Every guest blogger needs their own arsenal of tools to make the work effective and manageable. And I’m afraid this goes a lot deeper than just using Microsoft Word + Gmail and calling it a day. In order to efficiently handle things like planning, writing, tracking, outreach, etc., you will need a bit more than that.
So what follows is my own list of favorites. I did test a lot of tools over the years, and the set I’m presenting today has simply proven to be the most effective at making my work easier and ultimately better. In other words, without these tools, I wouldn’t be able to guest post even half as often as I do now.
Group #1: Writing tools
I actually stopped using MS Word a long time ago. And not that I don’t like something in particular about the platform, but I’ve found another solution to be much more in tune with the way guest blogging works.
Here’s the thing, since most of guest blogging is done on WordPress-powered sites, it’s simply a good idea to write your guest posts in WordPress right from the get-go. What I do is I create every guest post as a draft on my own blog, and then I just export it as HTML and send it over to the blog I’m targeting.
This gives me a couple of benefits:
- When I’m sending the HTML, I can be sure that it’s going to be compatible with the other blog. After all, they’re running the same platform as I do.
- WordPress gives me post revisions, so I can come back to whatever previous version of any given post.
- WordPress gives me a great backup of every post I’ve ever written.
The other writing tool I use is Google Docs. But hold on, I don’t actually write in it. I use it to export my work from WordPress to Google Docs as a way to have a nice preview of the content I’m just about to send to some blog. I’ve found that blog editors enjoy the fact that they can quickly glance over a post without having to get into the HTML code.
The last thing I consider being a writing tool – even though it doesn’t seem like one – is f.lux. In short, it’s a piece of brilliant eye-saving software. What it does is it looks at the current time, and if the sun has gone down, it alters the colors of your display and prevents it from emitting blue light. This allows your eyes to relax, making for a lot friendlier writing environment when/if you’re working in the evening.
Group #2: Visual tools
Writing a guest post on its own isn’t always enough. So the method I’ve been using for a while now to make my posts seem more unique is adding some visual elements like custom graphics, GIFs, and etc.
Taking this extra step can set you apart from other people attempting to guest post on the same site.
I use a range of tools for that. I talked about the methods in detail in one of the previous posts here.
Group #3: Planning tools
By far, the most effective planning / productivity tool for me is FreeMind. It’s a mind mapping tool. The best thing about it is that it’s free and works on all popular platforms. Plus, unlike other mind mapping tools, this one provides keyboard-based graphical interface, so working with it is lightning fast.
If you’re not a fan of mind mapping and prefer a card-based approach, that’s okay too, in which case feel free to check out Trello. In simple terms, it works much like sticky notes, only on your computer. It’s free (the basic package of features) and easy to use.
Group #4: Outreach tools
Let’s make this one quick. Here’s a set of tools and methods that I’ve called my action timeline – aka. how to get from pitch to publication in six steps.
Group #5: Idea tools
My bank of ideas is easily one of the main documents in my arsenal. Quite simply, it’s a file containing the various ideas I have for guest posts, their corresponding blogs, as well as short descriptions and comments on the things I want to write about in those articles.
While I’m calling it a file, it’s actually a note, an Evernote note. I know this isn’t a surprise, but Evernote does a great job at keeping my bank of ideas safe and accessible from anywhere (and at any given time).
Note. Using Trello or FreeMind is also another possibility for your bank of ideas.
Group #6: Landing page tools
As we discussed here before, having a quality landing page is a key element to making your guest blogging efforts worthwhile.
When it comes to the technical side of things, I prefer either of these solutions:
LeadPages. It’s an external platform that lets you create great looking landing pages in minutes. Then you can integrate them with your site. Those landing pages are optimized to gather opt-ins, invite people to webinars, or do whatever else you want to achieve through guest blogging.
WordPress Landing Pages. It’s one of the few functional and free landing page plugins for WordPress. After activating it on your site, you will be able to create custom landing pages through the familiar WordPress’ interface.
MailChimp or SendinBlue for building your list. Building your email list is one of the most popular goals for any guest blogging campaign. The sole nature of guest blogging makes it more in tune with a concept like list building than with direct selling, for example. To take advantage of that, you naturally need an email newsletter service.
MailChimp is one of the biggest players out there. They offer free accounts up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 email messages per month. SendinBlue is the new (French) player in the game. Here, you can send up to 9,000 emails per month for free, but you also get access to autoresponders (something you have to pay for at MailChimp). So the choice is yours.
Group #7: Tracking tools
Finally, it’s time to track your results. There are two pieces of the puzzle here. You not only have to find the right tools, but also pick the metrics worth tracking in the first place.
This is something we talked about quite recently, so feel free to have a look at this post. What you’ll find there is an explanation of the role of tracking in guest blogging, as well as the five things worth measuring to keep your finger on the pulse.
What is your favorite guest blogging tool? Should we include anything else here?