Blogging the Cause: 10 Tools to Help You Work Faster, Write Better and Score More Readers

Photo via Michael Sauers on Flickr

Photo via Michael Sauers on Flickr

Last month, I wrote a post for Hubspot titled 5 Ways Blogging Can Advance Your Nonprofit Career (and 3 Ways to Get Started). I heard from several people who agreed that blogging would be a great way to advance their nonprofit careers. But they wanted more information on the tools I use to blog so consistently - and on my best days - so effectively.

Here's the list. I've noted the tools that are are free or have a free version or trial.

What tools would you add to my list?

Tools for Brainstorming Blog Ideas

1. Twitter. [FREE] I'm always on Twitter looking for good things to write about. In addition to following over 500 people, I search on specific hashtags for content ideas. For example, when I wanted to write on Beacon Technology, I created a hashtag search for #ibeacon to follow the action and find relevant posts. It works every time!

2. Hubspot's Blog Topic Generator. [FREE] Once I have a general idea of what I want to write about, I plug the subject into Hubspot's Blog Topic Generator and get a week's worth of blog topics and headlines. Check out what I got when I asked about blog topic ideas for "charity pinups."

hubspot blog topic generator

Tools to Organize Your Ideas

3. Pocket. [FREE] When I find something interesting that I want to save for later, I save it to Pocket. The Pocket bookmarklet for Chrome makes it super easy to save anything. I have a tag for just "blog ideas."

4. Dropbox. [FREE Version] When my ideas have files, I store everything in Dropbox, including PowerPoints, PDFs, Word Docs, photos and more.

Tools to Help You Write Faster, Easier

5. MarsEdit. [FREE 30-Day Trial] MarsEdit is a desktop blog editing app that I use on my Macbook Pro. I love it because I don't have to be online to write and edit my blog posts. Once I'm finished, I can send the post to my online blogging platform.

6. Grammerly. [FREE Version] Grammerly claims that it makes you a better writer by finding and correcting up to ten times more mistakes than your word processor. I'm not sure about ten times more mistakes, but Grammerly has saved my butt plenty of times. Recently, when I didn't use it, I had an embarrassing error in one of my post. Enough said. Use Grammerly or something like it.

Tools to Create Blog Visuals

7. Canva. [FREE Version] Best. Find. Ever. I love Canva! Not only is it useful for creating visual content, but it's just fun to use. I feel like a professional creating slides, blog graphics, Twitter headers, etc. My next goal is to create my first infographic with Canva.

An example of my work with Canva!

An example of my work with Canva!

Tools to Distribute Your Blog Content

8. Buffer. [FREE Version] I use Buffer to schedule and post my blog content to Facebook, LinkedIn and especially Twitter. With the latter, it's not enough to share your posts just once or twice. That's why I schedule my tweets to post throughout the day. Buffer also has analytics so I can keep track of which posts were clicked on, favorited, retweeted, etc.

9. Constant Contact. [FREE Trial] Each week, I use Constant Contact to deliver my latest post and podcast to my email subscribers. It's not enough to share your posts on social media! Email is a key distribution channel. I use Constant Contact, but I've heard good things about MailChimp and AWeber. 

10. BizSugar. [FREE] "Wait, your blog is geared to nonprofits. Why are you distributing your posts on BizSugar, a community of small business owners and entrepreneurs?" Good question. Cause marketing doesn't just involve nonprofits. It's a partnership between a nonprofit AND a business. I don't distribute every post I write to BizSugar, only the ones that relate to small businesses. I've gotten a great response. One of my posts was even a "Top 10 of the Week" in the BizSugar newsletter.

Ask yourself, what other kinds of sites could YOU distribute your content to?