Well, as a new blogger, I’m surprised and admittedly sometimes overwhelmed by how much there is to learn and do to get a blog started. So, during my last 5 weeks, I have relied heavily on several blogging tools that have helped me get organized and run my blog effectively. Currently, I use a variety of tools and apps that I’m loving and the best part is that they’re all free. It amazes me how many great resources are available to us! So, here are my favourite 19 free blogging tools to look like a blogging pro that I would love to share with all of you.
These resources help me to get organized and to plan out the direction for my blog.
- Google Calendar-I love the simplicity and accessibility of this tool. Use it as an editorial calendar to set my monthly blog themes and goals. It’s so versatile! First, I can colour code my blog ideas according to my blog categories. This is an easy method to keep track of how I’m covering my blog areas. Then, I can change the font or colour too to keep track of the type of post I’m writing. As well, I can keep track of important dates and holidays and set deadlines. It’s great to be able to see my to-do list at a week glance but also as a month. As well, you can also print off the calendars and post them in your work space if you’re like me and like to write on your calendars.
- Evernote– This is a creative app that allows you to make notes wherever you are. It’s a great way to jot down a new idea or brainstorm blog topics regardless of where you are. You can jot down notes or add a picture and you can access this information on whatever device you’re using. The basic plan is free.
- SimpleMind + Intuitive Mind Mapping-A free app for Macs and PCs that allows you to create a visual brainstorm map for your blog. Use this app when you’re trying to generate ideas for new blog posts. This mind mapping tool helps you to expand your topic ideas.
Photos and Graphics Tools
I love these tools to create original graphics for my blog and for my social media channels. By the way, these are great for those of us who don’t have Photoshop or who are just learning how to take great photos.
- Canva- By far this resource has saved my life as a beginner blogger! I can’t say enough about this site and the resources that are available to us to create endless graphics for our blog or freelance business. You can in minutes make original blog graphics, twitter and Pinterest graphics, printables, worksheets and whatever else you dream up. For free, you have access to a great selection of high quality photos, text fonts, backgrounds and graphics. It’s easy to use! You don’t have to be a graphic designer to be able to create a great product when using Canva. This is a must-use tool!
- Afterlife-Ok…this one’s not free but it’s super affordable! It’s almost free…$1.39. You can download from the iTunes apple store. This is a great photo editing tool that you will use countless of times. It includes numerous editing features to make your ok photos look blog ready.
- Stokpic– This site provides you with a great variety of commercial ready stock photographs that you can add to your blog or use to create graphics absolutely for free. The site continually adds new photos to pick from. The photos are all professionally done and are high quality.
Social Media Tools
As a new blogger, I’m trying to learn about all of the different strategies that I can use to increase my blog pageviews and my audience. We’re all working hard to create great content but when we do, we want to have an equally great audience who can enjoy our blog. These tools are super useful to connect with your blog and social media audience.
- jQuery Pin It Button For Images- I love how easy this tool is to upload and use on your blog. It’s a non-intrusive way to encourage your blog readers to connect with you and to share your work with others. Also, you can customize your pin button.
- Ultimate Social Media PLUS-So, this is a plugin that allows you to add a variety of social media buttons to your blog in different spots. Right now I have them appearing at the end of my blog posts and at the top sidebar. Again, as a new blogger, I’m trying to extend my audience reach and use a variety of resources to promote my content and blog. I love this plugin because you can individualize your button choices by picking colours, shapes and sizes. Very easy to use when you’re not a techy.
- Pinterest Group Boards- I’ve added this as a tool. Pinterest in itself I see as an awesome social media tool. It’s an incredible way to promote your content and to connect with a larger audience. I have found that in particular, Pinterest Group Boards are especially important to have. Pinterest Group Boards have large audiences and that gives you a greater opportunity to connect with others and to share your content repeatedly. Use Pingroupie to begin to find group boards. Also, I check out what boards people who I follow have. Often, those you follow are on 1 or more group boards. See if these group boards match your work and reach out to the owner of the group board to see if you can get an invite.
More Social Media Tools
- Buffer- This tool is an easy social media sharing tool that helps you schedule your posts to different social media sites at different times throughout the day. There is a free option for individual plans that is worth exploring. Definitely an option to make sure you are posting your current content across social media sites. https://buffer.com/#individuals
- Click To Tweet Plugin- This is an easy way to encourage your blog visitors to share your content on Twitter. Include the “Click to Tweet” option throughout your blog post. Free of course!
- MailChimp- Another fantastic resource to help you grow your subscriber group by sending out emails, newsletters and other automated messages to your audience. There are a variety of designs, mobile accessibility options and analytical tools. The great thing about this resource is that it’s free to use up to your first 2000 subscriptions. That gives you some time to maximize the use of MailChimp and decide on paid plan options down the line.
- SurveyMonkey- I’m adding this tool as a social media resource because it’s another method to reach out to your audience and get them engaged with you. By asking questions and creating surveys for your audience, you can better understand what their needs and problems are. This information is invaluable to you in helping you to focus your niche and be very intentional when creating valuable content for your audience.
Blog Security Tools
- UpdraftPlus- This plugin will “backup” and “restore” your blog as needed. You don’t see this plugin in use and it kind of sits in the background. But, it’s reassuring to know that this tool is actively protecting your hard work from spammers and hackers.
- Wordfence- This is a security WordPress tool that protects your website from hackers. Again, it’s an invisible plugin that you don’t see working but reassures you quietly that your site is being always protected. A must!
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tools
- WordPress Yoast SEO- A fantastic tool that actively helps you to learn about optimizing each post so that it scores high on search engines like Google. It actively indicates what you’re doing successfully with each post and prompts areas for improvement. Also, there is a lot of background information available to you to help you understand how to write great titles, make link descriptions and increase the readability of each post. A must-have tool!
- Google Analytics- I love this free tool offered by Google. It’s so advantageous for both the beginner and experienced blogger. This tool provides a lot of useful analytical tools about the people that are attracted to your blog. You learn so much about the demographics and interests of your audience. This definitely helps you to identify your successes and helps you consider possible future blog post ideas.
- Blog Post Headliner Analyzer by CoSchedule- This is a fun tool to use that allows you to try and write engaging SEO post titles. Enter your title idea and the tool will score it out of 100. It will review your title length, emotional value, how it will look in Google and other criteria. It’s a great learning tool!
- YouTube- For the new blogger or the not-techy blogger, YouTube is an incredible resource, providing you with “on the spot” mini lessons for any area of your blog development. In such a short time, I’ve learned so much from YouTube videos, ie: SEO ideas, how to create links, how to customize headers, how to add plugins, etc.
- Take a Break is another free app for iPhones/iPads that you can try. This app offers guided meditation which teaches you short meditation techniques that will focus you on improving your deep breathing. As well, deep breathing and counting to 10 is probably the best way to quickly calm down and feeling less stressed. Blogging involves a lot of work and can get stressful so your emotional well-being is very important to monitor. This is a free tool to remind you that you need to take breaks and find ways to manage stress.
Finally, I’m at the end of my current list of my 19 favourite free blogging tools that I use each day as I try to get more proficient in my blogging work.
So, what tools do you love to make you super effective as a blogger? As always, I would love to hear your suggestions!
If you enjoyed reading this post then try this one: 7 Secrets to Self-Promotion.
I hope you found a few tools that you are interested in trying out! Please share with your friends.