Tools for the Trade: Six essential tools for first-time bloggers
Hundreds of bloggers fill the Blogger Lounge at SXSW Interactive 2009. Photo by loiclemeur on Flickr.
Once you decide to take the plunge and start blogging there are a lot of things to do. It's hard enough to consistently write new posts and stay dedicated to producing content as well as monitor the analytics of that content. I decided to put together my essential blogger's toolkit.
Google Analytics - It's free, it's easy, and it's literally the best. You must install Google analytics on your blog. Not only will you get the number of visitors and pageviews, but where your traffic is coming from and how they get to your site. All very important information to fine tune and grow your blog.
Bit.ly - There are a host of link shorteners out there but for my money you can't do any better than bit.ly. Bit.ly provides real-time link tracking which is very handy to see what links are working. You can sync your Twitter account with bit.ly and all of your Twitter links will be tracked in one place. You also have the awesome ability to customize your shortened links so people know what that little link is all about.
Feedburner - Need help managing your blog's RSS feed? Look no further than Feedburner. With Feedburner you can create your own custom RSS feed and get all the analytics to track subscribers, readers, and more. Feedburner has been a favorite tool of bloggers since its launch in 2004.
TubeMogul - If your blog is going to involve video than TubeMogul is essential. TubeMogul will first spread your content across all the video media sites but also aggregate your analytics so you have a real count of views and clicks. Check out my Tools for the Trade post on TubeMogul to learn more.
Disqus - Take the discussion and your blog comments to the next level. Disqus allows you to efficiently moderate comments and develop your blog's community. Readers can also login and comment via their Facebook or Twitter accounts. Disqus works on nearly any blogging platform including Wordpress, Tumblr, Blogger, Squarespace and more.
Hubspot - Hubspot is a Boston-based company that specializes in inbound marketing software. They have some ridiculous tools and amazing software that will really help, but will cost you a pretty penny. Have no fear my friends, Hubspot does offer a free marketing kit. I'd also recommend many of Hubspot's free tools from Grader.com: Website Grader, which will do a basic but essential analysis of your site's SEO and inbound marketing, and Twitter Grader which will analyze your Twitter account, your followers, and Twitter habits, and provide any suggestions.
These tools are just the tip of the iceberg for bloggers, but ones that I would consider essential for any beginning blogger. There are many other great blogging tools and everyone has their favorites so I'd love to learn more about what's out there. What's in your blogger's toolkit?