Blogging, Budget

Must Have Blog Resources: Frugal Edition

blog resources

Why search through endless amounts of blog resources when you have all you need right here?

I started blogging in January of 2017, and I have learned so much vital information about blogging and the needed resources in a short period of time. I talk to so many people who “think about” starting a blog but don’t know where to start. If you need help starting a blog, making Pinterest work for you, creating stunning graphics, and becoming a social media expert then check out these posts:

*This post contains affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Also, if you are trying to decide which site host to use then I suggest HostGator! HostGator has great customer service and offers many services for a low price. Check them out!

If you already have a working blog and host then you are in the right place. I have compiled all of the resources that I use for my personal blog. The thing that sets this “blog resource” post apart is that these resources are all FREE. 

If you haven’t read any of my other posts then you should go see how “frugal” my husband and I are. We are both teachers, and we have a supernatural budget so that we can travel to places like Kauai (see this post)  and Mexico that we normally couldn’t afford. We even budget our cardio with cycling (see this post) instead of expensive gym memberships and our groceries by meal planning (check out this post)! In other words, I’m a cheap skate, and I’m completely OK with that. 😉

Now check out these awesome blogging resources that are completely FREE!

 

Social Media:

If you are new to the blogging world then I am sure you have heard how essential various social media platforms are to your blog traffic. For my social media planning I use Hootsuite.

 

Why Hootsuite?

Hootsuite is completely FREE. The site allows you to schedule your Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter posts in one place. Free schedulers are great resources!

 

Hootsuite social media scheduling

Hootsuite also allows me to view a constant stream of my posts for all three social media platforms. You can even add an extension to your Google Chrome bar called Hootlet. Once you add that extension, you can save and schedule any information on the web. Amazing right?! Did I mention that there is also an app for your phone, and it’s FREE too. 🙂

 

Later:

I also use Later to schedule my Instagram posts. Later is an app that will allow you to upload your pictures and see how well they mesh with your overall Instagram theme. I like using Later because it helps me see how everything will look before posting it. Later is a FREE app.

 

Pinterest:

 

Pinterest as a blog resource

Pinterest is vital to any blogger. It drives the most traffic to my blog, The main increase that I have seen in my blog traffic is when I joined Pinterest Group Boards. Group Boards allow a larger audience to see your pins. Each board has their own set of rules so make sure that you write those down (or make a Google Doc for them) and follow the rules. Here are some of my favorite Pinterest Group Boards:

All of these boards cover lifestyle bloggers, travel, blog tips, etc. Check them out!

Tailwind Tribes

I have recently started utilizing Tailwind Tribes which is also free to use. If you blog about lifestyle topics, travel, or social media/blog help then you would fit right in! Come say hello and join my tribe!

P.S. Pinterest, Pinterest Group Boards, and Tailwind Tribes are free resources.

 

Facebook:

Facebook page for blog resources

If you have a blog then you need to utilize Facebook by creating a “page” to promote your blog. Now I don’t spend money on paid promotions, but I do utilize Facebook Groups. I am new to this concept, but I have definitely seen them pay off for my blog traffic.

Facebook Groups are useful for promoting your page, receiving comments on your blog posts, gaining followers on all social media platforms, and growing your blog knowledge by utilizing the large communities available to you. They are valuable resources for sure! All you have to do is follow the group’s rules, and you are all set! Here are some of my favorite Facebook Group Boards:

 

You guessed it, Facebook and Facebook Groups are FREE resources!

 

Instagram:

Instagram as blog resource

Instagram is a great social media platform for posting great pictures, but it doesn’t create a lot of blog traffic simply because you can’t click on pictures and go directly to the blog post. It is a pain to constantly change out URL’s so that your most recent blog post is in your Instagram profile. I have a great tool to fix that problem!

 

Link Tree:

Link  Tree is a great resource to use on Instagram because you can place numerous URL’s to your blog posts and Link Tree will create a unique URL for you to place in your IG profile to link to the various posts. Can I get an amen and a Hallelujah?!

Link Tree as a blog resource

Now the link in my Instagram profile will lead my visitors to the page above that has a list of my most recent posts and my “About Me” page!

Instagram and Link Tree are both FREE!

 

Twitter:

Twitter can be a great social media platform if you post many times during the day. Since I only post one new blog post a week I sometimes feel that my tweets get lost super quickly. If anyone has some great Twitter tips then I would be happy to hear them!

I use Hootsuite to schedule my tweets every day around lunch time. That is a popular time for people to read tweets.

Twitter is a FREE social media platform!

 

Apps for Blogging:

My phone is filled with great apps that allow me to work on my blog no matter where I am. Here are some of my tops, and they are all FREE!

 

Canva:

Canva is a great app for creating graphics for ALL social media platforms. You can also use Canva on your laptop to create Social Media kits, flyers, and more. It is my new best friend for sure.

All you have to do is choose your social media platform layout, upload a photo (or search through their stock photos), create your title/font/colors, and save it!

 

Fotor:

Fotor is another resource that I use to create graphics for all social media platforms. If you haven’t used Fotor before then I suggest you check it out. It is great for specializing your graphics, customizing your fonts, and making your blog aesthetically pleasing.

 

Google Calendar:

 

google calendar as blog resource

Google Calendar is great for planning out your future blog posts. I also use it to keep track of others’ content that I am promoting on my social media accounts. You can customize Google Calendar to fit your needs.

Google Drive:

If you have a TON of content in your Google Drive then this app could take up a lot of space on your phone. I have several Google accounts so the one that is affiliated with my blog is rather small, so far. I use Google Drive to keep up with Pinterest Group rules, to-do lists, Facebook Group rules, etc.

 

Google Photos:

Google Photos is a great way to back-up your photos so that you don’t accidentally lose them. This happened to me recently, and I was able to save SOME of the photos that I thought were deleted forever. You can even set it to automatically back-up any new photos from your phone!

Hootsuite:

Hootsuite has a free app that I use to schedule my social media posts. It makes it so easy to see what I scheduled so that I don’t overlap my posts. What did we do before smart phones?

 

Layout:

Layout is a collage app that is affiliated with Instagram. I use this app if I need to create a group of photos. It can automatically open within Instagram.

Mailchimp:

Mailchimp is the email service that I use for my blog subscribers. I will go into detail about it later on in the post. Mailchimp has a free app that you can use to keep track of the number of subscribers that you have as well as how many times your “campaigns” have been opened. I highly recommend it!

 

Over:

Over is perfect for putting your watermark or blog logo onto all of your photos. Over allows you to download your logo as a png. file and export it onto your photos.

Snapseed:

Snapseed is a photo editing app that I have recently discovered. It offers several AMAZING editing options. Some of my favorites include:

  • selective-choose the specific area that you want lightened or darkened

  • healing-erase parts of a picture that you don’t want

  • lens blur-blurs the image to the degree that you choose

  • enhance-great for pictures of people

  • pose-adjust the pose of a person’s face/head (It’s awesome!)

VSCO

VSCO is another great photo editing app that is free. My favorite part of VSCO is how you can adjust almost everything about your photo. Once you have edited the photo to your liking, you can copy those edits and paste them onto numerous photos. No more editing one picture at a time!

WordPress

I love having the WordPress app on my phone because it alerts me when I have a new blog comment. I can also keep up with my site stats on this app. If you are a WordPress blogger then this app is a must-have resource!

 

Free WordPress Themes:

Here are some of the best FREE WordPress themes for your blog. These are responsive and can be be customized in most areas. Free themes are great resources to utilize for your blog.

 

Amadeus

free theme

 

Simple Business Theme

 

free theme

 

Travelify

 

free theme

 

Email List-MailChimp

email list using mailchimp

MailChimp is the email marketing platform that I use on my blog. I use the FREE version because it offers everything that I need. It offers free email marketing until I reach 2,000 subscribers. My blog gets new subscribers daily, but it is nowhere near 2,000!

With MailChimp I am able to send out a weekly newsletter to my subscribers, utilize a pop-up subscription with the Mailmunch plugin on WordPress. I can also create custom groups within my email list to send to certain people. It is very easy to use and customize. I highly recommend it! They have also added to the free version of MailChimp. Now you can schedule your newsletters to be sent out! 🙂

 

Must-Have Free WordPress Plugins

Plugins make blogging so much easier. I am not an expert with coding so I need all of the help that I can get. Some of my favorite FREE WP plugins are:

  • Aksimet-This plugin prevents spam from entering your comment section. Great tool!

  • Google Analysis-This sends you all of the information that you need to determine your audience and blog traffic. Use it!

  • Jetpack-This plugin does the job of many plugins combined. It allows for easy social sharing as well.

  • Mailmunch-If you use MailChimp then you NEED this plugin on your blog. It will allow you to create pop-up subscription boxes and send out emails to new subscribers.

  • Shareaholic-This plugin places scrolling options for various sharing on social media platforms.

  • Social Media Widget-The main reason for this plugin is to customize the color and look of your social media icons.

  • Yoast SEO-Every blogger needs this plugin to provide simple information for SEO on your blog.

Affiliate Programs

There are so many affiliate programs out there that it can be confusing to choose the right ones for you and your audience. Choose affiliates that your audience can identify with and will appreciate having more information about. Don’t be a nuisance with your adverts. Here are some of my favorite affiliate programs:

  • Airbnb-I love using Airbnb for travel purposes. We used Airbnb to find the AMAZING place that we are staying in Kauai this summer. They offer a great referral program too. Your readers will get $40 travel credit. When they book their first trip, you will get $20 worth of travel credit.

  • AWIN-Sign up for their many affiliate programs. Swagbucks is a great program to sign up for through AWIN. Take surveys, refer others, make money. Simple!

  • CJ AffiliateHostGator, Lonely Planet, and LifeisGood are all programs that CJ Affiliate offer partnerships with.

  • Ebates-Ebates is great for online shoppers. They also offer a referral program that gives you $50!

  • Fiverr-Browse the range of services offered by their global community of talented freelancers.Choose the perfect service for your needs. Specify the details to get your order started. They also offer a $5 referral program.

  • Flexoffers-They offer 10, 431 advertisers to work with. They also have a great referral program!

  • Infolinks-Super easy to install, and they offer a referral program!

  • Inzpire Me-Become an influencer today by advertising for your favorite brands. Once you sign up and refer a friend you receive 5% of the earnings of all your registered referrals the first 12 months (the service fee they charge brands on bookings, they give to you).

  • MavenX-MavenX is like Pinterest, but you are able to save items that you like or sell to boards. When others purchase the items through your link you receive a commission. Great resource!

  • Shareasale-Shareasale offers thousands of merchants to work with. If you are a lifestyle/travel blogger then here are some of the merchants you can partner with: Checkout 51 and Coupon Surfer for all of you budget-minded folks. CityPass and Tours4Fun for you lovers of travel.

  • Ultimate Bundles-This program offers great bundles for all niches. If you sell 5 bundles then you receive the bundle for free. You can’t beat that!

  • Viglink-This is super easy to insert onto your website. They turn product links into affiliate profit (if they have a relationship with the company). If you refer a new user to VigLink they pay you 35% of the commission for the first year!

  • Walmart Affiliate Program-I love shopping at Walmart so this was a no-brainer for me. Their products are quality for a low price. Sign up today!

 

Blogging Essentials:

There are some tools that you need to produce a worth while and successful blog. The following resources are ones that I own, but I didn’t purchase specifically for my blog. Most of them I have owned for years or serve multiple purposes.

 

Toshiba/HP Laptop

There are two laptops in our house. One was purchased 5 years ago and cost about $900. It has all but bit the dust. The other cost about $300, is 6 years old, and still going strong. Price isn’t everything. You will need access to a laptop or desktop computer to create your blog posts. If you already own one then please don’t go out and purchase the newest MAC. It is not a necessity. If you already have a MAC then I am jealous.:)

 

iPhone 6s Plus

Most of my photos are taken using my iPhone. Iphones take great pictures! Sometimes they take better pictures than cameras. Utilize what you have. I have had my iPhone 6s Plus for over a year now, and I love it. I didn’t purchase it for my blog, but I utilize what I already own.

 

Canon Powershot SX20IS

Canon Powershot
Via https://www.usa.canon.com

Canon is a reliable camera company. I have owned this camera for 8 or 9 years now, and it takes great photos. I highly recommend Canon products.

Canon Powershot ELPH160

Powershot ELPH160
Via https://www.usa.canon.com

I purchased this camera for our trip to Universal Studios last November so that I I wouldn’t run out of storage on my iPhone. 🙂 I can’t say enough about the reliability of Canon cameras.

 

GoPro Hero5

Blog resource
Via https://shop.gopro.com/cameras/hero5-black

This is the newest toy in our household. We knew that this would be a great investment for our travels. When we decided to go to Kauai we couldn’t wait until it’s release date. It is expensive (which you know isn’t my thing), but we received this as a Christmas present. It is AWESOME!!

 

With this compilation of blog resources, you are all set to create new content, make beautiful graphics, and blog until your heart is content! Was this post helpful? Do you have an essential blog resource that you would like to share? Tell me about it in the comments and feel free to share this on social media. Happy blogging!

 

75 thoughts on “Must Have Blog Resources: Frugal Edition

    1. Krista! Girl, it’s it’s a lifesaver for sure!! I am looking into Boardbooster, but I havent made the plunge yet. 😉

  1. Oh man that must have taken you absolute ages to put this together – thank you! There’s definitely a few I need to check out – Fotor being one of them! And I’d add Shopstyle Collective for affiliates as they pay per single click:) x

  2. You definitely have put a lot of time and effort into figuring how to be an awesome blogger without spending a ton of money! I certainly appreciate that, as I’m another one of those natural cheapskates. I think it’s fun to strategically spend less money when I can! 🙂 I use Canva all the time!

  3. I love this post!
    I was joining groups and downloading apps as I read!
    I started end of jan 2017 and have been through so many posts about blogging that some great info gets lost. Will be saving this for future reference.
    I just wonder, did you need a certain number of page views or content to get onto affliate marketing?
    I currently only have ugly ads on mine and really won’t make much $$.

    Thanks for sharing!
    Xx Angela

    1. I started with ads from day one so I definitely didn’t need a certain number of pages views. For sponsored post affiliates like Izea, you need a lot of page views. I haven’t started working with them yet. I’m so glad that you found this helpful!! 🙂

  4. YES TO THIS POST! I am trying to save and I’m doing a no buy month so it’s tough to find resources for blogging that are free. It drives me insane seeing things be super expensive.

  5. All great suggestions!!! I use several of the items you have listed. Being able to utilize free things when you first start out blogging is key. Blogging can be expensive!

  6. A very interesting post to read. As I am a new blogger, I was unaware of many things like hootsuite. Therefore thanks for sharing such nice information.

  7. Excellent collection. Link tree looks interesting. When I first loaded WordPress on my phone I didn’t use it but now I think it is great.

  8. Such a great post it’s soooo complete. I started blogging seriously in January and I’m nowhere near your numbers so I’ll follow your advice from now on 🙂

  9. Well curated list 😀
    Use most of all the resources mentioned in the list, will be definitely useful for newbies

  10. Thank you SO much for this post! I am new to the blogging world and this was such a simple easy to read post on all of the blogging essentials! Thank you!

  11. Great suggestion with the group boards on pinterest—I hadn’t heard of that!

    Also, I just made the switch from Mailchimp to MailerLite—you can add automation to your email list. For FREE! 🙂

  12. Lots of resources in one post. Love it.
    I didn’t realize there are other Affiliate programs. I only know Linkshare, CJ, shareasale and Amazon. I will check out their programs. I always wanted to join Airbnb referral program. But i cant find their link.
    I just recently used Canva. I always wonder how to put my logo so I need ‘Over’. You are a lifesaver!!! Will also check fotor and snapseed.
    A BIG thank you!!!

    1. I’m so glad that you found this post helpful! Yes I forgot about Linkshare! Will have to add that one today. It’s easy to leave some out because there are so many! Thanks for your feedback! ♥️♥️

  13. This is a great comprehensive list! I totally agree about Hootsuite as a scheduler! I need to use Google products more though.

  14. I totally agree about HostGator and Hootsuite, I started hosting with GoDaddy but hacking issues that they refused to help with prompted me to switch to HostGator, who I’ve been happy with for years now.

  15. This was super helpful, I felt super proud if I already used something on the list and then noted down the ones I haven’t heard of. I’m still super new to blogging so it’s been one big learning curve 😀

    Sophia xx gttp://sophiawhitham.co.uk

  16. I’m pretty new to blogging so this resource list is reallybhelpful. I will definitely bookmark this so I can check in detail later.Thanks for sharing!

  17. This is so helpful!! Having all those affiliates in one big list is awesome, I’m gonna have to pin this and start working through it really soon!

    -Nicole
    myuninspiredblog.com

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