• Advice

15 tools to take your blog to the next level

This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send your blog post to us here.

If you are starting out as a freelancer, sooner or later you decide to start a blog. As a blogger, you take on many different roles. You’re a writer, marketer, and designer (unless you’re a rock star at outsourcing). With so many tasks to manage, are there ways to make it all easier?

Most definitely.

Check out these amazing (and free!) tools that bloggers can use to streamline their tasks.

1. Trello

Trello is a productivity and organization tool that helps you manage your endless to-do list.

Start by creating a “board” and assigning custom lists within each board. Then, add “cards” or tasks under each list to organize everything in an easy-to-digest manner.

For each card, you can add comments, files, due dates, and more. You can even invite others to view your board, which makes collaborating on a multi-author blog super easy.

Take Trello with you on the go with Android, Apple, Kindle, and Windows apps.

2. Canva

If you like the look of overlaid text on blog post images, don’t hassle with expensive or confusing software.

Canva offers a free solution complete with templates, images, shapes, and more. If you want more personalized options, upload your own images and design custom text layouts.

You’ll also be able to choose from predetermined sizes, such as those optimized for social sharing, or you can enter in your own dimensions.

This service comes completely free, but you can choose premium features for $1 apiece.

3. Pixabay

When you’re seeking a cheap image options, opt for photos free from Pixabay.

There’s no charge to download them, and you don’t even have to attribute the photos. You’re also free to modify them as you wish.

Create an account to save your favorites, and if you’d like to support the photographers, you can do so via PayPal donations.

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4. Google Analytics

If you’re not already using this tool for your blog, now is the time to start. Google Analytics delivers reports about your website’s traffic and its sources.

With its in-depth insights, you get more than just traffic numbers. You also get reports detailing how people are using your site, making this free tool key to discovering new ways to make your blog better.

You can upgrade to Analytics Premium if you’re working at the enterprise level, but most bloggers will be satisfied with the free version.

5. Google PageSpeed Insights

You’re probably already using a ton of Google’s tools, like their Webmaster and keyword tools, but their PageSpeed Insights can be invaluable to bloggers as well.

Page speed is reportedly used as a ranking factor by Google, but even if that doesn’t matter to you, it’s still a good idea to maintain a quick site to enhance the user experience.

With this tool, all you have to do is enter your blog’s URL and you’ll get an instant report on the good and bad about your page with tips on how to improve.

6. Buzzsumo

Buzzsumo is a fantastic content research tool. When you’re trying to come up with blog post ideas, this site will show you what types of topics are trending based on a certain keyword.

Use this as inspiration to expand on trending topics on your blog or to put a new spin on them.

Further your research by analyzing content for specific domains and even taking a look at all trending topics on the web. Use this tool for free, or upgrade for more options.

7. TweetDeck

For bloggers who are active on Twitter, TweetDeck can help you better manage your account. Use it to customize searches, get alerts, and even schedule your tweets. Tracking analytics are also available, allowing you to track hashtags, events, and topics.

It’s organized in an easy-to-digest way where you can view your home page activity, notifications, and messages all from one screen, making the Twitter experience for your blog easier.

8. Quicksprout is packed with excellent resources for bloggers. The first of which is their tool that delivers an SEO, speed, and social media report for your domain, complete with suggestions on how to improve your site.

You’re also able to add competitor domain names to see how your site compares to theirs. Along with this tool, there are also numerous educational resources on the site.

Start at the blog where you’ll find hundreds of articles on blogging and marketing topics, and then take a look at the free guides, like The Complete Guide to Building Your Blog Audience.

9. Feedly

If you’re not using this RSS reader in 2015, you should sign up now. As a blogger, you probably read a lot of other blogs. Not only is this practice great for keeping up-to-date on industry news, but it helps with networking, which can ultimately grow your audience.

Feedly organizes all your favorite blogs in one place. With this tool, there’s no reason to go checking back for new content on each site as it all shows up in your account feed.

Plus, you can download the Feedly mobile app to take the latest stories with you on the go.

10. Hemingway App

Hemingway App is an incredible tool for all writers, but it isn’t your average proofreading tool. While it will catch your spelling errors, Hemingway App also highlights sentences that are hard to read, makes suggestions for how to clear up your language, and lets you know when you’re using passive voice.

Use this app to tweak your blog content so it’s easier to read. Your audience will thank you!

11. Rescue Time

Like most bloggers, you probably get easily distracted when working on projects, but sometimes, you don’t really know how much you’re getting distracted. Rescue Time changes that.

By installing this free browser plugin, you’ll start to learn which sites take up most of your time so you can adjust your habits and boost your blogging productivity.

If you upgrade to the premium package, you’ll be able to set a schedule for blocking certain websites.

12. Click to Tweet

As a blogger, social shares are important to you. With Click to Tweet, you can boost your chances of readers sharing your content by making it easier for them.

Develop your own custom Tweet, and then insert a Click to Tweet link into your content. Basic links are always free, but if you’re looking for more features and activity tracking, you can upgrade to a Pro plan for less than $5 per month.

You can also use this as a WordPress plugin to easily create attractive Tweet links straight from your editing dashboard.

13. Headline Analyzer

You’re well aware that great headlines are important to your blogging strategy. With CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer, you can instantly run a report on the quality of your headline.

Reports cover word balance, character count, and keywords. Aim for a green check in these categories to create headlines that draw crowds and have impact.

14. MailChimp

While there are plenty of email list applications out there, MailChimp is perhaps the best one that will get you started for free.

Under the free option, you can have up to 2,000 email subscribers. It’s easy to create eye-catching email newsletters, and it’s simple to integrate with WordPress.

15. SumoMe

A free account with SumoMe will get you started with all their apps that can help improve your site. For instance, take advantage of their heat map application that shows where people are clicking on your site, or check out their content analytics tool that tells you how much of your content people are reading. With these reports, you can better develop a blog suited to your audience’s browsing habits.

Running a blog can be a time-consuming endeavor, but with these tools, you can save time all while productively managing your blogging tasks. Which mentioned tools are you already using, and which ones are you eager to try?

I'm Mike. Graduated media student who is interested in blogging, social media, SEO and PPC. When I'm not online, I'm probably at woods making pictures since my personal hobby is photography. Check out my website here!