18 Free Tools to Help You Build Your Business
Don't you wish you could start your own business without having to pay tons of money to get started?
When I first started my online business, I tried to do things on the cheap. I built my own landing pages, piece-mealed together my own email autoresponders, and tried to grow my business without spending more than $10 at a time.
While this method of business building is ok for some people, it soon became a hindrance for me.
I remember one October evening in 2014 when I got a call from one of my clients. In as nice a way as possible, he told me my landing pages were ugly and they could be holding me back and preventing me from growing my business.
If you want to read how my stubbornness was a major flat tire in my business, you can read that post here.
On the other hand, there are several free tools out there you can use to help you build your business. The popular “freemium” model, one where you get most of the software for free but have to pay for special features, is a great way to test tools.
While not all free tools for your website are created equal, here are some of the best. Here are…
18 Free Tools to Help You Build Your Business
More than 20% of the websites on the internet are powered by WordPress and for good reason. WordPress is free and easy to use. It does have a short, steep learning curve, but it's by far one of the best options for building and designing a website. Don't let the “word” in WordPress fool you, this software is for more than just blogs.
Stop wondering what your customers, clients, readers, and subscribers need and ask them! SurveyMonkey is free for surveys with up to ten questions. Every year I send a survey to my readers and every year the number of responses go up. And, I get to know more about the people who read my blog, listen to my podcast, or hire me to coach them. SurveyMonkey is too easy and too free to not use.
Haven't taken my survey this year? CLICK HERE to tell me about you!
From pop-ups to header bars, SumoMe is one of the best free tools for capturing email addresses and building a subscriber list. As they say, “the money is in the list” and SumoMe will help you build it. They also integrate with most major email marketing services you'd want to use.
If it's not on my calendar, it doesn't happen. Whatever “it” is, I use Calendly to schedule it. This free tool will connect to your online calendar and allow your contacts to schedule time with you, but only when you allow them too. I've used other online schedulers and Calendly is by far my favorite.
From surveys to spreadsheets, Google Drive has something you can use. Whether you want to share documents or collect responses to applications and questionnaires, Drive will let you do it. And, since Drive syncs and works with almost any device you could think of, you'll never be stranded without something to work on. Plus, it's a great tool for backing up your work.
Thinking about using Google Drive with a Chromebook? CLICK HERE to read my Chromebook for Business review.
You wouldn't be a business without revenue, right? PayPal has been around longer than almost any other payment processing software and for good reason. They integrate with almost all e-commerce tools, and their fees are on par with their competitors.
Every task I do on a regular basis gets added as a project inside Asana. I also use this free tool to keep a list of “to do” items. You can create recurring tasks and schedule reminders so no key task gets forgotten. If you have a team, you can even assign tasks to your team members and track their progress. When I'm out and about, I can add tasks on my phone via the mobile app, and pick up right where I left off when I get back to the office.
If you're capturing leads and building a database of customers, you'll eventually want to email them about new products, services, or other announcements. Most internet providers will filter and/or block your emails if you start sending hundreds (not to mention thousands) of emails from your personal account.
That's where an email marketing service comes in. MailChimp will allow you to have up to 2000 subscribers and send 12,000 emails per month on their free plan. I recommend everyone start with MailChimp and get a feel for internet business before upgrading to a more expensive or complex solution.
Want to see how other email services compare? CLICK HERE to download my FREE report of the Top 10 Email Marketing Services for Small Businesses.
Calling someone on the telephone is so last year. Video is the way of the future and Skype allows business owners like you and me to call people around the world. If you haven't had time to get dressed for a video call, Skype lets you do audio-only calls as well. Skype is also the podcasting industry-standard for recording high-quality calls between people a world apart.
When I discovered Zoom, I quickly fell in love. While Skype doesn't have built-in recording capabilities, Zoom does. With a free plan, you can have room for all of your friends to hop on and chat, and you can record it. There's a 40-minute limitation, but if you keep your meetings short, you'll have no problem.
I could not run my business without Box. As cloud storage providers go, Box is one among many. However, the desktop sync function allows me to sync all of my files to the cloud and lets me access them from anywhere. Box is business-quality cloud storage for a non-business price (hint: it's free).
Also, they don't mess around with 2 GB of storage for free; use this link and get 10 GB and the desktop sync app for free. You'll never look back.
Curious about creating your own personal cloud? CLICK HERE to check out my post about how to never lose anything again.
Social media is a great way to connect with your customers and clients. By scheduling posts and updates, you can be active online 24/7. Connect your social profiles to Buffer and you can schedule your updates days, weeks, or even months in advance.
Ever publish something only to find out you had a typo in the first paragraph? In case you don't have a mother-in-law with an eye for editing like I do, use Grammarly to check your document before you hit “Send” or “Publish”. Grammarly, combined with Hemingway, is a powerful tool every writer should be using to make their work better.
Often referred to as a “digital brain”, Evernote is another tool I couldn't run my business without. It syncs with everything and allows me to take quick notes. I'm writing this post in Evernote before I paste it into Hemingway, then Grammarly, and then finally into WordPress. I use Evernote to keep a list of blog post ideas, snap photos of business receipts, and a whole list of other things.
In 2017 I switched to OneNote. Read about my experience.
I wish I'd known about the free podcast hosting from ShoutEngine when I wrote my #1 Bestseller, How to Start Your Professional Podcast for $200 or Less because this free service would have been in it. Before you spend $5-$20 per month for podcast hosting, give ShoutEngine a look. They'll handle your show's RSS feed and even help you submit your show to iTunes.
Want to get started podcasting? CLICK HERE to check out my book and video tutorials on how to do it right.
When you're ready to start taking on customers and clients, you'll need a way to keep track of prospects so you can convert them to buyers. HubSpot CRM is a powerful web-based tool that will help you track deals and develop a pipeline that will help you build and grow your business.
If your website loads slow, a major culprit could be the size of the images you're uploading. Use the free image optimization tool from Kraken to shrink the file size by up to 80%. I optimize every image before uploading it to my website and the results speak for themselves. Optimized images also make it easier for mobile visitors to browse your site, so Kraken is a must-use tool.
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Over to you! What are some of the free tools you've used to help you build your business?