I spend a large amount of my time blogging, so much so that I’m really starting to wonder what I used to do with my life before I began my little space of the Internet. Due to the pure amount of time I put in, I’m always on the hunt for new websites or tools that can help me with my blogging journey, by saving me some time in the long run, making those tasks easier or helping me make my blog look the way I envision it. So today, I thought I would round up and share with you, my top 10 websites that I think would also be helpful to other bloggers
Bit.ly is such an easy tool, but so effective when it comes to blogging. Put simply, it’s a tool that allows you to shorten your links very easily, for example this post’s link can be shortened from http://emilyloula.com/top-10-helpful-sites-for-bloggers to bit.ly/1Hif2Xc This is super helpful when you are limited on the amount of characters you can post on social media. Bit.ly also allows you to track how many people have clicked on your links, as well as shared them on other platforms. It’s a really simple interface, and it’s great to come back to when you’re promoting posts or scheduling tweets (I’ll talk about this later), as all your shortened links are in the same place. They also have an app, which again is really simple to use and perfect for promoting your amazing content on the go.
If you’re a blogger or the owner of any site, I would imagine that you’ve already come across Google Analytics but I thought I would mention it anyway as it’s so handy to have. To get started you have to connect your analytics account to your blog, but after you’ve done this the once, you’ll have an array of data about your site, and visitors at the tips of your fingers. You can find out so much information from Google Analytics, I could honestly spend hours on there checking all the different areas. The section you can see in the screenshot shows my visitors from all around the globe – how interesting is that?! You can find out your most popular pages, the times your site is most active, how long your readers spend on each page, and how they ended up on your site in the first place. I’ve started to use Google Analytics quite regularly now, and I’m really trying to learn how to make my site grow from the information I’m receiving. It can be a bit tricky to get your head around at the beginning, but it’s honestly worth it!
I mentioned earlier about scheduling tweets, and Buffer is my tool of choice for this task. Not only can you schedule tweets from this interface, but Facebook, LinkedIn & Google + posts too. You can choose how many times a day, and what times you’d like to post and set this separately for each account. For example, my Twitter is set to post about 4 times a day, whereas my Google + and Facebook accounts are only once daily. The great thing about Buffer is it actually can post pictures as well, instead of a lot of other scheduling tools that will only tweet a link to the photo. Again, this site has a handy app too, which is simple to use, and perfect for scheduling your content on the go. The free version of Buffer lets you schedule up to 10 posts at a time, which is OK for me, I just have to remember to go back and top it up!
Canva is one of my newest discoveries on this list, but definitely one of my favourites. Any time you see any graphics coming from me, whether that’s on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest etc, they’ve all been created through this site. I also made my social media account headers on here too, as well as my blog sidebar buttons. It’s so easy to use, with a really simple drag and drop interface, with loads of fonts, templates, images and backgrounds to choose from. Some of the items you can use you have to pay $1 for, but I’ve managed to keep everything I’ve used free so far, and haven’t paid a penny, so it’s definitely doable. Canva also has preset designs and size templates that are really handy, for example they already have a template set up for the correct size of a Google + header, and a Pinterest infographic. If you haven’t tried this out yet, definitely give it a go – you won’t regret it!
It’s only been within the last month or so that I’ve actually stopped using PicMonkey to edit all of my photos. I now edit the majority within Lightroom as I find this works really well with my file structure on my Mac, but I always come back to PicMonkey. I still use it to quickly re-size images, or to add text to photos like the swatches above, but it definitely does a good enough job for you to use to edit all of your photos, all the time like I used to. It’s a free photo editor that you use within your browser which has hundreds of really great features. You can edit the brightness, contrast, shadows and highlights easily, as well as sharpening your images, and adding some text or frames. If you’re a novice at editing photos, PicMonkey is a great place to start, or if you’re just looking for a new way to edit your photos, you should definitely check their website out!
Recently, I’ve been seeing that it has come to a lot of Bloggers attention, that you can’t actually just download a picture from somewhere like Google Images, or Pinterest and use it on your blog post. You’ll need to firstly ask permission from the owner of the image, as well as having to credit them on your post, which for a lot of people is too much hassle. Personally I’ve never done this myself, and I won’t do because I’m aware of stock image sites such as PEXELS. These type of sites allow you to download images that are not only free for personal and commercial use, but you don’t have to attribute the owner in your post. There are many of these types of sites, and you can find them easily by giving ‘Free Stock Photos’ a quick Google. Personally, PEXELS is my favourite that I’ve come across, with 5 new photos added daily of all things Nature, Abstract, Landscape and Technology related.
If you’re on the lookout for a new font to use on your graphics, or a new signature font for your blog, DaFont is definitely the place to look. There are thousands and thousands of free fonts that you can easily download and install on your computer. This is another site that I could spend hours on, browsing all the different fonts – there is honestly a perfect one for everybody.
IFTTT stands for IF This Then That and is a website and app that allows you to create ‘recipes’ which work together to control your products and apps. For example, I use a recipe for my blog, so that everytime I post a picture to Instagram, it also posts it to my Twitter and Tumblr accounts. I use a different one that automatically logs all of my blog posts from WordPress into a Google Drive Spreadsheet and another to tell me when the UV levels are high and I should apply suncream. There are thousands and thousands of recipes that do all kind of things on here, from alerting you if it’s going to rain, to automatically saving any pictures you’re tagged in to your Dropbox account. The possibilities are pretty endless, and there’s some great recipes that can really save you some time in the blogging world, as well as some nifty ones for everyday life.
If you’re anything like me, and enjoy tweaking your theme or editing your blogs code, W3 Schools is the place to learn how to do all of this. There are so many free, easy tutorials on this site, that can help you to learn a whole load of coding. Any HTML code I’ve ever needed to add to my blog, I’ve found from this site, and I’ve been able to easily implement it. There’s all sorts of different snippets of codes you can use, from formatting your text, adding images with links, changing colours or creating a table. Best of all, it’s really simple to navigate and play around with, and completely free to use with no sign up.
As a blogger, Google Drive is honestly a tool that I couldn’t be without now, and one I use every single day that I’m blogging. Firstly, I actually write up all my posts from within Google Drive, on Google Docs, before I copy them across into WordPress when I’m ready to post. I find the interface really easy to use, and it syncs my documents between all my devices, so no matter if I’m at work on my lunch, at home in my bed on my mac, or stuck on a train with my phone, I can always finish that blog post I started earlier. Within Google Drive I also use a lot of Google Sheets, which is their equivalent to Excel and is super easy to use. I use Sheets to create various different spreadsheets such as the various analytics and followers for my site, as well my new post ideas so I can keep track of what photos I’ve taken and which posts I’ve already promoted. Any photos that I need, such as the pictures I create for my Twitter from Canva are also uploaded to my drive, so they are easily accessible from all devices, and you can actually open photos directly from Google Drive into PicMonkey, which is so handy! Google Drive is free and when you sign up you get 20GB of space to use which would be more than enough for most people. I’ve actually upgraded mine so I have 100GB of space, which only costs me £1.29 a month – but it’s definitely well worth it!
So that’s it for my Top 10 websites for bloggers, I really hope that this post has been helpful to you and you’ve found a new tool to use in the future! Are there any sites here that I mentioned that you haven’t tried before, that you’d like to give a go? Have you got any new sites or recommendations for me? As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments, and thanks so much for reading!