Hobby Bloggers’ Resources and Tools
by Max Greene
Whether you write content to promote your business or you run a website as a hobby, there’s no denying that blogging can be great fun. Not only do you get to write whatever you’d like, but you get to meet new and exciting characters through networking, social media and blog commenting. And it’s those other people who make blogging worthwhile. If you want to make your blog better and reach more people, check out these free resources…
If you run your blog on the self-hosted version of WordPress, then you’re in luck. Jetpack, which is owned and maintained by WordPress itself, is one of the most valuable free tools you can use to build your blog and make it more engaging. Not only does this plugin include security and SEO features, but it allows you to backup your old blogs and media files so that you’ll never lose one of your posts. Jetpack also includes these fantastic features, too:
- Analytics: WordPress will track how many people read your blog posts, and give you insights into where those visitors come from
- Contact Form: Forget downloading another plugin for your contact form – the forms included in Jetpack can be customized and sent to whatever email address you’d like
- Social media automation: Connect your Twitter, Facebook and Google+ profiles to your WordPress dashboard, and new posts will be automatically sent out.
With the internet becoming increasingly visual, it’s important that you follow the trends and create multimedia content to complement your blog posts. That’s where Canva helps. This free tool allows you to create blog post images, infographics and social media graphics in minutes, meaning you’ll never have to hire a graphic designer again to work on your site.
The best part about Canva is that it comes with hundreds of pre-made templates which you can edit using a simple drag-and-drop system. In its ‘Blog Graphic’ category alone, there are hundreds of attractive images which you can use for your featured images, which will help your blog posts stand out online and make them more shareable on social media platforms.
[Read: How to Use Canva: A Quick Guide]
The chances are that you use Twitter already, but are you aware of just how valuable the platform can be in promoting your blog? Whether you run a business or you write on your blog as a hobby, we all want to reach more people with our writing. That’s where Twitter comes in, allowing you to network with like-minded individuals and drive traffic to your blog.
Make sure you use a scheduling tool like HootSuite or Buffer to keep your Twitter feed up to date with new content, and also take part in a Twitter hour to network. Oh, and don’t forget to create some attractive social media graphics using Canva, as we’ve mentioned above, as tweets with images get 150% more retweets than those without.
A few years ago, blog comments were a great way to gain backlinks and make your website more attractive to search engines like Google. But the practice of spammy blog comments quickly ended after webmasters turned off the ‘follow’ tag on a blog comment link. Because of this, a lot of webmasters stopped commenting on other people’s blogs, as they no longer benefit from an SEO-perspective. But you can change that with CommentLUV.
When somebody leaves a comment on your blog, this free-to-use WordPress plugin will visit their website and then add a link to their latest blog post, giving them free promotion and incentivizing them to comment on your blog. It’s a great way to reward people who engage with your blog, and it can make the difference between somebody commenting or not.
Let’s face it: nobody will want to read your blog post if it’s littered with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. The good news is that you don’t have to be the world’s best writer. If you’re not using Grammarly to proof your content and check for spelling and grammatical errors, you’re missing out. This free-to-use tool is available as a web app, a Google Chrome extension, a Microsoft Word plugin and a macOS app.
To use Grammarly, you simply import the content you’d like to proofread, and Grammarly will work its magic, offering suggestions and helping you perfect your content. Oh, and there is a premium version which will offer deeper insights and recommendations, but the free version is all you need as a starting point.
There you have it – five of the best free tools and resources to improve your blog. Whether you’re new to blogging or you’ve been working on a content strategy for a while, we hope that you find these tools and resources useful. Do let us know how you get on!
About the Author
Max Greene is the Managing Director of Muffin Marketing, a marketing agency specializing in content marketing, social media marketing, and search engine optimization.
Readers, what’s your favorite free blogging tool? Which resources can you recommend to other hobby bloggers? I look forward to your answers in the comments section.
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