When I first looked into starting a blog I could not find any free guides/resources. All the eBooks, courses, and printables cost a ridiculous amount. Me, being a broke college student, I was determined to spend less than $100!
So, I looked even further & did a ton of research to find great free + low-cost resources!
Now, I’m still considered a newbie in the blogging world, but I’ve learned so much & I’m so excited to share it with you all!
Through this post, I’ll share with you all the free & low-cost tools I used to start my blog for under $100!
This post contains affiliate links which help me keep this blog running for you guys! I would never recommend a product that I have not researched and truly advocate for!
Build an Amazing Blog on a Small Budget
From the start, you should invest in a self-hosted blog. I know you don’t want to spend a ton of money, but investing from the beginning will save you so much grief later on! Your blog will look much more professional and bring in more readers. This means more companies and other bloggers will want to work with you!
The first things I purchased for my blog:
- I paid $14.92 for the domain name for the year & I pay $3.92/month for the hosting! The best part of A2 Hosting for those of you with small budgets is that you can pay on a month-month basis (which is great if you have a small budget to start).
- They have amazing 24/7 support that I swear by. I messed up the code on my blog & completely locked myself out of everything. The support staff totally saved my butt!
-Here are some other amazing hosting sites if A2 isn’t a fit for you:
-Choosing a theme
- I highly recommend checking out Creative Market! They have amazing themes from only $2!! (You are going to want to choose a responsive theme so it works on all devices).
- I am using the Valentia Theme from Creative Market on my blog currently. It cost me $40 and was the most expensive part of starting my blog thus far!
-Here are some of my favorite themes on Creative Market:
- Linda, a stylish & responsive theme ($39)
- Mila, clean & minimal theme great for bloggers + shops ($29)
- WhiteRock, elegant & classic responsive theme ($20)
- Eclair, feminine & minimal theme, especially great for food bloggers ($8)
- OdierLite, simple & elegant responsive theme ($2)
- Meraki, simple & clean responsive theme ($24)
- Fixie, minimal & responsive theme ($6)
That’s all I initially spent on my blog $58.84! I could have spent less, but I did not do enough research into themes beforehand.
At this point, it is completely avoidable to spend any more money on starting your blog! So I’ll share with you all the free tools you can use to build the rest of your blog!
Writing & Image Editing Tools
- I’ve been using Grammarly for years. It has saved my life in school countless times! I have the worst grammar! I highly recommend checking out Grammarly if you’re anything like me!
- It is a free grammar & spelling proofreader. It also provides suggestions on making your writing more concise. All you have to do is install it on your web browser! I’m honestly obsessed with it and like, I said, it’s free!
I use a few free apps + sites to edit my photos:
- I’m pretty sure everyone knows about VSCO at this point, it’s amazing & super easy to use! Probably the best free app for photo editing out there. You don’t need to pay for any of the extra filters, you can create amazing photos with the free ones!
- If you want some filters/settings to try out on your photos check out my Pinterest board full of amazing+free VSCO filter/settings
- Canva is the BEST way to create graphics for your blog! Almost every image you see on my blog was made using Canva! It’s 100% free for all the basic elements. You can totally avoid paying for any of the extra elements and still create amazing graphics!
- Snapseed is a completely free & absolutely amazing app! In my opinion, it is a great free dupe for Lightroom!
An email list is a great way to build a loyal following & connect with even more with your readers! It also makes ensures that people are prompted to return to your blog. I have a newsletter which, if you sign up for it, you get access to my FREE Resource Library!
2 of the most popular mailing list options are:
- I use Mailchimp for my newsletter & I really like it! It’s very easy to customize the forms & the emails. You get your first 2,000 subscribers free which is amazing!!
- MailerLite is another popular site people use their mailing list. I don’t have personal experience with MailerLite, but I’ve heard great things! You get your first 1,000 subscribers free!
Social Media Scheduling
- Trust me, you will save so much time & your sanity if you schedule some of your social media posts!
- Hootsuite is an amazing app & website that allows you to schedule your social media posts! The first 3 accounts you connect are free! I mainly use it for my Twitter account.
- Hootsuite is an amazing way to keep traffic coming to your older content by scheduling dates in the future to post!
-Preview (for Instagram)
- I use the free version of the app Preview to schedule my Instagram content! It allows you to layout your feed ahead of time, which is great if you are trying to maintain a theme for your feed! It cannot automatically post the photos to Instagram, but it sends you a reminder of when to post. It also has analytics & some filters you can use for free!
- BoardBooster is one of the 2 most popular Pinterest automation tools. It allows you to create campaigns, schedule, and loop your pins. Get 100 free pins by signing up through my link! After the free trial, you can choose to pay anything from $5 for 500 pins/month to $50 for 5,000 pins/month.
- Tailwind is the another one of the 2 most popular Pinterest automation tools! It allows you to see analytics & also has the amazing Tailwind Tribes feature (also free). The free trial for Tailwind includes up to 100 published pins. To get a $15 credit on top of the free trial sign up using my link! For the pro version of Tailwind Tribes, it is $15/month.
-Maven is an excellent way to make money on your blog + social media accounts! It essentially a Pinterest for products, you can create boards & share them on social media! You can also clip products from their list of affiliates and get your own link which you earn from!
Essential WordPress Plugins
Plugins are an amazing way to customize your blog! Here’s a list of a few plugins I consider essential to my blog!
- This plugin allows you to add a Bloglovin’ widget to your sidebar. You can also use the shortcode that the plugin generates to add the Bloglovin’ button anywhere on your blog. Plus it’s completely free!
- This is the only font plugin I’ve found that is 100% free & actually works well. There are some issues with it, but it works pretty well for being completely free. You can upload fonts & use preloaded Google fonts through this plugin. There is no limit on how many fonts you can add to your blog!
- This plugin is completely free & allows you to add a “Pin It” button to your photos. Readers just need to hover over the photo and click the button! It’s so simple, but a total necessity!!
- This plugin allows you to add sign up forms to your blog that are connected to you MailChimp lists! It is essential if you want to grow your newsletter!
Mia’s Messy Life
In case you didn’t know, my blog is chalked full of resources for bloggers! I write at least two blogging related posts each month. I also publish monthly income reports (starting August 2017)!
Blogging Resources from Mia’s Messy Life:
- Blogging Resource Library
- Exclusive Content Library for Newsletter Subscribers
- Income Reports (Coming Soon)
My exclusive content library, for my email subscribers, is updated monthly with tips + tricks, freebies, exclusive deals, and exclusive content. The resources provided in my exclusive content library are for blogging, lifestyle, college, and travel!
If this guide has helped you in any way then please pin or share it!
I’d love to hear from you! Did you try anything listed in this guide? What are your favorite blogging tools? Let me know!
Live, Learn, Wander- Mia xx