5 techniques and 10 tools for making blogging easier

Blogging is hard work. That’s why you want to make it as easy as possible. This post provides hints and tips on how to make your blogging experience less painful.

We all know about the benefits of blogging to our personal or corporate brand. Blogging can…

  • Establish ourselves as the expert
  • Allow us to engage with our users
  • Encourage repeat traffic
  • Improve our search engine visibility

The problem is that these benefits come at a cost – our time. Blogging can be time consuming especially if you want to blog regularly.

If you are determined not to let your blog fall by the wayside, it is important to have a process that is as painless as possible.

What follows are some valuable lessons and powerful tools I use to help me make blogging more cost effective.

1. Get organised

The first lesson of pain free blogging is to get organised. There are two ways you need to be organised:

  • In your blog idea generation
  • In your post scheduling

Capturing blog ideas

In ‘5 lists every website owner should keep‘ I warned how ideas for posts can strike at anytime and that you need to be prepared.

How you do this is entirely up to you. Personally I use a task management programme called Omnifocus that exists both on my iPhone and Mac. This allows me to record ideas wherever I am. I can even mail myself ideas if I do not have my phone or mac with me.


The secret is not so much in the application you use, but in the ability to capture ideas anywhere and have a list you can draw upon when you blog.

An extra tip: When capturing ideas for a post try to write more than just the title. Also write down the key points of the post. This will make life easier when writing later.

Scheduling posts

As well as having a list of ideas you also need to organise the scheduling of your posts. It is important when blogging to do so regularly, so that users come to eagerly expect your next post.

The problem I had was that in most blogging systems it is hard to see what is released when.

Find a blogging tool with a calendar showing when posts are due to be released. This makes it easy to spot ‘the gaps’ that need to be fill.

In the screenshot below is Editorial Calendar a plugin for WordPress that clearly shows what is being published when. It also allows you to drag and drop posts to easily organise their release.

Calendar Plugin for WordPress

2. Find a good editor

My second tip for more streamlined blogging is to get yourself a good editor.

Generally speaking the built in editors for blogging platforms are poor.

Even those who do have a half decent editor (such as WordPress) require a web connection to manage and edit posts effectively. This obviously limits when you can blog. For example, I am writing this while flying at 33,000 feet over the Atlantic, something that would be impossible with an online editor.

My editor of choice is Marsedit for the mac. I chose this editor because…

  • It is a desktop editor and so can work offline
  • It provides a real time preview of how my post will look when released
  • It gives control over everything from release dates to category and tagging
  • It can manage media such as images, video and audio
  • It allows me to markup content using keyboard shortcuts
  • Its functionality is extendable through the use of scripts and plugins
  • It integrates with every type of blog. This means I can move blogging platform later.


Admittedly a lot of desktop editors provide these types of functionality. It is not really the application that matters, but rather the functionality that allows you to save time.

The biggest time saver in my opinion is the ability to quickly markup posts through keyboard shortcuts. For example, the list above was marked up in a single key press and links have been grabbed straight from safari (no typing at all).

3. Streamline sourcing and uploading images

Probably the most time consuming part of blogging is sourcing and publishing imagery to your blog post. In fact it can be such a painful process that many bloggers give up entirely on using imagery.

Although I can understand this decision, imagery adds a lot to blog posts, increasing user dwell time and engagement.

Fortunately there are tools that help find, capture and upload imagery.

Finding imagery

Most bloggers cannot justify paying for stock imagery. Sure a quick Google Image search will provide you with thousands of images you could use. However, with no licensing information you could easily be breaking copyright.

The answer to this is Flickr because you can search based on licensing. There are millions of creative commons images available on Flickr. These can be used for free as long as you reference the original creator.

However, finding the right kind of images on Flickr is time consuming. That is why I use a program called View Finder. View Finder is a desktop application that allows you to quickly search for imagery that is creative commons. It also makes it easy to add these images to your blog along with the associated image credit.


Capturing and uploading imagery

Of course in many cases you do not need a photograph. Instead all that is required is a screenshot (such as you can find throughout this post).

There are many tools that provide this functionality. However there are two applications I would like point out in particular.

The first is Skitch. Skitch is a free mac application that allows you to easily capture, resize and upload screenshots. It is by far the most streamlined application for getting imagery into your blog posts. Not only does it upload to your choice of location, it even provides HTML to copy and paste directly into your post.


The only problem with Skitch is its annotation tools. If you want to add text, arrows or boxes to your screen capture then you have to endure their horrible styling.

Fortunately there is an alternative to Skitch for those times when annotation is required. Little Snapper has some beautifully styled tools including text boxes, arrows, highlight boxes and more.


The only downside of Little Snapper is resizing. You cannot manually resize in the application and then upload to the web. However, when annotations are required the slightly more convoluted process is worth it.

Increasingly adding imagery is not enough. Video is a great way of grabbing users attention and spicing up your blog.

4. Add some video

The problem with adding video is that it is time consuming and the applications are often expensive. Fortunately there is an application called Screenflow that is very reasonably priced and simple to use.


Screenflow for the mac is capable of capturing desktop, webcam and audio. Combined with its ability to import external video this makes it the ideal blogging video tool.

Best of all the videos produced using Screenflow look amazingly professional. It has some superb transitions and allows you to do basic animation and effects.

Once you have your video the next question becomes hosting. There are certainly no shortage of options available many of which are free.

However, a word of warning – check their terms and conditions before uploading. Many assert rights over your videos while others like Vimeo only allow your video to be posted to sites free from advertising.

If you care about your video then a paid service like Vzaar maybe more appropriate. Performance is often superior and the player is more customisable. What is more they do not have draconian terms and conditions.


An extra tip: When choosing a hosting provider check whether your videos will be available without flash. With devices such as the iPhone growing in popularity it is becoming increasingly important to offer a non flash version.

5. Spread the word and track

Finally, there is no point of having a great blog if nobody sees it.

Increasingly the main way of promoting a blog post is through Twitter and other social networks. However, when you are scheduling posts weeks in advance it is not always easy to remember to tweet about them.

That is why I use a plugin for WordPress that automatically posts to Twitter when the article goes live. This takes the hassle out of monitoring your posts status. Once it has been scheduled you can forget about it.

Wordpress plugins

To be honest there are many more plugins I could mention here. That is one reason I like WordPress so much. It has an amazing plugin community and you can find plugins to do everything from publish a podcast to twitter your posts.

Because social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook are so important, it is not enough to look at Google Analytics to see if a particular post is popular. You also need to see how many times the post is referenced by Facebook, Twitter, Digg and so on.

However, checking these sites manually is time consuming and almost impossible. That is where PostRank Analytics comes in.


PostRank Analytics gives you a report on the effectiveness of each blog post. It looks at page views (pulled from Google Analytics) and mentions on social networks. It boils all of this data down into an engagement score rated from 1 to 10.

This is a great tool for tracking the popularity of your posts and identifying what kind of subject matter is popular.

How do you make blogging pain free?

So that is my 5 techniques and 10 tools. What about you? Are you a regular blogger? If so how do you streamline the process to make it less painful. I am always keen to hear other people’s tips and tricks so I can apply them to my own blogging.

Please share in the comments below.

  • really, man?

    You lost me when you used “your” instead of “you’re”.

  • Alex Subrizi

    At my company, where my role extends to corporate communications, we’ve been discussing the purpose and importance of our blog for some time. Yes it’s hard, as you point out, to get employees to contribute regularly, and over a five-year period we’re averaging only about 10 posts per year. More significantly, none of those posts has ever generated a relevant, serious comment (there are always spammers that always insert a URL after some bland bit of praise).

    So the question we are asking ourselves as we try to revitalize our blog is whether the lack of comments equates to a (near) total lack of interest in our blog, and whether this might be addressed by more frequent posting or more high quality posts. Having to choose between these last two, which ranks higher in your view?

    And yes, I agree that you could fix that “your > you’re” typo. It’s the first word of your fourth point. Having your ideas thrown out by a reader because of a spelling or punctuation mistake is short-sighted, I agree. But forgoing the chance to correct an error once it’s pointed out is odd. For those with an eye for such things, errors interrupt the flow of discourse: call it a harsh truth about written communication. Proofreaders have jobs for this reason. You didn’t “lose me”, I kept reading, and enjoyed and shared your post. But I find it strange that, once the error is pointed out, it remain uncorrected.

  • C.I.Agent Solutions┬«

    This is a great post full of useful information! I was recently tasked with starting a blog for my small company, as part of a newly implemented social media strategy. We offer secondary containment solutions for the utility industry, so consistently coming up with creative content for interesting posts catered to such a niche audience poses quite a challenge for me. Even more disheartening is the majority of our target market don’t find blogs to be a valuable content type, according to a recent survey by CFE Media and TREW Marketing.

    Despite these obstacles, I’m determined to keep at it in 2015, and your pointers will help me in this process. I do disagree with you on point 3. Of the blogs I follow and read regularly, I prefer ones with teaser menus. We’re rolling out a new website design in a few weeks, and my designer recently asked me how I wanted our blog laid out. I know you’re a designer, too, so I thought I’d ask you why you advise against the “teaser feeds.” We host our blog on our site, so a large feed of full articles (and the scrolling involved) would feel cluttered and disorganized, at least in my opinion. I looked at the 37Signals blog you referred to, and while I was extremely impressed with the quality and variety of posts it offers, I found the overall blog format too “text-heavy” for my liking (though they did a very good job of effectively breaking up the text with images, etc.).

    Thanks again for the post – I have bookmarked this article and will probably refer to it often through this corporate blogging journey. Hope you have a Happy New Year!

    • I think what Paul is saying about the teaser feeds applies for when people subscribe via RSS and get an email saying a new blog post has been published. He is advocating for blogs to provide the whole content within the RSS feed, so people don’t have to click through to the blog post hosted on the original website.

      (Having said that, I arrived here thanks to an email from Linkedin that told me Paul had shared a link via Linkedin. The Linkedin post was just a teaser!).

      I think you’re right to go for “teaser feeds” on your blog design – a simple headline, excerpt and a strong image should do it.

  • Hi Paul a company should have a blog. Beside that blog update people everyday, anywhere anytime. Blog have contributions on the social media.

  • Nicole

    If you think I’m one of the high-strung weirdos who gasped when you used “Your” instead of “You’re”– then you, sir, are totally correct.

  • I have a blog and i think that 50% success depend on planning. So it’s important to need know how to blog post properly and effectively. Thanks Paul for you kind and helpful tutorial. I apply your advice in my professional life.

  • Thanks for sharing…!

    Honestly, I’m using Excel to plan my content. However, I love the editorial calendar, and thanks for sharing, by the way. I’m impressed. When talk about the image, the most of bloggers are using Google images, specially newbies. My Adsense account used to get banned because using of Google free image. We should find great sources to get the right images, and be sure no copyright material.

  • i have a blog site…. thanks for tips …i am apply your tips.