Since there are many different free blogging tools out there on the internet, I did thorough research to find the best ones out there. I have found twelve that I now regularly use myself. I would like to share them with you and I will also tell you how you can use them when writing a blog. In the previous, first part, ‘ 5 free tools for the best blog ideas and catchy titles ‘, I explained which tools you can use to generate blog ideas and come up with a catchy blog title. In this second part, I take a closer look at tools you can use to edit and promote your blog.
You can use the AIDA method to structure your blog. This stands for ‘attention – interest – desire – action’. If you want to know more about this, you can consult the Mindtools blog.
Did you know that most people don’t actually read on the internet, but scan? Therefore, make sure that your blog is easy to scan. You can do this by writing short paragraphs and inserting (many!) Subheadings, lists and images.
Where your blog title attracts readers, try to get their attention with a cast-iron introduction. Include a personal or interesting story from an expert or celebrity to keep their attention. Alex Turnbull found that by applying storytelling in the introduction this way, it draws up to 300 percent more readers to your blog who also stay on the page up to 520 percent longer!
According to Neil Patel, stories can work, but there are good and bad ways to tell them. He shares a tip: if you want to start your article with a story, only reveal the conclusion of the reader is already further in the article or at the end. This is one of his 9 tips for writing strong introductions.
- Keep your first sentence short.
- Say something unusual.
- Do not repeat the title.
- Keep the introduction short.
- Use the word ‘you’, ‘you’ or ‘you’ at least once.
- Explain what the article is about in 1 to 2 sentences.
- Explain in 1 to 2 sentences why the article is important.
- Refer to an organization or issue that your readers may have.
- Be careful with stories.
There are some other important things you should know when writing the blog. The Blog pros website analyzed the 100 highest-scoring blogs and turned them into a very useful infographic with answers to the question ‘What makes the perfect blog post?’
My own research resulted in a number of essential things that I saw recurring in successful blogs. You can incorporate these things in your own blog to make it more credible, easier to share, and easier to find.
Add social media buttons
In order to share the blog as easily as possible, it is useful to add social media buttons for your readers. If you use WordPress for your blog, you can install the DigDig plugin . You can easily add a floating sidebar with social media buttons.
Add ‘tweetable quotes’
With ‘sound bites’ or ‘tweetable quotes’ you can attract more social shares to your content. People like to share short quotes or wisdom, so it is not surprising that tweetable quotes can deliver up to 200 percent more tweets. You can create ‘ tweetable quotes’ via an online service or with WordPress Plugins such as TweetDis
Add keywords to your URL
According to Google, it is best to put three to five keywords in your URL for better findability. For this blog, the keywords are ‘tools’, ‘editorial’, ‘promote’ and ‘blog’.
Include links to other successful blogs
Blog pros‘ study of 100 top-grossing blogs found that successful blogs average about 10 links in each blog. When adding the links, choose the ‘open in new tab’ option so that the reader doesn’t lose the original page (your blog post).
Trending hashtags within your industry can help you stand out. To find these, you can use the Ritetag tool.
The end of your blog is just as important as the introduction. Most people remember the opening and the lock instead of the core. Your last sentence is read by people who can. On Rainmaker.fm, Demian Farnworth shares 5 ways to write the perfect slot.
- Add a call-to-action: one small action can already bring about a change and so it remains manageable.
- Summarize the conclusion: people read the blog title, scan the article, and read the end because they are looking for a summary.
- End with a cliffhanger: don’t tell everything, but keep the reader excited until the next article or video.
- End with a question: leave the reader feeling they are missing something. The last sentence starts with ‘of ‘ and provides an ‘aha-experience’.
- Your end should feel like a book that closes: it should connect to the beginning of your blog. So that the reader has discovered a new idea/solution or learned something new.
Finding affordable images
It is not easy to find affordable images for your blog. Fotolia is great because they have an extensive database with affordable quality photos that you can use for your blog. But Pixabay and Kaboompics are also good options for free photos, vectors, and illustrations. For your information, I share the steps I go through (in Fotolia) to find suitable and affordable images for blogs:
- Choose the nouns from your blog title. Those are your keywords.
- Type these keywords into the search bar in Fotolia. You will then receive the best fitting images. Then choose an image that you find suitable for your blog. To find similar images, click ‘find similar content’ at the bottom of the image. Now you can choose an image. Note that with a free account, the image has the Fotolia watermark. If you have found a useful image, you can buy credits to pay for the image.
- Insert the image in the top right or left corner to increase readability. According to Buffer, placing an image in the top right or left corner of your blog will shorten the first few lines in your blog. This shortening results in fewer characters per line. Fewer characters per line have a psychological effect on the way we view content. The fewer characters, the easier the text to process, and the less difficult it seems.
How many images should a blog have? The results of the Blog pros study indicate that 100 successful blogs averaged one photo for every 350 words.
Editing the text
Before publishing the blog, it is wise to thoroughly check it for language and spelling errors or strange sentences. Usually, you read about it yourself because you have seen the text so many times before. To check the readability of English-language blogs, you can use the Hemingway editor or readability-score.com.
The editor gives your text a score and suggestions on how to improve your blog. I have not yet been able to find a comparable tool for Dutch blogs. We will have to do it with the spell check in Word for now.
To check your blog carefully for spelling and grammar, you can ask a friend for feedback. I haven’t been able to find a useful tool that makes that process easier. Of course, you can also use Google Docs or the Share a Draft plugin from WordPress. Medium also has an option to share a concept blog with friends before publication, but there is no way for your acquaintances to edit or comment on it. So I’m still looking for a tool that allows editors to review the same blog together. If you’ve found one, let me and the rest of the readers know by leaving a comment below this blog.
Promoting your blog
Support your blog with attractive visuals. The easiest way to make them is to use Canva. It is a free web-based design tool that helps you create web, blog, or social media images (with the correct dimensions for different social media platforms). Canva for Work has recently been officially launched.
If your content consists of many numbers, for example from a survey, Piktochart is a better and user-friendly option. With that, you can make the most beautiful infographics for free. Have you made a survey with Surveymonkey? Then you can import the results directly into Piktochart.
Once you have your visual ready, you can start publishing your blog. You can do this in different ways, for example via email or social media. With Mailchimp, you can easily create mailing lists that you can divide into different segments (target groups). To publish on social media, you can use several free tools available, such as Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, and Buffer. I use them all, currently, Buffer is my favorite because it is very easy to use on mobile devices, without any complicated extras. If you use WordPress for your English blog, consider CoSchedule to use. This plugin allows you to compile both your blog and your social media content at the same time – before publishing.
Another method of publishing is on external websites or guest blogs. You can do this manually, but this is quite a time-consuming process. That is why I use the ‘outreach tool’ Buzzstream. With this tool, you can use email templates to reach experts and bloggers in your field.
Want to learn more about what you can do to promote your blog? Then you can listen to the podcast of Amy Harrison ‘ Hit Publish ‘ on Rainmaker FM. She shares nine techniques for promoting content after publication.
The tools I shared in this and the previous blog helped me to make writing a blog easier. I hope this works for you too! I am curious about your opinion. Which tools do you use for your own content marketing and why do they work for you? Or do you combine specific tools because of the benefits they offer?