Blog on a Budget: 58 Resources to Get You Blogging without Breaking the Bank

Blogging doesn’t have to be expensive. You don’t have to splurge for a fancy website, or ads, or fancy social media promotion, or even a complicated email service. If you want to invest in those things eventually, then by all means – the big bloggers out there endorse these things for a reason.

But unless you’re a start-up with a bunch of capital ready to invest, it can be hard to digest the idea of dropping $100 or more on something when you don’t know how much you’ll enjoy it or how well it will do. And even if you have the fancy tools, if you’re just starting you might not have the know-how to put those resources to good use.

That was what prompted me to create this list. When I began blogging myself, I spent money on things I probably shouldn’t have, and wasted time with things that weren’t helping me as much as I thought they would. I wanted a list like this – an easier way to learn the ins and outs of blogging without spending a bunch of money.

Over the many years I’ve been blogging, I’ve done a lot of research, and collected a lot of resources, and I’m sharing them with you today in the hopes that it will inspire you to start that blog you’ve always dreamed of starting or to level up an older blog that could use some TLC.

Here is a list of 58 resources for blogging without spending a ton of money.

Table of Contents

how to start a blog on a budget, free stock photo sites, free wordpress themes
Image credit: Andrew Neel

For some of these resources, I will have recommendations – these are the services that I use and endorse, and so I have referral links associated with them. I do not earn any money from these, but if you decide to use the service I recommend, we both receive credits. If you have any questions, please consult my affiliate disclosure.

The Truth About Blogging

Blogging is unique in that there are many free and inexpensive resources out there, and a low barrier to entry. If you can write even decently well, you easily start a blog. You don’t need anything fancy like you might with Youtube, Tiktok, or Instagram.

But it’s important to keep in mind that those more visual platforms also draw a much bigger audience and more engagement. If you want to make money or build a business that involves your blog, you’ll have to consider your audience, and how your blog will fulfill some need in that niche.

Ask yourself why you want to start a blog and what your goals are.

Do you have inspiring personal stories you want to share with the world? Are there tips and tricks in your industry that you want to write about? Are you an expert in certain fields and you want to educate others? Are you doing this because you want to write? Because you want to try something new? Is this a hobby or are you trying to build a business? Are you starting a side hustle or do you want to make a six figure income from your blog every year?

You want to come up with a mission statement, a mantra, or slogan – something that encapsulates what your blog is about and what you hope to accomplish with it. Maybe come up with a schedule because it is a fact that more consistent blogs do better. Make sure it is something you feel you are capable of committing to because while blogging is a lot of fun, especially when you talk with others in your niche and you get engagement from your audience, it is also a lot of work. Understanding why you want to do it and what your goals are is going to inform how much you’re really willing to spend.

Set a Budget

Now that you have that figured out, the most important step when it comes to anything involving money – set yourself a budget. Figure out what can you afford, and what you are willing to spend on your blog. And if that number happens to be a big ol’ robin’s egg – don’t worry I’ve got you covered! While not everything on this list is free, I’ve included free options for pretty much every category.

Be realistic, and aim low. If you give yourself a big budget, it’ll be a lot easier to find things to spend it on. Leverage your own skill set and see what you think you can do, and what you want to leave in the hands of others.

Adapt and Learn

If this is your first time starting a blog, what you write about might change. You might shift into another niche or pivot the format of your content. The purpose behind your blog might change, as mine has, even if it’s only in small and subtle ways. You can and should change your blog as you gain experience and grow.

Remember that no matter what you pay for, it’s not going to instantly make your blog a success. Your mileage will vary depending on your personal skill set, and how much time you can invest in learning how to use the resources I’m about to list. Free resources are great – I’ve used many to build my blog – but the best way to learn how to blog is to get out there, get started, and acquire new skills along the way.

Point is, if you can’t afford to put together a super professional-looking blog, you don’t have to. Let it grow with you, and upgrade when you feel you need to or when you feel it is affordable to do so.

I have a lot of resources here, some of which are paid (though very cheap), but many of them are free or have free options. Please keep in mind that when you are using a product or plan that is free, there will likely be limitations, so make sure you are comfortable with them before you decide to sign up.

free resources for starting a blog
Image credit: Christin Hume

The Essentials

Why You Should Buy a Domain for Your Blog

If there is one thing I think you should consider spending your money on, it’s a domain name. Hosting is a close second, but we’ll talk about that later. When it comes right down to it, having a domain name just looks better, and when you’re competing against Instagram, Youtube, and Tiktok, all very visual platforms, you need to look as professional as you can.

And that starts with the link you throw into every profile and drop into every social media post. If your blog ends in .wordpress.com or .weebly.com or something to that effect, it just won’t look professional. It doesn’t matter how nice the rest of your blog is, the reality is that the URL will be the first thing someone sees.

If you opt for a managed service like Wix or WordPress, they will likely have a domain service already, so you can purchase one and use it right away. As they are part of the same platform it will be easier to integrate if you want to avoid the hassle. It may also cost you more, of course.

At the moment, I am paying for my domain through WordPress.com for that reason, and altogether it comes to $26 USD per year (or roughly $2.17 a month). I am also using a premium plan, and I find it easier personally just to keep everything together. There are cheaper options out there if you look around – don’t feel you have to go with the management service you are using.

If you want to save the money but are interested in purchasing a domain for your blog, I’d recommend Name Cheap, as I’ve seen yearly costs of less than $10. If you decide to search out a cheaper alternative (like the ones on NameCheap, for instance) you will have to redirect the domain to your blog yourself. I have only ever worked with GoDaddy, and from my experience, the process is relatively straightforward, but it’s certainly not a mere click of a button.

Always keep in mind that there are additional fees when purchasing a domain! You are probably going to want to purchase some privacy protection which will not be built into the cost. A domain might run you $10 to $20 a year but the privacy protection will be an additional cost on top of that (which usually ends up being an additional $10 to $15 per year you own the domain).

Third-Party Management vs. Hosting Yourself

Now that you’ve got the domain out of the way, you’re going to need somewhere to physically publish your blog if you want to get your writing out there. There are two ways to do this.

The first involves using managed services like WordPress, Medium, or Squarespace. The sorts of tools they may have will vary, but they all allow you to publish your writing onto the internet with the click of a button. A lot of the back-end managing is handled by someone else, so you can focus on the writing.

The second is to purchase a hosting service. You are required to do all of the work, and you pay a service to “host” your blog. Hosting is highly recommended because it means that you have complete control over everything. It’s also one of the main reasons people encourage it in the first place – if WordPress, Blogger, or Medium decided to shut everything down tomorrow, you’d lose everything.

At least in theory. If I’m being honest, I don’t see why that should deter you from using their services. There will always be some risk associated with using someone else’s platform, even if you do carve out your own little space and community within it. It’s perfectly acceptable to use free services to get started and find your footing.

But if you are worried that these websites will disappear tomorrow and take all your content with them, I have a few suggestions you might want to consider:

1. Back-Up Your Writing

Whether that’s in Google docs or saved files on a usb drive, keep hard copies of all your finished posts (and drafts, depending on how you like to write) safely stored away somewhere else. Maybe multiple places if you like to be careful. You could also use software like Notion, or Evernote so everything is organized by date and more easily searchable.

2. Export Your Blog Regularly

Several of the management services will allow you to download your blog in its entirety – all of the posts you’ve written, the pictures you’ve uploaded to it, and the comments left by your readers. If and when you do decide to host your blog yourself, you’ll need to do this anyway if you plan to migrate everything over. Exporting can be done at any time, so you can regularly keep a back-up on hand should the ax inevitably fall.

best free blog sites

If you go with third-party management, pay attention to terms and services. Because you are using their platform, it means you are playing by their rules. Your content will always belong to you, but that doesn’t mean that you aren’t granting them a license to use it in some capacity.

If you do decide to host, remember that if something breaks, it’s up to you to fix it. You’ll need to stay up to date on any plugins you decide to integrate as well. It can be a huge headache if you’re a beginner and just starting out, and especially if you aren’t tech-savvy.

While hosting itself is not terribly expensive at the start, there are many plugins like Yoast SEO and Akismet that you have to pay for, so the costs can quickly add up. Always keep your budget in mind. If you’re comfortable with getting in the mud and building from scratch, there is a lot of versatility with hosting, and you don’t have to break the bank. The only difference between this and the free services is that you have to pay to play. There are no free options when it comes to hosting.

NOTE: Notion does not natively support domain redirects, but some very clever people out there have created plugins that can turn your publicly shared notion page into a clean and classy blog:
  • Fruition (Free)
  • Host Notion (Paid)
  • Super.so (Paid)
  • My Recommendation for Beginners: Free WordPress.com Plan + Domain

    I admit to some bias as I’ve been using WordPress for many years, but it is my platform of choice. It has lots of amazing free themes and a robust builder. It also has a lot of fun features for optimizing your blog posts, including a variety of SEO-friendly features like descriptions, keywords, and URL tags.

    Some beautiful free themes include:

    It offers you a ton of flexibility before you pay a dime. The trade-off is that it’s nowhere near as user-friendly as some of the other websites I’ve listed.

    That being said, WordPress powers a lot of self-hosted websites as well, so it’s a great way of getting used to how the platform works before you move on to something bigger. You can purchase a domain for very cheap, and have it redirect to your free WordPress blog.

    Speaking as someone who has used the platform for a while now, I think it’s the best option for people who are just starting their blogging journey and trying to keep costs low. Their plans are affordable, and their customer service is excellent. If you do decide to purchase a plan, you can use my referral code by clicking here, and earn some extra credits! You’ll also be helping to support me and the blog!

    how to start a blog on wordpress
    Image credit: Scott Graham

    Create an Eye-Catching Blog

    As I mentioned before, if you want to compete with the more visual social media out there, you’re going to want a visually interesting blog. That includes the colours you use, the fonts, the headers, the featured images on every post, your logo – even your icons.

    There are a lot of amazing themes and website builders out there now, but you’re going to want to bring something more unique than their standard stock photography. You need to spice it up – infuse it with your unique personality and brand!

    Note: Always remember to check the terms and conditions! Make sure you know which license is being offered and give credit to what you use! Even if it isn't required, it's a nice way to pay it forward for those who offer their stuff for free.

    Fonts and Graphics

    If you want to create a logo or header for your blog, you might want to search out a new font to suit your brand and audience. Listed below are a bunch of sites full of beautiful and free fonts, but I also included a few graphic markets where you can purchase fonts, textures, illustrations, and more without spending a lot of money! Some of the graphics on these websites cost as little as $1, and all of them have at least some resources you can use for free!

    where to find free Stock Photos

    If you take a look at some of your favourite blogs, they probably have clean, professional-looking photographs that enhance their content. And unless you happen to have an expensive camera lying around, and some time to learn how to use it, such a thing can seem out of reach for a beginner looking to save some money.

    And the hard truth is that your blog needs images. It doesn’t need a ton, of course, but images make it look more professional, help set your tone, and build your brand. They’re eye-catching and all but necessary for social media. They tell readers what the content is about before they even read the title.

    There are lots of amazing, high-quality stock shops out there, but they are also expensive. I’ve found (and regularly use) a few websites where you can find amazing, professional-looking stock photography for free!

    All of the sites listed below have completely free stock photos ready for you to download and use. No free trials, or paywalls, and all of them have, in my humble opinion, a very high level of quality – lots of nice photos on these websites to get you started.

    free stock photo sites

    best Photo Editors for new bloggers

    Before you slap those glossy stock photos all over the internet, you might want to consider learning your way around a photo editor. Not only can you easily customize dimensions for various social media platforms, but you can create a ‘look’ for your blog. Many of these have certain features locked behind subscription plans, but I’ve tested out most of the free options and they work great!

    Editing your stock images is great for customizing the look of your website, tweaking colours and filters to complement your tone and brand. Depending on the theme you use, you might also want to alter it so it looks as good as possible when someone visits your blog.

    My Recommendation: Canva

    There is a good reason why Canva is universally recommended. It’s incredibly versatile and easy to use, even without a subscription. The templates are awesome, and you have access to a ton of fonts and graphics, even on the free plan. I would recommend Canva if you are just starting out and want an easy-to-use and super versatile photo editor that also doesn’t cost you anything.

    And if you do decide to use it, I also have a handy-dandy referral code you can use to earn credits at no extra cost, so you can try out Canva’s premium features without spending a dime!

    Editing Your Blog Posts

    You don’t have to be the best writer in the world to have your own blog – far from it. But if your content is riddled with typos and simple grammatical errors, it’s going to come across as rushed and amateurish, regardless of how much work you actually put into the post.

    All it takes is one obvious error to undo a reader’s confidence in you. It might seem like an afterthought, but no matter how excited you are about churning out those blog posts, give them that time and attention. It goes a long way to improving the experience of your blog as well as your credibility.

    I run all of my drafts through several rounds of edits, and I know I still miss things. We’re only human, and our familiarity with our writing is going to make it harder to find those errors. Thankfully there are some free tools online to give your posts the final polish before you send them out the door:

    • Hemmingway – Amazing for readability and it can point out confusing or run-on sentences
    • Grammarly – A super handy grammar and punctuation checker that you can install into Google Chrome
    Image credit: Nick Morrison

    Driving Traffic to Your Blog

    Once you’ve got your blog set up, your images in order, and your posts ready for publishing, you’re going to need to get the word out there. There are millions of blogs on the internet right now, and it’s not easy to stand out from the crowd and drive the right people towards yours.

    There are plenty of ways you can do this, and this is where the free resources can really be invaluable. A lot of the services I’m going to list have paid plans, which you might be interested in using at some point, but they also have limited free plans to get you started.

    Promoting Your Blog with Social Media

    The easiest way to promote your blog is with social media – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. They’re free to sign up, you’re probably using one of them already anyway, and you can immediately begin posting.

    Now, you can log in every day and post manually – use the right keywords and research the right hashtags to make sure you’re reaching the right audience. If it sounds tedious that’s because it is. It’s also not going to be feasible for everyone, especially bloggers with busy lives who can barely carve out the time to write.

    Enter the social media management tool. With one of these, you can schedule your posts or tweets with all the relevant links and images well in advance, so you don’t have to worry about jumping in every day to do it yourself.

    There are a lot of paid tools out there for this, and unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything free that worked with Pinterest, but I did find several that work with Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook:

    Note: If you were looking to use Pinterest as a promotion tool, you can schedule your own pins in advance on Pinterest itself. This will not work with repinned content.

    Free Options for Creating a Landing page and Building an email list

    We are heading into more intermediate blogging territory, but if you are interested in starting a business or monetizing your blog, you probably want to start an email list. In case you’re unaware, an email list is exactly that – someone gives you their email, usually in exchange for something (free printable, behind-the-scenes access, etc) so you have a direct line of contact between you and what should, in theory, be your ideal audience. This means that when you publish a new post, you can directly email the people who are already the most interested in hearing from you – after all, they gave you that email for a reason!

    But how do you get them to give you their email? You need something called a lead magnet, of course – something you offer up in exchange for that email. But you also need a place that automates that exchange, and this is called a landing page.

    I’m not going to go into lead magnets – what you offer could vary wildly depending on your blogging goals and niche, but if you’re interested in growing your email list, aside from creating a popup for your blog and including various links at the bottom of your post, the best way to try and target the right audience is by luring them in with an offer they can’t refuse.

    Email marketing is expensive, but thankfully there are a lot of websites that offer free plans up to a certain subscriber count and/or monthly email limit. If you are hosting your own website, you can create a landing page simply enough, but just in case you opt for a third-party service, many of the websites I’ve listed here also include options for building your landing page as well!

    email marketing free plan

    Find Keywords and Improve Your Blog SEO for Free

    Going even deeper down the rabbit hole, using the right keywords and optimizing your blog’s SEO is vital for making your site discoverable. When someone searches something on Google, you want to show up there – so you need to know to do it and what people are searching for.

    What is SEO? What are Keywords?

    I’ll preface this by stating that I’m no expert, but I can at least provide a simple explanation. SEO is Search Engine Optimization – it involves a whole bunch of things, but it’s basically what determines your ranking in a search engine, like Google. If you want organic traffic, it’s important to be higher up in the ranks so you appear nearest the top of the search results, because those typically get the most clicks. Your keywords are your search terms – the things people are typing into that search engine. You want your website to rank for those keywords so that people can find you more easily.

    SEO is a bit tricky, but keywords are fairly easy to incorporate, especially if you have a niche. But you’ll need to figure out which keywords you want your blog to rank for.

    I’ve collected a lot of resources you can use to help you find those keywords and test the ones you might want to use for a blog post or three. Some of these have premium plans but allow for a set number of searches per day. Use them wisely!

    Note: Google Search Console and Analytics may not work if you use a third-party service but don’t own a domain. If my research is correct, that should not be an issue with WordPress and Blogger accounts. If you’re interested in integrating either of these SEO tools, I’d do some research with your preferred blogging platform.

    Blog Maintenance

    Now that you’ve got this big list of amazing tools to get your blog up and running, don’t forget the most important part – upkeep! It’s important to keep your blog updated, not only for your SEO but for your readers! As you continue to blog, you will get better, and you can go back and give your old posts a fresh coat of paint!

    I’ve got a list of 14 Ways to Keep Your Blog Updated so you’ll have some ideas for where to begin.

    Don’t forget – the best way to learn how to blog is to get out there and do it. And hopefully, these resources will make it that much easier to get started!

    Happy Blogging!

    Let’s Chat!

    Did you find any of these resources helpful? Have any resources to add to the list? Let me know what your blogging goals are in the comments below!

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