9 Free business and marketing tools for the lean entrepreneur
If you’re a start up business, you are an expert at stretching your dollars and only spending money on software when it’s 100% necessary. I know I follow this rule! Whilst subscriptions that save you time and money are invaluable assets, sometimes you can get the job done just right with a marketing platform that is totally FREE.
Here a list of FREE programs that will help market and run your business, that once you have them you really won’t know how you managed without. Think of this as the Noc list for the lean entrepreneur.
Due is a must have for service offering based businesses. Whether you’re an accountant, marketer or builder, Due allows for real time project tracking – so you can track exactly how many hours you put into a web project, and charge accordingly. This is even a great tool for fixed price projects, so if the project runs over budget you know to charge more the next time. I don’t use it for this, but it also has an invoicing and payments platform which makes hours tracking and payments a seamless operation.
I love Canva. Even as someone with basic graphic design skills, and adobe creative cloud experience, it’s just so quick and easy to use Canva. You can pre select the size you are after- eg. instagram post, facebook cover etc and Canva will be pre populate the dimensions for you. There are even hundreds of templates to choose from so you can really whip something up in 5 mins. The free version allows you to do everything from social posts to you tube covers, but I use the pro version, as it allows to quickly resize your template for each social media platform, and the additional $16 a month is totally worth the time saved, in my opinion.
Hootsuite‘s free plan allows to you connect 3 social media channels to your dashboard, so you can research plan and schedule content for your business. You can also respond, comment and post to your social channels all from one dashboard without having to log in and out of each one separately. Win.
Trello is an interactive task manager that allows entrepreneurs, managers, clients and teams to view, manage and collaborate on projects in real time. I use this for ongoing tasks such as paid search, web projects and SEO so the client can login and know exactly what we are working on, and what tasks are still outstanding. As an entrepreneur, there are so many balls in the air, and Trello just helps you to keep an eye on them all before they all fall on top of you.
If I’m being honest, I don’t love Mailchimps interface compared to other email marketing providers such as activecampaign or campaign monitor. However, Mailchimp generously gives you 2000 email subscribers for free, with one target list, before you have to move onto a paid plan. For a lean start up, I would start with Mailchimp, as it’s another platform that saves you money in the beginning.
6. Google Trends
If you are wanting to search keywords, or trending topics and don’t want to pony up the $119.95 a month for SEMRUSH, then why not try Google Trends. Google trends shows you how frequently the search term you input is used relative to the traffic volume over time. You can lookup trending searches by industry, topic, country or region which is incredibly helpful for analysing competitors, searching content ideas, and compare search terms if you are planning on starting google ads.
If you’re sitting there wondering how much your competitors are spending on google ads and what keywords they’re ranking for- Spyfu is the site for you. Spyfu allows you to see the ranking history of any domain, and what I mostly use it for and exactly what keywords they are using. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, or a marketer, Spyfu is a great way to see your competitors ad spend, copy their keywords, increase your spend and boost your site traffic.
Ok, so now that you have signed up to all these free marketing platforms, you’re going to need a solid password manager to manage them, and this is where lastpass comes in. As someone who manages social accounts, websites, and analytics for clients, lastpass is a must and is truly a time saver. It’s also great for situations where you’re working on a client’s computer or work laptop, and need to quickly access your passwords. All you do it set one master password, and lastpass will help you to organise all your passwords.
9. Unroll me
Are you sick of spam in your inbox? Whether you’re remember signing up to a list, or it happened automatically when you purchased something, unroll.me shows you exactly how many email lists you are subscribed to, and with one click lets you opt out of every one you don’t need anymore. Just like that. No more sitting there in your inbox and unsubscribing out of every email list. Such a timesaver.