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Are you just setting up your author platform? Or have you got an established platform but aren’t sure whether or not you’re using the best tools for the job? In this post, I share with you my top 12 fantastic tools for an author platform that I use on a very regular basis to make my life easier. Some are apps and some are websites but all are great tools that I recommend you use in your author business. Some of the links for these tools are affiliate links, but these are clearly marked.
In no particular order:
[AFF] Canva is a fabulous website for creating almost any kind of graphic you can possibly imagine. There is a free version and a paid version (£10.99 a month) and I can honestly say that it’s eleven pounds a month well spent as I use it almost daily for graphics. I personally have used it to create headers for social media accounts and emails, social media posts, infographics, Pinterest pins, business cards, logos, posters etc. You can check out my earlier post called Using Canva to Create Graphics for Your Author Platform to find out more on how it works.
2. Mailer Lite
[AFF] Mailer Lite is an email marketing tool, which enables you to gather email addresses to build a list and to email those subscribers. It is highly recommended to have an opt in on your website right from the start so you can gather email addresses of visitors. They can subscribe to a newsletter, your blog etc. and you can choose to give them something in return for subscribing – a lead magnet or freebie. Mailer Lite is a great tool for this as the free version (up to 1,000 subscribers) still gives you loads of the benefits and tools that paid members get. It has a great dashboard and is really easy to use, unlike some of its competitors. I will be publishing a post on how to use Mailer Lite soon, so keep your eyes peeled for that (you can subscribe to my own newsletter to be emailed when that is published!).
ConvertPro is a lead generation tool for WordPress which you can use to help create opt-in elements on your website. The tool enables to create pop-ups and subscription forms to use on any WordPress website. It is a paid tool (there is no free option) but it is a great tool. I currently have two ConvertPro forms on my site, the simple subscription form in the side bar, and the prettier form at the bottom of all blog posts.
4. Smash Balloon
Smash Balloon is a WordPress plugin that allows you to display your Instagram feed on your website. You will see on my site that I have this across the bottom of the site, and in the sidebar. There is a free WordPress plugin, which you can download, or there is a paid version, which gives you more options and functionality. Whilst I am personally not a fan of having Facebook and Twitter feeds on my website, I think the Instagram feed is aesthetically pleasing and makes a nice feature on your site.
5. Broken Link Checker
Periodically checking for broken links on your website is a really important maintenance task. Google is not a fan of broken links and therefore having links that do not work on your website can damage your SEO. There are many reasons why links fail but all links should be monitored and fixed where necessary. (Check out my Website and Blog Maintenance post for more information, together with a list of maintenance tasks you should be doing regularly). I personally run a broken link check on my website every month and get any fixed straight away. Broken Link Check is a free, easy-to-use tool that enables you to scan your site for broken links.
Yoast is an SEO WordPress plugin to assist you in optimising your posts. It gives you a simple, step-by-step guide to optimising pages and posts to attract more visitors and site traffic. There is a free and a paid version of Yoast but I only use the free version and feel that’s enough for what I need.
7. Google Analytics
Google Analytics (GA) is every blogger and website owner’s best friend. The sheer wealth of data that you can find inside GA can be overwhelming, but once you know which numbers to concentrate on, GA can help you so much. My post here gives a brief insight into which numbers to focus on. I try not to obsess too much over the stats but I do have a good look at them once a month to see if traffic is growing (or not), where my traffic comes from and what pages and posts are performing well. This information can help you determine your content strategy going forward.
Unsplash is a great place to get free, licensed stock images that you can use on your website and other platforms. There’s not much else I can say but if you need good quality images and don’t want to pay through the nose for them, then this is the place to go. It is courteous to credit the photographer when using the image, so do bear that in mind.
9. Tasty Pins
[AFF] Tasty Pins is a clever little plugin that enables you to optimise your blog images for Pinterest (and SEO). When I first started blogging and was reading lots and lots of other people’s posts, I found I spent way too much time scrolling past images that were solely there for the purpose of sharing the post on Pinterest. While I understand the desire for posts to be shared, I felt they got in the way of the content and didn’t add any value to the post. I then discovered this plugin ($29) that enables you to “hide” Pins within your post. You’ll see that there is no image within the content of my blog posts, only an image at the top. However, if you click the Pinterest save button on the header image, or the Pinterest share button at the button, it shows you the pin for this post. The plugin also enables you to add the Pin title and description, and you can have more than one image for each post. It means you can still share Pinterest optimised pins without cluttering your blog posts. This is one of the best finds for me and one of the truly fantastic tools for an author platform.
Moz is an online tool to assist with SEO and basically has every tool going to help with SEO including keyword research, site audits, rank tracking etc. It is a paid platform, but you are able to do some things for free (like limited keyword research etc.). Moz does however also offer a free link explorer (you need to create a free account to use it) which helps you to track Domain Authority (DA) and a host of other useful limited use tools.
Ulysses is a text editor and writing app. It is a paid for tool (currently £5.99/mth or £48.99/yr) but does have a free trial. The app does sync across devices though which I find really useful as it means you can access everything any where, any time. Within the app you can have unlimited projects and then within each project unlimited “sheets”. I find this tool really useful for writing my daily journal posts but it could have a wide variety of uses for writers, authors and bloggers. Whilst it may be argued that this and the final item on the list may not be true author platform tools, I do think they play their part in the background and therefore feature on my fantastic tools for an author platform list.
[AFF] Scrivener is my go-to software for my novel writing. It is paid for software (currently £47) but it has one of the best 30 day trials around. Instead of 30 days from the day you download the trial, you are allowed to have 30 days of use. So, for example, if you only use it twice a week, you actually have a 15 week trial. Scrivener does sync across devices (though I had some issues setting this up initially) – however (a big but), you do have to buy another, separate licence to use it on iPhone and iPad (currently $19.99) and you do also need to have an Dropbox account. Scrivener does look a little overwhelming when you first look at it and it does take some learning, but I have found the features it offers invaluable for my writing, which is why I would now not use anything else for novel writing.
So there you have it, my top twelve fantastic tools for an author platform. Do you use any of these tools already? Are there any I have missed and that you would recommend? Do let me know in the comments.