Building a blog that matters is a full-time gig these days, especially if you want to stay ahead of close to 200 million other competing blogs – which you do, right?
You need to be on you’re A-game all the time, and as a result it’s just too easy to get caught up doing ‘everything’ on your blog. If you’re like most bloggers, you spend your time constantly tweaking your sidebar, installing new plugins, changing your optin form and rewriting your about page.
These are definitely useful activities, but only if you can see they are optimizing your blog – like the load time, the bounce rate, time people spend on your pages, or increasing your conversion rate – like more subscribers, more sales, or more referrals.
If that’s not happening then why are you wasting your time on these things?
I can assure you there are better ways to spend your precious time, and I want to show you how with these great apps that are made for helping busy bloggers, like you and me. Plus we will look at the best plugins that alleviate a lot of this ‘extra tweaking’ time you’re currently engaged in.
Spend Your Time Doing The Right Things
First off I’d like to say that if you really want a blog that sparkles like a diamond in the blogosphere sea, you need to focus on three things:
1. Writing killer content that provides your audience with, either a ton of value, or high quality entertainment, so that your posts are shared like crazy.
2. Guest posting on other sites with audiences that you would like to lure back to your blog, who would benefit from reading your posts, watching your videos, listening to your podcast – whatever your ‘unique thang’ is.
3. Writing amazing emails or newsletters, alongside your blog content, that people look forward to reading every week or month and actually forward to their friends. That way you increase your subscriber base, so you have a bigger audience to reach, empower and sell your goods and gifts to.
So let’s get on to the juicy stuff, shall we?
3 Time Saving Apps For You And Your Blog
If you haven’t heard of the most popular social media dashboard in town, then let me introduce you. Hootsuite allows you to post one message to several different social media sites from one simple place. You can select your LinkedIn Page, Google Plus Page and your own Facebook profile for example, to post a specific update. What’s even better is you can autoschedule a time that’s optimized for your audience. You can keep tabs on keyword searches for your name, Twitter handle or competition. You can have your Twitter lists streamed in a tab so you’re only digesting tweets and updates from people who matter – not the general noise. It works with Google Analytics and keeps stats on your clickthroughs and sends them in pretty reports. It’s that useful.
This should be in every bloggers toolkit. This free cloud storage app allows you to sync files across computers, smartphones and the website, so you can always access your key stuff. Dropbox is perfect for sharing public links to your free or paid eBooks, podcasts or videos. You can also store your blog images, blog articles – anything you need to access at any time – even if you can’t access your computer. It’s great for sharing folders with others so they can access large files and it’s a fantastic backup solution if you lose stuff off your computer too. Time saver, user friendly – get it.
Let’s face it, since we’re online so much, it’s very easy to get carried away with visiting other blogs, commenting on them, wasting time on social media that does NOT serve a purpose for our blog, and having way too many browsers open at once. All great bloggers know that you get your best work done offline, when you can write uninterrupted and let your creative juices flow. Say a big hello then, to the StayFocusd Chrome extension.
Get started by selecting which sites you spend the most unproductive time on like Facebook, Twitter or Mashable. StayFocused blocks that site when you try to go to it, and also makes it hard to disable it. So you should get a lot more work done, and free up time later in the day for fun stuff.
7 Plugins To Save Your Bacon
Tweet Old Post
If you’ve got hundreds of posts from the ‘good old’ days that people aren’t discovering then welcome to your new best friend. Tweet Old Post is a free plugin that does what it says on the label. You can define what categories you want it to pull posts from, and exclude posts that were time dependent like events or product launches. It’s brilliant for keeping old content alive! You can also define the hashtags you want used with all tweets. I have more of my old posts retweeted sometimes than new ones, and it reminds me of the popular posts I used to write… and whether I can ‘rehash’ them to form a new post.
Yet Another Related Post
While we’re on the subject, what better way to tell your readers who are enjoying your current post about XYZ, then to show them your related posts from the archives about similar topics. Yet Another Related Post is the best plugin I’ve found for showcasing blog posts that match the same terms included in your current post. It guides your readers to learn more and stay on your site by clicking on the next post. You can set it to use text links only or a thumbnail too (highly recommend including images to attract their attentions).
This is an especially useful plugin if you’ve found your blog is ‘leaking’. If someone tries to search on a page or post on your site that you’ve since changed the permalink for, then you will lose them in an instant if they get directed to an ‘Error, this page does not exist’ message. So instead use 404 Redirected to easily redirect people to existing page, or to an even better page based on the URL the visitor was most likely trying to visit – this plugin is smart. Plus it tells you where that visitor came from and where it sent them so you can keep track of what’s going wrong on your site.
Broken Link Checker
Carrying on from above, you now need to do something about this once and forever. That’s why you’re going to love Broken Link Checker for its life-saving abilities. This plugin monitors links everywhere on your site and detects links that don’t work, bad redirects or images that are missing. It tells you how many broken links you have from your dashboard view, so you can set about fixing them (or outsourcing this so you can get on with running your business instead).
All In One SEO Pack
Even if you’re not an SEO whizz,you can take a damn good shot at it with this fantastic plugin, All In One SEO Pack. It’s simple to install, the settings allow you to optimize your blog settings to be found in search engines, it integrates Google analytics, and automatically optimizes your titles and meta tags. It works by providing a simple option at the bottom of each post to enter in your blog post title (which you can make different from the one displayed when people read your blog), a short description and keywords. There’s the pro version too that has even more features like automatically optimizing your titles for search engines.
Simply Backup Your Blog
All of the time you spend lovingly nurturing your blog would be wasted, if one day it crashed, got hacked or was taken prisoner by your hosting company. So the most useful thing you can do today is to install Simple WordPress Backup. Not surprisingly this is exactly what it does. Makes backups for your WordPress site simple. You can choose to have your site emailed to you once a week. Just do it.
Twitter Anywhere Plus
Hat tip to Benny Hsu for pointing out this great plugin which you can see in action on his blog. Twitter@Anywhere Plus installs a simple retweet box on your blog post that makes it dead easy for readers to retweet your post by prepoulating the text in it for them. Making it super simple and showing them what they will retweeting on the page makes it much more likely they will.
So to recap, as a blogger, you need to remember what counts most. That is writing epic content, guest posting to get known and build a community and writing fantastic, shareable emails or newsletters to keep people engaged.
In order to do this you need to focus in on your most productive activities – the above, by using free apps such as SmartFocused, Hootsuite and Dropbox to keep you on track and minimize your time spent doing extra curricular activities.
Then you need to install the key plugins we discussed above to ensure your blog is optimized for the search engines and your readers, and is saving you valuable time spent doing things manually.
All this means happier you, better quality blog, more time to do stuff you love. Win, win, win all round.
Now it’s your turn – tell me how you’re going to save time and focus on the important stuff?