As a new blogger I am finding all sorts of tools I can use to make this blog look somewhat “professional.” I had no idea what I would need when I started, but now I realize it takes a “crowd” of tools to make site look good.
I’ve been finding I need good tools for picture editing, templates for the layout and design, and may even use a comment tool eventually.
As I go along I thought I’d start documenting the tools I use. Right now the list is short, but I have a feeling it will get longer and better.
I am not an affiliate of any of these products or services. And, I may change my mind at any time as to whether or not I like them. 🙂
So, here goes…
I found this one by accident, after using PicMonkey. (I like PicMonkey but don’t have the funds to invest in the monthly fee. Although, to give them credit, the monthly fee is low, around $5 a month.) Anyway, Ribbet is very easy to use. So far it is still free to register and get access to their premium tools. They have been around since 2012, so I don’t know how long it will be free. I find it very easy to upload a photo, sharpen the image, adjust coloring and exposure and add “widgets” like text and icons (stickers). The one con that I found is you cannot save the images to your online account. All images must be downloaded. Once it is downloaded, the image is compressed, so you cannot edit any of the layers later.
Adobe Photoshop (Photoshop.com)
This has always been my go to since I was in graduate school getting a degree in Instructional Design. The program I was in focused on online learning (when it was just becoming popular…if that gives you an idea of my age LOL!). Photoshop was the best image editor and creator around, and it was relatively affordable. Now it is very expensive and they have gone to a subscription only format. This means you cannot load the software on your computer. You must access it through an account online. At a price of $30 a month I’d need to be a professional photographer to justify that price. Thankfully I have one of the last versions that put out on CD.
Gimp is similar to Photoshop; however, it is open source and free to use and download. Definitely easy on the budget. 🙂
As they state on their website:
GIMP is the GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed piece of software for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. It works on many operating systems, in many languages.
I have tried it, and it operates very much like Photoshop. It does have differences, but you’ll just have to try it out and see if you like it. It appeared to work well the few times I did use it, when my version of Photoshop stopped working for a while due to a glitch.
Ok, so I didn’t think I’d need a comment manager, but even with few comments, it is amazing the junk that ends up on the blog under comments. I installed this on Blogger, but the comment text was in the wrong color. You couldn’t see them. Once I figure out how to fix that, I’ll use Disqus. It has more managing features than the basic Blogger comment settings. There is a comment manager out there called CommentLuv, but it appears to be a plug-in for WordPress only.
This is my second choice platform but the one I use. Why? Two primary reasons: 1) I can attach my official domain name for no extra charge, and 2) I can put advertising on my blog. I have no advertising, yet, by choice, but if I want it I can have it. It is a free platform like WordPress. The cons are that there are fewer widgets/plug-ins and fewer templates from which to choose a design. The templates can be tweaked. The biggest downside is that you can’t take the Blogger platform with you if you choose to go with an independent web hosting company. You can export your posts, though, that you can then import into a self-hosted WordPress site.
This is my number one choice, but I left it because they do not allow you to put advertising on your site. You can pay a fee if you want to map your domain name to your blog. There are plenty of templates and widgets to make your blog look amazing. You can also take your blog and put it on an independent web hosting server, as WordPress can be transported. However, I did find out (after moving my blog to a web host) that WordPress is a huge hog when it comes to CPU usage. I was constantly over the allotted amount for the package I chose. That is another reason I moved over to Blogger. Since I do not make money on my blog, yet, I wasn’t about to pay $40+ a month for a package that would fit the “usage” of my blog. Oh, and the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org:
- WordPress.com: Where you can have a blog hosted.
- WordPress.org: Where you can get the open source software that can be installed on your computer or an independent web host server.
There you have it. I know everyone likes and uses different tools and platforms. I did not even mention Joomla or Drupal here. Basically one should to try the different tools and platforms themselves and make a decision from there. 🙂