Blogging, and its rapid rise in popularity as a way to self-publish, is arguably responsible in part for the great proliferation of web apps over the last few years. Back when blogging was only done by early adopters, you’d need to stock your computer with desktop apps — an image editor, an RSS reader, and so on. As bloggers became increasingly mobile, the need for always-accessible applications only got stronger, and today, many bloggers don’t need to leave the browser at all to get the job done.
If you’re new to blogging, you might be looking for a collection of web apps that will make your life easier. Today’s a lucky day for you, then, because you just found ten of them!
When a visitor becomes a reader, chances are they’ll subscribe to your blog via RSS to ensure they get updates quickly. If you’re tracking your RSS readership statistics, it’s easy to get a rough idea of how much of your readership are becoming loyal readers–but RSS doesn’t provide statistics on its own.
That’s where FeedBurner comes in. Once you follow the instructions to set up FeedBurner for your blog’s RSS feed, you can use this web app to find out all sorts of information about your RSS subscribers. How many of them are there? What browsers do they use? Which items did they like enough to click through and read on the site? FeedBurner is an essential for any serious blogger.
Flickr is handy for bloggers in a few ways. If you don’t have much to spend on hosting, you might have a low-capacity, low-bandwidth or low-speed server–or all of the above. Unless you’re posting podcasts or videos, images contribute the most to page load time and filling up your server disk space. Flickr is a good place to host images if you’re hosting, in a word, sucks.
It’s also a great place to find images. Flickr search allows you to find images that are Creative Commons licensed, meaning you can use them on your blog as long as you attribute credit to the image owner.
Bloggers inevitably wind up using a mixture of social media to develop a profile and attract readers to their sites. HootSuite helps you manage those services and stay involved with all of them throughout the day far more easily than using social media services individually. With support for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and more, it covers just about everything you really need.
The Pro subscription gives you even more features if you’re serious about social media–such as adding team members and collecting statistics about how often your Twitter links are clicked. You probably won’t find those features necessary until you’re further along in your blogging career, though, so the free version will do you fine for now.
Aviary is a full suite of web-based tools for editing media. It has an image editor, a color palette editor, an audio editor, a vector editor and much more–and it’s free.
Personally, I use Aviary for screenshots. Most bloggers find themselves taking screenshots of websites all the time and unless you’re blogging about celebrity supermodels or ancient Hittite theology, you probably will be too. Aviary makes this task particularly easy if you want to get a shot of the whole length of the site–not just what’s available above the fold.
Often, you’ll come across content that’s worth blogging about when you don’t have the time to do so right away. My preferred way to ferret links away for later is Read It Later. Read It Later is a web app, but also has apps for a variety of phones.
Read It Later boasts great integration with a range of third-party products–for instance, I use Read It Later the most when I’m using Reeder to read my Google Reader feeds and come across something that I want to take a closer look at back at the computer.
Google Analytics does a great job at collecting and presenting information about your visitors. But Woopra goes one better–it feeds every blogger’s addiction by giving you real-time statistics. That means it tells you exactly how many people are using your site right now.
The productivity writer in me wants to tell you that using a real-time stats service will mean you’re unlikely to ever get any writing done… but screw it. Embrace every blogger’s addiction to numbers.
Once you start a blog, you’ll probably want to start more. It’s not advisable to get ahead of yourself, but everyone gets the urge. Since I didn’t warn you off real-time stats, I see no reason I should get morally superior now. Domai.nr is a tool that will enable your habit of starting more projects than you can complete. Or, frequently, it will help you find a domain name that you actually need.
Most registrar domain searches are slow and clunky, but Domai.nr allows you to type in keywords and see what variants are available without refreshing the page every time. It’s a fantastic tool for finding the right domain name when all the good ones are taken.
Zemanta is a handy tool that speeds up the process of adding media and links to your post. It watches you as you write your blog posts (yes, that sounds creepier than it really is) and suggests tags, links, and images to include in your post as you go.
You could spend ten minutes doing all those things manually… but why bother when you can do it one?
If you’re on the move a lot but always have ideas for new posts, Evernote will save you from certain insanity. It’s a note-taking application that has a great web interface but is also available as a desktop app and on a variety of smartphones. Evernote syncs your notes to your account, so you can access them anywhere, from any device.
It’ll also scan images you upload and make the text in your photos searchable. Next time you’re at a presentation you plan on blogging, don’t bother writing your notes out–just take a snap with your phone!
Bloggers rack up contacts like crazy. People you’ve spoken to about an article you’re writing for a quote or interview, people you’ve networked with as you work to build your blog’s readership, companies who email you asking for product reviews (and if you can get the readership, you’ll have more free rubbish than you know what to do with)–building contacts is a big part of blogging.
More importantly, though, is managing those contacts. Gist is a web app that does just that. Put your contacts in Gist and you can keep an eye on what they’re doing online, keep notes on them, get reminders for following up on particular people and more.
There are so many web apps that come in handy when you’re regularly blogging, and these are just a few. We’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments. What do you use to make blogging easier?