Free stuff is the best. Right?
Of course, you’d love to buy lots of exciting books and training courses and whatnot, but you haven’t got a ton of cash to spare.
That’s why you’re here, learning to make money from your blogging services. And while you learn, freebies are awesome!
But… sometimes freebies aren’t awesome. Sometimes free stuff is just junk that sucks your time, clutters up your memory, and ends up in the recycle bin.
This list is not about that kind of free stuff.
This list is solid. I checked out every single thing myself, and if it sucked, it got cut.
So here are the survivors, the worthy, the genuinely useful… 42 totally free resources for freelance blogging success.
If they cost anything, it’s your email address or maybe a tweet – no money involved. You’re welcome. 😉
Some of the freebies on this list also offer stuff you can pay for. That’s your call. I’ve marked affiliate links with an asterisk (like this*). Cool? Cool.
The list is so big it started giving me scroll blindness, so I’ve split it into a few sections for different purposes:
Free Resources to Get You Hired
The one thing you want more than anything is to get hired for good pay and published on well-respected blogs.
I’m creating an ultra-effective new training resource for you on how to find and win those higher-paying gigs, but until that’s ready, here are four ways to get yourself work on paying blogs:
1. The Ultimate List of Better-Paid Blogging Gigs: 500+ Blogs That Will Pay You $50 or More – Yep, this one’s mine and it’s exactly what the title says it is: a list of blogs in 20 different niches that pay freelance contributors at least $50 per post. Help yourself!
2.This free step-by-step guide to becoming a freelance writer with no experience* by blogging superstar Jon Morrow will help you get hired by editors, build your portfolio with bylines on famous sites, and break into new blogging markets.
3. Alexis Grant’s database of freelance bloggers is open to anyone with professional blogging experience. Fill in a short application form to get added to the database, and Alexis will email you when she has a suitable gig available.
4. How to Become a Freelance Writer by Carol Tice from Make a Living Writing will help you get started as a brand new writer with pitch templates and the 101 most popular questions new freelancers ask.
5. Mandy Ellis has a cool freelance writer pricing guide (you know, to make sure you aren’t underpricing yourself). Sure, your clients love paying you low rates, but I’m betting you’d prefer to get paid what you’re worth.
Free Ways to Improve Your Blogging
To get the highest-paying gigs, it helps if you blog like a superstar! There’s a ton of information out there about how to blog, so I’ve picked out just a few of the best free “better blog writing” resources for you:
6. Headline Hacks* by Jon Morrow gives you 52 headline templates that you can use for any kind of blog to get your posts noticed, read, and shared. [Jon’s own posts go viral almost every time!]
7. Engagement from Scratch is a free ebook by Mirasee’s Danny Iny. Learn from 30 of the best community builders on how to do it for your business and blog.
8. Unleashing the Ideavirus by Seth Godin is about getting your audience’s attention and how ideas go viral – deeply relevant to bloggers, especially if your work involves content strategy as well as writing. One of the first (and still the best) books on this topic. Get the inexpensive ebook (above) or this free pdf version.
9. Why Headlines Fail by Psychotactics’ Sean D’Souza teaches you how to write headlines that get results (and avoid writing ones that don’t). Killer headlines are vital if you want to make money blogging, so grab this guide to make yours rock.
10. How to Make Money Blogging by Danny Iny from Mirasee is a free ebook for bloggers (and freelancers too). And Danny ought to know. He’s been doing it for 10+ years.
11. Get HubSpot’s Free Complete SEO Starter Pack and learn how to raise your blog’s visibility and Google rankings by adding Search Engine Optimization to your content marketing mix.
Free Marketing Resources
If you want to get paying gigs, you’ll need to market your services. And if right now you’re thinking ugh, I don’t like marketing, then you also need to redefine what marketing means to you!
Long story short: marketing is the difference between a hobby and a business. This is important, so here’s a stack of resources to help you develop marketing strategies that work for you and with you.
12. Internet Marketing for Smart People is a free 20-part course from Copyblogger that teaches you marketing principles as well as the content know-how that separates the expert bloggers from the hobbyists.
13. Linda Formichelli aka The Renegade Writer is giving away a ton of valuable freelance writer marketing advice. You’ll kick yourself if you don’t go download it right now.
14. Chris Brogan’s newsletter is something I look forward to every Sunday, sitting down with a hot Ovaltine to read his friendly email about how business, marketing, and people work. His down-to-earth stories bring the insights home.
15. Gregory Ciotti’s newsletter arrives in your inbox a few times a month. If content strategy is your jam, you’ll get good value for these emails.
16. Find the Core of Your Value Proposition is a short worksheet by copywriter and conversion expert Peter Sandeen that will help you pinpoint your unique value as a freelance blogger.
Free Images and Editing Resources
When you blog a lot, you tend to use a lot of images to accompany your posts. Some clients will want you to source great images from their paid stock libraries, which is always fun.
But whether it’s for your own website or for a client, there’ll be times when you need an image you can use –or create– for free. Here are a bunch of free ways to find and make the images you need.
17. Unsplash has one of the biggest free collections of online images for commercial and non-commercial use. Attribution is not required but strongly recommended in most cases.
18. You don’t need money to get professional quality images from places like iStockphoto, Bigstockphoto, Adobe Stock, or Dreamstime. They all offer one or more free photos to download each week or month. iStockphoto also gives you free illustrations and video clips. [That’s at least 4 resources in one list item. Score!]
19. Morguefile gives you a range of free images that are meant to be used as source material by creative artists. To use a Morguefile image unaltered with a blog post, contact the photographer.
20. Pixlr is an online image creation and editing service that’s free to use. It can do most of the things Photoshop does, from adding text and creating layered images to applying filters and effects.
21. Easel.ly helps you make your own infographics. It gives you ready-made templates you can customise with your own text –and if you want to, you can change any element of the template to suit you.
22. Gravatar is a free online service that lets you associate your email address with a specific photo of you. Then, when you post or comment on a blog, your photo can be automatically displayed next to your name. An image makes your text more convincing, and a vast proportion of the blogosphere is Gravatar-enabled, so get yours set up today!
Free Research Resources
As a freelance blogger you need to research all kinds of stuff, from statistics that help prove your point to the names and contact details of specific employees at big companies. These good people all provide freely accessible and searchable information online:
23. LinkedIn has a useful search engine that will help you find and contact editors, marketing managers, and PR people for the blogs and companies you want to target as clients. Plus, a LinkedIn account is part of a professional freelance blogger’s online portfolio these days, so keep your own profile up to date!
24. The United States Census Bureau is a one-stop shop for statistical info on all kinds of stuff from population to economics and lifestyle in the USA; very handy if you need a couple of quotable stats to give your blog post some authority.
25. If your post is focused on another region, there are plenty of useful sites that cover other countries, like the UK National Statistics Publication Hub or Eurostat for European Commission statistics.
26. BrainyQuote is an easy-to-browse, easy-to-search site full of pithy quotes on a huge range of topics. It’s great for finding that perfect quotation to highlight your post’s key message.
27. Wikipedia may not be perfectly reliable, but a good Wikipedia entry includes references to the supporting evidence. So don’t base your post on the entry itself, but follow up those footnotes to find the original sources.
Free Tools and Technical Resources
I’ve tried a vast number of tools to boost my productivity. Some of them worked and some of them didn’t work for me. These are the ones that did.
28. Online Stopwatch is a very simple website with two tools: a stopwatch and a countdown timer. If you’re not ready for a full-featured time tracking system yet, this is a good way to keep an eye on your work hours.
29. Time and Date gives you time conversions around the world. Whether you need to know the time right now at your client’s location, or find out how many days there are until your next deadline, you can do it here.
30. Word Count Tool is a website where you can paste or type in your text to get an instant word count. Handy if you’re working with a content creation tool or content management system that doesn’t count words for you!
31. MailChimp, ConvertKit, and MailerLite are email service providers that you can use to send group emails to your clients and leads, or to create a newsletter for your blog. They all offer “Forever Free” plans for up to 1-2,000 recipients.
32. Evernote saves all your notes-to-self and articles or URLs of interest in one place that you can access online. Useful as a swipe file for all the interesting stuff you come across, and for works-in-progress.
33. Trello lets you drag-and-drop your task lists into order. It starts with 3 lists (To Do, Doing, and Done) but you can add more, give tasks deadlines, and create separate boards for different clients if you want to.
34. WordPress.com isn’t what I’d use for my own professional blog or website, but it’s a completely free way to start your own blog and gain experience in the basics of WordPress without anyone watching when you screw up. When you need to use WordPress.org for your clients or for your own blog, you’ll find that the interface is similar enough to give you confidence.
35. HTML Dog teaches the kind of basic HTML you might need to know if your client wants your posts marked up in code, and you can continue studying right up to advanced coding for fancy websites.
36. PandaDoc lets you upload documents and send them to clients for legally binding and secure e-signature for free. They’ve got paid plans as well, but this is a free forever plan.
37. Zoho is a simple time tracking and invoicing app that lets you start and stop timers on different projects, send invoices and receive payments (via Stripe, Paypal, check, cash, ACH, or other payment gateways).
38. Boomerang for Gmail has a free forever plan (and the paid plan is super cheap too). You can schedule a personal email to go out later. It reminds you to follow up with people you’ve sent a pitch. Managing your leads just got way easier.
Free Business Inspiration and Motivation
39. LittleZotz Writing Adventures in Freelancing by Lauren Tharp is an awesomely entertaining and educational guide to freelance writing as a job and as a lifestyle. With hand-drawn comic book images!
40. How to Influence All the Right People is a fun guide to marketing against the grain, by Gary Korisko of Reboot Authentic. If you’ve ever worried that you don’t fit in or you need to “tone yourself down”, this is your kick in the pants.
41. The Everyday Courage email challenge series from Jen Gresham at Everyday Bright starts with a video on courage-building, then gives you a small, simple bravery-boosting challenge to complete each week.
42. Me. I’m your freelance blogging resource, and you can ask me anything. Email me or leave me a comment, whatever works for you. It’s free. [If you want more than free tips, you can also book a live one-to-one mentoring session.]
Look at that: now you’ve got 52 free things to help you rock the freelance blogging world.
Don’t waste them!