22 Free Materials Bloggers Can Use for Research
Sources for content
I used to complain that there are no enough free materials for bloggers on the Web.
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 6 main categories:
- Books & E-Books
- Guides & Reports
- Newsletter Subscriptions
- Niche Blogs
- Social Communities
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.
2. Hubspot’s Marketing Library
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.
Materials on this site come with a fee, but when you subscribe to their newsletter(s) you will often receive FREE complimentary access to many of their scientific journals and book chapters.
Goodness, this is a wonderful opportunity for all academics to grab on the fly, especially if you blog in a specific industry that relies heavily on knowledge and new discoveries.
Bonus points if you can get to interview one of the authors for your blog or your client’s!
4. Free e-book on American English Idioms
Published by the US government, “In The Loop” is a great companion if you want to be a successful English writer, especially if you are not a native speaker (like me).
I keep this resource handy whenever I need to brush up on known idioms or to learn some new expressions.
5. MIT OpenCourseware
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.
7. Poynter’s News University
Free to join, Poynter’s is an e-university for journalists and writers. Some of the materials require you to pay a fee, but most e-courses and webinars are available at no charge.
Guides & Reports
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.
For example, I found Special Report: A Tactical Approach to Content Marketing – How to create content that accelerates inbound lead quality and conversions very useful to develop my own blogs and to research for my freelance blogging articles.
Other great resources Marketing Sherpa offers are its marketing videos and the articles library. The blog is a must-read for bloggers in the marketing niche.
Who doesn’t love TradePub? Freelance writers can get trade magazines to study for free, bloggers and marketers can download white papers, case studies, free PDF magazines and much more at no charge.
As an Italy-based writer, I can’t order free samples to get in the mail, but so far TradePub has never disappointed me with the quality of their downloadable material.
My favorite categories? Marketing and Information Technology. I find tons of new materials every week and I can’t write fast enough to use them all in blog posts, it seems.
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.
12. About.com Newsletters
About.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.
I’m still a subscriber to the Blogging, Web Hosting and Freelance Writing newsletters. 🙂
The newsletter for bloggers comes with hundreds of new fresh topics to write about every day, so if you are a news-oriented blogger, this is a must-have resource to subscribe to and keep handy.
14. SmartBrief.com Newsletters
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.
15. AWAI Online Articles
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.
16. Jon Morrow’s Blog
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.
My favorite blog post? Make Money Blogging: 20 Lessons Going from 0 to $100,000 per Month, definitely.
Another resourceful, hands-on blog to get your blog marketing going strong and safely. Neil Patel is well-known to be a productive blogger who gives out plenty of actionable tips with every blog post and his Advanced Guides.
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!).
18. Brian Dean’s Backlinko
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.
Oh, that’s not just art (but it’s a good place to sell your art skills, too, if you have any!)– DeviantART is a wonderful source of tutorials and quality website templates– all for free.
As long as you leave the design or artwork credit intact — and respect the license — you can use as many materials as you wish in your blog.
20. The MOZ Community
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.
Ann Smarty’s web child, MyBlogU is a community-based “find the expert” service that helps bloggers brainstorm topics for blog posts or interview experts.
Experts, on this platform, are other community members who have the expertise and experience you seek to give your blog posts authority and trust.
I have used MyBlogU to find sources for my blog posts over the last six months, including posts for WHSR.
22. Be A Freelance Blogger – Forums
This is freelance blogger Sophie Lizard’s free forum for bloggers to connect and share gig referrals.
The community is nice and welcoming, bloggers don’t think twice before sharing resources, advice and helpful materials to support your freelance blogging activity.
Networking is easy and sometimes they can get you some loyal fans and daily visitors, as well as genuine friendships.
What about a free blogger’s toolbox?
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.
Toolyo – Searching for free tools online can be time consuming, so Toolyo was created to help make the search easier. Toolyo is a resource collector that organizes tools in categories for easier management. With the free version of Toolyo, you get access to hundreds of free tools. For example, under the Analytics category you can find tools like Visual.ly, SumAll and Cyfe.
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.)