This post has an affiliate link or 2, but that did not in any way bias our opinion.
Starting a business can be tough on the pocket, especially if like us you are bootstrapping, but that doesn’t mean you have to compromise on quality tools. There is a combination of free and freemium tools out there that will get you off to a bang, and with the joys of cloud computing, you don’t have to break the bank on hardware either.
This completely free platform is set to achieve one thing, a secure web. It allows you to create SLL Certificates, a technology that encrypts the connection between your website and server. This is all too important in securing the information that your clients share with you, particularly if you receive very sensitive information. Traditionally these certificates were very expensive, but now the whole web can access them.
We recently wrote a blog post about just how much it meant to us to join this online community. GitHub is an online collaboration platform where members share and work together on code. It allows you to contribute to existing projects, or “fork”, which is essentially creating a new project from an existing one. This platform is very important for the growth of the open-source culture we are such fans of.
Creating a community and engaging with your stakeholders is essential to building a brand. Blogging can achieve this and a good CMS makes a better platform than your standard HTML site when it comes to blogging. We use wordpress.org (not wordpress.com, https://wordpress.com/, which is also pretty awesome), which is free and has a ton of free resources as well such as themes and plugins to deliver fresh productive content to you.
The key to generating valuable insights from your data is collecting the right data. The thing is, there could be a ton of data you want to collect for different platforms. That could quickly lead to massive amounts of code and threaten to impair the quality of your assets and the data you collect. Google tag manager makes it easy to install tracking for many applications from one installation as well as control what data is collected.
This freemium software allows you to create stylish magazines that are viewable online. The best part, all your creations are mobile-friendly with no effort from you. Like our other favourite Canva, there is a gallery that you can choose from to start a project or just browse for inspiration, but you can also upload your PDFs. This is a game-changer in distributing your important documents without worrying about size, email or embedded. For a full rundown of Flipsnack, how to use it, reviews, pricing and more, the folks over at Software How have got you covered.
This freemium software is a good mailman with a twist. MailChimp allows you to create mailing lists, and draft and schedule emails to be sent periodically or on particular dates. It comes in handy with forms you can embed to collect contacts and handy integrations to software like CRMs.
More importantly, it makes it easy to keep up with important legislation on mass emailing such as unsubscribe links. Additionally, MailChimp allows you to send physical postcards, though the feature is in beta. Leveraging automations can allow you to do more, including;
- Attracting abandoned carts back to your site
- Upselling, cross-selling on your eCommerce site or just sending appreciation to customers
- Creating a series of onboarding emails for your product.
The list is pretty much too long to cover, but the best part of Mailchimp is its comprehensive knowledge centre. And if you are not ready to jump in, remember Mut-Con is your friendly Mailchimp expert.
All businesses should have a systematic way of incorporating feedback from all stakeholders as a means for continuous improvement. This is what this freemium software allows you to do, it allows you to make surveys to collect key data from all your stakeholders, not just clients but employees as well, with handy tips on how to craft surveys that are eye-catching and have increased possibilities of being answered.
Engaging with clients in real-time when they have inquiries is important for plugging leaks in the conversion funnel. We facilitate this by incorporating live chat on our site and that is what this gem of freemium software does. It allows you to add a chat window to your site, which delivers messages to a live dashboard on a desktop or apps on Android and IOs. You can create profiles so individuals can handle individual quarries.
Leveraging data for decision-making has always been a huge thing for us here at Mut-Con. The difficulty of applying analytics, particularly for small businesses, has always been the bain of our existence. And while a good consultant can go a long way, getting started and understanding your data yourself can go a long way.
This freemium software allows you to do just that, collect data from analytics, social and GMB in one place. This not only makes it easier to make sense of all the numbers, but the tool gives valuable insights. Diib uses AI and complex algorithms to tell you important things like;
- SEO growth plan based on their website’s actual data
- Website security
- Keyword rankings
- Visitor engagement
- Competitor analysis
Hotjar is an essential resource for building a website that meets your business goals. It’s a behaviour analytics tool that allows you to record user sessions on your website so you can understand how users browse your site. You can also record heatmaps to better understand the most browsed areas of your website. In addition to that you can create additional feedback tools such as feedback widgets and surveys. With Hotjar, you can take the guesswork out of the efficiency of your website.
Loom is a free tool that allows entrepreneurs to record videos for their businesses. More specifically, Loom allows you to record your screen, which is useful for creating tutorials, explainers, or just sharing some useful information with your employees, clients and other stakeholders. You can record your camera, microphone, and desktop simultaneously or any combination of these and once your videos are saved, you can share them directly from Loom or download them for further editing and sharing through other platforms.
Bing Webmaster Tools is a complete set of tools for webmasters to improve their search performance on Microsoft’s search properties. It is a complete suite to monitor, troubleshoot and improve search performance on Bing. This free resource comes with important reports and notifications about your websites as well as the overall health of these websites in search. You can also discover how customers are finding your business online. You get a number of search improvement tools like the sitemap submission tool.
Computer costs can add up for a small business, particularly when it comes to operating systems. Thankfully, there are Linux systems, a family of open-source operating systems based on the Linux kernel. There is a range of Linux distributions which work well for any type of use. Distributions like Ubuntu, Mint, Elementary, and more can make for easy replacements for Windows and Mac to use in your business. There are additional distros for many specialised uses like servers and programming. In addition to OSs, Linux provides free software alternatives for what you pay for in traditional OSs like office suites and graphic software.
Workflowy is a cloud-based free platform to organise everything in your life. It uses a very simple and easy-to-use TextPad-like interface. Workflowy is available for all desktops and mobile environments and also works in a browser, and because your data is stored on the cloud, whatever changes you make on one device will update across all your devices. The beauty of Workflowy is its nested list, simply create a task, then nest sub-tasks and sub-sub-tasks as necessary and as you complete everything mark any tasks as completed, you stay organised through all the important tasks.
15. Libre Office
Libre Office is a free open-source alternative to the Microsoft Office suite. While it may have a bit of a learning curve if you are coming from a Microsoft Office background (just a small curve), it’s worth the investment. The word, spreadsheet and presentation software come in a clean yet powerful interface with great functionality. In addition to being free, which is definitely great, the Libre Office suite is available for Linux and macOS, which Windows is not.
GIMP, GNU Image Manipulation Program, is a free tool for image manipulation and image editing, free-form drawing, transcoding between different image file formats, and more specialized tasks. GIMP has tools powerful enough to work on very complex tasks and meet the needs of the most professional designers. GIMP is particularly useful if you took our advice and moved to a free Linux distro, where a lot of graphics software tends not to install. GIMP works well as an alternative to Corel Draw and Adobe Illustrator as well as other graphics software.
Microsoft clarity allows you to record user sessions and heatmaps free so you can better understand user behaviour on your website. These recordings help you understand important factors for optimizing your website to meet business goals such as the most engaged areas of your website and the user flow of website browsing sessions. All this behavioural analytics is a great starting point for website optimization, especially when considering a refresh, or a complete revamp and redesign of your website.
We would love to hear what freebies you use to bring the magic on a daily or how any of these incredible resources contribute to your vision. Don’t forget to visit version 1, version 3 and version 4 of this article for other free resources.