Are you overwhelmed with all the ‘hats’ you have to wear as a business or blog owner? Here are The Best FREE Services for your Blog or Business.
When you first start a blog or a business website you can easily get overwhelmed with everything you have to do. You need to be a writer, a technical expert, a designer, a social media expert, a marketer and a researcher, amongst other things. This makes it extremely important to find good services which can help you manage some of these tasks. There are so many around you really don’t know where to start. To help you, I have put together this article which contains The Best Free Services for your Blog or Business. It has details of the tools I use and explains why I use them. The bonus – THEY ARE ALL FREE! They do have paid content too, but I have been more than happy with the free versions.
Canva is on the list of best FREE services because images are so important to your blog or business. Whether you are using the images on your website or across social media – images are everything and you can create everything in Canva including items like printables. They even have free video tutorials which you can watch to help improve your design skills.
Canva is really easy to use. It has ready sized templates, including ones for all the different social media platforms but you can also create custom sized designs.
They even have free images and designs that you can use although it is really easy to upload your own too, which I like to do most of the time.
You can change the font, colour, background colour and everything is added in layers, which you can also change. So if you want a coloured shape behind your text, you can do that. Everything you can see in the image below is changeable and they even have these handy crosshairs, which appear automatically, to ensure everything is in the centre – which is sooo useful.
I do not claim to be any good at designing images but I am sharing two images with you below – a ‘before Canva’ and ‘after Canva’ example and I don’t think I need to explain which is which as I am sure you will be able to work that one out for yourself! I have also use the ‘Grid’ option to easily insert the pictures side by side to create one image. Once I discovered Canva, I just had to go back and change some of my images as they were quite embarrassing. There are a few more to do when I get the time.
As you can see, Canva is amazing and I would definitely recommend it. They do have some cool features in the paid version too, but I am managing perfectly well with the free version and you will too, so sign up now and take your images to the next level. There is even an App available which you can download from the iTunes App Store (affiliate link) using this link Canva - Graphic Design & Photo Editing - Canva
Today, social media is SO important. No matter what your niche is, you can bet that you will need to use social media to get the word out about your website or blog and that can be rather time consuming. However, with Hootsuite, you can schedule your social media posts in advance. Spend half an hour scheduling for the week and then spend the rest of your time working on something else. You will still need to be ‘present’ on social media, but only so you can respond to your customers.
In the free version you can connect up to 3 social platforms. I have my blogs Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts connected and it has drastically reduced the amount of time I need to spend on social media. Each time I create a blog post, I schedule it to publish on my blog in advance. I can then go into Hootsuite and create the promotional content that I wish to go out and schedule this to post on the same day as my blog post goes live. For example, I may have written this blog post two weeks ago but I will have scheduled it to go out today along with all the social promotion related to it.
I will be present on social media to reply to any comments but I will not need to actually press the ‘tweet’ or ‘post’ button in Twitter or Facebook. Instagram works in a slightly different way, as they don’t allow apps to auto-publish to Instagram. Hootsuite works around this by allowing you to prepare and schedule a ‘reminder’ in Hootsuite, then you are able to easily copy and paste into Instagram at a set time to suit you, so it takes about 4 seconds to publish to Instagram on the day.
There is a link shortener – ow.ly – and you even get access to some really great analytics. You can see exactly how many people have clicked on your links for particular posts and where they have originated from.
Again, they do have some cool paid for functions like bulk-scheduling and a calendar view for scheduling, which I would love to upgrade to in the future but for now I can easily live with the free version and have done for quite a while now.
It even has some amazing free training courses which I fully intend to do as soon as time allows.
Sign up to Hootsuite today for free and you will be able to manage all your social media in one place at a time to suit you. Again, there is an App to go along with it and it is definitely worth downloading. You can then even schedule directly from your mobile phone. Download from the App Store now (affiliate link) Hootsuite: Schedule Posts for Twitter & Instagram - Hootsuite Media Inc.. What will you do with all that spare time?
Attracting subscribers to your blog or business is the best way to market your products and the most recommended way to do this is to capture the details of visitors to your site. Most email marketing companies provide a service for free up to a certain number of subscribers and MailerLite is free up to 1000 subscribers. Now this is less than some, for instance MailChimp is free up to 2000 subscribers BUT, and it is a big but, with MailerLite you also get FREE AUTOMATION too.
MailerLite is really easy to use, with drag and drop elements to create your emails. You can even segment your lists, which for my website I find really useful. I blog about a wide range of topics, so if I wish to collect subscribers, I can set up different lists for the emails to be added to. If I create something that is geared towards money saving, I will set up the collection to be added to the savers list. This ensures that any future email campaigns I send are then targeted towards the most suitable range of subscribers and someone interested in making money, doesn’t receive information on recipes.
MailerLite isn’t all about email campaigns though. You can also design subscription boxes which you can embed onto your website, pop-up boxes to appear on your website which you have full control over when and who they appear to and, the latest addition, landing pages which I am yet to try out. You also get to view analytics on how each of your webforms are performing.
Back to the automation, this is a really cool function and it is amazing that they offer it for free to people just starting out. The automation allows me to set up a schedule of emails (a workflow) which are sent automatically to anyone who subscribes. I can set these emails up to be sent at intervals of my choice. As an example, I offer a free step-by-step guide on how to set up your Pinterest Account for Business as an opt-in to encourage people to sign up. Upon sign up, subscribers will receive an email instantly with the link to their free guide but then a series of emails are triggered. There are five in the series and they are sent at particular intervals over the course of 6 weeks – as I don’t want to bombard people. You can set it and forget it - a brilliant timesaver.
I really can’t recommend MailerLite enough. This has been one of the most amazing free finds which is really helping me to grow my subscribers. They have a WordPress Plugin too which I have just started using and, yes you guessed it, an App! With the app you can monitor your campaign activity, see when someone subscribes and even add people you meet face to face to your list. You can download it from the App Store here (affiliate link) MailerLite - Mediapark UAB
I can’t believe that only a few months ago I had never heard of Trello – now I LOVE IT and couldn’t imagine being without it. It is an online, dynamic planner. Imagine have a board with lots of post it notes on it which you can move around into different categories – that’s Trello. Again, there is a paid version with some upgrades available, but I only use the free one and it’s great.
I just counted and I have 25 boards – wow, I didn’t think I had that many but it is brilliant at keeping me organised. One of my favourite boards is titled ‘Brain Dump’. I don’t know about you but I seem to have so much stuff floating around in my brain that I just have to get it documented. Trello has an app, so no matter where I am, I can open up Trello and add my thought to the relevant board.
I also use it to organise my blog post, so I can see exactly what I should be working on and exactly where I have got to.
I share a board with my brother, who lives in Australia. Either of us can add to the board at any time if we think of something that may help one another. There is also the ability to attach documents too, which saves on sending things via email and keeps everything in an easy to find place.
Once you have signed up, you will automatically have access to a Tutorial board. This will go through the basics with you. Here are the basics – the pink background is the ‘board’. The grey sections are ‘lists’ and you can add as many of these to your board as you wish. The white sections are ‘cards’, just like post-it notes and you can add as many of these to your lists as you like. Both the cards and the lists can be dragged and dropped around the board. In the screenshot below, I have moved the long list to the right and moved the card with the dog’s image onto the list called ‘Tried it’ and it took about 2 seconds to do that.
I originally signed up to Trello as a way to organise my blog but I now have boards that are helping me organise my life too and I am sure you will fall in love with it to once you have signed up.