12 Free Resources To Grow Your Business (and make your life SO much easier)
Is there anything more annoying than spending an hour trying to find what you had (incorrectly) assumed was a very simple tool?
I can’t tell you how much time I’ve lost trying to find something that seemed like only a quick Google search away, only to realize it didn’t exist, or it was out of my budget, or there were so many options that I became stuck in overwhelm.
And as artists and entrepreneurs, we kind of need our businesses to run smoothly, right? We can’t be wasting hours and hours searching for tools that may or may not even help us!
So, I’ve put together a list of my top 12 tools that I personally use in my business. The best part? They're all free!
Did I miss any? If so, let me know you favorite, I’d love to try it!
Photo editing/template design
Canva is one of those tools I discovered a year or two ago and I’ve been obsessed ever since. It has free and paid versions, and to be honest even the free version is incredibly robust. It’s has pre-made sizing layouts for Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, flyers, letters, you name it, they have countless templates to draw inspiration from. You can also upload your own images, and make it all completely customizable.
This is pretty straightforward—if you just need a super quick, not at all fancy way to join 2 or 10 photos in a variety of displays, PhotoJoiner has you covered. I use it frequently for putting together a header for interviews I do, and it’s a great way to slap together something in less than 2 minutes.
By far my favorite tool for Instagram scheduling! (and with a business account, it will post automatically!) With Planoly you can not only schedule your Instagram photos, but you can create story templates and designs as well, see all your photos laid out in a grid, and save your favorite hashtags. It’s clean, intuitive, and a must-have for Instagram users.
Social media scheduling & analytics
I love a tool that’s going to do all the hard work for me. Buffer’s best feature, in my opinion, is that it will automatically schedule based on your best chance of being seen and getting engagement.
While I personally use Planoly for Instagram, Buffer has some great perks, like letting you include the first comment w/ hashtags when you schedule an Instagram post and letting you analyze your social media performance. It might just be worth looking into if you’re comparing tools. Side note, I also think they’re a wealth of valuable information when it comes to their blog.
Photo editing app (Android download)
This one is new to me, but I’m already loving it. If you want to make your photos for Instagram or your blog or website as professional as possible, Lightroom has you covered with editing tools that can completely transform your photo, as well as a built in camera that takes more professional, high quality photos. (personally, I think this is the coolest thing!)
Zoom is a powerful video tool that can be used for everything from video calls to webinars. It has an awesome feature that allows you to record calls, hold meetings, host webinars, or instant message across the world. In my experience, it’s far superior to Skype in quality alone, not to mention all the other features.
If you don’t have a printer (who has a printer anymore?) and you need to sign that important document on the go, SignNow has you covered. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it saves things like your signature so you don’t have to constantly try to make that thing neat while signing with your finger.
Organization task manager
There are so many tools like Asana out there, and I’ve tried a lot of them, but the community loves Asana and for good reason! It’s clean, seamless, easy to add team members, and easy to keep track of everything that’s going on. When you have a million things to accomplish, the last thing you want to do is feel confused and overwhelmed with another process to learn. Asana is simple to use, a quick learn, and will leave you feeling more organized, not less.
Although this is marketed towards musicians and music industry professionals, there’s absoloutly nothing in the planner that makes it exclusive to those industries, so no matter who you are and at what stage of your career you’re at, if you’re looking for a planner that pairs organization with reflection and pep talk, the Rock/Star planner is for you.
Not only does it have a place to write out your weekly and monthly goals, but what I personally love about this is all the space for reflection like "what worked this week?" and prompts like "name 3 people you can network with this week that can change your career.” It’s outside the box thinking like this, in partnership with a concrete planner, that makes it so special.
If you're thinking about starting a podcast, or just like to record notes, Audacity is a free audio software that's about to make your life a lot easier. There's a bit of a learning curve, as with any editing software, but give it time because it's a really powerful (and did I mention free?!) tool for your business.
Email scheduling/tracking tool
I love Boomerang. It has single handedly saved me from losing my mind when it comes to emails. It lets me schedule emails to be sent any time (so if I'm catching up on emails but don't want to re-flood my inbox instantly I can space those suckers out), it lets me track opens (so if you're say, pitching yourself to a press outlet you can see if they opened your email and clicked any links) and it also let's me PAUSE my inbox which is the greatest tool ever because it helps me stay away from inbox overwhelm and actually get more done!
Email list provider
Mailerlite is what I switched over to when I got tired of Mailchimp’s shenanigans. It’s clean, it’s super easy to use, and it boasts a ton of features even on the free plan including landing pages, automation, pop ups, and more. It's so easy to learn and it's so full of features that I really can't imagine moving anywhere else.