When I started my first blog, I thought understanding search engine optimization was enough to begin making money immediately.
Little did I know there are more moving parts to blogging than just writing content.
It took me more than a year to see any significant income from that blog. But once I purchased my first blogging course and hired some help, I realized that my investments would directly drive my blog’s success.
If you’re unwilling or can’t afford to invest time or money into your blog, it can be difficult to turn it into a money-making business. Fortunately, there are plenty of free and affordable blogging resources that can help you start a successful blog.
Resources for Setting Up Your Blog
NameMesh (free): Domain name generator to help you choose the perfect name for your blog. Gives hundreds of available suggestions based on the words you search.
NameCheap (free, pay for domains): Website that sells domain names for as little as $8.88/year. Since domains with common words can be costly, NameCheap suggests alternatives using similar phrases and ideas.
WordPress.org (free): The best platform you can use to build your blog for free. WordPress.org and WordPress.com are two different things. The .org version gives you more control over your website.
HostGator (paid): An affordable website hosting company. You’ll need hosting to get your WordPress.org website up and running. You can use our step-by-step tutorial to start a blog using HostGator.
ManageWP Worker (free): Security plugin that protects your blog from hackers and allows you to save site backups to your Google Drive.
Resources for Designing Your Blog
StudioPress (paid): Premium WordPress themes. These themes aren’t free, but they’re search engine optimized, mobile-friendly, and look professional.
Elementor (paid): User-friendly page builder that allows you to design your blog to your taste. Free version includes the drag-and-drop mobile-responsive editor with basic templates and widgets. There’s also a personal plan that offers additional widgets, templates, builder options, and more.
Elementor Astra Theme (paid): One of the most popular themes to use with Elementor. You can use this guide to get the Astra theme set up.
Canva (free option): Online design software for pins, Instagram posts, printables, etc. Premium option comes with a library of free icons and stock photos.
Pexel/Unsplash/Pixabay (free): Commercial-use image websites to enhance the visual design of your blog. Photo credit or payment is not required.
PowerPoint (or Keynote/Google Slides) (free): Alternative to Canva for creating visuals like pins and blog graphics.
Blog Monetization Resources
How to Make Money Blogging (article): Teaches beginners how to monetize a blog at any stage using advertising, affiliate marketing, digital products, or services.
Best Affiliate Marketing Networks (article): Teaches bloggers how to earn a commission by recommending other companies’ products and services. Also includes networks you can sign up for to start promoting products on your blog today.
Google AdSense (they pay you): Google’s advertising network that approves new bloggers. It’s easy to set up and start earning cash by following the company’s step-by-step guide. Note, though, that payout can be low and you need to earn at least $100 before receiving a payment.
Mediavine (they pay you): Advertising network that accepts bloggers with at least 50,000 monthly user interactions, known as sessions, as recorded by Google Analytics. The company pays more per ad click than Google AdSense.
Pro Blogger Bundle (paid course): A discounted set of three blogging courses: Launch Your Blog Biz, Pinterest Traffic Avalanche, and Six-Figure Blogger. The course creators, Alex and Lauren from Create and Go, teach everything new bloggers need to know, from starting a blog to growing traffic using Pinterest to turning a profit.
Resources for Marketing Your Blog and Increasing Traffic
Google Analytics (free): Provides visitor insights from your blog, like number of page views and sessions, how long readers stay on a page, and how often they click to additional pages. The analytics can help you track and improve your traffic.
ConvertKit (free option): User-friendly email marketing tool starting your email list and emailing subscribers. Free plan supports a limited number of features and subscribers. If you exceed the subscriber limit, you’ll need to start paying for a monthly plan. Premium plans also come with the ability to create automatic sequences, sales funnels, unlimited reports, and more.
How to Use Pinterest for Business (article): Tips for how to set up and use a Pinterest Business account. Pinterest is a valuable source of traffic for many websites and can help you grow your readership quickly as a new blogger.
How to Get Traffic with Pinterest (YouTube video below): Alex and Lauren share their best tips on how to get traffic to your blog using Pinterest. They give all the details of their strategies in the course, Pinterest Traffic Avalanche.
Tailwind (paid): Post scheduler for Pinterest and Instagram that allows you to schedule content in advance. You can take advantage of the free trial to test their services before spending any money.
Grow by Mediavine (previously Social Pug) (free option): WordPress plugin that embeds social media share buttons above, below, or beside your blog content. This makes it easy for your readers to share your content with others and can help bring in new readers.
Google Keyword Planner (free): Generates lists of keywords based on simple topic searches. Shows the monthly search volume for each keyword.
KWFinder (paid): Search engine optimization (SEO) tool to find keyword ideas based on location and language. Each search shows lists of keywords with search volume and how difficult a keyword is to rank for on a scale of 1 to 100.
Yoast SEO (free option): WordPress plugin that evaluates blog posts’ on-page SEO. The basic version is free and tracks one main keyword per article, and the paid version tracks up to five keywords per article.
8-Step SEO Strategy (video): A 17-minute video that walks you through the most important SEO strategies to rank your blog posts on page one of Google.
Get Your Keywords Together (paid): A $47 step-by-step strategy to find keywords that can drive traffic to your blog using only free SEO tools.
Stupid Simple SEO: The SEO Starter Pack (free): Free 6-day video SEO training that walks bloggers through the basics of SEO.
How to Speed Up Your Blog (article): Five easy things you can do to increase the speed of your blog without hiring a web developer.
Facebook Blogging Groups (article): Joining free groups can be invaluable. You’ll make connections in your niche and can learn from fellow bloggers’ wins and mistakes.
Tools for Writing and Creating Content
CoSchedule Headline Analyzer (free): Analyzes blog post titles based on elements like character count and choice of words to help you choose more click-worthy headlines.
Grammarly (free): Google Chrome extension that tracks grammar and spelling errors in your browser. Premium version offers more intense edit suggestions.
4 Essential Elements to Writing a Great Blog Post (article): Free guide from Jeff Goins, professional blogger and author, on how to write blog posts that capture your audience, starting with the title and ending with a compelling call to action.
Hit Publish (paid): Online course that teaches the details of writing great content in less time. Learn to write to your niche better than the competition, and engage your audience with a well-structured post.
Resources for Managing and Organizing Your Blog
Asana (free): Free project management software for up to 15 teammates to schedule the steps required to complete each blogging task from start to finish. Premium option provides additional features like a timeline view of projects and private projects. Even if you’re doing everything yourself right now, a tool like Asana can help keep you organized and hold you accountable with deadlines.
Slack: Chat platform to easily communicate with the people on your team (once you have one).
Toggl (free): Time-tracking software with the ability to switch on and off between different tasks. Helps keep you focused and productive. You can also track contractors’ times for hourly billing or time management purposes.
Google Drive (free): Offers 15GB of free cloud storage for documents that can be shared in real time. Log into your Google account to access your documents anywhere.
Google Calendar (free): Create schedules for personal or team use. You can share each calendar with different teammates to organize responsibilities and project timelines.
Fiverr (pay for services): Platform to find and hire affordable graphic designers, content creators, tech support, etc. to grow your blog. Some services start as low as $5.
Blog Taxes for Beginners (article): Teaches you how to track your income and expenses from day one to make filing year-end taxes easy. You can also offset taxable income with legitimate blogging expenses (including any blogging resource you purchase).