22 Essential Free Blogging Tools

Are you struggling to get to grips with all the new technology that seems to be part of the blogging experience?

Heavens knows, there are enough options out there. So where do you start and how do you pick the good from the bad?

Here's a round-up of the many free tools I use daily or weekly. Rest assured that all those useless tools I've tried and wasted my time on are not included.

These tools will actually help, not hinder you, as you start your blogging journey. They will help take you from blogging newbie to confident, efficient and well-seasoned blogger.

22 Free Blogging Tools

1. WordPress

Yes, there are other blogging platforms and some of them may be easier for new computer users and non-techies to use. But none of them is better than WordPress. While WordPress may be slightly harder to get started with because it offers more options, it's well worth the time investment. WordPress is still easy to use, yet powerful enough that it can adapt to do anything you want with your blog in the future.

Like many other bloggers I started with Blogspot and then changed to WordPress. Switching blogging platforms is a pain in the bum and will lose you readers so the quicker you change to WordPress the better.

If you haven't started blogging yet then choose WordPress as your blogging platform from day one. You'll thank me for it. If you already use WordPress then congratulations – you should be set for life.

2. Gmail

I have many email addresses which all automatically send to my Gmail email account. That way I can check all my emails from anywhere, any time – even if I'm not at my computer since Gmail is web-based. I use the archive to store emails that have been replied to, labels to sort mail so, such as all invoices are stored in one place and easily browsed, and stars to highlight important emails.

Best of all every single email is backed up free of charge and I'll never need to change my email address when I change Internet Service Provider or move overseas.

3. Google Analytics

I use Google Analytics to see which of my blog posts are the most popular and check which websites send me the most readers. I also use it as a reliable source of reader demographics and site statistics which I share with advertisers and sponsors in my media kit.

4. MailChimp

Mailchimp is an email management system that tracks your email subscribers. It’s currently free up for lists with up to 2,000 subscribers which should be enough for new bloggers, then there’s a monthly charge after that. MailChimp has great statistics so you can check how many emails sent actually get opened.

5. Evernote

You can capture anything including Web pages, images, text, and voice notes with Evernote which is available as an app for your cell phone or iPad as well as web-based. Your notes can then be accessed later from just about anywhere via a computer or mobile device. You can also use Evernote search through all of your notes so you can find the information you need fast.

6. My Hours

My Hours is an online time-tracking tool to help you work out where all those hours in the day disappear to and see which tasks take more time than they should. I've just started using it to track how my time is spent in a bid to increase productivity. It seems easy to use and useful too.

7. Rapportive

Rapportive  is a free add-on to your Gmail account which shows you your contacts' LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook pages right inside your inbox. You can then connect with them on those social media sites without leaving Gmail. In other words you don't have to zip off to Twitter to follow them, Facebook to friend them and LinkedIn to connect with them. It can all be done quickly and easily from one place making you look like a consummate professional with a real interest in garnering your connections.

8. Dropbox

There are no excuses for not backing up your work now. Dropbox offers free automatic storage of all your files for up to 2GB.

9. We Transfer

WeTransfer is handy free tool for sending big files like PowerPoint presentations or videos which can't be emailed.

10. Open Office

Open Office offers free word processing, spreadsheet and database management software so you don't need to buy Microsoft Office.

11. Skype

Free phone calls all over the world, instant messaging, free video calls and free conference calls are all available once you download Skype. We live in an amazing world. Let's take advantage of it.

12. Google Docs

Blog survey results and blog survey tipsGoogle docs is handy for sharing documents online but best of all you can use it to create free online surveys with the results all shown in pretty pie charts like this one.

13. Google Calendar

Google calendar is part of Gmail. The calendar sends me reminders of my appointments every morning and I can update it from my cell phone too when I'm out and about. I've also just given my hubby access to my calendar so he can see what I'm up to without having to ask me. Hmmm, there could be some drawbacks to that though.

14. Gravatar

Have you got a little image which displays when you leave a blog comment or are you stuck with the default grey man? If you're a grey man hurry over to Gravatar (it stands for globally recognised avatars) and spend a few minutes uploading a fab photo of your dear self. This is such an important part of your online branding but one which many new bloggers overlook.

15. Google Reader

Once you have a Google email account you can use Google Reader to follow all your favourite blogs from one spot so you'll be able to find out when they're updated without actually visiting them.

16. Flickr

Search the Flickr's creative commons for photos that will make your blog posts pop like the one up top. Just be sure to add a photo credit at the end of your post.

17. PayPal

PayPal drives me nuts. Their anti-money-laundering policies are so stringent that almost everyone who ever receives payment via PayPal seems to get their entire account frozen at some point. It took us months to get it sorted out when it happened to us. But it's still the best way to send and receive money internationally which you'll need to do if you want to buy blogging resources or earn money by selling products or services through your blog.

18. Easy Clock

This is a tool in the Chrome browser which is far and away the easiest way to compare time zones and work out a time that will suit you and your overseas clients when you want to book consultations or a Skype call. First you need to download and install Chrome then add the easy clock app to it.

19. Dragon Dictation App

I've just treated myself to Dragon Naturally Speaking Premium which is speak recognition software for your computer. Yes, no more typing. The free Dragon dictation app has limited capacity but you can use it on your cell phone or tablet to record short messages or conversations which is handy.

20. Hootsuite

Hootsuite is a social media management tool that let’s you manage Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn from one dashboard. I love it because it allows you to add RSS feeds so you can auto-tweet blog posts, both your own and on other blogs. The free version lets you add two RSS feeds and will give you an idea if it's worth spending a small fee each month for the professional version.

21. Focus Booster

Focus Booster uses the Pomodoro technique to increase your productivity. It times you for 25 minutes then gives you five minutes off. Wash, rinse and repeat. Productivity magically increases and time-wasting is a thing of the past.

22. Bitcatcha Server Speed Checker

One of the most important factors in regards to your blog’s performance is its loading speed. Bitcatcha’s proprietary server speed checker tool allows users to assess their website server performance from eight locations worldwide. The test results include a benchmark of your blog’s hosting performance against the top 10,000 sites on the web.

23. Cloudwards

Cloud storage and a great way to send large files effortlessly. Check it out this post on sending large files.

24. VPN

The term VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. Basically is a series of computers networked together over the Internet.

25. Free Invoicing

Check out how to create free invoices at Invoice Home.

Now don't just read this list and bookmark it, although you should do that too. Start downloading what you need so you have all the tools at your fingertips and can get blogging faster and more efficiently than ever before.

Then getting to grips with new technology won't be such hard work, technology will be working for you.

What are your favorite blogging tools?

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Comments

  1. says

    Hi Sue,
    Awesome post – I already love so many of the tools you’ve mentioned here. I will definitely be trying out MyHours, Rapportive and WeTransfer.
    Is MailChimp the only email management system you’ve used? Have you triend Aweber? What are your pros and cons of each?

    Cheers, Caylie

    • says

      Hi Caylie,

      I haven’t tried Aweber so can’t compare them but I love that you can use MailChimp free when your blog is small and you don’t have many readers:)

  2. says

    Each one of the above tools are priceless. We should take a moment to look back and see how much they have helped us in our every day life in blogging. Thanks for sharing.

  3. says

    Thanks God I already use some of the important tools of this list. I know they are others who don’t know what to use, and the article you wrote, is a sure help :). I will tweet it!

  4. says

    Hi Sue. That’s a good list of practical tools. I use a few of them already, and you’re right, they work great. I wasn’t aware of Focus Booster, but I’ve downloaded it. I sometimes need something to police my attention span. Thanks for the recommendation.

    • says

      Hi Jason,

      I can see Focus Booster is running hot:) Works well for me with my short attention span and love of regular breaks!

  5. says

    What a great list, thank you for sharing!
    I new most of the tools, but am not using all of them as much as I should. And there are 2 or 3 new ones that I am going to check out now.

    Some great tools for bloggers, that any blogger should know about!

    • says

      Hi Renee,

      Some of them I am trying to use more too! I believe it will increase my blogging productivity:)

  6. says

    Great post Annabel, I love Google Docs too, did you know you can create free forms and embed them in your site with G Docs, and loads of other things like Excel, powerpoint, etc docs, I use a lot of the other ones you use too so handy aren’t they?
    and I use gmail to ‘cloud host’ all my emails from all my accounts, so they are all safe and sound in the ‘cloud’ if my computer gets lost, stolen or broken

    • says

      Hi Annie,

      I’ve used Google Docs for surveys and Gmail is fab. Let’s just hope Google never breaks down – then we’d be stuck!

  7. says

    This is an awesome list. Thank you for compiling it. I’m going to share it with The Blogstress Network!
    b

    • says

      Hi Barbara,

      Mwah! Thank you so much for sharing it:) That’s the best compliment.

  8. says

    Hey

    hit the nail on almost all 21 heads.

    just some clarification for your readers (as my situation is different). Step 2, Gmail.

    dEx

    • says

      Hi Dex,

      I have the domain name you list above but it forwards to my gmail account. Sorry if I’m not making sense….

      Yes, I definitely recommend people have the email address that matches their domain

  9. says

    Great list! I picked up four tools that are new to me (My Hours, Rapportive, We Transfer and Easy Clock). A tool that I have become addicted to is Notepad++. It’s a “coder’s” friend. Lots of times, I’ll find snippets of HTML or PHP code that I want to copy and paste into my site. We all know how much chaos a word processor can wreak by inserting random code that we can see. I use Notepad++ and it works like a charm.

    (BTW – Kristi Hines tweeted this and I’m glad she did! This is my first visit here.)

    • says

      Hi Sheryl,

      Great to see you hear and love finding out how you found me. Kristi is a star:)

      Thanks for the reminder about Notepad. I use that sometime too if I’ve written a post in word first.

  10. says

    Excellent “mini” list! Quite rightly, the winner is in #1 spot. Our move to WordPress has been a huge winner on every front: simplicity of use / upload, easier picture attachment, data stoarge, website integration, co-branding, clean easy to read layout….and endless good feedback and commentary. Got my gold star!!

    Still can’t really figure out Twitter, but the combination of an integrated blog/website, Twitter and all linked together and posted 24/7 through Hootsuite is a winning combination for Paradise Rescued.

    Bets wishes, thanks as always,

    David, Paradise Rescued

    • says

      Hi David,

      So glad you’re loving WordPress. Play around with Twitter, don’t give up on it yet. Although you may end up finding you prefer Facebook or something else in the end. I do love the simplicity of Twitter though:)

  11. says

    Hi Sue,

    Love the list. The only drawback I’ve found so far with Dragon is that it can’t transcribe an interview (recorded or live) – to clarify that, doesn’t transcribe both sides of the interview – as it hasn’t been ‘trained’ to understand the other person’s voice. Now if it did that I think I’d marry it 🙂

    • says

      Hi Di,

      Interesting. I’ve bought it but it hasn’t arrived yet! Can’t wait to try it out:)

      • says

        Hi,
        Please, please let me know if you figure out away to prove me wrong…
        I’d love to get it to transcribe an entire interview properly (obviously some editing needed) rather than English from me and gobbeldee-gook from the other side!
        PS: Be patient training it. It’s a bit like toilet-training – very messy at first, lots of cleaning up and frustration, but improves over time. 🙂

  12. says

    Fabulous list I have saved this as a document for further reference. Many thanks.

  13. says

    Excellent stuff Those all are great tools. I love the Rapportive & Skype. Both are awesome tools and are my favorite.

    Some other great tools are MarketMeSuite, Bufferapp, Blokube and JustRetweet.

    Just found your blog through shimelle’s blog.

    -Dev

    • says

      Hi Dev,

      Oh you have some interesting sounding blogging tools there. Will be checking them out, thanks for the tips!

  14. says

    Thats a great list of what to use when blogging! Some of them I have already used, some of them I want to look into! Funny but I have always preferred WordPress compared to Blogger or any other platform 🙂

    Cheers
    Lisa

  15. says

    Thanks for sharing all of these wonderful tools!

    Now, excuse me, I’ve got work to do, thanks 2U!

  16. says

    Good article! I really like the idea of My Hours, seems like a very useful tool.

  17. says

    Thanks Sue just devoured your 21 essential tools for bloggers blog. I was relieved to know that I knew and used a fair few of them as well as inspired to try out some new ones such as google reader. I also think your 12 steps to successful blogging book is a must have. Loved it. Jo

  18. Julia says

    One great free tool for blogging is behappy.me, you can find any quote to enhance your blog post, plus it already comes with a great design, adding visual value to your blog.

  19. Michelle says

    Great list. Now what we need next is an article on each tool and how it is best used, transitioning to it from competing options, pitfalls and how to deal with it, and what is needed from providing resources to make each one better. Kind of a deep dive on blogger resources now that we have the master list.

  20. Pauline says

    Ever grateful!

  21. says

    You make money for two reasons; to pay your bills and to do things you love. Brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, grandparents and grandchildren may all find themselves employed in a family business.
    Google Analytics tracks all traffic sources to your site, not just Adwords and has much more demographic information about your web visitors.

  22. says

    Great list, Keep updating the list if more tools available in the future:)
    Thanks

  23. says

    Thank you for sharing all the basic list for blogging. Just started finding out with what I can do with blogging and vice-versa. Pretty sure all these will help me as a beginner. Saved the list in my file to make it handy. I appreciate the way you can respond to all comments in a personal manner with your visitors and subscribers. I wonder how I will be able to cope up like this. Their tips are also interesting as well.

    Michael
    Michael Navalta recently posted…10 Sure-Fire Editing Tips That Work For BloggersMy Profile

    • says

      I’m so glad it will be of help to you, Michael. Thanks for the compliment on my response to comments. I believe it’s important to know what your readers are thinking and to encourage back and forth discussion.

      Let me know if you need hlep with your new blog. Thanks for commenting today!
      Sue

  24. says

    Nice tools for bloggers and I still using these essential tools regularly. Your post help to know beginning bloggers about these tools.
    Thanks Sue

  25. says

    I’m a beginner blogger and am happy i have found this article. Thanks for the help, Sue.

  26. says

    Great post. I especially like how you highlighted and linked to all of your recommended resources. Very helpful. Extremely easy to scan for quick reference.

  27. says

    I love this collection of blogging tools. Most of theme i used to. Thanks!

  28. says

    I really enjoyed the post and I love this collection of blogging tools. Every blogger should have these!! Your post help to know beginning bloggers about these tools. I’m a beginner blogger and am happy i have found this article. very informative. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing this useful and effective info with us.

    I hope you’re having a great week.

    Happy Blogging 🙂

  29. says

    Instead of Hootsuite, I use buffer which comes with flawless UI and also it has Google analtics integration.

    Expect that I use most of tools I use in my daily life.

  30. says

    Hi Sue Anne! Awesome post, really useful!

    Have you heard about rawpixel? You’ve probably seen our images all over the place. We’re the leading stock photo contributor in the world. We’ve just launched our website where we give away the best free design resources out there.

    Check us out on http://www.rawpixel.com. Looking forward to you joining our community of creatives.

    BE INSPIRED. BE RAW.

    Nica

  31. says

    Hi Sue,

    Awesome list of tools, I already some of them. However, I’ve never heard of Rapportive. It looks pretty cool and I may have to check it out.

    Focus Booster looks pretty cool as well. I am always looking for tips and tools that I can use to help me improve my productivity. I’ll definitely have to check this one out.

    Thanks for taking the time to share these tools, I know that they will help a lot of new bloggers out.

    – Susan

    • says

      You are so welcome, Susan. You’ll enjoy both of them.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment!
      Sue

  32. says

    Wow – thanks Sue! Some brilliant tools here, some known but forgotten and in need of a polish whilst others completely unknown to me and now seemingly unreplaceable. Thanks for sharing.

    – Mike

  33. says

    Hi Sue, this is such a handy list for the blogger community! Not sure if you guys are always in need of free images but if you ever do – we have a collection on http://www.rawpixel.com. They are commercially licensed and model released.

    Also, if you’re ever doing a “Free Image Sites” list, hope you can keep us in mind.

    Keep up the great work!

  34. says

    Thank you for these lists, Sue.

    I add more 15 tools to the list above in one of my blog posts. Among the added tools are:

    Quora
    LongTailPro
    Grammarly
    Quicksprout analyser
    Google analytics…etc.

    You can read the 15 additional tools here where I stated what each of these tools is used for.
    I bet you would find them more interesting.

  35. says

    Hi, Sue!
    Thank you for a great post! As well as usual, really )
    I’m a teacher and child psychologist. Recently I have started my own little blog about education and parenting. And I can say that it’s not so easy as it may seems. Sometimes it’s hard to find quality content.
    Thank God for a sea of tools for bloggers 😉
    Also for such newcomers in blogging world as me, I want to recommend such tools as unicheck.com – it’s an useful plagiarism checker that makes your blog unique.
    And I’m in love with answerthepublic.com that helps to make your content an actual and interesting for your readers.
    Best regards, Mick.

  36. says

    Hi Sue,
    Great list of free tools. I have just started a blog and I think HootSuite will reduce my work.
    Thanks,
    Lokender

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