My Top 10 FREE Blogging Resources (and some great tips!)
I wanted to share My Top 10 FREE Blogging Resources (in fact, it’s WAY more than 10!), plus a couple of other very reasonably priced resources that I use, to start you on your blogging journey, because blogging can get expensive if you let it.
There’s always another course to buy, or a product or service that promises to help you make money from your blog or be a social media expert.
But in most cases, you don’t need to pay to get the blogging resource that you need.
One of the reasons that I decided to share this list of resources is because I hear new bloggers all the time saying that they don’t have the money to get started.
But honestly, blogging doesn’t have to cost a lot!
If you want to start a blog, do not let a lack of funds put you off.
I will show that you can start off with a free option for the vast majority of things and then upgrade later – if you want to. In most cases you probably won’t even need to.
The only thing that should NEVER be free if you want to make money blogging, is your domain name and hosting.
Don’t be tempted to stick up a blog on blogger or WordPress.com just because it’s free!
If you do, you risk losing that blog because technically you never actually ‘own’ that website, it belongs to Blogger (or WordPress) and they can delete it anytime they want to.
When your blog is self hosted, with your own personal domain name and paid-for hosting) YOU own it, and even if you change hosting companies at a later date, the blog is yours and will be around until you decide to delete it.
Starter websites are not expensive, and your domain name will only cost a few dollars, as you can see from the link below, we really are talking minimum expenses here:
So once you have your website hosting and domain name up and running, I would highly recommend using WordPress.org (not to be confused with the free platform WordPress.com).
WordPress.org needs to be self-hosted and you have your own domain name with it, rather than having an unprofessional looking handle such as: www.mydaftcat.wordpress.com.
This sort of set up is fine if all you want to do is talk about how daft your cat is, but if you ever want to make money from your blog, don’t risk using the free option.
Saranya of Onefinewallet.com says:
Getting Set Up
#1 Free WordPress Themes
One of the advantages of using the self-hosted version of WordPress is that you can customise your site as much as you want, and that means choosing a theme that suits your style or your business brand.
And there are SO MANY to choose from.
I once spent a whole weekend changing and testing out themes to see which ones I liked the look of and which ones I could change the layout to get it… just so.
I warn you, it’s good fun, but it never ends! It’s like going down a rabbit hole.
My advice is to pick out a few websites that you like the look of.
This will help you to get a feel for what type of layout you want, and then you can try to find a free theme that gives you a similar layout. Preferably one that will let you easily change things like colours and sidebars.
This site is using Marlin Lite and I absolutely love it.
I’ve changed to other themes (many times!) but I always change back to Marlin Lite, usually within 24 hours, as I can never quite get what I want from the others.
Here are 40 Free WP Themes
#2 My Top 10 Essential Plugins
You have your domain, hosting, you have set up a theme on your site and now you need to add some Plugins.
These are the way that you will manage, monitor and manipulate your site to do exactly what you want it to do, and look like you want it to look.
Here are the most important ones I use on my site and why I use them:
Akismet Anti-Spam – this should speak for itself, as soon as you put your blog on the net, spammers appear and want to comment on your site with complete nonsense. This stops all of it (and some genuine comments too but it is much better than it used to be).
Yoast SEO – this takes care of making sure your posts are all set up correctly for search engine optimization and if you don’t know what that is, this is exactly why you need this plugin 🙂
Don’t worry about becoming an SEO expert, let this plugin do the basics for you so that people searching on Google will be able to your content.
Limit Login Attempts – This stops hackers trying to hack and take over or ruin your site.
Also, here’s a little tip for you: never have your sign in to your WordPress as ‘admin’ and a normal password like <dogsname123> as hackers have techniques for getting into sites set up like that very easily. My user name and password are lots of random letters and numbers.
It’s so random that even after months of using it, I still can’t remember it, I have to have it written down!
Cookie Control 8 – I used to have a different Cookie Control plugin, but this one is GDPR compliant. Unless you want to go to prison, get a Cookie Control plugin! OK maybe that was a slight exaggeration, but you ARE liable for a large fine if you do not stick to the new legislation.
UpdraftPlus – Backup/Restore – You will be putting in a lot of work to your blog (trust me, I spend more time blogging than speaking to my children some days!) but if anything happens to it and you don’t have a back up, you would have to start again. This gives you peace of mind.
These are the plugins that you absolutely must have on your site. But I have quite a lot more, too many to list here.
For a full list of every plugin I use and why (all of them are free!) subscribe to my newsletter and access to my free resources vault.
Vicky from Patternprincess.com says:
#3 Free Blogging Course
If at this point in the process you are thinking “there is soooo much to learn!” don’t worry, there are tons of free blogging courses available.
The only problem is, finding the right one.
The resource that I recommend is from the guy that runs the Billionaire Blog Club, Paul Scrivens.
He has a 12 day Blogging Bootcamp that will really help you to put everything in to place and see the bigger picture. I like him because he is no nonsense, and no fluff 🙂
Make sure you take a free course before you start paying out for any paid courses.
I’ll be sharing a couple more free courses later in this post, and sometimes a free course is enough, for example with list building or SEO, you don’t need to be an expert!
You just need to know the basics.
If you’re a bit of a course addict like me, I have a list of great courses (mostly free) that I have taken over the past few months. It is part of the my freebie vault:
You’ve set up your blog, you’ve taken a free course or two and you’re raring to go.
You post your first couple of blog posts and wait for the visitors to roll up, but then…crickets.
Nobody comes to your site.
Don’t panic, this is completely normal for new blogs and with a little effort, you will soon start getting some visitors each day.
I actually spend about 70-80% of my time promoting Melsmoneymindset, rather than writing content.
It’s crazy, but most bloggers will tell you that there is no point writing lots of fabulous blog posts if you are not going to spend time promoting each post as nobody will ever see it!
Here’s how I attract traffic to my site for free:
My love for Pinterest started long before this blog. I used it as a kind of vision board or bucket list to pin all of the things on that I liked, wanted to buy or make, or places I wanted to travel, and things I wanted to see or do.
People use it for inspiration and information.
But until very recently I had no idea that you can use it to promote your blog, for free!
If you are blogging about things that people are searching for or want to read, Pinterest WILL help you to get traffic to your blog.
It is a search engine rather than a social media. Think of it as Google with prettier pictures!
Make some pins for your blog posts with Canva* a fantastic FREE graphics tool which is really easy to use.
* To use Canva you’ll need some good stock photography.
Make sure you use you copyright free stock photography (just because it is it free does NOT mean it is copyright free and OK for you to use!). Unsplash have some great copyright free stock photos.
Set up a Pinterest business account and start adding some of your pins and also sharing other people’s pins in your niche.
Traffic will start to build slowly, but unlike Facebook and Twitter, your ‘pins’, which are links to your blog posts, will last for a long time.
Some of the pins I have seen are over 2 years old, and I’m sure there are pins that are even older, and people are still sharing them.
Unlike Facebook, you don’t have to pay to get your content in front of people, the vast majority of people that use Pinterest do not use the paid option.
I’ve taken a lot of Pinterest courses, free and paid, I started off with Pinterest Power 5 Day Free Course by Summer Tannhauser, which gives you the basics you will need to get started.
But Pinterest is a GAMECHANGER when it comes to getting blog traffic, so take it seriously!
Pinterest Ninja is not free, but it is a very reasonably priced course that will tell you everything that you need to know about using Pinterest for your blog.
The detail in this course is absolutely incredible, and one of the best things about it is that is it updated whenever
As soon as funds allow, take the Pinterest Ninja course, you will not regret it.
I started using Pinterest Ninja two and a half months ago and my traffic has gone from Zero to 138k views per month in that time, and it’s still growing every day.
At the time of writing the visits to my website is about 4100 views a month, and although I am now starting to get traffic from elsewhere, the vast majority still comes from Pinterest.
Marianna of Findyourmomtribe.com says:
#5 Facebook Groups
I’m not a massive fan of Facebook or Twitter for getting traffic to your site, and I hardly ever use Facebook anymore except to check out the latest cute dog video!
But I have found that using certain Facebook Groups has not only helped me with the process of blogging (advice, support and answering my never ending queries of how to do stuff!) but it has also brought traffic to my blog.
Being in the Facebook group Side Hustle Nation also got me my first Pinterest Management client – all for free!
Active groups are a fantastic resource for networking.
None of my family or friends blog, so it also helps to surround myself with other bloggers that know what I’m talking about when I have a problem or query, they’ve often faced the same problem and are happy to help.
Bloggers like to help each other out and that includes sharing your content or commenting on your blog.
If you would like a list of ALL of my favourite Facebook Blogging groups and other groups that have been helpful to me on my blogging journey subscribe to my newsletter and gain access to my vault of free resources:
This is a network of bloggers that share each others content to earn points.
When you have points you can start added your content to the site and it will be shared by others. It’s a great way of getting your content to a completely new audience and it’s really quick and easy to get started.
There are other blogging communities similar to this, such as Blog Engage, but most of them that I’ve found require some form of payment (usually quite small).
Getting SEO traffic
# 7 Analytics Tools
Social Media is great for getting your content out into the world, but finding out what your audience is actually searching for and wants to read is sometimes very different to what YOU want to write about!
So that you can write posts that your audience wants, you need some tools to figure out what they are looking at on your blog and what they are searching for online.
This is the key to a really successful blog.
Eve of Thecreativecurator.com says:
Google Analytics – Keep a track of your site visits, where the traffic comes from, their behaviour after they arrive (do they read one post and leave? Or do they go from one post to another?).
All of this will help you to create future content that people want to read. I use it via a plugin on my site called Google Analytics Dashboard for WP (GADWP)
Buzzsumo – A really useful website for finding out which are your most popular posts. You can also find out which posts are the most popular on your competitors websites, so you’ll know what people want to read.
The basic (free) version will give you a few ideas, but if you want to get serious and get all of the information, you’ll eventually need to upgrade to the paid version (I still haven’t needed to yet).
Ubersuggest – This is a fantastic Keyword research tool that helps you to see the search volume for your chosen phrase AND suggest other similar phrases.
Great for sprinkling some alternative keywords in your posts, rather than just repeating the same phrase over and over!
To find out what you existing readers want help with, just ASK THEM.
Listen to what they say on your blog comments, in response to your email newsletters or send out a survey using Survey Monkey to ask them the things that they most want help with.
Ishita from Italophilia says:
Blogging takes time. SO MUCH TIME!
As a working mum, I’ve found it is an absolute must to utilise some good productivity tools and make the most of my limited time, otherwise a whole week can pass by and I achieve NOTHING.
Planning is key to moving forward with your blog.
Evernote is an electronic notebook, I keep all of my notes on it (I used to go through TONS of notebooks!).
I use it to log blog post ideas, keywords and hashtags, my affiliate links, useful links such as other bloggers that I like or my favourite Facebook groups. I also use it as a To Do list.
An alternative is Trello which is more of a project management tool, so I don’t use it as much as Evernote, but if you have a specific project that you want to complete, it can be really useful for keeping all info in one place and keeping you on track. My advice is to search for free templates!
Getting Email Subscribers
Growing an email list is considered to be one of the most important thing to do, and it’s the one thing that many bloggers say that they regret not doing sooner.
# 9 Mailerlite.
There are loads of options out there and it can seem complicated as they all seem to be on very different price points and some of them are not very user friendly (I’m looking at you Mailchimp!).
Mailerlite stood out to me because it was free for the first 1000 subscribers, it doesn’t penalise you if you use affiliate links and it is very easy to set up and is user friendly to connect with WordPress, so I would highly recommend it.
Marina from Stayathomemom.eu says:
#10 Guest Blogging, Roundups and Reciprocal Links
This is a tip rather than a free blogging resource to download or website to use. It is about collaborating with other bloggers.
Blogging is strange because unlike normal business where competitors are sometimes seen as the enemy, it is the exact opposite for bloggers – they LOVE working and collaborating with others, even when they are in the same niche!
If you’ve come from a business background, this probably seems completely alien to you, it did to me, but it’s a brilliant community of people that want to work together.
Basically if you are determined to do it all alone, you will not succeed at blogging.
Even if you do manage to make a success of your blog without collaborating with other bloggers, when your blog becomes a success and gets busy, you will not have the time to do everything that you need to do – you need people. Accept this, and move on 🙂
There are lots of ways to collaborate with others to move your blog nearer to your goals. Here are a couple:
Link swapping is something that you can do as a new blogger.
Find a blogger in the same niche, with similar domain authority to you, and offer to link to an article on their site and ask them to do the same for you.
The best way to do this, rather than just randomly adding a link, is on a post on your site, link to a relevant article on their site (not just their main domain, the link should go to a specific article).
Always try to keep links relevant to your niche and to the content within your article. Otherwise, it becomes spammy.
Katy from Ahundredaffections.com says:
Roundup Posts are something that you have no doubt seen before, for example, 10 best articles for updating your summer wardrobe and it will be links to articles by 10 different bloggers that have posted about updating your summer wardrobe.
If you want to know why people do this, there are two main reasons.
The first is that it is quick and easy, it gives you a blog post with very little effort, you can have it whipped up in under an hour! Creating good content is hard and it takes so much time.
This post is going to be well over 4000 words and there is no way that I could create a huge post like this every week, so I would probably do one like this once a month or less, and then do smaller articles in between.
A roundup post would be a brilliant way to give good quality, fresh content to my readers with a lot less effort than a normal blog post.
Candice from Thebrowneyedmom.com says:
The second reason that bloggers like roundup posts is for the social sharing. If somebody featured my blog, or an article of mine, on their blog – I would definitely want to share it!
If those 10 bloggers each shared the roundup post to their audience saying that they have been featured in an article on your site, they would link to it and it could mean a huge surge of traffic for your blog.
Guest Blogging is something that I have just started to get involved in and it’s great for building backlinks to your site and also another way to reach a new audience.
The best way to find bloggers who want to do Guest Posts for your site OR to ask if anyone wants a guest post by you in your chosen niche, is Facebook Blogging Groups.
I’ve already done a few, and accepted a few for this site and it’s working out really well so far. I did it at the same time so that I was still adding content to my site but I was writing posts for other sites, which worked out very well!
Read my Guest Post page for tips of how to start accepting guest posts.
There are a few guidelines that you’ll need to put in place so that people don’t start to take advantage by putting in their own affiliate links or making the post really spammy with lots of links to their site (2 is plenty!).
#11 on this list should probably be Getting Paid! – but I’ve already wrote about that here: 5 Simple Ways To Make Money Blogging if you want to take a look.
So there you have it, loads of free blogging resources, a few helpful tips from established bloggers, and a couple of reasonably priced resources thrown in for good measure.
Be sure to bookmark this page so you can refer back to it whenever you need to as I will more to this list when I find them.
My Final Thoughts
If I had to give one tip to a new blogger it would be:
Blogging is great fun. Yes, it is HARD! But it is so rewarding.
And whatever help you need, help is out there. Just search for it online, or reach out to other bloggers in the Facebook Groups, somebody will be willing to help you.
So many times I’ve hit a wall and been ready to give up, but I’ve reached out and asked for help (not easy for me to do!) and help has always been given.
This list is quite extensive and probably makes it sound overwhelming with all of the things that you need to do, but the trick is to just take it one step at a time.
Whatever your goal is for your blog (more traffic, make money, be featured in the press) you will get there eventually. It just takes time.
I’m not the most patient of people and I’ve found that monthly goals really helps. Keeping notes of where I am now really helps with me expecting instant results.
I have 10 blogging goals each month and this helps me to not only look to the future and focus on achieving these goals, but also to look back at past months and see how far I’ve come.
It’s amazing how quickly you forget that at one point you only had 1 or 2 visitors a day, but now you have over 100 a day.
If you want to have a look at my list of goals so you can set up something similar, subscribe to gain access to my free resources vault which includes this and lots of other resources to help you: