If you blog on a regular basis – especially on the same topic – chances are you’ve experienced blog fog.
It’s that haze that falls over you when you’re tired or bored with the process of posting. Blog fog affects your vision, your content, even the quality of your writing.
Fortunately, it’s curable. There are dozens of tools online that can clear the fog for you. Here are six of my favorites. Some are free, some come with a fee, but all are effective.
1. Stay in-the-know. Tired of using the same news aggregation site to keep you up on current events within your industry? Then take a look at Alltop. Started by Guy Kawasaki, it describes itself as an “online magazine rack” that provides aggregation without aggravation.
Let’s say you blog about Twitter. Alltop will gather headlines of the latest stories from the best sites and blogs that cover Twitter. It will group this collection into a web page and display the five most recent headlines and the first paragraph of each story. Alltop enables you to provide your readers insights on the most current trends in whatever field you cover.
2. Read your readers’ minds. A serious side effect of blog fog is a sense of being disconnected from your readers. You feel you may have lost touch with what’s interesting and important to them. If that happens, take a trip to PopSurvey.
PopSurvey empowers you to boost the engagement level of any blog. You use templates to create a survey in any of almost two dozen languages. Each is taken on a player, one question at a time, avoiding the laundry list of questions that often turns off readers.
You can embed PopSurveys on your site, and the tool will even notify you when you have responses. Afterwords, PopSurvey will issue you a custom report so you can evaluate the answers. It’s a fun, attractive way to engage your readers while learning more about them.
3. Optimize your opt-in. Are you using an opt-in? If so, is it a one- or two-step process? Is it in a sidebar or at the bottom of your posts? Are there any flashing arrows?
If blog fog has blinded you to how well your opt-in works, don’t worry. OptinSkin has you covered.
You can customize every element of your opt-in form with OptinSkin, from button colors to ebook covers. Choose from one of its 18 customizable opt-in and social-share designs or create one of your own. Feel free to experiment: this plugin will tell you which version is compelling more of your readers to hand out their email addresses.
OptinSkin is more than a design tool. It provides you with stats on which posts are compelling more people to sign up and how many signups you get during a day.
4. Stay focused. Ever find it hard to concentrate? Rather than writing that 37th post about social media, do you find yourself checking your Twitter account, texting a friend, calling your spouse or surfing the web? You need FocusBooster.
The FocusBooster app is based on the Pomodoro Technique. Basically, it breaks up your work sessions into 25-minute blocks followed by five-minute breaks. The aim is to improve your mental agility and increase your productivity.
The app offers visual and audio stimuli to remove all distractions (save for that annoying coworker stopping by to chat about nothing). It even issues reports on how productive you’ve been. If you have a short attention span or a long history of being easily distracted, FocusBooster could be what you need.
5. Heighten the writing experience. Another tool designed to help you beat the blogging blues is OmniWriter. This free app keeps you fully engaged with the writing process. It does so by providing backgrounds to set a mood, audio tracks to focus your mind on what you’re writing, and even keystroke sounds.
If you’re working on a Mac, PC or iPad and want to create an environment that encourages you to write your best, OmniWriter is worth a shot.
6. Keep up with your competitors. Content idea generators are nothing new. You plug in a few words and the generator spits out ideas for blogs, usually in the form of a headline. Since most of them work with the same algorithms, their output is often very similar and sometimes silly. BuzzSumo puts a different spin on things.
What’s great about this tool is that BuzzSumo doesn’t just help you with your content; it keeps track of your competitor’s content. BuzzSumo’s filters enable you to learn what content gets traction for your competitors, on what networks they enjoy success, who shares their content and how yours compares. BuzzSumo produces detailed reports that analyze your competitor’s average shares by network, content format, content length and day published.
So the next time you feel blog fog setting in, don’t panic. Try one or more of these tools to sharpen your focus, boost your productivity and improve your content.
Rhonda Serkes offers one-on-one instruction and corporate seminars on the power of Twitter. Known as “The Twitter Lady” in the Philadelphia area, she is also available for online instruction. For rates and availabilities, email Rhonda or call (610) 668-3020.