All authors should have a website or blog! It makes you look professional and gives readers a place to enjoy more of your writing. In fact, Forbes did an article last year, Websites Are The New Resumes — Here’s Why You Need One that explained why you should start one. Blogs not only show off your work, but they are also a way to make a little side money to which you can then invest back into your writing. There are a lot of resources on the web to help you out with creating a professional-looking site.
No matter your reasons why for maintaining a blog, you’ll want to take advantage of what all these sites have to offer.
For an editing app, add Google’s Grammarly extension to your browser. Grammarly has a free and paid version. The free version highlights spelling, grammatical, and punctuation errors. The paid version is well worth the investment. It goes further and alerts you if you start too many sentences with the same word, use unnecessary words or phrases, and it also alerts you of hard to read sentences. Both versions highlight words and give you synonyms to use which is great when you need to mix things up a bit. They have sales throughout the year so be sure to keep an eye out for that.
Need a second pair of eyes to point out grammatical errors or hard to read sentences? Before you give beta readers a chance to read your piece, plug your copy into the Hemingway Editor. This free online tool highlights errors for you similar to Grammarly. It doesn’t go into as much detail as Grammarly. But Hemingway is a great resource for those who aren’t ready for a professional editor. We like using this for blogging in particular. Hemingway points out sentences in past tense which is great for freelance writers who have clients that are strict about using past tense!
Readability Score is similar to Hemingway and is something that all bloggers should check out. There are free and paid versions. The difference with the paid version is that you can score a website’s copy without the hassle of copying and pasting all of the text into the app. You can simply direct Readability Score to your website and it will “grade” your copy.
Graphic Design Tools
Graphic design? But wait… I’m a writer. No problem! These tools are for those who want interesting images without the hassle of hiring someone else to create them.
Canva is great tool that all bloggers should take advantage of. They have templates that allow you to easily create images for all social media platforms so you can promote your posts! They offer stock images as well, but you have to pay for them. Keep reading below to see where you can find free images.
Another site where you can follow templates to create social media memes, infographics, and so on is Piktochart. Once you log in, you’ll quickly see how similar it is to Canva. Both are easy to use and require little direction or training. Make a splash and show off your blog and start promoting yourself online with amazing graphics that you get to design!
Stock Images and Videos
Attention Bloggers! We can not stress this enough! We’ve heard of too many bloggers getting letters of demand because they used a copyrighted photo or video. Shutterstock is probably the most well-known site for copyright-free stock images. The downside? You have to pay for it. Luckily, there are plenty of sites that have free stock photos and videos available to use to make your blog look amazing!
Creative Commons is probably one of our favorite sites to go to when looking for stock images. Why? Because it searches all of the sites below for copyright-free images. It is like a one-stop-shop! It also finds images with different types of licenses and each image is specified for how you can use them. As in, you have permission to edit the image or not. We highly recommend checking it out!
Flickr browses the internet and collects photos that bloggers can use. As stated on their site, they have two main goals:
- We want to help people make their photos available to the people who matter to them.
- We want to enable new ways of organizing photos and video.
You can create an account or download images for free. Keep in mind that these photos are from amateur or new photographers so some of the images aren’t always the best quality. However, if you are looking for an image of a celebrity or are having trouble finding an image of a local landmark, you’ll probably have better luck on Flickr of finding a copyright-free image.
We absolutely love Pexels’ mission statement: “We help millions of designers, writers, artists, programmers and other creators to get access to beautiful photos that they can use freely which empowers them to create amazing products, designs, stories, websites, apps, art and other work. We call it: ‘Empowering Creators.'” A great supportive community with photos and videos that add a whole new dimension to your site.
For free images, Pixaby is similar to creative commons where it combines many of the images from other photo sites across the web. We like how easy they make it to attribute the photo to the owner! They also offer copyright-free videos that can add that something extra to your blog or YouTube channel.
The free images on Stock Snap are available to use for business websites, print brochures, crafting a digital or magazine ad, or whatever you need the photo for! We like how they categorize the photos right up front, making searches a bit more fun. It can also spark using a different photo idea than what you originally thought of.
Unsplash has high-quality photos that are tough to beat!
If you want to add a little music to your site or to your YouTube channel, Bensound has royalty-free music to use. The site was created by Benjamin TISSOT, a composer from France who has been creating music for more than 10 years. Bensound offers the following sounds: Acoustic, folk, cinematic, corporate, pop, electronica, urban, groove, jazz, rock, and world. Licensing depends on what you plan to use the music for. Free downloads require you to credit the website. You can only use a free download for your multimedia project (online videos (Youtube, Facebook, websites, animations, etc.). You can not use free tracks for audiobooks, podcasts, song-making, or remixes. If you plan to use the music for any of that, you can purchase the track or subscribe to Bensound.
Free Music Archive was inspired by Creative Commons! The site launched in 2009 keeping in mind the digital era we now live in while being mindful of music artists and ensuring that their creativity is protected and can be put to good use. They have great tracks and we like that they pay artists whenever it is applicable.
Getting traffic to a blog or website is really competitive these days. Backlinking is a way that many websites use to get traffic. You can do so by reaching out to other bloggers or guest posting on blogs that allow you to have a link to your site (like what we do here!). In turn, they will ask you to add their link to your site. It is a win-win situation for all.
You can find sites that do so with blogging directories. Many of these directories are constantly updating their sites and you can submit your blog to them too. Below are a few to check out.
As stated above, many sites that allow guest posts also allow you to list your website within your bio. There are a lot of sites out there, too many to list here! Rather, visit Advanced Web Ranking for a list of over 150 websites that accept guests posts. Categories ranging from health and fitness to finance and more.
If you are an artist or blogger that promotes writers and would like to list your website or service here, please send an email with a link to your site to firstname.lastname@example.org.