When it comes to starting a successful blog or even running one long term, you can run into quite a few challenges… and that’s putting it mildly! 😉 That’s part and parcel of the journey, however, and I love it! If you’re a one or two-person team, you’re not just the writer, SEO expert, graphic designer, etc. You’re everything!
There are a number of useful blogging tools though, that can make your blogging experience quite a lot easier, and today we’re going to look at 5 of my favorite free tools for blogging success.
I’ve found that using these tools frees up quite a bit of time to focus on doing other blog-related things. Like social media, writing more, engaging with other bloggers & even just having more time to think about what it is that I’m writing.
I use WordPress across all of my blogs. It’s the best platform to host your blog, so it was an easy decision, especially after having used most of the competition. 😉 With that said though, some of these free tools are only available for WordPress users, so just keep that in mind.
If you’d like to start a blog with WordPress, check out my step-by-step guide: How to start a successful blog for beginners
Now, let’s get straight into the 5 Free Tools for Blogging Success!
The Yoast SEO WordPress plugin is the #1 WordPress SEO plugin, and for good reason! This awesome plugin helps you with your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Google & Bing, by clearly showing you what you need to change and alter to get a better ranking and be found more easily.
The free version allows you to analyze your posts & pages for a specific keyword or phrase & it’ll let you know how well you’re doing.
You don’t have to be an SEO expert to use Yoast. If you want to learn more about SEO & the Yoast plugin, you can access their extensive Yoast FAQs & learn what it is that Google is looking for in a high-ranking post!
Apart from the SEO features, the Yoast SEO plugin will also analyze your writing. Assessing how easily your posts are read, where you need to space things out a bit, or shorten things up.
The Flesch Reading Ease score determines the grade level that is generally required to understand a certain topic. There’s no point talking about rocket science if your audience won’t understand it! 😉
Just search for Yoast in the plugins area of your WordPress dashboard or click here to download it for your site.
Canva is a remarkable tool for blog & social media graphics that’s online-based and largely free to use. There is a paid version that allows some more advanced features but the best features are available for free & the unpaid version doesn’t present the usual roadblocks you may find with such powerful freeware. 😉
The workspace is very intuitive & allows for a wide variety of customizability & once you’ve done designing you can download your finished image in JPEG, PNG, or PDF.
There are just so many awesome features Canva offers, I couldn’t possibly list them all here, whilst keeping your attention, so I’ll give you my 5 favorites for you to try out! 😉
1. Templates for just about everything!
Blog posts, Facebook headers, Instagram Posts, Pins, etc. If you haven’t quite gotten an idea yet of what you want to do, just select one of these templates! They are preset to the optimum image size for whatever design you’re looking to create and provide a large number of high-quality designs that you can select and then alter. Some designs require you to pay for an image, but you can also just swap it out for another free image or one of your own!
2. Custom graphics sizes.
If you can’t find a template with the image size you’re looking for, just click on the Use custom dimensions button and type in your own!
3. A wide variety of free elements.
The free shapes, icons, images, grids, charts, frames, etc. give you a wealth of freedom to do just about anything you’d like with your graphics. They’re drag & drop, making them easy to insert into designs & you can easily change their sizes by dragging a corner.
4. Great free fonts.
With Canva, you have a wide variety of built-in free fonts. These range from Sans Serif & Serif fonts to cool handwritten & script fonts.
A word of caution when using fonts, less is more! Well, it depends really on what you’re designing. Generally, stick to no more than 3 fonts in a particular design & make sure they’re easy to read… Hieroglyphics aren’t that popular these days…
This one used to annoy me quite a bit. Canva saves pretty much every design automatically to your account. Meaning every time, you just want to try something out & then exit your design, boom… There it is waiting for you when you return to Canva. You could just delete it, but I try out A LOT of designs & features!
Now, this used to annoy me, until I remembered something I created without a real use a few months prior & I could just simply scroll through my designs until I found it.
I tend to either start from scratch, use a template, or duplicate an existing design when I make new graphics. My Canva has effectively become an archive of my previous designs. 😉
The best thing to do is just log in and start playing around with Canva’s features. If you run into a roadblock, check out their hands-on, step-by-step tutorials or visit the Canva blog for design inspiration.
Get started with Canva today by visiting Canva.com or downloading their mobile app.
The free writing assistant. Grammarly is a powerful browser extension that checks your writing for grammar & spelling mistakes in the background.
I didn’t realize how many mistakes I made throughout my posts… and going through some older posts, once the extension was installed, was quite shocking!
Grammarly can be particularly useful if you’re not someone that pays special attention to spelling, or if you have dyslexia… It can be just as useful for pretty much everyone else that writes anything on the internet as well though! I would consider myself someone that pays attention to my spelling and grammar, but now once I’ve completed a post, article or paragraph I can go through any Grammarly errors & correct them! You may even notice the mistakes becoming less as you improve your writing. 😉
The one-click spelling & grammar correction makes this a very quick tool to use & once signed-in, you can even add exclusions to your dictionary.
A useful side bonus that occurs when your articles are more legible is an increased SEO performance due to Google’s increased ability to read what you’re writing.
P.s. The premium version of Grammarly has even more useful features. One of which is a plagiarism detector for your blog posts. This analyses your articles against 16 billion other web pages and lets you know what sections of your copy may have been published elsewhere. Great for SEO purposes when trying to create unique content!
P.p.s. You can also download Grammarly for windows or Microsoft office.
Grow by Mediavine (formerly Social Pug)
The Grow by Mediavine (formerly Social Pug) plugin is the #1 WordPress plugin for social sharing. It allows you to display clear and attractive sharing buttons just about anywhere on your site and in blog posts. You can embed pre-written Tweets by simply including one of the Social Pug shortcodes & select which social networks are visible to share with on your articles.
The free version allows for easy sharing; however, you can access even more powerful features for the Social Pug plugin by purchasing the Pro version.
With the pro version, you’ll have access to a variety of extra social sharing networks. You will also be able to use a hovering pin it button over all of, or certain images, in your articles. Another one of the best features is the ability to type in custom descriptions that will automatically appear when visitors pin your images. If keyworded correctly, this can help your posts get an even greater reach through the blog-loving social network called Pinterest… And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The absolute best thing about the pro version is the price, it’s only $34 a year… That’s less than $3 a month.
A simple-to-use online-based image compression software. Optimizilla makes it quick and easy to compress your images.
Why should you compress your images? Smaller images reduce your page loading times, which in turn, reduces the number of visitors that click away after waiting too long for your content to load.
Another good practice is to upload your images and graphics in the dimensions that they will be seen at. I.e. if you’re posting a small image that is 400 x 250 pixels, reduce the image size using your image editing software or the resizer tool on Befunky before compressing it with Optimizilla.
Once complete you can upload the compressed image to your site rest assured that you’re not wasting any loading time because of your images!
You can also give Toolur a go if you’re having difficulties with Optimizilla, it’s another free image compressing tool.
If you’re at the very beginning of your blogging journey and finding it tough getting started. I recommend the Launch Your Blog Biz course, from Alex and Lauren from Create & Go.
This course guides you through setting up your blog with WordPress, customizing themes, creating graphics, how to write blog posts, blogging fundamentals, building your list, and many more useful and professional tips and tutorials. In addition to the blogging stuff, you’ll also learn how to monetize your blog through affiliate marketing, sales, and email funnels, how to convert readers into buyers, using social media to get traffic to your posts, and much more.
If you want to get started making money with your blog, I highly recommend the course. You may even run into me in the private support group lending a hand.
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As always, if you have any questions or ideas, let me know about them down in the comments below.