Blogs are now at the heart of a sophisticated marketing strategy for business. And companies educating customers and positioning themselves as industry leaders have found the power of blogs with spikes in web traffic, leads and additional opportunities to grow their brand’s awareness.
But for many large and small businesses, starting a business blog is intimidating. There are so many different platforms, software add-ons, and tools for consideration that you don’t have time to learn all of them or fear picking the wrong tool for your needs.
If you’re starting a business blog or revisiting your business blog, there are great tools and resources to help motivate and make your blogging life easier and more productive. We’ve gone ahead and provided a comprehensive list of tools to get your blogging started or back on track–including related articles about each tool if you want to learn more.
Best Blogging Platform
Having a blog platform that can both support your needs and technical ability is important. While there are many different blog and website building platforms available for your business, there are two that enable a business owner with any level of blogging experience to quickly start a high quality blog.
Technically savvy users can use WordPress to build any blog or business website to their satisfaction. WordPress is the most widely used blogging platform and is robust enough to be used as a full-scale content management system (CMS) or even a lite Enterprise Resource Planning system (ERP). WordPress is fairly easy to install and customization comes easily with a little bit of coding. The vast ecosystem of plug-ins makes customization incredibly robust, too.
For business owners who want a website and blog that is simple to use, easy to set up and hassle-free, SquareSpace’s intuitive interface gives even the newest technology users the ability to create a great blog design and begin publishing content in no time.
The Next Web – “The 18 Best Blogging and Publishing Platforms on the Internet Today”
Best Tools for Blog Ideas
Coming up with blog ideas is tough. But there are tools to make that process easier, from finding keywords your target market is searching for to trending topics, these tools will give you the information you need to brainstorm and create blog posts regularly.
Want to know what other bloggers are writing about in your content area? Want to see what’s trending? BuzzSumo gives you advanced search tools to find the content that performs best in your target market, your industry and your preferred marketing publications. Harnessing the power of BuzzSumo makes your content marketing efforts much easier and more strategic.
Enter a search term about your industry or potential blog topic and KeywordTool.io will spit out up to 750 other suggestions and alternatives for potential blog content. The secret is KeywordTool’s ability to pull information from Google’s autocomplete engine giving you a bunch of long-tail keyword suggestions for your content needs.
SmartInsights – “A tutorial on keywordtool.io”
Part of Google AdWords, Google Keyword Planner is a useful tool for businesses to know if your customers are actually searching for the topics you’re blogging about. Find out what keywords resonate with your audience and start pulling traffic to your site using this helpful tool. Don’t even think about starting a business blog content strategy without consulting this tool first. Note: You have to set up an AdWords account before using Google’s Keyword Planner.
SmartInsights – “SEO 101: Google Keyword Planner, A Content Marketer’s Secret Weapon”
Best Tools for Finding Blog Images
Finding images for your blog can be a time-consuming endeavor. Fortunately, there are sites that make searching for images easier (and cheaper) without fear of violating any copyrights.
PhotoPin automatically filters images from Flickr’s creative commons copyright library giving you the ability to search for and embed images in your blog posts without fear of being sued for copyright infringement. If you want rights-managed photos, PhotoPin includes sponsored imagery that you can purchase as well.
PhotoPin – “Frequently Asked Questions”
Pixabay is another resource for finding and using beautiful images under the creative commons copyright license. Unlike PhotoPin, you can find and use photos without attribution. Pixabay also gives you the option to share these images on your blog, website and print publications.
Best Tools for Creating, Editing, or Designing Blog Images
Sometimes a photo for your blog isn’t enough. If you want to create custom images or edit existing ones without paying for expensive graphic design software or hiring a designer, you can turn to these alternatives.
Canva is a powerful free photo editing tool for your blog images. With a wide database of free and premium photos available to create and edit your own imagery, Canva is a great way to get the perfect images for email, memes, infographics, blog posts or other resources. And you can get additional photos and layouts for $1.
Canva – “A Simple Video Guide to Canva”
Part of the Evernote suite of productivity products, Skitch is a great image editing tool for creating interactive content. Whether you want to point out an area that needs to be changed in a “how to” blog or build a high-quality presentation, Skitch is a useful tool to annotate your images. Plus, Skitch is a must-have whenever you want to take screenshots and add your own annotations.
Skitch – “Getting Started with Skitch” (use the drop-down menu for using Skitch with other platforms and devices)
Pablo is the social sharing photo app from Buffer. This is a great tool for creating simple images for your blog, for sharing photos on social, or anytime you need fast, predictable photo generation. Their advertisement is to “create engaging social media images in 30 seconds flat.”
Best Tools for Blog Writing
Writing can be a solitary pursuit. If you’re writing a blog and don’t have anyone to review or proof your work, there are tools that can provide the critical second set of “eyes” you need.
The Hemingway App helps you write your blog in a clear, bold tone. The Hemingway App checks your writing for clarity, tagging long sentences, passive voice and unclear syntax. When you want to write concise, easy-to-understand sentences and active voice, Hemingway App is your tool. Simply copy and paste the content you want checked and the Hemingway App will grade your content and provide feedback.
If you always worry about using the correct version of lose/loose, there/their/there, or other similar pairs, Grammarly is the tool for you. Grammarly checks contextual spelling, 250 grammar rules and has a host of other tools available to help you get accurate and original content. Their plagiarism checker is an absolute necessity if you hire freelancers to write for you or your blog.
Grammarly – “Frequently Asked Questions”
Hemingway Help – “What’s the Hemingway Editor All About?”
Best Tools for Promoting Your Blog Content
Content promotion is more than social media and email. But for many companies that blog, getting in the habit of sharing content across social and email is a fundamental first step before looking to other channels. We’ve also included a third tool for savvier bloggers ready to launch an inbound link campaign.
For Social – Hootsuite
Hootsuite integrates your social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) into one platform. With Hootsuite, you can schedule posts, follow, view and organize your network and hashtags across multiple tabs, monitor conversations, assign tasks, view analytics, and use their robust mobile app. For those that embrace Hootsuite’s many features, it becomes an efficient nerve center for communication and engagement across social media.
Mashable – “The Beginner’s Guide to Hootsuite”
For Email – MailChimp
Email marketing is still one of the most efficient ways to get your information out to clients, leads and other interested parties. MailChimp is free for the first 2,000 people on your list, automates your subscription process and gives you tools to market your blogs consistently and predictably.
MailChimp – “MailChimp 101” Resource Guide
For Link Building – Buzzstream
Buzzstream is a great way to start building a network of contacts that can share your content and provide links back to your blog (a critical step to improving your blog’s SEO). It’s also a modern address book to track contacts and partnerships accrued through outreach and link building efforts. Link building is a time-consuming endeavor, but this tool makes it more efficient without being spammy.
Buzzstream – “Link Building Tour”
Every blog has to start somewhere. These are the best tools that will give you a head start in building your blog presence, understanding blog strategy, and getting comfortable with some of the established and new applications out there.
No matter your blog savviness, there are tools to empower you to generate engaging and valuable content for your customers and prospects. With so many resources, you have every reason to start your business blog today.