The sheer amount of tools services, electronics, and apps available to the general public is an astounding thing. There are probably dozens—if not hundreds—of free tools that will probably make your life easier, and they’re no more than just a few clicks away. In the below video, I discuss a list of seven essential resources for entrepreneurs—all of them free.
First up is Google Trends, one of the most essential resources for entrepreneurs. If you create content and you’re not actively comparing keywords in Google Trends, you’re missing out greatly. This is easily one of the most valuable free resources for anyone making anything on the internet. It’s quick and super simple to use, allowing you to type in a few search terms and compare their popularity over time. Google Trends also offers forecasts for certain terms if enough data is available. Plain and simple, if you’re on the internet and you’re trying to market or sell something, use it.
Pablo by Buffer
It’s a given that every entrepreneur should be active on social media. It’s a free marketing platform that many brands undervalue.
And it’s also a given that posts with visuals (embedded links, photos, videos, etc.) have proven to be far more effective than plain text. That said, it’s not always convenient or possible to throw together a beautifully designed photo with a little context. Meet Pablo, a side project from Buffer that was sort of an accident but has become an essential resource for entrepreneurs. It’s a simple online tool for creating images designed specifically for social. Pick or upload an image, type some text, move it around, make it pretty, and download or post directly from the site. Pablo is meant to get you in and out as quickly as possible.
However, if Pablo doesn’t have everything you’re looking for, you should check out Canva, which is like Pablo on serious steroids. And for a giant supply of free stock images that you’ll most definitely need, check out Stock Up.
If you have a business and you don’t have a newsletter, you’re missing yet another opportunity to regularly engage your audience and convert would-be customers. MailChimp is one of the best newsletter services and has become one of the most essential resources for entrepreneurs. It’s free for users who send up to 12,000 emails with a maximum of 2,000 subscribers or customers each month. MailChimp offers insights and analytics so you can see which subscribers have and haven’t opened your emails and deep control over who you’re sending to for better targeting. It even has A/B testing, in case you really want to get serious with your newsletter. The mobile app isn’t half bad either.
If you’re a content creator, you’re probably familiar with writer’s block and tired content ideas. The rate at which content is produced is simply far higher than it used to be in the days before online media. The internet has bred content hungry monsters (which isn’t a bad thing, mind you) who are always looking to consume more.
Portent tries to help when you run out of ideas by offering a content idea generator. Simply type in your subject and click the arrow. Portent delivers a possible—and usually pretty comical—topic. Don’t like it? Click the arrow again for another topic. Chances are, you’re not going to use the exact topic given, even if you refresh 20 times, but if nothing else, suggested topics can help you think of something else you would like to cover or help you think about an older topic in a way you hadn’t previously.
When it comes to knowing my competition and being aware of new and upcoming products and services, I use the one and only Product Hunt. It is sort of like reddit, but for a community of makers and users who submit and upvote their favorite new products. Product Hunt has helped catapult many startups into the limelight and has become my one and only source of staying up to date on all the new things launching in this busy world. I visit the site daily, and I even use their Chrome extension so I can see the newest products literally every time I open a new tab.
If you’re an entrepreneur, you likely have to send out several invoices each month. For this, there are a handful of free services which make invoice creation a breeze. Invoiceto.me and Slimvoice are two websites that simply give you blank templates and allow you to fill in your information, download the completed invoice as a PDF, and send. Slimvoice even lets you track payments and accept payments directly through your invoice using Stripe.
Admittedly, I have only just discovered these services, but I plan on using Slimvoice for my next round of invoices.
Finally, one of my absolute favorite online resources is DaFont, a giant database for all things typeface and my very first stop whenever I’m designing a new logo or just looking for a cool new font to use. There are tens of thousands of fonts to choose from, many of which are completely free to use for personal or commercial use, divided into dozens of categories. The best part is that you can preview what a font will look like with certain letters and words without ever having to download and install the font.
If you have some awesome free tools or resources you think I should know about, feel free to share them in the comments below! A really awesome collection of free resources and tools is Growth Supply. It’s definitely worth a look and a few minutes (read: hours) of your time.