Free resources to build your business

Whether you’re a start-up, sole trader or are getting back on your feet post-lockdown, many organisations are looking at ways to reduce costs and get more attention.

While it’s always best to use a professional if you can, sometimes it’s not always possible, so here are a few resources I’ve personally found useful:

Woman being filmed on a smartphone

Images and Video

Canva – if you haven’t used Canva before, give it a try now! It’s a really simple way to create graphics and images for social media, presentations, posters – anything really! They offer a huge number of templates, photos, fonts and icons for you to use (including moving ones, which are great for Instagram) and it’s free! You can choose to upgrade to unlock certain features, but as yet, I haven’t felt the need to.

PhotoPea – This is essentially a web-based Photoshop, and is great if you want to create something more intricate or need to do finer image manipulation than Canva allows.

InShot – I love this video editing app. It’s free (again, with added features you can pay for if you want) and allows you to chop and change your footage, add transitions, overlay text and graphics and choose from free music. It’s ideal for quick, eye-catching videos for social media. If you want to use your phone to create something more detailed, look at KineMaster, Quik or Splice – you need to pay for some of these, but they give an experience closer to professional filming and video editing.

Open Shot Video Editor – If you can wait until you’re at a computer, Open Shot is an open source, free video editor. As it’s open source, new bits are being added all the time and the functionality just keeps getting better! I prefer using this for longer pieces as I find it much easier to keep track of all the elements on a bigger screen.

Social media icons on a phone screen

Social Media

Facebook Blueprint – Facebook have put together this free resource which tells you everything you could ever want to know about the inner workings of their platform. They’ve done the same for Instagram too, and it’s always my first port of call if I want to brush up my knowledge.

Creator Studio – This is Facebook’s own creation and scheduling tool. You can post and manage all the Facebook and Instagram accounts you are an admin of from one place. It makes it easier to share posts and images between accounts and you can schedule as much as you want in advance!

Tweetdeck – This is Twitter’s creation and scheduling tool – it’s not perfect, there are some features available directly on Twitter which you can’t access through this tool, but you can schedule posts for multiple accounts, reply to comments, see retweets and monitor other accounts and hashtags. You might just have to go back to Twitter itself on occasion.

Organisation

Trello – Great for project management. If you like lists, you’ll love Trello. You can add multiple lists to project boards, assign tasks to different people, label items in different colours, the possibilities are almost endless! I’ve found this really useful for things like creating publications with multiple contributors, or getting various people to contribute to a single social media plan – it’s brilliant for bringing lots of ideas together and seeing at a glance which are ready to use and which need more work.

Hand writing a checklist, with list details out of focus

External Communication

MailChimp – MailChimp makes it easy to create professional looking emails (especially if you combine it with some lovely images from Canva!) and manage your email subscribers. For the most part, your lists look after themselves – people can unsubscribe themselves and they’re automatically removed, you’re always GDPR compliant. It’s free for up to 2,000 subscribers and you get lots of useful insights into what’s worked and what hasn’t.

 Google, Google, Google – Yes, they’re everywhere, but yes, they are very useful and can solve a lot of problems! Share documents with customers or colleagues using Google Docs or Google Sheets, find out who’s using your website with Google Analytics, find out what people are searching for online on Google Trends. It’s almost one of those things you can’t avoid using.

Zoom – Lots of us have become proficient in Zoom over the past few months, whether it’s been for work purposes or a family quiz night. There are lots of alternatives you can use such as Skype, Microsoft Teams, GoToMeeting or Google Meet, and they’ve all got their own benefits and drawbacks. It’s worth spending a bit of time finding out what each platform can offer and which suits you best.

AnswerThePublic – As well as Google Trends, AnswerThePublic is an amazing way to get ideas for blogs. Give them one or two words, and they’ll tell you the things people are searching around those topics. They will also create it in a lovely, circular image if you’re a visual person.

That’s a quick overview of just some of the things I find useful!

What about you? What are your go-to resources? Have I missed something essential? Let me know in the comments!

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