When it comes to creating and maintaining a website on a budget, it’s helpful to know that there are free website resources available that give you world-class results.
Here is a list of my favorite free website resources…
1. Website Platform: WordPress.com
Even if you already have a self-hosted WordPress website set up, you can still benefit from a free WordPress.com account. There are a lot of free features and services that come along with a WordPress.com account, and you can connect to them to your self-hosted WordPress site using the free Jetpack plugin. Analytics, forms, list-building tools and more. What’s nice is that, if you manage multiple WordPress websites, you can connect them all to one WordPress.com account and manage all your updates from one dashboard.
Of course, one of the other things I love about WordPress.com is that you can set up and host a free WordPress blog. Although I would recommend having a self-hosted WordPress website if you want to go beyond a personal blog, it’s a great place to get familiar with how WordPress works.
2. Website Platform: WordPress.org
WordPress.org is a resource for software, plugins, themes, discussions forums and help articles related to WordPress. If you have a self-hosted WordPress website, you may have heard of the WordPress repository. WordPress.org is the WordPress repository. When you want to add free plugins or themes to your self-hosted site through your WordPress admin panel, it is pulling those resources from WordPress.org.
3. Website Analytics: Google Analytics
To know how your website is performing, you’ll want to monitor your site’s analytics. You can monitor some of these analytics by using the free Jetpack plugin connected to your WordPress.com account. However, if you want to go really deep into your analytics, you’ll want to use Google Analytics. Other than the fact that many of its features are free, the other good news is that you don’t need Gmail to create a Google account and track your website statistics.
There are also free Google Analytics plugins you can use to monitor some of your analytics directly from your WordPress dashboard.
4. Graphic Design: Canva
Not a graphic designer? No worries. Canva is graphic design for the rest of us. With Canva you can easily create awesome images that you can use on your website or social media. There are premium features available, but there’s enough free stuff to keep you busy for a while.
5. Free Royalty-Free Images: Pixabay/Pexels/Unsplash
A picture is worth a thousand words. The quality of the picture, however, determines whether those words are eloquent and effective, or sure to backfire on you. Pixabay offers a huge variety of free high quality royalty-free images, vector art and illustrations that you can use to spruce up a blog post, add that wow factor to your home page…or whatever you need!
FYI – the featured image for this post is from Pixabay.
If I can’t find what I’m looking for at these three sites, another option would be MorgueFile.com.
6. Image Editor: Pixlr
Can’t afford Photoshop? No problem. Autodesk’s Pixlr is a free online image editing suite. They have two options: Express (X), which is a very simple image editor, and Editor (E), which is a more robust application similar to Photoshop. In fact, with Editor you can actually open and edit Photoshop (.psd) files.
7. Image Optimizer: Image Optimizer
If you have an image that you need to resize or optimize for optimum speed and performance on the web, a quick handy solution is Image Optimizer. Upload your large image file and it will render an optimized image for use on your website.
8. Cloud Storage: Amazon S3
If it’s one thing web hosting companies don’t like to do, it’s…host stuff. It seems kind of ironic, but hosting companies really don’t want to host, much less serve, large files to your website visitors. Oh, sure, a couple of HTML pages – no big deal. But, once you start getting into larger files, like large PDFs, MP3s and, heaven forbid, video files (AAAIIIGGGHHH!!!!) your website hosting company gets a little cranky.
Fortunately, there is a very reputable off-site storage facility just for you. It’s called Amazon S3. It lets you store up to 5GB worth of data on their servers for free. What’s more, their pricing for files and data transfer rates that exceed your free quota are based on your actual monthly usage – not an arbitrary tier-level type of plan. Data usage is extremely affordable – a non-issue, really.
9. Video Hosting: Vimeo
Sure, YouTube is the second largest search engine next to Google, the company that owns it. And, yes, if you want your videos to be found, you would be smart to have them on YouTube. However, if you want to link a professional looking video for display on your website, you may want to consider Vimeo. They have a very classy brand, and, by way of association, will make your website look classy, too, which will, in turn, help your brand.
10. Video Hosting: Wistia
In addition to Vimeo as a great alternative to YouTube for hosting video files, you may also want to consider Wistia. Wistia has some great analytics tools. Their claim is that they are “made for business”, but they also have a free level. The main reason I use Wistia is because, when marketing to educational markets, YouTube and Vimeo videos may sometimes be blocked.
11. Email Autoresponder: MailerLite
MailerLite is a great option to consider as your email autoresponder. The free level gives you up to 1000 subscribers with full automation. What’s more, MailerLite has an impressive array of other services, such as the ability to create landing pages. Using MailerLite’s tools, you could build an email list with an impressive landing page without ever having to have a website!
What about you? Have you found any free website resources that aren’t listed here? Share them below!