If you are a blogger like me, you may find it interesting to learn about what tools other bloggers are using. If you are not (yet) a blogger, you’ll see what it takes to start and thrive! As a long time blogger, I’m happy to share with you all the details about my workflow. You’ll learn not only about the tools that I like to use but also the relation between them. Let’s dig in.
Two platforms and a social network
For my blogging needs, I rely on two blogging platforms: WordPress and Micro.blog. They have their own purposes.
My main blog (“Numeric Citizen Blog”) is hosted on WordPress.com. The design is based on the Baskerville 2 WordPress theme1. As a paying subscriber to the WordPress Business gPlan, my readers get an ad-free website.
Recently I decided to lower the frequency of new posts in order to publish longer ones. For shorter posts, I’m now using exclusively micro.blog (see “The Return of Micro Blogging ?”). I’m quite happy with my choices. WordPress is well known but micro.blog is quite marginal. This platform is simple to use, looks a bit like Twitter but doesn’t have all the noise and there is no advertising. There is a choice of native macOS or iOS clients too which is mandatory for me.
As you can see from the workflow diagram below, Twitter is the only social network that I use to reach out to potential readers. Posts from micro.blog and WordPress get cross-posted automatically to Twitter. This is another way of reaching more people, especially with the use of hashtags.
Because of my use of Micro.blog, I rarely publish directly on Twitter these days. I prefer micro.blog for this purpose. With automatic cross-posting to Twitter, I save time and reach both communities with a single post which is nice.
I don’t use Facebook, for well-documented reasons (see “My Final Post On Facebook”). I’m not on Pinterest either as my blog content doesn’t fit this platform. I use to be on Tumblr a few years ago with many smaller blogs but I decided to leave this behind (see “Bye Bye Tumblr”). Will I return? It depends. The future of Tumblr is now in the hands of Automattic, the owner of WordPress.com (see “Automattic buys Tumblr from Verizon for reportedly less than $20 million”). I’ll see.
Blogging is cool but being read is even better! That is why I’m using a few publishing services to better reach more people. From time to time, I manually cross-post on Medium my most important pieces. I’m part of the Medium Partner Program which gets me a few dollars here and there for my content but nothing to pay the bills.
I’m also relying on Google News albeit with fewer expectations to reach out to readers. On top of this, I’m waiting for the approval of Apple’s News service and Flipboard to go live. I don’t expect too much traction from these services though. I see them as complemental tools to reach audiences where they are. The effort to put them in place is very low, so why not! Think of this as experimental.
As you may already know, I’m very much invested in the Apple ecosystem. As such, I’m using the Mac, the iPad or the iPhone as a writing or creation tool. To enable this movement between all devices, I rely on multi-platform support for most of my supporting apps. From Ulysses (see “Switching to Ulysses for my Writing Needs”) to Adobe Spark (see “My Review of Adobe Spark Post”), I can use all of these on all my devices. Apple’s iCloud is the syncing service that ties it all up and it works without an itch2.
The journaling app named DayOne plays an important role behind the scene. This is the tool that I use to archive my published content. Very cool stuff. (see “Documenting My Numeric Life”).
A less known web service called CrowdSignal allows me to create polls but also to gather feedback to my blog posts. Each blog post can be rated and the results are cumulated on CrowdSignal. As of this writing, the post’s rating is at 4.5 / 5.0 which is not bad at all! This service, owned by Automattic is free of charge which is cool.
WordPress is an open architecture that allows the development of plugins. I use a total of 26 plugins that complement the basic WordPress features. One example is a Buffer plugin which will put every post on my Buffer queue in order to repost to Twitter a few days later a reminder about content published on my blog. Another plugin is a Google Analytics that provides a dashboard of the visitors statistics on my WordPress Admin page which is very handy. Finally, I’m using a plugin that cross-post content to Apple’s News service3.
In order to improve the quality of my posts, I rely on two important tools: Grammarly and Yoast SEO. I pay for these because I think the quality is mandatory. Don’t forget, I’m French-Canadian, so I do need some help to improve my English quality. Both of these plug-ins are doing a great job. Grammarly is available as a browser plugin, as a standalone application or on the web. I wish I could use it within Ulysses but plugins are not possible on iOS. Because of that, the final proofing is done on the web, not within Ulysses. Finally.
Yoast is a WordPress plugin and works in the background while editing a new post. It helps me to make my blog posts optimized for search engines4. The following screenshot is Yoast in action while editing this post.
A few words about my blogger routine
Each morning, I spend about 45-60 minutes to work on many things related to being a blogger. It can be reading, searching, designing, testing, writing or publishing. I do spend even more time during the weekends. Overall, five to ten hours per week of hard work. That is a lot but it is rewarding. This time is on top of what I spend for my other passion: photography.
Miscellaneous notes and room for improvements
Finally, on the workflow diagram, you’ll find all the paying services or applications with a green dollar icon. I spend more than $500 per year for this blogging adventure but I think it is worth it. By the way, if you want to encourage me, feel free to give me some tips or become a paying member of my blog5. It is less than the cost of a Starbucks coffee. Think about it.
RSS feeds are an important tool in my blogger life. I use them a lot to stay in touch with my sources. But I also enable them on my blogs as I think they facilitate content diffusion and consumption (see “To all content creators: RSS feeds as facilitators, use them!”).
There is one place where I think I’ll change the tools that I use. Look for the yellow box on the diagram. I’m in the process of reconsidering Reeder as my RSS reader and replace it with something else6. I’d like to get rid of Feedly altogether. Because of Google dropping support for Google’s Reader service, I had to migrate to Feedly.
My blogger workflow is an important part of my numeric life. The other one being my photo processing workflow that can be found here. If you think I could improve something in this workflow, feel free to make any suggestions with the comments section. I would be glad to read from other bloggers.
If you want to know why I do all this, read my page “Why This Blog”. If you have any questions please use the comments section and don’t be shy to ask! I’ll be more than happy to provide answers.
- This is a paid theme. ↩
- Spark relies on Adobe cloud for syncing purposes. ↩
- I’m still waiting for Apple’s review process to complete and accept my as a publisher. ↩
- This is called SEO: search engine optimization. ↩
- Look at the bottom of this post to subscribe with as little as five dollars per month. Thank you. 🤗😊 ↩
- Spoiler: I’m in an advanced state of testing News Explorer. ↩