Close
Close

Tips from the Trenches: Best Blogger Productivity Tools

When we put together Blog Wise, I thought I would be the only blogger who didn’t use many (okay—any!) of the productivity apps I downloaded. As it turned out, very few of the pro bloggers we spoke to relied on any apps or tools other than Gmail, Google Calendar, and Evernote.

So I decided to ask some of my connections on social media what kinds of tools they use, and I got a great response. Here I’ve compiled the list so that, if you’re interested, you can try some of these tools for yourself. Of course, if you have other time-savers you’d like to add, let us know in the comments.

Software

WordPress plugins

Blogging software

Other services

Hardware

Don’t forget to give us your recommendations for productivity-boosting tools and tips in the comments!

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

Problogger.net runs on the Genesis Framework

Genesis Framework

The Genesis Framework empowers you to quickly and easily build incredible websites with WordPress. Genesis provides the secure and search-engine-optimized foundation that takes WordPress to places you never thought it could go.

Check out the incredible features and the selection of designs. It's that simple - start using Genesis now!

Comments

  1. Sally Hayes says:

    Great post Darren. Not only was it interesting to see the tools others are using in the trenches to be productive, but you personified the real key to blogging success…sharing helpful information. Thank you.

  2. Jeremy says:

    I highly recommend a Wacom Bamboo Fun pen tablet if you’re going to do any video-screen tutorials. The pen itself is pressure-sensitive and it just feels comfortable. Easy to use and to get started!

  3. Lots of tools here, some of which I’ve never heard of.

    I’ve noticed that SU is great for traffic, but most of them end up in a bounce. If you’re getting lots of SU traffic, you’re most likely growing your bounce rate rapidly. (I love the traffic, nevertheless).

    What I would love to see, is some tools for Blogger platform. Many of us still use Blogger. I’ve got a few Blogger blogs (and WordPress ones) and noticed that they’ve brought in some really exciting updates just this past week. I addressed some of these on my latest post, but I’m sure (being the un-tech person I am) I’ve missed some.

    So many people use Blogger, I know some people think it’s dying, but I’d like (for once) to see something addressed to both platforms. It’s like we’re not even here :-)

  4. Janmejaya says:

    i love this topic.
    But can any one share some traffic related topics.

    • wade says:

      Yeah, I have SEO Yoast and it is a very in depth seo program. You can optimize every page, every post, everything that you can think of with search engine optimization, it can do it.

  5. Frank Hamm says:

    Blogging Software:

    - Blogsy App for iPad for WYSIWYG blogging (WordPress, Drupal, Blogger, Posterouse…)
    - Evernote for collecting ideas for topics to blog about

  6. Combson says:

    Have it on my desk for a further reference…Thanks for pointing out Evernote, already installed and connected to my gmail and Drafts Scheduler WordPress plugin..!

  7. Two that keep my life reasonably sane:

    Post Planner, for scheduling Facebook posts (used to use PostCron but had a lot of problems recently and switched)
    RSS Graffiti for posting new posts to Facebook

    Also — using an RSS reader for keeping tabs on a bunch of blogs/forum I follow (I think this idea came from you) — I can quickly skim though 50+ blogs to see if anyone’s posted something new that I might want to comment on

  8. Mark Biernat says:

    Some of the above mentioned tools I would find more useful than others. For example, SEO plugins are a little passé if this is your main hope for increasing your blog ranking.

    However, in contrast tools which can help one write good copy are welcomed. No one will put imagination into your brain. But if you have tools which can help create polished copy, once you have a vision what to write, this in my opinion, can help your blog.

  9. Samantha says:

    I love the kitchen timer idea. I really struggle with keeping myself from obsessing over the articles/posts that I work on. I waste so much time on trying to perfect my message that I have a hard time keeping myself from spending an hour on a post that should take 20 minutes. Great Idea!

  10. An ideas notepad and a cheap kitchen timer are two tools from the list above I use and love, glad to know I’m not the only one kickin’ it old school on some of these things! ; )

    Two other effective productivity tools that work really well for me:

    - I keep a running Notepad doc on my desktop, and everytime I see a great quote I like, I save it into my Notepad doc. Likewise, links to awesome articles, blog posts and videos, etc. This doc is quite long and full to the brim with great material, so when I need inspiration for things to post to Facebook orTwitter, I go to this doc and grab a link, throw in a couple brief lines of commentary, and boom, instant content to feed the social media beast! (I also use this doc to get ideas for my own blog posts for a semi-weekly feature I do called “OPC: Other People’s Content.”)

    - The other tool I just started using that I just love is is the Tweet timing tool, Timely. This has helped me get way more strategic about what I tweet and when, and I love having tweet level analysis so I can guage what’s working and what’s not.

    Thanks for sharing the other tools in your list here, I plan to check out a couple of those as well!

  11. Long says:

    Of all the tools and technology available, I love the pen and a good old pad of paper the most. It gives me the most flexibility to jot down notes, draw, and layout ideas.

    As far as the coffee machine recommendation…I’m going to have to disagree. The best, and cheapest, way to make a great cup of coffee (better than any chain store) is to use a french press. They’re all the same, so pick one up at a discount retailer for about 10 bucks.

    The recommendation is to grind coffee at the last minute just before brewing, but I think buying good beans and grinding them at the store works just fine. A great way to save money and have excellent coffee.

  12. I love the Classical music idea. I love Classical music, and listen to it all the time. Wonder why I never thought of using it while writing blog posts?

  13. Great tools and as some have already mentioned, some of the tools are far important than others…We know of most of them but the one which I find very interesting and did not know is the concept of the kitchen timer…So that is something I am going to look into

  14. Useful list…. Here are my 2 cents:

    Video recording: Camtasia
    Screenshot: Snag it
    Writing: Windows live writer
    Shared Hosting : Hostgator
    Managed VPS hosting : Knownhost
    Unmanaged VPS : Linode or The planet
    Browser : Chrome
    Email: Gmail
    Reader: Zite, Flipboard

  15. I find having some good blogs in your feeder to help motivate you, inspire material, etc helps out.

  16. Might I suggest Simplenote? I write most of my blog posts in it. It syncs across all devices, so if I have an idea I can jot it down on my phone, and when I get home I can flesh it out on my laptop. For me, it’s better than Evernote because there’s no features. Just writing.

  17. Ok, if you are on a Mac, you have to resort to MarsEdit and other items from this list. But if you have Windows, then the picture is much brighter.

    The free Windows Live Writer is for sure the best blog editor available. I am using it for my blog and it’s hard to compare it to MarsEdit, even though the latter is commercial software. I recommend you to search YouTube for Live Writer reviews and tutorials, to see it in action. I consider that software to be among the best created by Microsoft, and the best one created for blogging.

    Again, if you are Windows user, then SnagIt is perhaps the best screenshot (be it picture or video) taking software, even though I don’t consider this to be much related to blogging. Also, it’s not free.

    I totally refuse to understand how Gmail or Google Calendar fell into this list, as they are not related to blogging at all.

    Personally for me, the list of things I am using for blogging also includes HTML editor (the blog is not only consists of posts, but also of pages), Disqus comments service, some add-ons for Chrome web browser which analyze performance of the website, the software development environment (as I am changing the blogging engine to suit my needs), file synchronization utilities, software for screencasts production and a whole lot more, but they are not directly related to blogging, so listing them would be meaningless.

    The list of tools depends from what you do. So basically, the list should contain only the platform (WordPress, BlogEngine.NET or any other) and the offline editor, everything else is irrelevant.

    In my opinion, using the right hardware is no less important – for example, I have a separate laptop just for blogging, and I am extremely happy I made that decision, even though for some people it would look like an overkill.

    Just my 5c.

  18. You can also use the web based http://e.ggtimer.com as an alternative to the kitchen timer. I use it to manage just about every task with great effect (including how much time spend on blog comments:))

    Fantastic list though Darren!

  19. Hando says:

    Classical music and coffee machine would cancel each other out. Do I want to wake up or fall a sleep…? :)

  20. Well, for me music is all I need to get the work done :)

  21. I’d like to see an entire problogger blog post dedicated to blogging on the iPad. I was glad to see all of the ideas posted above including those in the comments, but I think the idea of using my iPad to work on blogs remotely would be the most helpful for me. Has anyone else used the Blogsy app mentioned in the comment above. Is it worthwhile? How well does it work w/ WordPress blogs?
    Thanks for the ideas.

  22. Not huge on tools Darren but I do love Aksimet, super helpful time management tool. Thanks for sharing.

    Ryan

  23. Leon Nooone says:

    G’Day Darren,
    Back in the 1970s, I attended a video training course called “Put It In Writing.” I subsequently ran the program in house at the company where I was Training Manager. We started with a test group of 12 participants’ Within a week, I received 80 requests to take the program.

    One thing I still remember and still follow was this. Never, ever try to “start at the beginning and write through to the end.”

    Start with a blank sheet of paper–or screen these days. Write down everything you can think of that you might want to include in your piece; words, phrases, even sentences. Don’t concern yourself with clarity or cogency. Just get it all out of your head and somewhere where you can see it. Next……..

    Start writing sentences. Don’t concern yourself with what should come first or last or in the middle. Organize the order of the material once you’ve written most of it. Finally, when you reckon it’s pretty good, edit your work viciously.

    Do not read it aloud, unless you’ve written something to be spoken aloud .Reading and speaking are different activities. Something that “sounds great ” when spoken may read poorly and vice versa. Don’t confuse the two. Hope this helps

    Regards
    Leon

  24. mario monk says:
  25. Brad Dalton says:

    I’d add the WordPress Limit Login Attempts plugin because hackers use automated software to scan the internet for url’s ending in wp-login.php and many bloggers using WordPress don’t change the default login username when installing WordPress for the first time.

  26. Jason Mathes says:

    I usually listen to music I like – Pantera, Slayer, Black Sabbath.. so I think Classical is just a preference. Whatever gets the creative juices flowing.

    And I live off of Gmail – so I can understand why it’s on there.

    As to Yoast’s SEO plugin – it is still an important tool to have. But it should only be A tool not THE tool in your arsenal to help you with ranking etc.. But it does so much more than just simple SEO – The In-Page Analysis tool lets you know if your “SEO Friendly” – and it definitely helps with us new bloggers out there. (Not that you should right for SEO – but for your readers…)

    For me two other tools I like are Notepad ++ and a Chrome Plugin call ShiftEdit – Since I only have to edit two files in Thesis – I hate having to look at the WordPress editor to make changes to my site. This helps me out a TON for performing changes. But I wouldn’t recommend it if you don’t know what your doing.

    Another Chrome Plugin I use is Awesome Screenshot – which is great for screen capping off of websites – or adding annotations, arrows etc..

    Last.. if you don’t have a smartphone? Then you are missing out on opportunities! I can monitor my blog, reply to posts using the WordPress app, and of course check emails, tweets, and just about everything I do in front of the computer (except write articles.. ) Oh, and I prefer Android over Apple – but that is just personal preference.

    Great post! I’ll have to check out Evernote.

  27. Irish Gifts says:

    I’ve been using WordPress SEO plug-in for months and it’s really helpful. I would like to try above mentioned plug-ins too.

  28. Paul says:

    Hi Darren,

    I’m fairly new to wordpress, I do most of my Tweeting through the iPad app. I downloaded the wordpress app but not started using it yet.

    I also started using the Jetpack plugin from WordPress. Some great tools listed thank you, I think I’ll use some of them.

    Only downside to using the iPad for blogging, is if you want to change your widgets. You can’t drag and drop within WordPress. I need to find a way round this.

    All the best

    Paul

  29. Looks like I have a lot of downloading to do! Oh well, at least I’ve already got the classical music covered…. I also use Akismet.

  30. i really like Buffer for scheduling tweets.

  31. Color Admin Post plugin for WP automatically highlights your draft and scheduled posts in highlight so you can easily pick them out from the list.

    For writing posts with alot of screenshots, ScreenSteps from Blue Mango saves me alot of time as it automatically inserts screenshots into the editor without me having to download them first.

  32. Glenn says:

    If you are interested in Zemanta but would prefer something more accurate, then take a look at opportunity eye which bases its recommendations on analysis of real world user engagement and not just some internet searches.

  33. Marcin says:

    great selection, I love the list, thanks a lot. Keep rocking!