Work Smarter, Not Harder: Favorite Blogging Tools that help automate processes and save me time!
Work Smarter, Not Harder: Favorite Blogging Tools
When your business grows to the point you can’t do it all alone, it’s both exciting and scary. I have two great virtual assistants (VAs) that help me with blog posts and social media. But I’ve also come to rely on some things that are like having mentors, VAs, and additional employees. These tools, tricks, and services help me automate processes and save a ton of time!
A PIN SCHEDULING SERVICE
Since so much site traffic comes via Pinterest, anything that allows me to manage it efficiently is money well spent. I use a service called Tailwind as they are Pinterest approved. I set up my posts to auto-pin to Pinterest “campaigns” which helps boost my site traffic tremendously. This service costs about $10 a month and is worth every penny. I schedule both maintenance pins to get views on “old” content again, as well as Pin Campaigns to give new posts a boost. This strategy has played a HUGE role in increasing my page views. I’ve more than tripled them the past year by using Pin Scheduling.
AN EDITORIAL CALENDAR
THE BLOG VILLAGE (TBV)
The Blog Village is an amazing community and resource I joined a few months ago. It is so awesome that it had to have a spot on my list. Hands-down, it is one of my most-used tools for blogging as a business! Among the many impressive things I love so far:
- The stats dashboard. It’s all kinds of awesome. I can also set it up to compare my stats to fellow bloggers, plus there’s a “Matchmaker” tool which shows me bloggers with the same-ish social following for any social media I set it to use as a benchmark.
- The Free Classes and 300+ Instructional Videos! I’m following the Advanced Blogger classes, and I already took “Advanced Google Analytics” and am now taking the “Adobe Premiere Pro” eCourse and next I plan to do the new “Adobe Lightroom” one.
- They give you the coding and totally walk you through setting up a KILLER Work with Me page. You can check mine out here. I went from doing $0 in sponsored post work per month to $3-7k each month, in great part thanks to this fancy new Work With Me page and things I’ve learned on TBV.
- The Auto Image Tool: It takes one photo and crops it to the ideal size for every social media.
- You get a call with the creator, Trevor to talk strategy. He suggested I raise my prices. I did that yesterday and am excited about 4th Quarter! My membership quite literally paid itself off (WAY beyond my initial investment) within two weeks of joining.
Seriously just watch the video on the TBV homepage and tell me you’re not as impressed as I was! I signed up seconds after I watched it and am so impressed with every aspect of what Trevor and his wife Jennifer have created.
DRAFTS FOR FRIENDS
AN EDITOR TO CATCH ALL MY TYPOS
Ok, so I didn’t hire an actual person, but I did “hire” Grammarly. It. Is. AMAZING.
Bottom line: It makes my work look more professional to my readers, sponsors, and anyone that potentially wants to work with me. So Grammarly is worth every penny and then some!
When it comes to social media, my favorite social media by far is Instagram. It was a huge focus for me this year, and I am super picky about getting my photos “just so.” My go-to app for editing pics is A Color Story. It’s just plain awesome! I use it often on my IG feed. I rarely ever use the built-in IG filters. As my Instagram has grown, it’s become increasingly difficult to moderate and respond to comments, so I recently opted to sign up for Iconosquare to help me better manage my IG. I use both the browser application and the Iconosquare app. This service allows me to easily and efficiently stay engaged with my readers.
WELL PLACED POP-UPS (That aren’t obnoxious!)
Like most people, I detest pop-ups. But data shows them to be effective, so what’s a girl to do? I signed up for HelloBar. There’s a free version, but I have the $7 a month plan for the added benefits. It integrates easily with WordPress and allows me to create lovely corner pop-ups and sleek announcement bars at the top of bottom of my site with ease. This help me point my readers to something special, increases page views, and (ideally) also increases time on page.
AN ACCOUNTING SYSTEM
I was a straight-A student who got straight D’s in Accounting. It’s not my thing. While I do have a CPA to do my taxes, I opt to use Quickbooks Online for my day to day accounting. If someone as accounting challenged as I am can use it with ease, then anyone can use it! It runs me about $10 a month for the “Simple Start Plan” and takes about 10 minutes of my time to update each month. I love that it offers a desktop application in addition to being able to use it in my browser.
A BETTER MAILBOX MANAGEMENT APP
You guys, I loved the Mailbox app by Dropbox. When they decided to shut it down, I mourned for weeks. I spent a ridiculous amount of money trying new mail management apps, and they were all a disappointment by comparison. And then I found the Boxer Pro App. Swoon. This app claims to be “a faster, smarter mobile inbox that adapts to the way you work. With tools like bulk edit, quick response and smart labels, Boxer is the fastest way to get things done. Tailor every aspect of your inbox and get more done in less time.” And it delivers.
AN “OLD SCHOOL” PAPER PLANNER
I’m on my third year as an Erin Condren Life Planner Addict. I love things to be organized and it sure doesn’t hurt it they’re as beautiful as Erin Condren’s goodies. And if I don’t write things down, they don’t happen. Everything related to my blog/business is in this cute planner. I don’t know what I’d do without it!
LET’S GET DIGITAL DIGITAL
Humor me and sing that to the tune of Olivia Newton John’s, Let’s get Physical Physical. Lettering digitally from the get go saves me SO MUCH TIME. How do I love the Procreate app? Let me count the ways! You can read my full post on Lettering on the iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil here. And when I’m not using my iPad to be more productive by churning out lettering, I multi-task by watching This is Us while reading a magazine and working on my laptop. Like a boss. Or a hot mess. Or both. These are not mutually exclusive concepts for me.
When my business first started to be more than I could handle on my own, I couldn’t figure out what to delegate in my business, so I started with something else in my life that was easier to hand over: cleaning. Last year, that was in the form of a bi-weekly house cleaner. Now that we’re living overseas, we invented in the iRoomba 960 Robot. I named him Jetson, and he does a FABULOUS job. I hate vacuuming. I love Jetson. He runs six days a week, and it’s insane the amount of dirt and dog hair he picks up each day. I give him Sundays off because I’m nice like that.
BUSINESS + MOTIVATIONAL BOOKS
What are your favorite time-saving blogging-as-a-business tools?