When you start a blog nobody tells you that you’re going to end up having to do a lot of different jobs. For a lot of us, we want to run our blogs in a professional manner, even if we aren’t doing it full time. This means you’re the CEO of the company, the copy writer, editor, photographer, the finance manager, and the marketing team, all rolled into one. It can be exhausting having all this going on, but there are some great tools out there in the internet to help you get the most from your blog, and all for free.
Here’s my top five free resources for bloggers.
Google analytics academy
Tracking your analytics is the easiest and best way to keep an eye on your blog traffic. With Google Analytics, you can find out all kinds of information about your site, from what people typed into Google to find you, to the average age of your reader. Google Analytics is a vast tool though, and I’m sure I’m not the only one barely scratching the surface of what it can offer. Google’s own Analytics Academy is an amazing resource. It is completely free, but teaches you, through a mixture of live demos and video tutorials, how to use their Analytics tools and understand the data. It’s a great tool to help you boost traffic, and the lessons are relatively short so you can squeeze them in your coffee break. There is no time limit either, so you can return to keep learning at any time. Once you’re done, if you pass the assessment, you get a certificate to say you’re Google Certified, which is nice.
I swear by Buffer and use it daily! Buffer is essentially a Social Media Assistant. You can add your social media accounts and use Buffer to schedule posts. You can do this by going to Buffers site and typing in posts, you can use Google Chrome’s plug-in, and just click to add a page to your schedule. I use Buffer to share my own blog posts periodically, and to share content I like form other bloggers or media outlets. Buffer will run tests to find when you get the most engagement, and advise a schedule on that. You can set posts to go out as many times a day, at whatever time, you like. So much easier than trying to remember if you’ve already shared that great post you found.
IFTTT stands for If This, Then That. This site lets you build a chain of events that trigger a command. For example, you can tell it to email you every time someone posts using a keyword you’re interested in. You can tell it to auto post your Instagram posts to Twitter (with a picture instead of the link!). I find it really useful for cross-posting content across multiple social channels. I highly recommend it!
Obviously we’d all rather take our own photographs, but sometimes time and daylight aren’t on our side. If you have a post that doesn’t need your own pictures and would be fine with some stock style photography, you don’t have to pay the big bucks to get access to a good image library. Picjumbo has a huge, searchable, free library of images. I use this myself sometimes, and find the images are nice quality, and it’s easy to find something that suits your theme.
If like me, you don’t want to spend on Photoshop, and find Gimp really confusing, Picmonkey is a free, and crazy simple, web-based photo editing tool. The free version has great options to edit your images, and there’s a handy little collage tool too. The premium version has more options, but they’re mostly of the ‘makeover’ or filter variety, so I’ve never felt the need to pay up for that.
Share your top picks! What do you find makes your blog life easier, without parting with any cash?