Sun, 10 22, 2017

Creativity

The According to Adrienne Toolbox: My List of Must-haves for the Newbie Creator

Since launching According to Adrienne over a year ago, I’ve often been asked about the resources and tools I use to create my content and maintain the site’s traffic. With that in mind, I thought it would be the perfect time to share some of what I’ve learned this past year with you, my readers!

While blogging is fun, it’s not always easy. To be quite honest, it’s something that can be time consuming, exhausting and frustrating, all at once. But the good news is that with the right tools and a good mindset, you can save yourself both time and your sanity. Here’s a look at some of the tools I’ve picked up along the course of my 2016 blogging journey. A lot of these resources I also use in my day-to-day tasks at work, so even if you’re not creating your own content, I think they’re definitely worth checking out, if you haven’t already!

Adobe Photoshop

This popular photo editing software is a must-have for all creatives! Though Photoshop can initially seem quite intimidating (it requires some fooling around in order to get the hang of it) it has quickly become one of my favourite tools of 2016. For the far-from-professional photographers like me, the right amount of Photoshop editing can take your basic photos from zero to 100. For beginners, I highly recommend starting with some basic editing: cropping, adding text and brightening/contrasting. To get you started, take a look at any of these Photoshop tutorials for beginners, courtesy of Mashable.

Stock free photo sites

What’s a website without professional imagery? While high quality photos are essential to any successful online platform, professional photos can be rather expensive to purchase. As a blogger on a budget, I’ve made it my mission to find free quality images. Although some of my photos are downloaded directly from Flickr (you can use any images from their Creative Commons section, as long as you follow the proper attribution guidelines), the majority of images on A2A are from free stock photo sites, like Stocksnap.io and Pixabay. One of my personal favourites, CreateHER Stock, is tailored to female bloggers and creatives of colour. With a free subscription, they’ll send you their monthly photo packs, right to your inbox.

Post scheduling platforms

Although I’m still mastering the art of scheduling posts, I’m quite confident that I’ve dropped the ball on this one enough times to be able to speak to its importance. One of the keys to maintaining web traffic is to continuously share your content on social media and then of course, share it some more. For those of us who aren’t able to spend our days online (or simply don’t want to), post scheduling platforms have become a godsend. I’ve used Tweetdeck, Hootsuite and Buffer in the past, and would recommend either of the three. It’s important to note, though, that Tweetdeck, as the name implies, will only schedule posts to Twitter. Therefore, if you’re looking to share your content across all the major platforms (as you should be), Hootsuite and Buffer are probably the better choices. Both have free versions, which work wonders!

Google Analytics

Of course, if you plan on repeatedly sharing your content, you’re going to want to see how your hard work is paying off. While some content management systems like WordPress have their own built in analytics, I’ve found Google Analytics to be the most comprehensive and accurate tool for monitoring web traffic. User friendly and free of charge, it provides you with a quick and easy summary of your traffic, including a look at how many unique visitors visited your site, how long they stayed and how many pages they viewed. What I particularly like about Google Analytics is the Audience Demographics; a breakdown of who’s visiting your site, their age, geographic location and interests. While your audience is getting to know you through your content, it’s good to know a little bit about them, as well.

A community

You’ll never be successful if you’re the only person cheering for you. Without a doubt, the most powerful resources I tapped into this year were online communities of bloggers on Facebook and Twitter. While some groups like Black Bloggers United are niche, there are literally hundreds of inclusive spaces for writers of all backgrounds and audiences online. (Seriously, go type the word “bloggers” into a Facebook search right now to see what I mean.) Many of these groups host their own monthly meet ups, which are great opportunities for collaborations. An online community can be a powerful space of encouragement and inspiration, and I strongly urge any new content creator to find an online group to join- you won’t be disappointed!

The moral of the story is this: Success doesn’t happen overnight. It requires time, hard work and most importantly, dedication. Though I’m far from an expert (it’s a constant learning process!), I can confidently say I’ve significantly expanded my blogging knowledge in the past year.