No doubt you’ve seen them.
Those free trials that convince us we need to sign up right now, so we can make money fast, learn affiliate marketing in a weekend, get insider tips from milionaire pros…
You frantically plug in your details, drooling at the bit at how this free trial is going to supercharge your life (or at least your blog or financial situation)…
…only to get to that screen – where you’re breezily asked for your CC details.
Try a free trial and see if it adds value to you and your blog
So, below, I’m going to explore and share with you 7 Free Trial tools that add real value to bloggers, which don’t require CC details upfront ( except Aweber, for a reason which I explain below).
The free trial tools we’ll cover are:
- Photo imaging: Photoshop CS
- Social media image creation: PicMonkey
- Pinterest scheduling tools: Boardbooster & Tailwind
- Email marketing: Aweber
- Video creation software: Content Samurai
- SEO/Keyword research: Market Samurai
- Build an affiliate marketing website: Wealthy Affiliate
There’s of course, absolutely no obligation to continue with any of these paid services after a trial expires.
My goal here is to share the tools I have tried, which have really added value to me as a blogger, so you can try them and decide if they are going to add value to you too.
Where I can, I’ve also added alternative or free resources that may not always offer quite the same benefits, but still work perfectly well.
Choose free trials wisely to reduce overwhelm
Scan the trials and see if you think any could potentially add value to you right now. If one appeals, try it out. Just one.
It’s tempting to sign up for a tonne of free trials, but unless you’re superhuman it’s likely to lead to overwhelm and you getting hacked off because a trial has expired before you’ve given it a fair crack. And overwhelm is definitely something we want to avoid.
But at the end of the day, we do all want tools that will help improve our blogging journey, right?
I think these 7 tools will help.
IMAGE AND SOCIAL MEDIA EDITING
1 – Design killer graphics with Adobe Photoshop CS
But how do you make images the right size for your blog, add text overlays, make them look great and reduce them to a file size that doesn’t slow your blog to the pace of a tortoise (when you want it to be like the hare).
With a quality image editor.
Photoshop has always been the ‘go to’ tool for professional image editing, but it used to be a super expensive one off price, making it unobtainable for most.
But the good news is that you can now sign up for a really manageable monthly fee of around $10 (£8.50).
The basics of Photoshop are easy for beginners to learn and the software makes tasks such as image re-sizing, text overlays or social media image creation incredibly simple. You can also literally enhance images at the click of a button. In fact, the image opportunities are endless once you get the hang of it.
Whilst I’m hardly the next Annie Liebovitz, the ‘before and after’ image below shows how I was able to salvage a shot of my homemade toothpaste recipe with a click of a button in Photoshop.
Incidentally, signing up to Adobe Photography package also gives you access to Lightroom, which is a fantastic tool for organising and processing photos if you shoot your own pictures.
Alternatives to Photoshop
If you’re not ready to invest in Photoshop and Microsoft Paint or Apple Preview just won’t cut it, these tools will do a fantastic job for free…
- Pixlr – great free photo editor that works in your web browser. I frequently use this.
- Gimp – voted by Techradar as best free editing software for 2017. Does requires a download.
2 – Create social media images that stand OUT with Picmonkey
Many bloggers, particularly female ones, swear by Pinterest as a huge source of their traffic.
But there are so many pins competing for competition, how do you stand out?
Picmonkey is another image editor, but many bloggers swear by it solely for creating images for social media. Why? Because it makes it really easy.
Picmonkey has a tonne of great ready made social media templates, loads of different fonts, plus you can add filters, frames, text and effects in seconds. This makes professional looking pins or Facebook images a breeze to knock up.
I’m hardly the Queen of Pinterest Pin design, but hopefully you’ll agree that my Pins improved a little after signing up to Picmonkey and a few of their (hugely helpful) free tutorials.
You can actually use the basic version of Picmonkey for free, but the Royale version offers loads more choice in terms of fonts and advanced tools.
It’s amazing value if you sign up for a year and most bloggers do once they try it.
Alternatives to Picmonkey
- Canva – the free version of Canva pretty much offers the same as the basic free version of Picmonkey.
PINTEREST SCHEDULING TOOLS
3 – Supercharge your Pinterest boards with Boardbooster or Tailwind
Want more traffic to your blog? Of course you do!
According to Pew Research, Pinterest has around 100 million regular users – 79% of these are female, 50% are parents and 75% have made a purchase via or because of Pinterest. This is huge captive audience.
As a result, many bloggers receive a massive chunk of their traffic from Pinterest. How do they do it?
Essentially, these are scheduling tools for bloggers, which help you manage your Pinterest account by automatically spreading new pins over ideal pinning hours. You need to have quality content and pins of course, but you can see your blog traffic go through the roof with a tool like Boardbooster.
Your first 100 pins are free with Boardbooster and it’s super cheap after that at only $5 a month for up to 500 pins.
Tailwind is $9.99 a month for bloggers (billed annually) and they also offer a free trial.
Which one should you go for?
Well, some people swear by Boardbooster, others by Tailwind.
Personally, I wouldn’t get bogged down in which one is best – pick one and go with it. Whilst Tailwind is deemed an ‘official’ partner of Pinterest, Boardbooster has a great tool, called looping, which is great for reviving old pins.
EMAIL MARKETING TOOLS
4 – Boost your blog love by building an email list with Aweber
Many successful bloggers will tell you their number one mistake was not building an email list earlier.
It really is one of the best ways you can communicate with your audience and build a loyal following, so it’s something to take seriously if you want to build a successful blog.
Start early and get an email sign up form featured prominently on your blog asap.
I use Aweber, who were voted the top email marketing service provider by PCMag in 2016. I love Aweber for a number of reasons, primarily for their:
- outstanding support
- ease of use for beginners
- easy to follow and comprehensive tutorials and ebooks
- outstanding value – $19 (about £15) a month.
Now, as I mentioned above – you do need to provide CC details when signing up of the Aweber free month’s trial.
Because unlike most free trials, you actually integrate Aweber’s enewletter sign up forms and boxes into your blog during the trial.
So Aweber ask for your CC details upfront, so you don’t experience any interruption in your service if you continue your subscription after your free trial is over. If you don’t want to continue you can of course easily cancel the subscription.
Alternatives to Aweber
Mailchimp – another popular email provider who are free to use up to your first 1000 subscribers. I switched from Mailchimp as they actually become more expensive than Aweber once you start growing your list.
Many bloggers also swear by ConvertKit. At the end of the day, an email provider really comes down to personal choice, so my advice is to do your homework. But if you want to start building a list and want an affordable email provider that allows you to scale your list, I’d personally start with Aweber.
VIDEO CREATION MADE *SIMPLE*
5 – Learn how to make video (the right way) with Content Samurai
It’s estimated that around 70% of ALL web traffic currently comes from video and Cisco predict that by 2020 it will reach 82%. That’s HUGE.
So when is it time to start creating video?
Ideally, as soon as you can.
Now, if you’re just starting out blogging, jumping straight into video creation will likely be one thing too many, but keep it in mind as something to factor in at some point.
Think video sounds way too scary and difficult?
Well it used to be.
But with Content Samurai, you need ZERO editing experience and it’s super easy to do.
I made a video in a couple of hours, uploaded it to YouTube and have received commissions from the product I recommend in the video ever since.
My video won’t be winning any Oscars (*sigh*), but on Youtube that doesn’t matter – people look for honesty and information that offers them value or solves a problem, not expertly crafted zoom ins and special effects (we go to the movies for that!).
Where Content Samurai really rocks it, as well, is their approach – they show you how to create simple, engaging videos that people actually want to watch.
Grab your free video SEO cheat sheet
They also show you exactly how to rank your video well in search engines and Youtube with their video SEO cheat sheet, which, personally, taught me so much.
This will put you way ahead of the curve of most people making videos.
Apparently, as well, 1 in 25 people go on to sign up for Content Samurai, which is pretty impressive. I think you’ll be impressed if you try it.
You’ll also get the opportunity of 50% off if you sign up after the trial, which makes it a lot more affordable.
Screen recording software you can use for free
Want to create your own software video tutorial?
For example, if you blog about design, you could show people how to create a killer social media graphic in Canva or Picmonkey.
You can do this for free with a screen recorder, save it and upload it to YouTube at no cost.
A lot of free screen recorder software ends up chucking a load of adware onto your system, so you’d need to do your research here, but Techradar offer some free screen recording software suggestions to consider.
Alternatively, if you have a Mac, you can record your screen for free with QuickTime Player.
Apple offer a ‘how to’ tutorial here.
SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMISATION (SEO)
6 – Supercharge your SEO and keyword research with Market Samurai
What the heck is SEO?
Basically, it’s techniques you use to get your blog posts ranking highly on the search engines. Which is what we all want, right?
According to Neil Patel, though, over 2 million blog posts are published daily. That can make ranking a bit of a challenge.
So what to do?
Target keywords or search phrases, which you know people are actually searching for.
I mean, unless you just want Mum and Aunt Mabel in Canada to read your blog, writing a post on a topic no one is searching for, or wants to read about, is a bit daft.
For example, I designed a blog post around the phrase ‘free photo sites like Unsplash’.
People love Unsplash and I knew it was a phrase people actively searched for on Google.
I now rank at around number 3 on Google for this very phrase and it sends me traffic daily.
So how do you identify these magical keywords or phrases to use in your blog posts?
With a tool like Market Samurai.
The techniques involved in SEO are way too much to go into here, but the free trial of Market Samurai, if nothing else, will give you a fantastic (and free) introduction to the world of SEO and keywords.
Alternatives to Market Samurai
Many people rate LongTailPro as the best keyword tool around. It’s what I use, but I got it when it was a lot cheaper than it is now. So if you’re new to SEO, Market Samurai does it almost as well (some insist better), for a lot less money.
Neil Patel also offers a great guide to SEO Made Simple here.
MAKE MONEY WITH AFFILIATE MARKETING
7 – Build an affiliate marketing website & learn how to monetise it with Wealthy Affiliate
Affiliate marketing is where you sell someone else’s products for a commission. Amazon run one of the most famous affiliate programs and most bloggers use affiliate marketing to make a large chunk of their income.
Now, if you’re new to affiliate marketing and think it sounds complicated, how does learning the basics for free sound?
Well, you can with Wealthy Affiliate.
If you already have a blog or are doing fine with affiliate marketing already, Wealthy Affiliate may not be for you, as they literally show you how to build an affiliate marketing blog/business from scratch on WordPress.org and then show you, step-by-step how to monetise it.
One of the fantastic things about Wealthy Affiliate though is that it doesn’t require you to have any prior technical or marketing knowledge, so absolutely anyone has the potential to succeed with their training.
If you’ve been thinking ‘hmm, I’d really love to start a blog and make money with it’, but are also plagued by doubts of ‘yikes, but I’m no good with computers’ – Wealthy Affiliate could be just what you need to get started.
The best bit?
Wealthy Affiliate offer a FREE Starter Account, where you get access to:
- 2 free websites (they even build the websites for you – you just have to click the odd button!)
- comprehensive, step-by-step Get Started Training that shows you how to create your first affiliate marketing website and start making money from it.
- a super helpful forum of professional affiliate marketeers.
Even better, you get to keep and use everything in your Free Starter Account for as long as you like (forever if you want!), but there is, of course, a Premium Program too, if you like what you find inside.
The key takeaway?
If you want to find out if affiliate marketing is right for you, you can find out at absolutely no cost with the Wealthy Affiliate Free Starter Account.
Or if you’re interested, you can read my full review of Wealthy Affiliate here.
Free blogging resources on affiliate marketing
So there you have it. My 7 recommended free trials that could seriously boost your blog.
Alas, there’s no silver bullet to blogging (darn it!).
It takes time, passion and hard work to succeed, but having some quality tools to help you can certainly aid you along the way.
Drop me a comment below if you’ve tried any of these tools? What did you think? Do you have any other recommendations for great free trials for bloggers that I’ve missed?