As small businesses, freelancers, and entrepreneurs; we love getting the most for our money. The chance to increase our expertise without lowering our revenues is one we're all ready to pounce on. We get that. The Biz Foundry is a brick and mortar built by upstarts and small business managers. We've gone the entrepreneurial route, and we picked up a few things along the way. Today, we decided to gather some of our favorite freebies from across the web and share them with you.
Without a doubt, Canva is our favorite free application. Canva’s user-friendly interface and sharing options make it a perfect fit for most of our in-house designs. Canva curates thousands of templates and graphic elements. You can pick a design based on the dimensions you choose, or you can use one of Canva’s suggested dimensions.
Canva decides layouts and sizes based on the size of the final product or the social platform you intend to post to. You never have to worry if your Instagram image will meet the pixel and size requirements for the Instagram platform when using Canva.
You can also create completely original designs using this platform. All you have to do is set a design size, upload your own content, and begin creating! This is great if you have a good portfolio of brand images and graphics already stockpiled. For those of us who don’t, websites like Pixabay and Unsplash are there to help us fill in the content gaps.
Canva also allows you to save your finished designs in multiple file formats. Not certain what file type to use? Canva offers recommendations for the different file types based on where you plan to share the design.
Sadly, Canva’s features continue to shrink for free users, but it still has great functionality. And the monthly cost is economically priced at $12.95 per month if you ever decide to embrace Canva’s full set of tools.
Imagine that your 9th grade English teacher still graded your papers. That’s Grammarly in a nutshell.
Grammarly gleefully points out where your sentences and punctuation marks have run amok of your writing. The application will even give you a grade! Grammarly sets a reading level and tone for your writing based on the audience and education level of your choosing, and grades your final work based on the average quality written on the Grammarly platform.
If you’re writing a conversational blog post, you can set the reading level and tone to match. The same is true for professional documents. Want to impress your clients with nicely worded, formal content? Grammarly’s got your back. This editor will even grade the diversity of your vocabulary and tell you what publications your writing is most similar to in syntax and style.
The Grammarly editor isn’t completely free, but you can use a limited version of the application without paying anything. You just won’t have access to the full set of features. Not to worry though, the free features can drastically improve your writing and help you craft the correct tone for your writing. The paid version is $11.66 a month. The increase in functionality makes the application well worth the price. The paid version of Grammarly checks for plagiarism, inconsistent writing style, impoliteness, and repetition.
Grammarly also has a Chrome browser extension, but I warn you against using it. As an extension, Grammarly is intrusive and can negatively impact autofill form functionality.
If your grammar skills are flawless, but your writing has a tendency to stumble; the Hemingway Editor app will be your new best friend. Designed to help writers imitate the classic Ernest Hemingway writing style, the app actually has a very practical application. The app highlights sentences that are wordy, convoluted, or weak. The app points out the flaws in writing style and encourages writers to use direct and clear sentences.
You don’t have to listen to everything the app suggests (you aren’t actually trying to be Hemingway). But altering your problem sentences and removing most of your adverbs can drastically improve the clarity and strength of your writing. I personally love this app. In fact, I used it to edit this piece.
The Hemingway Editor also shows word count and the grade level for your writing. The online version of the editor is free to use, but the desktop app is a steal at $19.99 with its extra features. The desktop app works without a wifi connection and includes Wordpress and HTML coding integration.
Later is a perfect application for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and freelancers trying to mold their online presence. Later is a scheduling app for social media posts. You can schedule out posts for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest on the platform. You can send the same image and caption out to all four platforms at the same time, or you can choose different posts for each platform.
Later will tell you if your post’s caption goes over the character limit and can even suggest hashtags for your post if you use the paid version of the application. Later can be accessed via the web, desktop, and mobile applications.
The free version has some limitations, but the main scheduling function of the app works great for smaller businesses just starting their social media presence. Later allows free users to schedule up to 30 posts per social platform per month. That’s roughly one post a day! Since most businesses and freelancers usually post once a day or less, this app is a great fit for your needs.
Free users can’t post videos through Later, but the lowest paid tier ($9/month) provides that function and also comes with an increase in the monthly post amount. Later’s membership plans are tiered according to user needs. Users can pay monthly or annually.
Ah, email marketing. The least popular kid at the party just happens to be your new best friend. Email marketing has the highest return on investment (ROI) of any digital marketing medium, and thanks to MailChimp, it’s never been easier to jump on board and start your own email campaigns.
As with most applications on our list, MailChimp’s functionality is limited for free users, but that doesn’t stop the platform from being a fantastic resource. Free users can have a mailing list of up to 2000s subscribers, a library of email templates, and the ability to schedule out emails for a later time or different day.
For more functionality or a higher subscriber limit, MailChimp offers tiered subscription options to fit any budget and business model. However, amassing 2000 subscribers takes time, and using the free version until you reach that limit is a smart idea. What makes MailChimp great is its ease of use, but also its ability to grow with your business. You don’t have to invest a single penny until your business and email marketing has gained a solid foothold in your market.
Neil Patel’s SEO and Traffic Tools
This is the most advanced tool on our list, but don't be intimidated. Neil Patel is a leading name in SEO and Content Marketing, and his website is a treasure trove of resources and information on content creation. The most valuable of which are his SEO and Website Analytics Tools.
Patel's hosted tools allow you to check your website's traffic, SEO rating, and the popularity of keywords. These are all pretty standard free tools, but Patel's keyword suggestions and backlinks tools are what really make his platform standout. Backlink tracking is an incredibly powerful tool to track your competition. If you want to know where your competitors are getting the majority of their credible information.
By tracking competitor backlinks, you can find new resources to use for your own site and discover which resources have the highest credibility according to search engine algorithms. Backlink tracking is usually a premium feature, but Patel's site offers it for free to his audience.
What About You?
Do you have a favorite application or software that you use for you business? Share it in the comments! If we like it, we'll add it to this article.