21+ 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 free blogging 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.

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, anytime – 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 a free blogging tool 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. FlipBook Plugin for WordPress

Content repurposing, especially in the form of visual content, is a great way to keep your blog fresh and updated and it’s one of the best online strategies. Additionally, creating an eBook from the blog, especially creating a flip book is one of the most effective and attention-grabbing technique. 

Here is a Flipbook WordPress Plugin that lets you create amazing interactive content, you can share polished, highly visual content.

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

Google docs are 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. (if you want to stay away from Google, check this out.)

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13. Google Calendar

Google calendar is part of Gmail. The calendar sends me reminders of my appointments every morning and I can update it on 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 recognized 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 favorite 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 speech 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 lets 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. Pixel Privacy has a good post about them at “What Is A VPN and What Does It Do”.

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? 

75 thoughts on “21+ Essential Free Blogging Tools”

  1. 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

    • 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. 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.

    • Hi Jason,

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

  3. Hey

    hit the nail on almost all 21 heads.

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


    • 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

  4. 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.)

    • 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.

  5. 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

    • 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:)

  6. 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 🙂

      • 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. 🙂

  7. 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!

  8. 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!

  9. 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

    • 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!

  10. 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.


    • Hi Dev,

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

  11. 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 🙂



  12. 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

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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 Navalta recently posted 10 Sure-Fire Editing Tips That Work For BloggersMy Profile

  17. 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!

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

  19. 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 🙂

  20. 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.

  21. 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.



  22. 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

  23. 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

  24. 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!

  25. 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.

  26. Hi Sue,

    Great list of free tools. I have just started a blog and I think HootSuite will reduce my work.



  27. Comprehensive List, SUE,

    Most of the tools you mentioned are probably I'm using myself and I do recommend it to my blog readers & fellow bloggers but in addition to this list, I would like to list some of the tools I use but are not listed here. And, I hope you are going to like it.

    1. Grammarly (The best Tool for Writers)

    2. Canva (Free Graphic Editor with Ready-Made Templates)

    3. Payoneer (An alternative to Paypal, in case Paypal is not available to you)

    4. CoSchedule Headline Analyzer (The Tool bloggers should use)

    BTW, Thank you for the top-notch tools you listed, Sue.

    Yasar Ali recently posted Best Blogging Tools & Resources [Free + Premium Expert Collection]My Profile

  28. 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!

  29. Far and away, WordPress is the best blogging platform Sue. Not even close. I likely commented on this post but had to stop in again to comment and RT 🙂

  30. One of the tools I love the most is ahref, this is something I can't work without. Even if I work without it, would take a lot of time. I also love using outreach based tools to ease up my guest post process. Thanks for the blog post, worth reading !

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