Essential Free Blogging Tools
So I’ve been blogging for just over 2 years now. Not a long time at all I guess but I’m now at a stage where I’m quite settled with the various tools and apps I use to create and edit my posts. And, while I’m always on the lookout for the new and the better, some things I can’t do without.
Even in two short years, I’ve seen so many new bloggers pop up on my Instagram or Twitter feed. So, if you’re thinking of starting a blog (do it!) or you’re new to blogging, whether it’s for business or as a hobby, here are 6 (at least for me) essential free blogging tools that you should definitely try out.
“What is this WordPress thing?” That’s what I said to myself when I was contacted by a local web designer who had picked up on my Twitter account (where it all began). He (Ben) told me about WordPress, this free online platform for building and managing your own website and encouaged me to move from micro-blogging to the real deal. I admit, I hadn’t a clue about it and had absolutely no intention of finding out at the time. But a few weeks later, curiosity got the better of me and I had a quick look a the website.
My first impression was: “Free?! ah sure what harm can it do?” and the rest, as they say, is history. I’ve dabbled in a couple of other similar website builders but I’ve found no reason to stray from WP. It’s very versatile and easy to learn. The online support I have found to be excellent, you can develop and add to your site, moving onto paid plans if you wish as you become more experienced. And finally, did I mention it costs absolutely nothing to set up?
There’s also a huge blogging community on WordPress, and being part of it makes it easy to interact, engage and learn from other bloggers.
After WordPress, Canva is the most important blogging tool I use, and I would be pretty lost without it now. Canva allows you to design and optimise images and graphics for web & social media. There are templates for every type of image including materials for print like business cards and flyers.
Images are hugely important when it comes to making your online content stand out, and having the correctly sized image is as important as the quality. Canva is the ideal tool for managing both.
Along with a huge range of templates, Canva has its own bank of stock images to use in your design. Alternatively, you can source stock images from elsewhere (which I cover below) or, you can upload your own. You can then add various graphics, charts, frames, logos, text and lots more. As with WordPress, Canva is very user-friendly and it doesn’t cost you a penny.
The images in this post including the title image were all designed using Canva and took just a few minutes to do. Quick and simple.
This video guide to using Canva from SocialBeeNI will get you off to a good start.
More of a resource than a tool, Pexels is a bank of royalty free high quality stock photos which definitely needs a mention. Whilst I, as far as possible, use my own photos in blog posts let’s face it, I’m not a pro photographer and sometimes it just doesn’t happen.
A catalogue of good quality stock photos is something every blogger needs at some point or other. And, while quite a few others are available like Unsplash and EveryPixel, Pexels is my personal favourite.
The popularity of video content just keeps growing and growing. Almost 5 billion videos are watched on YouTube every day and on Facebook, the number is even greater at around 8 billion. But making an eye-catching, good quality video doesn’t take a huge budget, loads of expensive equipment or even a great deal of time.
Quik was developed by GoPro and is a fantastic app that allows you to produce videos in seconds using just a handful of photos. Simply upload the pics you want to use, add a title and with one tap, you have your video.
You can then, if you want to, change the theme, music and edit the video as much or little as you choose. I love to combine Quik with another app called Legend which you can read about here in my post: Refreshing Content.
Here’s an example of a video I created combining Legend and Quik.
I love this little app. Evernote is your digital Filofax (if like me you’re old enough to remember them). It’s where you can keep and organise all your notes, videos, images, blog post ideas & drafts, reminders, audio recordings, attachments, and photos. I even use it in work for taking notes at meetings and making to do lists.
You can download the desktop and mobile versions, sync them up and access your files from pretty much anywhere. Everything organised, all in one place and easily accessible. Don’t you feel more efficient already!?
Grammarly is where I do almost all of my writing these days (including this post). It checks your spelling & grammar as you type. Checking through errors and making corrections is very quick and simple.
There’s also plenty more features if you pay to upgrade to premium (£100/year). These include sentence structure, enhanced vocabulary suggestions and a plagiarism checker. If you’re serious about your writing.
For me though, I think Grammarly just flows well when I’m writing. The interface and menus are minimalist and easy to follow. If you’re looking for somewhere other than Word, Docs or your blog post editor to write, then I’d definitely give Grammarly a go.
Of course, there are tonnes of apps and tools out there to help you with written and visual content, and I would encourage you to try as many as you can manage and find what works best for you and your style.
Whatever your ‘go to’s’ are, the most important thing is to enjoy doing it. Your blog is your own little nook of the internet. Look after it, work hard at it, and be proud of it. Happy blogging everyone.
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