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The Free At 50 Backstory of Becoming a Blogger and Needing a Bloggers Toolkit
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When I started the Free At 50 blog, I was excited… there were SO. MANY. RESOURCES. So with becoming a blogger, I jumped in with both feet thinking I had a million things I could add to my bloggers toolkit and there was no way I wouldn’t succeed having a blog as my online business!
Coming from corporate life, I had everything on speed dial, from the legal team to IT and marketing. Now as a blogger, and online entrepreneur, I was on my own. Thus, my excitement at seeing how much is available to support bloggers.
Then suddenly, I was overwhelmed. There were too many resources.
On the upside, I had decided to invest in one big resource: a business coach. More on that later. What I will say at this point is this: her guidance has shown me:
- The value of building a bloggers toolkit
- A roadmap to easing the overwhelm
- And, the importance of managing the resources I put into my toolkit
What I’ve discovered along the way, and the reason I stuck with “escaping the 9-5: inspiration and resources to make it happen” as my niche, is why I created my 6-Step Checklist to Escape the 9-5, and help other online entrepreneurs.
I am thrilled Natasha invited me to break it down for you all on The Blogging Collective. I’m doing it in three parts:
- How to manage and sort everything
- What tools to focus on
- How to build your bloggers toolkit
How to Manage all the Tools and Ease the Overwhelm when Becoming a Blogger
Have a system for saving and finding it all.
You are probably wondering why I am starting with managing your tools before I’m getting into the details of what tools you need and where to find them.
There is a reason: if you have this down first, it will ease the overwhelm. You won’t be putting things you find in random places or writing tidbits on post-it notes!
Whether you like things digital or on paper, doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you create a system, and you can easily find what you need when the time comes.
Shortcuts and ideas.
- Use Evernote. It’s free! (great for the budget most of us have when we decide to become a blogger!) and this is not an affiliate opportunity for me; I use it and I’m not an affiliate. Here’s the cool thing about Evernote: you can quickly store and find things.
You can log in from your laptop, your phone, or your tablet. You can add screenshots, paste in links, or just write quick notes to yourself. You can create folders (for example: “guest posts” or “links to Pinterest courses”) and the best part of it if you’re anything like me… you can search “all notes” so you don’t even need to remember where you filed something!
- Buy some file folders or some binders. If you like to see paper and flip pages, this is vital. I use a binder for everything related to my Facebook group I created to align with my blog, because it is a huge part of my business. The file folders (and they are color-coded!) store everything from my financial and legal structure stuff (also on Evernote) to notes and worksheets from courses I’ve taken.
- Invest in Dropbox or set up Google docs. Every single blog post I write is saved to Dropbox. That way, I have a duplicate of all my work. But I also use it to organize pin content, email copy, graphics for each post and more.
Side note: when I started, I didn’t save the graphics into folders for each blog post, but I learned how important this is to keep everything consistent and branded. I now use graphics from each post in my pins for example.
Use a Blog Planner
Wondering why I didn’t just add this to the list above? I’ll tell you why. I believe it is imperative that a blog planner is the number 1 tool in your toolkit as a blogger.
As far as sorting and organizing, this is the ultimate tool. I can write a whole separate post on using a blog planner (and intend to!) but here’s the main point I want to make here: as you set up your goals, analytics you want to track, social media platforms you will focus on and of course, your content, having a blog planner gives you a place to set deadlines and record tools and resources you use for tasks.
In addition to the obvious for a planner: calendars, they often have pages for listing affiliate information or other blogs to follow.
Segue to my next section on building your toolkit!
How to Build a Bloggers Toolkit
Where do you find the tools you’ll need?
So many places but I’m going to start by saying: online. It’s broad so let’s break it down.
- Other blogs like this one and like mine. Find some blogs that consistently post the type of information you need as well as blogs that are in your niche.
- Facebook groups. There are groups for everything! For bloggers. For mental health. For entrepreneurship. For foodies. For home décor. Join them and find people and group administrators that offer you the tools you need at whatever point in your journey you are on with your business.
- Instagram and other platforms that resonate with you. As you are well aware, every platform has accounts for you to follow that will offer you resources. Instagram isn’t just about food pics and Pinterest isn’t just about recipes or DIY crafts. You can really dig in and find the tools you need on social media.
What tools and resources should go into a bloggers toolkit?
Shift your mindset to one of an online business owner and entrepreneur.
When you become a blogger, you also become the owner of an online business (assuming this is not a hobby; if you’re reading this, you likely want to do elevate your blog right?).
This is crucial: treat your blog like a business.
The tools you need will stay the same or shift over time, so don’t limit what you add to your toolkit.
Remember how one of the first things I said was to have a system for managing and sorting your tools? This is why.
- If you are in a Facebook group for bloggers and a course is recommended to help you with your branding, save the link.
- If you are reading a blog and a book is recommended about diving into search engine optimization and you have planned to focus on it later in the year, bookmark that blog post.
- If you are chatting with another blogger and an idea for a freebie pops up but you aren’t ready to create one yet, file that idea somewhere.
- If you are a solo-preneur and haven’t gotten “busy” enough for a virtual assistant (VA) but know you will be hiring someone later, keep the names of VA’s that impress you as you see them posting on social media.
And so on.
Here are tools, free and not free, I recommend in addition to that blog planner.
- A business coach. I get it, that sounds expensive. But at least do a discovery call or two (all coaches I’ve run across offer these free consultations). My coach keeps me from being distracted by shiny objects. She’s created a roadmap for me that defines what I need to focus on until the next time we meet, as well as for my overall business.
For example, in the very beginning we discussed my target demographic and how Facebook is where I need to be. Thus I created a Facebook group to coincide with my blog! Undoubtedly, she has saved me hours of scrambling around and going down rabbit holes as well as saved me money by focusing what I spend it on.
- Courses. The free trainings are great but… at some point, invest. Not all courses are expensive and if you are focusing on the right thing at the right moment in time (see above about my coach guiding me to create a Facebook group), investing and going all-in with an essential and comprehensive course is a must. (Ready to take the plunge on a great blogging course? Check out Stupid Simple SEO).
- The right technology. From laptops to ring lights or online platforms, don’t hesitate to invest in whatever technology you need. Not doing so can hold you back.
- Other blogs to follow. I said it before, and I will repeat it because this is your best free resource. Blogs like this one and like mine share tools, ideas, learnings, and links to make your life easier. Others have already done that thing you plan to do, so why not benefit from their learnings?
- Checklists and freebies. You may have already seen the amount of amazing free resources people have put together to support your online business journey! From how to create a lead magnet to tips on hashtags, there is a huge amount of stuff out there. (Don’t forget to download this free Blog Post Checklist!)
Grab what you can. If you don’t need it now, file it for later. And… if something you get is truly valuable, grab more from that person!
Taking action is important, and now it should be easy.
My goal was to get you on track building your bloggers toolkit and ensuring you do not feel overwhelmed but instead, feel organized, excited, and ready to take action.
No matter how far along you are on your journey into entrepreneurship, I challenge you to get that blog planner if you don’t have one and to take some time to re-assess and organize your tools. Then use my contact information to connect with me! I want to 1) know how it goes and 2) be a resource for you!