Blog, Digital Marketing, DIY, Project management, SEO, Social Media, Web Design 13 Free Tools to Help Grow Your Business
At THE-OOP.COM, we are always looking for tools and systems to help improve productivity and business efficiency. If there’s something that helps reduce the time taken to complete admin tasks, I’m the first person to try it out! Even better if it’s free…
The list of tools below are all available for free, and we have used each of them to help run THE-OOP.COM over the past 2 years.
WEB AND GRAPHIC DESIGN
Designed by Australian entrepreneur, Melanie Perkins, Canva is a drag and drop design tool that enables everyone to create beautiful graphics and documents. At THE-OOP.COM, we use Canva to create social media posts, basic logos and web graphics. The free version is perfectly suitable for the needs of a small business, and the paid version offers further features including transparent backgrounds and access to thousands more stock images.
Pexels provides high quality and completely free stock photos that are available to use for both personal and commercial purposes. Whilst images are provided at no cost, there is an option to donate to the photographer to help them continue their work.
For those in need of graphics editing software but not willing to pay for Adobe, the Pixlr Editor provides plenty of functionality for non-professional editors. At THE-OOP.COM, we use Pixlr editor to resize graphics, add text to graphics and add colour overlays to images for web design. The paid version gives extra functionalities including presets, double exposure and other special effects.
When I first started working in web design, coolors.co saved me when it came to creating beautiful colour schemes for websites. Coolors.co features a colour palette generator and even has an option to generate a colour scheme from an uploaded image. You can also save your colour schemes for future use or export them to share with clients.
SOCIAL MEDIA PLANNING
Buffer is a social media management tool that allows you to schedule posts across social media platforms. It currently integrates with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google + and Pinterest (paid version only), and allows up to 3 social accounts under the free version. Buffer features exportable analytics reports that can be presented to clients, with more detailed analytics available in the paid version.
CLIENT & PROJECT MANAGEMENT
Hubspot is my top recommendation for any client-facing business. It is a marketing and sales platform that helps business owners track leads and close deals, all for free! There is even a feature to record phone conversations and track whether your emails have been opened. At THE-OOP.COM we use Hubspot daily to track deals, customer communications and tasks due to ensure we provide the highest level of service to our customers.
A task management app, Trello can be used to organise and track your workflow. It allows you to break tasks into manageable chunks and track progress for yourself and your team. Related tasks can be organised on boards, and then broken down into cards and ticked off step by step. Team members can communicate over the platform by tagging each other in posts, allowing for trackable communication and minimising re-work.
With clients and employees spread across 4 continents, the meeting planner helps THE-OOP.COM plan work across time zones. We also use the World Clock Meeting Planner to check time zones before sending email invitations for staff and client calls.
Wave is a small business accounting website that provides a suite of free resources to help manage your business finances. It allows you to create financial statements, track profit and loss, create cash flow projections, invoice customers, record receipts and even accept credit card payments, all absolutely free. The mobile app for expense tracking has been invaluable for our business to ensure we don’t miss any small expenses, and the invoicing feature issues professional invoices to clients in minutes, including email tracking and online payments.
Toggl is a simple online timer which allows you to track the time it takes to complete projects. At THE-OOP.COM our staff use Toggl to ensure that we stay on track with client projects. Our contractors also use it to create simple time sheets for payment. The mobile app is handy to record the time required for client calls and meetings.
The most widely used analytics platform online, Google Analytics provides statistics and analytical tools for SEO and marketing purposes. Through the Google Analytics platform you can view your web traffic statistics, including number of users over a given period of time, how long they spend on your site, which pages they visit, the audience demographics, how they got to your website, bounce rate and many more statistics. Insights from Google Analytics can help you to optimise your website and marketing campaigns to match the preferences of your audience.
Google Console is a webmaster tool that was designed to help users optimise the appearance of their website in Google. It allows you to analyse search terms used to reach your site, check your site’s indexation, create XML sitemaps and a host of other functionalities.
Easily one of my favourite websites, Neil Patel’s site is the most comprehensive collection of SEO information on the internet. The site features a series of blogs with detailed information on how to improve various aspects of SEO, but the most useful feature is the SEO analyzer. This tool requires you to enter your site URL, and then spits out a list of improvements to improve your SEO. The results are split into two sections, SEO score and page speed, and there is even an option to compare your website against 3 others.
As you can see, running an online business doesn’t have to be expensive, and there are tools available for free to help manage your business, create beautiful images and attract your ideal clients.
If you have not yet started your website or blog, check out our article How To Start a Self-Hosted Website for a detailed guide on setting up your new site. You can also contact us at any time if you need help.