Here are the tools and blogger resources that I use to keep my blog running smoothly. When I first created Gymbags & Gladrags, I didn’t realise just how much goes into blogging – you really need to be a one-woman-(or one-man)-show. From writing, editing, branding, photography, social media, content marketing, networking, brand relationships.. the list goes on!
Along the way I’ve found several blogger resources, tips and methods to make blogging easier, more enjoyable and less time consuming. Whether you’re a hobby blogger or your blog is a business, using certain tools and systems will help you to blog to the best of your ability.
All of these blogger resources are ones that I am currently using on my blog, or have used in the past and highly recommend. Some of these links are affiliate links, for more information read my disclaimer.
Blog Set Up
When I first started, I chose to use Google Blogger as my blogging platform because it is free and easy to use. I wanted to figure out if I actually liked blogging before committing financially.
Two years into blogging I switched to wordpress.org, aka the Grandaddy of blogs and websites. I just made that up, I have no idea if it is the Grandaddy but I feel it should be. The amount of tutorials, themes, support and plugins for WordPress out there means your blog is your oyster. I’ve been able to do so much more with my blog now that I am on WordPress.
The downside of wordpress.org is that you have to be self-hosted and pay for hosting. Luckily there is a purse-friendly service out there by Bluehost. They’re also incredibly helpful, their online chat has saved me several times when I’ve broken things and they’ve had my site back up running swiftly each time.
Genesis is a robust framework and theme that works and adapts for all devices. The framework is like the body and engine of the car, it ensures everything does what it’s supposed to. The theme is the paint job, the leather interior, the finishing touches to the car. I was using the Daily Dish Pro theme but have now switched to the Savory theme by Restored 316. I did my research before parting with my money and Genesis is highly recommended.
Genesis Framework / Daily Dish Pro / Savory Theme
This is hands down my greatest find. I never had an editorial calendar when I was on Blogger, then I used the free Editorial Calendar WordPress plugin, but I switched to the paid CoSchedule Editorial Calendar because it is amazing. I can plan my upcoming blog posts, drag and drop them to different days or store them in drafts, I can add notes to days which I use to remind myself to email people, take photos, buy props etc etc. I love CoSchedule, they also offer a FREE 14 Day trial.
CoSchedule Editorial Calendar
I use Evernote to jot down blog post ideas, draft posts and save quotes or excerpts to use as inspiration. Evernote can be used across all devices so a blog post idea you saved on your phone on-the-go will be available on your computer when you sit down to write up that post idea. I love how Evernote notes can be organised into notebooks and different notebooks can be organised into stacks. For example, I have a stack of notebooks called ‘Blog’ and within that stack I have notebooks called “Health & Fitness ideas”, “Fashion & Beauty ideas” etc and in those notebooks I have notes that are titled my blog post idea name and inside each note I bullet point the main points of that post. I use the free version and it’s perfect for what I need.
I’ve just started using Todoist as I felt I needed a digital to-do-list that is was always with me. I have Todoist on my phone and my laptop and I really like how you can organise tasks into colour-coded categories, for example some categories I have are “Photography” and “Blog” where I list the photos I need to take and any updates I need to make to my blog, links I need to change, posts I need to write etc.
I used to use Google Drive to store blog post ideas before I switched to Evernote. Now I mostly use Google Drive for writing my own meal plans, occasionally drafting a post and sharing documents with other people. If I write a guest post then I’ll write it in Google Documents and easily share it.
I bought my Canon before I actually started my blog as a friend was selling it and I’d always wanted a DSLR. For a very long time I just used the automatic settings and I was always impressed by how much better my photos would look compared to a regular camera. Now I’ve started dabbling with the settings and my photography is improving. I love having a DSLR and couldn’t imagine blogging without it. The Canon 600D has been discontinued now and the Canon 700D is the newer model.
As I work full time, I only have a limited time each week to take blog photos and depending on the weather and/or time of year the natural lighting isn’t always best. Last year I asked for this lighting kit for Christmas and it has been a Godsend. I always take my photos by a window for as much natural lighting as possible, but quite often I need to use my lighting kit as well to avoid dull, shadow-filled photos.
Softbox/Continuous Lighting Kit
There are free photo editing websites such as Canva and PicMonkey, however I have never used them as I’ve always used Photoshop. I used Photoshop in School and use it everyday in my job so I have no difficulty in knowing how to use it. If you are a beginner then perhaps try the free options first, however I cannot recommend Photoshop enough. There are so many tutorials online that teach you everything you could ever want to do with Photoshop.
I use Dropbox to back up my blog photos and iPhone photos as I take so many and they can take up a lot of space on my computer. I love that Dropbox has an app so I can still view my photos on-the-go.
Social Media Manager
I’ve always struggled with Pinterest because I don’t have time to be pinning and repinning day in and day out, then I discovered Tailwind and it has helped to grow my following, repins, engagement rate and blog traffic. The browser extension allows me to easily add pins to my queue, then I can drag and drop pins to arrange them in time slots suggested by Tailwind and added by me. Try it for free now.
Tailwind Pinterest Scheduling App
I’ve already raved about CoSchedule above, but I also use it to schedule social media for Twitter, Facebook and Google+. It automatically populates the link and photos of my blog posts, so no uploading files or copying and pasting links. It prompts me to schedule social media for the day the post is published, a few days after, a week after and a month later. Doing this has boosted the click throughs to my posts! Seriously, I love this thing. They offer a FREE 14 Day trial.
CoSchedule Editorial Calendar
I use Bloglovin’ to follow my favourite bloggers and keep up with their latest posts. I read them on the iPhone app on my way to work in the mornings. It is also where I have a lot of people following my blog and reading my posts. Over the past year it has been my fourth driver in referral traffic so I recommend signing up, creating your profile and adding your blog or claiming your blog as your own if it has already been added.
SEO is so, so important for any website or blog. The Yoast SEO plugin ensures you add descriptions and title tags to your images, meta descriptions and keywords to your blog posts and much more. Basically, you need Yoast.
This plugin automatically tweets links to old blog posts from your archives. You choose how often and what time of day and you can also exclude categories and tags that you don’t want revived.
Revive Old Post
I use this to write all of my recipes. It formats it beautifully, makes the recipe easily readable by Google, adds a Print button and makes it super easy to add a recipe to a post.
When I switched from Blogger to WordPress, the URLs to my posts changed. For example, on Blogger it would be www.gymbagsandgladrags.com/2015/10/18/postname and on WordPress it would be www.gymbagsandgladrags.com/postname. Pretty Link is an easy way to redirect any old links to my new ones so that people would still find my old posts.
Pretty Link Lite
I use AddThis to add share buttons to my posts so that if my readers like a post, they can easily share it on social media or via email to their friends.
AddThis Sharing Buttons
I use Yuzo Related Posts to automatically add thumbnails and links to other blog posts underneath each post. This encourages readers to stay on your blog and read other blog posts that might interest them.
Yuzo Related Posts