General Tools for Bloggers, Vloggers, and Podcasters
As mentioned in the previous lesson, Hangouts are utilized by bloggers, vloggers, and podcasters alike. Hangouts are most commonly used to:
- Have meetings with business partners and collaborators
- Have meetings with fans and followers
- Host webinars and other instructive sessions
- Conduct one-on-one sessions with clients
- Broadcast meetings and events live on your Google+ page and YouTube channel
- Present recordings of live Hangouts to followers through YouTube
For guidance on getting started with Hangouts on Air (the type of Hangout that can be broadcast and saved for posterity), check out the video below.
The more tapped in you are to news and discussion related to your niche, the more equipped you will be to cover it better than anyone else. Google Alerts can help you stay on top of things by sending emails linking to articles addressing important keywords related to your work. To set up Google Alerts:
- Visit Google Alerts
- Enter a keyword you wish to follow in the search query field
- Set result type to "Everything"
- Set how often to "As-it-happens"
- Set how many to "All results"
- Select your preferred delivery method
- Create the alert
Should you find that a certain keyword is too broad and ultimately triggers too many alerts, either refine it to make it more specific (e.g. "vegan chocolate recipes" instead of "vegan"), reduce the frequency with which you receive emails, or change your result type to a more specific segment, like "news" or "blogs."
Understanding how your audience interacts with your content can help you create better content and measure the efficacy of various tweaks and campaigns. Though there are countless site analytics solutions available, Google Analytics is the most widely-used and accessible free tool on the market. Of all the features Analytics offers, we recommend paying particularly close attention to:
- Event tracking: Which enables you to review visitors' interactions with specific elements of a page rather overall page view and view duration stats
- Social analytics: Which makes it easier to analyze and measure the impact of your social media activity (and determine whether certain seemingly-productive actions are actually a complete waste of time)
Ideally, your career as a blogger will be full of collaboration (those who actively share with, post with, and create content with fellow bloggers, vloggers, and podcasters tend to have the biggest audiences). Collaboration frequently requires file sharing. When email won't do for a file transfer, Dropbox is your next best choice. Commonly used by most savvy internet professionals, Dropbox makes is very easy to transfer files (from your computer, Dropbox's web interface, or a mobile device) with minimal fuss.
Google Drive and Google Docs
Though Google Drive can also be used to transfer large files, its greatest strength lies in Google Docs. Use Google Docs to collaboratively create and share posts, plans, outlines, contracts, spreadsheets, forms, presentations, and drawings with partners, fans, clients, and customers. You will never have to deal with the hassle of sending revised versions of old-fashioned documents back and forth again.
Though it is easy enough to take full screen or cropped screenshots using simple keyboard shortcuts on a Mac or PC (use the shortcut: command / control shift 4), the Chrome, Firefox, and Safari browser extension Awesome Screenshot makes it easy to add additional annotation (in the form of underlining, arrows, rectangles, circles, and text) as well as blurring (to remove the visibility of sensitive information such as of addresses, usernames, and account ID numbers) to screenshots. For other screen capture plugin styles and options, check out Clipular, Pixlr Grabber, and Screen Grabber by Google.
Social Media Monitoring Tools
The less time you spend repeatedly checking individual social media platforms, the better. Social media monitoring tools, if used properly, can save you time by enabling you to monitor activity and post to different accounts and platforms from one centralized place. To select a tool that suits your personal style, stop by our guide to selecting a social media monitoring tool.
Should you like to send a newsletter to your followers, MailChimp is an excellent starting point. In addition to providing easy-to-use templates and drag-and-drop editing tools, MailChimp enables you to only send emails to specific segments, review useful reports, and even run A/B tests. Those with fewer than 2,000 subscribers can send up to 12,000 emails every month for free. Paid accounts, which enable you to send unlimited numbers of emails to larger bodies of subscribers, range from $10 to $12,930 per month (though your email list is not likely to contain more than 3 million subscribers, so don't worry about that figure).
Top Tools for Bloggers
The WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast
The WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast is one of the easiest means by which WordPress platform users can become familiar with SEO best practices. In addition to built-in tools offered by the plugin, Yoast offers helpful articles and tutorials that can get you up to speed on the basics of search engine optimization. There is no need to purchase the paid extensions to this plugin unless you really like it and want extra help. Most of the additional value offered by Yoast's paid features can be gleaned through independent research. Should you like Yoast's SEO plugin, also consider the Yoast Google Analytics plugin, which integrates Analytics data more directly into your WordPress dashboard.
SEORCH - An On-Page SEO Tool
If you do not use WordPress (or don't like using plugins), try using SEORCH (available through web browsers as well as a Chrome app) to evaluate the SEO-friendliness of the posts and pages you create. For any given webpage and keyword, SEORCH will run a quick analysis of on-page and off-page factors. In addition to learning whether your HTML tags, links, and metadata are adequately optimized, you will discover the top competition for your targeted keyword and get a basic idea of your page and site's general popularity in search and social media (among many, many other things).
Top Tools for Vloggers
Video Editing Programs
Should you have a Mac or PC, you will already have access to one of the following video editing software programs. Unless you need to get really fancy with sound editing and special effects, there is no need for you to go out and purchase expensive editing software.
- Windows Movie Maker: Windows Movie Maker is an excellent free option for PC users with drag-and-drop features, plenty of transition options, and easy uploading features that will export your footage directly to major social media sites
- iMovie: Like Windows Movie Maker, but for Mac users, iMovie offers a user-friendly drag-and-drop interface and ample transition options, basic effects, and social media-friendly export options (though you can download it for $5, it typically comes with most Macs)
- VideoPad: This software, which is free for noncommercial use and $29.99 otherwiese, offers an experience more akin to that which you would get using more pricey, professional editing software
Free Screencasting Software
- Hangouts: Because your screen can be shared using Hangouts on Air, it is possible to record and present screencasts using the tool
- CamStudio: Sadly only available for PC users, CamStudio records screen and audio activity to create AVI files
- QuickTime Player: Believe it or not, QuickTime Player, which comes with Mac OS X, has screen recording capabilities- just open it up and under "file" select "New Screen Recording" (you can even select a specific microphone input, video quality, and whether or not you want clicks to show)
- Screenr: This web-based screencasting tool enables you to record screencasts without downloading and installing software
- Screenast-O-Matic: Another web-based screencasting tool with nice recording features (such as the ability to easily crop of select a microphone) and a choice to download the final file, export it directly to YouTube, or present it via Screencast-O-Matic.com
Should you want to edit or alter footage captured using the screencasting solutions above, just open the file in one of the free video editing tools discussed above to add your finishing touches.
Top Tools for Podcasters
Free Podcast Recording and Editing Software
There is no need to spend hundreds of dollars on podcast recording software. The free options available work brilliantly. Our favorites are:
- GarageBand: Should you have a mac, look no further than GarageBand- it is already on your computer, well-suited for podcast creation, easy to use, and free of distracting features and frills
- Audacity: The best free option for PC users, Audacity offers lots of features and all the tools you might need to record and edit a truly polished and professional-sounding podcast
Tools for Recording Skype Calls
Because so many podcasts consist of interviews, you should be ready and able to record Skype calls. Some of the most popular Skype call recording solutions include:
- VodBurner: VodBurner, available as free software usable on both Macs and PCs, offers a straightforward recording panel that enables you to record either video and audio, or audio alone
- Call Recorder for Skype: Call Recorder's simple interface will be appreciated by those who want a straightforward recording experience, and the the otherwise $29.95 download is free to those who do not mind watermarks on their videos
- HotRecorder: In addition to working with Skype, HotRecorder can be used to record conversations that take place over Google Talk, AIM, Net2Phone, Yahoo! Messenger, and FireFly (amongst other services); MAJOR CAVEAT: The free trial version only enables you to record fifty seconds of audio, however the paid version is only $14.95
Our goal is to never charge for the educational materials we provide. If you’d like to give back, please share our lessons (and Gigaverse in general) with your friends. Who knows- you might introduce someone to an entirely new career path and change their life!
Only take this lesson’s quiz if you are enrolled in the course and want to prove your skills and earn official credentials. Credentials related to a course are useful if you would like to find work related to this course’s career, as we direct businesses and entrepreneurs to our membership page when they approach us looking for specialists.
Finally, make sure you have reviewed this lesson’s required reading (displayed at the top right of the page) before taking the quiz- you will be tested on information covered in those guides!