With so many tools and resources out there, it can be hard to pick out just which ones you should use. At the end of the day, we’re all trying to build our blogs and businesses the best way we can, and if you’re anything like me, you don’t want to spend a ton of money doing it.
As your business grows, your expenses will inevitable grow, too but by that time, hopefully you’ll be making more than enough income to cover those expenses.
Luckily, there are tons of free and affordable services out there to start with. Don’t fall into the pressure of running out and signing up for all of the fancy premium services you hear the big bloggers recommend. There’s likely nothing wrong with those resources, but again, they’re also probably in a position where their income can justify those expenses.
One step at a time. Once you’ve been doing your thing for a while and getting into a groove, you’ll slowly start to figure which tools and services are best for you as well as which services are worth paying for.
But until then while you’re trying to decide what is best for YOUR blog and biz, take advantage of the free trials — that’s why they’re there!
And that’s exactly the purpose of this post: to give you a list of resources and to find out just which ones work best for you. So let’s get to it! Here are 50+ tools to help grow your blog and online business.
This post may contain affiliate links. Read the full disclosure for details.
Web Hosting and Domains
- SiteGround – This is the hosting company I personally use and loveeee. After running into several issues with my previous hosting provider, I switched to SiteGround and haven’t looked back since. SiteGround makes everything so easy and user-friendly, but if you run into any issues, they have one of the best customer service teams. I also have a super easy tutorial showing you how to set up your own WordPress blog/website with them.
- Bluehost– Another very popular place to get web hosting. Now, I have heard some mixed reviews about Bluehost, but I also figure that there is a reason why they’re so popular. Again, I use and love SiteGround, but this is definitely another hosting option for you to compare.
- GoDaddy– They always have great deals and have a great customer service team as well. I get all of my domains here because they’re cheap and I’m just used to their platform by now. (SN: I may or may not be a domain hoarder at this point.)
- BluChic– BluChic has several feminine WordPress themes for your blog and/or business. The creators are also super responsive if you need help setting up your theme or have any questions.
- Creative Market– Just what it sounds like, a huge marketplace with tons of resources for creatives. I’ve used several WordPress themes from there including Travel Everywhere, Alexandra, and Yasmine to name a few.
- Elegant Themes – Also a great place to shop for WP themes
- Trello– I cannot say enough good things about Trello. (This actually deserves a whole post.) This project management platform keeps me organized and makes everything so easy to manage. I use Trello boards for my blog editorial calendar, my homework, and tons of other things that I need to help keep my life together.
- Dropbox– Do yourself a favor and back up your work! Dropbox makes it easy with an app for your computer and up to 2GB of free storage.
- Google Drive– Google is another great place for cloud storage and file backup. Lots of people use Google products/services, so all of your files will be kept in one place. If you’re like me and use Sheets and Docs, it becomes easier to integrate everything.
- Asana– Project management tool
- MailerLite – I’ve tried MailChimp, ConvertKit, and MailerLite and MailerLite is my favorite. You can get just about all of features in other paid providers in their forever free plan and that covers up to 1,000 subscribers. Even after 1,000 it starts at only $10 which you really can’t beat.
- ConvertKit– The recommended email service made especially for bloggers. ConvertKit was the first email provider I used when I started blogging and honestly, I loved it. The only reason I switched was because as a new blogger, I had to cut expenses and I wasn’t making enough from my blog to justify the $29/mo. price tag. Then, I found Mailerlite and ended up sticking with them ever since because they have everything I need for right now.
- MailChimp– Free for up to 2,000 subscribers. Also integrates with tons of other services and platforms
- Drip– Another email marketing option that I’m hearing more and more good things about from bloggers and online entrepreneurs. The price tag is a little higher at $49/mo. for up to 2,000 subscribers but there are tons of features included. I would say it’s worth adding to your list of options to look into. There is a free 14-day trial, too.
Photography + Graphic Design
- Canva– Canva is one of those sites that has a nice free plan and an even better paid plan. I try to keep my blog expenses to a minimum, but I have found that the $12 upgrade is worth it to access the premium features.
- PicMonkey– Another popular photo editor and graphic design maker providing tons of great features with a premium plan. Plans start at only $5.99 a month after the free trial.
- Ivory Mix– Kayla from Ivory Mix provides beautiful stock photos for free in her resource library to those who sign up to her email list. You then receive an email every month with a handful of hand-picked, exclusive graphics.
- Creative Market– I mentioned CM above when talking about themes, but they’re honestly worth mentioning again because of just how many resources they have. They have all kinds of stuff to create poppin’ graphics from fonts to patterns to icons and of course, WordPress themes.
- Pixabay– Free stock photo resource. You can also choose from different photo file formats.
- Pexels– Another free stock photo resource.
- Unsplash– Even more stock photos that can be accessed directly on their site or via email when you subscribe.
- ResizeImage.net – Sweet and simple photo editing tool that I use to quickly crop and resize images.
- VSCO– You don’t have to have a fancy DSLR camera to have nice pictures! VSCO is an app that’s like a free Photoshop on your phone. You can find it both in the iTunes App Store and on Google Play. Note: Some of the app’s features are unavailable for Android users.
- Snapseed– Another app to edit photos on your phone, developed by Google. Available for Android users here. This is one of my personal favorites!
SEO and Analytics
- Google Analytics– Track your website’s traffic stats, visits, most popular posts, etc. to know how well your site is performing from day-to-day
- Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsights– I track my site’s analytics using Google Analytics right through WordPress with this free plugin. There is also a plugin called Google Analytics for WordPress which is not the same, so make sure you download the right one.
- Yoast SEO – The most popular WordPress plugin for managing your site’s SEO. I will say that’s it best to have at least some working knowledge of SEO when using this plugin because it isn’t correct 100% of the time, but it’s still super useful and valuable.
- AnswerThePublic– One of the most helpful free tools I’ve found for finding long tail keyword searches. It rounds up real searches from Bing and Google to help you figure out what audiences are searching for in relation to your potential keyword(s).
- Keysearch– It took me so long to find a keyword research tool that 1) wasn’t expensive 2) was easy to use. Not only is Keysearch affordable and user-friendly, but you can also get a 20% discount using my link and entering code KSDISC. And who doesn’t love discounts?!
- Hootsuite– My personal favorite social media scheduling tool. You can schedule posts on all of the major platforms and can schedule up to 30 posts at a time on their free plan. Keep in mind, you can schedule different social media platforms using different services to maximize your posts.
- Buffer– I started off using Buffer before I discovered Hootsuite. I actually slightly preferred its interface, but they lost me when they raised their prices. Plus, you only get 10 posts on their free plan.
- Tailwind– I am currently using a manual pinning strategy that’s working great for my blog and it’s all thanks to Pinteresting Strategies. But when I don’t have time to pin manually, I use Tailwind to automate all of my pinning. They provide you with analytics to track your pin’s performance, Tribes to share your content with other uses, and much more. Plus, your first month is free!
- Later– Later is what I’m currently using to schedule my Instagram posts. It’s really easy to use, plus I like that they have a preview feature so that you can plan your posts and see what they’ll look like in your feed.
- Sumo Share– These are the share buttons that I use on my site. Straight from their website: “Share makes it stupid-easy for your visitors to share your content to their friends, family, and others with built-in social media buttons for your site.” I’d say that sums it up perfectly.
- MiloTree– Have you ever gone to someone’s page and a little box slides in from the side prompting you to follow them on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest? That’s probably MiloTree! Skyrocket your follows by providing an easy way to connect with you on social media with the simple click of a button.
- Shopify– User-friendly eCommerce platform allowing sales on and off line
- Etsy– The top eCommerce platform for creatives selling handmade crafts or vintage goods. Lots of people also use Etsy to sell printables and other digital products.
- WooCommerce– Another eCommerce platform that integrates with WordPress. Super easy to use!
Business Management Tools
- PayPal– The platform I use for invoicing and payment. They also offer a free business account to keep your funds separate from personal transactions.
- Stripe– Another popular service for receiving payments in your business!
- Eversign– The platform I use to send contracts to clients and receive electronic signatures
- Docusign– Easily send and receive electronic contracts starting at $10/mo for one user sending up to 5 documents each month. I’ve always found it very easy to use.
- HelloSign– Another eSignature tool that’s free for one user sending up to 3 documents a month. HelloSign also integrates with Google Drive.
- And.co– A free platform from Fiverr that covers all of your business bases including invoicing, contracts, expense tracking, and more. I highly recommend And.co for those just getting started in your business because it’s completely free and everything you need is included in one place!
Document Creation + Editing
- Grammarly– Free tool that finds and corrects hundreds of spelling and grammatical errors in your writing. There is also an add-on for Safari users to correct mistakes anywhere you type on your browser.
- Combine PDF– A free site I use that allows you to easily convert to and from PDF format and combine PDFs.
Surveys for Feedback
- Typeform– Interactive and user-friendly platform for creating surveys and response forms. I use Typeform for my client on boarding surveys!
- SurveyMonkey– Popular, free tool for creating online surveys. I’ve used SurveyMonkey in the past as well and found it fairly easy to use.
- Google Forms– Yet another Google product. Build forms and surveys with this free tool
Phone, Video Calling and Conferencing
- GoogleVoice– This is what I use for my VA business. If you don’t want to give out your real phone number, GoogleVoice will assign you a free, working number to link to your own. Route all phone calls and text messages right to your phone while maintaining your privacy.
- Google Hangouts– Free tool for making video and voice calls to other Google users
- Skype– Free messaging, voice and video calling.
- Zoom– A great platform for hosting webinars, group calls, screen sharing, and more. There is a 40-minute limit on the free plan before upgrading for $14.99/mo. but I’ve found the free version to work just fine.
- Write Your Way to $1k– A course by one of my favorite and most influential bloggers, Elna Cain. This course is designed to walk you through an in-depth, step-by-step process to earning your first $1,000 as a freelance writer. I started out freelance writing before getting into virtual assistance and adding content writing to my services. I can’t even explain how much Elna’s course helped me launch my writing career and give me the tools and confidence to actually earn money doing what I love.
What resources are you most excited about or will you find most helpful? Let me know in the comments below!