As a small business owner myself, I completely understand the struggle: budget is limited, but you need to move your business forward. And don't people always say you have to spend money to make money?

One of my goals working with small business owners is helping them maximize the resources at their disposal, so that includes sharing the budget-friendly strategies that work for me. In this blog, I'll share my favorite free tools for some essential marketing needs.

For my full list of favorite marketing tools for small businesses, check out this resource

Social media

If you've read my blog before, you may be aware of my fondness for Buffer. I use Buffer to manage my own social media, as well as the accounts of my clients, and in my opinion it is a magical tool. It's free to use (and if you need to upgrade like me, it's only $10/month) and makes social media vastly simpler. 

All you do is connect your social media account(s), choose a posting schedule and then drop in posts. For instance, if you want to post once per day on Twitter and once per week on Facebook, you can add your posts all at once and Buffer will schedule them throughout the week for you. Huge time-saver. 

Websites

This one is going to be a little controversial, but for most small business owners, I recommend using a website builder like SquareSpace or Wix (I've found Wix particularly easy to use of late and perfect for non-technical people to manage themselves). 

I know the prevailing wisdom is that WordPress is the best choice when creating a new website. And for many people, that is true. WordPress offers many benefits that website builders like the ones I mentioned don't (site ownership, more customization, etc.).

However, I work specifically with small businesses - usually ones with less than 10 employees - and for these businesses specifically, I just don't feel WordPress is the right fit. Here's why:

  • It is a much more complex project to create a simple WordPress site than a comparable site on Wix or SquareSpace. If you're doing it yourself, that equates to a huge difference in time invested. If you're paying someone to create the site for you, the cost of a WordPress site is quite a bit more.
  • WordPress requires ongoing maintenance and technical knowledge (or that you hire someone to manage it for you). The others are self-maintaining, so to speak - hands-off for the business owner.
  • Many business owners, even if they hire someone to initially build their site, like to manage their own website ongoing. I've found that the learning curve is more difficult with WordPress than other options.
  • As much as WordPress offers in terms of customization and flexibility, I just find most small businesses don't need all those bells and whistles. 

Again, I am not bashing WordPress - it's a fantastic platform. However, for small businesses, I recommend checking out Wix or SquareSpace, for an easier DIY option (that still produces a beautiful site).

Design

Images draw readers in to your content and good design goes a long way. Good design is expensive though. Paying a designer (though well worth the money) is just sometimes outside of a small business owner's budget. And acquiring the software to do it yourself (such as the Adobe products) isn't feasible either.

Enter Canva - another free, wonderful tool. Specifically created for non-designers, Canva allows you to create beautiful designs for social media, advertisements, blogs and much more. I highly recommend checking it out.

Even more great tools

These are just a few of my favorites, but there are tons of great free marketing tools to take advantage of. Check out this list I compiled, specifically with small business owners like you in mind.

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