In our recent reader survey, we discovered something interesting. Most of you are either full-time entrepreneurs or plan to start your own business very soon.
Creating a professional and profitable brand takes a lot of strategy and planning. Whether you’re just getting started or looking to add a few extra tools to your platform, here are 5 free resources I’ve used (and will continue to use) to build my company and online brand.
Check out these great resources to take you from concept to completion!
- Basecamp – This online project management platform makes it easy to collaborate with your team in an organized environment and turn an idea into a finished product. Our team utilizes Basecamp every day to brainstorm new content or products, check in on existing projects, assign tasks and upload finished work for everyone to review. Users can be internal (team members) or external contractors like a graphic designer or web developer you’re working with on a project. Instead of sifting through your inbox, everything is organized. All discussions and comments, scheduling, task-assigning and files are live within each project. You can start a 60-day free trial and stay on the free plan or upgrade to a paid account.
- Freshbooks – In full disclosure, I use a paid version of Quickbooks (and love it) for my accounting software but my team and contractors rave about Freshbooks. They use it for invoicing, time-tracking, creating estimates and generating basic accounting reports. Even better, it’s free for users with three clients or less. If time-management isn’t your strong suit, I highly recommend utilizing the time-tracking tool from Freshbooks to figure out how much time you’re spending (or not spending) on a project or task and if it’s worth what you’re charging (or being paid in your salary) to complete. The app has a built-in timer that’s connected to the client or specific project and those records are seamlessly added to an invoice. Invoices can be emailed or sent via snail mail.
- WordPress – My entire website is built on a WordPress template. You can purchase templates and build your own site or even find free templates that look much nicer than a lot of websites out there. On the web, first impressions are everything. Do you engage with or purchase from companies that haven’t updated their site since 1999? Probably not. It’s a credibility factor. Even more, having a blog (and blog content) increases your indexed pages on Google, which increases your chances of popping up in search results. WordPress is very simple to update and maintain. If you’re really serious about starting your own blog or website, check out Michael Hyatt’s post on Launching a Self-Hosted WordPress Blog in 20 Minutes or Less.
- MailChimp – If you’ve subscribed to this blog, you’re getting emails from me through MailChimp. MailChimp is another free (if you send under 12,000 emails a month to a list of up to 2,000 subscribers) and great resource to help you build a list of people that want to hear from you. MailChimp connects to your blog as an RSS feed as well as gives you the ability to send tailor made emails to a specific group of people on your list. The online dashboard offers detailed analytics and lets you track the success of each email. Start building your subscriber list today!
- Buffer – Love it or hate it, social media is here to stay and your customers expect you to have a presence (remember that credibility thing above?). Buffer shares content across all of your social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ throughout the day so you can spend time actually working! If you listened to my podcast interview with Crystal Paine (Money Saving Mom), you know that posting once a day isn’t enough to connect with your followers. You can easily schedule pictures, videos and links to go out across your networks throughout the day to reach the widest number of followers.
And if you’re interested in a few paid resources to build your business, check out my Understanding Personalities Video, DISC and VALUES testing and one-on-one Business Coaching! Want more freebees? Get your copy of my new eBook, Why Your Meetings Suck!