We are often asked what tools we use when we are blogging. We are huge fans of HubSpot; and more than a little bias as a HubSpot Partner Agency, but we didn’t always use HubSpot to manage our marketing or our blog planning, writing, and design.
So often, we run into small businesses; startups, and one person shows who will tell us that HubSpot doesn’t fit in their budget currently. Well if that’s you, this post is specifically for you.
We are going to share a few tools that we’ve used in the past, some we still use, along with a few alternative tools for those who do not have access to Adobe software nor have a design background like us at Eternal Works.
HubSpot users can get some benefit from this as well, but this post is primarily for the startup or small business owner on a modest budget and/or those who don’t have a design background.
We’ve organized this blog into three sections:
Let’s get started!
Planning, Organizing, & Writing
You should always have a plan whenever you are going to do any kind of marketing. This includes blogging. What are you going to blog about and how often?
You will need tools that you can use to organize your plan. We love Google for this. You can access these Google tools through your Gmail or G-suite account.
If you need to write a list of blog ideas, drafts, or write anything at all, Google Docs is a great tool. It auto saves and is cloud-based so you can access it from anywhere.
It’s also great for collaboration with team members because you can share the document and access it in real time as a group.
Sheets is great for organizing blog ideas, creating workflow checklists, or even creating a post schedule to follow. Just like Google Docs it’s cloud-based and Sheets can be shared with other users. If you need a spreadsheet, this is the way to go.
While we know that Twitter and a few other social platforms have character limits, the truth is people are scanning more than they read. So there’s no point in taking up extra space by using long URLs; use bit.ly instead.
Bit.ly allows you to shorten any link to save character space. Additionally, the links are saved in your bit.ly account for reuse and are trackable across the web.
Not a professional writer? No problem, that’s what the headline analyzer tool by CoSchedule is for; or at least to help you create headlines that drive traffic, shares, clicks, and search results.
You can also use it to help write better email subject lines, and social messages. You can compare your headlines in the history section to see which ones get the best score.
This tool tells you how to make the headline better and provides guides to help you learn along the way if needed.
This is a great way to find hashtags that are used across various platforms. It’s a great way to view what others are saying on a specific topic and to source ideas for your own blog, or even to find someone to quote.
It’s a great way to see how often a hashtag is used, who is using it, and how they are using it. It’s a great tool when you are planning out your blog strategy.
HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator
Need a little help coming up with ideas? HubSpot’s blog topic generator is a great way to get some help free and fast.
There are several tools like this, but as we said earlier we are a bit bias when it comes to HubSpot. Let us know if you’d like to set up a free demo and you can see why we love HubSpot so much. Here’s a link to a few other blog topic generators
Design & Photography
We all know that people prefer to read blogs and articles that are well-designed and have pictures to support the content. Even if purchasing an Adobe license fits in the budget, the learning curve is pretty steep and you likely just don’t have the extra time to commit to learning new software. Here are two resources that should make design pretty easy for anyone.
This is a great tool for those who don’t want to purchase Adobe software. Canva is a free visual content creation tool specially made for non-designers. Aside from its massive library of pre-designed, pre-sized templates for blog and social media, Canva also boast thousands of premium design elements ranging from custom fonts to free stock photos.
Canva produces 4 different file types for its designs which includes: .JPG, .PNG, .PDF (standard), and .PDF (print). It has a drag and drop system along with professional templates that make designing very easy for anyone.
Pablo by Buffer
Pablo is a simple tool that allows you to add text, or your logo, over images easily and elegantly. They have over 50,000+ images to choose from or you can upload your own.
The cool thing is that it’s absolutely free and integrates easily with Buffer. As a matter of fact, you can schedule your image on social or download it in just one click. Downloading the image makes it very easy to use as a header image for your blog post.
Pablo has several typefaces to choose from as well as some great image filters. While it’s best use is for social publishing it can be used as a simple stand in for design.
Burst by Shopify
A new resource for free stock photography is Burst by Shopify. It’s a new free stock photo site with over 1,000 high-quality images! They're available under the Creative Commons Zero license so you're free to use and edit them as you see fit.
In addition to all of the fun lifestyle pictures on the site, they have a collection of product photography that follows trending business niches to help entrepreneurs make better products, websites, and marketing campaigns. They also have a few in-depth case studies around business ideas which come with a set of photos and all the inspiration you need to get started, and are boasting more to come!
Marketing & Promotion
Okay, so you’ve written and published your blog. You need to market and promote it. Some people will find it through search, but you’ll see much faster results by sharing your articles.
Here are two tools to help you get your posts out to the world and save time doing it.
This is what we used prior to HubSpot and becoming a HubSpot Agency Partner. It’s a great tool and is free to use, but does offer a premium version that requires a very small investment. It’s well worth the investment in our opinion.
Buffer allows you to schedule, publish, and analyze your post for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn and Google+ all in one place.
Buffer allows you to schedule posts ahead of time for each social channel. It’s a great tool to help promote your blog posts.
Buffer is hosted online so there’s no software to download. It’s video and gif friendly and offers link-shortening. It also makes suggestions to post for you at the most optimal times.
Our newsletter, or email marketing, platform of choice. Our favorite feature is that it’s free, which is why we recommend it to nearly everyone.
You can build a list of 2,000 emails for free. And you can email that entire list 6 times per month for free. You really should sign up now if you don’t have an account.
Aside from it being free, it is super easy to use. It doesn’t take much to get this up and running. This is the second way we market and promote our blog.
We use MailChimp (and HubSpot in our case) to send notifications to our existing subscribers and contacts. This way they know what content we’ve recently added to our blog.
With a small investment, you can also set up email automation to send out monthly emails, birthday emails, anniversary emails, and a bunch of other cool things.
If you utilize these tools you will easily see a positive return from your blog. You should be off to a great start to increasing your traffic, leads, and sales. In addition, you can easily position yourself as a subject matter expert.
Once you’ve had a chance to use each tool let us know which one is your favorite. Also, come back and share your first blog post with us. I’d love to see what everyone is creating using any or all of the tools we discussed.