’s a tool that I believe can work really well, but again you have to be clear on your strategy and your plan before moving forward with this, otherwise you could just be sending money straight down the drain!
Devesh Sharma of WPKube
Bufferapp app – It helps me schedule social media updates in advance. You can add content directly to your Buffer app or use an extension to do that. If you are a WordPress user, you can use WP to Buffer plugin to automatically add your latest posts to Bufferapp (tutorial)
It also helps me save a lot of time by giving me awesome content to share.
The basic plan is free, paid plan starts at $9.99
Canva – If you don’t have Photoshop skills, creating high quality custom images can be difficult. With Canva you can easily create stylish blog images, presentations, and social media graphics
Toggl – Toggl is an extremely useful tool that helps you keep track of your time. In simple words, it gives you an idea on how much time you’re spending on different tasks.
The best part about this app is that it comes with native apps that work everywhere on – Windows, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android, and web.
Steven J. Wilson of High Powered SEO
This is such an important topic to us part-time bloggers out there. As bloggers we have so much on our plate.
From creating content, to web design, to graphic design, to content marketing and the list goes on. We have to put in the time to do these things effectively and also put in the time to find the tools that work well for us to help get them done effectively.
WordPress Mobile App – WordPress Mobile App is my favorite app for staying on top of my blogging activities while on the go. When you have limited time and can’t put in 15 or 16 hours a day like some full-time bloggers. You have to be able to take care of business on the go as well.
Why sit in that doctors’ offices waiting room reading a magazine that’s a couple month’s old. With this app you can respond to comments, continue working on or create new post and more.
I like the fact that it eliminates the extra step if you were to use a note taking app like Evernote. With this, your comments are published immediately; your drafts go directly to your dashboard etc.
Content Idea Generator – Content Idea Generator is really becoming one of my favorite little sites. It helps keep the creative juices flowing when you need some ideas on headlines and content ideas.
There will be a form with about 18 questions. You fill out the form accurately with whatever topic you are targeting, niche or business details.
In seconds you will have 100 different ideas that will help you create content only the way you know how!
It is free simple and something you should definitely use if you need a little boost in content ideas.
Creative Commons Search – As bloggers we all need images, media and videos for our blogs.
As I only use this for image searches, it can be time-consuming creating or going to and from these free stock photo sites to find the perfect picture.
They will give you option based on your search but the better a best content are normally only offered at a fee.
For the perfect image, a dollar is not a bad deal as the prices are normally pretty cheap. Those dollars sure do add up depending on your needs.
That’s why I often use Creative Commons Search for my needs first. It allows you to search images that’s ‘OK for commercial Use’ and able to be ‘modified and built upon’, easily with a couple clicks.
You have the option to search Images via Google Images and Flickr. You can search for music via Jemando and ccMixter. It even offers media and video searches.
Just like with any site you have to still be careful with the images, videos etc you choose. If anything looks like a logo or industrial video for a company, then it’s best not to use it even though it may be listed as such.
These are a few options that you may not normally see in these type of list post but very useful, a time saver and FREE!
Andrew M. Warner of Shade of Info
How many times can I write down Evernote here? By far, that’s my favorite tool because it keeps absolutely everything organized. If I have an idea for a blog post, I’ll put it in Evernote. I even started writing drafts for some of my blog posts in there as well. It’s a really helpful tool to me.
But, I have others as well that really help me.
Lastpass is one that I use because I have so many different passwords that I keep on changing every 3 months so it’s difficult to keep up with things.
Another one I like that I just found out about, is the Hemingway App. I love that thing. This helps me by grading the readability of the post I wrote. We all want our blog posts to be simple and read beautifully and this one helps with that. And it helps me be productive because I don’t have to spend that much time editing.
Mi Muba of Be A Money Blogger
I examine once in a week Google Analytics of each of my blogs. I frequently visit a few top affiliate sites to see new arrivals related to my niche(s) and daily see the hot trends at Twitter just to know what is hot.
I regularly use Google Keyword Planner to get local keywords for my business blogging consultancy.
Stacey Corrin of StaceyCorrin.co.uk
My favourite tools have to be a combination of Buffer, Canva and Spotify. Buffer handles the automation of my Social Media to a point, so I don’t need to worry so much about publishing and can focus on chatting to people. Canva is my favourite image editing tool – all of my images are created there and I’ve also done some pretty handy tutorials for the platform as a result. Spotify I use to focus when my attention is drifting. With so much music to choose from, I’m never lost for something to listen to, which helps when I’m working from my living room!