The Internet gives individuals the freedom to publish themselves and compete with any large publisher. For years, though, the freedom to compete with the big boys was only a theoretical possibility. You couldn’t hope to compete meaningfully if your website or blog was little more than a plain collection of pages with text on them. If you wanted the beautiful, eye-popping effect of the major blogs and websites, you needed a host of expensive software tools and the skill to use them.
Over time, the creators of software have moved away from the traditional model of making installable software products to offering them as website-based online tools. No longer do you need to buy and install software to manipulate images or text in powerful ways. You can simply look for an online tool. What follows are five top-notch online tools to help you create better text and imagery for your blog or website.
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Google Docs: If your blog often has multiple authors and editors collaborating on projects, the collaboration tools built into Google Docs can be invaluable. Collaborating on Google Docs is seamless and can happen in real time. Docs allows multiple contributors and editors to work on a document at the same time. It can be a useful capability to blogs whose contributors work from different remote locations.
SourceBottle: Blog writers and journalists often need expert views and statements to include in their pieces. It can be hard for bloggers, though, to find the right experts every week. Subject matter experts, on the other hand, need the backlinks that they can get when they are quoted with attribution on articles across the Internet. SourceBottle is meant to work as an exchange for both kinds of need. Both experts and blog administrators can list themselves on SourceBottle to find one another.
After the Deadline: This is a plug-in that works on WordPress, Firefox and Chrome, among other platforms (Open Office is one of them). It’s a general language aid that automatically checks WordPress posts for errors in grammar, style and spelling. It’s an intelligent tool and is much more accurate than what the competition offers.
Plagium: Businesses these days often need to accept guest posts from many authors on a regular basis. The risk that someone could make a contribution with plagiarized content is a real one. Running all content through a plagiarism checker like Plagium can help keep Google penalties away.
Pixlr: For the average blogger, the powerful image editing features on Photoshop can be overkill. Not only is Photoshop an expensive program to buy, it needs a proper computer to run well, too. If you could instead turn to a website with online image editing tools, you could easily do the work you needed on almost any underpowered device capable of opening a webpage – a smartphone, tablet or netbook.
Pixlr is an online image editing tool from Autodesk (the creators of advanced animation tools like Maya) that offers a surprisingly powerful suite of image editing capabilities. It comes in three versions – Pixlr-o-matic for fun image editing functions, Pixlr Express for just the essential functions when you need to get work done quickly and Pixlr Editor for advanced Photoshop-like editing.
GIMP: GIMP is an image editor, too. It isn’t an online tool, though. It’s a free, open source program that you can download to your computer. If you are just starting out in image editing, GIMP comes with well-written documentation, good support and a great forum.
Thinglink: This tool offers bloggers the power to create a new kind of experience – rich, interactive images. If you have an image on your blog that you’d like to make a bit more engaging, you upload it to this website and have links embedded in different parts. Clicking each part of the image, then, can fire up a new website, video or music.
Aspect Ratio Calculator: This is an online tool on the website andrew.hedges.name (if you’re wondering, .name is a new top-level domain category like .com or .org, but one that’s meant for use by individuals building personal websites). If you need to resize an image file to use on a webpage or blog page, Aspect Ratio Calculator allows you to find the exact dimensions that you need to scale it to in order that it might fit into the space you have.
Page Ruler: If you need to use an image editor to resize an image to fit a given space, your job is much easier when you have the exact dimensions of the space in pixels. Page Ruler is a Google Chrome extension that offers one of the simplest ways around to find out how large a given space is in pixels. You just need to click and drag around the space to learn what size it is.
Color Picker: When you build a webpage, you need to pick specific colors for different parts of the page. Webpage building tools, though, need you to specify the exact hue that you need by its hex code. If you like a color that you see elsewhere on the Internet and would like to replicate it on your page, the usual method is to take a screenshot of the original page, open the screenshot in an image editor and then have the editor’s inbuilt tools find out what the code is. Color Picker is an extension for Google Chrome that allows you to directly learn the hex code of any color you see on any page.