You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a blog up and rolling, nor do you have to spend a lot of money to keep a blog going and growing. There are plenty of free blogging tools and resources out there to keep your blogging expenses low-cost.
Free Blogging Tools That Will Help You Grow Your Blog
(Links in this post are affiliate links. I will be compensated when you make a purchase by clicking those links. See my disclosure page for more information.)
Most of the companies listed here do offer paid services as well as their free offering–do not feel pressured to buy unless you can afford it. In general, the freebie versions will offer fewer features than the paid versions but that doesn’t mean they are not valuable tools for your blog.
A blog should be a moneymaker for you and your family, not something that puts a strain on your budget each month. Think long and hard before you spend money on any blogging tool or resource.
That said, I pay for the following blog tools:
- Convertkit--but not until my newsletter grew too big for a free MailChimp account. I love how Convertkit runs, but it is expensive for a blogger like myself who doesn’t do that much in the way of email sales. If I had to start from scratch again, I would begin once again at MailChimp and wait to move until my list got too big for their free account. It allowed me to keep my blog expenses lower while I was earning less.
- PicMonkey--I used the free part of PicMonkey to edit my photos for years and when it was no longer free, I felt like the amount they were asking for a yearly membership was well worth it for how much I use it.
- The Blog Fixer plug-in–because it helped me clean up some large blogging messes and keeps new ones from happening.
- A proofreader—both my husband and I suck at proofreading and yet I know that to look professional, it is vital to have as few errors as possible in your blog posts. This is my biggest blog expense and it is worth every penny. And I am not just saying that because she will read this post before it goes live.
- Grammarly premium–since my proofreader can’t possibly correct every social media post, every email I write and every newsletter without being at my beck and call at all hours (and I would not make her do that). Grammarly premium is not as good as my proofreader, but it is good enough.
- Premium membership to Skillshare–I was so impressed by the depth of most of Skillshare’s course offerings while I was enjoying their two-month free trial (use my referral link here and enjoy a free 2 month trial too) that I thought their yearly fee of just over $90 was a great deal and since I signed up I have not paid for another blog course–I can learn what I need through either a free source or Skillshare.
- And of course, I pay for my blog domain name and for a blog host. I use bigscoots now for my blog hosting and have been very pleased with their customer service and their services.
Currently, those are the only paid blog tools and resources I use; the rest are free. I only use a small handful of the free blog tools listed below, but I wanted to be in-depth and as helpful as possible for bloggers out there who can’t afford to pay for blogging tools. So I included as many as I could find during the time I allotted for researching for this post.
I hope you find a few that help you improve not just your blog, but your income. If I used them, I tell you what I think about them. If I haven’t, I either didn’t explain them since I am not familiar with them or tried to explain them the best I could without using them.
Free Schedule Tools
1. Buffer–I use this for Twitter.
2. Facebook–I use this from time to time, but in general I prefer to write my posts in the moment, I find I get better engagement when I do.
3. Pinterest—here is an excellent article by Tailwind on how to do this. I have this on my to-do list to try, as I am a hand pinner, but it would be handy to have something set up for the weekends my husband and I go off on our adventures.
4. Tailwind (free trial link) — you get up to 100 pins with Tailwind’s free trial, which could come in handy if you are planning a vacation. I signed up for a free trial years ago and use it just for the basic stats the free membership gives.
5. Later–I used the free account for a solid month after I initially set up my Instagram account for my travel blog. I did see substantial growth with it, but I got busy the next month and neglected it and have just posted pictures manually since then.
6. Hootsuite–The free version lets you pick three social media accounts to schedule to.
7. Planoly–This is for Instagram.
Free Informative Blogs On Blogging Topics
8. There are so many of these; however, not all are giving great advice. I recommend looking for blogs written by bloggers who created a successful blog about something other than how to blog before they started an instructional blog on blogging.
Two good ones to start with are Your Blogging Mentor by Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom and Elite Blogging Academy by Ruth Soukup of Living Well, Spending Less.
Free Plug-ins That Will Help Readers Read More Than One Post Per Visit
9. Contextual Related Posts–Puts a list of related posts for the reader to dive in at the bottom of each post.
10. Upprev–Chooses one post the reader might like to highlight in a box in the corner of their screen.
Free Blogging Newsletters Worth Receiving
11. Amy Lynn Andrews–I love the name of Amy’s newsletter: Useletter.
12. Blog Clarity–This gal’s newsletters are always informative and upbeat.
13. Simple Pin Media–great for keeping up with Pinterest trends.
Free Spelling, Grammar, And Writing Help
14. Hemingway Editor
15. Grammarly –The free version checks spelling and a few minor errors. Since I have struggled with grammar my entire life, but I love to write, I signed up for the premium version pretty quickly.
16. Pro Writing Aid
“Free For Subscribing” Downloads
There are so many of these out there. Some are helpful and others are not worth the 10 seconds it took you to sign up and download them. But hey, they are free! So if they turn out not to be helpful, you haven’t wasted a dime.
Here is a list of a few freebies that I have found helpful
17. The Ultimate Pinterest Planner From Simple Pin Media–I download this each year as it helps me decide what seasonal content to pin each month.
18. Freebies From Elite Blog Academy –Ruth’s team adds new ones to their collection each time they open the doors to Elite Blogging Academy. I have never signed up for the course, but I have downloaded all the freebies and found about 80% of them to be useful (the other 20% were for bloggers who were not as far along in their blogging journey as I am).
19. Copies of Tradecraft by Convertkit–kind of hard to find on your own so here is the link.
20. The Blog Fixer’s Rock Your Content Series (sign-up found at the bottom of home page)–This course will guide you through doing a content audit on your blog, which is super helpful if you have been blogging for a few years.
21. Backlinko’s free Copywriting guide–I am currently trying to write better copy, so this guide was beneficial to me due to my current goals.
There are probably hundreds more useful free subscriber freebies out there for bloggers. Share with me in the comments which ones you found helpful (no affiliate links in comments please).
Free Online Photo Editing Sites
25. Pixlr (also has an app)
Free Title Generators And Helpers
27. Blog About By Impact
28. Portent’s Content Idea Generator
29. CoSchedule Headline Analyzer–You do have to sign-up for an email list to get it, but it is 100% worth it. It is my favorite headline helper.
30. Sharethrough Headline Analyzer
31. Tweak Your Biz Title Generator
32. Skillshare–I loved the free trial so much I ended up purchasing a year-long membership. Use my referral link here to sign up for two free months.
33. CreativeLive–You can watch the actively streaming classes for free, but you have to purchase the replays.
34. Udemy–I haven’t used Udemy, but I have heard you can get promo codes for free courses.
35. BluPrint–Offers a free trial and the photo section and writing section can help you improve those elements of your blog.
36. YouTube–you really can learn just about any blog skill on YouTube if you are willing to spend some time searching.
Free Social Sharing Plug-ins
37. Add to Any–This is what I have used for years, but I heard recently that it does slow down your site more than some other free options, so I am considering switching.
38. Sassy Social Share
39. Scriptless Social Sharing
40. Shared Counts
41. Social Pug
42. Social Warfare
Free Photo Editing Apps
43. VSCO–I found out about this app in an iPhone photography course I took through skillshare and I have used it edit almost all the photos I want to post to Instagram.
45. Photoshop Express
Free Hashtag Generator
46. Display Purposes–Yet another freebie I discovered through a course I took on Skillshare. I haven’t used it yet, but I plan to very soon.
Free Keyword Tools
49. Keyword Tool
51. Keywords Everywhere
Free Coding Lessons
52. Free Code Camp
53. Codecademy–has courses on HTML
54. Khan Academy–has courses on HTML
Ways To Get Books On Blogging Topics For Free
56. Free Kindle Unlimited Trial—You can sign up for your free month of Kindle Unlimited here
57. Prime Reading–You need an Amazon Prime account to access the free Amazon Prime reading titles. Here is a link to a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime.
58. Your Local Library And Its Apps–Check out the business and time management section of your library for titles that can help your blogging.
59. Noise Trade (now called Paste Magazine)–Has a free business book section. You need to give them your email to download the books.
61. Look for subscriber freebies that are eBooks on blogging. I have gotten a handful of great free eBooks on how to blog better this way.
Listen To Free Podcasts
62. The list of helpful podcasts for blogging is endless. Type “blogging” into the search area and try a few out.
Free Sources Of Stock Photos That Are Legal To Use In Your Blog Posts
64. Burst by Shopify
66. Pixel–make sure you click the free tab and read licensing terms
68. Life Of Pix
69. Stock Up–aggregates many free stock photo sites, make sure to check the licensing of the photo before you use.
70. Pixabay–I only use this site as a last resort as there are a lot of what I would consider low-quality pictures at this site.
71. Stock Up–aggregates many free stock photo sites, make sure to check the licensing of the photo before you use.
These are just the sites I use for free stock photos, but there are dozens more out there. Use Pinterest search to find more free lists for stock photo sites.
Free Video Editing Websites
72. Flex Clip
Free Logo Makers
73. Hatchful by Shopify
Free Planner Templates
75. Plaan–Weekly and monthly sheets with portrait or landscape orientation. Lots of paper size choices too!
Free Email Signature Generator
76. Wise Stamp–I tried the free version out while I was researching for this post and am very happy with it.
Free Membership Platform
77. Member Vault–up to 50 free members
Free Email Marketing Platforms
78. Mail Chimp (up to 2,000 subscribers)–this is the one I used when I was starting to grow an e-mail list. I still use it for the email list for my book.
79. Mailer lite–up to 1,000 subscribers.
80. BenchMark–up to 2,000 subscribers.
81. Email Octopus–up to 2,500 subscribers.
Free Online Appointment Booking
82. Bookafy–Online appointment software. Helpful if you are offering coaching services or another appointment type service through your blog.
83. Google Drive
84. Google Photos
85. Google Analytics
86. Google Calander
87. Google Search Console
88. Google Fonts
89. Google Trends
90. And of course…Google Search Engine
Free Downloadable Icons
91. Flat Icon
Free Site Speed Test
93. WebsiteGrader (by Hubspot)–You will need to enter your email, but the test tells you a lot more than just speed, it tells you what is slowing down your site and directs you to places that will help you fix it.
Free Password Keeper
94. Last Pass
Free Design Tools
95. Coolors–a color palette tool
Free Online Task And Project Organizer
Free Photo Editing Software
97. Gimp–The benefit of this is that you can edit your photos offline. Handy if you want to work where there is no wifi.
Free Photo File Size Compression Sites
Free SEO Tools
100. SEO Minion
101. Yoast SEO Plug-in
102. Frase Content Optimization–free account lets you check ten pieces of content a month.
103. Backlinko–So this recommendation isn’t an SEO tool, but instead a blog that goes very in-depth into how to improve your SEO without using so much tech language that you are lost a few sentences into the article.
Free Survey Creators
104. Survey Monkey–Free up to 10 question surveys.
105. Type Form–Up to 10 questions and 100 responses free.
Free Opt-in Forms
106. Sumo–It looks like Sumo also offers a free side-scrolling share button bar.
Free Online Quote Makers
107. Quotes Cover
108. Pablo By Buffer
Free Instagram Tools
110. Find free Instagram tips at the following Youtube channels: Katie Steckly, Vanessa Lau, and RJ Kaur.
I am going to have to stop this list here even though I am having so much fun discovering and researching all the free tools and training out there for bloggers–I have to get this posted at some point. However, as I find more free blogging resources and tools I plan to update this list, so make sure to pin it to your “how to blog” Pinterest boards so that you can reference it. I also share free resources and tools with my moms blogging group on Facebook so be sure to join.
Even though I am ending the list of free resources here, I am not ending the article. I know that this article will attract a lot of newbie bloggers who are struggling to find ways to monetize their blogs while their audience is small so they can afford blogging tools that are not free, like VA help.
How To Monetize A Small Blog
As a beginner blogger, I signed up for several affiliate programs only to be turned away due to my low readership. Not wanting my blog to add expenses to our budget, I got creative in finding ways to generate income while I grew my blog audience to be large enough to get into the programs that turned me down.
I started sharing referral links on my blog for programs and companies I was already using. Referral links differ from affiliate links in that anyone who is a customer or user of the program or service is allowed to share them, not just bloggers.
Please note that some referral programs do not allow you to share their links on blogs and many have earning caps. Make sure to read all the fine print of the company’s referral program before you share their referral links on your blog.
One last thing to remember is that not all referral income is cash; in fact, most don’t pay in cash. Instead you will receive credit towards what they sell on their site. I am okay with this though as I was going to be buying their product anyways so saving money on it helps out my family’s budget and I look at that as blog income because if it were not for the blog, we would not be getting those credits.
I am currently six years into blogging and although I do now use affiliate links, earn money from ads, and have a book on Amazon, referral income is still a portion of my blogging income.
Referral Programs That Have Been Successful For My Blog
What companies I promote using referral links is continually changing. Sometimes the companies contact me and ask me to join their affiliate program and use affiliate links instead of referral links. Other times the company goes out of business. Sometimes the company stops its referral program or I reach the referral program cap.
This list below is filled with referral programs that I have done well with either now or in the past. I have tried out plenty more, but these are the ones that my readers responded to.
Your readership won’t be identical to mine so you may have better luck with different referral programs than the ones I have. Remember to promote what you love! Do not promote a company just because they are offering you some type of kickback–have integrity.
Point Programs That Offer Referral Links
I started using point programs back when my children were tiny as a way to earn a bit of money during nap time. What I like about generating income from them is that most offer a PayPal deposit option and when I was a newbie blogger, those PayPal deposits were how I paid for any blogging expenses.
Survey Companies That Offer Referral Links
Filling out surveys was another thing I did while my kids napped so again, sharing them with my readers was a good fit. Most Survey Companies have a PayPal deposit option as well.
Online Clothing Consignment-Style Stores That Offer Referral Links
We all need clothes!
- Poshmark gives you a code, mine is SNAILPACER (and you get money off your first purchase when you enter it during sign-up with Poshmark)
Apps With Referral Links
I am a huge lover of apps that will pay me for uploading my receipts and usually they give my readers a bonus when they use my referral links, so that is a win/win. A few offer PayPal cash outs, while others provide an option for Amazon gift cards.
- Berry Cart
- Receipt Hog (enter YECT1667 when you sign up for a $10 bonus after you submit your first receipt)
- Fetch Rewards (enter the code RE9FU at sign up for a $1.50 bonus after you submit your first receipt)
Online Cash Back Companies With Referral Links
I use online cash back sites when I shop online to save money so I pass this tip on to my readers who in turn start using them to save their families money–again, it is a win/win. Some of these companies offer a PayPal cash out and others offer Amazon gift cards.
Other Companies With Referral Links
- Ting–The cell phone company I use offers credit that you can use towards your cell phone bill. (Ting is very economical, and their customer service is outstanding).
- Honey–I use Honey to find promo codes. When you refer people to Honey, you receive Honey Points that you can cash out for gift cards.
- My Reader Rewards Club–You have to love reading to make this one worth it.
- Groupon–The lifetime referral limit is currently $100 in Groupon credit, which at $10 a person is ten sign-ups.
I hope this list is helpful to bloggers trying to reduce blogging costs and to grow their income. If you know of any more free blogging tools, blogging resources, or referral programs worth using and sharing, tell me about them in the comments.
If you are a fellow mom trying to grow your blog into a steady income source without letting it take over your life, join my Snail Pacing Bloggers Facebook Group.
3 More Posts That Will Help Your Grow Your Blog
- How To Monetize A Small Blog: Making Money From Day One
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- 1 Habit You Should Begin TODAY for a successful blog tomorrow!
- The KEY things you need to have in place to get your blog up and running.
- Five simple ways you can make a part-time or full-time income from blogging!
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