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Blogging is hard work and at times it can be expensive. From purchasing a domain name and hosting, to legal pages, and fully optimized themes, blogging can cost a pretty penny. If you’re serious about turning your blog into a business, investing time and money is a no-brainer, but there are a few completely free ways to improve your blog!
1. Create a Domain Name Email Address
The first step to improving your blog is making sure you have a professional presence, and that starts with your contact information. Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, and icloud email addresses are fine for personal use, but not for a business. If you want to use affiliate marketing to make money from your blog or you’re interested in partnering with companies for sponsored posts, you need to have a domain name email address. It makes you look more professional to companies when you apply to work with them.
I use Siteground as my web hosting company and I’ve had nothing but amazing customer service and a great experience. Siteground makes it so simple to get a domain name email address. In just a few clicks, my domain email was up and running! Most web hosting companies will provide a free domain name email address included in their hosting package. If you already have your own domain, you’re simply a few clicks away from stepping up your blogging game with a custom domain name email address.
2. Use the Same Name on ALL Social Media Platforms
Improve your blog with consistency! One of the first things I do when I find a blog that I want to stay up to date on is find them on my favorite social media platforms. For me, that’s Instagram and Pinterest. Sometimes it can be a pain to find them because they’ve changed their blogging name or are using a completely different username.
Make it easy for readers and companies to find you on social media by keeping your username consistent across all social media. I actually checked Instagram, Pinterest, and Google before deciding on my blog name to make sure I could use the same name on my favorite social media.
3. Upgrade Everything to a Business Account
Remember what I said about being professional? Upgrade your social media accounts to business accounts so you can keep an eye on your engagement and other important stats. Business accounts also help you use social media platforms differently because they are optimized to help business owners grow their following and increase engagement. By keeping an eye on your stats, you’ll have so much insight into your audience, what they respond to, and exactly how to improve for the most success.
As a new blogger myself, I never realized how differently I have to use my business social media accounts. I never used to care much about which of my posts got the most likes or how many comments I received, but now all of those stats reflect so much about how much traffic my blog gets and where it comes from.
4. Create a Newsletter Sign up
Don’t underestimate the power of email! Followers on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and other social media platforms can be lost in an instant if your account is banned, hacked, or otherwise compromised. An email list ensures that you have access to your readers and loyal followers no matter what happens with social media platforms.
If you’re afraid that people will assume you’ll spam their inbox with sales pitches and content they didn’t ask for, make sure you’re clear with your communication intent from the start. Always indicate what exactly your readers are signing up for on the sign-up window. If it’s for a newsletter that you’ll be sending out weekly, say so and stick to it!
I personally use Convertkit, but I started out with the free version of Mailchimp. Mailchimp is a bit limited in design elements and features, but it’s a great tool for new bloggers just starting out, and it’s completely free up to 2,000 subscribers. Personally, I decided to switch to Convertkit because I found it more intuitive and easier to manage.
5. Write a Genuine About Me Page
People don’t invest their time in products, people invest their time in people. Make a connection to your readers and be genuine. As an avid blog reader, I find that I’m most attracted to blogs and bloggers I can relate to. Just today I followed someone simply because they’re from the east coast (where I’m from) and has reviewed a lot of USA travel destinations I’ve been dying to go to! One of the first places I go when I find a new blog is the “About me” page usually because I want to get to know the brilliant human behind the amazing content!
There’s no need to write an essay, but give your readers a peak into your life and your personality. We’re all human and want to know we’re connecting with a real person.
6. Use VSCO or Lightroom Mobile to Edit Your Photos
VSCO is by no means the most advanced photo editing software out there, but it gets the job done. Lightroom Mobile is a free limited feature version of the paid Adobe product. With some practice and a basic understanding of good photography composition, you can vastly improve the look of your photos for free.
I started editing my pictures with the free version of VSCO, but I quickly upgraded to Lightroom Mobile. I love both photo editing apps because of how user friendly they are and they both have just the right amount of features to take a good photo and turn it into a great photo!
7. Use Canva for Graphic Design
If you’re not using Canva, get ready for a serious graphic design improvement for your blog. When I first started Caitlin Inspired to Create, learning how to use Canva was one of my top priorities. I’ve only used the free version of Canva. With the exception of purchasing one or two design elements for $1 each, I’ve spent NO MONEY on graphic design for my blog. I’ve been able to create Pinterest graphics, custom slider graphics for my home page, printable, and so much more on Canva since I started using it. Eventually I’ll upgrade to the paid version to access more tools and design elements, but the free version comes with more than enough resources, design elements, and templates for a beginner blogger to create beautiful graphics.
8. Get a Little Techy
Okay, I’m the first to admit that I’m intimidated by coding and anything tech related, but sometimes learning the techy side of things is necessary. Embrace it and use Google to its full potential. I certainly have! I’ve taught myself how to fix messed up HTML code, insert widgets, and do some very light CSS troubleshooting. I’m by no means an expert, but being open to learning has allowed me to make improvements to my site and gain confidence in my ability to succeed with this whole blogging thing!
9. Add Social Media Widgets
Make it easier for your followers to find you on social media by adding your social media icons to a visible place on your blog and insert social media widgets to one of your sidebars. I love how cohesive some of my favorite blogs look with their perfectly curated Instagram and Pinterest feeds on the sidebar. Adding a social media widget is pretty straightforward and 100% free. Simply go to your WordPress Dashboard, hover over Appearance, and click on Widgets. Once on the Widgets screen, you can drag and drop social media widgets to exactly where you want them.
I use a Bluchic theme for my blog and I love how I can add a social media widget to my sidebar and see how it looks in a real-time preview before it’s published. If you’re in the market to purchase a high quality professional looking WordPress theme to elevate your brand, Bluchic the place to go. You can check out my post on Why a Bluchic Theme is Right for You for more info!
10. Take Advantage of FREEBIES
There are TONS of free resources out there for bloggers to take advantage of. I’ve signed up for tons of free downloadable e-books, worksheets, email courses, and video tutorials. Some are duds, but most of them are incredibly helpful and insightful. I think the best freebies come from online entrepreneur-focused companies and other bloggers. Freebies are also a great way to test-drive a website’s content to see if you might want to purchase a paid course in the future. If a freebie helps you improve your blog, you’re more likely to invest in a paid product because you know you’ll be getting your money’s worth.
I hope you found this blog post helpful. I know how overwhelming it can be to start a blog on a tight budget. While there are definitely some paid resources I would 100% recommend investing in, there are also tons of completely free resources to help you improve your blog. If you want to know more about the paid resources and tools I use to run Caitlin Inpsired to Create, check out my Blogging Resources page for more information.
Drop me a comment below if you want to see more posts on blogging!