This is a guest post by Pam Wilcox.
You have a smartphone, right? It's been a long time since I met a blogger who didn't. As a group bloggers seem to move with the tech curve, and so typically have the latest gadgets. This includes not just smartphones, but also tablets and other nifty tools.
The only real question is whether the smartphone is merely a neat gadget, or a vital tool. In fairness, modern smartphones really are shiny toys. I just got the Samsung Galaxy S3 from T-Mobile, and it's tempting to use it as a music player, a video screen, an instant messenger, and all sorts of other leisurely things. But it serves me much better as a tool of the trade.
Bloggers can use their smartphones in a number of ways. Here are 5 that stand out.
1. Edit posts on the go
We are human, and therefore we will make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes crop up in our blog posts. Even when we double check our work, we can miss a glaring error. If we're lucky we have faithful readers who will politely point out these errors. But what if we're away from our computers?
Every major smartphone platform, from my beloved Android to the hip iPhone even to the ancient BlackBerry, has a WordPress app. Automattic, the company behind WordPress, has done a phenomenal job on this app. It allows for simple editing, so you can get those corrections taken care of wherever you are.
Sure, you can write whole posts from your smartphone. Maybe you're bored enough to give it a try. But if you're like me, it's a bit too much.
2. Moderate and participate in comments
When I first started blogging, I thought it would be as simple as writing words and hitting publish. Not long after I started I realized that yeah, there's a bit more to it than that. One of the bigger blogger responsibilities is handling comments.
If you want more commenters, you have to reply to comments. You might also have to moderate comments. Those are time consuming processes. Let's face it: not everyone has the time for that, especially if blogging isn't their only job. Finding downtime to handle comments might be tough, but it's still essential.
Using a smartphone to handle comments allows you to find those lulls in the day. If you're away from your computer waiting for something -- on line at the supermarket, waiting for a delivery, etc. -- you can take that time to handle comments. That way you can save the heavy lifting tasks for when you're in front of your computer.
3. Gather ideas
How many of your ideas come to you when you're in front of your computer? Plenty of mine do, but so many more come when I'm out and about. If I come up with a particularly good idea, I have to concentrate and keep it in mind until I can start writing about it at home. That's inefficient, though. The brain is a poor collection point.
With our smartphones we have portable notebooks. Any time an idea strikes us, we can pull out our smartphones and record it. Evernote, for example, makes a great note taking experience. And since there is an Evernote app for every platform, your notes are available on all your devices. But really, you can do something as simple as emailing yourself. Whatever the method, your smartphone helps you capture those ideas.
4. Social media promotion
Just as handling comments is best reserved for otherwise un-busy times, so is social networking. Sure, you might have Twitter open while you're working, and you might check Facebook every hour or so, but those activities don't directly benefit your blog. No, social media promotion is something a bit more valuable.
It's been proven time and again that people are more receptive to promotion via social media at specific times of day. That specific time will certainly vary by audience. Once you figure out when the greatest number of people with retweet and share your content, you can then focus your efforts on those times. Clearly your smartphone plays a role.
While you can use services that will automate promotion at certain times, that takes away from the personal appeal. You can use your smartphone to personally promote your content at those optimal times. The added benefit is that you can be around to respond to comments and interact with readers. No matter where you are, you can do all these things right from your smartphone.
5. Think like your readers
Let's face it: more and more people are visiting you on a mobile phone. If you don't believe me, go check your stats. If you can see the breakdown of mobile vs. desktop visitors and can go back a year, you will almost certainly see a rising trend in mobile viewers.
If more people are visiting your site on their mobile phones, shouldn't you do the same? Our blogs are nothing without our audiences. If we're out of tune with our audiences, how can we expect to retain them? The simple answer is, we can't. In order to know our readers, we have to act like them.
Make sure you visit your site from your mobile browser at least once per day. Better yet, have your friends do the same. I visit my sites from my Galaxy S3, but I have my friends visit from their BlackBerrys and iPhones. It gives me an idea of what my readers see. If I see something they might not like, I can make a quick correction.
Smartphones are great, fun toys for sure. Hardly a day goes by when I don't listen to music or watch a video on mine. But at the same time they're wonderful tools that can help us with our blogs. Use a smartphone correctly and it can be a vital aspect of your blogging experience.
About the author
Pam Wilcox is a tech fanatic who will try any smartphone you put in front of her. She writes about prepaid smartphone issues at the Prepaid Reviews blog.