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12 Best Free Blogging Tools
Are you interested in the best free blogging tools available today? If so, read on.
In this article, we will go over the best blogging tools that anyone can use to improve their writing, make better blog posts, rank on Google, and organize and automate the process. And best of all, they're all free!
As a note, we will not be focusing on plugins for specific web-building platforms. All of the tools listed below can be used on any blog.
Let's get started!
Section A - Tools to Help You Write Your Blog
Whether you're just starting out or are a blogging pro, these tools are designed to improve your blog writing and construction.
Canva is an amazing image customization tool that allows you to create blog post headers, social media posts, and even specialized graphs and info-graphics.
There's a lot to love about this tool. The database is filled with every type of image template you can imagine. From social media posts, to fliers, to coupon codes for a landing page - Canva has it all.
To find a design, simply begin typing in the search box. Canva will find the correct templates and present you with a list of pre-made designs you can use.
Changing the font, image, and filters is intuitive and easy. This tool has saved me countless hours of trying to create the perfect post image.
And while you can upgrade to a paid version to dynamically change the format for different media types, the free version is more than enough for most people.
Where will you get all of the images to use with Canva? Enter Pixabay, a free source for stock photographs!
And when I say free, it truly is. The images are professional quality, and they all come with CC0 Creative Commons license (which means you are free to modify, upload, and otherwise use the photo without attribution to the original artist).
Almost all of the stock images I use are from Pixabay and I have never been disappointed. If you are especially happy with their resource, you also have the option to donate to the artist via PayPal (but it's never required).
When I started seeing ads for Grammarly, my first thoughts were "Google already has spell check built-in. My writing's fine - why do I need this tool?"
There are a few options for using Grammarly. You can create a new document (or open an existing one) through their website. Their service will help you make corrections with the click of the mouse.
I'm also quite fond of the browser extension. Grammarly keeps an eye out for mistakes and improvements, right from within my browser.
4. Readability Test Tool
Did you know that the average college freshman reads at a 7th grade level? It's hard to believe, but this statistic raises an important point about blog post readability.
Think about the way blog post content is consumed. Most likely, the reader scans the document looking for the most applicable pieces of content. If the article utilizes long paragraphs and an "essay" form of writing, the reader might simply zone out in favor of to-the-point writing.
With this in mind, the Readability Test Tool makes this list.
The tool has several options for testing readability:
Curious of how this works? Take a look at the stats from my previously posted article Credit Card Tracker:
The website goes on to explain how each measure is calculated. If my results showed a higher level of readability than desired, I can easily modify based on their detail.
Section B - SEO and Research
There's no way around it. If you want to be found on the internet, you have to pay attention to SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
Word of mouth and traditional advertising can help get you noticed, but most people are going to type a search phrase into Google and call it a day. These tools are designed to get your site to the top of the search results!
5. Keywords Everywhere
Keywords Everywhere is a handy Chrome browser extension that allows you to do keyword research on-the-fly. Simply type into the search bar and you'll learn about keyword traffic and approximate value.
Here I completed a search for "best travel card." Keywords Everywhere shows that the volume for this keyword is 12,100 searches per month at a cost per click (CPC) of $12.37.
In addition to your searched term, Keywords Everywhere shows related and alternate keywords. For example, "best credit cards for rewards" only has a volume of 5,000 searches per month, so it might be a less attractive option when writing a blog post.
And like all of the other tools on this list, Keywords Everywhere is free.
6. Screaming Frog SEO Scanner
There are plenty of SEO scanners out there, and many have free searches from the web. Unfortunately most of those tools limit the number of scans that can be done on a particular URL. Pass the limit and you must wait or pay for a license.
Screaming Frog SEO Scanner works differently. This tool is downloaded and installed on your computer, which means it packs quite a punch when scanning websites. Instead of limiting the number of times you can scan a URL, it limits the number of pages it will scan - 500.
After you search a website, you will be presented with a stacked list of various SEO checks. Above are the results for "Meta Description" on my website.
Of my 50 meta tags, 9 are over 155 characters (should be shortened), 8 are missing, etc. Navigating over to the results window let's me track down where these issues exist.
Screaming Frog SEO Scanner has helped me reach 100% SEO ranking, according to our next little tool!
Lighthouse is a tool offered directly by Google that looks at performance, accessibility, best practices, and SEO of a given URL.
There are several ways to use the tool. You can:
From the developer tools, click the Audits tab. Here you can choose settings for what to audit, which conditions to simulate, and even which platform you want to test (desktop or mobile). When you click Run audits, you are presented with the following (run on www.frugalfirefly.com under desktop, no throttling conditions):
According to Lighthouse, I am fully optimized on SEO. Performance is also very high at 94%, but I struggled a bit with Progressive Web App and Best Practices.
What I especially like is the Opportunities section which shows me how to reduce the load time on my site.
Lighthouse is an excellent tool to see changes you've implemented are having the desired effects!
8. Google Analytics
Last in this roundup of SEO and Research tools is Google Analytics, and is a must-have for those trying to understand cause and effects for their blog.
First, you'll want to sign up for this free service if you have not already. Next, Analytics will guide you through the process of installing a small code clip into the header of your website. Doing this will allow Google to track data such as traffic sources, demographics such as location, and even provide insights into improving your site.
Here is an example of my dashboard for www.frugalfirefly.com.
From the home screen, I can see key information about users and sessions to my site, comparative to other time periods.
This is especially helpful if I release a new article or run a targeted ad. If the action makes a difference to site traffic, Analytics will catch it.
Even if data is not your thing, Google Analytics can provide important information to improve your traffic and target audiences. Google is the king of data. You might as well use them!
Section C - Social, Email, and Outreach
Now that you better understand your website and have optimized it for appearing in searches, it is time to build traffic. I will focus on two categories of tools in this list - email campaigns and social media shares.
Sharaholic is a free tool with a few different functions. First and foremost though, the tool makes it incredibly easy for readers to share your content on social media.
On Sharaholic's website, you can customize floated share buttons which float on the side of the page instead of within the content. After saving, simply embed the code into your website header and sharing content is always at the user's fingertips.
After embedding on your site, any updates on Shareaholic's website will automatically be pushed to your site.
Additionally, share icons can be placed within content and on images.
The second valuable function is the "promoted content" ad system. If you are new to blogging like I am, you will not immediately qualify for most ad networks such as Mediavine or Adthrive, but Shareaholic delivers ads and recommended articles even with low monthly views.
I have a love/hate relationship with ads, and I try to make them as minimalistic as possible.
If you are looking to get started in blog monetization, Shareaholic can certainly help out. I appreciate their social media sharing much more though.
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and the list goes on. There are so many social media platforms that it can be difficult to keep track of where and when to post.
This is where our number 10 tool shines. Hootsuite is an all-encompassing platform for posting to social media accounts. Simply link your individual logins and manage posts from the Hootsuite dashboard.
While posts are fundamentally different than pins (in the case of Pinterest), you are still able to post to multiple social media locations in a very short amount of time.
Better yet, you can preview the post as you modify it, making sure everything is perfect before posting.
Lastly, check out their Schedule for later functionality for setting posts at peak times!
Speaking of scheduled posts, Tailwind is another social media posting tool. Unlike Hootsuite, Tailwind is focused on Pinterest.
But the main differentiating factor of Tailwind is the Tribes feature. Here's how it works.
From Tailwind's find a tribe feature, you can search and join a club of sorts, related to the content you produce. Tribes share your content on their Pinterest, and you share theirs. This feature promises to help grow your audience more quickly than doing it yourself.
I decided to join a few tribes related to personal finance, frugality, parenting, and travel rewards since those are the focuses of my site.
When I create a Pinterest pin, I share it with my tribes and post a couple of pins from the tribes in return. So far I have not recognized a jump in audience following due to Tailwind, but it has certainly helped me generate and store content on my Pinterest boards by searching through relevant pins from the tribe.
Tailwind is free for one hundred pins, but you must then pay monthly for the service. As a tool to help grow your Pinterest audience and content in the early stages, this tool is fantastic.
No matter where you are in the process of your blog, you need to generate an email list. Those readers who willingly give you their email address are raising their hands as interested in your content.
Mailchimp is a website that helps you capture and service those subscribers. The popup box for my site was build through Mailchimp.
Once you have email addresses, Mailchimp makes it easy to send emails to segmented groups based on the needs of the campaign.
For example, I offer my digital downloads for free to all email subscribers. When my new product, the Credit Card Tracker, was released, I created a campaign notifying all email subscribers of the free gift.
Mailchimp provides tracking information so you can see how well campaigns are performing. For those who did not click the download link in my first "free gift" email, I was able to send a follow-up to that specific segmented group. In total, I sent three emails - here are the results:
The first email showed a 57.1% open rate and a 42.9% click rate. My second email targeted only those individuals who did not open the email the first time.
On the second round, an additional 25% of subscribers opened the email, but none of them clicked the link. This suggests those who opened were either not interested or were not able to click the link right away (you wouldn't want to download a spreadsheet on your phone, for example).
I tried a third a final email just targeting those who had not clicked. Unfortunately no additional subscribers were interested in the product, and I left it at that.
Each of these email campaigns were delivered at set times in the future. That's right - Mailchimp allows you to schedule emails well in advance of delivery. I created my reminder emails above at the same time, and set the rules to deliver on particular dates at particular times.
More automation is always welcome for bloggers!
As with other tools, there is a paid version of Mailchimp that you might consider after a certain level of growth, but the free offering is more than capable.
There you have it - 12 of the best free tools for bloggers! These have helped my site grow email subscribers, improve my writing and blog structure, rank on SEO, and increase traffic. They've saved me time and money, all without adding to the expense pile.
So what do you think? Are there any free tools I missed? What's your favorite tool that has made your life easier? Let me know in the comments below!
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