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Your Imagination is Probably Better Than Mine: Here's Why
Informative Articles

Your Imagination is Probably Better Than Mine: Here’s Why

You have such a big imagination! And you probably don’t even realize how powerful that gift is, yet. Read more to uncover how astounding your ability really is, and learn my deep, dark secret.

Your Imagination is Probably Better Than Mine: Here's Why
Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

Merriam-Webster defines imagination as: “the act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or never before wholly perceived in reality.”

And if you’re like the average person, this isn’t a groundbreaking concept. You form mental images all the time. If I veer off subject and start talking about rhinos spinning plates on sticks while dancing the mambo, you’ll probably have an entertaining vision of what I mentioned. And you probably create more mental images throughout the day than you even realize. How many times do you daydream or visualize a new concept?

Can you survive an entire hour without imagining anything at all? How about a full day? Most people would find this pretty difficult if not impossible.

Your Imagination is Probably Better Than Mine: Here's Why

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

But imagination isn’t solely used to think. It’s important when reading and writing, too. You could probably pick up a novel right now and create a mental image of the characters, setting, and perhaps even details like weapons and clothing. My brother, for example, automatically casts characters as different actors when he reads. How many times have you seen a movie adaptation of your favorite book and thought, “That’s not what they looked like in my head at all!”

And I’ve heard stories of writers who’ve seen their characters’ doppelgangers (complete strangers, mind you) months or years after writing their books.

But I, as an author, have a terrible confession to make:

Your Imagination is Probably Better Than Mine: Here's Why

 

I have no idea what anything in my stories looks like. Because I have next to no imagination. Don’t get me wrong, I’m more creative than a tornado wearing a cowboy hat to a clown’s funeral. But in the visualization department, I’m running on empty. In fact, sometimes I create character description lists when I write so the visual details won’t vary from one chapter to another. And I know I’m not the only author in this boat.

Because…

Imagination exists on a spectrum.

Human imagination ranges across two extremes: hyper-visualization and aphantasia. Most people fall somewhere in the middle. People, probably like you.

Hyper-visualizers can create intricately detailed mental images. When they were envisioning that tornado at the funeral, they could probably tell you what kind of rubble was blowing around, how many people attended the ceremony and how many rings they were wearing, and about the grey metal folding chair in the back with the chips of rust on the right-forward seat corner.

Aphantasia is a complete lack of visual imagery. If you’re having a difficult time wrapping your head around that, this short video does a fabulous job explaining it in about 5 minutes.

Most people with aphantasia think in words, concepts, or some of the other senses.

Personally, I’m not a true aphantasiac. My cognition is largely mechanical/kinetic/emotional/auditory, but I can visualize for split seconds at a time. I simply cannot hold onto those images long enough to do anything useful with them. And I can listen to my characters chat all day (which is probably why I enjoy writing dialogue). But I know that I’ll never “see” them the way most people do.

There’s an even deeper form of aphantasia where people don’t use any of the five senses to think. This is called total aphantasia. People with this think in facts, concepts, and other sub-sensory ways.

If you’d like to know where on the imagination spectrum you are, there’s a quick test here.

PS: Since your imagination is probably way better than mine, I’d LOVE to hear how you see my characters or anything else in Fillius Glint.

 

Books Without Words for Children, Teens, and Adults
Book Reviews

Books Without Words for Children, Teens, and Adults

Many types of printed books either don’t have words or have a really low text-to-image ratio. Here, we’ll dive into the reason why these books exist, a little about their history, and some examples of each type of wordless (or image-heavy) book.

Books Without Words for Children, Teens, and AdultsPhoto by Rucksack Magazine on Unsplash

This post contains affiliate links. That means I earn a commission from clicks or purchases made through these links at no cost to you. See my Disclosure Page for more information.

Picture books serve a great many purposes today and most fall into one of 3 groups. But before we get into those classifications, I invite you to pause and think about how wonderful it is that you can read these words. Even now in 2018, not every adult has the tools to read fluently in their native language. Not even in the United States, which was ranked 7th globally for literacy in a study running from 2003 to 2014.

And as of this posting, the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) lists the global literacy rate (defined as people aged 15 or older who can read) at 86.2%. Don’t get me wrong, literacy rates have improved significantly over the past century. But we shouldn’t make the mistake of assuming it’s a “solved” problem.

Remember that 7th ranking for the U.S.? Canada is 11th, New Zealand is 15th, Australia is 16th, the UK is 17th, and Ireland is 24th. Even the English-speaking world has room for improvement in this area. There are people all around us who can’t read. And you know what?

Stories don’t belong to the literate.

Information doesn’t belong to the literate.

Wisdom doesn’t belong to the literate.

Before you bite my head off, I am 100% all for making reading accessible for everybody. However, in the meantime, while we still have illiterate people among us, it’s important to develop a more nuanced and complete picture of who they are.

Humans have probably told stories for the past 200,000 years. But we didn’t start experimenting with written notation until the Bronze Age. That’s roughly 3% of human history.

You don’t need to be literate to collect information. You don’t need literacy to develop certain kinds of wisdom. And you don’t need literacy to tell a good story.

It does, however, give you a huge boost.

And that’s why this first category of books is so important.
Books Without Words for Children, Teens, and Adults

Picture Books

Children are born illiterate. And until the day some kind of tech is invented to insta-download all of human knowledge into a fetus right before birth, children will always be born illiterate. But picture books allow them to identify shapes, colors, and positions with proto-stories. Plus, the positive experience of bonding time with parents helps encourage a love of reading later on.

Most people believe the first picture book was Orbis Sensualium Pictus by Jan Komenský. Published in 1658, this book’s focus is teaching children the alphabet through animal sounds.

Recommended picture books:

Emoji Novels

Yes, you read that right. Emoji novels came about in the late 2000s as the smiley faces and other pictographs became more ubiquitous. (Spelled that right on the first try, points me! 🙂 ) The handful of emoji authors decided to use the pictographs as an examination of how technology is evolving our language. The first novel, overseen by Fred Benenson, was actually completed by hundreds of workers on Amazon Mechanical Turk (a task crowdsourcing program). And rather than an original work, it’s a translation of Moby Dick called Emoji Dick. It was entered into the U.S. Library of Congress in 2013.

The first original emoji novel was written by artist Xu Bing, and the second one was published on Wattpad. Though not physically published, The Book Written Entirely Out of Emoji certainly fits in this category.

Recommended emoji novel:

 

Photography Books

I’m not referring to books about photography technique or history. Oh, no. These are the coffee table books, the books stuffed in your doctor’s office under a pile of outdated magazines. Whether they’re full of eye-catching photographs or reprints of classic artworks, there’s something almost therapeutic about paging through books like these. Not only can they be good conversation starters, but they’re also a nice break from semiotic processing after a long day of wordsing. (Yes, I typed wordsing. It’s a thing. Just ask Twitter.)

Recommended coffee table books:

PS: Tell us about your favorite coffee table books in the comments below!

How Reading Suspense Changes Your Brain
Productivity Tips

Something Special Happens to Your Brain When You Read Suspense Novels

I’d tell you what it is, but I’d rather keep you in suspense. 😉

How Reading Suspense Changes Your BrainPhoto by Steve Halama on Unsplash

Suspense novels carry an undeniable intrigue. Our hearts race and our minds whirr as we race to put all the pieces together. Will our hero escape the forces of evil? Or will they meet an untimely demise? And which characters can you actually trust?

Fiction, in general, is a fantastic way to explore the dangers that surround us every day. From gossip at the watercooler to the less likely but far more dangerous kidnapping in the middle of the night at knife-point, stories help us explore what works— and what doesn’t.

Stories allow us to experience life-threatening circumstances from the comfort of our home. They are THE original simulation game. Plus, they increase our empathy by putting us inside other characters’ heads. Personalities which we may not like suddenly take on a bit more nuance and humanity.

But suspense does all that and more. In fact…

How Reading Suspense Changes Your Brain

In a 2015 study published by the Public Library of Science (PLOS), researchers noticed something intriguing about brain activity surrounding suspenseful reading. Can you guess what it is? 🙂

The areas of the brain which were most active when participants read something they considered to be suspenseful are also tied to:

  • mentalizing (figuring out ourselves and others, finding motives, etc.)
  • predictive inference (Solve that mystery!)
  • and possibly cognitive control

And I was sorely tempted to title this article: Can Suspense Novels Make You Psychic? (I mean the research says predictive!) But that would be a gross oversimplification of what’s going on. None of these results should be particularly surprising to anyone who’s read mystery, thrillers, or suspense novels in the past. Any well-written book in this genre will make us ask the big questions.

Why is this character doing that?

Who is to blame?

Wait, I noticed a detail here. Will this be important in the future?

Hey, I think I know who the killer is!

Sound familiar?

So, while reading suspense novels won’t give you the ability to see forty years into the future, it does exercise those problem-solving muscles. And in a world with 99+ problems, those are some good muscles to have.

PS: Want to know more about reading and the brain? Check out this post.

 

The Science Behind Why You Might Prefer Print
Productivity Tips

The Science Behind Why You Might Prefer Print

Print books have an undeniable appeal for many book lovers. Here’s why.

The Science Behind Why You Might Prefer Print
Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

This post contains affiliate links. That means I earn a commission from clicks or purchases made through these links at no cost to you. See my Disclosure Page for more information.

In these cold winter months, there’s nothing quite as relaxing as snuggling up in bed with a good book and a warm cup of cocoa/tea/coffee. But for many of us, that book is either or a hardcover or paperback. Despite the fact that ebooks are more convenient and take up less space, there’s something about the experience of holding a physical book that people find satisfying. Perhaps it’s the smell of fresh or older pages, the texture of the binding, cover, or book jacket.

Perhaps it’s something neurological.

The Science Behind Why You Might Prefer Print

When we read, our brains treat text like separate objects. We attach abstract meanings to words and weave them together into a mental picture. According to Scientific American, this is much like drawing a map.

How many times have you flipped through a book looking for a line that you knew was on the top right-hand side? Or perhaps the middle of the left page?

If you’re reading a printed book, you have a lot of spacial and tactile references for this internal story-map. There’s the thickness of the book; signposts like chapter numbers can be found easily by referencing how close they are to the back or front cover of the book. But with ebooks, everything shows up in the same-sized window, and spacial references are entirely theoretical.

And, of course, there’s the eyestrain. Screens glow at us (although there are some e-readers such as the Kindle Paperwhite that work to reduce this problem).

The Science Behind Why You Might Prefer Print

Photo by James Tarbotton on Unsplash

And many of us come to screens subconsciously primed to be distracted. We use screens for so many different tasks involving varied apps, emotions, and the need for immediate gratification. Sometimes our reading comprehension gets entangled with these other things and interrupts our concentration. Especially if you read ebooks on a phone like I do. (*Hangs head in semi-shame*)

Additionally, studies have shown that people who read printed text have stronger long-term memory of the material compared to people who learn via text on a screen.

And if you were born back when libraries still had card catalogs, like me, there may be another factor at play. (I will add here that this particular bit is my own opinion and not based on any studies, so do take it with a bit of skepticism. I adore thought experiments.) Many of us were raised on printed books and only started reading on screens later on in life. It will be interesting to see how younger generations, who’ve had access to screen-based reading their entire lives, will adapt. Perhaps in the future, human brains will change and be primed to read digital text over paper text. Maybe stories will be wired directly into our brains. Who knows?

But if you ever get the feeling that there’s something about reading a physical book over an e-reader remember: it’s all in your head. And you’re not alone.

Other sources:

New Republic

Huff Post

PS: Liked this article? Don’t forget to share!

An Inspiring Book for Conservative Christian Women
Book Reviews

An Inspiring Book for Conservative Christian Women

Some may consider this book empowering and inspiring.

An Inspiring Book for Conservative Christian Women

This post contains affiliate links. That means I earn a commission from clicks or purchases made through these links at no cost to you. See my Disclosure Page for more information.

Before we dig into the meat of this review, I need to confess something. I am not the ideal demographic for this book. When I chose this book, it held the promise of an inter-religious (including atheists and agnostics) inspirational book. And, honestly, men and women from most major monotheistic religions will probably get a great deal from this book. Keeping that in mind, I will tread lightly and attempt to make this review as respectful as possible. So what is this book?

Permanent Happiness, by Iyabo Ojikutu, M.D., is a conversational exploration of what it means to live a balanced and healthy life. She outlines a three-step plan to acquire peace. There is only one Bible quote in the entire text, but it builds the basis of the first and most crucial step. Though the opening of the book takes great care to include all of humanity, there is a God-centered focus to the text and several conservative views on dating and apparel which some may find less appealing. And there are instances where the text speaks to teenagers and men, but most of the book is squarely aimed at women, especially mothers. Part of this is because the author is a Christian mother, herself. She converted to Christianity from Islam, which her parents in Nigeria practiced. But she is also a pediatrician, so she has a keen focus on children’s needs and childrearing.

It is clear that the author wishes to impart her wisdom and advice in good faith to improve as many people’s lives as possible. She described the process of creating the book as an urge, a supernatural need to spread peace. And she shares many stories from her own life, both the struggles she has endured and the successes she has gained. This is a deeply personal work, and that is something I can definitely appreciate.

At times she can take on a judgmental and critical tone when discussing various topics, which some readers may appreciate. Religious women with more moderate views may glean something from this book but disagree with parts of the author’s advice.

Personally, as a non-religious, non-mother, queer woman of the Puerto Rican diaspora, there was very little in this text for me to relate to. And this book would have been greatly improved by honing in on its ideal audience: religious conservatives. However, I appreciate the body/soul balancing metaphor the author created, and it was interesting to get a glimpse into her life story.

Rating: 3.3 out of 5

Get It Now:

P.S.: Want to explore other cultures? Check out this review.

10 Books Under 100 Pages For Adults
Book Reviews

10 Books Under 100 Pages For Adults

For when you need a quick read.

10 Books Under 100 Pages For Adults

 

This post contains affiliate links. That means I earn a commission from clicks or purchases made through these links at no cost to you. See my Disclosure Page for more information.

Did you read the 10 Books That Are 150 Pages or Less post and think to yourself, “Hm. That still seems kinda long.”? If so, you’re in luck.

Today’s post features novellas, essays, and short stories that are all under 100 pages. Some are less than 30 pages!

Number 9 is by one of my favorite authors. I first came across her work via this TED talk on society and storytelling. (That video’s around 19 minutes, so you may want to bookmark it for later. It’s definitely worth a watch!) And speaking of TED talks, book number 6 is a TED Conferences publication, which is a nice tie-in.

This list has a balanced mix of old and new reads. Enjoy!

1. Three Men in a Boat by Jerome Klapka Jerome


2. Second Variety by Philip K. Dick


3. The Heart of Haiku by Jane Hirshfield


4. Safety Tips For Living Alone by Jim Shepard


5. The Death of Ivan Ilych by L. N. Tolstoy


6. Radical Openness by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams


7. Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx


8. The Dead by James Joyce


9. We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


10. Lady Susan by Jane Austen


5 Recently Released Audiobooks for Personal Growth
Book Reviews

5 Recently Released Audiobooks For People Who Enjoy Personal Growth

These books will help you on your personal growth journey.

5 Recently Released Audiobooks for Personal Growth

Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash

This post contains affiliate links. That means I earn a commission from clicks or purchases made through these links at no cost to you. Please see my Disclosure Page for more information.

As I mentioned in this post, audio gives busy people the benefit of taking in stories and new information while resting our eyes. Bonus? We can listen while doing boring work like washing the dishes. I even have friends who listen to audiobooks while they’re working in an office. (Shh, don’t tell.)

And yes, I do realize the picture above doesn’t have an actual audiobook in it. But it was pretty and I liked it.

Anyway, this post features some audiobooks that caught my interest. Though I haven’t had a chance to listen to them yet, I previewed the samples to make sure the recordings are high-quality. As a former musician, I’m picky about these things. And by picky, I mean if something sounds mediocre I will curl up into a little ball of fury and will it to stop. My husband’s seen it happen.

And now prepare your mind and ears for a feast:

 

5 Recently Released Audiobooks for Personal Growth

5 Recently Released Audiobooks for Personal Growth

These books fall into two main categories: personal growth by way of knowledge, and personal growth by way of a mindset shift.

Personal Growth by Knowledge

1. Elon Musk Undaunted


Listening time: 2 hrs and 11 mins

Narrator: Man, North American (general), Deep, Smoky, Somewhat Nasal

The subtitle of this book is How Elon Musk Created 3 Giant Companies and Became a Billionaire. Written by Ivan Fernandez and narrated by Jon Wilkins, this audiobook delves into the life and work of Elon Musk. It includes some of his entrepreneurial advice, productivity tips, and ways to tackle failure.

2. Charles Darwin: A Life from Beginning to End

Listening time: 1 hr and 12 mins

Narrator: Man, British (Received Pronunciation), Deep, Smoky

Narrated by William Irvine, this is a good book for history buffs and science nerds alike. This biography delves into Darwin’s life and interests. Apparently, he hated school and wanted to join the clergy. Who knew?

Personal Growth by Mindset Shift

3. How to Stop Feeling Like Sh*t

Listening time: 6 hrs

Narrator: Woman, North American (general), Warm, Focal Fry, Slightly Nasal

The subtitle for this audiobook is 14 Habits That Are Holding You Back from Happiness. Written and narrated by Andrea Owen, it focuses on self-destructive behaviors women engage in. And it comes with bonus reference materials (which is probably why the listening time is so long).

4. How to Get Sh*t Done

Listening time: 6 hrs 37 mins

Narrator: Woman, North American (general), Warm, Slightly Nasal

Interesting title trend, isn’t it? This audiobook also comes with a subtitle: Why Women Need to Stop Doing Everything So They Can Achieve Anything. Written by Erin Falconer and narrated by Lauren Fortgang, this book is packed with advice, personal stories, and resources.

5. Judgment Detox

Listening time: 5 hrs and 10 mins

Narrator: Woman, North American (general), Warm, Slightly Smoky

This audiobook comes with a subtitle, as well: Releasing the Beliefs That Hold You Back from Living a Better Life. Written and narrated by Gabrielle Bernstein, this book puts a spotlight on how we judge ourselves and others. It also features a 6-step plan for breaking away from these old habits to increase our quality of life.

PS: Don’t miss out on the next audiobook post. Subscribe to our newsletter.

10 Minimalist Book Cover Designs
Grab Bag

Make Your Shelfies More Zen With These 10 Minimalist Book Covers

Reduce visual clutter on your shelves by showcasing books with more muted and minimalist designs like these.

10 Minimalist Book Cover Designs

This post contains affiliate links. That means I earn a commission from clicks or purchases made through these links at no cost to you. See my Disclosure Page for more information.

Do you ever get stressed when there’s too much going on in a room? I know I do! Even without kinetic elements like children running around screaming, the visual elements of a space can add a great deal of clutter to our minds and make it difficult to concentrate.

If this sounds like you, something as simple as reducing the number of patterns, lines, shapes, etc. in a space can really alleviate some of that visual tension. With that in mind, here are some book covers that have a lot less “going on” than standard book cover design.

1. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

2. Catch-22: 50th Anniversary Edition

3. 1984

4. Long Day’s Journey Into Night

5. Evicted: Property and Profit in the American City

6. Sourdough

7. Artemis

8. Manhattan Beach

9. The Power

10. Who is Rich?

PS: If you need an energetic pop of color, instead, visit this post.

Podcasts for Book Lovers
Book Reviews

The Best Podcasts for Story Lovers

With these 50+ podcasts, you can bring your books anywhere without wearing out your eyeballs.

Podcasts for Book Lovers
Photo by Juja Han on Unsplash

This post links to podcasts and articles which I recommend. I do not receive compensation for these links. These links do not imply the podcasts and websites are connected to or support this blog. Please see my Disclosure Page for more information.

If you work with screens all day like I do, you get to a point where your eyes need a rest. You know what I mean. The fluffy zombie brain, the eyes drier than the surface of the moon. Just the thought of picking up a book and staring at it for hours might give you a headache. But modern technology provides us with a beautiful fix for this problem: audio.

Audiobooks and podcasts allow us to rest our eyes while absorbing new ideas. And they can keep us company during mundane tasks like doing laundry or riding the bus.

Truth be told, I didn’t get into podcasts until recently. Personally, I prefer visual and tactile experiences. But as my business has picked up, it’s meant more screen time. More posting, more scheduling, more designing, more staring into the face of a soulless glowing landscape of facts and possibility.

Eventually, my eyes had had enough.

Though the first podcasts I picked up were news-related, I quickly branched out into the reading and writing niches of the podcast world. (Like attracts like, right?) And I am 1,000% glad that I did.

Now during my breaks, I can happily consume a piece of flash fiction or listen to a literary breakdown of an ancient classic. All while resting my eyes. And you can, too!

The Best Podcasts for Story Lovers

Podcasts I Listen To

600 Second Saga

Produced, edited, and recorded by Mariah Avix, this is an excellent choice for people short on time. Each podcast episode is 10 minutes or less. The weekly show features flash fiction pieces in the sci-fi and fantasy genres. Full disclosure: Mariah is a good friend of mine and an incredible person. She puts a lot of heart into the show behind the scenes, and her narrating voice is pretty incredible.

Book Riot – The Podcast

Narrated by Book Riot’s editors, this weekly podcast focuses on noteworthy book news. And Book Riot has a whole slew of other book-related podcasts which are in my to-listen queue:

Biweekly:

Weekly:

Other:

  • Recommended interesting people share their favorite books.
  • Hey YA focuses on noteworthy events in young adult literature.
  • Annotated a documentary series about language and reading.

The WIP Podcast

This weekly podcast is hosted by four writer friends at different stages in their writing careers. They are silly, raunchy, queer, and swear a lot. And they discuss various aspects of the writing process based on their own research and experiences. Full disclosure: I have also befriended some of these podcasters. They are wonderful, sweet people who are absolutely worth your time.

Other Podcasts Which Come Highly Recommended

These are podcasts I haven’t heard yet but found listed in articles by other book sites that I trust. Links to the original articles are in the headings. Please see the original articles or podcast links for full descriptions.

Book Riot Recommends:

Knockin’ Books Recommends:

Book Scrolling Recommends:

PS: If you’d like to chat with us about books in real time, join our Facebook Group.

Productivity Tips

Get Your Life Back: One Social Media Scheduler to Rule Them All

Social media schedulers are not created equally.

Bring some balance back into your life. Use this effortless social media tool.

This post contains referral links. That means I earn a commission at no cost to you. In fact, you get a bigger discount if you use my link instead of going straight to the site. See my Disclosure Page for more information.

If you’re here, it’s because you’re familiar with the hamster-running-in-a-ball-trying-to-outrun-an-avalanche feeling that can be social media post scheduling. Even if you’re doing everything right and set up a calendar in advance, sometimes it can be difficult to hunt down the time to actually post your content. Especially if you’re a solopreneur like me.

That’s where social media scheduling tools come in. They offer you the option of plugging in your content in batches and having them post later at times when they’re most likely to get engagement. And there are a plethora of tools available out there which offer both free and paid plans. However, there is one scheduling tool that has a special feature that can cut back your bulk posting time from hours to minutes.

Yeah, you read that right. Minutes.

But before I tell you what it is, I wanted to go over other tools I’ve used over the years and what they offer.

Tools for Multiple Platforms

Slack Social

Free Plan: Yes

Paid Plans: Basic $80+ a year, Professional $150+ a year

slack social

Slack Social connects to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and Blogger. Free plans can schedule up to 10 posts a day. If you wanted, you could schedule 3,650 posts in advance. Scheduled posts are shown in list form rather than in a calendar, which may appeal to some users. Analytics are available for paid plans. Slack Social isn’t flashy, but it’s a simple, economical option.

Buffer

Free Plan: Yes

Paid Plan: $100+ a year

Buffer

One of the first social media tools I ever used, Buffer’s clean, simple, and easy to use. You can manage Twitter, Facebook (Profiles, Pages, and Groups), LinkedIn (Profiles and Pages), Google+ (Profiles and Pages), Pinterest, and set up reminders to post on Instagram.

Free plans allow you to preschedule 10 posts at a time. When those posts run out, you get an email reminding you that your queue is empty. After a while, this kind of feels like that annoying fairy from the Legend of Zelda games. Plus, the 10-posts-at-a-time thing doesn’t really give you a lot of breathing room. There’s a lot of incentive to upgrade to their paid plan. A button on my Buffer dashboard still beckons me to Upgrade to Awesome. Because their paid plan is called the Awesome Plan.

Hootsuite

Free Plan: Yes

Paid Plans: Professional $200+ a year, Team $1k+ a year, Business $6k+ a year

HootSuite

Hootsuite has been around for a while and once upon a time I had a professional account with them. Free accounts can schedule up to 30 posts at a time. You can also set up streams by network and keyword. This feature is especially useful for quickly finding mentions of your brand and interacting with customers.

Hootsuite connects to Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, and Youtube.

It offers analytics, a host of apps, educational resources, and even makes it easier to set up contests for your followers.

Specialized Tools

Later

Free Plan: Yes

Paid Plans: Plus $110+ a year, Premium $200+ a year, Starter $300+ a year, Brand $550+ a year

Later

Later is technically a multi-platform scheduling tool. You can use it to post on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. However, where this app really shines is Instagram. Their scheduling UI is beautiful and intuitive. And their blog brims with Instagram advice, trends, and how-tos. Though I no longer have an Instagram account at this time, I’ve experimented with their scheduler a bit in the past. When I’m ready to return to Instagram, Later will be my go-to scheduling app.

Tailwind

Free Plan: Sort of

Paid Plans: Plus $100+ a year, Professional $9.5k+ a year, Enterprise (cost not listed)

Tailwind

Tailwind connects to Instagram, but its heart is really with Pinterest. There isn’t a free plan, per se, but there is a free trial with no set time limit. Rather, the trial is capped by number of posts scheduled (100 for Pinterest and/or 30 for Instagram). My referral link for the Plus plan will also give you a $15 credit toward a paid plan if you are so inclined. It’s basically one month off your subscription fee.

You may have noticed bloggers across the galaxy raving about Tailwind. Probably because the referral program can help us earn $15 credits, as well. And there’s an Amazon gift card we can get, too. And though I wouldn’t mind the extra credit put toward my account, I’m pretty ambivalent toward gift cards. However, I am not ambivalent toward Tailwind in the least. In fact, I have feelings.

Very strong feelings.

I use Tailwind every day. It is incredibly useful for my content curation and affiliate marketing on Pinterest. Plus there are Tailwind Tribes that act a little like Pinterest Group Boards, only without the off-brand boards popping up in your profile. I appreciate the heck out of this program, and it’s worth every penny.

However, I like scheduling a lot of content in advance. By a lot, I mean I’d have posts scheduled well into next year if I could. And sometimes this makes Tailwind slow down. Like a sloth racing a snail kind of slow. Which is time consuming and a little aggravating. They even have a help page dedicated to the issue.

They’ve got a ton of extras like super in-depth analytics and ways to group your boards into lists and lots of really cool features. Again, I appreciate the heck out of Tailwind. But it’s not without its flaws.

BoardBooster

Free Plan: Sort of

Paid Plans: Based on pins shared per month. Ranges from $60-$1k+ a year

BoardBooster

BoardBooster is another tool that bloggers drool over. Like Tailwind, the free plan is really a free trial. When you sign up (which, like Tailwind, doesn’t involve any credit card info), you’re allotted a set number of pins. I think when I signed up it was at 300. Once you use up those pins, you’ll have to upgrade your account to a paid plan to continue using BoardBooster.

And yes, the reason bloggers go gaga over this tool is the referral link that helps us earn credit toward our own paid plans. But BoardBooster is legitimately awesome. The Pin Doctor feature analyzes a board and helps you optimize it for 1¢ per pin. This is useful for improving your boards and reach. And there’s a pin looping feature that ensures your best pins don’t get buried and forgotten forever.

But All of These Are Nothing Compared To…

 

Quick, Easy, and Effective Social Media Marketing

SmarterQueue

Free Plan: Sort of

Paid Plans: Solo $200+ a year, Business $400+ a year, Agency $800+ a year

SmarterQueue

I have legitmately never been as excited about a social media scheduling tool as I am about SmarterQueue. If you are looking for a program that will save you time, THIS IS IT.

  • You can bulk import posts from your other websites and social profiles! Repurpose old content!
  • You can categorize posts so you’re not always sharing the same stuff back to back!
  • Evergreen posts stay in your queue!
  • Add gifs and images to your posts without leaving the scheduler!
  • The scheduler is color coded, in calendar format, and SO PRETTY!
  • Simple drag and drop scheduling interface!
  • Post to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest!
  • Browser bookmarklet for easier article sharing!
  • Queue can be paused!
  • Analytics, even for posts you didn’t schedule on SmarterQueue!

I’m not apologizing for all the shouting because this tool is just that good. Check out these reviews written by other SmarterQueue users if you need more proof. This is THE social media tool that will bring balance back into your busy day.

PS: Don’t forget to grab your 30 day free trial here. (Regular free trials are only 14 days.)