Even though your main activity happens on your WordPress blog, you will still need some extra blogging tools to help you become more efficient and to measure your progress and results.
Having efficiency and progress in mind I will only recommend you a list of 10 essential tools for serious blogging.
In time, after you will get more into blogging and have more experience with WordPress and third-party software you can enhance your arsenal of tools for serious blogging.
Site & RSS Analytics
Essential Tool #1 - Google Analytics
Google Analytics must be the most popular tool for measuring traffic and on-site activity. An alternative to Google Analytics for those who hate Google :P, is Clicky which is a real-time analytics tool.
You can user Clicky for free if you want to track only one website that has under 500k pageviews/day.
Google Analytics is also free and it got updated recently.
!!!You can only use Google Analytics if you have a self-hosted WordPress, because Wordpress.com has built-in analytics.
Essential Tool #2 - Feedburner
For feed management I use Feedburner, which is basically the most popular option on feed management. I don’t really pay attention to it, I just use it to maintain the RSS Feeds on my blogs and get a sense on how people interact in their feed reading clients.
Tools for Writing
Essential Tool #3 - Darkroom (Windows), WriteRoom (Mac)
DarkRoom is a free piece of software, and it has an equivalent on the Mac called WriteRoom. It’s a simple text editor, similar to notepad in features, but if can help you write more and not be distracted by stuff that happens around your writing window. Since I started using this tool, I observed an improvement in writing speed and editing.
Also, its great because it doesn't push that nasty unnecessary HTML code that Microsoft Word is pushing when you are pasting an article in your web editor.
Essential Tool #4 - After the Deadline
After the Deadline is a proof reading WordPress plugin, and I use it to not make a fool of myself, because of my occasional bad english writing.
Well, that’s the risk where you are not an english native speaker.
You can also use Microsoft Word for proof reading or any other proof reading software you like.
What do you need to learn from this is that you need to proof read your articles before publishing. If you have an assistant that can help you with that, or a piece of software, it's up to you.
From time to time, I invest a few hours into manually correcting published articles,having in mind to write better and spot mistakes before making them.
If you are a writer here on Infobarrel, you already have After the Deadline installed and you also get a notification before saving your module text, to not forget to proof read.
Tools for management & backup
Essential Tool #5 - Dropbox
Dropbox – I use Dropbox to sync and back-up important files between my computer and my laptop. I do my main work on my desktop, but sometimes an idea strikes in my mind, I write the article and then copy it to my Dropbox folder.
Dropbox backs it up in the cloud and I backs it up on my desktop,as soon as I get connected to the Internet. This way, my desktop Dropbox folder & my laptop Dropbox Folder are always in sync and with a copy in the cloud.
Also, if you need more advanced info, here is how to do a WordPress backup and send it to your Dropbox Folder.
Essential Tool #6 - TweetDeck
I use TweetDeck to manage my social media accounts, with a focus on my Twitter Accounts. I manage several Twitter accounts and I need to stay connected to them usually in the same time. Because I don’t want different browser instances running, I use this software to manage any social media interaction.
Essential Tool #7 - Evernote
Evernote is my idea log. In Evernote I saved a lot of brainstorming sessions, and every time I need to write a new post, I enter my account and browse through my notes.
I also use Evernote to write short notes on product ideas, business ideas, quotes and other stuff.
Essential Tool #8 - Basecamp
Basecamp is a very simple and robust software produced by the guys from 37Signals, and use it to manage several of my online projects. Mainly I use it to create "to do" lists and to schedule big activities.
For those who are searching for more complex project management solutions I recommend you Podio. It's very customizable and has great apps you can add to your account.
Essential Tool #9 - Aweber
Aweber(referral link) is the most popular email marketing solution, almost all the big probloggers recommend it & are using it. I find it ideally for serious bloggers, but less useful for metrics hungry online properties like e-commerce websites or enterprise websites.
You can try Aweber the first month for the price of 1$ and then you will have to pay 17$ for 500 subscribers. I think it’s pretty pricey (especially if you are a newbie), but if you are serious about cashing in from an email list, I suggest you go with Aweber, especially if you are a blogger.
For bootstraps Mailchimp is another great solution for email marketing. It’s has an impressive free plan, allowing you to manage a list of 2000 subscribers without charging you.
As a consultant I used Mailchimp mainly for e-commerce clients and for clients that didn’t wanted to pay (for now) an effective email marketing solution.
Essential Tool #10 - Google Reader
Last but not least, I recommend you to start using an RSS Reader. Google Reader is probably the best choice for anyone starting on using RSS Readers.
If you need to understand how RSS works check out this website: What is RSS?.
All in all, you need to use a few extra tools to get more productive and expect bigger results. There are a plethora of tools out there but this essential 10 tools will probably suffice.
Before this article ends, I really want to ask you, what tools are you using to complete your blogging arsenal, and are making you more productive?