Free stuff for your website

Who doesn’t love free stuff? Online businesses need to gather some steam before you start to see any decent money coming in so you may not have a lot of cash to spend on your website straight away. Unlike starting a business with a physical shop front and the stock to fill it you can set up online with very few upfront costs. Here are some great freebies to get you started.

Image editor – Canva

A cost effective alternative to software such as Photoshop, Canva is an online image editor that allows you to edit photos and add text to create feature images for headers and blog posts. Create an account (you can use your Facebook or Google details) and follow the tutorials to begin working with images.

Fonts – Dafont

Google Fonts has a great collection of fonts to include on your site using CSS. If you are after a site containing fonts you can download and play with on your own machine Dafont has a huge collection of fonts to choose from.

Performance profiling – Google PageSpeed Insights

Looking at website performance may be a bit intimidating for those without an IT background but if nothing else you will be able to see if you have a problem.

To test performance
– go to https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
– enter the URL of the page you wish to test

Google will give you a desktop and mobile site score. The higher the score the better obviously but if you are getting a yellow or red result you should really look at this to avoid being penalised in search engine results.

Some simple things you can do to fix a bad result (WordPress sites)

  • Deactivate any plugins that you aren’t using
  • Install the plugin P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler) to check that you don’t have a plugin that takes forever to load
  • Install the EWWW Image Optimizer and run a bulk optimise on your images (the plugin will take care of any new images you upload)
  • Intall a caching plugin such as W3 total cache. if this causes problems with your site you will need to talk to your server administrator about the permissions on your wp-content directory

These steps should dramatically improve your site’s performance. Anything beyond this is likely to be an issue with your server or your website’s code. If you need help improving your website’s performance you can find a web designer/developer that specialises in your website’s platform.

Tutorials – W3Schools

Web designers and developers aren’t cheap (well some are but buyer beware) so you may want to learn how to update your website by yourself. w3schools contains tutorials for various technologies including HTML, CSS, JavaScript and PHP. The tutorials are organised into chapters that you can complete at your own.

WordPress users can find over 200 WordPress tutorials at wpbeginner.com

Images – various

Plenty of sites have compiled lists of free images so I have a list of lists if you will

Once your website starts to gain some momentum and you have some cash to spare it is worth remembering that you do get what you pay for with stock photos. If you are feeling creative and have the time taking your own photos will add a unique touch to your website.

Marketing – Social Media

Social media can do much more than tell you whether or not your high school frenemy has gotten fat. With its community boards and rich pins Pinterest is especially effective at directing new traffic to your website. Online marketing is the subject of many blogs and people have researched it great detail (post a blue toned image with lots of a white background at 4pm on a Tuesday kind of detail) so I won’t elaborate here. To find out more about online marketing I suggest searching Pinterest for social media marketing or looking at these sites:

What you should really pay for
While you can get a lot of free things for your website there are some things that you can’t really get around paying for if you want your site to be taken seriously.

Your own domain name

People aren’t really going to give much heed to your business if still have a wordpress.org domain. Google “buy domain names” to find local companies offer this service or see if your web designer or hosting provider can take care of this.

Google/FaceBook ads

Social media marketing is great for getting the word out to your community of loyal followers.Paid advertising via Google and/or FaceBook will expand your reach to completely new viewers and is especially good for finding customers in your area.

WordPress security monitoring

The sad fact is that hackers love WordPress. You can install security plugins such as WordFence for free and you will be able to do security scans and have protection from hackers trying to guess the password to your site. Paying for a premium license however will allow you to schedule automatic scanning of your website giving you one less thing to worry about.

It is also worth remembering that a lot of paid services such as stock photo websites have free trials that you can take advantage of for a quick freebie fix. What free resources do you love? What do you think simply has to be paid for?

Sarah Wallis

About the author: Sarah Wallis
A creative at heart with a degree in Computer Science, my passion is to create beautiful, functional websites to enhance and expand my client's business. I love working with WordPress, Photoshop and Dreamweaver and I can never learn enough new CSS. When not at the computer I love crochet, reading classic novels and jogging very slowly.

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Who doesn’t love free stuff? Online businesses need to gather some steam before you start to see any decent money coming in so you may not have a lot of cash to spend on your website straight away. Unlike starting a business with a physical shop front and the stock to fill it you can set up online with very few upfront costs. Here are some great freebies to get you started. Image editor – Canva A cost effective alternative to software such as Photoshop, Canva is an online image editor that allows you to edit photos and add text […]

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