Ok first thing first I don’t really consider myself to be all that great of a blogger. I think I identify with photography much more than I do blogging! That being said I do love the community in blogging. And I’ve been lucky enough to work with some of my favorite dream brands over the years.
But one thing that always has left me struggling was just how many blogging and business tools there are out in the world.
It seems like every time I log on to Facebook I see some sort of add for a business tool or blogging tool that will make me an a m a z i n g boss lady. Whether they actually do or not, I’ve sifted through the weeds and found some of the best blogging tools out there that have helped me become more successful.
Planoly – $84/year
For everyone else who is obsessed with how their gram looks, I couldn’t suggest the Planoly app more. It’s the only Instagram planner that has an app a n d a desktop version.
I personally use the desktop version as a place to write all my captions and the app as a quick way to get my pictures to my phone. I tried the free version to cut back on monthly spending, only to have to switch back to the subscription. However, if you aren’t on there a lot or don’t feel limited by the 30 upload max per month the free version should work perfectly for you.
Pixieset – Free
I believe that you should look as professional as possible online, as you would if you were in person. (Especially if you are starting to charge brands.) I use this tool to turn in photography branding projects, as well as, more multi photo social media campaigns and have always heard such praise for the polished look of Pixieset galleries.
I use the free version, but there is a paid version that let’s you integrate your gallery into your website. It might not seem like the biggest difference maker, sometimes it’s simple things like being enjoyable to work with and a bit more polished that can make all the difference.
Bonus – you can turn off the download option so companies can actually view the photos and pick what they like best b e f o r e your campaign goes live.
WD My Cloud – $150 to $300
If you ever travel and don’t want to be tied down by the inconvenience of a desktop, I couldn’t suggest Western Digital My Cloud enough. L is my tech guy for this little space and he swears their refurbished hard drives are just fine, plus they help save your some extra cash.
So for now I use the 4 TB single drive option and soon I’ll be switching to the pricier dual 4 TB option as I was gifted my dad’s old 2011 iMac. This is a tool that is probably not the most exciting purchase you’ll ever make, but when you are across the country traveling it’s really nice to have a wireless hard drive you can depend on.
Photoshop + Lightroom – $9/month
This is possibly the best bang for your buck when it comes to improving your photography. At just $9 a month Adobe’s Photoshop + Lightroom is possibly the best investment I’ve made for my photography. (Along with a camera upgrade of course.)
If you need help mastering the two programs I couldn’t suggest Creative Live enough. Any ‘Live’ class is free and I’ve found some really helpful hints when I catch the right one. Also, Mastin Labs does live edits and it’s sort of impressive just how much you can learn from watching someone else edit. (Even if they have an entirely different style compared to yours.)
Tailwind – FREE
… For now. I’m still in the free trial version of this program and truthfully I don’t think I’ll be paying for the subscription once I reach my 100 scheduled pin max.
Well… let’s just say I’ve slowly realized I have better engagement with Pinterest when I manually pin. Carly explains it perfectly in her book (that I couldn’t suggest enough) and quite frankly the less I have to pay for the better. Carly and then my other favorite blogger, Paula, both pay for the use of Tailwind. Both use it differently. So I think it has value, I’m just not sure if I would appreciate it’s value at this point in my blogging career.
So here is what I suggest:
Sign up use the free version for a couple weeks.
Stop using it.
Manually pin for a couple weeks and see if you saw a difference that I did.
If you have more success with Tailwind, I say full steam ahead! But if not I would save the $9/month for something else.
Mailchimp – FREE
The bad thing about loving your Instagram feed or Pinterest profile? It’s really just borrowed time on someone else’s land.
Neither you nor I can help what happens to social media, but we can all have email lists we own. The best thing I have ever done for my blog is to start an email list.
In fact, one of my own goals for 2018 is to start offering more unique posts for my own email list. And while I am I still super small (I just hit 100 subscribers) I use Mailchimp. It’s a free option (until 2,000 subscribers or 12,000 emails/month) and is a great way to connect with your readers beyond just the regular Google search.blogger
So just start. Big or small, you won’t regret it!
All of these applications have certainly become some of the best blogging tools in my eyes. They tend to nail the elusive balance of being affordable and providing lots of value. There are definitely more pricey tools I’ve had my eye on, but for now these more cost effective ones have provided plenty of value to my little blogging world.
What is a tool that you use every day?