Like most Mommy Bloggers, and working Moms in general, time is of the essence! When I have spare moments to devote to my blog, those minutes must be spent wisely and efficiently. The best blogging advice I can offer is to familiarize yourself with the best time-saving tools and services. It has taken me a year to perfect my blogging routine and strategies, and every time I’ve discovered a new tool, I’ve kicked myself for blogging so long without it!
Here are my favourite time-saving blogging tools:
Best All-Around Blog and Social Media Post Scheduling Super System: CoSchedule (referral link)
I love calendars. I love agendas. I love to SEE my schedule, otherwise I can’t plan and I can’t wrap my head around what I have to do (both online and in real life). I like to plan the old fashioned way. I cannot get over the fact that I only just discovered a service that takes everything I love about my paper agenda and makes it an online editorial calendar that does EVERYTHING. My full review is here.
How to Get Your Instagram Images From Your Computer to Your Mobile Device: Latergramme
Instagram remains an almost entirely mobile application: you cannot directly upload your images to Instagram from your computer. There are a few work arounds, but they are frowned upon by Instagram and features of your account may be disabled if you use them. Latergramme is the perfect, completely acceptable shortcut for getting the images on your computer onto your Instagram account, and scheduling when you want them to appear. Simply install the app on your mobile device, and login to your account on your computer to upload your pictures. You can caption and hashtag your image, then drag and drop it onto the calendar at the date and time you’d like the image to appear. Your images will not be automatically Instagrammed: at the scheduled time, Latergramme will send a push notification to your mobile device. You then open the Latergramme app which will send your image over to Instagram, where you complete the posting process.
When I’m scheduling all of my Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest posts on CoSchedule, I finish up my adding my blog post image to my Latergramme queue.
Schedule Your Emails To Be Sent At the Right Moment: mxHero
mxHero works with your email provider (I use it with Gmail) to add crazy cool features of which the only one I’ve tried so far is “Send later.” When I was planning my #MamanLoupThanksYou event, I wanted to make sure that each of my daily sponsors was reminded of their commitment the day before. But remembering and finding the time to send those emails… well, that’s trickier. So one night I sat down and wrote all of those reminder emails ahead of time. This was just one of the ways that my Bloggiversary event almost ran itself!
Design Gorgeous, Professional Images: Canva
When I first got my domain, I didn’t even know how to add text to my images without having some kind of image-editing software. I didn’t have a clue that such tools were available online! I quickly adopted PicMonkey as my go-to blog-image-editing service, including watermarks, making collages and Facebook banners. I signed up for the paid service to have access to more features. Then Kristen from When At Home told me about Canva… and no more monkey business for me… Canva is amazing! (See the image at the top of this page? Made it in minutes with Canva.) Canva is free to use, you only pay if you use some of their paid images (there are plenty of free images, lines and other embellishments). If you do use a paid image, they’re $1 each.
Get Stock Images for Free and Without Watermarks: MorgueFile and Pixabay
So if you don’t want to pay a buck for stock images from Canva, there are many online sources of no-charge, copyright free images! Again, I didn’t have a clue about this until I read this blog post from Kristy Girl. I usually use my own images, but there are certain times when I need a more generic picture. (See the image at the top of this post? The clock? Yup, got that at MorgueFile.)
Choose Your Winners in Facebook Giveaways: Woobox
Trying to run a giveaway on Facebook where a random liker or commenter is the winner? I used to do this by counting the number of comments, then using Random.org to select a random number, then counting through the comments (awkward and sometimes impossible to display all at once and in the correct order) to find my winner. Woobox does this for you. You sign up via your Facebook account and link up your Facebook page. You can then see all of the posts on your page in the “Posts” tab, and for any post on your page, you can select a winner based on likers and/or commenters.
Queue up Social Media Shares at Pre-Determined Times: Buffer
I love to share interesting articles on my Facebook page, but when I’m reading articles at 10 PM, I don’t want to bombard my fans with five articles all at once. How did I used to do it? Well, I’d pin all the articles I found interesting to my “Read Later” Pinterest board. Then, I’d consult that Pinterest board when I needed something to share or when I wanted to schedule some activity manually on Facebook. So… Buffer makes scheduling and sharing a one-step process. Install the Buffer app to your browser, click the icon when there’s an article you want to share, and customize that share with your own comments. Within your Buffer account you pre-determine your share schedule for Buffer to fulfill. (For example, if you want 5 posts to be shared every 24 hours, you can set up those times and Buffer will plug in the articles as you find them.) I only use the free version of Buffer, but you can connect more social media accounts with the paid version. Oh, and I JUST realized I can use Buffer straight from Feedly!
Monetize Your Blog With One Platform: MomAffiliates
MomAffiliates is my favourite system for finding affiliate programs and sponsored post opportunities to monetize my blog. I signed up less than a month ago and have earned money from referring other bloggers to the service (Like you!) and by writing a sponsored post. Companies post offers for sponsored posts and you can apply in a couple of clicks. You design ad widgets to post on your page, and receive commission for purchases made through those ads. You can also get coupon codes to share in social media, and I now have an affiliate deals tab on my Facebook page. There is a wide range of companies to suit the focus of your blog.
Host Your Blog: Green Geeks (affiliate link)
Moving my blog from WordPress.com to WordPress.org was something that really, really intimidated me. I have little to no back-end knowledge of websites or CSS, and I had no clue how to go about bringing all of my blog content over from WordPress.com to a self-hosted, WordPress.org site. I signed up with Green Geeks, and they did the entire transfer for me within 24 hours. I was able to reach them at any and all times via e-mail or chat, and my site was up and running on their servers in no time. It cost me $160.38 for three years of hosting and 24/7 support.
Master SEO Even if You’re Not Sure What SEO Stands For: Yoast
Oh SEO…. I may or may not have been blogging for over a year without a solid understanding of what Search Engine Optimization really means. I’m kind of surprised I made it this far. Now that I have the Yoast plug-in installed on my page, every blog post I put out is optimized… regardless of the fact that I still don’t even really know what that means. Below my posts, I see this…
… and all I have to do is follow the instructions and fill in those blanks until I get a “green light” from Yoast, telling me my SEO is good!
Organize Your Sponsors and Fellow Bloggers: Google Forms
When I need to gather information from sponsors or fellow bloggers, I use Google Forms. What revolutionized how I use Google Forms was when I realized I could receive a notification every time someone filled out my form. What the what?! That way when I post a call for sponsors or bloggers, I can simply embed the form on my blog and wait for the submissions to roll in!