This is a guest post by the creators of the new site Bloggers’ Domain: 369 (and counting) blog tips, tools and resources.
One of the most exciting things about being a blogger is finding new ways to improve your blogging experience. Whether that’s by implementing a new plugin to give your site extra functionality, finding an untapped traffic source to boost your reader numbers, discovering a resource that will help you create more entertaining posts, or learning of a website that’ll reignite your blogging mojo.
Here, we’ve listed 15 blog tools and resources you may not have heard of (none have been featured in ProBlogger articles prior to now—we checked!). Some are new, some are hidden gems, and some are old favorites too good not to share.
1. Hello Bar
What is it? The Hello Bar is a simple notification bar that sits across the top of your blog. It’s designed to deliver a single message, either a link to a post you’re trying to draw attention to or your latest tweet.
Three reasons to bookmark it
- The dashboard provides you with options to customize it.
- You can view the all-important click-through statistics at a glance.
- You can then use this data to work out what grabs your readers’ attention the most, and adjust it to something else if need be.
Did you know? It’s fast becoming popular with its invite-only approach to site membership, and the likes of Seth Godin, Tim Ferriss and Chris Brogan all having added the Hello Bar to their blogs or websites.
What is it? A social-media conference directory.
Why is it worth bookmarking? Sometimes, the best places to learn about all things online, is offline. And getting to know your readers and fellow bloggers IRL (in real life) is a highly rewarding experience. This is where Lanyrd is useful—use it to find blog conferences by topic or location. Find out who’s going, their Twitter handle, and other conferences they plan to attend.
Bonus info: Can’t make it to the event? Lanyrd collates numerous resources covering it, including write-ups, videos, slide decks and photos. Learn what went on, even if you weren’t there.
3. HTML Ipsum
What is it? Pre-written HTML ready and waiting for you to use.
Why it’s worth knowing: If HTML doesn’t come easy to you (and that’s okay—not everyone’s an expert at it), this handy site will make adding tables, ordered lists, and more headache-free. Simply find the HTML you’re after, copy and paste it into your blog’s HTML editor, and replace the text with your own.
How refreshing! It’s as simple as that. No sign-up, invite-requesting, tweeting or liking required. Just head to the site and use it.
What is it? A tool designed for blogger outreach.
How does it work? For publicists, it claims to provide the tools required to reach bloggers who’ll care about their story. For bloggers, it lets you set up your preferences for how you like to be pitched—email? LinkedIn? Twitter? The choice is yours. BlogDash also lets you select the type of opportunities you’re open to receiving, such as products to review or events to cover.
Bonus info: More than 25,000 bloggers are currently listed.
What is it? A very simple newsletter tool you can use for free.
Why is it worth bookmarking? If you’ve ever wanted to charge your readers for a newsletter subscription, but lacked the technical set-up know-how, TinyLetter is as simple as they come. Simply create your account, decide what you’ll charge per month (or of you’ll charge at all), and embed the sign-up form on your blog. Easy.
Other options? The Letterly.net concept is similar, however readers must pay to subscribe.
What is it? A Twitter tool that tells you the best time to tweet for maximum impact.
How does it work? By looking over your last 199 Twitter messages, Timely analyzes the best times to schedule your tweets for the highest engagement. Including a link to your blog? Well then of course the more people who see it, the more traffic you’re likely to get from it.
Also note: Timely is free, but the pro account features also include letting you post to Facebook.
What is it? A reverse image search tool.
Why would you use that? Scenario 1. To help discover if one of your images has been used on the web. Scenario 2. To try and find the origin of an image you may have discovered that you were hoping to use on your blog.
How does it work? With image identification technology. Either upload the image you’re reverse searching for, or enter its URL. Either way, you’ll be shown results whether they’re the same, and have been cropped, or even Photoshopped.
What is it? A shortcut for finding, resizing and using Flickr Creative Commons images.
How do you use it? Simply search for the image you’re after, select from one of the many options, and choose how you’d like it sized and positioned. Copy and paste the HTML into your post article and you’re done.
Bonus info: The image is embedded on your blog, complete with Flickr credits.
How is it described? As a developer’s tool for monitoring and debugging websites and applications.
Why is it worth bookmarking? For a free, quick check-up to find out how fast your blog is. Enter its URL and click “Run checkup”.
What happens next? You’ll get a result indicating how your site compares to the average speed of others checked that day, as well as an idea of how fast your site is considered in plain English. For example: “Not so fast.”
What is it? A broadcasting tool allowing you to host your own video talk show right from your blog.
What can you do with it? You can take “live” calls from your readers who can participate via web cam or chat. Worried about who might appear on your video? Set up a friend as a “screener” to preview them behind the scenes.
Features worth noting: You can cut to close-ups of the host or caller, making your production look extremely professional.
What is it? A tool to check for available usernames.
Why would you use it? Along with setting up a new blog, comes setting up its related online profiles (Twitter, Facebook, and more). Consistency is key for your “brand” so try to register the same usernames or vanity URLs if you can.
Bonus info: NameChk will search across 160 of the most-popular sites. A similar tool is KnowEm.
12. My Blog Guest
What is it? A directory for bloggers looking for, and offering, guest posts.
Why is it worth bookmarking? Sometimes you’re short on time to write a post—especially if you’ve got a vacation coming up and you’re trying to schedule content in advance. Guest posts can help you save that time. My Blog Guest acts as the man in the middle, helping you find guest posts to publish, or blogs that will publish your writing.
Stating the obvious: Guest-posting is a great way to get new traffic to your site.
What is it? A simple tool that creates color combinations with the click of a mouse.
Why would you use it? Using an easily customized theme is one thing, lacking an eye for color is another! The Color Scheme Designer will help you quickly choose a color palette of up to four colors and you can feel confident they’ll work in harmony on your blog—even if you’re not Leonardo Da Vinci.
Clever feature: If you’re the type who just can’t make decisions, click “random” and see what you’re offered.
14. My eCover Maker
What is it? A 3D ebook cover-maker.
Why is it worth bookmarking? It offers free ecover making options, meaning you can have a professional-looking book cover to download in minutes—no sign-up required.
Worth noting: You’re not limited to ecovers. This online tool also lets you create 3D images of software boxes, iPads, and iPods (though sign-in is required for these features).
What is it? A Firefox Addon that measures an area of your screen in pixels.
Why is it worth using? If you’ve ever tried to create buttons or graphics, or insert images of a particular size into your blog, getting the size exactly right can sometimes be tricky. MeasureIt is like a ruler for your screen, taking the guess work away.
Bonus info: MeasureIt is just one of many useful Firefox Addons to help with the design aspects of your blog. Others include Firebug and ColorZilla.
What’s your must-use blogging tool or resource?
Bloggers’ Domain is the home to all things blogging. It’s an extensive list of click-worthy resources (such as those listed here), for bloggers of all platforms, levels of experience and budgets. All items are categorized and arranged in alphabetical order, making them easy to find. The site also offers a 2011 Blog Conference and Event Calendar.