Friday, 27 April 2018

Friday Favourites (Blogger Resources)


This week's Friday Favourites post is all about the best blogger resources I have discovered and have been using.

The internet is a huge help when searching for blogging how-tos. When I have a specific need for my blog I Google whatever it is and there are usually bloggers who have written about it. This is how I've learned how to create graphics, manipulate social media photographs, automate my pinning, promote posts, and learn more about blogging without purchasing an expensive camera and software.

Bloggers sharing their resources for free helps new bloggers grow and makes blogging as a business more accessible. For example, many professional bloggers will offer free mini-courses on creating Pinterest strategies, content creation and writing for the internet. However, the courses with the most information always cost money, which is unfortunate (though I understand the need to create income sources).  

With this in mind, this week I am sharing what I use. If you ever wondered how to make great pinnable graphics, fix lighting issues in your photographs, use Facebook groups to grow your traffic and other ways to learn about blogging then keep reading.




Favourite Graphic Design Program (Free Version)

Canva


Canva is the internet's answer to Adobe InDesign. I use this program to create my Pinterest graphics, Twitter header, Facebook Page header, blog header, and when I need to make a grid for multiple images.

The app has preset sizes for various types of documents, such as Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Presentation, Poster, Book Covers, Resume, Menus and more. There is also the option to create custom sizes. Each preset size also comes with optional graphic templates which makes creating them easier. For example, for my Pinterest graphics I usually chose a preset template and then swap out the background image and punch in my own title using the fonts already given. I prefer this because I am not a graphic designer and the art of matching font styles is not my strength.

In addition to templates, Canva provides various images and vector illustrations for free or a small fee (usually $1). You can apply photo filters to your images, manipulate the contrast, saturation and brightness.

The app has a free version or a paid version. The free version has a lot of features and is useful without paying. I used the trial version to test out the extra features, the most useful one being the ability to create graphics with transparent backgrounds. The paid version also allows you to access more photos, resize your graphics, upload your own fonts, and set colour palettes. Paid Canva is $12.95 CAD a month but I am fine using the free version.

Favourite Facebook Groups For Promoting (Free)

Facebook Groups are a great resource, especially for new bloggers who are trying to drive traffic to their blog and learn from other bloggers. The three groups below are the ones I belong to and contribute to almost on a daily basis.

Pinterest Pals


Run by Amber Temerity, the owner of Thrifty Guardian, Pinterest Pals has daily re-pin threads for bloggers to share their most recent blog post pins, get those pins repinned by others in the group and in return share other bloggers pins. If you host a group board or are looking to join some this group is the place to share that. If you have questions about Pinterest this is also the place to ask.

I took Amber's free mini-web course "Pintessential Planning Workshop" and would recommend it if your new to blogging and using Pinterest as more than just personal use. 

Pinterest Savvy Bloggers


Run by Megan Fulton of A Hint of Meg, Pinterest Savvy Bloggers has a similar idea as Pinterest Pals. It is a group to share blog pins, get repins, and ask questions. What I like about this group is the daily threads change each day. For example on Friday's we share group boards, Wednesday's is open to questions, Monday's you share your Pinterest accounts, and Sunday's are open to sharing anything (for example, you can share a blog post and ask members to leave some comments). 

Flourishing Freelancer's Blogging Community


Run by Dani Fairhurst of Flourishing Freelancer, this Facebook community is run similar to Pinterest Pals and Pinterest Savvy Bloggers in that there are daily threads, BUT the focus is not on Pinterest. Weekly threads include sharing your weekly goals, sharing any social media account you want new followers or engagement on, sharing your biggest achievement this week, product promotion, and sharing your most recent blog post.

I really like this group compared to the other two because I get more engagement on my blog and Instagram from it. The other two are great for getting repins on Pinterest and communicating about your pinning strategy. 

Favourite Photograph Apps (In-App Purchases)

VSCO and Snapseed


I use two apps to manipulate my photographs: Snapseed and VSCO. I prefer VSCO for their filters and Snapseed for small tweeks such as brightening specific areas of the photograph. I usually use both on the same photograph before publishing it to my Instagram. My favourite VSCO filter is S1!

Below is an example of what you can do with VSCO and Snapseed. I applied the S1 filter, straightened the photograph the best I could, increased the saturation because I found the first image a bit grey, and I brightened the white dishes.

Before


After


Favourite Pinning App (Paid with Free Trial)

Tailwind


There are two Pinterest apps used by bloggers: Tailwind and Board Booster. I have tried both and prefer Tailwind over the other due to it's easy to navigate interface and uncomplicated concept. I found it harder to schedule pins with Board Booster and found it had a higher learning curve to get used to.

Tailwind is great if you publish blog posts multiple times a week and contribute to a lot of group boards. Pinterest doesn't like it when you spam them with the same pin 20 times, so Tailwind breaks up these pins over multiple days and times, essentially doing the work for you. I find it hard to keep track of what boards I've already pinned to and which I still need to hit with my blog pin - Tailwind does the tracking for you and you don't even have to think about it.

RELATED: Tailwind Helped Me Work More Efficiently (Get a Free Month!)

Favourite Blogging Podcast (Free)

Just Keep Blogging


I just discovered this Podcast a couple days ago and listen to it in the morning as I'm getting ready for the day. Here is the description directly from iTunes:
"Kim Anderson (KimAndersonConsulting.com) created Just Keep Blogging as a show to give bloggers a regular dose of encouragement to keep growing, building, learning and creating goals for blogging. This show is not about the "how to" or new "money making ideas". It's about helping bloggers and online content creators keep going when they want to give up out of frustration, fatigue, overwhelm or even confusion."
While I have only listened to the first two episodes, I enjoy Kim Anderson's advice and find it really inspiring and encouraging.

Favourite Email List App (Free)

MailChimp


I was coming across blog posts about the importance of mailing lists to gain followers and I had family members who wanted a way to get email notifications when I posted new content. So I did a Google search for free emailing programs used by bloggers that would automate welcome emails to new subscribers and allow me to send mass emails to all my subscribers at once. MailChimp is a great tool to do that. The website allows you to create your own templates or use their premade ones, send mass emails and automate messages to new subscribers. It makes blogging so-much-easier!   


There are more blogger resources I am discovering as I grow Caffeine and Conquer. This page may be updated in the future to keep the information current and keep blogging accessible!

I want to know what resources you use (free or paid) that have made a difference for your blogging biz. If you listen to Podcasts are there any blogging related ones you think I should add to my morning routine? Share your comments below!

2 comments:

  1. I'll have to check out Just Keep Blogging!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Let me know what you think. I find it's a good way to start the day, she gets you in a positive mindset and pumped up to blog!

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