Boost Your Blog // How to Easily Offer Free Printables on Blogger

These Boost Your Blog articles have to be one of my favorite articles to write.  I love when inspiration hits me and I just have to share with you a way you can make your blog better.  This series is also a place for me to share what I've learned as a blogger over the years and today's post is something I've been doing for a lot of years.  Can you believe this blog is nearly seven years old?  I started this blog back in July of 2010 and it has evolved so much.  Maybe I'll do a post on my blog's back story....but today is not that day.  Today we are talking about how to design, host, and offer free printables on your blog.  This will work, generally, for any blog - I use Blogger so there will be some references here and there.
this post contains affiliate links, please read my full disclosure here.

It's super easy actually and you don't have to have subscriptions to file hosting websites or expensive design software.  All of the major options, including Blogger, are free.  Here's how to offer free printables on your blog:

Design your printable
There are quite a few ways to design printables for your blog.  You are probably aware that I am in love with PicMonkey as a free, online mini design machine.  It is so easy to use, full of amazing clipart, wonderful to work with, and you can use your own fonts.  You can upgarde, which I totally have, but using the free option is just fine.  You'll get a lot of use out of it.

With PicMonkey you can make any size canvas from the Design tab.  For my journaling cards I start with a 4x6 canvas and crop to a 3x4.  You can start with an 8x10 canvas or a custom 8.5 x 11 canvas.  The choice is yours.  Then you just design your heart away.

Another option is using Word.  While Microsoft Office isn't free, Open Office is and it is pretty much the same.  Any word processor is an ok way to design printables as well.  It won't be as powerful as something like InDesign but you can make it work.  I make it work every day!

Additionally, you can download the Silhouette Software for free and design there.  This is sort of like a backwards way to get around things but it can totally work.  When I'm on my Dell laptop that does not have Word installed, often I'll create a free printable in the Silhouette Software and save as a PDF.  That way I don't have to jump computers.  Half the time being creative is about being innovative!!

The important thing about printables is the file type you choose to save it as.  You can save it directly from PicMonkey as a .jpg because more often than not you can print it just fine.  But you may run into a problem with different types of printers.  An image might get printed to the right or left of the page if it's too small.  It may be harder for others to print a straight up .jpg.  I like to save my printables as a PDF for ease of printing.  I drop my journal cards into a Word document (or the Silhouette Software, but you could also try something like a document in Google Docs/Google Drive), resize, arrange, etc then save as a PDF.  It is easier for printing because you just hit print and don't really have to worry about it.  If you have a special sized image - 4x6, 8x10, etc - you may want to drop your image into a word document, ensure it is sized properly, and save it as a PDF.  If your image has a white background I usually add a thin border to the image for easy trimming.

If you can't save as a PDF straight from your design option down load a PDF creator - like CutePDF that acts as a printer to print to a PDF.  Simply install and choose the print option selecting the CutePDF as your printer.  

It is here that you also might want to think about watermarking to protect your work.  Since this is a free thing you are offering you may want to make sure your mark is on it somewhere.  Others who may not be so honest may see your hard work, sans a mark, and distribute it as their own.  A simple , small line of text with your blog name or url would be sufficient.  You can also learn how to make a watermark using PicMonkey here.

Hosting your files
Now that you have your final file, you need to host them somewhere so your readers can download them with ease.  I love using Google Drive for this!  Who doesn't have a Google account....really.  You get 15GB of space with your email address - between your Google+ account, gmail account, and your Google Drive.  I've been hosting printables on Google Drive for ages and have yet to run out of room.

In Google Drive you can host single files or create folders.  You can also upload .zip files.  This is great if you have a few printables in a set - like my budget printables - that you want to direct your readers to in one batch.

After you've uploaded your file you'll want to click on it and find the Share feature.  I always choose the option of Anyone with the link can view so that way I can only link to it from my blog and it's not searchable.  So the only way one can get to your file is if you give them the link - which you will because you'll link it on your blog.

You can also use places like DropBox or any other cloud based sharing site that will allow you to share the link so that your readers can view the printable.  (Because that is the whole point!)

Linking to your free printable
Now that you have your file hosted and you have selected to share it with others, you'll want to copy the link to share it with your readers.  Linking is really simple and you probably do it often in your blogging.  In Blogger simply type out your text and select it.  From the top menu select link, then simply past your link.  I always choose open in new window so that readers aren't directed away from my blog.

Now your readers can simply download the printable or print it from the webpage.  I also include a terms of use or disclaimer in my posts saying that this printable is free for personal use and not to distribute it.  This is just to remind others to play nicely, same thing as adding a little watermark - it is just a safeguard.

So there you have it!  A really simple and super easy and totally free way to offer printables on your blog.  I have used this system my whole time blogging and find it very, very helpful.  It's using three things I already use everyday and I don't have to sign up for anything else.

How do you offer free things on your blog?  Any tips for us?

xoxo, Moe

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