Invest in These 5 Tools to Grow Your Blog Faster
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As a blogger looking to grow my business, I’m always on the hunt for a tools to add that will help me.
In the beginning, it can be tough to decide which tools will give you the most bang for your buck. And there are so many choices – and let’s face it. So little money to go around.
I really will try almost anything once. I give it a whirl and then weigh out if it is truly worth the cost. These following 5 resources I have tried, worked through and decided that they are most definitely worth every penny.
1. Stencil: Best Graphic Creator
I have been a Canva user for many years. Well before I started blogging, I used Canva for all of my marketing needs. I’ve used both the free version and have been paying for the pro version each month for the last two years.
That was until I found Stencil. A recent sale on the software through AppSumo came up and a ton of really respectable bloggers were raving about it. I was definitely open to the option of getting rid of a recurring monthly fee so I tried out the free version.
Did I mention that the app is a one-time purchase? And AppSumo had Stencil on sale from $144 to $39. At that price, I could pay for my monthly Canva subscription fee in less than four months.
UPDATE: AppSumo no longer has this offer, but you can still try Stencil free!
After about half an hour of figuring out the nuances, I was sold and bought the software. Yes, it’s that good.
Outside of the fact that I will save some money in the long-run, I’ve outlined some of my favorite features of Stencil.
Thousands of Royalty Free Pictures, Google Fonts and Icons
This is a great perk. Canva also has this but it’s worth mentioning so that you don’t think that you have to purchase additional stock imagery with your software. There are literally thousands of Royalty free images that you can easily drag and drop into your graphic.
Stencil has built-in Google fonts and if you can’t find what you’re looking for, you can upload your own fonts for easy customization.
Like to work with icons? Luckily Stencil has a ton of them in all different styles to add to your graphics easily.
Social Media Templates
Now, Canva also has this. But what Canva doesn’t have is the extras including headers for social media with the “safe area” shown.
I have several social media sites and have always been frustrated with Canva’s sizing issues on the header graphics. Especially that the sizes never seem to work properly and they are not optimized for responsiveness.
It’s really irritating to spend a ton of time on a graphic only to realise that it doesn’t “fit” properly or is completely cut off on a mobile device. I just don’t have time to go back and redo things over and over.
Now this is super cool. Stencil has a WordPress plugin that connects with your media so that as you complete a graphic, you can easily save it directly to your media.
The other great thing is that you can name it on the spot with an SEO-friendly name instead of having to rename your files as you upload them.
This also makes updating graphics or pins a breeze as you can simply right-click on the graphic in your post editor, click on “Open Image With Stencil” and make your edits right there!
I love when things are just easier.
Browser Extension and Sharing Ability
Another cool feature of Stencil is the ability to add a browser extension and directly share your graphics to all your social media platforms.
The browser extension makes loading the software lightening fast and you can choose any image or quote from a page and transform it into a graphic easily.
Get Stencil Here
2. Interact Quizzes: Best Marketing Solution
I am seriously in love with this idea. Not so much for the boost to my email subscribers (total bonus), but the ability to connect with my audience in a better way.
Interact quizzes are an amazing way to add new subscribers and find ways to segment your readers so that you can give them good quality, valuable content in a meaningful way.
You can read how to create your own Interact quiz here in my full tutorial. In the meantime, here’s a break down of my top reasons it’s made this list.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not a marketing genius. The folks at Interact have pulled all the stops and created a ton of pre-made templates and quiz outcomes to help you find the best quiz for your audience.
Simply choose your categories, choose the type of quiz you would like to create and bingo-bango. Quizzes everywhere! A little personalization and you are ready to run with it.
One of the features that most bloggers employ a quiz for is to collect email subscribers. Interact makes this simple by integrating with almost all of the top email service providers to easily link your lists.
My most favorite part is likely the ability to segment not only the final answers but also each individual question which makes marketing to my audience that much simpler of a job.
Interact also has the ability to connect Facebook Pixels and Google Analytics and will track how your quiz is doing in real time. You can see at a glance what the conversions are from views to actual leads.
This is a great feature so that you can check your performance and tweak as you go along.
Create Your Own Interact Quiz Here
3. Tasty Pins: Best Pinterest Tool
I’m actually surprised at the number of people who still aren’t using Tasty Pins as a tool on their blog. As a blogger that really isn’t interested in learning a ton of coding, Tasty Pins makes my life super simple.
I actually waited a long time to buy this plugin and am kicking myself because of it. Just because I could put the code in doesn’t mean I should have. What a waste of time. And wasting time is something I’m not into.
Hide Pins Without HTML
This is probably the reason most people jump on the Tasty Pins train. There is a code you can add to your graphics to hide them but it can be finicky and I find that with the Gutenberg addition to WordPress, a lot of people struggle.
If you’re into code and want to learn, check out this post on hiding pin images. If not, check out these features of Tasty Pins that I think are totally worth the one-time fee. (You can pay one-time but you won’t get any updates on the plug-in after the first year)
Assign a Pin ID to Help Boost Your Pin Analytics
Have a pin that finally gets some traction but wish that any new pins pinned from your site added to those analytics? Easy. Just add a Pin ID.
What’s a Pin ID? It’s the string of numbers found at the end of your pin URL when you open it up on Pinterest. If you add that number to your Pin ID field in the media section on WordPress, it will automatically add those metrics to the pin.
Now, if you are code savvy, there is a way to add your Pin ID to your code. Again – I am not so this was definitely the easier route.
Create a Dedicated Pin Description
So you’ve gone through all the trouble to create a great pin description and then somehow, you get a graphic with no description. Or maybe somehow the reader has picked a graphic out of your side-bar to pin? Ugggh. That’s a Pinterest fail.
Good news. Tasty Pins has a section that you can add a specific description to any graphic that doesn’t have a dedicated description. Wheww.
Disable Pinning of Certain Images
I can’t tell you how many times I’m looking around on Pinterest and find a graphic that I totally didn’t want to have shared.
Tasty Pins allows you do disable pinning on any graphic within your post as well as to force pinning of a specific hidden image. No more embarrassing or low-quality pins being circulated.
Get Tasty Pins Here
4. Tailwind: Best Pin AutoScheduler
Now I’ve been using Tailwind since early in my blogging career. Working full time and building my blog on the side means I really have limited time to do some of the necessary daily tasks that are required to grow my blog.
I’ve done a few reviews on using Tailwind to schedule my pins as well as using Tailwind for Instagram and I would say that it is definitely one of those must-have tools for me.
Schedule a Month’s Worth of Pins in Less Than an Hour
At first, I really struggled with making this fast. I had read all kinds of reviews that showed bloggers scheduling out a month super fast. But I couldn’t seem to get it to happen.
Most times, I was lucky to schedule out a week in two hours. Until I realised what I was doing wrong. I started using my tribes to schedule out high-quality pins to all my boards in huge batches. And the war was won right there.
Now I easily schedule out a month in less than an hour and just use bits of time to do a bit of manual pinning daily (because fickle-Pinterest seems to like that).
Scheduling at the Perfect Time for Your Audience
One of Tailwind’s best features is that it knows when my audience has been most active with sharing my pins in the past. It uses this information to automatically schedule out my scheduled pins at the best possible times.
This means I don’t have to do any tracking. Yes! I really have too many things to focus on to waste my time on this.
Schedule at Random Intervals So You’re Not Flagged for Spam
The interval feature in Tailwind is something that I didn’t start using until several months in. It allows you to schedule out your pins to any of your designated boards at regular intervals so that you don’t get flagged for spam or kicked out of a group board.
This has been super helpful for sharing because I just set it and forget it. Most of my pins will circulate for two months before I need to go back and update the graphic or description and re-release it.
Tribes in Tailwind are kind of a bonus feature. They are like hyper-group boards. It’s a great way to find high quality pins within your niche and get an extra boost on your pin analytics.
Try Tailwind Free Here
5. CoSchedule: Best for Marketing Your Content
Right off the hop, I knew some kind of scheduler would be critical to running my blog. I wanted something that would do everything without having to use multiple tools (and pay more money).
I tried a couple and finally settled on CoSchedule. I have also done a few in-depth reviews of CoSchedule but I’ve included my favorite features here for you.
Headline and Email Subject Analyzer
This is a totally free feature that you can get from CoSchedule but it’s definitely worth mentioning.
Using the headline analyzer isn’t great for SEO headings but it is really useful for creating click-worthy pin headlines. The email subject analyzer can help you get a better open rate on your emails as well.
Integration to WordPress
Again, anything that’s integrated and makes my life simpler is a win in my books. The CoSchedule plugin integrates directly in your post editor so that you can analyze your headline, upload your graphics and set your campaigns within your post.
This is such an incredible feature that if I had to get rid of everything in my blogging arsenal but one thing- it would be this.
Task Checklist Templates
CoSchedule has built-in task list for marketing, campaigns and blog posts but you can easily create your own. Once they are applied, it will populate in your calendar so that you can keep on top of all your tasks at hand.
I don’t know about you, but I need all the reminders I can get.
Social Campaign Helpers
This feature in CoSchedule is by far one of my favorite once I learned how to do it.
Within your post, you can assign a template of what they call “social helpers’. In this, you assign a placeholder for text, graphics and whatever else you want and then create a template for how and when the social campaign will roll out.
For example, in my blog posts, I have a social campaign template called Blog Post Marketing. This template allows me to add a graphic that will fit a Facebook page, Facebook group and Twitter post. Then I tell it how often I want it to post and click on apply.
After that, all the work is done for me.
There are two reasons that I love the requeue feature. The first is because I have recurring threads in my Facebook group that I want to go out on certain days at certain times. The intelligent requeue allows me to manage that without any hassle or time once it is set up.
The second and probably more importantly, is to reschedule my evergreen content on a cycle through my social media so that I get new eyes on it all the time. I actually set this up in my social campaign template so that it does everything automatically.
Try CoSchedule Free Here
I realise that as a blogger, you are bombarded with a ton of tools that will either claim to save you money, time or both.
I can promise you that each of these tools are must-have items in my blogging tool bar to help me grow my business while still having a regular 9-5 and a busy household.
What tools do you use to grow your blog? Have you tried any of the ones I’ve mentioned here?
Check out these posts with other resources that I use to run my blog here:
- Over 50 Resources and Tools to Propel Your Blog
- How to use a Facebook Group to Grow Your Blog
- How I used Pinterest Ninja to Grow My Analytics by over 1000%!