Welcome to my resource page for creative entrepreneurs. Whether you're a freelancer, a blogger, a content creator, or a fellow artist like me - all these tools can be used to help skyrocket your biz!
In fact, many of these recommendations have been crucial for the success of my art & design biz. Though I genuinely thrive off of drawing and designing new art, I'm also equally passionate about sharing my business successes with other creatives who are also trying to make a living from their passion.
So if you're desperately in need of some free/affordable online tools and software that'll help make your life easier, here's a quick list that has helped me focus on driving more traffic and sales to my business!
But first, an important disclaimer:
Some of my recommendations contain affiliate links, which means if you choose to buy them, I will make a small commission at no additional expense to you. Please know that I only recommend the following products and services because I have used them personally, or have carefully examined their usefulness and truly believe they can help achieve results. I have no interest in promoting products I don't believe in and would never recommend a product that isn't worth your time!
SOCIAL MEDIA TOOLS
Though Tailwind is used for Pinterest and Instagram, currently I just use it for my Pinterest strategy. Tailwind helps you discover new content, schedule posts, monitor conversations, amplify reach by collaborating with other Pinterest users through their 'tribe' feature, and allows you to analyze results. All with ONE tool.
There is a paid and a FREE version. The free version has many features, but the paid is for those more active on Pinterest.
FollowAdder is the Instagram automation software that I use. I've found that it has significantly improved my traffic, helped generate leads, gain me followers, and increase my engagement - all on autopilot. It can comment, like, DM, follow/unfollow based on a set of customizable rules and has saved me SO much time.
Its user interface may look a bit outdated, but it's one of the least expensive options I've found that has all the necessary features while ensuring my account doesn't get blocked. They have a 7-day money back guarantee HERE!
Later is an online platform that's perfect for scheduling your Instagram posts at the optimized time for your followers. It also has a hashtag generation tool that takes the guesswork out of the hashtag search. There is a FREE version and it includes up to 30 posts a month of scheduling. However, you don't get the hashtag research with the free version.
NinjaPinner is the most popular Pinterest automation software bot available. If you're trying to increase your targeted following on Pinterest this software can do that on autopilot! You can easily follow tons of other users from a similar users list and just set it and forget. As you know, many people will follow you back! It's also super affordable with no monthly payments. Just a one-time affordable fee. Try their FREE 7 day trial first HERE.
Hootsuite allows you to save time by managing all of your social media marketing from a single platform. There is a paid and a FREE version available. They do have a 30-day trial of their paid version if you need to test it out!
Need help discovering new hashtags to reach your target audience? You can use this FREE hashtag generator which will give you the top 30 related hashtags based on a given keyword. You have 3 filter options to find the right hashtags you need. It's an easy copy and paste!
HubSpot's FREE customer relationship manager (CRM) software is what got me in the door. I needed a way to track the the stage of my leads and keep notes so I could follow up with my potential customers. HubSpot easily does this and their paid version does so much more! They offer a full cloud-based platform of marketing, sales, and customer service. Check them out HERE.
If you haven't heard of ClickFunnels, you've more than likely been on a website that has used it. Their funnel templates are strategically designed for top conversions giving you everything you need to market, sell, and deliver your products and services online. Though this may cost a pretty penny upfront, it should easily pay for itself if your conversions increase. You can grab a 14- day FREE trial though here!
Leadpages is a competitor to ClickFunnels. Both are great options, but Leadpages is the more affordable option and has more template options. You can easily build and customize one of their professional landing page designs and enjoy unlimited publishing for lead pages, squeeze pages, popups, splash pages, and thank you pages. Very easy to use!
When it comes to marketing to qualified leads, building your email list is essential for long-term growth and for your retargeting strategy. MailChimp is great because the FREE version lets you have up to 2,000 subscribers and you can send up to 12,000 emails per month. That's more than enough for those just getting started!
Eventually when your business outgrows a free email marketing plan, you'll want to evaluate several paid options, such as Constant Contact. This is a popular industry standard that provides A/B split testing, responsive email templates, an easy-to-use email editor, deliverability tools, list management and building features, autoresponders, and analytics. They do offer a free trial HERE.
Kajabi is an all-in-one platform that makes it easy to create online courses, launch marketing campaigns, build landing pages, and design the perfect website. I haven't tried this one yet since I haven't launched an online course yet, but my trusted mentor uses and recommends this product. You can start your free 14-Day trial of Kajabi growth HERE.
WEBSITE & HOSTING
I have personally used Shopify, Wix, and WordPress - all have their own advantages and disadvantages. Shopify should be used for those who are looking to DropShip or primarily sell physical products. Their platform is the main ecommerce platform on the web is very user friendly. Though they're more expensive than other options, all other eccomerce platforms lack some key features.
Wix is awesome for those who primarily need a quick, gorgeous website up and running for a business you already have and you simply need an online presence (great for photographers and online portfolio displays). Though Wix has been continuously improving and adding key features, I don't currently recommend using them for websites trying to monetize through blogs or ecommerce.
If you're looking to primarily monetize your business through blogging and affiliate marketing, WordPress is no doubt the best platform to accomplish this. It is made for blogs. It's also a much more affordable option long term, especially if you use one of their free themes. It's downside is having to learn how to edit a website without complete customization.
Bluehost is one of the most popular yet affordable quality platforms being offered for your hosting needs. If you are using Shopify or Wix, you won't need hosting. But if you're going the blog route and using WordPress, I highly recommend Bluehost. They offer a FREE domain name registration, SSL certificate, 1-click WordPress Install, 24/7 support etc.
If you're in need of a domain name, Go Daddy is the place I start. I've purchased several domain names from them over the years. A lot of times they have great promos on their domains. However, I've found that if it's a really good domain (something short/popular that isn't taken yet), they jack the price up - sometimes hundreds to thousands of dollars. I always start with Go Daddy to at least see if the domain is available.
An alternative to Go Daddy, you can also purchase a domain name from NameCheap. They actually offer a free WHOIS Protection (so your personal information is protected), which Go Daddy charges $7.99/year for. So though Go Daddy often times offers $2.99 promos, they upcharge you for other products. You'll want to weigh the pros and cons of both sites.
ANALYTICS & SEO
Google Analytics may go without saying, but if you haven't tried it yet, it's an absolute necessity! You gain a much deeper understanding of your customers and the traffic sources that they are coming from. Google Analytics gives you the free tools you need to analyze data for your business so you can determine where your marketing dollars are best spent.
For those of you going the WordPress route, Yoast SEO is a necessary plugin! It's the most complete WordPress SEO plugin and handles the technical optimization of your site & assists with optimizing your content. There is a FREE and a paid version.
Neil Patel is the industry's leader in SEO marketing advice. He has free tools to analyze the status of your website and offers incredible tips on how to increase your sales, leads and traffic. His emails are super helpful and I try to read most of them to keep up with what's new in online marketing!
Ahrefs is a tool to research your competitors, monitor your niche, and grow your search traffic. It's super helpful to use if you're trying to learn why your competitors rank so high and what you need to do to outrank them. Their FREE 7-day trial is incredible and you may be able to do the research you need within the trial without upgrading to the paid plan.
This helpful tool let's you analyze your website’s speed so you can make it faster. GTmetrix gives you insight on how well your site loads and provides actionable recommendations on how to optimize it. And the best part? It's FREE!
When it comes to SEO, keywords matter. By using this extension you will no longer need to switch between your keyword tool and Google Keyword Planner. Keywords Everywhere helps ease the process of finding the exact keywords your audience is looking for. Just install this FREE extension to discover keywords, search volume, cost per click and competition data.
Though you probably already know of Google Drive, it needs to be listed! It's been my online storage system for of all my documents. In fact, I actually write all of my Word and Excel files on here first, then download them when I'm finished. In this way I can have them easily accessible online, no matter where I am in the world.
Speare is a thought processor that makes writing as easy as thinking! It helps you get your thoughts out of your head and into building blocks so you can have full control of your writing process. Unlike word processors and text editors that focus on formatting and typesetting, a thought processor is designed to capture the random order of your thoughts and easily rearrange them at any time. They offer a free 14-day trial HERE.
I never would have made it through college without Citation Machine! Use this if you need to easily create correct citations for your informational blogs.
Grammarly is an AI-powered writing assistant. It's crucial when it comes to creating content online that's clear and mistake-free. My writing would be terrible without it! Though I would gladly pay for this service, thankfully it's also FREE!
Experiencing writer's block? Hubspot's FREE blog topic generator may give you some fresh ideas! The free version will generate up to 5 ideas per keyword you type in.
Though I advise using this with caution, this Paraphrasing Tool is one of my new favorites. You can use this to paraphrase or rewrite full-length articles or to find new ways to express simple phrases, sentences or single words. I definitely don't recommend copy and pasting straight from their suggestion, but it's a helpful start. And it's FREE!
PHOTOS, FONTS, & GRAPHICS
Pexels is a FREE resource for quality stock photos. Though I don't recommend using stock photos for the majority of your content, this website certainly has a lot to choose from that you can use to supplement your content.
Creative Market is a great place for digital goods and your design needs. Though not a free option, you can find vector patterns, icons, photoshop brushes, fonts and much more at Creative Market.
Canva is the ultimate graphic design tool for those needing amazing graphic materials for your marketing and content strategy. They have ready to use templates and is customizable for all your social media needs. It's definitely helpful for those wanting to use 'Tall Pins' for Pinterest.
Unsplash is another free stock photos resource if you're looking for beautiful, free photos.
Coolors is a FREE, fast and easy solution to generate unlimited palette combinations. You can also upload a photo you like and generate color combinations from that. Here are 50 of my favorite color palette combinations I already created with their site, found HERE.
If you ever need to make a gorgeous, professional presentation, Visme is for you. Visme also has tons of awesome infographic templates that are customizable to your needs. Their FREE version is more than enough for the majority of small business owners!
If you're in need of outsourcing help for business needs, whether that's fresh blog content, photography, graphic design, etc., Fiverr should be your starting place. Most of the freelance services on there are literally offered for a mere $5. Not everyone offering services will be high quality though, so just make sure to check their reviews!
If you can't find what you're looking for on Fiverr, Freelancer has you covered. All you have to do is post the job you need completed and then you'll receive competitive bids from freelancers within minutes. Whatever your needs, there will be a freelancer to get it done.
Upwork is another place to hire freelancers. You can hire talent nearby or worldwide. Just post and Upwork analyzes your needs. Their search functionality uses data science to highlight freelancers based on their skills, helping you find talent that’s a good match. They then send you a shortlist of likely candidates. You can also search their site for talent, and freelancers can view your job and submit proposals too.
PRODUCTIVITY & ORGANIZATION
Wunderlist is a FREE app that lets you write out all of your To-Do-List items with a visual, clickable checkbox. It's great if you like to be logged in on multiple devices because it syncs perfectly. I love the sound it makes when you 'check' something off your list!
Evernote is for the ultimate organization platform for prioritizing notes, ideas, projects, to-do lists etc. Their FREE version has more than enough for the average entrepreneur.
"Read Aloud" has been a game changer for me. It's a text to speech voice reader and has helped me read and comprehend content at double the speed. As long as you're using Google Chrome, this extension can read aloud to you any website's content. You can change the voices, and customize the speed to your liking. Best part, IT'S FREE!