One of the biggest struggles for small business owners is having a big enough budget to fit your business’ needs. You may want an experienced graphic designer or a social media manager, but you might just not be able to afford those things yet. Well, I’m here to tell you to not stress out! Luckily there are many free online tools that can help you satisfy your marketing and administrative needs without having to hire multiple employees. Of course, it’s better to hire a professional for areas that are outside of your comfort zone, but it’s better to use these tools when you’re just starting out than risk running your business into the ground financially! I truly believe in teaching yourself all that you can instead of “hiring” a free intern (a.k.a. taking advantage of some poor college student who is lacking any work experience). Below, I list some of my favorite tools!
Hootsuite, like many of the other online tools I’m about to list, has a free version for basic business needs. With Hootsuite, you can schedule social media posts ahead of time across multiple social channels. Not every social media site is integrated with Hootsuite, but the popular ones such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram are. With the free version, you can have up to three of your social media accounts linked to the platform. I personally use if for the Haley Had a Little Blog Facebook and LinkedIn page and my personal Twitter page. I find this particular website instrumental for promoting my new blog posts for #WeeklyPostWednesday. Between work and life in general, it’s extremely easy to forget to post things on social media, so why not plan ahead?
Canva is hands down one of my favorite internet platforms! I even dedicated a whole blog post to it once. It’s literally the poor man’s Photoshop or Sketch. You can upload your own images or choose from their stock photos, add from a selection of fonts and stickers, and create your own custom dimensions! Canva is great when you want to create a quick digital marketing graphic. The only downside is that they only offer certain fonts. If your company requires a specific font on promotional graphics, then you might want to look into other design programs that cost money. Even though a yearly subscription for Adobe Creative Cloud can be incredibly expensive, it might be worth it depending on how many of the programs you’ll end up using.
I use Venngage on a weekly basis! Venngage is my go-to for creating infographics. In fact, each infographic that I make for this blog was created on Venngage. Now can you create your own infographics from scratch? Of course you can, but it can be a ton of work (and take a lot of time)! I love Venngage because they give you a plethora of templates to choose from and an extensive library of icons! I started off with using the free version of Venngage, but once you create five infographics you are required to upgrade to the Premium version. I rarely pay for online tools, but Venngage is definitely worth paying for if you have a frequent need for infographics.
Facebook Ad Manager
When it comes to social media advertising, Facebook is the best to use hands down. You can read more about Facebook Ad Manager in this blog post I wrote last year. I have had a lot of success with advertising set up through Facebook, whether it was for companies I’ve worked for, or this blog. Once you get used to the interface, the Facebook Ad Manager becomes pretty intuitive. You can make ads that encourage people to like your page, buy your product, or visit your website. Even though you have to pay per day you advertise, it’s a much cheaper way to get your brand out there than traditional alternatives.
MailChimp is a service that helps you with your email marketing! They offer multiple email templates to choose from that incorporate your branding into your email marketing campaigns. MailChimp also offers tools that help you schedule emails within your campaigns and segmenting your audience. The more advanced features you need and the larger your audience is determines what kind of plan you’ll need to sign up for. For my needs, I only have a basic account which is free! I use MailChimp to send out my monthly newsletters, which really helps my followers stay up to date and catch up on anything they may have missed during that month.
I am pretty new to Evernote, but it has a very large following. This program is great for those who need a digital planning system. In Evernote, you can create several kinds of notes that can have alarms or other awesome features attached. Evernote starts off being free, but costs money when you need to expand the storage of your account (comparable to Google Drive). I’m still kind of old-fashioned, in the sense that I like to use pen and paper for my planning needs, but I do like the idea of having alarms. What’s awesome about Evernote is that you can download it to your desktop or install their mobile app on your phone. This is great for the forgetful, yet tech-savvy folks out there.
I’m still a huge proponent of hiring professionals in these areas, even if they are consultants or freelancers, but sometimes that just isn’t an option! These tools have helped me out considerably, and I can be an extremely busy individual at times. If you have a need for any of these, try them out! Most of them have a free version, so you’ve got nothing to lose!
Infographic of the Week:
Question of the Week:
What’s one of your favorite free online tools?