My Blogging “Must Haves”

I guest posted on Just a Girl’s “Must Haves” series last week.  It is a great series with a lot of your favorite bloggers posting their “must haves” on different topics from paint, to building blog friendships, to decorating spaces.  Chris asked me to talk about my must haves for blogging.  I am kind of a gadget girl and I am into anything that will make my life or blogging easier.  So here are my “I can’t live without” tips to making blogging easier.

1.  Windows Live Writer

I do all of my blog writing in Windows Live Writer (sorry Mac users, this isn’t available for you, boo!).  It is a software program that you sync your blog to and you do all the writing of your posts in that program.  It is wonderful because you don’t have to be connected to the internet to write a post. You also don’t need to upload your pictures – you just drag them where you want them in your post in Windows Live Writer.  If you post in blogger or WordPress – this little nugget will change your life.  Your welcome.

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2.  Rafflecopter

I run about 4-6 giveaways and month and Rafflecopter has made it so much easier to keep track of. You login to Rafflecopter and set your giveaway up and then they give you code that you then add to your giveaway post.  All of the entries are stored on Rafflecopter so they don’t clog up your comment section.  You also can announce the winner onto the widget when the giveaway has ended and you email the winner from the site as well.  This is what the widget looks like on your post.

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3.  Google Next Bookmarklet

Do you read blogs via Google Reader?  You can install the Google Next Bookmarklet into your browser and then you just click a button to see the next blog.  You can find the "Next" bookmarklet on the Settings page under the Goodies tab. 

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Google says ”The next bookmark is an innovative way to read your subscriptions. It allows you to use Google Reader through just one link – clicking on it takes you to the next unread item, marking it as read in the process. It is particularly useful for subscriptions which only include snippets or when you want to read an article in context.”

Plus it helps give your favorite bloggers pageviews, which is a nice way of saying thank you.  This is what it looks like in your browser (mine is Google Chrome).

next button

4. My Blog Planner

I have to give a shameless plug for my blog planner.  It took me hours upon hours to design a planner that would work well for the creative blogger.  This planner allows me to stay on top of guest posts, project ideas and giveaways.  Plus I offer it as a free printable for you right here.

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5. Mom Blog SEO by Kelby Carr.

This e-book is amazing if you want to take your blog to the next level.  You work on it for 30 days and Kelby teaches you how to write blog posts to attract more readers and allow Google to crawl your page better.  This boosted my traffic about 20% after the first month of implementing her strategies. SEO confuses the junk out of me but this certainly took the guess work out of it.

So what blogging tools? Widgets? Plugins? or short cuts do you use?  I would love your feedback.

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Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link.





  • http://fourgenerationsoneroof.com jessica@fourgenerationsoneroof

    Good tips! I love WLR but you are right, when I got my first mac a couple months ago I almost had a heart attack b/c my wlr was gone. Thanks for the info!

  • http://fergusonfamilyfour.blogspot.com/ Heather Ferguson

    Thank you so much for telling us about the google reader bookmarklet! I LOVE google reader but have always felt bad that you guys don’t get the pageviews, and I hated having to click out of reader to leave a comment. This may have just changed my life!

    • http://infarrantlycreative.net Beckie

      I know right?!?! I just learned about in a couple of months back and it totally changed everything for me!

  • http://erinscreative.blogspot.com Erin

    Thanks for all the tips! I am totally going to use your blog planner. I need some organization here!

  • http://stayathomeista.com Jessica @ Stay at Home-ista

    Bookmarklet here I come!

    Jessica
    stayathomeista.com

  • Gail

    I can’t figure out where I have to drag the next icon to set up the bookmarklet. I use igoogle as my home page and Internet Explorer. Can you help. Thank-you

    • http://infarrantlycreative.net Beckie

      It only works through Google Reader. Do you have google reader?

  • http://GiftsWeUse.blogspot.com Ferly

    Great tips! I’m going to try out Windows Live Writer and the bookmarklet this week. As a blogger who doesn’t do any giveaways {yet}, I love how much easier it has made it for readers to enter giveaways! I can’t imagine how tough it must have been to host a giveaway without rafflecopter!

    ~ Ferly
    Gifts We Use {to grow, love and serve}

  • http://havoc-to-heaven.com Missi at havoc-to-heaven.com

    I am pretty new to the blogging world and these were great tips!! I also wanted to tell you that I pinned your planner yesterday and I have had hundreds of re-pins!! Yay! Can’t wait to print out my own planner.

    • http://infarrantlycreative.net Beckie

      Thanks for the repin. Who knew that everyone would need an organization plan too!

  • http://www.serenitynowblog.com Amanda @ Serenity Now

    Great tips! I haven’t tried WLW yet, b/c I wasn’t sure how it would look from the program to my Blogger site. My Blogger account has a way of “rearranging” things between editing and publish. :s

    • http://infarrantlycreative.net Beckie

      TRY IT! It will change your life…plus you download your template so it shouldn’t have issues.

  • Kris

    I don’t like Rafflecopter. I usually give up in frustration when trying to enter a giveaway that uses it.

  • http://littlevictorian.com Christina @ Little Victorian

    Wow, sorry, I have no helpful tips yet to offer. Just wanted to say thanks because I think you just changed my bloggin’ life! :D I’m super stoked about all of the things you just listed and I didn’t even look into them yet.

    • http://infarrantlycreative.net Beckie

      HAHA! Well I hope it helps and it will change everything for sure!

  • http://worthingtonlower.com Jen @Worthington Lower

    I am definitely going to check out Windows Live Writer. Sounds like it may be a God send!

  • Paige

    Thanks for the info – super helpful! I am going to have to try rafflecopter next time I do a giveaway. It’s really nice to have people like you share your resources with some of us who are new to this blogging world. Thanks!

  • http://scrapthissavethat.blogspot.com Amy E.

    Holy WOW!! I just tried Windows Live Writer for the first time time, thanks to hearing about it from you….and you and it have both changed my blogging life!! WOW!! Thank you thank you!!!!

    • http://infarrantlycreative.net Beckie

      I know right???? It is the best kept secret I swear. I am glad you found my post helpful!

  • http://sewcutpaste.blogspot.com Debra P

    Question. With the Windows live writer are you able to schedule posts? If so I haven’t been able to find it. If it does it is THE perfect way to blog. I have already written 3 or 4 posts with it today in just over an hour. So much faster than using Bloggers junk! Thanks

    • http://infarrantlycreative.net Beckie

      Yes you can schedule your posts mine is at the top right of my screen. Let me know if you can’t find it.

  • Catherine

    Thanks for these tips! I have a family history blog, and I started using Windows Live Writer several months ago. I love it! I love being able to drag and drop photos into my post. I didn’t know about the “Next” button for Google Reader. This is great! Even though I use Google Reader, I do like to go the the blogs themselves and check things out. This well save me from going back and forth.