Thursday, 16 April 2015

6 Cool Tools to Crack Content Creation

Is your content not as epic as you know it could be? Are your readers not sticking around for long? Don't panic! I'm here with my top 6 tools to help you crack content creation that I use for every post that I write...
Top tools bloggers need for content creation
Post Title Templates - Awesome headlines have a big impact on SEO and driving organic traffic to your site so I always refer to this post by Pauline to create the best post title I can. The templates include keywords and also make it easy for you to add in keywords too. With these title templates, you'll certainly find it easier to come up with post ideas by fitting in topics related to your niche.

Coschedule Headline Analyzer - I've talked about the awesomeness (yep that's a word!) of this tool before for breaking down your post title to make it powerful, emotional and contain the keywords that will get your post seen. Type in your title choice and you'll be given a rating for the overall effectiveness, the amount of words and characters included, how it appears in search results, the keywords and more. It stores your titles at the top with their overall score so you can test out others and then always go back to the one with the best. I really recommend spending some time going through the Coschedule posts all about power and emotion words to drive people to click through to your post over any others.

Post Ideas - Lauren created this worksheet of awesome questions that can relate to pretty much any blogging niche. Brainstorming sessions with these questions will leave me with a huge list of ideas, and I'm sure it will for you too. Schedule out time every fortnight or month to go through these questions and think about what might have changed since the last time your brainstormed ideas. Looking at them at a later date might spark different inspiration and ideas than before, leading you down a new, exciting path.

Hemingway - If like me you write too much in a sentence or make it too complicated, you'll want to use this tool. It identifies any text that needs to be broken down or removed to make your content the best it can be. It simply highlights areas for improvement and provides a key and rating in the sidebar to guide you with what could be improved. It's a completely free tool that you just copy and paste (or type) into before being analysed immediately. My top tip for you would be to not edit or type directly into something like this as it slows your process down. Instead, save your editing until the end, or even better, go back in to working on it on a different day with a fresh mind.

Post Checklist - Lisa created this great checklist post to make sure you don't forget anything when writing. She also gives awesome guidance on how to start your post to make it easier for yourself. I've been meaning to create a post checklist/process sheet for myself (and you guys too if you'd like one!) but this is a great reminder of how to make your post great. 

PS, when was the last time you used a Thesaurus? While you don't need to use words that don't sound like you, searching for variations is something I do regularly for post title adjectives in particular!
Over to you...
Which content tools do you rely on? Have you tried any of the ones I've mentioned and have a better alternative? What content features do you focus on?
Leave your answers in the comments below.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

7 Pieces of Exciting News for Autumn Leaves

New to Autumn Leaves? Or have you been reading for a while but want to know what the future holds? Well today I'm bringing you a slightly different post from the rest of the April top tools posts to let you all in on the plans, as well as an insight into my personal life - something I've never shared here before. Read on below to be the first to know about my news and thoughts! 
1. On Thursday 23rd April I'll be hosting my first ever Twitter chat (stay up to date with Autumn Leaves on Twitter here). It will be between 7pm - 8pm GMT and we'll be using #ALchat. We'll be talking top tools, speaking about how to smash social media and chatting about content creation. I'd love to see as many of you there as possible. I know Twitter chats are usually super fast and often hard to keep up with so I really recommend you use Tweetdeck or Tweetchat during it. And if you're thinking about hosting a chat in the future, make sure you head back here a few days after the chat where I'll be sharing my top tips based on the things I learnt! If you can't make it or keep up, don't worry - I'll be posting a chat summary here too! I hope you're all as excited as I am!

2. You may or may not know that I've been running a survey here over the past week or so. It's all about getting to know you - the people who visit Autumn Leaves Blog day in, day out. I've had an awesome response to it so far, but if you haven't already taken it - you can take the survey here. I want to know all about your blogging journey so far, which posts and services help you most and what challenges you face. Autumn Leaves always aims to be about and for its' readers so the more of you I can get an insight to, the better!

3.The survey was also the only mandatory entry of my giveaway (which ends today - enter the giveaway here). To celebrate the re-launch of advertising here on the blog, I wanted to give 2 of you the chance to win a space in my sidebar. If you missed out, then don't worry - you can now book your space ready for May by emailing me here to discuss the details. I aim to make it affordable and the best value for money that I can. It's open to bloggers and brands, so be sure to get in touch now as it'll be first come first serve.

4. The most exciting part to tell you all about is that following the success and overwhelming response to my free blog consultations (read: what I learnt about giving free blog consultations), it firmly made up my mind that I will be launching paid-for consultations as of June. I'm currently finalising all of the details and rates, but I'm so looking forward to being able to work 1:1 with you guys. I'll talk more about it next month as I'm going to use the results of the survey to help guide the different packages I offer. 

5. I just wanted to say thank you to each and every visitor to this blog. My traffic (and returning traffic) has soared since I made the change from beauty blogging and I couldn't be happier. I'm so proud of this space and the content I'm now creating. It really feels like I've found my true voice and niche, and that I'm more connected to my readers than I've ever been. Although it's never been about the numbers, it is a massive self esteem boost when something you've changed pays off. So to everyone who has ever clicked on a link to my blog, everyone who subscribes through Bloglovin or Feedly or follows me on social media, and to everyone who has ever left a comment or completed my survey - thank YOU!

6. One of the changes I made to my blog was that I added a Start Here (Archives) page. It's been one of the best things I could have done. I created a visual archive (that's still a work in progress) and the conversion rate has been amazing. I do get asked regularly if I've posted X post so make sure you check on that page first, or if you just want some new reading material head over there as you'll find (eventually) all of my posts! 

7. So something a little personal to finish on, but with a message for you all. Tomorrow I head back to my real life job after having 2 months off due to an injury. That job isn't my true calling and I'm not happy to be going back, in fact I've been suffering with depression for the past year or so because of it. But I'm not here to dwell on that, I'm here to say that if you've got dreams and goals then go for them. Everything I'm launching here on Autumn Leaves has come from my drive and passion to get out a job that isn't for me. I've taken the first step which is that I'm going back to work doing just 4 days a week so that I can spend the other day doing what I love - which will ultimately help with how I've been feeling and help me make progress towards my goals. So whatever it is that you want to do in your life, take the steps towards making them happen. It's unlikely that these things will come to you, so it's up to you to make a life that you want to live.

Over to you...
Tell us about some recent changes you've made in your life or for your blog to help you reach your goals and dreams. What exciting plans do you have for the next few months?
Leave your answers in the comments below.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

4 Free Motivating Podcasts Bloggers Will Love

Are you overwhelmed by the amount of podcasts available? Do you struggle to fit in time to sit and read blogs? Well today I'm sharing my top 4 subscriptions to podcasts that solve both of those problems. Here you'll find blogging, social media and business podcasts that will inspire, motivate and guide you to finding the real you and creating the best blog you can. They're all free on iTunes too! Read on below to discover which ones I recommend you download, and don't forget to share using #ALchat!
Top podcasts for bloggers
My number one podcast subscription is this, The Fizzle Show run by three insanely easy to listen to guys who've inspired a lot of my decisions during the re-brand. After listening to their podcasts I feel motivated to create and to be me whilst still making sure all of you guys are getting what you need and want most - blogging, social media and brand support.
Chase, Caleb and Corbett have such an amazing, natural bond both as friends and business partners that makes the listening experience a pleasure. Their experience shines through, yet I love their humorous approach and that they too are always open to learning and sharing as they go along. The three guys all have really interesting stories (which you can listen to in episodes 3, 4 and 5) of how they've got to where they are today, with unique backgrounds - proving to us that no one blogger or entrepreneurs journey is the same. They're well connected within the blogging and business world so you'll hear them talk about some of those other big names, but at the same time they're totally down to earth and aren't bragging about huge statistics or profit margins - even though we know the truth!
The podcasts themselves have a mix of conversation, Q&As with their readers, short interviews and a really awesome way of breaking down the main points so that you always take something away with you to think about or work on. Providing key information on building your blog, turning your skills into a business and all of the stuff that comes with it, the podcasts really will resonate with you. There's now over 100 episodes (a new one is released every Friday) so I'm still making my way through them but every show brings something new to the table and gets my creative and entrepreneural juices flowing. Their blog (The Sparkline) is equally as inspiring, with plenty of free resources to compliment the quality content. Each episode is around an hour long and does require most or all of your attention, and although I couldn't give you a favourite episode of theirs, I'd say start with the thought-provoking first episode, How to Find your Voice (2 parts) - something that is important for bloggers, no matter where you are on your journey.

How They Blog is the first blog-related podcast I ever came across, and although Kat Lee no longer shares episodes on this (she does run InspiredToAction for mothers), I still believe that the 36 episodes she has posted will be beneficial to bloggers. The How They Blog podcast features interviews with so many different bloggers and creative entrepreneurs who share their stories and top tips for running their blogs and businesses, as well as the extra responsibilities that are associated with those. Just like with the guys from The Fizzle Show, it's really interesting and inspiring to hear from other bloggers in a variety of niches. Often as bloggers we spend too much time reading, watching and listening to content from our own niche, when the truth is that we're more likely to learn and be inspired to create when we explore a topic that is different to our own. Each episode is around 35 minutes long so perfect for when you're commuting or cooking dinner.

I discovered this podcast by reading Amy's blog as she posts podcasts to coincide with the written content she's sharing - something super helpful. Amy has now posted over 50 podcasts with a wide variety of focus points and interviews, as well as how to's and guides. She backs up her top tips and really provides great advice for beginners, as well as giving you pointers that you may have forgotten about. Amy's particularly good at social media, sharing tools and resources that she uses and recommends. I find her voice really soothing and nurturing, and the way she presents her information is strategic yet not saying "you must do this, don't do that". She has some great connections that too provide insightful advice, making content marketing easy - just like the title suggests. The podcasts are anywhere up to an hour, giving you opportunities to listen even when you don't have much time.  

My last recommendation is a little different to the other three. You've probably heard of the website Social Media Examiner - a fantastic site that provides the latest statistics, trends, tips and tools that will keep your blog or business on the right track. While it's great content, the posts are sometimes too long to fit into our busy schedules so the podcast is ideal. Each podcast is less than 15 minutes long so keeps things really short and sweet. In some ways the episodes sound a little robotic as they are so heavily scripted, however the information they provide is really valuable. I tend to listen to these shows in the shower, when walking to the shops or before I go to bed. Also available: Social Media Marketing by Michael Stelzner (Social Media Examiner) 

1. Podcasts are really insightful tools that really help you get to know the person behind the blog or business.
2. Podcasts can take various forms, and although interviews are popular, relatable podcasts can be created by individuals or small groups alone. 
3. There are podcasts to fit around your day and schedule that will still inspire and motivate you.
Over to you...
Which podcasts do you listen to? Have you tried any of the ones I've mentioned? What do you look for in a podcast? Leave your answers in the comments below.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

10 Inspirational Tools That Make Analytics Easy

Do you find analytics daunting? Want to look more into your audience and engagement levels? I've narrowed it down to 10 top tools to help you analyse the most important data for both your blog and social media platforms. Read on below to find out the ones I use and which parts I find most valuable. Share your favourites using #ALchat on Twitter!
top blog and social media analytics tools
Blog Analytics.
Google Analytics - Studying my analytics in depth has been monumental in the growth of Autumn Leaves - I only wish I'd done it sooner. Being able to look at the percentage of returning readers vs new ones, where most of my traffic is coming from and what makes them leave/stay on our blog is key for looking to the future. If your stats and engagement aren't as great as you'd like them to be, then I'd highly recommend scheduling in a session to see what's going wrong, but also to look at what's working well - it's important to identify the positives for your esteem. Understanding Google Analytics is one of my most requested posts so look out for that in the next month, but for now make sure you've signed yourself up to Google Analytics and simply have a play around with its' features - I promise you you'll learn a lot from this seriously good tool.

Alexa - I'm often reluctant to talk about this tool for the sake of bloggers' esteem as it can be quite daunting and in some cases a little heartbreaking to see where you're (approximately) ranked on search engines in the world and in your country (data taken from over the previous 3 months). The reality is that getting that number 1 spot on Google is insanely difficult, so avoid focusing on your rank - instead use the information below it to turn it into a positive experience. Here you'll find more demographics about your readers, the sites that are linking in to your blog, related sites and more. You can look at others' data too, but remember that this isn't the most reliable source. My bounce rate on Alexa is over 2x higher than the true reading on Google Analytics.

Ahrefs - Another really cool tool for looking more in depth for your blogs' SEO status is Ahrefs. Here you'll find more detailed stats regarding the amount of referrals and back links your blog has received. You can find out how many of those are nofollow or do follow (don't know what they are?Read my post about Nofollow links here), the specific links lost, as well as the top anchor text used with your link. Looking further, you can investigate which posts where your link has been placed had the most social shares and also their Ahrefs rank. You can export this data into a more manageable, targeted document but you will have to pay for a subscription plan to get the full details.

SumoMe - A non-invasive feature that I've installed on my blog, this different tool shows you a number of different things. The key elements I use are a heat map of exactly where readers click on the blog and how much of the page they tend to read. This helps you to identify where to place call to actions and key features, as well as where to focus on to encourage readers to look deeper. They also offer some handy features for sharing, email list growth and communicating, plus even more if you opt for the premium package. If numbered statistics aren't your thing, then this visual aid will help you to grow your blog.

Social Media Analytics.
Pinterest - Once you've signed up for a business account (Read why Pinterest for Business is awesome in my post here) you can look into your analytics where you'll find which of your pins are most popular, how many impressions your account has, which are rich pins, how many people have clicked through and how many have used your Pin-it share button on your blog. Again you can also see your followers' demographic and interest. While it's not the most in-depth statistics report, you can find out some valuable information to guide your future content and help you to create a more optimal account.

Iconosquare - If Instagram is one of your main social platforms (or you want to grow it to be) then you'll want to get using Iconosquare. This tool covers your overall growth as well as your new and lost followers from the past 7 days. There's also data for your engagement levels, your most used hashtag, your most frequent post days and times, and of course your most used filters. You can see which of your posts got the most likes and the most comments, plus there's optimisation data to help you with the best time to post, which hashtags to use, and which filters to use. 

Twitter / Twtrland / Socialbro - Twitter is my favourite analytics (after my blog) to look into as it's my most used social platform. Their own analytics tool is really useful - it tells you everything from how many profile visits you've had, how many impressions your tweets have had, how many mentions, twitter card details and how many click-throughs you've had. There's plenty of demographics details too so you can really get to know your followers. I also like to use other tools alongside the main analytics tool in order to get the most important data. Twtrland is awesome for giving you suggestions of influencers in your niche that you may want to follow, as well as setting challenges for your account. Looking further into your profile you'll find how active you are, how responsive you are, who you've connected with, which celebs/popular people follow you and more. If you're ready to get serious about Twitter then definitely sign up to this. Socialbro is the third Twitter tool I use, mainly for the Best Time to Tweet report which is generated specifically for me, as well as the real time feature. There's a huge amount of resources to use here but unfortunately most of them are premium. 

Static - If like me you like a quick update at the weekend of how many followers you've gained on each platform that week then this is the app for you. It displays all of your current social media counts in one place (as a graph if you choose) so that it's quick and easy to find. It doesn't provide you with much more information than how many people you follow and how many people follow you, but of course it's always an esteem boost to know that you've gained followers. If you've lost some that week, don't worry, it just means those followers weren't for you and weren't your ideal audience.

1. Get to know your current audience, think about whether that's your ideal audience.
2. Avoid looking at the numbers, instead focus on the qualitative and subjective data.
3. Schedule analytics audits for your blog and social media regularly, compare to your goals.
Over to you...
Which analytics tools do you rely on? Have you tried any of the ones I've mentioned and have a better alternative? What analytics do you focus on? Leave your answers in the comments below. Talk more about this post | Take the survey | Read more posts like this


Monday, 6 April 2015

WIN! Advertising Space on Autumn Leaves

Are you looking for somewhere to market your blog or brand? Is most advertising space out of your budget? Well today Autumn Leaves is bringing you the chance to WIN an advertising space for 30 days in its' sidebar. Read on below to find out how you can enter.
With the re-brand and changes that Autumn Leaves has been going through, it's been really rather difficult over here. I've been rushed off my feet, indecisive and probably not putting out the content that is the best representation of my skills. Despite all of that, I've had some wonderful readers who've stuck by me or who've joined along the way and still give me heaps of support. I'm really proud of how my online space is developing and even more proud that I can safely say I've established a loyal following and a steady increase in traffic. While there is still a serious amount of work to be done for me to reach my goals, I'm getting excited for the future and that's all because of you guys. I haven't run a giveaway so far this year and thought the best way to do one would be to offer 2 people advertising space in my sidebar. With the re-launch of advertising on Autumn Leaves starting in May, it's a great chance for you to try it out before it's available to everyone. The giveaway will be open for just 1 week so make sure you get your entries in now, but don't worry if you don't win as prices and packages will be affordable for all. It's open internationally to bloggers and brands, and all you have to do is complete the Rafflecopter form below (there's just the one mandatory entry). Good luck, and again thank you for your support, I love you all!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

You might like to read...
Top tools for creating blog images
Like it here? Stay up to date with Autumn Leaves on: Bloglovin | TwitterInstagram

Sunday, 5 April 2015

11 Incredible Tools for Finally Nailing Productivity

Do you need to be more efficient in your everyday jobs? Is your current time management strategy not working well for you? Todays' post as part of #ALchat is all about Productivity and how you can organise your time more successfully and get things back on track. Avoiding overwhelming you, I've narrowed it down to my 6 must haves with a few alternatives included too.
Top tools for increasing productivity
> Managing your time and meeting goals
RescueTime - Most of us know that we aren't using our time effectively. If I quizzed any of you now, I bet you'd tell me you spend a few hours on social media each day or clicking link after link on blogs. The thing is, you're probably not realising just how much time you're spending on things that are impacting on your productivity. This tool will break it down to you and trust me, you'll be surprised by the results. You can set goals, track your progress and identify patterns of time wasted. Having a reality check for your time will help you to make changes to increase your efficiency. Also try: Toggl

30/30 - If you have multiple tasks to complete in a day and often spend too much or too little time on one of them, then download this. Acting as a timer and to do list in one, you have complete control over how long you plan to spend on each task (up to 30 minutes), but it will automatically notify you to encourage you to move onto the next task. You can even look back at exactly how long it took you/what time of day you completed the task for each (great if you want to prove to someone you've been working!). Also try: Pomodrone

Strides - If you're serious about setting goals this is the app for you. With such a huge variety of things to track your progress and productivity in, plus your chance to create custom goals, this tool helps you to make those steps to reaching your targets. For each goal, you provide the details of how many times you want to meet it or what date you want to reach it by etc. You add your own progress in percent of how much you've completed for each task/goal and it provides you with your success rate and lets you share it on social media once you've completed it (if you wish).

Office Lens - Have you ever been in a class or at a presentation/meeting at work frantically trying to take down notes from the screen or whiteboard in front of you? This new app allows you to quickly snap a photo (no matter how poorly) of the whiteboard or screen and turns it into an image that can be transferred into a document and exported into Word, OneDrive, Powerpoint, OneNote, as a pdf or email, or save to your photos. Also try: Skitch (a great annotating tool).
Organising time productivity click to tweet
> Planning ahead and working with others
Evernote - You've probably heard of this app so many times before but there's a good reason. Evernote is a seriously awesome tool for organising your own time and working digitally with others. With a chat feature, checklist, reminder, camera (to snap documents with ease) and the ability to create multiple notes and notebooks - there's everything you're ever going to need productivity wise. Sync it between devices for access wherever you are, and you can even purchase the premium package for a purse friendly price. Also try: Microsoft OneNote

EPIC BLOG: One-Year Editorial Planner - Everyone in blogging nowadays talks about the importance of using an editorial calendar, and while there's many free ones available - I couldn't more highly recommend the paperback one I'm currently using. It's open to starting it at any time of the year and not only acts as a calendar, but also helps you to identify your ideal reader, your mission statement, track your stats and fully plan out topics, posts and projects for your year. The layout is awesome and in case I haven't convinced you enough, watch this to see why you need it. Also try: The Badass Blog Planner

1. Evaluate how you truthfully use your time in order to make changes for the better.
2. Use an automatic timer for managing multiple tasks in your day.
3. Use multiple methods together to plan and succeed.

Be sure to join me on Twitter for #ALchat
Thursday April 23rd at 7pm GMT!

Over to you...
Which productivity tools do you rely on? Have you tried any of the ones I've mentioned and have a better alternative? What are your top productivity tips? Leave your answers in the comments below. Want to talk more about this 1:1? Then why not email me? :) Have you taken my super quick survey yet? Let me get to know you by clicking here.

You might also like to read...
Top tools for creating blog imagesBest tools for bloggers and content marketers
Like it here? Stay up to date with Autumn Leaves on: Bloglovin | TwitterInstagram
*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

Friday, 3 April 2015

15 Fantastic Tools That Make Social Media Easy

Want to be more consistent on social media or drive more traffic to your profiles? What if I told you that below that image you'd come across 15 tools that are going to make your social media life the easiest it's ever been? You'd love me right? Well, go ahead and scroll because they're not just good they're freakin' fantastic (just thank me later and use #ALchat to share your favourites!).
Top social media tools
> Get serious about social
AddThis: I recently read a post on Jeffbullas' blog (you can read the post herethat as great as it is to have social media buttons on your blog that match your design, sometimes you just have to stick with the original logo design if you want to increase the amount of follows/shares you receive. This really made me think and quickly I made the decision to switch back to the original icons but keep the colour palette complimentary to the rest of my design - thanks to the help of AddThis. Offering a free and paid-for (but still budget friendly) service, AddThis is a fantastic resource for implementing social buttons, welcome bars, non-intrusive pop ups, recommended content widgets and even mobile-friendly features onto your blog in a quick and easy way. Everything you add can be measured too so you can always see what's working and what's not. This tool makes everything a breeze. There's no need for you to learn coding or hire a designer, a simple selection process followed by copy and paste et voila. I'm not even going to give you another tool to try like it as I'm positive this will meet all of your needs!

IFTTT - If there's one tool that you take away from this post, make it this. It's far more difficult to explain than if you just head over to the dashboard but in short, you create recipes (like automatic instructions) between social media platforms and the other apps on your phone/desktop. It's called "if this then that" so if you do X it will do Y for you. It's SO good, but actually harder to come up with recipes than you'd think so definitely take advantage of the recommended ones. I'm obsessed with using it as a productivity tool but also to make sharing between social accounts easier. Also try: SproutSocial

Knowem - If you're looking to choose a username for your blog and social media platforms, this awesome tool shows you if it's available and if it's the right amount of characters for every platform you could possibly think of. This is great for developing your personal branding and maintaining consistency. They also offer profile services and give you the chance to easily reserve your name but they're seriously pricey for small business owners and bloggers so just stick to the name checker.

> Show Pinterest some interest
ViralWoot - I'd been meaning to trial a Pinterest schedule tool for a while and there were two that had stuck in my mind. This one's the free one, but you can pay for annual subscription plans should you wish. There's only one gripe I have with it and that's that you can only upload pins to schedule if you've bought 'seeds' or subscribed to a plan - if you want to schedule for free then you'll have to use something that you can find on Google Images or install the bookmarklet to schedule from a website/blog. Other than that, I've actually been really pleased with its' features. This tool has also increased my Pinterest followers by over 100 in a couple of days - yep, they're real, and no I didn't pay for them. You're given an initial number of seeds and you can choose how many seeds you give each person per follow/like of your account, and gain more for yourself by following and liking others'. Obviously the more seeds you give, the more likely you're going to get a follow/like, but that does mean that they go down quicker. There's definitely room for improvement in the design layout when earning seeds, and don't expect to be able to spend more than around 30 minutes scrolling through content as it is limited, but it's certainly a starting point and it's free. Also try: Instawoot

Tailwind - For most of these posts, I've just been recommending an alternative tool but I couldn't not talk about this. Another Pinterest schedule tool, Tailwind is a much more detailed, professional resource that gives you personalised suggestions for improving your account, plus analytics as well as creating a visual calendar for your scheduled pins. Unlike ViralWoot you can upload a pin to schedule, plus it works with Canva (read why I love this tool so much here) and Instagram. I've decided to pay to upgrade to the plus plan now that my free trial has expired, for the awesome extras it provides. 

Latergram - Want to schedule Instagram posts? Use this. It's quick, easy and creates a really great calendar for you to see when they're due to go live.

> Tweet, tweet, tweet
Buffer - This key social media scheduler needs no introduction. It's the easiest of the bunch, the company has a fantastic blog and it also acts as a great curation tool as it provides you with awesome reads related to your topics that you can add to your queue. Although you can only add 10 tweets into the queue at one time, this is my go to tool for Twitter, Facebook (when I had it), LinkedIn (when I use it) and Google+ (before it automatically published posts once live). The premium package allows you to add more social media accounts, more tweets into the queue and also use it as an RSS feed curator. Also try: Circular

Tweetdeck - Keeping up with Twitter chats and multiple lists isn't easy even for the most social media savvy. Tweetdeck makes it incredibly easy by displaying each of your chosen feeds next to each other meaning you can see the chat, your regular timeline and your mentions (or whichever combination you prefer!). It also happens to provide a schedule tweets service, shows images of scheduled tweets (rather than as links) and is totally free. Also try: Hootsuite

ClicktoTweet - Another really budget friendly tool (or free if you don't want to track the analytics - tip: just use a combination of Bitly and search for your tweets rather than paying!) this is a great call to action feature to get people sharing your content in a more creative way. Give your readers a quote from your content that they could relate to and you're sure to get more shares than just your regular social button. I always create an image (using Canva) with the quote, making it into a clickable image (good for SEO!). Also try: Coschedule

Topsy - A useful (free) real-time keyword tool alongside Twitter is Topsy where you can track how many people are talking about a specific topic, sharing images of your keyword and those who are influencers around that keyword. It's also a great tool for finding new content, but with the addition of  analytics, it makes it a worthwhile resource for any blogger in a niche. Also try: Twazzup

1. Use consistent usernames across platforms and make share buttons recognisable
2. Interlink your platforms and apps to make things easier for yourself
3. Schedule your posts, keep track of how they're doing and be in the know

Be sure to join me on Twitter for #ALchat
Thursday April 23rd at 7pm GMT!

Over to you...
Which social media tools do you rely on? Have you tried any of the ones I've mentioned and have a better alternative? What are your top social media tips? Leave your answers in the comments below. Want to talk more about this 1:1? Then why not email me
Have you taken my super quick survey yet? Help me to help you by clicking here.

You might also like to read...
Top tools for creating blog imagesBest tools for bloggers and content marketers
Like it here? Stay up to date with Autumn Leaves on: Bloglovin | TwitterInstagram

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

17 Top Tools for Creating Blog Images That Rock

Do you plan to start a blog or are you ready to refresh your images? Need somewhere to store them or to create new ones? Well grab your notebook and pen, you'll be wanting to write these awesome tools down to cover every part of the design and storage (and the best part? They're almost all free!). Read on below to find the tools that I turn to and use #ALchat to share your favourites! 
Top tools for creating blog images
> Creating & Editing Images and Colour Palettes
When it comes to images, Autumn Leaves has had its' fair share of change. I've never really found my favourite concept and I'm certainly no graphic designer. While I'm certainly happier with the colour palette I have now as I've used it consistently across my social media platforms and blog, I'm still not sure on the image... especially as I miss taking my own photos. For creating and editing images, here's what I use (plus some alternatives too!):

Canva - My number one resource for anyone wanting to step into creating their own images. With everything you could need font and illustration wise as a mix of free and really cheap extras, plus plenty of social media templates to get you that perfect size in seconds, it makes creating so easy. Also try: Pablo by Buffer

Fotor - I heavily relied on this tool in my product and beauty photography days as editing was a doddle. Whether I wanted to create a collage, play around with exposure or perfect a makeup look - I could do it all and more by using this. While there are a few premium add ons, you'll certainly get by on the free version. Also try: PicMonkey

Colourlovers - Noticed there's a colour palette on everything I post here and on social media lately? That's all down to this website which helped me to build a 6 shade palette and is now helping me to expand it to further complimentary colours. There are already so many others that you can begin to use (I just copy the Hex into Canva when creating) or make your own - totally free. This is ideal for when you're looking to build your blog as a brand or when you just want everything corresponding from the start. Also try: Adobe Color CC

Easelly - Infographics are seriously popular nowadays as the ability to input key information and data visually really increases attention and makes them more share-able. There are hundreds of thousands of templates available for you to use and adapt to create your own on this site. You'll be viral on Pinterest before you know it ;) Also try: Piktochart

> Storing and Sharing your Images
There are times when the Blogger upload and storage system just doesn't quite cut it so I've turned to more reliable tools. Here's the ones I use most commonly:

Photobucket - Also acting as an editing tool, all of those click-to-tweet images, follow buttons and promotional images you see are hosted here. I've been using this tool since early high school (wayyy too many years ago now!) as it's a really secure and straightforward method of copying an images' HTML onto your website/blog. Also try: Flickr

Dropbox - Used to transfer images and documents easily between my devices (perfect when I use my SLR for Instagram pics), you can also use it to share and edit between friends or colleagues. Also try: Google Drive

> Stock Photos, Icons and Backgrounds
Finding images taken by others that you can use on your blog isn't easy. It's definitely preferable that you take your own photos or create images, but if you're unable to, you need to be looking in the right places. Here's some of my favourite places to find images and icons that you can use providing you use the license correctly:

Creative Commons - Also try: Death to the Stock Photo
Subtle Patterns - Also try: Lost and Taken
NounProject - Also try: Font Awesome
Be sure to join me on Twitter for #ALchat
Thursday April 23rd at 7pm GMT!

Over to you...
What are your top tools for creating and editing images? How do you store and share them? Leave your answers in the comments below. Got a suggestion for someone else? Get replying to others' comments too! Want to talk more about this 1:1? Then why not email me? :)
You might also like to read...
Best tools for bloggers and content marketers
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Monday, 30 March 2015

Seriously Awesome Blogging Tools

Do you need some tools to make your blog the best it can be? Would a little productivity help go down well? Well Autumn Leaves is definitely going to be somewhere you should stick around. Read on below about the exciting series that you'll be a part of this April.
Best tools for bloggers and content marketers
As we head into April I wanted to let you all into my editorial calendar for the next month... April's going to be 'top tools for bloggers' month here on Autumn Leaves where I'll be covering everything from design to content to analytics and so much more. In the run up to it I wanted to share the past posts you might not have read where I've shared my favourite apps and websites, and give you the opportunity to contribute to the posts for the next month by sharing your favourites too. You can use the hashtag #trythesetools to stay up to date with the posts and get involved too!

Useful Sites #9: from content creators to advertising on your blog
Useful Sites #8: from keyword tools to evaluating your time
Useful Sites #7: from background to images to company background checks
Useful Sites #6: from organising your inbox to driving more traffic to your blog
Useful Sites #5: from creating the perfect writing environment to monetising social media
Useful Sites #4: from related posts to scheduling social media
Useful Sites #3: more awesome blogs
Useful Sites #2: a bunch of seriously awesome blogs
Useful Sites: from protecting your blog to editing images.
Free Apps for Bloggers
Over to you...
What are your favourite tools to enhance your blogging experience? What hashtag do you think we should use to talk about this months' series? Leave your answers in the comments below and your suggestions could be included in the posts!

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Saturday, 28 March 2015

How to Keep Your Content Fresh and Ideas Flowing

Are you struggling to come up with new and exciting post ideas? Are you feeling uninspired to create? Todays' post contains 9 of my top tips for keeping your content fresh and ideas flowing. Read on below to help you to get back on track to writing seriously good posts.
How to find blog post ideas
Brainstorming sessions.
Lauren is the Queen of this and has really taught me the importance of taking the time out to brainstorm, and I can't thank her enough. If you don't already, I strongly recommend scheduling in some brainstorming sessions where that's all you do for say 30 minutes - if you feel inspired to do so un-planned or for longer then great! Picking a category or keywords to focus on will guide the process, but it's also great to use questions (Lauren has some awesome ones here). Having a strong list of post ideas will help for when you want to blog but just don't know what to write about. 

Use your analytics and feedback.
When was the last time your asked your readers what they wanted to read? When did you last look further than just those top 5 popular posts on your blog? By heading into more detail through surveying your readers and looking at which posts gain the most referrals (i.e. are being shared most) you can really nail what it is that keeps people coming back - I wrote a post all about How to Increase Returning Readers to Your Blog which will give you some ideas of which content is a readers' favourite but if you delve a little deeper you'll find patterns of behaviour that will certainly help you to brainstorm around popular topics.

Read, then read some more (be in the know).
The truth is, I probably read excessively about my blog subjects. I feel it puts me in a better position by keeping up to date with the latest trends in marketing and SEO, as well as following the results of social experiments for publishing content (and so much more). By reading from multiple sources daily, I keep the ideas flowing by putting my own take on what I've read, sharing the top tips once I've trialled them here and in turn helping you to build better blogs and brands too. Even if you only set aside a small amount of time once a day, once a week or whatever is manageable for you - be in the know of what's going on in your niche and other categories too. Avoid sticking to the same blogs and same social accounts, as brilliant as you think they are so you're creating a strong knowledge base for you to create seriously awesome content. 

One thing that I'm always planning (but never quite get round to) is to collaborate with others' in my niche. There's definitely a misconception in blogging that everyone is competing against each other, when in reality, we'd progress more if we worked with each other. I've done this plenty of times in the past by guest posting on beauty blogs, but since changing my niche it's something that I need to take my own advice on. I had a consultation with the wonderful Kelly a few weeks ago who seriously enhanced my blogging experience by giving me her take on what could work for Autumn Leaves.  Even if you don't go as far as guest posting, creating an epic resource or hosting a giveaway together - it's a great opportunity to connect with likeminded people who could become your friends or potential clients, and who are sure to be able to come up with ideas you hadn't thought of (and vice versa). 

Use what you've already published.
If you've already read my post, 20 Easy Ways to Increase Traffic to Old Posts you'll know that I made suggestions to re-vamp your old content by creating roundups based around a topic or going more in-depth on a subject. I bet that if you sat down and looked through your archives you could generate new ideas based on what you've already written. Even if you couldn't think of any other post ideas related to it when it first went live, you might be able to now. You've done the hard work by creating the initial dent in a topic, now you can expand on that. 

Make something your own (get creative).
So someone took your great idea or it's been done 100 times before, that doesn't mean you can't use it. Whenever you see a post that's already been done, challenge yourself to do it better. Create a resource, infographic, worksheet, quiz, comparison, lookbook - whatever it is, there are ways for you to do it differently. I always find it really exciting when I've created something that I know has been done before but I've put my own touch on it and the best bit is, if you can come up with multiple ways to go about doing it, that creates more content pages (that Google will love you for) and definitely gives you a step up on anyone else.

Create a person, solve their problems.
You've probably heard many bloggers telling you to identify your ideal reader before, but here's why it's important to. Your ideal reader is someone who shares your interest and lifestyle, someone who you can bounce your experience and skills off - it's not necessarily someone who is only interested in one topic you write about - if you're a beauty blogger, your ideal reader isn't necessarily another beauty blogger or lover - it's someone who connects with you and wants to share your journey. So here's your opportunity, create a person - give them a name, age, location. Write down what you have in common with them - just like you would as a child with an imaginary friend. Now write down what problems they might have or what they might be interested in knowing more about. Follow that by brainstorming your solutions and ideas, and write for them. Imagine they've come along on the journey with you, what content would they want or need to read next? Keep them in mind whenever you get writers block. 

Change your environment.
Whether you head out to your local coffee shop (where I am as I type this), over to a friends' house, the park or book a hotel room (yep I've done that for a couple of days next week) - switch up your usual blogging location. You'd actually be really surprised at how much more productive you can be in a different environment - providing you're not in somewhere too overstimulating and distracting to you. Simple things like adjusting the room temperature, lighting and background noise in your current environment are actually also likely to impact on your productivity and focus, there's even evidence (here)! If you're starting to lose concentration, run out of ideas or to write content that isn't to your best ability, definitely consider doing a quick evaluation of your location, after all... inspiration is everywhere - Arnold Arre.

Change your process.
Most of us have some sort of process when it comes to constructing a blog post - I even have a checklist. But when I start to become stuck for ideas, I'll scrap the process and run with whatever feels right at the time - maybe I'll spend time creating a bunch of images first (when usually they're one of the last things I do), or I might brainstorm post titles last (when usually it's the first thing I do). The important thing to remember is your aim - creating an awesome blog post, it doesn't matter how you get there or how long it takes you. If you're feeling inspired to do something, roll with it - I can guarantee that you'll create better content. On the other hand, if you're totally uninspired, creating a process can help to guide you back on the right track. 

Over to you...
What are your top tips for keeping content fresh? Where are your favourite places to get inspiration? Share your biggest problem related to this topic in the comments - let's see if we can all help each other! Want to talk more about this 1:1? Then why not email me? :)

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