Thanks to gadgets-club.com for featuring our post on their site. If you’re as into gadgets as I am, check out their article about office friendly gadgets when you finish reading. Because who isn’t into new toys?
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I never believed the day would come when I could earnestly say it, but here it is: blogging is hard work. Being relevant and interesting can be difficult enough, but managing your thoughts and the blog itself just add another layer of challenge. Thankfully, tools exist to make the job more manageable.
Your choice of gadgets is crucial, as different types of blogs are going to demand a different set of tools. The same goes for your apps, although many have started to support just about any platform you decide to work from. Let’s take a look at some different options and what they handle best.
Gadgets and Tools
Your gadgets are comprised of, in general, any physical tools you use to get the job done. Some are optional, while others are absolutely mandatory. The first thing you’ll need to decide is whether you’ll be publishing your blog exclusively from a sit down computer, from mobile devices or from a mixture of both.
As far as traditional computers go, I highly recommend you stick with PC over Mac. Their reliability isn’t really that different anymore, but PCs are considerably cheaper and much more modular (i.e. the parts are easier to change and replace). A Mac will still get the job done, but it’s hard to justify the price tag vs. actual performance (even if you prefer Apple’s interface).
The mobile scene is a little different. Chances are you’ll have a smartphone no matter what, but you should consider getting a tablet with a keyboard or just a laptop if you’re planning to do more extensive writing. There’s little denying a physical keyboard is just much quicker and more accurate; although, it does require a surface to lay down, so there are at least some disadvantages.
Branding becomes trickier on the mobile end. Apple products are a tad more seamless in that there’s only one manufacturer to deal with, while Android offers you more choices but a much more varied experience. I’m personally a fan of Android for its customizability. Conversely, if you’re feeling adventurous, a Windows phone does work pretty well to compliment a Windows computer or laptop, but I feel the “app store” selection needs work.
If your blog involves any form of editing or artwork, you may want to consider the large investment in one of Wacom’s products such as the Cintiq. While wildly more expensive than similar options, the ability to draw on your device with ultra-high precision is a consideration.
For a more hands free experience, it could be worth investing in an aftermarket microphone. It’s especially useful if you’re trying to avoid typing and want to use speech recognition software (we’ll get to that briefly). LG’s Bluetooth microphone/headset is a useful option.
As you know, apps can do just about anything. They can make your life easier, but they can also make your life harder. Knowing what apps to use to boost your efficiency can save you a ton of time and effort. There are a few categories of apps you should have.
The most obvious app would be the one that corresponds with who you’re using to publish. For many of us, it’s probably the WordPress app, but other platforms are going to have their equivalent versions. This isn’t as crucial on PC, but it’s practically mandatory if you’re running your blog from any mobile device.
It’s also possible to use BlogPress to consolidate several different blogging apps into one. It may be that you have a blog on more than one publisher, and this is exactly what you’ll need if so.
If you recall my mentioning the need for a headset, this is where you’ll really see the payoff. Using an app such as Dragon Dictation will allow you to speak rather than type, freeing your hands and speeding up work when you’re on the move. It’s a welcome break for the fingers as well.
If you still prefer to type without using a physical keyboard, SwiftKey is an excellent choice. Not only is it considerably better than any default keyboards I’ve seen, but it’s also free. The predict feature works well, and the layout makes it much easier to type.
Nothing will kill productivity like losing your device to malware or getting hacked because of poor security. On all your devices, you’ll want to have a few different security programs installed.
If you have a desktop computer, you’re probably already familiar with anti-virus software. But that isn’t just for your PC; you need anti-virus apps for your mobile devices as well. For most cases, a free one such as Avast or Panda is more than enough. They have premium features, but the basic version is fairly effective.
Securing your internet connection is also an important job apps can handle. The best method is to get yourself a Virtual Private Network (VPN), which will hide your IP address and encrypt your connection.
For those of you who do reviews on movies and series, a VPN will allow you to unblock Netflix when you’re traveling abroad so you can continue watching and reviewing for your readers.
Sometimes you’ll need to keep a note of what’s happening around you so you can bring that content to your blog later. Evernote is a useful app to catalogue your adventures with and store for later. You can sync what you’re writing across multiple devices, and you won’t have to worry about losing any important notes.
Pocket is another handy app in that it allows you to organize and keep track of articles you’ve read and other interesting content you’ve come across. Much like Evernote, you can sync content across your devices, making it easier when it comes time to publish content for your blog.
Outside of a tool belt of cool gadgets and apps, it’s just really important to keep everything up to date. New features and improved versions of what you think is great today are being developed all the time, and the only way to really compete is to keep up with the Jones’s. That doesn’t always mean spending a lot of money, but you’ll still need to be savvy enough to stay relevant.
It’s worth noting that old versions of some of your apps, while functional, may have security loopholes in them and should be updated regularly. You may not be a huge fan of the new layout on YouTube, for instance, but not updating might open you up to bigger problems.
Be sure to stay on top of new social media trends as well. You never know what popular app will become the next MySpace and be forgotten in just a few months.
Have you any special gadgets that make your blogging easier? Perhaps a favorite app? Tell us a little more about it in the comments.
By Cassie Phillips