Today I thought I’d talk about all the sites and apps I use when it comes to The Leaning Tower of Tomes. There are a number of them that are absolutely essential, and a few I’ve kind of abandoned even though they still have their uses. The most essential sites I use are WordPress, Google Calendar, Gmail, and Goodreads. I could actually run my blog on those sites alone, but I use a bunch of other things, too. So, without further ado, let’s start!
I use WordPress as my blogging platform. I like it a lot more than Blogger, although both have their pros and cons. Lately, I’ve been unable to see my WordPress notifications on my computer so I have to look at them on my phone, so that’s irritating. But I like WordPress’s clean interface and all the themes they have. I’ve been blogging on WordPress for years and years, though my only current blog is The Leaning Tower of Tomes.
I use good old Notepad that comes built into my Windows 7 laptop. (Yup, I’m poor so I haven’t been able to upgrade to a newer/nicer computer.) The reason? Because my computer’s so old and slow it takes AGES for Microsoft Word to load and open, and Notepad opens in two seconds. And when writing reviews I don’t need any sort of fancy writing system; I’ll make everything pretty when I copy and paste it into my WordPress post editor.
MY LIFE. Literally. I have five different calendars I use because I’m mental, but I only really use two: “Schedule” which is where I plug in everything in my actual day-to-day life like work, classes, appointments, etc. And “Tomes” where I lay out my entire blog schedule and monthly/weekly blog maintenance that needs to get done a regular basis. All my post types are color-coded, with reviews in pink and blog chores/maintenance in white. All my weekly columns have their own colors, too. What I love about Google Calendar is that you can move things around so easily. It also allows me to see the memes I particularly want to do on a specific week, since, for example, I don’t do Top Ten Tuesday every week. (Also, this is my tentative schedule for November 2015. As I read more books I’ll add in more reviews since I (luckily) don’t have a big backlog of reviews to write. Things aren’t set in stone, though, so not everything you see here may actually happen.)
Google Drive (Docs & Sheets)
I hardly use Google Drive anymore except for one document that I’ve titled “Giveaways I’ve Entered”. I just list all the giveaways I enter so I have a record of where I found the giveaway and who was hosting it. That way I can look up who sent me a book if I totally don’t remember or can’t figure it out. I barely use it for reference, though, since it’s pretty obvious when a publisher sends me a book, and it’s rare when I do win a giveaway a blogger is hosting, in which case they always contact me directly saying congrats and where do I send it. I probably don’t need to keep this list anymore, but it’s become a habit.
EDIT: I no long really use my “giveaways list”. I just thank the publisher for the copy because that’s ultimately where it come from. If it’s not from the publisher, it’s usually mentioned in the paper that accompanies the book saying, Congrats, you won a book.
This is where I get my subscriptions, newsletters, and emails from everyone and everything else. I have a personal email, too, duh, but I’m on my Tomes email a lot, at least once a day, usually more. I’m really bad at sitting down and reading through all my new emails at one time. I’ll usually look at a few at a time over the course of the day, or just ignore a lot of stuff until the next day (or the next day…) if I’m just not in the mood to read through my entire inbox. (Anything that’s not urgent, of course.)
I’ve gotten so good at staying off NetGalley since this summer. Back when I was a newbie book blogger I requested everything. And therefore I ended up with more books than I could keep up with, a few that no longer interested me when I had all these other great books to read. I used to browse NetGalley almost every day. Now I barely look at it once a month, and I’m really happy about that. I’ve currently only got six books I still have to review that are NetGalley copies, one of which I am reading right now (An Inheritance of Ashes). My approval ratio is finally over 80% — it took me about a year to accomplish that, which is really sad, haha. Now I don’t request books unless I know I REALLY want to read them, and I make sure to keep my ratio above 80% because the effort to reach it in the first place was infuriating. (P.S. I do not use Edelweiss, because why torture myself like that?!)
Kindle App & Adobe Digital Editions
I do not have a Kindle, but I have the Kindle reading app on my iPhone. I love it because I can read ebooks. I hate it because reading on a phone screen really isn’t ideal. I need a Kindle but I’m too poor to get one. I also have Adobe Digital Editions on my computer so I can read .epub files, since some NetGalley books are only available as .epub and not .mobi for Kindle.
I LIVE on Goodreads. It’s the book world’s biggest and best hub, I think. (I mean, Amazon is huge, too, but since I can’t afford to buy books I’m rarely ever on Amazon.) Goodreads Goodreads Goodreads. I don’t think I need to explain anything about it.
I love Bookstagram. I’m getting the hang of taking bookish pictures and sort of “branding” my account, but I’m definitely not a great Instagrammer by any means. I update randomly and am often too lazy to post anything or even browse my feed. Editing photos takes time, even though it’s very satisfying. And I find that while I love social media, I don’t have the time or patience to do social media AND blogging all day every day. I’d rather use the fifteen/twenty minutes I spend Instagramming reading a book instead.
These are the photo editing apps I use on my iPhone to edit my Instagram pictures. I use Facetune to whiten my backgrounds mainly, and then I use VSCO for doing the basic editing like lighting and contrast and filters (I no longer use Instagram’s filters because one, there are too many to choose from, and two, I really like three of the free filters in VSCO that I use to make all my photos look uniform). I did buy Facetune for about $3 and it was a great investment (especially since the skin-smoothing feature for when I edit my real-life photos is awesome), but VSCO Cam is free.
Let’s be honest here — I am terrible at Twitter. Mainly because it’s so time consuming and I can whittle away an entire hour without even noticing, because the tweets are endless and there’s always so much going on. I’ve pretty much given up that I’ll ever be a pro at Twitter like some people are. I just have my blog, Goodreads, and Instagram hooked up to it, and then tweet occasionally to an author or publisher or blogger when I am, on the rare occasion, perusing Twitter. I use Buffer to schedule my daily #tomesarchive tweets, where I share a book review from the Tomes archive.
I have a Bloglovin but I don’t interact with the site. At first I did, but now I just organize the blogs I follow into neat lists for my own references and kind of leave it at that.
I’ve recently stopped using Trello, but I went through a phase of a few months were I was using it hardcore for blog organization. Trello is amazing because you can have a gazillion different boards/cards/pins (whatever they’re called) that you can see ALL AT THE SAME TIME, and it’s super easy to rearrange things. On my “Tomes” board I have lists for review copies, post ideas, blog maintenance projects, and everything under the sun. Of all the “task organizing” sites and apps I’ve explored, Trello is my favorite. (Although Wunderlist is definitely #2. I used that for a while, before switching over to Trello and liking Trello better.) Also, P.S., I totally rearranged my Trello board in order to take this screenshot because, one, it’s a total chaotic mess right now, and two, there’s a lot of stuff that you guys don’t need to see because there’s such a thing called privacy. 😉 Also, I’m planning to make 2016 a much different type of reading year for myself. You can see I’ve laid out a bunch of goals, but that’s mostly just brainstorming. I’ll give you a juicy tidbit though: I’m 99% sure I won’t be participating in any year-long reading challenges, because stress and pressure. More on that sometime in the future…
So there you have it, all the sites and apps I currently use (to an extent) for blogging. What sites do you guys use? What are the ones you can’t live without? What are the ones you’ve used for a bit but eventually abandoned? Any awesome sites/apps I should be using? Tell me all in the comments below!