Blogging these days seems a bit more complex than it used to be.
You used to be able to log in to a blogging platform and just start writing. No frills — just good old-fashioned fingers to keyboard.
Now, brands are investing a ton of money to tap into the loyal following of today’s bloggers.
The sites by these digital influencers are well-designed, with robust user experiences. Their content is optimized, high quality, and authoritative. “Analytics” and “conversions” are part of their regular vocabulary. They have millions of followers on their social accounts. Sometimes, they are even featured on the cover of publications, like WWD.
It can be hard to keep up. But, more and more bloggers are putting in the work to replicate the style of those with the highest influence.
The good news is there are a number of tools out there to help take your blog plan to the next level. Here are just a few that are new this year.
1. UI Temple: For when you need design inspiration
Whether creating your site design from scratch or working on a re-design, it can be difficult to get started. UI Temple offers a well-curated collection of some of the best web page designs. See how others in your industry are designing their site to get inspired. You also can see how designers craft different pages inside their site, from contact pages to sign-up pages.
2. Snappa: Because you probably have to design it yourself
Most bloggers don’t have a big design budget, if one at all. Similar to Canva, Snappa makes it easy to craft a compelling image for your blog post, website, or social media posts. Inside the site, you can find hundreds of ready-made templates, plus 15,000+ photos and patterns, 3,000+ vectors and shapes, and 200+ fonts and typefaces, if you want to create a beautiful design from scratch.
3. Type Anything: For when typography is everything
Choosing the right font is crucial for enhancing the user experience of your site. It’s your first impression. It can also hurt the eye if too big, too small, or if too many fonts are at play. Use Type Anything to find the perfect match of font combinations. You can preview the design on the page in real time as you make changes to font family, letter spacing, font weights, capitalization, and more.
4. Bear: Because sometimes you need to put pen to “paper”
Bear is a flexible writing app that allows you to jot down everything from quick notes to in-depth pieces, like blog posts, whenever creativity strikes. The editing tool allows for markups, keeps your desired word counts and reading times in check, and also lets you quickly export your writing to a shareable file. If you need to concentrate, the “focus mode” feature will hide notes and other options. You also can use hashtags to organize your thoughts.
5. Highly: For highlighting and sharing info from your phone
If you like Medium’s highlight feature, you’ll definitely be a fan of this app. Highly lets you highlight text wherever you read, be it on your iPhone, iPad, or on your desktop in Safari or Chrome. You can opt to share the highlighted text to Twitter, Facebook, Slack and more, to drive reactions from followers and friends. Or, you can start a conversation directly via email or text. Either way, it’s a great tool for saving info and getting people to talk about someone else’s content (or even your own).
6. Buffer for Instagram: Because you have too much to do on social media
For bloggers, Instagram is an important social network app. But, it currently doesn’t allow outside tools to post on the user’s behalf — a benefit of working with other platforms. With Buffer’s Instagram tool, you can manage your Instagram marketing from a single dashboard. Craft posts ahead of time inside its dashboard and create reminders to post in the web or mobile app. When the time is up, Buffer will send a notification to your phone that loads your photo into Instagram with your pre-written caption saved to your phone’s clipboard, ready to be pasted and edited.
7. Compressify: For when your email punishes you for sending giant video files
As an influential blogger, you may start to develop webinars and videos to share with your readers. You may also just be creating more video to attach to your posts or for vlogging on YouTube. This means you’re probably hosting some pretty large files that might not be friendly for uploading or emailing. Compressify uses an algorithm to automatically detect the optimal reduced bitrate to create near identical quality video files, that are reduced in size by 20 percent to 60 percent.
8. Boomerang Respondable: Because striking the right tone can make all the difference
In real life and in sending blog newsletters, this tool is a must-try. This virtual assistant uses artificial intelligence to help you write emails better, based on data collected from millions of messages. The tool teaches you to understand your own writing style and provides actionable advice on how to find the perfect balance of politeness, positivity and subjectivity in your communication to encourage more and better replies.
9. SansFrancisco: For when you just can’t find the tool you need
Maybe you don’t know what you need. Or, maybe you need a lot of things. SansFrancisco offers just about every resource you could possibly need for your next creative project in a one-stop shop format. From conducting user research and collaborating with teams to finding the right color palette or stock photo, this directory of sites will help you find anything you need.
10. Scale: Because bots are awesome
If the artificial intelligence app wasn’t futurist enough, try adding some bots to the mix. Scale helps you achieve human tasks in less time (under 10 mins, they say), with just a simple line of code. Use the tool to assist with chatbots, comment moderation, transcription, data comparison, and more.
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Anna Jasinski is manager of audience relations at PR Newswire. Follow her on Twitter at @annamjasinski or on Snapchat. You can also catch her sharing the latest news in journalism and blogging on @BeyondBylines.