I have found myself answering the question about what tools I use a lot lately, mainly offline over lunch and coffee. But I have also received emails asking what I use for “this” or “that.” So I decided to write this post that I can direct people to and that can be used as a reference.
Besides being a blogger, I am a social media practitioner. It’s my day job. I run a social media program and a social media team at an enterprise level company. That combined with my fifteen-plus years of digital marketing has garnered me a lot of experience which I apply to Misadventures with Andi.
By no means am I an expert. But I am constantly tweaking my “system” for managing my prolific social media life, with my career, with my travel and my husband (and cat). I do that via organization and tools. Lots of tools. I don’t believe in one, I use many!
I also keep up in the space by taking or auditing trainings, online classes and webinars. No matter how long I have been blogging, I always learn something new. You never stop learning!
I want you to know that there are affiliate links in this post, but you should know I use every one of these items and would never tell you to use something that I haven’t tried and wouldn’t stake my reputation on. That is not how I roll! If I say I use it, I use it.
So if you decide you want to try one of these tools, then I get a tiny reward for you doing that. You win, I win.
I function in a highly organized manner, it is just my personality. To do that I need systems and tools. That is my approach. I have a lot of blogging friends that are highly unorganized and they use tools to make sure they are doing what they committed to do. Bottom line is, organized or disorganized, tools can help!
My brain is always on, but I am not always able to research a blog post idea or even write a blog post when I like. To keep all my ideas at the tip of my fingers I user Evernote (affiliate). I have over 115 “notes” going which I am continuously adding to. I am able to add tags to each of my notes so that I can easily search for any material I have researched or saved around a particular topic. I use their online and mobile versions as well as a desktop version that synchs and keeps any changes made on any version the most up-to-date and accurate.
An editorial calendar is great for planning out blog posts, series, and other projects associated to your blog. I have tried different calendaring tools, but always come back to Google Calendar. I can look back over six years! It is easy to use and keeps me organized!
Action Method Notebooks and Moleskines
Back to the idea of not always being able to write when I want to, or have access to a device. I always have an Action Method notebook in my bag for notes. When I am on the road I use a Moleskine for notes while I am touring, interviewing, etc. it fits beautifully in my camera bag and has saved me so many times when I am writing a post several months later!
I am constantly sharing on social media channels. I share content about the things that I am interested: travel, food, France/Paris, San Francisco, green initiatives, etc. And while I try to keep up on my blog reading there are now a lot of tools that bring the content to you. There are also tools that make scheduling content efficient.
One such tool, and my main go-to when I am reading anything on the internet I want to share is Buffer. I learned about this tool from Melissa Culbertson, more on her in a minute. This tool has changed my life! It allows me to add a whole bunch of content into a queue (buffering it…get it?) for future publishing. I set the frequency and I select the channels. Buffer offers the most connected channels: Twitter, Facebook (profiles and pages), Google+, LinkedIn and now even up to 16 RSS feeds. I cannot live without this tool! (There is a free version, I use the paid one.)
Buffer also has a new sister app called Daily that sends new content to me every day and with a swipe of my phone I can add it to my Buffer queue.
I recently started using CoSchedule (affiliate), a WordPress plug-in, and I love it. With this tool I can easily schedule out existing blog content as I write it, or I can go back through the integrated calendar through posts I have written in the past and reshare them on social. New people follow me on social media every day as well as visit the blog, this is a way of sharing existing content that might interest someone who has never seen it before.
Prismatic is a tool that aggregates content based on interests and it is supposed to get smarter as it learns what you like to share. I use this tool to augment content, but there are flaws. First I can only share to Twitter or my personal Facebook page. Secondly, I can only share immediately and I can’t schedule it for a future date. Oftentimes I find content and then use Hootsuite to schedule it.
Besides being the defacto influence rating tool, Klout is not curating content for you based on keywords that you add into their Create tool. At this point in time it is only limited to Twitter, but I can schedule it out. Klout also offers suggested publishing times as well.
I use Hootsuite to schedule content on my social media channels. I use it primarily for my own blog posts, but I also use it for content I find on Prismatic or Klout. There is a free version, I use the paid one (affiliate) as it allows me more features and channels. Hootsuite is now also offering curated content to share as well…bonus!
I have over 600 blogs in my RSS feed (I use NewsBlur) and have been reading certain blogs for a very long time. I trust their content. It is always good and I want to support the bloggers who consistently write good content on social media channels. I use a tool called Twitterfeed to auto-publish the content of these select bloggers. I read over 600 blogs, I have only 22 that I have added to Twitterfeed.
Trainings, Webinars and Resources
I have used all of these items listed in this section with the exception of one (I’ll identify it) and every one of them has brought me a lot of value.
In my first year of blogging I signed up to do Problogger’s 31 Days to Build a Better Blog (affiliate) and immediately learned so many actionable learnings that still guide me today. I was grateful to have had the foresight to do this early in my blogging career, but the material is good for bloggers at any level. I still refer back to the content six years later.
I have also recently helped a few brand new bloggers and think that Problogger’s Guide to your First Week of Blogging (affiliate) is a great resource. There is a reason that Darren Rowse of Problogger is a master!
I am a regular reader of Melissa Culbertson’s Blog Clarity blog (formerly Momcomm), I really enjoy her writing and insights. A few years ago I took her Content Brew course and loved it! I learned about Buffer from her, and I learned about Evernote (affiliate) from her as well, two tools that I love! The course reinforced a lot of the practices that I learned through my experiences in digital marketing and for people who haven’t worked in a professional marketing environment, I can tell you, Melissa’s course will teach you a lot.
The one training I have yet to take, but I know it’s going to be a good one is Pinning Perfect, also from Melissa. This one is a 2-week where Melissa has engaged Pinterest expert, Anna Luther from My Life and Kids to share her pinning secrets. The August course is already sold out, I am signed up for the September one and can’t wait to take it!
Well…those are the blog tools and trainings that I use. They have helped form me into the blogger I am today.
How about you? What tools have helped you? Please share!