Posted: 09 May 2011 07:38 AM PDT
Blogging can be quite a process. First you may have to do some research, then put your thoughts together, and of course add any necessary screenshots and images. Let’s not forget the optimization part (SEO, keywords, etc) and sharing your content on the Web so that others will read it and hopefully share it. With all of these steps involved, blogging can be quite time-consuming and many bloggers get burnt out rather quickly doing these things on a daily basis.
Lucky for us, the process doesn’t have to be so difficult anymore. Thanks to the Web and technology, there are hundreds of tools out there to assist your blogging process and make it less of a headache. This list will take a look at some of the top tools for and applications for making blogging easier.
Save Ideas for Later
Tools that let you save items for later use are great time savers because you can save Web pages, images and files as you’re reading or browsing. If you come across an interesting tool that you may want to blog about later, you can just save it with a single click and then look at it later when you have the time. These tools are also great for storing and organizing all of your ideas and then finding them again when needed.
With this tool you can save Web pages to your Read-it-Later list to be read at a later time. Items can be saved from your computer or mobile devices via numerous applications and integrations. You can access your list just about anywhere for online or offline reading.
A similar tool is Instapaper, which works in the same way, but doesn’t have as many applications. One of the best things about Instapaper is that you can forward full emails to save for later (Read-it-Later only allows you to save links via email).
You can capture anything from Web pages to images, text, and voice notes with Evernote. Just like Read-it-Later, there are numerous applications and integrations that let you save items to your account. Your notes can be accessed from just about anywhere via a computer or mobile device. Plus, with the ability to search through all of your notes (even text within images), you’ll be able to find things super fast.
Springpad is much like Evernote, but refers to itself as “really, really smart notes.” It’s about more than just saving notes, you can also save tasks, set reminders with alerts, and look up items (like products, restaurants and recipes) to save. With Springpad, you don’t have to worry about organizing your thoughts because it does it all for you automatically. So if you want to blog about a specific product or location, Springpad lets you remember and access these items conveniently from your computer or mobile device.
Don’t let the simple design fool you, Catch is a very effective tool for privately saving notes, ideas, images, places, lists and more. You can then sync those items between your computer and mobile device. It uses a hashtag system (much like Twitter) to add tags to your items for organizing. If you’re looking for a simple too without all the bells, whistles and extra features then Catch is a great option. They have a variety of browser extensions and mobile apps.
Trail-Mix lets you “squirrel away” notes, images, Web pages and files right within your browser. It currently works as a Firefox sidebar only. You can drag and drop items like links, text and images right into the sidebar to save for later.
If you’re looking for a similar tool to use in Chrome, you may want to check out Read Later Fast from Diigo (no relation to Read-it-Later). Items are added via an option in the right click content menu. It’s a Chrome app, so it works in its own tab as opposed to the sidebar (like Firefox).
With Diigo you can annotate the Web by highlighting, adding sticky notes, bookmarking, taking screenshots, saving images and more. You can then manage it all and reference your findings from your Diigo account for later use. Best of all, whenever you return to a page that you’ve annotated, your notes will still be there. You can even see annotations that others have added to pages as well. You can use Diigo to annotate specific parts of Web pages that you want to use for a blog post or to save items that you want to read at a later time.
While many prefer to use the blog editor that comes with their blogging platform, it can be much more convenient to use a blog editor – especially if you have more than one blog to update. With most blog editors, you can even write offline and then publish whenever you’re online. They often also make it easier to add pictures to your posts (via drag and drop). You’ll also find many other features that you often can’t find in your blogging platform.
Windows Live Writer is one of the most popular blog editors for the Windows platform. You can create new and edit previous blog posts, see what they’ll look like on your blog before publishing and set up multiple blogs. You can add things like images, videos, Bing maps. There are also 100+ plugins that you can use with Windows Live Writer in order to add more features and increase its functionality. Best of all, Windows Live Writer is complete free.
BlogJet considers itself to be the “most advanced Windows blog editor and manager.” With it’s WYSIWYG editor, you don’t have to have any HTML knowledge. It’s very speedy and lets you add Flickr images, YouTube videos and file attachments. There are numerous other amazing features and it works with numerous blogging formats. Unlike Windows Live Writer, BlogJet isn’t, but there is a free demo version.
ScribeFire is an extension that you can get for Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Safari. It’s a full featured blog editor that lets you create and publish blog posts right from your browser. You can drop and drop text and images, schedule blog posts for later, tag and categorize, edit pages, post to multiple blogs and more. While some find the endless features in ScribeFire overwhelming, others just can’t live without them.
Qumana is another desktop blog editor that lets you edit and publish posts to one or more of your blogs. It can also be used offline and includes text formatting, Technorati tagging, and the ability to add images and advertising to your posts. Qumana works on both Windows and Mac and lets you type in the WYSIWYG editor or Source view (for editing your own HTML).
Veeeb is a unique editor that integrates with your blogging platform (currently only WordPress and Drupal). It uses a process called “semantic text analysis” in order to scan your content for significant keywords and suggest relevant media and links. You can then drag and drop images and videos right into your posts or store them for later use. If you need to find out more about a topic, you can do that as well with the integrated search.
Deepest Sender is another blog editor that lives in your browser. It runs inside Firefox, SeaMonkey and XULRunner. You can add multiple accounts to be used with the WYSIWYG editor. It can be used as a full page editor in a new tab or right from the sidebar, which lets you drag and drop text and images from the Web right into the editor. Other great features include crash recovery, drafts, post editing and offline mode.
These tools will help you create content quicker and also help make your posts more interesting to your readers.
Zemanta is a tool that works on the side of your blog editor. There are quite a few browser and server-side plugins that you can use in order to enrich your blog posts. As you’re typing in your blog editor, Zemanta will analyze your words and then suggest images, tags, links and related articles for your content. Zemanta features over 10 million images that you can use, all with the proper licensing.
If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to get opinions or feedback from your readers, creating surveys and polls through PollDaddy is a great option. You can get quick responses, plus it’s an easy way to keep tally instead of having to go through all of your comments individually. PollDaddy has a survey editor that is customizable and very easy to use. You can even get immediate responses from people using your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad with the iOS app.
Dropbox is the ultimate tool for syncing files between your computer and mobile devices. There is a Dropbox app for just about every device and system and there even more integrations with other apps. So not only are your files always secure, but they’re always with you wherever you go. If you need to save files for use later, just add them to Dropbox or sync them using a supported app.
If you’re looking for a way to access your blog posts from anywhere, one of your best options it to create and save them in Google Docs. Since Google Docs is a Web based word processor, you can access your account no matter what device you’re on – computer or mobile device. This allows you to work on the go, from anywhere. You can also collaborate in real-time with others, which makes Google Docs great for collaborative posts and projects.
While the Dragon Dictation computer software is pretty expensive, you can currently get it for free on the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. With it you can speak right into your device and then have your words automatically transcribed for you. This is great for recording quick notes, thoughts or ideas for your blog posts. You can then email them to yourself to look over and reference whenever needed.
If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to grab screenshots for your posts, without downloading any software, these 3 tools are very convenient.
Awesome Screenshot is a capture, annotation and sharing tool by Diigo for Chrome, Firefox and Safari. You can capture the visible part of a page, selected area or entire page. Annotation tools include adding shapes (rectangles, circles), arrows, lines and text. There is also a blur tool which is great for protecting your privacy and personal information that you may capture. There are 3 options for saving your screenshots; you can save to the Awesome Screenshot website for a month, save to Diigo forever, or save on your computer.
FireShot is an extension for Firefox, Chrome, Thunderbird, SeaMonkey, and Internet Explorer. It lets you capture, edit, annotate, organize, export, upload and print screenshots from the Web. There are quite a few capture options: entire page, visible part of page, selection or browser window. One of the unique things about FireShot is the full set of editing and annotation tools that it provides. Plus, it can even allow you to capture flash content.
With Pixlr Grabber you can copy, save, edit and share screenshots and images from the Web. There is an extension for both Firefox and Chrome. You’ll be able to grab only the visible part of the page, a defined area or an entire Web page. You can then share it on Imm.io (an image sharing site by Pixlr) or save it to your desktop. Saving it your desktop then allows you to drag and drop or upload it to your blog post (depending on what you’re using to create your content).
With SEO Blogger, you can “find the most sought-after keywords for your subject without ever leaving your blog editing screen.” It currently works only in the Firefox sidebar via an extension. It allows you to research keywords, see how popular they are, and compare them instantly with other keywords. You’ll also be able to see how many times you’ve used specific keywords in your content. This is great for keeping track of the keyword density in your posts which is a big part of SEO.
SEO Book isn’t just one tool, it offers a large selection of free and premium SEO tools for bloggers, webmasters and SEO professionals. The tools offered range from Firefox extensions, to Web based tools. They also have numerous tutorials, tips and articles to help you learn how to properly optimize your blog to increase traffic and rankings. SEO Books is like an SEO goldmine; you’ll be glad that you stopped by.
Ping-O-Matic is a pinging service that lets search engines know that you’ve updated your blog. You can select the different services that you’d like to ping. The services listed are updated regularly, so you can be sure that only the most important ones are listed. You can ping your blog directly from the Ping-O-Matic site or by using the bookmarklet.
Shareaholic makes it easy for you and others to quickly share your blog posts all over the social Web. There is an extension for just about every browser, plus an awesome WordPress plugin (called Sexy Bookmarks) that you’ve probably seen used all over the Web already. Shareaholic supports over 100 services for sharing and saving your content.
Feedburner is an RSS management service that provides custom RSS feeds and management tools for blogs. It also offers traffic analysis so that you can see how many people are viewing and clicking on the content in your feeds. There is an integrated advertising system that lets you inserts ads in your RSS feeds and earn money. A great feature is the ability to add links for content sharing at the bottom of your feed items via Feedflares. Feedburner really gives you total control and the ability to easily optimize your RSS feeds.
Now it’s your turn. What’s your favorite tool or application that makes blogging easier for you?
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