Running my Blog on a $0 Budget


It's hard to find apps, widgets/plugins, or even free website services. And, I admit that to run this blog, I can't afford to pay any costs at all especially when I'm not making an income with it. If you're a blogger too, you're probably looking at how to lower your costs and yet still have a successful and nice looking site. So, I took some time and did some deep digging and came up with this list to share (and these are places I use by the way):  NOTE: I tried to list the important tips that I learned so as to not have an even longer blog post for you to read!

Free Photo Sites

  • Pixabay.com. I use this site a lot and you'll notice on a lot of my posts that I put this site at the bottom for attribution. This site doesn't require that and you can use the photos for commercial use. I recommend reading their terms of usage to see if it will work for you. I like that I can search by type of image, color, and even orientation.
  • Pexels.com. Very much like pixabay.com. It's a site that you can use the photos any way you like.
  • Freeimages.com. This site I used for years and I still search on it if I can't find what I need on the first two sites in this list. This site, you'll need to read the terms for each photo as you may have to give attribution depending on what you're using the photo for. 
Free Graphic Design/Photo Editing Sites

  • Picmonkey.com. Not everyone can afford Photoshop, so this is a great place to edit your photos. They also have video tutorials how to use it.
  • Canva.com. I really like Canva for creating designs for many kinds of uses; presentations, blog/website, printing, posters, flyers, you name it!
  • Creativebooster.net. This site offers free Photoshop mockups, logo templates, resume and fonts.
  • CreativeMarket.com. Every Monday, this site offers free design templates like background textures, logos, photos, Photoshop mockups. The freebie stuff lasts for one week only.
Blogger Tips & Tricks

Blogger, while easy in some ways, it's not as easy to add features to. Most times it requires coding, editing the template file. I found some resources below from various developers who created coding to add different functions to Blogger:

  • Problogger.com. I've used this website before to add functionality to my blog.
  • Helplogger.blogspot.com. Another place to go when you need to add features like related posts. Also, you'll find coding for adding sidebar widgets.
Looking for better Blogger themes? Here's a few places to find them:

  • BlogTipsNTricks.com. This site offers some nice, professional looking themes for Blogger for free.
  • Btemplates.com. This is a site I've used for years, they have a huge repository for blogger themes and some were adapted from WordPress to use in Blogger. You can search by category, color, and how many columns you want.
  • Gooyaabi Templates. I just recently found this site when I transitioned my blog to more a fashion, beauty theme look. They host many themes for Blogger. And, you can search here by category, color as well.

What if your blog is on WordPress?

So you're using Wordpress? I did too before I switched back to Blogger and I still use it on my day job for my client. Also, I spent six months straight learning it years ago before I began building sites with it. 

Though WordPress is a CMS (Content Management System), plugins are what really turns a mere CMS into something really special. Keep in mind that because WordPress is open source, hackers are prone to want to exploit that. So, my recommendation is to: (a) always install updates to your WordPress software and plugins as soon as possible; and (b) Never use a plugin that hasn't had an update in two years or more. Here's just a few plugins that I recommend and all can be used for free:

  • Wordfence.com. The top plugin for security. There is a pro version, but the free one works just as well.
  • Backupwordpress. It's always a good thing to back up your website. This plugin can backup both the database and content.
  • Login Security Solutions. This plugin helps prevent unauthorized logins.
  • Yoast SEO. This plugin is so helpful with keywords, meta tags for posts, pages, and other features you install with plugins.
  • WP-Optimize. Cleans your WordPress database and can remove unnecessary files (ex., drafts, spam comments), that cause slow loading times. Speed is essential these days so it's a good thing to do a weekly optimization and you can schedule this plugin to do it automatically.
If you need help learning WP or just want to enhance your site, here's some more resources that I use. First on my highly recommend list, is that you follow WPBeginner.com. This site is a wealth of knowledge into how to add features to WP including what plugins to get. The instructions usually come with a video in addition to written step by step details. It's easy to follow! 

WordPress themes and plugins:

  • WPExplorer.com. I've been using free themes at this site for years. It is a very reliable site and they are adding new themes all the time plus they have a good support system and quick response times. The coding is not hard to edit either.
  • WordPress Repository. This is always a safe bet to go with when you're looking for high quality free WordPress themes. Also, when you're looking for plugins, the best bet is to search through your WordPress installation. This way when you'll know if a plugin is compatible and how often it's been updated.
Other Resources:

I also recommend following Website Magazine. They offer a free monthly subscription in the mail! YAY!, as well as a digital copy. I've been a long time subscriber and I love reading it. It contains so much information into new technologies, upcoming changes to the IT industry, tips for content management, how to design a website, how to drive traffic, marketing, and even quizzes to test your technology knowledge. Articles come out weekly in my email.

Social Media Examiner. I've followed this blog for a few years and it has so much information on how to best advertise and use social medias.

Hope this helps you if you're also a blogger on a budget. If not, now you know the things I do to keep my blog running!

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