Every day I use several tools and services for creating, maintaining and promoting my blog, tools that are absolutely fundamental to various aspects of the blogging process. Sure, I probably could get by without some of them…but I sure wouldn’t like to try! And I’m not referring to electricity or the World Wide Web – obviously blogging would be impossible without those!
The common denominator in this list is that they are all free, which probably has something to do with their market penetration. But their value is definitely far higher! Without further ado, here they are, roughly ranked according to how indispensable they are – although as I’ve already pointed out, I couldn’t really do without any of them:
This is a no-brainer. I’ve been responsible for a traditional HTML site before, and take it from me – manually updating pages, navigation, etc and uploading updates via FTP is no joke. These days we take for granted how easy it is to publish a post using a content management system like WordPress, Blogger, Typepad, Joomla, etc.
I doubt a day goes by that I don’t use Google search – as I read somewhere recently, Google has become so ingrained in our culture that the word is now used as a verb (eg why don’t you just Google it?). I use it for news, entertainment, researching articles, finding other blogs, finding sources of technical help, and much more. Sure, there are other search engines, but Google’s market dominance means I never have to use them.
For keeping up with my favourite blogs and finding out what’s happening in my niche, I use Google Reader. This application is a real time and bandwidth saver, and allows me to check my feeds at home, at work and on holiday if I want. It sure beats manually visiting each site to see if it’s been updated!
Feedburner is great not only for knowing roughly how many people are consuming my feed, but also which posts are the most popular (which usually has a lot to do with the quality of my headlines), and which result in clicks through to my site.
Speaking of feedback, Analytics provides invaluable information about a site’s visitors, traffic sources, and how those visitors interact with its content. And the thing is, I only use the basic functionality – I’m sure I could learn a lot more about my site by drilling down a bit further.
Spam represents the dark side of the internet, and unless you want to become a victim, you’d better protect yourself. I find Akismet extremely accurate in identifying and quarantining comment spam before it makes it onto my site. Before I installed it I was getting increasing numbers of spam messages every day, and manually moderating them (grr) – what a chore. Akismet stopped it dead in its tracks.
This great little addon to Firefox gives me a high-level picture of a site’s authority with a single glance down at my status bar, revealing PageRank, Alexa and Compete rankings. It can also automatically highlight nofollow links, and tons of other stuff which is really useful when networking with other sites.
Ease of use, and the fact that it’s available to just about everyone makes this the most widely-used monetization option on the net. If you haven’t tried it yet, you really should.
This is a great way to collect payments from your site visitors without the hassle and expense of needing your own merchant account to process credit card payments. Not only that, but loads of advertising networks and affiliate programs use it to pay partners. Also, the fact that it’s widely used on eBay means your average web user is familiar with it, and thus more likely to use it to submit a payment without fear of having their payment information fall into the wrong hands.
Last, but not least, FileZilla is incredibly handy for transferring files to your web host – images, plugins, etc. I probably don’t use it every day, but when I do need to, it certainly makes my life a lot easier.
I’m sure there are many other essential tools and resources out there – these are just the ones I could name off the top of my head. What about you? Care to share your favourite productivity tool?
No related posts.