If you’re an online entrepreneur or running your own small business, it’s important to stay lean and bootstrap a bit. An easy way to be smart while building an Ecommerce website is by using some free tools that are available. The hard part is finding easy to use and authentic tools that not only maximize your productivity but help you also grow your business.
To give you a leg up, we’ve compiled a list of the 15 free tools to set your store up for success. These free tools are some of our favorites that we use almost every day here at Selz!
Our 15 free tools are split up into 5 categories:
- Productivity tools
- Design tools
- Writing tools
- SEO + Marketing tools
- Social media tools
Free Productivity Tools
Do you have trouble concentrating and do you like to listen to music while you work? If you want some help with concentrating and increasing your productivity Focus@will can help. Most people can focus for 20 minutes, possibly 30 minutes, before losing focus. Focus@will plays neuroscience based music while you work. There are a number of channels (Jazz, Acoustical, Alpha Chill, etc) you can choose to listen to in 60 minute cycles. It’s like being in your own spa, and focus@will claims it can increase your attention span by up to 400%!
Evernote is an amazing free tool. It makes sending emails to yourself with web links or notes a thing of the past. Now you can in one click bookmark interesting websites, copy articles, or make your own notes. Your notes are synced between all your devices meaning you can make notes on your laptop and access them later on your smartphone. The biggest benefit is that your notes can be searched for using keywords. No wonder that Evernote users are so zealous about it.
Trello is a very easy to use tool for organizing your own things to do list or actions for an team entire project. You never have to forget a thing or miss a deadline. You create cards for each task and then organise them in multiple lists. The lists on the left are at the start of the workflow and you move the task across the board as it is progressing. If you watch Silicon Valley on TV it’s like having your own personal Kanban board.
Free design tools
This is a personal favourite as we’ve been using Canva since its early beta days. Canva makes creating graphics for social media or posts very quick and easy using their library of templates. Canva is free to use although there are more premium templates and graphics available at a $1 each.
Here is an example I created for a previous post.
If you only use one photo editor, I would choose Pixelr Express. It is a fantastic photo editor that combines a very easy to use interface with lots of choices improving your photo with over 600 effects, overlays, borders or text. It is also available as a browser extension for Chrome and from iTunes and Google Play.
Often you will want to take a screenshot for a blog post or to send someone. Awesome Screenshot is a browser extension of Firefox, Safari or Chrome that you can use to take a screenshot and edit it within your browser. Plus it is easy to annotate and has a blur tool that makes it simple to hide any sensitive information.
Free Writing Tools
If you want to write simple clear blog posts or website copy, you can get a little help with the free tool called Hemingway. Copy and paste a passage of text into Hemingway, and you’ll get an analysis of how easy it is to read.
Do you struggle for ideas for blog posts? If you do, and you fancy a bit of fun, you should give HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator a try. You add a few nouns that describe your niche or topic and it gives you back some topic or headline suggestions.
Here is an example of the blog topic results
p.s. someone at HubSpot has a Miley Cyrus crush as it regularly comes up as a suggestion.
If staring at a blank Word document when trying to write a post is your idea of a nightmare, you might like this free tool. Like the Hubspot Blog Topic Generator, its a bit of fun, but it can help to get the creative juices going when thinking about topics or headlines.
Free SEO + Marketing Tools
SEO tools are useful ways to look how Search engines view your or competitors website content. SEO Toolbar is a popular free seo browser extension for Firefox with tons of backlink and competitive information. It is useful for analysing competitors who rank well in search results.
You can easily shorten URLs to make them easier to share and to track the number of clicks received and syncs into your Google account. It is as easy as pasting your long URL and then the shortened URL is copied to your clipboard.
An important aspect of growing your business is measuring what works and what doesn’t work with acquisition. If you want to know how many visits you receive from a specific link you shared or from an ad, then you will need to add additional information to your link describing where the traffic came from. This additional information is known as UTM parameters. Google URL Builder is a free tool that makes adding UTM parameters to a link an easy thing to do. Just fill out a form using the Google URL Builder when you decide to share a link. The additional information on the link can include details like campaign source, the medium, keywords, campaign content, and a campaign name. You can then view the results in Google analytics under Campaigns.
Free Social Media Tools
This is another free tool that must be on your shortlist to use. Buffer allows you to easily share great content in one or two clicks to your social media channels like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or Google+. Two of the nice features are that it automatically shortens urls and that you can easily schedule your shares.
You should use Tweepi if Twitter is important to your business. It has a number of useful features. Using Tweepi you can easily manage your followers and unfollow those people that don’t follow you back in batches. Plus you can easily see and follow people who are followers of your competitors.
Feedly is a great tool for catching up on news on topics you interested in, or for seeing new blog posts from a variety of bloggers you might follow. Feedly aggregates the content of your favorite sites using their RSS feeds and has a nice user interface which is designed for use on a phone, tablet as well as a browser. It also integrates nicely over 100 other apps including Evernote and Buffer.
Are there any tools here that you haven’t tried yet? If you try them, let us know how you go. Are there any favourites that weren’t included?
We will shortly be publishing a list of more than 50 free tools on our new resources section of the blog called the Academy. Let us know in the comments below your favorite free tools as we’d love to include them in our list.