Sunday Salon: My 12 piece Blogging Toolkit

The Sunday Salon badge

One of the most important things for a blogger to do is to actually *blog*, i.e. produce content.  Having seen similar posts recently, I decided to produce a list of things that help me produce content and interact with other people.

  1. Prompts – I collect topics along the way, usually from other blogs that post on a subject that I might be able to riff on one day, or a blog that will post specific topics for discussion.  These ideas get loaded into a file on my blog that I raid occasionally when I feel the need to write and am looking for a topic.
  2. Other Blogs – I read them and where I feel I can contribute something, I write a comment. I know it can be tough for bloggers to be writing into the void and like many a blogger I love getting comments, so I try and reciprocate and comment on other blogs.  It also helps that if you are supporting fellow bloggers, they are more likely to support you back….!
  3. Capturing ideas whilst on the go. Some people make use of notebooks (which would get lost and/or damaged in my handbag) or software like Evernote (the version I’ve tried needs a connection to the internet, which I can survive without on my ipad).  I use the “notes” section on my ipad if I get an idea and want to capture it on the go.
  4. Google Alerts – I’ve set some of these up, to alert me if there’s anything on the internet that I might find of interest. The alerts can be set to be region specific, so some of my alerts specifically omit the US.  This is after I found that some of the alerts (e.g. ones on quilting and crafting) were dominated by the US feeds, and it was preventing me from seeing articles from closer to home.   These alerts are primarily useful for sharing content on Twitter, but once in a while, it will lead to a blog post.
  5. Twitter – a great way to interact with others, especially authors, publishers and other bloggers. It also allows me to tell everyone what I’ve written. I use Hootsuite as my scheduling software, which also allows me to have multiple tabs open on my lists, so if I’m looking for something in particular, it’s easier to find.
  6. Yearly events such as #Bloggiesta and #ArmchairBEA, where I get to interact with other bloggers, see what they’re working on etc.  This is one of the areas that Twitter and Hootsuite really help, as I can have a page open on a particular hashtag and follow a conversation that way.
  7. Events at local bookstores. I try to support the local bookstores, even if we don’t have independents where I live. However, we do have plenty of events that go on, many for free. I like to attend because I get to support the store, the author, and where I think I can write something interesting about it, I’ll write a post. If it’s been an author event, I will usually pick up one or more of their books in the process, and will post a review when I get around to reading it!
  8. Spreadsheets – specifically for knowing when to schedule a post/know when something’s coming up.   One day might make better use of spreadsheets for marketing/twitter too
  9. Grammarly – I have it on when writing posts now. whilst I don’t have the premium version, it picks up most of my dubious typing!
  10. Sites like Goodreads and Librarything.  I use them primarily to track the books I’ve got, as well as providing source information, like the book cover and blurb.
  11. Sites like problogger and DailyBlogTips, again for inspiration on topics as well as finding out new tools
  12. A book review template. It’s like a checklist, and helps me to remember the things I should really include on a book review (e.g. the front cover, the publisher, where I got it from etc), along with details about the author (a quick bio, their website etc), as well as questions to ask myself as I try and write the review.   How was the story told? was it credible? Who did I like, who did I hate?

Things that I really should be looking at or making better use of:

  • Images. My primary images are those of book covers – I review a lot of books. However I do have other posts, and have a small number of free images taken from the internet. However, I need to make better use of images, especially those that I have taken myself.
  • Infographics. This sort of ties in with the above, as it’s a different way of showing information that’s not just a block of text. I simply need to invest more time into finding out how this works
  • Google Analytics and Google Webmaster tools.  Both are apparently vital for SEO, and whilst I’m plugged in, and have a rough idea what’s going on, I’m not entirely sure what it’s telling me and what I can do with the information.

Tell me, constant reader, is there anything that you make use of, that I’m missing out on? Have I shared anything that you could make use of?

 

 

 

 

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18 thoughts on “Sunday Salon: My 12 piece Blogging Toolkit

  1. You’re far more organised than I am! Apart from my contributions to OurBookReviewsOnline, I just blog on what takes my fancy – from days out, to things I’ve seen on TV, to more rambling pieces on life in general. Perhaps I need to re-think how I go about things…

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  2. Great post! I never thought about using Google Alerts as a resource for my blog. I need to start doing that! I have a doc file that I use to jot down ideas for blog posts, but I’m not so great at looking at it for inspiration. I keep forgetting it’s there. LOL

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  3. LOVE this! I am ready to take my blogging to the next level, and these are all valuable tips I can use to help reach that goal.

    I’ve been bemoaning the fact that I will have to miss BEA this year, even though it is so close to home. Thank you for reminding of the #armchairBEA event. Now I’m excited 🙂

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    • The guys and gals behind #armchairbea do a fab job each year, so I recommend you take part and support them however you can – I know this year will be a tough year, and I would like to take part more, but being in a different time zone, with a full time job, can make it hard

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  4. Sounds like you have this well under control. I did two WordPress modules which was advising us to use various prompt sites but very few of them seemed relevant to books/ reading. Where do you source your prompt ideas?

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    • other blogs mainly, who either post specific prompts, such as booking through thursday (https://btt2.wordpress.com/) or who post on a subject that I think i might make use of later and I borrow the subject or title.

      I have also been known to trawl through sites like Barnes and Noble, see what they’re blogging about, and take the subject away. Most I haven’t written yet, but they’re there.

      Some of the publishers did a twitter thing last year where they posted a month’s worth of twitter questions – e.g. “favourite red cover” or “recommended by your English teacher”, all of which can be used for to 10 lists or for a longer piece.

      The “self-publish and be damned” post was in reaction to a piece in the Guardian, and proved to be a popular post – it just came out!

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    • sometimes I will also catch myself writing a comment on someone else’s blog where I’m going “hang on a sec, this is gold”. It ends up as a more thought out, often longer post on my own site.

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  5. Excellent post with some very useful tips. I use Evernote for almost everything to do with my blog such as making notes on books for review, writing review drafts, setting reminders for posts, etc.

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  6. Great post! I am an Evernote wannabe, and mostly blog on a whatever/whenever basis. I try to use the WordPress.org calendar plug-in for planning and scheduling, but don’t make good use of it. I know there’s an Ultimate Book Blogger plug-in out there for WordPress.org, too, that someday I want to try.
    Something I learned during Bloggiesta was that Goodreads has a feature that automatically creates a draft blog post from your Goodreads review if you select it. I use LibraryThing more than Goodreads for reviews, though.

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    • I used to use the goodreads draft review, but found the eternal links back to goodreads (natch) a bit of a pain. I want my blog to have my traffic for my posts – not have goodreads take my traffic away!

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