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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 are 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 part looks at blogs that have invaluable insights to help you along in your journey.
This is a data and analytics blog from the brand aimed at organizing the world’s information and making it universally accessible. The insights from this blog are based on data from Google’s massive data resources. This includes search, their advertising platforms, their analytics stack, all aggregated to respect privacy.
The result is the latest marketing research and digital trends with data reports, guides, infographics, and articles. The articles will at times feature real-life examples from big brands on how they used data to improve their brand management. This is absolutely the starting point for data-oriented decision making. It gives access to the world’s largest data sets, already distilled down to valuable insights.
Business planning is an important part of every entrepreneurial journey that is overlooked all too often. This blog discusses all the important aspects of successful business planning. Each aspect is discussed by industry leaders who evaluate business plans for funding purposes. The articles are not limited to business planning only though. They include all the essential reading for new entrepreneurs.
This includes external resources like books. Perhaps the most valuable part is the success stories from real-life entrepreneurs. This gives the inspiration to persevere through those tough times in entrepreneurship that come up all too often. It also gives new entrepreneurs the advantage of experience without earning it the hard way themselves. Add to this the free resources like templates, how-tos and calculators the blog offers, this is the go-to resource for starting a business.
The quality of insights will ultimately depend on how analytics tools are deployed. With the continued evolution they have taken, analytics tools are now capable of a lot. This is however only possible if they are properly set up, to collect the right data, prepare it properly, and produce the right reports. This blog is dedicated to insights on how to achieve all of this. It gives tips on how to fix data and implement tracking to get particular insights.
It also helps you understand features of analytics tools and how they can be useful. This is the go-to blog for anyone looking to understand how to get more from their analytics reporting. The name itself is derived from using data to increase conversion rates on web assets.
We recently wrote about how it can be tough to move from data to insights and how a good analytics consultant can help with this. However, if you are looking to learn to think analytically and get the most out of your data on your own, this is the blog to do it. More specifically a newsletter, it’s aimed at sharing tips and tricks for an analytical approach to marketing.
The newsletter periodically writes on analytics strategy. Complete with practical examples from real life brands you know of. While effectively an analytics blog, its focus expands beyond just your web and application assets. It talks about using an analytical approach in all platforms that affect marketing your brand, including social media.
The first half of the name translates from Spanish to mean practical. That’s what the blog and resource repository give you exactly. They give you the dos and don’ts of analytics and data from experience. Founder and leader Ruben Ugarte answers the everyday questions of getting insights from data.
He also shares caveats his years of experience have taught him. If you are looking to get started with analytics, this is the blog for you. You can easily avoid costly mistakes that affect the quality of your data and reporting. An added bonus is their resources include video tutorials to take a break from reading.
There’s a good reason why WordPress powers 25% of the web. It’s made it easy for anyone to have a quality presence on the web with little to no coding experience, mostly free. That doesn’t mean there’s no work that goes into it though. If you want to host your web assets on WordPress, there is definitely some technical stuff to get out of the way. This blog is the go-to resource for novices looking to do it on their own.
It’ll tell you everything you need to know about getting a blog started on WordPress. It offers every lesson in text and video format. Their database is comprehensive; it’s highly unlikely to find a question unanswered on there. The blog is not limited to tutorials only though. It regularly shares important free resources like themes and plugins. Its greatest value is the tips they give for the best set up. It’ll definitely help you avoid common beginner mistakes, with an explanation of each option.
A good referral program can make a huge difference for your business. It’s making new sales from marketing you have already paid for, nothing could be better. The folks over at ReferralCandy make it easy to start a referral program on multiple eCommerce platforms. Their blog is the go-to resource for everything you need to get started. We love the ReferralCandy blog because not only are they thorough, they go above and beyond. Like us, they are dedicated to everything in their field.
Their articles cover practical examples on how to sell better in your business, and it works beyond eCommerce too. They’ll get you started with email, content, social, customer retention, and everything in between. The best part; they regularly post case studies and inspirational stories. They are not just satisfied telling you what to do and why it works, they show you real-life instances where it worked. The case studies are very inspirational, and even if you are not in the mood to read to learn something, they’ll leave you inspired enough to move your business forward.
This is a website/ blog, that is definitely worth your read if you want to get started with your small business accounting. Even if you are going to outsource, it’s important to know the basics of accounting for your business. Ultimately, the financial management of your business is your duty, and these basics come in handy. Every entrepreneur should be able to perform a basic analysis of the financial health of their business.
This is the go-to blog, whether as a pro, or just a beginner, to learn how to account for your business. What sets it apart is just how practical the advice is. The topics covered extend beyond just accounting, with multiple free resources for financial management.
It covers topics as broad as business growth, modelling and strategy, with an emphasis on financial aspects. Even their topics on taxation are specific, with topics covering how legislation affects specific sectors. The blog is more geared to an American audience but is definitely valuable to anyone looking to manage their small business funds better.
9. Shopify Blog
eCommerce has taken over in many industries, with Amazon comfortably sitting among the largest retailers in the world. Shopify is a platform created to help entrepreneurs create their own online stores, hustle-free and affordably. Shopify itself was created from a need when its founders couldn’t find a satisfactory eCommerce platform back in 2004.
This makes Shopify a platform for online entrepreneurs by online entrepreneurs. And this shows on their blog. It’s filled to the brim with all the information any entrepreneur looking to sell online could need. It touches every aspect of a business, from product development to financial management, to marketing and everything in between.
The quality levels are boosted to 110% with their case studies. After more than a decade in the space, Shopify has helped many entrepreneurs, and their stories are inspiring. In addition, they give practical approaches to dealing with the challenges every entrepreneur faces. With a new post every day, the blog is so broad it works outside of eCommerce. The topics covered are so rich, any entrepreneur can benefit from following this blog.
10. Animalz Blog
Planning on doing content marketing for your business? This is one of the first blogs you should read. If not, you should be planning to, so you’re welcome. Granted it’s a SAAS-oriented blog, but every aspiring content marketer, AKA you, should read it. The posts are long, but they do not mince about. It’s surprising just how chocked full of insights this blog is, with stats and graphs to back everything up. If we had to guess, this is the blog people who teach content marketing read.
Their posts are in a variety of formats, including videos and podcasts. The blog covers everything on content marketing, from creation, marketing, SEO, strategy, and making content succeed. What you’ll love most is they are not afraid of the hard truths. The bog is not alarmist by any stretch, but they don’t try to win you over by telling you how easy it’ll be. If there’s one value they’ll add to your content, they’ll keep you from falling for the oversimplification of content marketing.
You have to admit, there’s a lot of humour in what marketers do. Not all of them, not their jobs, but the over-enthusiastic hacks who sell concepts they don’t understand. I know it’s important to learn marketing for your business, even if you plan on outsourcing this. As result, chances are you’ve ended up learning a lot of false advice from hacks.
Tom Fishburne uses satire on this blog to teach valuable lessons about marketing from these very faux pars. Posts open with cartoon-style dialogue, think Garfield, but with bumbling marketers. Don’t be fooled by the format though, the blog dishes some serious wisdom when it comes to marketing. You’ll become addicted to learning from avoiding mistakes. It’s definitely a good way to filter out the noise when you are teaching yourself online. The best part though is you can license some of these cartoons for your own campaigns, and even have custom ones created.
12. The Mut-Con Blog
The Mut-Con blog is designed to give entrepreneurs the resources to start and grow their businesses. The blog covers a number of topics including New Business Insights, Online Presence, Data and Analytics, Research and Testing as well as Financial Management. Reading the Mut-Con blog should empower you to get started on these areas in your business!
The aim of the Mut-Con blog is simplicity. Specifically, the aim is to simplify complex topics to make them more accessible to entrepreneurs. Content on the Mut-Con blog is comprehensive, and each article is designed to go in-depth and give entrepreneurs the confidence to tackle any challenges related to that topic, while these articles cluster around important categories to answer questions related to them in full.
Search Engine Land is the go-to resource for everything Search Engine Marketing (SEM). If you are looking to get started marketing your business on popular search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo and more, there is no better place to get started. The blog contains information on everything from Pay per Click ads (PPC), to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and they cover a variety of platforms and tools in the SEM sphere.
The blog creates content for novices and pros, making it ideal whether you are just starting out or looking to build your skills and advance in your field. Just like any blog that has been around for a while, the content is very comprehensive. Articles tend to be long-form in structure, but in addition to long-form content, the blog has multiple articles around the same topic clusters, leaving you with a comprehensive understanding of any topic you want to look into.
In addition to long-form content, SEL provides news updates to help you keep up to date with the ever-changing world of SEO. With Google, Yahoo, Microsft and co making changes that can affect you and your client’s rankings on a regular basis, with SEO best practices shifting on an even faster basis, you will need to follow SEL on social media to make sure you always have what it takes to deliver the best SEM results.
14. Top Reviews ZA
When you are ready to commit to a service provider, consider a resource like Top Reviews ZA. Not only does the resource curate the best companies across various functions, but the lists are also divided into locations, like say, accountants in Johannesburg. This will help you get a provider close by, who is easier to engage with, but more importantly, understands your micro-environment.
Top Reviews ZA does part of the research process for you. For every service provider listed, they provide a consumer rating score based on reviews found online as well as their own. A good rating score is a pre-requisite for a business to be listed, and as such, you are only selecting from a pool of businesses worth considering.
Finally, every listed business is listed with a complete set of contact details, making it a lot easier for you to start the engagement process with the list of prospects.
DesignRush is a helpful guide for finding business-to-business service providers across various functions. The structure of the website is what makes it useful. The navigation is divided into various services including SEO, web development, email marketing and much much more.
The website also publishes its listings in a list format, like, say, Small Business Consulting Services. More importantly though, DesignRush relies on a team of professionals with agency experience to analyze the portfolios and work of agencies who request a listing to ensure only the most deserving agencies are listed in each category.
With such thorough research, from experienced researchers, you can commit with the confidence that you will be working with the best service providers. With the ability to search for agencies by expertise, you can even find services that you were not immediately aware your business even needed.
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 2 and version 4 of this article for other free resources.