Sunday, 8 October 2017

8 Free Resources That Will Improve Your Blog

Over the last five and half years I've tried a lot of free resources and apps that I'd hoped will improve my blogging/photography/social media game. Some have been fantastic and others have fallen a bit flat. Over the last year or so I think I've consolidated my favourites and now use the same resources time and time again. These options are all free and are a great to use to help you produce content and also to share that content with as big an audience as possible.


Grammarly
I had never used Grammarly before but had heard of it through advertising. It was actually recommended to me by the lady who runs the chemistry blog I occasionally write for and I've been using it since about October/November. It's a free spelling and grammar checker then you install onto your browser. It's really good and I couldn't quite believe how bad my grammar actually was when I started using it. Not only does this help me pick up on my mistakes but I also find that it's slowly correcting my bad habits so that I don't make the same mistakes in the first place. It's so much better than the automatic spell checkers that come on browsers and I can't recommend it enough.

Tweet Schedulers
The best way to gain traffic on your blog is to schedule regular tweets with links to both new and old blog posts. And don't forget to add a photo as these tweets are proven to perform better. My favourites are HootSuite and Buffer. Buffer is my favourite. You can only schedule 10 tweets at a time on the free version but I like it better because you can 'rebuffer' old tweets and also get analytical info like your most clicked links etc. I personally chose to upgrade to the paid version of Buffer almost 2 years ago and I think it's such a worthwhile investment if you can spare the money! If not, make advantage of the 10 tweet and compliment them with tweets scheduled on HootSuite. 

BeFunky
BeFunky is a free website that allows you to edit photos. I use this for editing my blog photos. I mainly use it to resize horizontal images so that they fit the width of my blog but I also use it on occasion to edit the lighting and add overlays with text. It's not the most flexible editor and it obviously doesn't compare to something like photoshop but I've been using it since Pic Monkey started charging and think that it does a good job. I don't know an awful lot about photography anyway so I don't think that I could even utilise the full features of photoshop even if I did pay for it. 

Facebook Blogger's Groups
Love it or hate it, Facebook is a really valuable way to connect with other bloggers, the gain advice and to grow your audience. I'd recommend joining some Facebook bloggers group that is specific to your niche and also the area you live in. The local group are a great way to find out about events in your city which provides you with a fun time but also the chance to network with other bloggers. A lot of them have post sharing threads which are beneficial in terms of growing your audience but the real gem of these groups is the advice that you can get from other bloggers. If you have a question, just ask! You'll get lots of advice from a tonne of different perspectives which is invaluable.

VSCO
VSCO is a free photo editing app that I primarly use to edit my Instagram photos. My favourite thing about VSCO is the tilt editing features. You know when you try and take a photo of a beautiful building and it comes out kinda shitty because you've taken it at an angle? This feature allows you to tilt the photo so that it looks like you've taken it head on. It's actually revoluntionised the way that I take and edit photos for Instagram and I'm in love with the results. There are also lots of great filters and editing tools to take advantage off. 

UNUM
Another great Instagram related app is UNUM. It allows you to plan out your Instagram feed in advance which is great for ensuring that all your photos flow together. It also analysis hashtags and your engagement rate to give advice about which of your photos are performing the best and when is the best time to post. I've found this app really helpful and whilst my Instagram is still really small, I think if I really utilise this I'll be able to grow it further. I'd really appreciate it if you could follow me on Instagram if you don't already. 

Pinterest
If I'm not sure how to do something with my blog, the first place that I search is Pinterest. There are a plethora of online, free resources that are extremely helpful. I also find that Pinterest can be a great traffic source if you fully utilise it properly and I'd seriously recommend investing some time into it. The great time about Pinterest content is that it never really dies out. I still get loads of referrals from my crochet blog posts even though I haven't written any new ones since October 2016. If you want to read more about growing your Pinterest, I have a whole blog post Pinteresterest tips

Tailwind
Disclaimer: Tailwind is not a free resource. However, if you click this link, you can sign up for a month free. It's a Pinterest scheduling app that is super easy to use. I used my free month and I found it really helpful as pins were being spread out throughout the day which gathered my account more attention and more new followers. As I said in the point above, growing your Pinterest audience is really rewarding in terms of the attention it can gain your blog so I'd really recommend making use of the free month as it can give you the boost that you need to set the ball rolling. There's also no requirement to pay after the first month. There's nothing shadier when something says it's 'free' but asks for your payment details anyway. Nothing like that here!

If you have any recommendations for my myself and other bloggers then please leave a comment, I'm sure we'll find them very helpful. I'd also really appreciate it if you pinned this post if you found it helpful. 

Twitter @honestlyrussell // Instagram  @honestlyrussell // Pinterest @honestlyrussell
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2 comments

  1. Grammarly is so good. Oh my goodness I swear by it as English is not my first language so it has been a huge help. Great tools here!

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  2. Buffer (on the awesome plan) can schedule to Pinterest too ... I’d also recommend checking out IFTTT which will help with automating tasks, I use it to add to my buffer every time i Insta (with the picture) and Pinterest as well as automating posting blog posts to buffer also!

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