3.25.2014

The Ten Best Tools For Bloggers [What You Should Have And Use]


Recently I feel as though I've gotten a little bit smarter in how to make this blogging thing a tad bit easier, more efficient, and less ulcer inducing. I could just stop at wine for how I've completed the above, but shockingly enough there are a few other items that have helped as well. Today I thought I would share those with you. In no particular order, let's crank through these little nuggets of goodness. 

1.  A good camera, a tripod, and a remote control. 
We all know that photos are a huge part of your blog, whether you like it or not. Blogs while made for writing, are also very visual little creatures. People like looking at nice things (example: channing tatum). I would highly recommend investing some money into a camera that takes quality photos and that you know you will use regularly. For me personally, I love the SONY NEX-5. It's compact enough to throw in my purse, allows me the option to change out the lenses [this one is my favorite for product/fashion shots], and produces photos that I can be proud to call my own. I just recently, like within the last week recent, purchased a tripod and remote for my camera. I am now bashing my face on the cement for not doing it sooner. Do you know the freedom this brings? No longer do I have to beg and plea for my husband to take my picture in sub zero temperatures, I can do it all on my own. Lucky me, I know. Or say when I want to take a head shot of me wearing no make-up for a skin care post coming soon. Wham bam and done. 


2. Easy (and free) photo editing software. 


I learned very quickly that I didn't have a shot in H when it came to figuring out PhotoShop. Way too many layers and buttons and lack of buttons and gray freaking hair. That's when I turned to PicMonkey and never turned back. Every single time I use the auto exposure option, crop, possibly resize, and then sometimes select a filter. This is how I also add overlays and text to my pictures. Be careful to not over-edit your photos, I've fallen victim to this trap and it is one ugly trap to look back at. Many times, less is more. For all of my photo collages (example above in item numero uno) I use Picasa. Another beneficial tool I have found, which isn't free but is worth it, is BlogStomp


Why I love this program is because you can re-size all of your images at once, apply watermarks all at once, sharpen all photos at once, name all of your photos at once, basically do everything ONCE. It saves ridiculous amounts of time and sanity. 

3. A Day Planner. 


#freakingobsessed. That's how I feel about my Day Designer from Whitney English. There is a lot to keep track of when it comes to blogging, life, work, etc. This is the only planner that I have found which truly works well for all. Each day has it's own hourly schedule, a to-do list, a spot for tonight's dinner, a place to write your top three priorities, daily gratitude, your daily budget, any thoughts that pop into your head [ie: items to use in this post], what's due (I write down the daily blog post topic in this section), and also a don't forget section. As you can see, each day packs a lot of punch. 


Along with that, Christine just shared with me two forms that are awesome for keeping track of your sponsors and planning out your daily posts <--click both links to download the forms. 

4. Google Drive.  

excuse the poor photo quality 

Without sounding too dramatic, I don't know how I lived without Google Drive. I use it for nearly everything these days. Within the past 24 hours I have used it to upload the documents in item number 3 above that you can now download and save to your own computer, I created a registration form for the #1800MinuteChallenge, I applied for a Pollinate Media Group campaign, and I typed out a recipe on a google doc that can now be used on my food blog for a printable version. I love embedding google forms into my blog posts to gather information such as the demographics of my blog, your opinions on love, yellow, creating email subscriptions, and so on. The possibilities are endless with google drive and your blog. The best part? It's internet based so that you can access any of your google drive information on any computer. 

5. Dropbox


Speaking of being able to access your information anywhere--Dropbox allows for exactly that. I love this for when I upload photos, files, and documents. Because I use several devices to work on blogging related items [desktop, phone, chromebook, tablet] this is muy importante. You just save whatever it is you want into your Dropbox and then you can access it anywhere. Perfection my friends, perfection. 

6. Chromebook


While I know that phones and tablets are great devices to stay connected, this Toshiba Chromebook is the best piece of technology that I have found for blogging purposes. It is internet based but luckily for me, everything that I do is on the internet. It is Google based so that means it comes loaded with Chrome, Gmail, Google Hangouts, Google Drive, and then of course every app that is available through the Chrome store. I can upload my photos, do all of my editing, write my blog posts, answer emails, access all of my social media sites, host my consultations, view all of my files via google drive and dropbox....all from my couch. It is light, compact [but big enough to see and work on], and is hundreds of dollars cheaper than a regular laptop. One of my best blogging purchases yet. 

7. Hootsuite. 


Being active on social media is a huge part of creating a community around your blog. However, it's not always easy to be connected 24/7. This is where Hootsuite comes into play. With Hootsuite you are able to schedule out your tweets, facebook posts, etc in advance. I personally only use this for sponsored content, but for that use alone it is so beneficial. Within a few minutes I can have tweets stored for the next several months. 

8. Business Cards. 


Blogging is a business and with any business, networking is a main component of that. Get yourselves some business cards to hand out at a moments notice. I don't know how many times I have found myself in a conversation with somebody here locally and the topic of my blog gets brought up (typically after asking "so what do you do?") and wish I would've had a card to give them. Hand them out at blog conferences, hand them out to businesses that you hope to partner with, mail them with any packages you may be sending out, if you are single drop one on the floor in front of the cute guy standing at the bar, just get the things out of your hands and into somebody else's. I hired my blog designer, Melissa Rose Design, to make mine and then had them printed at Vistaprint

9. Photo backgrounds and props.

This is one of the simplest things that you can do in changing the overall feel and professionalism in your blog's photos. I bought the above white foam boards at Walmart (one is a tri-fold and one is just a flat board) for a few dollars. All you need to do is set it somewhere in natural sunlight, and then position whatever it is you are photographing onto it. The difference it makes is incredible. Think how different this picture would be if it was laying on a normal dining room table compared to the white board. The product becomes your main focus.  


Another option is to purchase photo canvas backdrops which I have done through Ink and Elm. Notice how it makes this card come alive. 


As far as props go, hit up your local Target dollar spot, purchase cute banners from Sunflower Paperie, just stock up on items that would be good for dressing up your photos a bit. Here are some examples of what I mean. 

candle from lilypad candles [yellow15 for 15% off]

10. And last but not least, alcohol. 


No further explanation needed. 

What is your favorite blogging tool? 

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61 comments:

  1. Love this! I SO need a tripod, because I am tired of having semi-awesome photos in my posts due to this never ending winter and a husband that is working 16 hour days!

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  2. Great list! I have been meaning to get some foam boards!! Thanks :)

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  3. This list is so perfect, I was feeling totally overwhelmed with trying to maintain my blog and job... this list is wonderful! Thanks for sharing!

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  4. Oh my gosh - the white boards for photographing objects - genius! I cannot believe I haven't thought of that. I just thought everyone but me had a white table in their house. I am going to get some white boards immediately!!!

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  5. And this is when I become lazy at blog work! All the back work! Keep it up though :)

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  6. Haha, these are such great tips! I really need to buy the white foam board and get my tripod remote to work!

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  7. You are a genius and super helpful! Thank you! :)

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  8. Erin, these are awesome tips! I like seeing your easy photo backdrop; I've been meaning to make one of those for so long. I'm typing this from my new-ish Chromebook which is perfect for toting around and blogging anywhere. I love it.

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  9. truly awesome post and so beneficial for us newbies and I am sure helpful to not so newbies.

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  10. So helpful! I'm saving this for later!

    agirlandhersparkles.blogspot.com

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  11. I have been using Google+ to upload my pictures across all of my tech devices. I am definitely going to have to check out Google Drive and Drop box! These are all great tips!

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  12. The white tri-board and foam board to make photo backdrops!? You truly are a genius!

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  13. These are great, love all the photography tips!

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  14. I like your idea for the foam board! I was trying to use poster board and white fabric! haha! Great idea! Thanks Erin!

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  15. I have been thinking about how to really start committing to my blog. This has really helped. Thank you

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  16. Thanks for these great tips!! Susan

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  17. Love the idea of making the white box for photos! Really does look so much nicer that way, and what an easy way to do it! This whole post was great and so helpful :) You rock at being a blogger, but also sharing some of your blogging tips with the rest of us too!

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  18. I know that #10 for sure is my best blogging tool. Thanks for this!

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  19. This is wonderful! As a relatively new blogger, I am definitely going to incorporate some of these strategies. Thank you for sharing!

    www.simplysophisticatedblog.com

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  20. I just started a blog over at sparkleandstraws.blogspot.com and these tips are so helpful! Thanks you for posting this. I have to get a backdrop and try out the photo editing sites you recommended! I also just registered for 1800 minute challenge! Can't wait!

    www.sparkleandstraws.blogspot.com

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  21. Mmmmkkkk some of this I knew and some I didn't! You are so awesome for sharing these tips! Thanks girl!

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  22. Ive been shopping around for anew laptop so im def going to check out the chrome book! And I love how you made alcohol a necessity lol it def is needed!

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  23. What a great post, I really need to try out PicMonkey, I mostly use my photoshop elements, but it's so time consuming, time which I don't have, so maybe PicMonkey will make things a bit faster and easier and collages on Picasa...need to try that too!

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  24. Thanks for sharing! Love picmonkey & target!

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  25. OK, I just have to say THANK YOU because this was the most helpful post ever! My husband and I have been having that never ending debate of another-laptop-or-a-tablet. I'm super intrigued by the toshiba chromebook - we are going to go check it out on your recommendation! P.S. Your pictures are gorg...if you ever do a class on blog photography count me in :)

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  26. Oh This is such a perfect post! Loving your blog already...

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  27. Seriously, you are the best. Bookmarking this bad boy. Also, can you teach me to be as awesome as you?

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  28. Thanks for the recommendations on tripods and remotes! I've been meaning to purchase for months now and this was the reminder I needed!

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  29. Thank you for these tips! I'd completely forgotten about the HootSuite account I set up when I started my blog, but now I'm going to start using that (and a few other tips you mentioned) to make blogging easier.

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  30. Great tips! The last is my personal favorite :)

    EatPrayWearLove

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  31. Perfection. I try to use a planner but I just can't get into it! I'm good for a week or two and then I just throw it all up in the air.

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  32. Eeek!! Love this! Thank you for such wonderful tips. I am now on my way to buy some white foam board ;) I've been eyeing the Whitney English day planner too, I am glad to know it comes in handy. Definitely on my wish list!

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  33. For some dummie reason I was shocked about the tripod and remote and how great of an idea that is. I also recently became obsessed with picmonkey and it has honestly helped so much. there was no way i was going near photoshop. thanks for the great tips!

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  34. I love this post! I had never thought of a simple while backdrop with a craft board. That will make all of the difference in my pictures. Thank you!

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  35. Thanks so much for all these great tips! So many things I didn't think about like the white background and remote for your camera! Excellent advice!

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  36. How did I not know about your food blog?!?!

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  37. Love these! I have most of them and even purchased blogstomp but for the life of me I cannot figure it out. I use it to group photos and that. is. it.

    Makeover With Aspen

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  38. I have a good bit of these like the Sony Nex 5 because I always so what you tell me to, so now I'll have to work on the rest!

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  39. You nailed it, girl!! My laptop is showing beginning signs of frizzling out and now I'm totally going to look into a Chromebook...thanks for the tips!

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  40. Great post!
    http://realfashionholicgirl.blogspot.com/

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  41. I'm SO glad you posted this info! I'm a new blogger trying to figure out how to do everything. Most importantly, I'm in the market for a new computer/tablet, and the Chromebook looks amazing!

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  42. Love this post!! You're the second person who's mentioned white boards recently! It's definitely something I'm going to start trying to do with my pictures. And can we discuss that Chromebook!? I've been reading up on it & how stinkin' awesome is that!? So glad you passed along that little thing! One question though, are you able to use blog stomp with it? I wouldn't think you could but, just wanted to double check! Thanks for all of these wonderful tips!

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  43. This is so helpful! I have never thought about backdrops or white boards in my photos, but I think that would make such a difference. Also, I really need to invest in some pro camera supplies. Also a nice camera in general. Thanks for the wonderful tips!

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  44. as a new blogger I am always looking for tips and tricks that I can incorporate! thanks for sharing, very useful!
    The Beauty Break

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  45. I love this! I'm a new blogger myself and I never even thought of some of these things! Most are so simple too and could definitely make a difference. Thanks!

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  46. A tripod and a remote are at the top of my list of things to purchase. Don't even know why I don't have one yet! This was a great, comprehensive list - thanks for sharing!

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  47. This is super helpful! I'm a brand new blogger and thinking ahead like this is helpful. Also, I'm addicted to buying planners. Thanks for the new suggestion! :)

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  48. I am new to blogging and this was so helpful and definitely a post I will be coming back to as I blog more. Thank you!

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  49. A remote for my camera is definitely being added to my wishlist.

    My husband has a few of those foamboards for future tabletop DIY projects, but I've been snagging them periodically for backdrops. I am building a lightbox for my mom's shop, which I will use some too, but until then I might grab a few foamboards myself so the hubby can finally finish his projects. :)

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  50. I need to invest in a remote! I just purchased a Chromebook today mostly after reading this post and partly for Grad school/teaching.

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  51. I've definitely been considering getting a Chromebook. I'll be headed to law school in the fall, on time of working and blogging, and I definitely am in need of a new computer.

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  52. I am coming back and reading this post again. Thanks for the tips!!

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  53. This was very very helpful! Thanks so much for sharing! I never thought the Target dollar section would be so useful but you're totally right!

    TIFFANYXOXO.COM

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I read and appreciate every one of your comments. Thanks for stopping by my space and sharing a piece of yourself on this huge ole internet. I meant that in the least creepy way possible. I'm just good at making everything awkward. Anyhow, thank you for your comments. They make me smile :)