Everyone loves free stuff.
For businesses, especially startups, keeping costs to a minimum is important for your cash flow. This has been essential during the pandemic, where we are still adjusting to the current economic environments.
Although some costs may be inevitable, there are great tools out there that you can leverage in a free capacity for however long.
A lot of the time, when you’re first starting or growing your startup, building your stack doesn’t necessarily have to break your bank.
I have tested many tools over the years, and these have helped me the most, especially at the beginning of my business. Of course, I have since gone to paid models for some of them, but the freemiums of the majority of these tools are still good for me.
Let’s take a look at some of these tools you can leverage for your own startup.
1. Canva — Graphic Design Tool
Canva is a one-stop shop for all graphic design that makes designing super simple. Even for someone like myself who uses Adobe products every day, sometimes you just want something quick and easy, and Canva does exactly this.
It can help with anything from creating social media posts, ads, to even E-Books and presentations.
Canva should be in anyone’s bucket of tools to use for anyone looking to start a startup or grow their own. Their freemium version is more than enough to handle simple tasks, and better yet, it’s free forever.
This is especially important when you’re first launching your startup, where you might need to create a whole bunch of graphics.
These can include:
- Your logo
- Your social media cover photos on a variety of platforms
- Your presentations
- Pictures and media for your website
- E-book and other assets
This should be in everyone’s marketing stack, no matter how big or small your startup is.
2. HotJar — Heatmap and Analytics
If you have a website, this tool will come in handy.
Basically, it provides heatmaps for your websites so you can identify hotspots or even problems it might be having.
This is where HotJar can come in handy on your homepage, asset pages, and even product pages (although you probably would need to get something above a trial for products).
This is a must need for any growing startup since every bit of traffic you get is essential. You simply can’t afford to make any conversion mistakes, and so if you can convince one extra person to sign up or put their details down, this will be beneficial to you in the long run.
Their free forever plan gives you data for 2000 views per day, which is more than enough for a startup just launched or growing.
3. Drift — Live chat
This is such an underrated tool, and I still can’t believe they have a forever free version. Drift is basically a live chat tool for your website that also has a phone application so that you can reply to people in real-time from your mobile.
It has been a super useful tool, especially for my own startup where people were throwing random questions at me on my website constantly. This can, most of the time, help drive business conversions, especially from those who want quick answers.
Although the paid version allows you to do more complicated setups, the free tool already provides so much value and is a no-brainer when launching your startup if you have a website asset.
You never know when it can help bring in a prospect that needs a simple question answered.
4. Buffer — Social media manager
For many, social media is one of the key platforms that you can use to drive initial growth for your startup. Depending on your product or service, each platform has a potential different purpose in driving awareness and demand for it.
However, most of the time, you simply don’t have the energy to go on each social media platform to schedule something out. Even though some of these platforms do have the ability to schedule content, wouldn’t it be easier if everything was on one platform?
That’s what Buffer does.
Buffer is a social media platform that allows you to sync and schedule content all on one platform. This means you can come up with the copy for one platform and re-use it for everything else. They even a phone app that you can use to schedule everything, and the free version is plenty to support you initially.
5. Zapier — Automate and integrate applications
For many startups, we simply don’t have the luxury of affording expensive tools. This is especially the case when we need that one extra feature in the software that only the premium version offers.
This is where Zapier can help solve many issues.
Zapier allows you to automate and integrate applications. For example, you can push any lead that comes to your CRM to automatically populate a Google Spreadsheet or even ping you on Slack.
You can automate workflows between your applications and let them run indefinitely as long as you need. The free version offers enough ‘zaps’ to get you going so you can create those first essential automations.
6. UberSuggest.io — SEO Tool
One of the earliest things you can do for your startup is to build up the SEO of your website. This can take ages, and normally, you’re paying hundreds of dollars for access to tools for basic functionalities such as link building, keyword ideas, and more.
For me, I found Neil Patel’s UberSuggest.io as a great substitute. It’s a free tool that gives you the ability to crawl for keywords and search for competitiveness, CPCs and search volumes all in one.
I’ve managed to find good long-tail keywords with the tool that helped me drive thousands of views to my startup’s blog just from some basic research and content creation.
As SEO takes time to develop, get on this early on, especially as you’re yet to launch your startup.
7. Anchor.fm — Podcasting Distributor
Podcasting has become a major component of many businesses’ growth plans in today’s digital world. However, there are many moving parts, including needing to set up a podcasting account for each platform (Spotify, Apple, etc.), and registering with each one as well.
Worse yet, every time you create a podcast, you have to upload it to each platform which can be extremely time-consuming.
Instead, I’ve found Anchor.fm when I launched my own podcast a few years back.
All you need to do is upload your podcast, and it distributes it without you needing to do anything else. If you’re looking to use podcasting as a strategy to help build rapport and growth for your startup, take a look at this tool.
8. Hubspot — Marketing CRM system stack
If you’re looking to build landing pages, send emails, upload leads to a CRM, and more, Hubspot is a great marketing tool to help you with this.
Like for many out there, when you’re launching and growing your startup, it’s much easier to have one marketing system you can rely on, everything rather than 5 different tools.
With Hubspot, you can grow your email list, create pop-ups and forms all in one tool, and its free version allows you to send 2000 emails per month which is more than enough for most startups looking to launch or grow their first year.
If you’re looking for something more robust, you can even apply for their startup program, which discounts their paid product by 90%.
9. Yought — AI-powered Survey Tool
I am a bit bias here since this is my own startup, but it is a free tool (currently in beta). In my opinion, survey tools are generally pretty outdated, with many offering functions that you’d expect from a tool decades old.
This is why Yought provides you the analytics and the qualitative data insights you need in a modern survey tool. For many, surveys seem easy enough to create, but in reality, most of the time, you’re creating bias questions that lead to incorrect data.
This is how Yought is looking to change things and will have a freemium plan to boot so you can collect customer insights easier.
10. Ghostery — Spying Tool
Although its original intention is to enable privacy for your browser, this extension ends up being a neat little tool to allow you to ‘spy’ on other websites and view what tools they’re using for their business.
You’re probably thinking, why is this useful to you?
Unless you’re the top of the leader in your market (in which case you probably wouldn’t be reading this), there is always something to learn from your competitors. Viewing their stack could allow you to discover ways they’re outmaneuvering you in the market.
In my opinion, using something like Ghostery will never hurt your business and only help to improve it.
Hopefully, these tools provide insight into how widely available free or freemium tools are to help launch and grow a startup.
In my opinion, we’re lucky in today’s day of age to be gifted with so many widely available tools at our disposal, and we should be taking full advantage of this.