Well, turns out I was wrong— there are tons of research and learning materials online, many more than I could ever use in a life span!
The most casual web search brought up a wealth of free resources that is definitely only a tiny portion of all the available content still hidden to my eyes.
Where can we get ideas for our blog posts or keep up to date with the new findings in our niches?
Here I compiled a list of 22 free resources (articles, e-books, print magazines, e-zines, newsletters, etc.) that you can use at no charge.
The list breaks down to 7 main categories:
Books & E-Books
Guides & Reports
Use them all or just pick a few, they will make writing authoritative blog posts easier than ever– and build more trust and credibility among your readers.
Books & E-Books
1. European Bookshop
Tons and tons of free books about the EU government, projects and initiatives.
EU residents can also request FREE copies of each book or magazine available. International users can download free PDF copies where available.
All you have to do is register for a free account. If you order paper material in the EU, it will arrive within 3 weeks from shipment day. If you live outside of the EU or choose a PDF version of the material, the download is immediate.
Looking for tons of marketing and SEO related books? Hubspot gives out some every week for free and then collect them in their Marketing Library.
I've found it incredibly helpful (a life saver!) whenever I'm looking for authoritative guides to cite in my work or to study from, and while I may miss a few emails because of server downtimes or other issues, I'll never lose a chance to pick any guides I need if I go directly to the Library.
Plus, skim through their blog posts and you'll find more food for thought. To get the free e-books and reports directly to your email, you need to join their free newsletter.
Whether you need a quick brush up on a subject or just to learn the basics of a specific topic for your blog articles, MIT OpenCourseware shares its best courses with the public, and has been doing so since 2005.
If you are a webinar-addicted or highly visual blogger, you may find useful to follow courses with free lecture videos instead of text-only course notes.
(Besides, we bloggers and freelancers are lifelong learners, aren't we?)
A wonderful list of newsletters and e-courses directly in your email with this website. The site is intended for moms who work at home and want to earn money blogging or through their websites.
I have subscribed to the “Blogging for Profit” and “Freelance Success” in 2012 and the tips I received by email are still saved in a folder in my email client. The quality of the e-courses made them a keeper for later reference.
Downlodable freebies include white papers, newsletters, case studies, news pieces and an entire Resource Library, so this is the place to go when you want to write about anything techy, either for your own blog or for an assignment.
Webcasts are helpful if you prefer visual and interactive content, and you can join or create discussions in the Forums.
Personally, I chose to subscribe to more than one TechRepublic newsletter, so I get email updates every time a new case study or white paper or other downloadable content comes up. I seldom write technical blog posts, so this resource comes handy— and it has for almost 4 years, now.
The marketing research institute doesn't just help marketers do their job, it seems. Bloggers in the marketing and SEO niche can get hundreds of free reports to base their research from on this website.
You can get a free digital magazine with every magazine you buy, here, or download magazines for free or less-than-$3. There are less free mags in comparison to two years ago, but most magazines are coffee-priced so you can still afford them.
If you write for magazines in addition to blogging, Magcloud makes a good library to explore– and pitch.
Lifewire.com can be a wonderful source of new ideas and knowledge about your favorite topics. The newsletters provide exceptional food for thought and ideas to craft good blog posts with the essentials of your niche.
I used to be skeptic about this website and the information provided, but as I took more time to read it over the last four years, I realized I'd be a fool not to take advantage of this free content blessing.
SmartBrief newsletters are more technical and industry specific than About.com, and often they're run in partnership with big names in the industry— you'll find a newsletter about Franchising published in partnership with IFA (International Franchise Association), or a newsletter about Leadership run in partnership with MAPI (Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation).
One of my favorite daily newsletters is Insights and advice to help sales leaders that covers Sales Strategies, data and sales-related talks.
They're free to read, even to non-members. But the AWAI's wealth of business and entrepreneurship-related material doesn't stop to articles– there are free-to-signup-and-download teleseminars and audio podcasts, too.
You can register a free account at AWAI and get a weekly (or daily, if there are important news) newsletter with tips, event invitations and special offers.
AWAI's people are a friendly, supportive bunch, so you can contact support anytime if you have issues with the site. Have to admit this is one of my favorite resources so far.
I think I mentioned Jon Morrow's blog and his Headline Hacks free report (when you subscribe to his newsletter) quite often in my past articles for WHSR, but rightly so, because Jon's blog is packed-full with precious advice and resources for bloggers who take blogging seriously and want to make a living blogging.
If you prefer visual content to written content, there's the QuickSprout University, where Neil periodically releases free marketing videolectures, including advanced SEO, email marketing and conversion optimization (my personal favorite!).
Brian Dean doesn't post often, but when he does, he generates a lot of traffic, shares and comments. Wonder why? His blog posts are actionable guides to get the best out of your blog traffic, and most guides also include case studies with videos.
Over the last two years, Backlinko.com has earned a fixed place in my bookmarks bar, because I come back to it often for inspiration (you know, those times when I don't know what to blog about) and blog traffic generation tips. I'm sure it will turn out a useful resource for you, too, especially if you signup for the free newsletter.
MOZ is the community to go to if you blog for the SEO, blogging and marketing niches. MOZ's analytics tools come with a fee, but you can attend Mozinars for free, post articles and Q&A, attend events and learn about SEO and marketing with the guides under the Learn section.
I've used resources from MOZ for three years now, never had anything to complain about. The community tends to get supportive, too.
I understand that 22 free resources may not be enough.
I'm a blogger like you, I know you don't just need information but even a useful toolbox you don't have to spend much money (or money at all) on.
Ostel.co – A phone tool to use the ‘Net safely to make encrypted end-to-end phone calls to your clients and interviewees (they should get an account for it to work, like with Skype). The service can't hide the fact that there has been a communication between you and your interviewee or client, but every word you exchange will be encrypted and impossible to decipher for a third party.
WP Statistics – A powerful WordPress plugin to measure traffic statistics. It includes hits, top visited pages, search engine referrals, search queries and a world map of your visitors. A good substitute for Google Analytics or Piwik, even though it can give some false positives when it mistakes a new bot for a real visitor (but the bugs gets fixed with every update).
Taiga.io – For your project management needs. It's open source and intuitive to use. We bloggers are no less project-busy than startups and developers, so this tool definitely does the job for us, too! (P.S. You don't have to pick a template when you create a new project if it doesn't apply.)
Photos for Blogs – Images are essential part of a blogger's content. They help to break up chunks of text into smaller sections. You may already familiar with the stratey of using subheadings and bullet points when writing. Those may still leave you with overly wordy content. Adding relevant and usful images can transform your content into structures much easier to digest.
About Luana Spinetti
Luana Spinetti is a freelance writer and artist based in Italy, and a passionate Computer Science student. She has a high-school diploma in Psychology and Education and attended a 3-year course in Comic Book Art, from which she graduated on 2008. As multi-faceted a person as she is, she developed a big interest in SEO/SEM and Web Marketing, with a particular inclination to Social Media, and she’s working on three novels in her mother-tongue (Italian), which she hopes to indie publish soon.