DISCLAIMER: This is not a sponsored post nor am I, in any way, affiliated with the following companies.
This post has been sitting in my drafts for months, and I finally got around to finishing it today. As you may have heard, blogging is fun, but is also tedious. Gone are the days when one just whips up a post without even thinking about what cover photo should go with it. However, blogging, like technology, evolves over time.
I didn’t care about the aesthetics of my blog nor the many other things that comes with it until about a year ago when I started reading other people’s blog, and realized what’s been lacking in mine. Here’s a rundown on the tools and resources I use, and I hope you find these helpful, too.
I switched from WordPress to Squarespace in August 2014, and I don’t think I’m making a comeback anytime soon. I like how I can make my blog look a certain way in spite of my little knowledge in coding. I’m not saying that Squarespace beats the functionality of self-hosted WordPress blogs, but Squarespace is currently providing just what I need, so I’m sticking with them for now.
I have both of these applications installed in my Chrome Extensions, and they pretty much do the job of checking grammar and misspelled words that may have slipped my attention. It’s worth noting, though, not to rely so much on these apps because it remains highly-recommended that you proofread your work twice (sometimes, even thrice) before hitting the publish button.
Remember that datebook I got from a while back? Well, I’ve been using it for both personal and blogging purposes. I recently bought a large desktop calendar for our desk back in cousin-in-law’s house, but Roan and I decided to leave it there when we moved out because it’ll just take space in our new apartment. The desktop calendar now sits by my bedside table and is always in-sync with my iOS calendar. Being the type A person that I am, having a pen and paper next to me all the time is a necessity.
I’ve had DropBox for two years now, and I initially registered to have a backup of all our wedding-related documents. You’ll get free 2GB of space up-front, but did you know that you can earn at least 500MB bonus space when the friends you invited joined DropBox, too? I now have 6.2GB of storage space just by doing so!
Ever wonder how I manage the links that will be featured in my From Across the Web series? The Pocket app does that for me. I also have this app installed in my Chrome Extensions and in my phone. Every time I stumble upon blog posts or articles in the web that I loved, I just save it in my Pocket, and voila! Oh, and did I mention that you can read saved articles offline? Sweet.
Social Media Sharing
I have been a long-time user of Hootsuite. I think I first started using it back when I had a BlackBerry. I’ve been aware of its ability to schedule tweets back then, but never could’ve imagined that it’ll come handy for blogging purposes. Another application that does this is Buffer; however, the free version of this one only allows up to ten queued tweets at a time.
While their purpose is the same, I use both apps in two different occasions. I often use Hootsuite when sharing other people’s posts because I can queue them up as many as I wish, and it will automatically send tweets for optimal impact.
I use Buffer for when I want to automate sharing of posts from my own blog. This is because I’ve recently added a personalized shortened link from my bit.ly account, so tweets with links generated by Buffer will appear as gorjaeo.us/xxxxxx. It’s not a must, but it’s just a personal preference for consistency. See examples below:
[WOW.] The Chinese Art of the Crowd http://t.co/CitA58Tz8n
— Jӕ (@gorjaeous) May 9, 2015
— Jӕ (@gorjaeous) May 12, 2015
IFTTT (or If This, Then That) gives you creative control over the products and apps you love. It allows you to personalize what they call “recipes” to control commands. For example, IF I post a photo on Instagram, THEN save the photo to Dropbox. It’s a pretty fun application that I discovered late last year, and I’ve been using it since. There are a plenty of recipes to choose from, but you can always customize your own. I just might make a little tutorial on this application soon, yes?
Image Resources (other than my own)
I have a little confession, and it’s something that might blow your mind. I don’t own a DSLR camera or a point-and-shoot one for that matter. I only take photos for my blog using my iPhone 99% of the time. Back home, I used to borrow Dad’s DSLR when we go on a trip to take pictures or my brother does it for me. Owning a good quality camera is a luxury I cannot afford at the moment because of my current priorities. I can get one right now, but I don’t want to regret spending on an expensive camera that can wait.
Enter [free] stock photos.
I didn’t know how to use them until I learned Creative Commons when I worked as a production editor for a UK-based publishing company. Most free stock photos are licensed under Creative Commons Zero (CC0), which means that you can use them however you want (for free) without the need of asking permission from or providing attribution to the photographer.
Unsplash is probably one of the best resource out there because what you see from their archives is what you get. Death to the Stock Photo also provides high-resolution photos, but in order to get hold of them, you need to sign up once, then you’ll receive your monthly dose of stock photos straight to your inbox. Photos from Creative Market may not be entirely free, but when you sign up for an account, they will deliver free goodies weekly, which may include a set of free stock photos for future use.
Whenever you’re using a photo that isn’t your own, it’s important to always check whether it’s entirely free to use or it falls under a different Creative Commons license. You don’t want to get into serious trouble using other people’s works without their permission!
- Photoshop CS6
- Illustrator CC
- Lightroom 5
- VSCO Cam
If I’m not using stock photos for my blog posts, I edit my own in both Photoshop and Lightroom. Photo adjustments and enhancements are usually done in Lightroom, then text overlay are added in Photoshop. I used to use my own handwriting when adding text overlays on my cover photos (such as this) with the aid of a stylus, a tablet, and Illustrator, but that has become a tedious task that I eventually got tired of doing. I don’t have a formal background in using these softwares; curiosity encouraged me to learn on my own. VSCO Cam is rather self-explanatory because I know most bloggers use this for both Instagram and blog photos.
Unfortunately, the above-mentioned Adobe softwares aren’t for everyone. I’m sure there are still some who prefer to use less-complicated softwares that produce the same outcome. This is where Canva and Fotor come into the picture. You don’t have to be a professional to make your work look like one. Editing photos in these softwares is simple—what you see is what you get.
When I used to blog with WordPress, following a blog(ger) meant automatically subscribing to their email list. Moving to Squarespace required me to find a reliable counterpart to continue sending a consolidated list of recent blog posts, and that’s what MailChimp does for me. I used to send a corresponding email to all my subscribers as soon as I publish a blog post, but I eventually switched to a weekly newsletter to avoid spamming my subscribers’ mailbox. It’s a free software, but if you have 2,000+ subscribers on your mailing list, then you’re eligible for an account upgrade.
RSS Feed Reader
Bloglovin’ used to be my primary blog reader, but it has become buggy lately, so I switched to Feedly. I manually added all the blogs I follow on Bloglovin’ to my Feedly account, and it’s so far been a great experience. Flipboard, on the other hand, is often used for reading news on current events. I oftentimes find inspiration from there, too.
There you have it, guys. These are the softwares and applications I normally use when I blog. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I use a MacBook Pro primarily for blog-related stuff. I’ve had it for a little over a year now, and it’s been a great investment.
What other blogging tools and resources do you use?