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5 blogging tools that will make you better at blogging (some are free!)

“What are your favorite blogging tools?”

This is a question we hear from our clients and colleagues all the time, so we thought we would share our top 5 blogging tools that we can’t live without.

Pocket

Do you find yourself constantly leaving browser tabs open so that you remember to go back to read an article? If you said yes, then we’re about to rock your world.

Pocket allows you to save articles you want to read whenever you are ready to read them. Best of all, you can tag the articles to search through them when you’re ready easily. This helps us save some excellent articles from referring to and reference when we need them. And best of all, it’s cloud-based, so it syncs to all of your devices so you can access articles whenever you want.

BuzzSumo

Do you ever wonder if what you’re writing about only seems important to you? BuzzSumo is one of our favorite blogging tools because it can help you determine the most shared content and who is sharing it. We use BuzzSumo primarily for two end goals—to search for content topics while building editorial calendars and influencer research.

We love how its content research highlights total shares but drills down to individual channels. We carefully select what social channels our clients should be on [we never go for a “kitchen sink” approach to social]. So this allows us to see who is influencing not just by topic but by channel too.

Influencer outreach is already important, but more people will start paying attention to it in 2016. BuzzSumo allows you to really dig to see who influencers [bloggers, journalists, websites, regular people] are connected with and their overall engagement and create powerful influencer monitoring lists. Its free version is excellent, and you should test it out. If you want more, its Pro features take it to the next level.

CoSchedule

When we tell you we couldn’t live without CoSchedule, we’re not exaggerating. This is, without a doubt, our number one all-time favorite blogging tool. Not only do they share some of the best tips and tools on their blog, but their program is hands down critical to collaborating with our clients and their marketing team.

First, we use CoSchedule as our overall editorial calendar. We schedule the themes per month/week and plot our next few weeks. We’ll note everything from monthly focus to holidays to major events and more. Of course, your digital brand needs to stay agile, which is why we love the drag and drop functionality for blogs and social posts.

We manage and maximize blog posts through CoSchedule, which is why we love their “Top Posts” feature. We can review which posts are performing the best on exactly which channels and then schedule them out even more.

TIP: Are you maximizing your blog post? Learn what you should be doing.

KEY FEATURES WE LOVE FROM COSCHEDULE:

  • Blog idea repository—Whether you like to use Google Docs, Evernote, or work directly into WordPress for your blog drafts, we love their parking lot for ideas. It shows you all of your drafts in one place so that you can drag and drop them into the calendar.
  • Organization—Icons, color coding, and file attachments, oh my! We love to be as streamlined as possible to maximize our time. These minor elements make a major difference for collaborating quickly and efficiently internally and with our clients.
  • Assign tasks—We can assign tasks to anyone collaborating, making it perfect for notifying each other and clients to contribute and approve. Bonus—we can create template task lists for common steps we need to complete for different content pieces.
  • Social Queue—CoSchedule’s guides for maximizing blog articles are really how they got started. They have an amazing tool that helps [and reminds you] to share your article more than once to get the most visibility for it. And any scheduling you do within the blog post automatically pops up on your calendar so that you always have a comprehensive view of your scheduled posts and don’t over-share or step on anyone else’s posts.
  • Headline Analyzer—Technically, this could be its own standalone tool for us to talk about. But CoSchedule is so awesome, and they’ve actually built this tool into their software for everyone to use. Never, ever post a blog without running it through this tool. It will help you create the strongest headline. If for some reason, you don’t believe us and don’t instantly integrate CoSchedule into your inbound marketing toolbox, you can still use their Headline Analyzer on its own too.

Of course, there’s always room for improvement (they know we desperately want an app or better user experience on smartphones), but one of our favorite things about CoSchedule is that they listen. They are uber responsive with feature requests and questions. Plus, they are constantly releasing new updates. For example, they are working on a new release that makes your social tasks even easier with tagging, templates, and automation included in your calendar.

Grammarly

Let’s face it, we all rely a bit too much on spell-check and autocorrect. We LOVE Grammarly. It’s one of our final steps before we wrap up our blogs. It’s an online proofreader that we can log into or use a Chrome extension so that it follows us around from social media to WordPress to our email programs. It instantly red-flags any grammar issues (prepositions, passive voice, too wordy, punctuation, etc.) so that we can put our best writing foot forward. Like some of our other favorite tools, Grammarly offers both free and premium versions.

Yoast

Now that you’ve spent all these time-saving ideas into your Pocket, researching content and influencers in BuzzSumo, creating the best blogs in your editorial calendar in CoSchedule, and then proofreading your work in Grammarly, you shouldn’t make sure you’re optimizing your blog to be found?

Yoast is a critical final blogging tool. A WordPress plugin simplifies SEO management for your posts (and pages). It gives you real-time content analysis that checks your focus keywords, alt tags, outbound links, and much more. Plus, we love the handy red, yellow and green reminders which quickly show us if we need to tweak the SEO to keep our posts “greenlit” for exposure.

Remember that Yoats will work appropriately if you don’t care about your website look and feel. Your SEO is directly influenced by Google’s new update focusing on “Page Experience”, your website UI/UX became fundamental to performing well in SEO.

That’s why before using these tools, you must work on designing your website for speed and experience. If you don’t have the budget, don’t worry. Even if you’re in the USA, there are affordable and high-quality companies in other countries. You can search for options of web designers in the Philippines, India, Canada, etc.

Bottom Line

Of course, we are software junkies who love to test out shiny new toys. But over the years, these five blogging tools have been the ones that we’ve found ourselves returning to time and time again. We have a feeling you will, too, once you give them a try.

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