I’m just going to come out and say it. I’m cheap! When it comes to the costs of running my own website and social media business, I don’t spend money easily. There are some costs that you have to take on board, such as hosting, domain ID protection, etc. However, almost all the other things you need to run a blog or website have a free option attached. Here are the best (mostly) free online resources for bloggers.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If I recommend something it’s because I’m already signed up and using it. If you purchase using an affiliate link you won’t be charged any more but I may receive a small commission.
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Before we begin, let me just say that, especially when you’re starting out, you don’t need to spend a lot of money to get a blog started. However, as time goes on, your content increases, your skill and confidence improve, you’ll want to spend a bit of money to get better versions of certain programmes and apps that will help make your work look better, and be more professional. But often, you’ll have to take money from your existing income as your blog may not be making you any money yet. If you are looking to save some money to invest in your blog, here’s a list of the best money saving apps to help you save. But let’s get started …
Writing & SEO
Even though I’m a copy-editor, I am terrible at editing my own content. Something I have come to rely on is Grammarly! Grammarly is a free online resource. Simply sign up and then install the browser extension and Grammarly will help with all your spelling and grammar checking. It even works on Word and other writing programmes. It’s brilliant.
Again, there is a paid premium version as well. If you want to find out more about Grammarly Premium, check out the full pros & cons review and then you can decide for yourself, is Grammarly Premium worth it, or not.
Yoast is a must-have when you are starting to get to grips with SEO. It’s a free Plugin that you install on your site that will give you prompts on how to improve your writing for optimum readability. It also provides a checklist to ensure your post or page is optimised for SEO. As free online resources for bloggers go, this one should be the one you install first, as soon as you set your website up.
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is something you will need to learn. It is basically how you structure your site and blog posts in order for Google to know what you’re talking about. If you want to learn more about how to learn to do SEO yourself, I run regular SEO Training workshops.
Canva is just one of the most amazing online tools out there. It makes designing your own images, logos, social media posts to a whole new level with very little skill required. The basic version of Canva is Free. The free version has great functionality.
The paid version has even more. The main function of the paid version that I love is the Resize function. It takes whatever image you have created, and with the click of a button, it can resize it to any other image size you need: Facebook Post, Twitter Post, Instagram Post, Pinterest Pin, and even to customisable sizes too. This is a huge timesaving benefit and if you can afford it, I would definitely pay for the upgrade. However, it is NOT essential. The free version is all you need, especially if you’re just starting out.
Free Stock Images
When creating your graphics and sourcing images for your blog posts, sometimes you want something better than your own pictures (unless you’re a professional photographer). Sometimes it’s simply about just saving time. The main Free stock image libraries are:
There are many more but those are the more well known ones.
Disclaimer: Please always be sure to check the website and image license to make sure that it is free of copyright restrictions, The laws vary from country to country so unless it states that it’s free to use, it’s your responsibility to check.
It’s also worth mentioning that you could always commission your own branded stock images. By working with a freelance photographer you can get customised stock images that are unique to your brand and free to use, reuse, cut, crop, and basically use as you wish. My branded pictures were taken by the very talented Kim Van Vuuren.
Sharing Your Content
So you’re a blogger now, well who is reading your work? If you don’t share it to social media and online, no one will know you have a blog. The two go hand in hand really. Here are the ways to share your blog which are also free online resources for bloggers that you can’t do without.
Most of the big social media platforms that bloggers share their posts too are free. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest. They are all free. If you’re not publicising your writing and websites on these platforms, you’re missing a trick when it comes to exposure and reaching new audiences.
Both Facebook and Instagram (which is owned by Facebook), have the option to boost your profile and posts. Unless you use their targeting functions properly though, boosting posts can be a waste of money. Facebook has changed significantly over the past decade. Initially, they made just about everything free, but now that the whole world uses them for almost everything from business to social causes, news to crises appeals, the entire platform is basically a business. Reach has decreased significantly unless you pay to boost posts.
However, with that said, it is still possible to use and use well, for FREE, if you do it intentionally.
If you’d like to learn more about how to use Instagram for your business, consider a training session with me.
I’ve been banging on about the wonders of Pinterest for months now. Pinterest is not a Social Media Platform. It is a search engine that uses images to attract users and appeal to them, and entice them to click through to the website that links to that pin.
If you create an attractive pinnable image, that gives the readers/users something, then that pin is potential traffic for your blog post, for life! Unlike Facebook & Instagram, and even more so Twitter, the life of a Pinterest post (referred to as a pin), does not just lose it’s impact after a few hours, days or weeks. It’s there forever!
Now it’s a bit more complicated than that if you want to make it work for you. It requires time and patience. Pinterest as a source of referral traffic is a LONG game, not a quick solution. However, unlike Facebook & Instagram, it’s free! You will achieve reach, and engagement without boosting every pin.
My suggestion would be to get started with a Pinterest Business Account. In my ebook “How To Use Pinterest” I walk you through exactly how to get set up on Pinterest with a Pinterest Business account, and how to start creating pins and boards. It’s a great place to start!
After you’re all set up and creating pins, consider a Pinterest Training course to ensure you’re getting the absolute maximum from Pinterest!
Scheduling your content in advance is a good way to save time, and work smarter. You can batch your content up and schedule it out in advance so that you can be sharing to the right places at the optimum times. In quick succession, here are my favourite scheduling tools:
- Twitter: Hootsuite & Buffer
- Instagram: Planoly and Later are Free, Tailwind for Instagram is free to try out.
- Facebook: Facebook Creator Studio!
- Pinterest: Tailwind for Pinterest.
Get On Google!
This list wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention the free resources for bloggers that Google offer. There are so many different resources offered by Google that you can use to help you on your blogging journey. Here are just a few that I use, if not every day, then every week at least.
If you’re taking your stats seriously on your blog, you need to set up your Google Analytics account so that you can analyse your stats and data. My favourite insights that I use Google Analytics for are:
- Page Views – how many posts/pages people read that day/week/month/year.
- Bounce Rate – which posts hold people’s attention, and which ones don’t.
- Referral Traffic – Where is most of my blog traffic coming from? Is it google, is it Pinterest, is it Facebook? This is where you can see exactly where your website traffic is coming from.
- Demographics: This is where you can see the more human side of your audience. It can tell you if you have a more female or male audience, where people live, how old they are, and so much more.
All this information is important for you to know who your audience are, what content they like, and what keeps them coming back. By tapping into this data you can create more content that is useful for them.
Google Analytics can be tricky to set up as you need to embed a code into your website. I offer this service at a minimal fee so if you haven’t already set it up, or you’re struggling with it, let me know if you’d like us to sort it for you.
Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a really useful tool and essential if you want to work with Google to analyse how your site is performing. The difference between Google Analytics and Google Search Console is that GA analyses how people use your site, the pages they visit, the time they spend on it, their demographics etc. Google Search Console analyses the technical performance of your site and provides details about keyword queries and flags any errors on your site.
One of the most important features of Google Search Console is that it allows you to submit your sitemap to Google which is an important requirement for Technical SEO.
Check out this handy guide of the Top 4 Technical Tips for SEO.
There are so many more Google resources out there, but as a blogger and these are the Google resources that I can’t do without! The fact that every single one of them is Free to use, means that I can get on with the business of getting your business done!
Pin It Now
I hope you found this guide to the best (mostly) free online resources for bloggers useful. I know that not all of them are free resources, but most of them have a free version which is more than enough to get started with. If you have free resources that you use that’s not listed here, please do share in the comments below. There are millions of resources for bloggers out there, and no one ever knows everything about this online world. I love learning new things too so please share.