I'm not new to blogging, but I have decided that this time I putting more effort into growing this blog and making it something awesome. Over the past few months I have discovered some (mostly free!) tools and programs that are helping me reach that goal. I'm sure you've seen a lot of these on other lists floating around the Blogosphere, but that just means those tools really are pretty darn good.
I've learned more about Photoshop in the past six months of blogging than I ever have with my previous creative projects. It's a great way to make custom images, fonts, and colors that match your blog's overall look and feel. I use a variety of photo editors when making images for my blog, but I usually always start in Photoshop.
Photoshop sound too complicated? No worries! PicMonkey is the next best thing, and it's FREE! It's very user friendly and has tons of colors, image, and font options to choose from. I use this tool to make pin able images for blog posts and when I just want to add a watermark to my photos.
Now that you've got your image, what do you do with it? Photobucket is a great place to store and share all of the images you use for free. What's great about this tool is it provides you with several sharing options. The "direct link" and "html" options are most handy when implementing a new design.
I stumbled upon this tool quite randomly through Facebook. Essentially it is used to create a mobile app for your business, website, blog, etc. BUT when I checked it out, I discovered that it offers a free mobile site option you can install into your blog. I personally dislike the standard mobile version that comes with using Blogger, so this was a great option for me. I was able to incorporate what was most important for my readers to see when viewing my blog on their phones or tablets.
All link-ups and blog hops need to have a linky list. InLinkz provides a free and easy way to get that feature. You can choose from several different display options and you can customize the message that appears before the list. I like to add the "rules" of the link-up and directions about adding your link.
A great way to get new readers to see your older (and equally and awesome) posts is a link list. LinkWithin does just that by providing a "Related Posts" section at the bottom of each post. You don't even have to sign up on their site and it's completely free.
While all social media has it's perks, Twitter is the best for the blog world. It has, by far, brought the most traffic and attention to my blog, and it's a fantastic way to interact with your readers and other bloggers.
Now that I have started school, I can't always be checking and posting to my social media profiles. Hootsuite is the solution! It allows you to schedule out your posts on the major platforms: Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ (blog page, not personal profile) for free. I use this daily because I will forget to promote my own blog if I don't!
Most of my DIY and craft project ideas have come from Pinterest, but it's also another tool to use in blog promotion. The key to getting a post "pinned" is to have an image in that post that is Pinterest friendly. Using those photo editing tools above, you can create eye catching images people will want to pin and re-pin.
Google and I are BFFs. If I don't know the answer, Google does. These days you can teach yourself just about anything with a quick Google search.
What are your favorite blogging tools?