If you've been following along the last few months, I've started a new series called Social Media Sunday where I share some of the things I've learned over the last few years of blogging. We've talked about how to increase engagement on Facebook, what not to do on Twitter, I offered a free blog planner download, and even shared with you my blog stats. I have some great ideas for future posts about using Pinterest and Instagram to grow your page views and following, but first let's dive into some blogging resources. These are the tools that I use on a regular basis to run this blog
Finding nice photos to use on your blog is important! But using pictures you find on the Internet without permission is stealing. You wouldn't want to do anything illegal to get in trouble, sued, or get your blog shut down, so never steal pictures from the Internet to use on your blog. Ideally, take the photos yourself, but sometimes that is not possible. I regularly use a site called Photo Pin that offers free creative commons photos to use on blogs. You can download the picture as long as you include the photo credit. It is a free, easy, and legal way to get photos for your blog. Don't let this happen to you.
Canva is a great site for designing blog graphics for those of us that are not graphic-design inclined. There are tons of free layouts, images, and icons to use to create free blog graphics, social media graphics, and more. They also offer thousands of professional stock images for only $1 each for a one time use license. If you've ever looked into purchasing stock images you know this is a lot less expensive than traditional stock photography. The catch is that it is a one time use license of the image. With this license you are paying to use the image in one design only. You have to make any changes to your design within 24 hours to avoid paying for the license again. Because I think professional looking images can make big difference in a blog post (especially when it comes to sharing on Pinterest), I sometimes invest in these stock images. I usually buy a package of 11 photo downloads for $10, it is slightly cheaper than $1 a photo and I can download them as I need them.
Once I find the photo I want, I use PicMonkey to add text, overlays, and frames to spruce it up. It makes editing photos so easy and fun. I used the free version for about a year, until recently, when I bit the bullet and upgraded to Royale for $33 a year. I think it is worth it for the advanced features and fonts. I made the image for this blog post using PicMonkey.
I've raved about this app in previous social media Sunday posts. The app is called Just Unfollow but I use it primarily for finding new targeted followers. It is a great app to use to grow your Twitter and Instagram following. It allows you to find new people to follow by copying the followers of other related accounts or by searching for accounts using specific keywords. I look to follow people that have similar interests, like running, blogging, or dogs. These are the people that would most likely be interested in following me back. The free version lets you follow up to 50 people in a 24 hour period. I follow 50 like-minded people, then wait a few days, and use the app to unfollow anyone who has not followed me back, then repeat the process. I get about 100 new targeted followers a week using this app for both Twitter and Instagram.
Google Analytics is an important site if you want to get a true look at your blogging stats. I use the Blogger platform to run this blog and I noticed the stats in Blogger are greatly inflated (sometimes as much as three times). I look at the Blogger stats to feel good about myself and feed my ego, then I go to Google Analytics for a reality check. Google Analytics is considered the industry standard, so if a PR rep or a company asks for your stats, this is what they are probably expecting. It's great to see how many people landed on your blog, how they got there, and how long they stayed. I'll admit I don't understand all of it and I am sure there are lot of tools that are available that I am not using, but I think at the very least it is good to set this up to understand your basic stats.
I love HootSuite because I already spend too much time in front of the computer. HootSuite allows you to schedule Twitter and Facebook posts in advance. I only use it for Twitter for a myriad of reasons that I won't get into now. When I have a post that I want to promote, I spend 15 minutes in the morning scheduling posts for the day. I usually schedule the same post three or four times throughout the day with slightly different wording. Twitter moves so fast, it is unlikely that the same people will see it each time. I also schedule to share the posts I've enjoyed from other bloggers. Remember the first rule of blogging and social media. Social MEdia is not all about ME.
Tweet: Remember the first rule of blogging and social media. Social MEdia is not all about ME via @gealenders.
I recently learned about RoundTeam from my blogging friend Carla at Real Into. I like sites that take out some of the work in keeping up with social media. Let social media work for you instead of you working for it. What I like about RoundTeam is that you can set up automatic Retweets. The first thing I did was set up a RT anytime someone tweeted my Twitter name (@Gealenders). I added filters so it wouldn't retweet anything with profanity in it. (Hopefully people aren't tweeting my name with profanity, but it is just a safe guard.) Then I set up a list within Twitter with the fitness bloggers that I trust the most, that routinely publish good content. These are the bloggers I most want to make sure I am supporting. I set up RoundTeam to automatically RT when my special list of bloggers posts something using specific keywords. I used keywords FitFluential, Running, and Runners, so if any of my trusted bloggers use one of my keywords in a tweet, and doesn't use profanity, then my account will automatically RT it. I filtered it so it wouldn't RT a RT, just original tweets that they authored. You don't have to use keywords, you can set RoundTeam up to RT anything a trusted person on your list tweets, but I didn't want to RT everything in case the person pushed Pinterest pins to Twitter or was having a conversation with someone else on Twitter. It would seem kind of stalker-ish to RT everything a person was tweeting. My keywords narrows down the things that are most likely relevant to what I would RT manually.
A couple of common sense things to keep in mind if using this resource.
1. First thing to remember is to monitor it. If someone tweeted that I was an ugly jerk (who would do that?) my RoundTeam account would RT it. Obviously, I want to monitor what I am RTing on a pretty regular basis (i.e. every day).
2. Only RT trusted content. My list of bloggers are people I really trust and I know they would never ever tweet inappropriate things.
3. Don't forget that actual engagement is important. If you sit back and let the app do it all, you miss out on the chance to really engage with people. RoundTeam is a great catch-all to make sure I am supporting my fellow bloggers, but I still want to go back and actually read and comment on the things I am retweeting, because that is the real support I can offer.
4. I've had a few situations where I realized my RTs were overboard. Once a person was participating in a Twitter chat about running. I logged on and found that the app RT ten things that were all conversational. It was embarrassing enough that I had to explain to the person what was going on.
So what do you think? Do you use any of these? Am I missing anything?
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