To own a business, people have to know yours exists—and it goes beyond plopping a website online. Marketing is a huge component of a business of any size. The problem is, you’re already bootstrapped—you wisely allocate funds across your business but just can’t justify spending a hefty amount on built-for-enterprise marketing tools. On the other hand, if you fail in your marketing efforts, you run the risk of missing out on your next big client.
But marketing isn’t just a skill you can pull out of a hat. The reality is it’s a profession all on its own. So to give your marketing efforts a little push and inspiration, we’ve compiled a list of both free and user-friendly marketing tools to use for your small business.
Be the Trusted, Subject-Matter Expert: Blogging Tools
Portent: If you have a general topic in mind for your next blog post, but you’re having trouble finding the best angle for the story, Portent created a Content Idea Generator. Enter your topic or keyword and the generator will suggest a headline for you—it’s definitely a lifesaver for creative block.
HARO: To strengthen your blog post—and also increase the sharability of it—you may want to consider interviewing an expert. HARO, short for Help a Reporter Out, is a free query tool to pitch and find sources for your stories. Enter your query and wait for your inbox to pile up with subject-matter experts, all who are enthusiastic about being interviewed.
Hemingway Editor: For much of the early stage of your business, you’ll likely be working alone without a second pair of eyes on your blog posts. The Hemingway Editor is a simple and free tool to use. Just copy and paste your blog post or website copy into the editor, and it will highlight suggestions for edits. To add, it even grades your writing readability—because clean copy is the simplest way to earn clients’ trust.
Allow Search Engines to Find You: SEO Tools
SEMRush: A robust free component, SEMRush allows you to search keywords, see how they rank and find other publications who rank high for those words.
Keyword.io: By creating an account on Keyword.io, you can find the top keywords to strengthen your blog posts or website content. The free account allows you to filter your search by engine and location.
Promote Your Small Business: Social Media Tools
Facebook Insights: Measure your social media efforts on Facebook for free with Facebook Insights. Built to track the performance of your business page, you can find how people are interacting with your posts, plus gather information on your audience for future content research.
Twitter Analytics: A free and user-friendly way to measure the performance of your business’ Tweets. By logging into your account, you can measure impressions and engagements over a specified time period.
Hootsuite: This social media scheduling system is a handy marketing tool for any business owner on-the-go. While Hootsuite is a paid platform, it does have a free component that works well for small businesses. With a free account, you can add up to three social accounts, schedule your posts and measure basic engagement.
Engage with Potential Clients Through Alternative Storytelling: Design Tools
Canva: Described as “amazingly simple graphic design software,” Canva is perfect if you aren’t design-equipped. To use, you’ll need to create an account. With the free version, you’ll be able to create infographics, banners and presentations with ease. Then, embed them into your blog posts, pricing kits or other marketing efforts.
Pixlr: An online photo editor, with Pixlr you can perform the basics of Photoshop right from your browser. Whether you need to resize images, add an overlay or create effects, Pixlr allows you to do so and is user-friendly.
Make Customers Click with Strong Images: Visual Tools
Gratisography: Calling this image collection “quirky” is an understatement. Gratisography has a colorful collection of free, high-resolution images for both personal or commercial use. If you’re feeling “whimsical” with your marketing efforts, they have a category for that.
Unsplash: Dubbed a “Free (do whatever you want) high-resolution photos” website, Unsplash has a library of beautifully curated images. The library isn’t immediately organized by category, but does allow you to search and peruse by collection or most recently added. (This one’s a FreshBooks fave.)
IMFree: An extension of website builder IMCreator, IMFree has a curated collection of free images and resources to meet your website’s needs, all for commercial use. The library is smartly and aesthetically organized with categories from people to food and drinks to fashion and beauty. IMFree also provides free website templates and icons.
About the author: Megan Santos is a Content Editor at FreshBooks. Before joining the team, Megan was the Editor of a national trade publication and was also a published writer for the National Post, Notable.ca, and Zoocasa.com. In her free time, you can find Megan in her empty, new home or Pinteresting “Home decor inspiration.” Follow her on Twitter@meganssantos.