When you're starting out as a blogger you may have a lot of money to put towards your blog. Or you may not want to invest much money until you know you'll get a return on your investment. Either way you want your blog to be inviting, easy to navigate and as professional as possible. I know I did.
As I spend more time blogging and becoming more serious about it, I've come to realize that blogging doesn't have to break the bank. And I don't need a lot of money to create a professional looking blog. Over time I found several free resources that have become useful tools and I don't know what I'd do without them. Here are some of my favorite free resources for blogging on a budget.
Blog Templates1. PremiumBloggerTemplates.com: This is a site with several blog templates available for download for free or for a fee. The templates you pay for are supposed to come with more features and customer support. This is where I got my current template.
2. Themexpose: Like Premium Blogger Templates you can either download templates for free or pay for more features and support. The templates at Themexpose are made to work with the Blogger platform.
3. Sora Templates: This site has fewer blogger templates than Premium or Themexpose, but they have several sophisticated templates. Sora Templates come in free and paid versions.
Stock Photos4. Stock Snap: The photos on Stock Snap are free from copyright restrictions and don't require any attribution. The photos I've used from this site are lifestyle photos or interior shots.
5. Stock Vault: This site offer free photos for personal, educational and non-commercial usage. I have to admit I don't use Stock Vault that often when I search for stock photos because much of what I find I don't like.
6. Death to the Stock Photo: I just started using this stock photo site and like it so far. Death to the Stock Photo is a free subscription service where they email you photos monthly.
Photo Editing7. Fotor.com: This free online design and editing software lets me do all kinds of things. From the basic photo editing o adjusting brightness, contrast and cropping, to adding filters and frames. Fotor can be accessed from a computer or an app on mobile devices. The one downside of the free version is you can't save your edited images in the software, so I make sure to download them before I move on to something else.
8. PicMonkey.com: With PicMoney I feel I get better editing results with images that have dark lighting. The PicMonkey auto adjust does a better job than other free image editors, so I'll start there and then make adjustments as needed. I also like that PicMonkey has a tool to remove backgrounds from images.
Graphic Design9. Canva: This is an online graphic design software that makes graphic design easy for those of us who aren't designers. You can sign up for a free account and create designs for social media covers, blog graphics, posters and more. I love how simple it is and that I can use my own images or free ones available through Canva. I currently use the free option, but there is a paid option that is great if you want more people on the account and more design features.
Related post: How to Create Blog Graphics with Canva
Social Media10. Hootsuite: This is a social management system that allows you to easily schedule and publish posts for your social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and more. Hootsuite has several plan levels depending on your needs. I opted for the free plan and right now that I use for Twitter and Instagram. Hootsuite makes my life so much easier because I'm able to post several posts in advance.
11. Recurpost: This is a social media management platform for Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn that doesn't just post your content once, but saves it to post it again. As with Hootsuite I'm using the free plan for Recurpost which allows me to save 100 pieces of content for posting. I love Recurpost because I now spend less time creating tweets and Facebook posts every week I've seen steady engagement on my Twitter account.
Other12. Tinypng: Have a slow loading blog is the worse. It can turn away potential and current readers and also negatively impact your income if you've monetized your blog. One of the biggest culprits can be large images. I've started compressing my images using tinypng.com. So my images aren't so big that they slow down load time.
13. MailerLite: To manage my email subscribers and send emails I opted to use MailerLite. Several bloggers use other newsletter services, but MailerLite is the one that fit best in my budget and also provided the types of features I wanted. I can set up multiple subscriber lists and send different emails to each one. I can also send an automatic email whenever someone subscribes. I love how easy the interface is to use and the reporting that I get. MailerLite's free plan allows you to have up to 1,000 subscribers and send unlimited emails each month.
What free blogging tools do you use?