4 Free Blogging Tools for Beginners – Today I am going to be talking about something… different. Usually, I write about natural living, food from scratch, vintage homeware, home DIY’s, and much more. But as someone who has blogged for over 10 years (it’s MAD to think about that!) I have gathered useful knowledge about it. And a Q&A on my Instagram showed me that you’d like me to share some of that knowledge. So read on to find 4 free blogging tools for beginners. And truly… they will be useful (some might even say crucial) during your whole blogging journey!
A LITTLE BACKGROUND INFORMATION
When I started blogging, I must have been about 17 years old. I love writing. And blogging is a brilliant way to write when you don’t want to (or feel like you can’t) write whole plays or books.
I wanted to write short ‘stories’ or articles. And I wanted to create my little corner on the internet. A place where I shared my interests and fun pictures. I wanted it to feel cosy and fun. One of my old blogs was actually named: ‘That Cosy Corner’. Ha! Original.
And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing for over 10 years now. Along that journey, there were times when I wrote less (or even stopped for a while) or when I just wanted a new fresh start. I blame it on not knowing myself well enough yet and not having a clear idea of what I wanted to write about.
That’s why a Hopeful Home is only 1,5 years old. You can read my very first post, my manifesto, here. And with this one friend… I have a feeling it’s here to stay.
LET ME BE YOUR MENTOR
Looking back, there’s so much that I’ve learnt about blogging and there’s still so much to learn. Sometimes, I wish I would have had a mentor. Someone to tell me those inside tips and tricks. It would have sped the whole process up so much!
So let me be YOUR mentor. Let me share with you those precious bits of knowledge to make your blogging journey a lot easier. Because I tell you this… blogging is fun. And I know there are a lot of blogs out there, but don’t let that stop you from starting (or continuing) a blog. Because there are people out there that need your knowledge and your story.
I have a couple of different aspects of blogging in mind and I’ll be writing about them in the coming months. But please do leave a comment here (or on Instagram or Facebook) if there’s anything you need help with. And I’ll see what I can do for you 🙂
4 FREE BLOGGING TOOLS FOR BEGINNERS
Today, however, it’s going to be about 4 free blogging tools for beginners. And they will help you SO much.
First I am going to give you a quick little insight into my ‘business finances’ here. With A Hopeful Home, we invested some money into it at the beginning. Ever since then, my method has been to re-invest the money that I earn with the blog and webshop, back into the business. I won’t start taking a cut until the blog and webshop earn enough monthly. This creates a slow, but safe and steady growth.
It does mean though, that I make careful decisions on where to re-invest my money next. You very likely are in the same boat too. You have yourself or a family to think of and it’s a fact that you can only spend your money once. Let’s be real: you don’t want to keep throwing money at something that isn’t earning anything yet or may never do.
These tools are brilliant because they are FREE. And the possibilities are so extensive and wholesome that you probably won’t feel the need to pay for more extensive tools for a while (if ever).
If you create and design content. Then you will want to get acquainted with Canva. This tool is wonderfully extensive and it allows you to design anything. Yes, that’s even their slogan. Whether you are trying to design marketing materials, social media content, or your blog header or logo. This is the tool to use.
I previously used Picmonkey. Which was a great free tool until you had to start paying to be able to download your creations. So when I came across Canva, I was so relieved to find a tool that offered the same possibilities for free.
Canva allows you to use free photos, backgrounds, elements, fonts, and so much more. Of course, certain things are only possible when you go for a paid plan. For example, if you want to quickly resize a design to make it compatible with Facebook too. Or if you want to make the background of a design invisible.
But by making sure that you create templates that you can reuse for the different social media platforms. And by adjusting your design when you do come across one of those limitations. You’ll be able to make this tool work for you without feeling limited.
Facebook allows you to plan posts ahead. Pinterest allows you to plan pins ahead. But Instagram doesn’t. And I tell ya. When you have stuff to do, that’s a pain.
Because after being active on social media for a while, you’ll start to notice that your audience reacts more at certain times and days. It may be at 11 PM when their toddlers are having a nap (if your target group is stay-at-home mothers with toddlers). Or it may be at 1 PM when they have their lunch break at work (if your target group is career men or women).
You want to find those ‘peaks’ and post then. Because if you don’t, your post will very likely be buried by new posts before your target group even goes online. You could be making a lot of effort to create content. But it never actually gets seen and appreciated by your target group.
Now, there are a lot of amazing social media managing platforms out there. I have had my eye on Hootsuite for a while. And they would make life a LOT easier. You can just plan everything (yes everything: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Youtube) ahead of time and not worry about posting on social media for a while.
But with that, comes a price. Hootsuite for example will cost at least 300 pounds a year. That’s their cheapest plan and that’s cheap compared to some of the other social media managing platforms.
So when I came across Planoly, I was over the moon. My days without being able to plan Instagram posts were over. Planoly allows you to add 30 free uploads each month and has an app too. Even if you planned to post 4 times a week, you should be good. You can compose your description, add your hashtags and set a time and date. Planoly will then automatically post it for you.
The only disadvantages? You can’t add videos and you can’t create stories. That’s where the paid plan comes into the picture. But this tool will STILL take a lot of hassle away for you and allow you to plan those Instagram posts way ahead of time. Just give yourself one afternoon to set up those Facebook & Instagram posts and Pinterest pins, and you won’t have to ‘worry’ about social media (except for the Instagram stories/videos) for a while.
3. GOOGLE KEYWORD PLANNER
If you start a blog, then you’ll HAVE to familiarise yourself with SEO. I didn’t do this until a year ago because it all seemed so complicated. But then I got to that point where I realised: I NEED to learn how to do this. I am missing out on the benefits of SEO and I am doing myself and A Hopeful Home a disservice by not taking the time to learn this.
SEO is such a crucial way to lead traffic to your website. It’s a way for people to find you. And you’ll do yourself a HUGE favour by understanding this even before you start to publish blog posts. Because nothing is as annoying and time-consuming as optimising the SEO of your website after you’ve published a lot of content. I know. I’ve been there.
One very important element of SEO is keywords. A keyword is a search phrase. A bit more specific, the search phrase that your target/ideal customer would use to try and find the content you’ve created.
Nowadays I won’t even start a blog post until I’ve picked my keyword for that specific content. Because the keyword will influence the title. And the title will influence the way I phrase aspects of the subject the blog post is about. Etcetera. There’s a lot to say about this. Let me know if you’d like to know more about it and I’ll write a separate blog post about it!
But how to find keywords? How to know what people are searching for? How to find out which phrases they’d use? This is where Google Keyword Planner comes in. Now to access it, there’s a bit of a trick to it. You have to make Google think that you’re going to set up a campaign with them. This article explains in detail how to get access to it.
Once you have access it’s going to be your go-to tool for picking your keywords.
4. ADOBE LIGHTROOM
Last but not least. I’d really like to tell you about Adobe Lightroom. It’s a free Adobe app available for Ipad, Iphone, and Android Phone. It’s a great way to edit those photos taken on your mobile camera. Without it affecting the quality of those photos.
You can play around with the light, colour, effects, detail, optics, and presets. The options are a bit overwhelming at first but after a while, you get used to the app.
There you have it. 4 free blogging tools for beginners. I hope they will be as helpful to you as they’ve been to me! If you know any other free tools make sure to share them in the comments below. And help each other out 🙂
If you’d like a few tips on how to take better photos with your phone, I’ll discuss that next week. Some of the tips… I wish I’d known years ago. I’ll be going into detail about my standard way to edit photos in the Adobe Lightroom app too. So if you’d like a guideline on how to use the many options in that app, make sure to read my tips to improve you mobile phone photography!