If you think managing a blog is easy, then you've never managed a blog. Back in the days when I only wrote content, I thought the management side was easy. You just make sure things run smoothly, and that's about it. It wasn't until I started managing a blog that I realized exactly what "make sure things run smoothly" entails. Make no mistake: there's a lot of hard work.
I have thankfully found a handful of tools that have made managing my blog much easier. Without these apps I'd be lost in a sea of blog posts, WordPress upgrades, plugin updates, and broken links. And that doesn't even go into issues like SEO, site design, and marketing. Trust me when I say that blog management takes a lot more time and effort than content creation.
If you're looking for some tools to help keep your blog managed and organized, here are the ones that I have found most useful.
1. ProducteevEvery manager needs a task manager. The good news: there are dozens upon dozens of choices. The bad news: with so many options it's tough to find the one that works most effectively. I've been through so many of them: Toodledo, Google Tasks, Remember The Milk, and more. Recently I made the switch to Producteev, and I don't think I'll be searching any further.
When you add a new task in Producteev, the app greets you with an array of organizational options.
- Tag the task
- Star it
- Schedule it
- Add subtasks
- Add notes
You can get the Producteev task manager app for free. Pro accounts will cost a bit a month, so they could work well for multi-author blogs that turn a profit.
2. Mint.comSpeaking of profits, does your blog make one? The sad truth is that few blogs do turn a profit. With hosting costs, plus the wages for everyone who works for the blog, there really isn't much left over. Yet so many blogs could be turning a profit, but aren't mindful enough of their finances. That's why I have all of our accounts hooked up to Mint.com.
The key to this app is the automation. You enter your bank and credit card information into their secure system, and you get a clear overview of your finances. The feature I enjoy most is the one that shows your monthly breakdown: how much you earned vs. how much you spend. You can then get detailed lists of spending, so you can cut what's not necessary.
It's amazing how much you can learn about your blog's financial situation just by checking Mint once a week. After a few months using it I was able to reduce our expenses and give a few of our writers raises. Even a number of premium finance tools can't match the power of Mint's free online budgeting software.
3. LastPassSecurity is a big issue for blogs. In the past year alone we have seen a wave of hacks, affecting businesses big and small. Even recently there was a botnet attack of WordPress sites. It seems that WordPress sites in general are always vulnerable to hackings. The best way to protect yourself is to create strong passwords -- the kind that you can't remember off the top of your head. It's easy to see the conundrum in that.
As a blog manager you have many passwords: WP login, FTP, your wp-config file, your SQL databases, cpanel, and then any number of third-party services. How can you create strong, secure passwords for all of those services? Surely you'll forget them constantly. That's why I started using LastPass. I have to remember one secure password, and the rest are readily available to me.
The Chrome and Firefox plugins make LastPass a viable solution. It will automatically enter your login information, so you don't have to actually type anything -- which will save you from hacks that record your keyboard movements. Even when there is no autofill, you can easily copy usernames and passwords for an infinite number of sites. I seriously can't imagine running a secure WordPress site without LastPass password management software.
4. EvernoteThe best ideas do not come to me when I'm at my computer. That would be too convenient. Instead they come when I'm out and about. The come when I'm working on something other than my blog. In the past I'd try to jot down the note on scrap paper. But I'd always end up losing the scrap paper and forgetting the idea. Evernote solves that by being with me everywhere I go.
With apps for Windows, Mac, Android, iPhone, iPad, and even BlackBerry, Evernote will always be there. So not only can I create a note from my phone that I can later view on my PC, but I can also check my notes while I'm on the road. It's simple, and almost everyone knows about it. But if you're not actually using Evernote's note taking software, you're behind the curve.
5. Broken Link CheckerBefore I started managing a blog, links were just underlined text in a blog post. Maybe they linked to a supporting argument. Maybe they illustrated something I was talking about. Either way, they didn't mean much to me. When I took over as blog manager, I learned that Google takes links into consideration when ranking sites. I also learned that people make way too big a deal about links. But the biggest thing I learned: broken links are a pain for everyone involved.
People hate clicking on broken links. You wouldn't believe the number of people who, after clicking on a broken link, never return. Our analytics data gives us the grim numbers on that. On top of that, Google does not appreciate broken links either. Your site usability score can go down if you have too many, which will affect your search ranking. So how do you go about finding these broken links so you can fix them?
You can try some of the SEO tools out there, but many of them cost money or otherwise sign you up for services you don't want. I personally use the Broken Link Checker WordPress plugin. It constantly looks for broken links and sends me email reports. In the meantime, the plugin can prevent Google from following those links, so they don't hurt my rankings. When I get the report, I can go right to the plugin page and make the necessary changes. Life has been much easier since we installed the Broken Link Checker plugin.
Joe Pawlikowski has written and edited blogs for seven years, including sports and technology blogs. He writes about his experiences with small business at A New Level.