I wrote last week 5 Critical Steps for Starting a New WordPress Blog last week. If you are new to blogging you probably want to know what tools do bloggers use to help them run their blog. I show you 11 free tools that you should use if your going to be using WordPress and plan on blogging.
YES! I personally use them and couldn’t blog without them.
So without further adieu I give you my….
11 Essential Free Tools for the New Blogger
1. WordPress – This is a no-brainer. It’s a free CMS system that not only helps you manage your blog – but with all of the options out there with themes, plugins, widgets.. etc you are sure to have one up and running in no time!. Read my 5 Critical Steps for Starting a New WordPress Blog to find out how to get started and make it secure!
2.Gmail – This is for me personally the best free web email out there – period. Although Yahoo is a great alternative – Gmail ties in well with all the other Google products, so for me its a must have.
3. Google Analytics & Webmaster Tools – Ok technically this should be 3 & 4 I know. But I’ve bunched them together because you should already have signed up for both of them.
- Analytics will let you do so much with reviewing the performance of your site it could get it’s own article by itself.
- Webmaster Tools – This will help Google find your blog! You need to sign up for this if you haven’t already. Some of the features that I like is to find out if the almighty Google search bot is finding any broken links. Also you can ‘force’ Google to re-index your site if you need to.
4. Google Chrome – I know most people love Firefox – but I have really fallen in love with Chrome. Plus you will need it for the next tools on the list I’m going to mention!
5. Hootsuite and Social Bro – I was struggling with managing my twitter and facebook accounts until I was able to get these two plugins installed in Chrome. They have been a life (and time) saver!
- Hootsuite – This is a free (ish) tool that allows you to manage multiple social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter) all on one screen. It take a little getting used to – but before long you will be able to crank out messages to your followers easily and painlessly. The free version also allows you to SCHEDULE tweets into the future! The paid service will unlock additional features such as bulk scheduling!
- SocialBro – This tool although only for Twitter – is a must have application. It will help you track and analyse your user base within Twitter to find out who is following, who isn’t, and who left your list. But the more important feature is it will analyze the best time when to treat to try and reach as many people as possible! It was recently updated to be able to upload this information to Hootsuite – but you will need to have a Pro account in order to really use it. There is a 5000 follower limit for the free account. After that you will need to upgrade to their pro plan.
6. Gravatar – If you run a WordPress blog – you need to market numero uno – YOU! This is a free service that allows you to create a profile and upload a picture of you! I would suggest putting your best “face” (ta-dum-dum *ting*) forward – as this is what people will be using to identify you. And SMILE! Believe it or not – people respond to a smiling face more than a frowny one.
7. Flickr – If you need images for your blog – then this is the first place I go to look for them. Their Creative Common License page is a great resource for pictures. Just make sure to follow the rules. (usually a source reference is sufficient)
8. DropBox – I use this free service to backup this blog and to store images etc.. so they are easily accessible from anywhere. And of course I use the Chrome Plugin for it as well. If you decide to sign up make sure to use me as a referral please as I get additional disk space (which is always a good thing!)
9. Open Office – If you do not have Microsoft Office 2010 (It’s nice having an MSDN Subscription ;-p ) and do not want to shell out the dough for it. Then a great free alternative that is almost as robust is Open Office. I use it on my netbook running Ubuntu at home.
Note: It is always wise to backup whatever file you are working with in WordPress so you can easily restore it if you do something wrong!
11. CommentLuv – Things have changed since I first started blogging. Although I do think that it is still a great plugin. With the changing landscape in SEO I highly suggest that you set any links in the comment section to NoFollow. I would advise turning off the whole CommentLuv part – which pretty much defeats the purpose of running the plugin. It does have a lot of other features though including GASP, Anti Spam, Twitter, Thank You, Top Commentors, and the ability to do a lot of other things in one plugin.
A Better Alternative?
You can use a plugin like Comments Evolved which allows you to setup and use Social Media commenting from Facebook, Google Plus, WordPress, Disqus, and LiveFyre. It will ultimately depend on where you receive the most responses on which one you should use for your own site.
Evernote – This has become my goto tool while surfing the internet now. If I see a story I like, I can easily use it to snip it and add it to my notes to save for a later date. It is so much more than that though! Think of it as the tool where you store all of those great ideas that you never write down and kick yourself later on for forgetting! (You do still have to use the tool for it to be effective.)
Share what other tools you find essential to your blogging experience in the comments below.