Run your freelance or small business like a champ with these awesome tools.
Yes, I said free! Of course, many of the programs here also have paid options. Even the paid options tend to be low-cost and as your business grows you can choose to upgrade.
But money for marketing, project management, social media planning and staff scheduling is hard to come by for most freelancers and small business owners. The problem is that planning, productivity and scheduling programs keep a business on track and mistakes to a minimum. What's a poor small business owner to do?
These seven free options are perfect for both freelancers and small businesses. Each free plan offers a host of features to not only run a business smoothly, but make tasks like social media marketing and customer engagement quick and easy.
One word of caution about some of these — several offer free paid plan trials for a number of days or weeks. If you want to try the paid plan, great. If you like it and it's affordable, keep it. But if free is your goal, don't forget to fall back to the free plan before the trial ends to avoid charges.
Here are seven of the best free tools, at least free on the date of this post, you can start using right now:
A tasty platter of great resources for your small business
What happens when your sick kitty keeps you up all night, you hear a loud bang from a blown transformer at 3:30 a.m. and the power goes out, you can hardly keep your eyes open but you still have to write a blog post? You hand out a platter of awesome small business resources.
Whether you already have a small business or a great idea and need help to get started, you'll find what you're looking for here.
Don't forget to look for organizations at the local level. Look for small business owner groups, the local Chamber of Commerce and city, town or county organizations. These groups offer invaluable information sharing, networking and partnership opportunities.
Have you found any small business resources I didn't list? I'd love to hear about them in the comments section below.
Or, did they really dig up a mummified, three-fingered alien in Peru?
You get up, grab a cup of coffee and head online to catch up on what happened overnight. You look at Facebook and gasp. After you stop coughing from the coffee you just inhaled, you think, "This is terrible! A napping morgue employee was cremated by mistake! I have to share this one!" And you do. But guess what? It's not true.
The incredibly detailed story of the ill-fated morgue employee was the brainchild of fake "news" site WNDR. And it was believed and shared by millions.
Sharing a fake story like this one is probably harmless, but that's not always the case. A false meme that's been around for years came across my Facebook feed again this week.
The graphical chart entitled "Think Before You Donate" depicts several charities, including Goodwill, UNICEF, The United Way, March of Dimes and the American Red Cross as not worthy of donations. The graphic cites erroneous CEO salaries and other false information to support its creator's view.
Not only is a chart like this inaccurate, if believed it does harm to the very people the charity serves by reducing donations. So how can you figure out how to spot real from fake?
What Has Facebook Done?
Facebook recently made some mighty big changes. And those changes have impacted businesses in a not-so-good way. In an effort to make the platform more relevant for individual users, founder Mark Zuckerberg changed Facebook's news feed algorithm to prioritize "friends, family and groups" with less emphasis on branding, businesses and media.
What does that mean for businesses that use Facebook? It's already had an impact. Businesses have already seen a sharp decline in viral posts. Publishers are not gaining the referral traffic they used to. Engagement levels dropped. What a disaster!
Before you go off crying in your beer, you have to realize all is not lost. In fact, in the overall scheme of things, the Facebook changes are a boon for business. Here's why.
It's Not a Surprise
One thing about online marketing hasn't changed. Businesses that spend time building a strong reputation by publishing authoritative, original content consistently gain links and shares over time.
Authoritative evergreen content containing research and references is still king. If you've been publishing content all along, wonderful! If not, you'd better start.
Spelling It Out
If all this talk about algorithms and evergreen content makes your head spin that's OK. Here's what you need to do — blog. You probably already have a blog, but have you published anything on it lately? If yes, what type of content did you publish? If you have no blog, fix that right now. A blog is the most cost-effective tool you can use to publish high-quality content.
But, Your Content...