Looking for some cool blog tools and applications to help you be a more productive? Today Shankar Ganesh from Killer Tech Tips shares 7 to check out if you’re a Windows based blogger.
If you’re a blogger, you’ll be using a variety of applications that aid you in your daily chores. Most of them will be web based, but I bet you’ll find the following desktop apps indispensable once you install and start using them. Darren has already covered essential Mac applications previously, so I’ll cover only Windows applications in this post.
Windows Live Writer is, by a majority, the best desktop blogging client to date. Although initial releases were buggy, the latest edition of Windows Live Writer is much more stable and packs few features that might be really useful for all kinds of bloggers.
Besides letting you crop images, add watermarks and other effects, Windows Live Writer also allows you to add and upload videos to YouTube directly. The power of Windows Live Writer lies in its plugins that can be used to add extra functions to the app – for instance, there’s a plugin called Twitter Notify that can be used to post your blog post links to Twitter once they’ve been published via Live Writer.
All-in-all, Windows Live Writer is a must have application for any blogger using Windows. The reason: it makes everything easier that blogging just appears like double clicking on an icon, writing and hitting the publish button. No messing with anything else.
Blogging is about pushing content frequently and consistently to your readers. Writing down ideas as you get them is very important for any blogger. Evernote is a cross platform application that lets you take notes. The best part of Evernote is that your notes are accessible from virtually everywhere – your PC, your Mac, your iPhone, your Windows Mobile and even from the web.
You can clip web pages to your notes and save them for later reference. You can take screen captures and put them in your notes. You can even scan your blogger buddies’ business cards and put them up on Evernote. All of them will be searchable.
The free version gives you a space of 40 MB/month where as upgrading to a premium account for $45/year or $5/month will give you 500 MB monthly upload allowance for your notes. Try it, and you won’t regret using it.
Although a lot of people use Google Reader these days, FeedDemon is a very feature-rich RSS reader that deserves to be written about here. Once your really start using its most powerful features, you’ll never want to be without it. When everything’s cloud these days, why use it you ask?
FeedDemon is powerful: Because it can show you the most popular posts from the feeds you’ve just subscribed (like a mini techmeme); you can create ‘watches’ to monitor keywords – for instance, you can create a watch for ‘iPhone Apps’ and see all blog posts that mention it separately; desktop alerts for unread items; integration with aforementioned Windows Live Writer and a plethora of other features.
The upcoming release of FeedDemon will sync with Google Reader, meaning that you can use both of them simultaneously. An item that you opened in Google Reader will also be marked as read in FeedDemon. So you get the best of both worlds, why not switch?
I’ve mentioned Windows Live Writer above, but why this, you ask? Well, being on the internet means getting carried around site by site. You realise you’ve wasted all your time only when none’s left. Q10 aims at making your writing tasks distraction free and it does that. What you get is a barebones writer like Windows Notepad that operates in full screen mode. It offers no big features, but can just count the number of words you write and spell check. Besides that, it’s portable. It overlaps everything else on your screen – just type all that you have to and quit. Then start playing all that you wanted to on your computer. Some people have told me that it has really improved their productivity – they write 2-3 extra articles than they usually do in a stipulated time period.
An FTP client is indispensable tool for bloggers. Be it tinkering with your blogging platform or troubleshooting hosting woes, you’ll have to use an FTP client sometime or the other during your blogging endeavours. There are a number of good FTP clients available in the market, and FileZilla is just one of them. It’s my pick.
I suggest FileZilla because it’s free and open source. There’s a site manager to store all your connection details, so that you need not have to enter them everytime you use FileZilla. You can of course give raw FTP commands. There’s not just the GUI in it.
There’s a portable version as well and you can carry it in your USB Stick. It’s a must-have app for any blogger with a self-hosted blog.
A screen capture tool is essential for bloggers, especially tech bloggers. FastStone Capture does the task for you. Just hit the Print Screen key after you install the program and then you can save your image in the desired format in a folder of your choice, or copy it to the clipboard. Just what you’d expect from a normal screen capture program.
Of course, you can either perform full screen captures or only a specific window and save it in any of the six specified formats. Overall, it’s a nice and little app that just does what it says.
I’ll also recommend FastStone Capture for its good image editing capabilities but you have to shell out around thirty bucks after the trial period is over. SnagIt is another software, but it’s a bit costlier.
If you already use Evernote, you can easily capture your screen by hitting the PrintScreen key – it already has a minimal screen capture tool built-in.
Twitter is the craze these days and everyone’s on it. As a blogger, it’s important that you start using twitter to leverage your online connections. Lots of people Twitter to help people, join the conversation with their readers, get feedback and do a lot more.
A Twitter client that lets you manage conversations and people on Twitter is a necessity and you won’t find a better one than TweetDeck for that purpose. In TweetDeck, you can create what are called ‘groups’ and track messages from a particular group of people. For instance, I can create a group named ‘most loyal readers’ and give their tweets some special attention.
There’s multicolumn view on TweetDeck, which you can customize to your needs. TweetDeck also supports Facebook and you can view updates from your friends on Facebook as well. If you’re a minimalist, you can try twhirl that comes without the big bells and whistles.
What other desktop apps do you think are a must-have for bloggers using Windows? You can share what you know in the comments.