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Last Updated – 9/14/2019
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Who doesn’t like free stuff, especially free tools for business? That’s one less thing that will eat into your bottom line in the long run. It’s a win-win!
I keep a running list of topic ideas for my podcasts/blog posts, and this week, I’m checking off a few of them all at the same time. That doesn’t mean less great content for you, it just means that I had a few things that weren’t really deep enough to hold their own in an episode or blog post all by themselves.
That being said, I make it no secret around here how much I LOVE free stuff…free tools, software, apps, and services. I’m always amazed at the great quality and quantity of free stuff available because I use a good bit of it to drive my online business.
So in this post, I’m going to talk about the top 5 free tools for business that I personally use on a daily basis, but first a word from our sponsor.
This post is sponsored by Sumo.
Sumo offers a suite of free tools to help you grow your website audience. They have spent the last 4 years building tools like list builders, welcome mats, share buttons, and smart bar. These same tools helped Sumo build their own email list to over 1 million subscribers.
In Episode 8 of The Candid Cashflow Podcast, we covered a whopping 23 free tools. You will see a couple repeats here, but I’m going a little deeper in depth with how I use these 5. Also, these are tools that I use everyday without fail.
Before I jump into my top 5 free tools for business, it’s worthy of note that all 5 of these tools are available in mobile versions for both Android and iPhone (as far as I can tell).
Without further fluff and ado…
1. Google Drive
Google Drive is sort of a multi-faceted free tool because it includes the functionality of Google Docs. Before I talk about Google Docs, I want to cover how I use Google Drive itself.
If you have a Google account, you automatically have access to Google Drive and 15GB of cloud storage. Just type https://drive.google.com in your address bar to access and begin using the free space.
I use Google Drive to keep a database of my own files as well as those of my clients. So, I have access to these files on my PC, phone, and any other device where I log into Google. I’m able to share files between devices quickly and easily. I’m also able to share files with my clients so they can keep up with the progress I’m making on their projects.
There are other cloud services similar to Google Drive. Microsoft has OneDrive, there’s Dropbox, and Apple has iCloud, but because Google Drive is integrated with Google Docs, it’s really the best option for me.
I’m not going to cover EVERY aspect of Google Docs because I only use two main features: Docs and Sheets.
Google Docs is a simplified word processing suite that is compatible with Microsoft Word. This means that if you don’t have access to Word, you can still create Word documents.
I write and format all of my books in Google Docs. When I format and edit books for clients, I import them into Google Docs. The interface and Styles are more simple to work with than those in Word. I do use Word for finishing touches, but I simplify the heavy lifting with Google Docs.
Be sure to grab the show notes, I’ll include links to videos showing me using these services. Get your copy at HeyYoAva.com/Episode25.
You can also export your Google Docs as PDFs. This is how I prepare the show notes for The Candid Cashflow Podcast. Then I host them using Google Drive and create download links for all of you lovely Cashflowers out there.
I am not one of those Microsoft Excel wizards…far from it, actually. However, I am a Google Sheets fanatic. I just don’t know any better way to organize data.
Here are just a few ways I use Google Sheets:
- As a password backup and management tool
- As a product list for my ecommerce stores
- To organize an SEO audit
- To organize YouTube channels for clients
Since Google Sheets can be searched using Ctrl+F, it makes it easy to find data with just a keyword. For example, I recently created a spreadsheet for a client of all the YouTube videos on his channel. I included the title, publish date, and link to the video. Then I created columns for his Soundclound account, blog, and Twitch channel to detail where the different videos had been shared, transcribed, or whatever. This makes it simple for him to cross-link related content and know just what he has in his repository of content.
When I do sheets for ecommerce, I put in the product title, description, link from the source, link on the store, and more so online store owners know exactly what they have, how much it costs them, how much they charge, and their exact profit margins.
This eliminates duplicate product listings and just makes for a cleaner store, so you never have to pay for expensive SEO services and audits to fix what’s not selling.
All three of these tools which kind of all fit into to one are absolute staples for my work. With a price tag of free, I can get a load of things accomplished with ZERO overhead. In the business world, that is an absolute WIN.
I know I seem like a complete Google fangirl right now. Listen, I’m not exactly thrilled with Google as a company overall. I think their goal is dominance and I think they have some shady data mining and sharing practices. However, what I’m about to share with you about Chrome is currently unmatched.
Maybe someone out there knows a better way, and I’d love to hear it. Let me tell you what I’m talking about here…
I’m not sharing Chrome in this list because it’s a browser. All browsers are free and have different aspects that make them great. I have been known to bounce around from Chrome to Firefox to Opera, and most recently, I really like a newcomer called Brave.
For business though, I’m locked into Chrome for one feature: Chrome Profiles.
Most browsers let you have multiple users, but Chrome does it best for the way I use this feature. I use Chrome Profiles to manage my client’s accounts. For each client I work with, I simply set up a Chrome Profile for them on my machine.
Then I use that profile when I’m working on projects for that client. I’m able to remain logged into my own accounts and monitor them while I’m working for my client at the same time.
I can set Chrome to remember where I left off, bookmark their accounts, and save passwords. Then, when I need to work for a specific client, I pull up their profile. I’m already logged into their accounts and I can get right to work without missing an email or a beat.
All of these profiles are accessible via a drop-down menu making the interface easy to use and manage. I almost never misplace a password or lose track of what I’m supposed to be doing.
Speaking of tracking what I’m doing, I keep an online to-do list using Todoist.com. When a client emails me with a project, I go in and create a task in Todoist. This helps me not only stay organized, but it also helps me to stay focused.
If I didn’t use Todoist, my email inbox would be a nightmare because I’d have to use it as a sort of task manager, and well, that’s not what email is for!
Todoist is totally free to use, but they do have a premium option that’s just a couple bucks a month paid annually. The premium features allow you to do some extra stuff like have a theme, have categories for your projects…things like that.
I don’t use the app, but I can see where having this available on mobile would be convenient.
Toggl.com is my time clock. I rely on it to track the time I spend working on projects for clients. At the end of each week, I take information directly from Toggl to create my invoices.
I am able to put each client in Toggl as well as the different services I perform for them. Then I just use the simple interface to clock in and out. Once I’m actively working on the task, I’m able to input a description of the work I’m doing for further clarification. This allows me to keep a detailed record of what I was doing when. This is very useful for invoicing.
When it’s time to prepare my invoice, I just filter the week by each client and fill in my invoice accordingly.
Like Todoist, Toggl has a premium version, but the free one suffices well for me. It also has some extra features that I don’t use like Insights, Tags, Reports, and more.
I’ve mentioned Canva many times in previous episodes of The Candid Cashflow Podcast.
Canva is a free drag and drop graphics tool. It allows you to create professional graphics without design experience or expertise.
I have used both the free version as well as Canva for Business, and I have nothing but positive things to say about them both.
There are just a few differences between the two. For example, Canva for Business allows you to upload a branding package, add your own fonts, and add team members to your account. It also adds a few functions like being able to download graphics with a transparent background, and auto resizing so you can create similar graphics for multiple platforms.
I recently downsized back to the free version to save myself a little bit of my monthly outlay. Having used the free version a lot longer than the paid one, I have workarounds for most anything I want to do with the tool.
Canva also includes a library of millions of stock photos and illustrations, many of which are also free. Others cost just $1 each which is an excellent price for stock images.
I have used Canva for myself and clients to create blog graphics, logos, book covers, t-shirts, and more.
Be sure to grab the show notes for this episode. I’ll include additional links to articles and videos showing how I use Canva in my business.
BONUS – Pretty Links
One of my favorite things in the world is giving out a bonus here and there when I think of one.
This bonus is going to be limited to those of you who have WordPress websites. If you tune into The Candid Cashflow Podcast on a regular basis, then you know that I’m a huge proponent for WordPress.
The platform can have a stiff learning curve, but knowing WordPress is an asset and it’s the absolute top of the line for customization. Not to mention, it powers nearly 30% of the entire Internet.
If you do anything online where you generate a ton of links, then you need to know about Pretty Links.
Pretty Links is a free WordPress plugin that allows you to create links to anything under the sun as a subdomain of your website. For example, you’ll notice that I link my show notes like so: HeyYoAva.com/Episode25. <<< That’s a pretty link.
It looks a lot more professional than the Google Drive share link.
I also use Pretty Links for my affiliate links as it makes them all really easy to remember. Readers are a lot more apt to click links that are associated with your website too.
Pretty Links does have a premium version, but the free one is so good, I’ve never even researched to see what the Pro one includes.
For one site, Pretty Links Pro is $57 per year. You get features like split testing, link cloaking, and things like that.
Wrap It Up
That’s it for my short list of free tools for business. Don’t forget to check out the long list I put together for another post.
If you enjoyed this post, I hope you will consider opting in to my email list available in the right sidebar >>>. You can also subscribe to my podcast in your favorite listening app by visiting this link.
Don’t forget to grab the PDF if you’d like to save this information for later reference.
If you found this information helpful, I’d love to hear from you in the comments. What’s your favorite free tool you can’t live without? Let me know, and you could possibly be featured in a future episode and blog post!
Until next time, turning your passion into cashflow!