Next week, I'll jump back into my Blogging Community series, but this week I wanted to take a quick break and share a few of the tools I use to keep track of all the work that's happening on my site. No matter what size your blog is, there's probably more to it than just writing blog posts. You may be taking pictures, contacting advertisers, attending conferences, etc. All those tasks are basically like having a bunch of mini-departments, and it can be hard to keep track of what work needs to be done on what day…especially once your blog starts to grow. I've never been the most organized person, but in the last year, I've had to take some definite steps to become a LOT more organized just to stay on top of my site. Below are the 5 tools that have been most useful for me in running my own blog (and no, I have definitely not been asked or paid to say any of this):
Basecamp is amazing for keeping track of projects. I use it to stay in touch with my web developer, my graphic designer, my writers, and anyone else who may be working on the site at any given time. You're not only able to create projects and decide who gets access to them, you can also upload files and images in a project thread (perfect when you're working with multiple iterations of a thing…like a web redesign), track project updates, and even log deadlines and milestones on Basecamp's own calendar (which can be integrated with iCal). If you're collaborating with people in any capacity, but especially over the long-term, Basecamp makes it much easier.
I only recently joined HarvestApp, but so far I love it. I use it primarily for time tracking and invoicing right now, but it's also a good client record and expense management tool. If you want to know how much time you're spending on a specific task (particularly if you're one of those people who doesn't have a good internal clock…like me), HarvestApp is wonderful for that. And if you're doing any kind of hourly-based or retainer work for a client, HarvestApp lets you keep up with exactly how many minutes you're spending doing what so you don't have to guess. HarvestApp is also excellent for keeping track of which invoices have been paid, which are pending, and how much, in total, is still due. I recently shifted all my invoicing activity over to HarvestApp.
Buffer is awesome for scheduling your social media, particularly your Twitter account. While it's not as robust a tool as say, HootSuite, it is extremely easy to learn and easy to use. Buffer also offers some basic analytics (so you can see which tweets have been most popular, for example), and the ability to add content from your web browser directly to your queue. While the free plan is good, it does have some limits (only one user + a limited number of posts and profiles); however, if you're the only person posting to your blog's Twitter, that may be fine. I'm on the Awesome account, and I've found it handles most of my site's needs though I may upgrade to their brand new Business level plan at some point too.
I adore Dropbox. If you haven't yet heard of it, Dropbox allows you to store files securely in the cloud, so you don't always have to have your specific computer on hand to access what you need. I use Dropbox to save important files, folders, and documents in case my laptop is ever destroyed or stolen, and Dropbox is also perfect for sharing files (especially large files) among multiple people. I have a Dropbox folder full of stock images, for example, that my writers can access for their blog posts. I've also used DropBox to send music and video files to my video editor, and it's an amazing tool for sharing lookbooks and other very large files. Even if the only thing you ever use Dropbox for is storing a backup of your blog, it's worth it just for that.
I use Facebook Groups all the time. They're perfect for setting up professional groups of like-minded bloggers (for example, people who love a particular brand or blog on a specific set of topics), and if you're part of a blog with multiple writers, it can be easier to stay in touch with everyone and convey group messages this way than by using email. Since so many people access Facebook at least once per day, groups can be an incredibly efficient communication tool for discussions and networking.
What blog tools do you use on a daily basis? Are there any gems that you think would be perfect for your fellow fashion bloggers? Please share them in the comments!