When you’ve just started blogging, it truly feels as though you’ve got the world at your fingertips. It’s a great feeling, but it’s also very overwhelming. I’ve been at it for a little while now, and I’ve come up with a list of 15 free tools for bloggers that you should get your hands on!
If you’re like me and you don’t part easily from your money, this is perfect for you because they’re free!
I started blogging because I wanted something of my very own. I’m loving most of it so far–the writing and design parts are my favorites! The tech-y and legal side? Not so much, but they’re still very important if you want to get your blog up and running.
I had no idea that I would need plugins for spam, bot logins, security, back-ups–honestly everything you can think of. From my crazy amounts of research, I’ve come up with a list of tools that have been helpful for me. Many of these tools will help you in the back-end management of your blog. You won’t ever see it on your actual website and you’ll likely never have to think about it after installation!
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning that I will get a small commission if you make a purchase, at no extra cost to you. This really helps keep this website going!(:
15 Free Tools For Bloggers
Grammarly is a web browser add-on, meaning that it isn’t a plugin you’d get on your WordPress dashboard. I installed Grammarly last week, and it has already been a huge lifesaver.
Spell-check and grammar-check. If you make mistakes, you’ll get a rosy line under those words. You also get a small emoji in the bottom corner of your paragraph as you write, and it’ll tell you how your tone is! If you have no mistakes, you’ll get a green light!
Writing the blog post is fun, but running back to proofread it three times before you publish it can get exhausting fast. I still re-read my posts before I publish, but I’m not as obsessed with all the little details because I know that Grammarly has got my back. My eyeballs are grateful.
Shareaholic is the plugin that allows you to get social sharing buttons (like Pinterest, Facebook, etc.) on your page. If you look at this post, you’ll see some floating buttons and a line that sits right under my title!
Social sharing buttons! This is SUPER important because it’s an easy and convenient way for your readers to share your content with their friends/audience. That means you get to expand your reach just by adding these buttons. You can also customize the buttons into various shapes and colors!
Shareaholic also has a monetizing option where they add advertisements to your site, and you’ll be able to get some of the revenue. I don’t use this option (sticking with the minimum # of ads from Google Adsense, and I don’t want it to interfere). The default setting is ‘on.’ Just make sure you manually turn it off if you don’t want it.
3. Updraft Plus
Updraft Plus is the plugin that I use for backups of my WordPress. I don’t ever want to run into an issue where everything I have is suddenly deleted or wiped!
Scheduled backups. You can schedule backups to occur as frequently as you’d like, and figure out how many backups you want to keep at a time. For example, if you only want to keep 2 backups stored at one time, it will only store the 2 most recent backups and remove the older ones for you! You can also choose where you want to store the backups (Google drive, etc.)! There’s a paid version, but the free version does everything you’ll need.
4. Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO is a plugin you DEFINITELY want to have. It’s a huge help when it comes to ensuring your blog posts have good SEO. Of course, there is still a lot of SEO to do outside of writing your blog posts (I’m still learning!), but this is a good place to start.
SEO. It’s super easy to use, and Yoast SEO will literally tell you what you need to improve. There’s also a “Readability” section that checks how readable your blog posts are!
You definitely don’t have to turn everything into a green button, but it’s good practice to aim for as many as you can!
Loginizer is a free plugin on WordPress that will take care of your site’s security. It gives users a certain number of login attempts before it locks you out. This is great for fighting against potential hackers! I downloaded it, and haven’t thought about it since–that’s why I’ve added it to this list of free tools for bloggers!
Security against brute force attacks. It will block an IP address from logging in to your WordPress site after the maximum number of tries. It’s got over 1 million active installations!
6. Wordfence Security
Now that we’re on security, Wordfence Security is a free plugin that I recommend as well. It protects you against malware and malicious IP addresses that might harm the blog you’ve worked so hard on.
Security against malware. Also very handy because it sends you email notifications whenever you need to update any of your WordPress plugins! So I get both added security and reminders to update plugins as soon as possible. I also get notified if there are any new logins to my WordPress account (usually just myself, or my sister), and if I have any pending comments that I haven’t responded to yet. Wordfence has over 3 million active installations!
7. Akismet Anti-Spam
Last security one! I know it isn’t the most exciting, but security is extremely important when it comes to your site. Akismet Anti-Spam is a plugin that is going to scan your blog for harmful content.
Spam prevention. Akismet will help ensure that your blog isn’t publishing malicious content in the comments section. It will remove spam comments that you’ll be able to review in the admin comments dashboard. I love this plugin because it helps me feel like I have more control over what’s going on in my blog.
8. Jetpack by WordPress.com
Jetpack is a powerful plugin that brings all the great tools open to WordPress.com users to WordPress.org users. (If you’re paying for your hosting, then you’re likely a WordPress.org user.)
Access to all the amazing WordPress.com tools. I’ve used Jetpack ever since I first started my blog, so I don’t actually know what it’s like to blog without this plugin. You’ll get added site security, site management, and performance optimization. It’s got 5+ million active installations!
9. WP Recipe Maker (for food bloggers)
WP Recipe Maker is one of the most popular free recipe plugins out there. It’s a great starting option if you’re a budding food blogger and don’t want to spend tons of money right away on a recipe plugin.
Recipes. I only have a single recipe post (morning matcha lattes!) and so I’ve only used this plugin once. It was pretty easy to use for one of my first posts ever! It’s got 40, 000+ active installations.
10. SG Optimizer (for SiteGround users)
Website optimization. This is one of those plugins that you download and forget about, because it’s that great. I’m able to ensure that my site has HTTPS encryption (this is how you get a secure site, with a lock image in your browser next to your URL). It also optimizes everything on my site to run smoothly. It does a ton for my blog, and I feel pretty safe knowing that it’s running in the background for me. It’s got 900,000+ active installations.
11. Google Analytics
Everyone knows about Google Analytics, but I thought I’d mention it anyways. This is a great tool to see where your traffic comes from. It’s one of the most popular free tools for bloggers for a reason!
Checking traffic and data insights! You’ll be able to get a better idea of who’s loving your content, and where your traffic is coming from (Pinterest, Facebook, etc.). It’s a great way to focus your marketing on what’s most effective, or work on what needs to be improved.
12. Monster Insights — Google Analytics Dashboard Plugin
This plugin by Monster Insights is a must-have for your WordPress dashboard. Essentially, it links to your Google Analytics profile and you’ll be able to access your traffic data straight from your dashboard.
Checking traffic and data insights–right on your WordPress dashboard! This takes away the extra need to log in to Google Analytics since you’ll simply check your blog stats straight on your dashboard. It’s got over 2 million active installations!
13. Google Adsense
When you’re just starting out, Google Adsense is the ad network you want to apply for. The only pre-requisite is that you need to have SOME content on your website before you apply. I applied before I had any posts (I was very eager), and got turned down. After I wrote a few posts, I re-applied, waited 5 weeks (I know they say 2 weeks, but it takes a while), and finally got approved!
Blog monetization. You’re going to be making CENTS in the beginning. Google Adsense really doesn’t pay that much, but it’s a great way to get started with monetizing your blog with ad revenue.
You can control just how many ads you want to display, and see how it would look on your site (both for desktop and mobile versions). That way, you can ensure that your site doesn’t look too spammy! You’re able to remove a total of 10 ad placements. I removed 9-10 ad placements because I hate that spammy look!
Once you’re getting more traffic, you can then apply to Mediavine (which I believe requires a min. of 50,000 monthly sessions)!
14. Tailwind (the free trial)
If you’ve heard of Pinterest marketing, you’ve probably also heard of Tailwind (click to get your free trial AND $15 credit from me!). While Tailwind is a paid-for service, you can add the free trial to your free tools for bloggers list! Through the free trial, you get to schedule 100 pins and join 5 Tailwind Tribes. The Tribes are my favorite part of Tailwind, and it’s an AMAZING way to spread your reach! I’ve reached over 1 million users with my pins simply through Tailwind tribes (join based on your niche!).
I’m going to write a blog post about how I used the free trial to grow my blog at the end of this month. Subscribe for the monthly newsletter!
Marketing. I’m actually on the free trial right now, and Tailwind has given me the best times to pin based on my website/Pinterest analytics. That’s pretty great information to have, and I’ve written them down for future use. I’ve already learned so much, without paying anything!
15. Smash Balloon Social Photo Feed
Smash Balloon Social Photo Feed is the most popular plugin for adding your Instagram account to your blog. I’ve listed it last because while I have it downloaded, I haven’t linked my Instagram account just yet. I’m waiting on my Instagram marketing at the moment (sticking to Pinterest, for now!), but I plan to use it as my blog grows!
Adding your Instagram photo feed to your blog. Ideal for photo-based blogs, especially if you’ve got an Instagram account that you use to market your posts. This plugin is not associated with Instagram. It’s got 1+ million active installations!
I hope that you’ve found this post of free tools for bloggers helpful. There are tons of plugins and tools available to bloggers, but I hope that this humble list has helped you gain a better picture of the free tools that can help you optimize your blog in every which way.
If you’ve got any favorite plugins or tools that I left out, please leave a comment and share! Good luck!