5 Helpful Tools For New Bloggers

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I am still a fairly new writer to the blogosphere, but I have adopted over this relatively short period of time five tools that have become essential to me as a writer. I use almost all of them with every blog I create, and most importantly, they are free and easy to use.   

Every tool targets a different aspect of blog creation, and added together, gives me a holistic approach to my writing. They are a complementary addition to the features of the blog program I use. It is by no means the only tools you could use, but they serve me well as I develop my skill and newfound passion. 

Here are the five tools I use, in no particular order of importance.       

Evernote 

Do you discover great ideas as you read through other blogs, social media feeds, news articles etc?

Evernote is a simple program where you can store all your ideas and research content in one place. I do a fair bit of research for each blog I write, and as I browse articles, blog posts or business emails, I simply clip it to Evernote with the app icon on my browser toolbar, or with the share feature. It works on your phone and laptop, and automatically syncs with all your devices. 

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I also use it to jot down ideas that pop up in my head. I got the idea for this blog while I was driving, and when I parked, I opened the Evernote app on my phone, found the note I created for blog ideas, and added this blog idea to my list. I also use it when I find a great article, but don't have time to read it at that moment.  

There is a subscription fee option for premium features, but I find the free version works just fine for me. Evernote also sends you a weekly email with tips on how to manage your notes and use all their features.  

Grammarly 

Grammarly is like having your own personal editor looking over your shoulder with every word you type to check your spelling, grammar and sentence structure, pointing out mistakes or offering suggestions. 

The program is designed to work with Google Chrome, and works great for someone like me for who English is not a mother tongue. Once you downloaded it to your device it automatically checks anything you type anywhere, whether you are writing an email, Facebook post or a blog. You can also create content on their website, and add unique words to a personalized dictionary so it does not flag it in the future.  

Grammarly sends me an email every week with feedback on how I did. I discovered that I use more than 25 000 words every week, and according to them more unique words than 95% other users. It also shows me my typical mistakes and how errors were corrected. undefined

Like Evernote, they offer a premium subscription if you want to take your writing to the next level, but the free version gets me where I want to be.  

Jing

Jing is a simple and free app from Techsmith who also offers similar paid products like Snagit and Camtasia. Jing allows you to make screenshots of static images, or make a screencast video if you want to demonstrate an online feature. 

I recently wanted to show someone in my Toastmasters club how to edit an online meeting agenda, and created a short video with Jing, describing to her how to do it. I sent the link Jing provided via email, and the next day she already created new agendas on the club's website.  

The Jing icon hovers somewhere on your desktop, it is quick and easy to launch, and pretty intuitive to use. It also saves a historical record of all your previous screen captures. 

I used Jing to capture the screen shots above from Evernote and Grammarly.  

Pexels

Pexels is one of many websites where you can download free stock photos without concerns of violating copyrights or proprietary content. I find the selection in Pexels perfect for my blogs, and very easy and quick to download. It is my first go-to when I want to insert media images into my blogs. 

My suggestion is to find one or two stock photo websites that offer a selection of photos you are most likely to use, save it as a favourite, and always start there. I found when I started to write blogs that I spent a lot of time browsing through multiple websites trying to find the "perfect" photo. In hindsight, I wasted more time than I should have, and eventually realized there are a lot of 'perfect' photos you could use, and to not overthink it too much. As long as your photo is congruent with your content and of high quality, people quickly move past it to the written content.  

The feature image for this blog is from Pexels

My wife 

Ok, she is obviously not a tool, but she is my second set of eyes, and I ask her to read my blogs before I publish it. In fact, I hardly publish anything until she has read it and gave her input. 

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Having other people proofread your work is very helpful, but it is important to give them your expectations beforehand. You don't need people dictating what you should write and take over your work. My wife simply comments on anything that seems unclear or questionable to her. That allows me to find a different way to express myself without losing my uniqueness and personal touch on my writing.  

If you don't know anyone you can trust to proofread your work, first send your blog to a select group of people and solicit their feedback. You don't have to accept everything they might tell you, but it might spark an idea you never thought of.   

In summary  

There are many more tools available online for serious bloggers. Some are free, some have a subscription fee, and it is up to every individual how much they are willing or able to invest in their writing.   

The tools I highlighted in this blog have been sufficient for me so far, and if you are not using them yet, especially if you are a new writer, consider adopting them in your blogging or writing toolkit. And like me, you will discover other ways to use them as well beyond your formal writing.

If you have any other great tools or programs you find are great, especially for beginner bloggers, please share in the comments below. We can all learn from each other!

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