Geek Life

My Top 5 (Mostly Free) Blogging Tools

My Top 5 Blogging Tools Since I’ve been at this blogging thing for a while (4 years here, 10 years total), I guess I’ve become something of a blogging veteran. While I don’t claim to have all the answers, or even really be where I’d like to be in terms of followers and exposure, I have managed to learn a thing or two about making some of the work around blogging a little bit easier on myself.

So, like every good maven should, I decided to take a minute to share some of my favourite blogging tools. Most of them are free (or at least have free options), but the rest of them are definitely worth the investment, if you have the budget for them.

You don’t need to use any of these tools to be a successful blogger, but I find that they do make my life a lot easier and they are all very easy to use and look at.

Buffer_Logo Buffer
I’ve been using this one for ages and ages to schedule my social media posts and shorten links. You can post to multiple social media channels at once, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ Pages and it lets you schedule when these posts will go out, either sticking to a daily time table or choosing a time on the fly.

There are also browser extensions that will let you add links to your Buffer without leaving the page. As well, the recent addition of analytics means that you can get a really clear idea of what types of content you share gets noticed by your followers.

Buffer is free to use, but there are paid upgrades that will let you add multiple accounts for the same platforms, buffer up to 200 posts at a time and even share the account between multiple users.

PicMonkey Logo
PicMonkey
A lot of you probably already know about this one, but just in case you don’t, I figure I’d give a shout-out to probably the BEST online photo editing program there is. Seriously, there is very little this wundersite can’t do. While certainly nowhere near as robust as Photoshop, PicMonkey is the perfect blogger replacement for Photoshop because it is a) FREE, b) very easy to use, and c) doesn’t require downloading or installing any bulky software.

Pretty much anything you’d need to use Photoshop for as a blogger you can do with PicMonkey. Resizing images? Check. Adding textures and overlays? Check. Even cosmetic fixes like teeth whitening can be handled by this puppy. They also just added a feature for using your own fonts, in addition to using your own overlays (shapes). You can also use their Design feature to create banners or buttons for your blog or social media.

PicMonkey is 100% free to use, but there is an optional $4.99 monthly membership (or $33 for the whole year) you can purchase that gives you access to additional fonts and gets rid of those distracting ads. Considering how robust it is, it almost seems like a crime not to throw the devs a little change.

Canva-User-Homepage-Screenshot
Canva
This one is brand new and still in Beta, but I have been having an absolute ball using it to create incredibly professional looking blog images and social media banners. It’s browser based like PicMonkey, but comes pre-loaded with tons of great templates for all of the major things independent business owners and bloggers need to worry about. The other thing that I really love is that in addition to using your own assets, you can choose from their library of stock photos and textures, all available for a mere $1 a piece.

Since Canva is still in Beta, there could be a bit of a waiting list to try it out. Luckily, I have 5 instant access invites to distribute to friends and colleagues. Email me if you’d like one.
cos-logo
CoSchedule
I’ve written about this one before, but I cannot stress enough how much it has changed by blogging life. CoSchedule is an editorial calendar and social media sharing tool all mixed into one. It even supports multiple authors with features for making editorial comments and assigning articles. They recently updated it so that you can post to multiple social media channels at once, or create separate posts and messages for each account you have linked.

CoSchedule is a paid app, but it’s still a steal at $10 a month. They also have an affiliates program for bloggers who try it out and write about their experience.

passion_logo
Passionfruit Ads
If you run ads or button swaps on your site, then you’re probably already familiar with Passionfruit, but just in case you’re not I figured I’d throw in my two cents. While it is a paid service, the rate is pretty affordable (especially if you choose the annual subscription) and the time and energy it saves me really is worth it. They also added a discounted subscription option if you mostly want to use it for adswaps.

Basically Passionfruit, is a streamlined and attractive way to buy, sell and host ads on your website. You set your own rates and requirements, then just cut and paste a bit of code to add the ad store or the ads themselves to your site. Their marketplace is also super handy for finding blogs in your niche to advertise on.

Passionfruit Ads charges $9 for ad sellers or $3 for ad swappers and they don’t even take a commission!

Do you use online tools to help with your blogging?

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22 Comments

  • Reply
    Jessica
    June 16, 2014 at 9:42 am

    Great post! Very helpful, I’m definitely going to check Buffer out! I already have Photoshop, but if I didn’t I’d probably be using PicMonkey, it looks neat and easy to use!

    • Reply
      Mariko
      June 16, 2014 at 5:12 pm

      I also have PS (cloud edition), but I still find myself using PicMonkey more for certain tasks. It’s just so much easier and faster.

  • Reply
    Gwen @ A Geek and Her Oven
    June 16, 2014 at 11:13 am

    OOO THANK YOU FOR THIS!

    I am going to be checking out a few of these to see if I can implement them into my daily blog use!

    • Reply
      Mariko
      June 16, 2014 at 5:15 pm

      Yay! I’m so glad you found the article helpful. And let me know if you’d like pointers on using any of them.

  • Reply
    Nagareboshi
    June 16, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    Oh thanks for all of the tips. I knew of Pickmonkey and have used it a lot, but the others not! I’ll look into them. ^__^

    • Reply
      Mariko
      June 16, 2014 at 5:15 pm

      Canva is brand, brand new, but so far I’m having lots of fun with it.

  • Reply
    Jane Y.
    June 16, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    so very helpful mariko!! thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    Kerry
    June 16, 2014 at 9:41 pm

    Thanks for the tips! I’ve pinned them to my Blogging Tips board, which I refer to all the time. I enthusiastically second the Canva recommendation – great looking graphics every time. I use Hootsuite (free version), do you know how it stacks up to Buffer?

    • Reply
      Mariko
      June 16, 2014 at 9:52 pm

      Oh cool! Thank you. Isn’t Canva great? Buffer doesn’t really compare to Hootsuite since it only handles outgoing messages, but I find the interface very easy to use and I love the Chrome plugin. I’ve been trying for ages to get my head around Hootsuite, but I just find the UI too dense and unituitive if you’re used to the native Twitter app. Are there any tutorials you would recommend?

  • Reply
    The Pixel Party (@TheePixelParty)
    June 16, 2014 at 10:55 pm

    Well, just added CoSchedule to my bookmarks! This looks like the EXACT thing I was looking for (you should see my mess of a google doc right now, yikes!). Thank you so much for sharing this stuff! This was an amazing post!

    • Reply
      Mariko
      June 17, 2014 at 3:23 pm

      Thank you! I’m really humbled by the response its gotten. CoSchedule really is the shizz. Totally worth it.

  • Reply
    Gloria
    June 17, 2014 at 10:36 am

    I’ve been loving Buffer! And I actually didn’t know about PicMonkey – I’ll have to recommend it to my clients that don’t have access to Photoshop!

    • Reply
      Mariko
      June 17, 2014 at 3:24 pm

      Yeah, between PicMonkey and Canva, unless you are a design professional there is no reason to bother with Photoshop anymore.

  • Reply
    Worshipblues
    June 17, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    This is brilliant! Thank you soooo much for the tips. I am about to stumble through all the links again 🙂

  • Reply
    Syrco
    June 19, 2014 at 10:27 am

    Thanks for writing this post! Very useful. Gonna try out some of them 😀

    • Reply
      Mariko
      June 19, 2014 at 10:32 am

      Cool! Glad I was able to help out.

  • Reply
    Damaris / The cat, you and us
    June 23, 2014 at 8:00 am

    Very helpful! As a quite newbie in the blog world I sometimes think “how will the rest manage this or that”, in fact I added a calendar plugin in my wordpress after your last mention and it has become one of the most useful ones we have 😉 Off to see more about Buffer, I find Hootsuite a little too much for our humble needs 😉 but I definitely would make use of an automatic way to publish new blog content in the social networks.

    • Reply
      Mariko
      June 23, 2014 at 7:10 pm

      Yeah, Hootsuite totally overwhelms me, so I find Buffer much more my speed.

  • Reply
    Stephanie
    June 23, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    Love these tools! Just checked out Canva and I see a lot of amazing blog designs coming out of that! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Reply
      Mariko
      June 23, 2014 at 7:10 pm

      You’re so welcome. I’ve been having so much fun with Canva I almost didn’t want to let the secret out, but that didn’t seem fair. 😉

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