To celebrate 7 months of blogging today (woo!), I thought I would share with you all the programs, tools and software I use to help with my blogging. Some of these I’ve been using for a while, some I’ve found recently. All are free, because I always look for those first, and these haven’t let me down yet.
Photo Editing Software
If you haven’t heard of this one, you’re missing out! It’s a free to use online software for making anything photo related. You can make headers, graphics, etc, and it’s all easy to use. They have a lot of free photos and layouts to use, and so much more! I really recommend just opening it up and having a play. It’s the best way to learn, and I love using it for featured images on my blog, my videos, and for Pinterest.
There is a lot of free stuff on there. You can also buy more premium images and layouts, but I don’t think you’ll ever need to. Try it out online here.
There are a lot of free photo editing software options out there, but this one has worked the best for me. It has all the basic tools I need, when it comes to editing and filtering. It’s also super easy to use, and it just makes my photos look a little more done up. I would one day like to actually learn how to use Photoshop properly, but for now, this will do.
So this is how my original photo looks like in the editor. First up, I like to use Auto Level. It just makes the lighting more even, I guess is the best way to describe it. Then I play around with everything else. Bloom is another favourite, it makes the colours ‘pop’ more. Sometimes I like to crop. Then when I’m happy I save it. Here’s what my finished photo looks like:
Very minor changes in the end. But I like to make things a little brighter, both in terms of light and colour. It just looks nicer in the end. Also, it’s just so much fun to play with the software. You can find a link to the free software here.
I very recently discovered this, but it is incredible! Look, I’m totally guilty of using images from Google Photos and just sticking it in my blog. Yes, I give credit to the original site it was taken from (which I didn’t used for a long time), but I’m trying to step away from that. I want my blog to be more of my own, my own photos, my own words…but sometimes, I just don’t have the photos of what I want! So now, I go to Unsplash, which I highly recommend.
Each photo gives you a link to who uploaded it, so giving credit is simple. I mean, you don’t have to, but it’s nice. You just search for any image you want.
For example, let’s search for coffee.
And that is only a tiny section. Essentially, it’s a whole collection of photos, where anyone from around the world can upload and share, and they’re free to use. It definitely inspires me to up my own photo game. You can find them here.
Yoast by SEO
I heard about this from the wonderful Bella, and have since seen it’s name thrown around in my blog learning and exploring. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, basically, how easy your blog is to find on the web. There’s a bunch of factors that go into this (keywords, descriptions, image description). If you’re self-hosted, then you want to take your blog further, and this is a big part of that. This plugin helps you navigate all that. If you’re not self-hosted, you don’t really need to think about this.
It has a guideline on how to ‘optimise’ your post in terms of readability, and keywords (how it looks through search engines). Basically it helps to increase reader engagement, and increase visitors from Google and Bing. I’m still very new to this and I don’t follow it to the letter, but it has been an interesting learning curve. You can find the plugin here.
I know it’s not the best system, and I would love to do it on paper, but I hate crossing things off and getting it messy. It’s weird. So I need a digital planner, and surprisingly, Powerpoint has been the most helpful. I downloaded a calendar for 2017, and for each day, I just click and write my post idea. If I change my mind and want to shuffle things around or cross things out, then I just erase and rewrite. It still looks neat!
This has been my planner tool since starting back in March. It just works for me, and I can plan a week or month in advance. You can find lots of calendar online templates from Microsoft.
I primarily blog from my laptop. It’s where my planner is, where I back up all my photos, and where I write pretty much all my posts.
This is where my on-the-go planning happens. I make little memos during the day if I get inspired, or if I’m reading a post and get inspired, then I bookmark it and come back to it at the end of the day. It’s still kinda my main camera, as I bring it with me anywhere, so if there’s a photo opportunity, I take it. It’s also what I use for Instagram, which is my second most used social media.
My point and shoot camera is getting a little old, so I upgraded to a beginner DSLR! I’m still getting the hang of it, but the quality of the photo alone is such an improvement. Even than my phone camera! The process may be more complex than just pointing and shooting, there’s more dials and buttons, but it’s also so much more fun! It is a bit more difficult to bring with me everywhere (as it’s bigger than my phone), but after work and on the weekend, it’s become my go-to.
This has been amazing in my photo taking and video filming methods! I don’t have to balance my camera in weird places as I can attach my camera to the tripod and know it won’t fall down. This has also made taking outfit photos so much easier, as I don’t need to worry about asking someone to stand and take it for me.
So yeah, this got a bit longer than I thought it would. But these are all things I use in my blogging. Not all at once, and some I use with some posts, but not others. But altogether, these all help with me with me general blogging game. I think we all have blogging ‘tools’ that help us, you just need to figure out what works best for you!
What’s one of your essential blogging tools? Do we share any?
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