Web content is an exciting, relatively new career field ideal for anyone interested in writing and editing for a living.
Originally published in Black Betty Blog on March 10, 2017.
Too many tools and platforms can clutter up your workflow, until you spend more time learning about new applications and services than you actually do blogging. These are some of the tools online content specialists use every day, and need to know if they wish to be considered employable in their field.
1. Content Management Systems (CMS)
The most commonly used CMS is WordPress, which is free and comes with a vast selection of downloadable plugins. There are other types of CMS such as Joomla, Drupal and custom interfaces, but even major corporations use WordPress, and some developers specialize in it.
The website you are reading was created with WordPress. The system is free to use, however you do have to pay a web hosting service for a domain name. This does not usually cost more than ten dollars per month, unless you are in a highly competitive web space.
2. Adobe Creative Suite
The Adobe Creative Suite encompasses all the production software made by Adobe, most notably Photoshop. There is also After Effects, Audition, Dreamweaver, Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere Pro and of course Acrobat Reader. Users can sign up to be members of the Adobe Creative Cloud to download and use all of these programs for $50 per month, and this includes regular updates. You can sign up for just one program for about $20 per month. Discounts are available for students.
Using the programs in the suite you can design eye catching images, GIF’s or videos to accompany blog and social media posts. Make sure each one represents your brand name, and shows off your unique sense of creativity and ability to think outside the box. This is especially helpful if your marketing plan includes sharing each blog post on a visual platform such as Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr or YouTube.
3. Social media
Social media is one of the biggest sources of traffic to blogs, because people go on there to click on stuff and read random things that interest them. Facebook is a big draw if you have a high following and are willing to invest in advertising. Twitter brings in more clicks for non-boosted posts just by sheer coincidence of people searching for keywords. Pinterest is a good source of how-to guides and other tips from bloggers, especially for the female demographic. Tumblr is more artsy, including full frontal nudity.
It’s difficult to get people to navigate from their Instagram feed, to your profile page, and then to a web browser to read a blog that is hopefully mobile-friendly. But you can engage your social media with interesting pictures, and then they may want to know more about the company or person behind it. They will search for you online, and that’s when you hit them with the engaging blog post!
4. Google Analytics and AdWords
Google Analytics certification is free online, and a good indication that you know the basics of search engine optimization (SEO) relevant to Google. After you install the tracking code to your website — which you can do with a WordPress plugin and very little former knowledge of computer programming – the analytics program shows you all of the data relevant to traffic on your website. The idea is to use this information to progressively improve the content strategy on your blog.
Google AdWords is for advertisers that intend to run digital ad campaigns on search pages, mobile apps or YouTube videos. It is an important tool to use for keyword research even if you do not have any advertising campaigns at the moment.
Using the same word over and over again to describe something is redundant and considered bad form by professional writers. This can be troublesome if you are in a situation where you have to say the same thing a lot, such as when writing a DIY guide about crafting a birdhouse. Use Thesaurus.com to quickly reference synonyms that mean the same thing. But make sure you pick one that still makes sense, as some of the words it suggests have different connotations.
Dropbox is helpful for sheer transferring of large media files. It’s the best way to get amusing photos and videos from your computer to your mobile device or smartphone, where they can be shared on Instagram. It’s also helpful for when you have to send a bulky video file to a business partner in another place. You can even link groups to shared Dropbox folders if so inclined.
No matter how you choose to schedule social media posts, Bitly is the best way to shorten the links you put inside of them. You don’t even have to sign in, just paste and go. This helps save a lot of time and space on platforms such as Twitter that have a 140-character limit.
There are many other digital resources available for blog writers today, but these seven essential tools will be used on a daily basis. I didn’t mention Microsoft Office because even a first grader uses Word to do homework, so it’s not really necessary. It’s a bit like saying you know how to use email and the internet. Everyone can do that. I’m not including project management software because that sort of thing is better for large enterprises that need to track everything they do.
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