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After a year in business, I think it's time to update the top five free tools I use in my small business! All of the updates have been added in pink, so they're noticeable. I would love to hear what free tools you use!
I am so excited about this post! After just over a year of working my small business (#seasonedveteran), I wanted to share my top five free tools for small businesses. It can get really expensive when you start a business, because there are SO many things you need. These tools are essential to small business owners, and who doesn't love free?? 😀 Keep reading to check out my top five free tools for small businesses. Maybe you'll find something that can help you today!
This probably isn't a new tool for most of you, but Google Drive seriously is an absolute must-have for any small business. I love that it's something that most people are very comfortable with, so there isn't much of a learning curve.
I use Google Drive as my cloud storage for all of my business documents. I love how easy it is to scan physical documents and upload them to Google Drive. It's also super easy to add pdfs, emails, and files of all kinds to Google Drive. I have folders for expenses, graphics I've created, printables I have made or found, and all sorts of resources. Google Drive helps to keep me organized!
I also use their office suite for all of my publishing needs. While it might not be as fancy as Microsoft Office (PC user here!), it's much easier to use and the price point is perfect. I use Google Docs and Google Slides frequently.
It's no wonder that Google Drive makes my list of the top five free tools for small businesses. Of course, there are paid options for Google Suite that start at $5. My favorite part of that is you can use your own domain for your email address. I will probably upgrade in the future, but I am very happy with my free Google Drive!
As I have grown my business, I have added Google Suite for $6.00 a month. I love it, but I recommend the free Google Suite for anyone who's just starting out!
Google Analytics definitely deserves a spot in my top five free tools for small businesses. Although it can be kind of a pain to get it up and going (why are there so many steps???), it is so helpful once it's working.
There is a lot that you can learn from Google Analytics. You can see how the traffic to your website is getting there, where they are coming from, and what they do when they visit your site. You can look specifically at different time periods, make comparisons, and create any type of report you want with your data.
Because, that's what everyone wants to do with their time, right?
I will confess that I am very new to using Google Analytics. There are parts that I'm not familiar with at all, but you have to start somewhere. If you haven't already gotten started with Google Analytics, you should get going. You will need a google account and you should be able to find out how to connect it from the dashboard of your website. If you're already an expert, I would love any tips you can give me. After all, sharing is caring!
Google Analytics is still a winner! It shows me what's working and what's not. I use it mostly to where traffic comes from, so I know where to focus marketing efforts. Amazing!
The next tool on my list of the top five free tools for small businesses is OBS, or Open Broadcaster Software. If you aren't familiar with OBS, it lets you create videos and live streams like a pro for FREE! OBS is an open-source software, so anyone can download and use it, but that also means it can be a little tricky for a new user. A lot of You-Tubers and gamers use OBS to create their live streams.
Since it is a little trickier and more for intermediate to advanced technology users, it's not used as commonly in the blogger world. I used it pretty successfully for a Facebook Live after spending about two hours researching and practicing with it. I love that it creates videos that look more professional as I can add an overlay with my name, do a dual-screen video with my screen and my face, and add slides to a video. I'm excited to see what else it can do as I explore it further!
If you want to find out more about OBS, here are a few of my favorite resources. Here is the link to the website to download OBS. The best place that I've found for help with OBS is on You-Tube. I created a playlist of some of the videos that helped me get started with OBS. You can check out my playlist here. I hope the videos help you. Feel free to comment if you have any questions, and I'll try to help you out!
I haven't made many videos recently, but I still think OBS is worth the effort. If I decide to make videos in the future, it'll be my go-to software!
As I've added clients to my business, I've needed to share screens and have face-to-face meetings with clients all over the world.
Zoom makes this so easy, and my favorite use is for strategy sessions. When I talk with someone on strategy, we cover A LOT of information. The sessions are usually an hour or more, so it can be difficult to remember everything we talk about.
To help out my clients, I share the recordings that Zoom automatically (with a setting in the scheduler) records. They love it!
Zoom's free plan lets you have one-on-one video calls of any length, but there's a max length of 40 minutes when you have multiple people on the call.
It's a toss-up as to whether Canva or the last tool I talk about is actually #1 of my top five free tools for small businesses. I love both of them a lot, and use them all the time!
Canva is an amazing graphic design tool that many, many bloggers recommend. When I first heard about Canva, I didn't see how it could be that great. I am a Photoshop Elements fan, and I have been for years. I use it for editing pictures and creating graphics and printables. I didn't understand why I would need to use another app to create graphics, but I decided to give it a try, anyway.
Canva made me a true fan. Their templates are amazing, and they have them for every situation! I used Canva to create Pinterest pins, blog images, and printables, like this checklist.
I have two favorite features in Canva. The first one is that you can create PDFs with clickable links. Photoshop Elements doesn't have that feature, and I really like it! The second feature I love is that you can add frames where your images are automatically resized to fit the frame. Plus, there are so many options for frame and grid styles, so you will definitely find ones that fit your needs.
Canva does offer a few ways to upgrade your experience. The first one is that you can buy the individual elements that you like. While they offer many elements for free, you will run into designs that cost $1 and up. They also offer a monthly subscription to Canva for Work. It's $12.95 a month or $9.95 a month if you pay annually. With Canva for work, you get access to more images and designs, as well as more folders and brand colors. I can see how it would be useful if I created more graphics, but free Canva is just right for me right now!
Canva has changed somewhat in the last year and has added lots of new features. It's gotten a little more difficult to find free images and pictures, but I'm still able to use the free version successfully.
Although it was a close call, my absolute #1 of the five free tools for small businesses is Trello(affiliate link). This app has truly revolutionized how I plan things for home and business. If you aren't familiar with Trello, it's a project management program that lets you create visual boards for whatever you want!
When I first checked it out, I thought it was an interesting concept, but I wasn't sure how useful it would be. I couldn't see how I would use it enough to justify learning it. That quickly changed when I explored more of Trello's functionalities! I love how easy it is to customize, the app, the power-ups, and so many other things. Plus it's so pretty!
One of the main reasons I was able to learn more about Trello was because I was lucky enough to be a beta tester for the Organize Your Life with Trello course from Cara Harvey and Elisa Giorgio. These women are Trello stars! I learned so much from the course, and I'm excited for the opportunity to share info about the course with you.
Because the course is amazing and helpful for bloggers, small-business owners, and busy moms, I wanted to become an affiliate! August 2 is the official launch date for Organize Your Life with Trello, and there will be a launch party and lots of bonuses throughout the weekend. The course will also be available for a discounted price until Monday, August 6. The price will then go up to its full price of $37.
If this course sounds like it could be something that might benefit you, your business, and your home, you can get more details here(affiliate link). I've also shared some ways that I use Trello boards for my life and business. You can read about them here and here!
Trello is still my favorite project management program. It's so flexible that you really can use it however you need!
I don't write anything without Grammarly. This Chrome extension saves me lots of time while I'm working. It automatically proofreads my work and lets me know when I have misspelled words in my work. It will even make suggestions on how to fix the words and catches some basic grammar mistakes. I don't make tons of grammar mistakes, but it definitely helps with commas.
There is a paid plan, but I haven't felt the need to upgrade. It's great!
That's my list of the top five free tools for small businesses. There are so many great tools out there beyond Google Drive, Google Analytics, OBS, Canva, and Trello that I know I need to explore.
Now it's your turn! Which of the tools I talked about do you use? What are your top tools that I'm missing? Feel free to leave them in the comments below or on my Facebook page. I look forward to checking them out!
Until next time,