There are so many incredible FREE web services, applications and products available today that are so good that you can easily use them to grow your blog quickly to thousands or maybe even millions of views depending on the content, how well it’s optimized, and your target audience. You can start today, from scratch, and use every single one of these every day along your journey. From idea creation, to producing, publishing and designing your content, to sharing, marketing and promoting your brand, you’ll find these tools free and accessible.
Here are the 18 best ones I use myself to grow my own blog:
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Before I had a blog I used Quora to ask so many questions! It was pretty cool to ask questions about anything whether it was health related, or technical or household or about your dog’s behavior etc.. then you’d get answers back from a variety of people. Some are experts, and some not so much.
Quora is a great place for content ideas. You can search for a topic, see what others are asking, and answering and then write it up, adding to the conversation. But there’s more! Quora helps you establish yourself as an authority in your area. And you can link your website to your profile. If you have a product, you can use the site to get feedback from users and to generate new feature ideas.
When Google Reader shut down everyone went over to Feedly. Feedly is the best blog reader around. You have to be reading a lot of other blogs if you want yours to stand out. Once you start reading the top blogs from key influencers, you will learn the right style that drives traffic, and what sets top blogs apart from the rest. You can sign up for blog feeds, share your favorites, bookmark the ones you have yet to read.
Be careful though, if you’re a new blogger you really don’t want to get sucked into sucky comparison mode that potentially hinders your progress. However, if you can view things objectively and you don’t suffer from inadequacies then by all means look at these blogs with an eye towards inspiration.
BuzzSumo is an awesome tool! It helps you find what articles people are sharing on the web, and who is sharing them. From this simple start, you can gain a wealth of information. With the free account, you can only get limited information, but definitely enough to find out what works and what doesn’t.
The site can also help you target the key influencers in your area of expertise. The folks behind the site recently analyzed all their data to find out what goes viral. They found that having just one key influencer share your post can increase your number of shares by over 30 percent. Just having three will double the number of times your post is shared. This is huge! And gives you as a blogger even more reason to reach out to other bloggers and folks in your niche.
Canva is a design service for people who can’t design, like moi. An image in a post will increase shares, and increased shares means more visitors. Especially on Pinterest! 67% of my traffic comes from Pinterest which shows you how vital it is for bloggers.
So if you can’t design, no problem! Anyone can use it for anything: The site uses simple drag-and-drop principles to help you create art and design for your site, allowing you to choose from thousands of images, fonts and colors to get exactly what you need to illustrate your story.
The Hemingway app is all about making your writing clearer and easier to read. For some people, writing flows so naturally. I am not one of those people. My writing is choppy and when I read it back it sometimes it makes no sense to anyone but me!
Thank goodness for Hemingway. The app helps you avoid complicated, hard-to-read sentences, passive voice and adverbs. Hemingway is ideal for people who have to explain complicated ideas to anyone.
6. Google Keyword Planner
The google keyword planner is still one of the most accurate SEO tools available out there and it’s FREE! You can find suggested terms that relate to all your keywords and all their metrics too. It let’s you choose and discover easy to rank for terms (or highly searched for terms) to place in your work.
There are countless content management system (CMS) options, but WordPress is still the best. Once you have got your site up and running, you need a way to publish your stories. Sites like Wix or Blogger are great for your own personal blog but if you’re looking to get thousands or millions of visitors, the WordPress platforms can handle this.
On WordPress you can customize your site and add plugins for a ton of different needs, from SEO optimization to image presentation, from email forms to capture. Plus, other apps on this list, like SumoMe and Social Warfare have one click set up plugins to get you set up and up and running right away.
SEMrush is free for 14 days but I think it’s one of the top SEO tools out there. They give you a complete SEO audit of your site including content suggestions, alerts, warnings, backlink profiles, anchor texts and you get a complete view of who your direct competitors are, what keywords they’re ranking for so you can start assessing them appropriately. It’s a lot of information they give out for free!
9. Stencil – Formerly Share As Image
Images are also the best way to share ideas on social media, and Stencil lets you create amazing text-based images, helping you get more engagement and shares on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.
You can create quotes and daily inspiration messages, or just have a line from your latest blog post as a teaser. You can also take in information from images ten times faster than from text alone; and because visual processing is what our brains are designed for, sharing ideas as images immediately invokes a reaction in your audience.
10. FREE Stock Photos
Stunning images are what stock photo services should be like. Anyone can have awesome image content for your site for free. Images increase shares, and having great images will definitely get your blog noticed more.
Typeform helps you build contact forms and surveys, meaning you can interact with your audience and become a meaningful place for dialog.
A lot of Pinterest and FB users are using Typeform now to get potential members to sign up for their group boards. It’s also an awesome way to conduct surveys. Responders can easily navigate it on a desktop or mobile, and users could stay on the page throughout, rather than wait for the next page to load — one of the main reasons people bug-out on a survey.
TinyLetter is a super-simple app that lets you create and distribute email newsletters, which is a perfect way to get your posts into everyone’s inboxes each week.
Brought to you by MailChimp, TinyLetter is for people who don’t need all the business features that come along with MailChimp. It’s simple, free and easy to use.
Sumo is a suite of free tools that can be used to grow your website’s traffic. The Sumo tools are easy to install and work on any website. It also helps you build up an email list with popups, and can even tell you where people are clicking on your site.
SumoMe gives you an in-depth analysis of what works on your blog and what doesn’t. It also integrates with other services’ email lists like MailChimp, ConvertKit, Aweber, etc. .so you can seamlessly build your email list and grow your ROI.
14. Google Search Console
Formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools, Google Search Console allows you to check indexing status and optimize visibility of your website. A must!
15. Print Friendly and a PDF
Print Friendly is a Chrome extension that will transform your blog into a PDF, getting rid of all the extra crap and just leaving your audience with a well-formatted booklet of your posts. They even have a print and download button you can put on your site that is GDPR compliant. Very cool!
A great way to gain a following is to create an ebook that’s a “content upgrade,” in the form of a PDF that visitors can download and read offline — in exchange for their email address.
Social Warfare seems like a simple tool to manage your online social media presence. But, in actuality it is a massive sharing arsenal that you can use to reach more people with your posts, shares and tweets and optimize your content for social sharing, lightening fast. You can customize colors too!
17. Google Analytics
You need Google Analytics. You should be checking out your visitor numbers from your very first post, analyzing what posts get the highest views and where those views are coming from. Then, you can start to tailor your operation around those ideas. Keep what works, and delete the rest. Well, maybe for another site.
Google Analytics is the most extensive suite out there, and even the biggest sites are still using it. Google obviously knows its numbers, and if this is a major place your visitors are coming from, who better to tell you the good news?
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What do you use to grow your blog traffic? I’d love to hear about what you think the best free services and products out there are to grow your audience. Please like and share on social!