Companies in just about every industry and of every size want to launch a company blog, and understandably so. Blogs – with their fresh content, keyword-rich text and (hopefully!) original ideas – are search engine bait.
Still, it can be daunting to launch a blog, let alone maintain one, especially for small companies already constrained by budget woes and an understaffed workforce. Fortunately, this is 2012, and the Internet practically hums with hundreds, if not thousands of tools that anyone can use to maximize their blogging efficiency. Check out these FREE tools to help you become a lean, mean blogging machine:
With Google Alerts, you can select keywords and keyword phrases of interest to you in your business, and Google will send you regular emails that list all the mentions of those keywords or phrases across the web, including news articles, social media mentions, blog posts, and even videos. If your business manufactures aftermarket auto parts and you have a blog, you’ll probably want to get Google Alerts on keywords such as car repair, auto recall, and car parts. Anytime you run out of ideas for your blog, check your Google Alerts for ideas on what’s going on in your industry.
My favorite is Google’s Reader, but there are plenty of others out there, including FeedDemon and My Yahoo. If you have a blog, you probably visit many other blogs and other external sites to keep up with conversations around your industry. RSS readers aggregate all of these different sites and pull them into a central location online so that you don’t have to keep a million bookmarks on your browser. Visit your reader periodically for more topic ideas and to network with others in your field by commenting on their own blogs
I can’t imagine my life without Evernote, and I still think I haven’t tapped into all of its organizing goodness. Evernote is an application available in a mobile, tablet and browser version that allows you to collect web pages, images, videos, and just about anything else you find on the web into one, user-friendly account. Save single URLs or even entire web pages for future reference, categorize them by topic or keyword tag, and organize them into “notebooks” for easy searches. Or just use Evernote’s OCR-powered search box – it can even search words within clear images. Does your company make unique dog toys? Snap a photo or even record a video of a dog playing with one of your toys directly from Evernote’s smartphone widget and upload straight to your Evernote account. Because it syncs directly with the browser version, the next time you open Evernote you’ll find that video or photo waiting for you, ready to be dropped into your blog post.
One of the best ways to avoid writer’s block is to plan for it, and editorial calendars allow you to do just that. You don’t have to write out entire posts in advance – simply add blog topics to the calendar. If you run a dog daycare facility, your blog topics may include “How to clean your dog’s feet,” “Join us Friday evening for Yappy Hour,” “50% off daycare every Tuesday,” “Welcome to our new office manager, Steve,” and “Why socialization is important for every dog.” Add these topics to specific days on the calendar, and you’re already halfway to finishing those posts. Create your blog editorial calendar using Word, Excel, Outlook’s calendar, or take advantage of numerous sample editorial calendars shared freely by bloggers on the web. If your blog is powered by WordPress, you can install this nifty editorial calendar plugin.
Have other tips and/or tools that you use to make your blogging more efficient? Feel free to share in the comments!
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