I’ve put together a list of my favorite cheap or free marketing tools. I don’t make it any secret that I hate marketing my business. I’m not a planner or strategic thinker. My process is very “organic”. Which is just a code word for “making it up as I go”. I know how frustrating it is to try learning about sales funnels (a later post) and advertising and the million and one apps and services you could literally spend years learning how to use. I still can not figure out to do with all the data from Google Analytics.
Not to mention the money you feel like you have to pour into your marketing. It’s so hard for me to separate the valid purchases from the ones that are simply junk. I spend so much time reading and watching free “marketing” lessons only to feel more lost than before. I’m currently working on my online sales funnel and I have to tell you … I’d rather cut off a finger.
So, I thought it might be helpful to give you all a few pointers on the cheap or free marketing tools I use to market the online portion of my business. Read to the end because that is where I’ll put all of the links to these tools. I’ve also rated the Tech Skill Level of these tools from 1-5. One being super simple and five being a pretty advanced layman. By online I mean just that. Everything that lives online. My website, social media and email list. Yes, you need an email list. Let’s get started.
Cost: Free Forever Option
Tech Skill Level: 2 – Must be willing to learn
Stuff I Love: Drag and Drop interface and automation
Stuff I Don’t Love: No customer support for the free option
Mailchimp is a “free forever” email marketing service. From their website …
“Is it really free forever?
It sure is. As long as you’ve got 2,000 or fewer subscribers across all lists in your account, you can send up to 12,000 emails per month without paying us a dime. We won’t even ask for a credit card.”
I’ve been using it for almost ten years now I think. I’ve only just become more serious about my email marketing in the last year or so. I put out a once monthly email only for subscribers called Common Creativity. Sign Up Here.
I also use it to funnel my readers through my website and collect their email addresses to deliver resources and information that they request. It’s a win-win. You can collect email addresses, setup automated responses and potential customers get exactly what they ask for.
Check Mailchimp out for yourself here.
Cost: Free and Paid
Tech Skill Level: 2 – easy to set up with more advanced options
Stuff I Love: Super easy to use and makes scheduling faster
Stuff I Don’t Love: I don’t have any complaints so far
I use Calendly to let current and potential clients schedule their own consults. They use this link and simply choose a date and time that’s convenient for them. There are other (paid) options like a custom redirect link, integrations and an option to collect payment right from the scheduler.
Tech Skill Level: 1 – Search, download, use
Stuff I Love: The images are really good and it’s free
Stuff I Don’t Love: The selection isn’t always as good as paid stock photography
Professional imagery is definitely on my top five things to have for a serious brand. It’s hard to look valuable and competent with amateur imagery or stock photos that still have a watermark on them. Sites like RawPixel.com make it easy and affordable for anyone who needs great imagery to get it. Who has $$ to drop every time they write a post? Not me. You simply enter a search term, download your image and use them. No licenses or limitations on usage. They are pretty hefty in the file size department so, you’ll want to resize them and optimize them before using them on your website. Read about raster image optimization in this post. Good news is that your social media channels will compress them for you when you upload them to Facebook, Instagram, etc.
4. Envato Market / Envato Elements
Cost: Resources start at $2.00
Tech Skill Level: Depends on the resource you use
Stuff I Love: Great value
Stuff I Don’t Love: The logos aren’t anything custom or unique
I use stock resources quite a bit for my marketing. I don’t have time to create all of my creative marketing resources myself. I use it a lot for unique fonts and Photoshop mock-up templates to drop logos and stuff into for my portfolio. Both of these sites have loads of resources. Envato Market has everything from fonts, stock photos and print templates to WordPress themes and plugins. Envato Elements is subscription based and has stock video, sound effects, audio, templates, stock photos and more. If you’re looking for that small missing piece to polish your brand or need something quick and dirty this is a great resource. It’s a great tool for those DIY marketers pulling double duty on building their brand. You may need software like Photoshop or Illustrator to customize some resources though.
Cost: Free with a Pro Paid Option
Tech Skill Level: 2 – There may be a learning curve, but it really is pretty simple
Stuff I Love: Makes designing social media posts super easy
Stuff I Don’t Love: Nothing so far
This is a resource that I share with clients all the time. For simple pieces like social media posts and even some print material, Canva is a great option for small businesses. There is a free forever option with plenty of templates and resources at your disposal. Or you can upgrade to Pro and get lots more. Use your own imagery or theirs to create graphics on a desktop or with their mobile app. They even offer courses and tutorials right on their website.
These are five tools I use in my own marketing and I recommend them quite often to my clients. Appearances in branding are everything. If you want to look professional and valuable then you have to use professional, valuable services and resources in your marketing. If you aren’t hiring a professional creative person, you should at least be using professional resources.
**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.