I’m a firm believer that especially at the start of your Blog or Business adventure, you need to limit your costs as much as possible! Especially when considering that most people starting a blog are probably doing it on the side hoping to build it up over time.
If you are starting a Virtual Assistant Business, you probably need to start making as much money as possible, as quickly as possible, and that means keeping as much moolah in your pocket as possible!
The other reason I am sooo adamant on keeping costs down and using free resources and programs is that it’s exactly what I DIDN’T do when I started out. I wanted the very best of everything right from the get-go and then quickly realized that there were a lot of things that I really didn’t need!
The following list goes through all of the FREE resources I still currently use for my Blog and Online Business. Now, some of these do have premium versions that you can sign up for, but, I’m mentioning them because I’m still working off the free versions and haven’t needed to move onto the paid versions yet!
I also list a few platforms at the end that, unfortunately, I have to pay for given that my main focus is graphic design and there are no free options that would work!
Most of you probably won’t need these but I wanted to mention them in case anyone is looking to offer similar services as I do or if they are looking to open an online shop similar to the Lady Boss Studio shop!
Actual List of FREE Resources I Use in My Blog and Online Business
Mailerlite: This the number one email newsletter platform I recommend but it wasn’t always this way! I started out right off the bat paying for Convertkit at $38CAD per month. Wow, does that ever add up, especially in the beginning! I’m soo glad I stumbled on one of the best free resources, Mailerlite; they have a super simple drag and drop feature and the platform is incredibly easy to understand. You can use them for free up to 1000 subscribers. I have done more in 2 months of using Mailerlite then I did in almost a whole year with Converkit!
Asana: Praise the Lord for Asana! It’s a Project Management platform that is extremely visual and allows me to keep all of my client work neat and organized! It’s one of these free resources that I also use as a means to keep my shop to-do list organized and to create a streamlined process for when I create new eProducts.
Grammarly: This is a huge help as I like to type super fast and get the show on the road. While there are other free resources that offer editing guidance, this is a grammar and spelling software that works perfectly inside WordPress to try and keep me looking professional!
Screenspresso: This is an amazing tool for when you want to include screenshots in your blog posts and tutorials. You can edit the screenshot after the fact and add text, blur words, or add graphics! The other bonus is that you can also record your screen if you want to do any video tutorials! I’ve also used it soo many times just to send a client a quick screenshot of what I’m working on for them! It’s a lifesaver!
Google Analytics: Out of all of these free resources listed, I’m sure you have heard of Google Analytics, I just wanted to stress the importance of this free tool. I check it a few times a day just to see which of my posts or products are trending. It’s also a very good indicator for me if I’m converting well on a product. If I’m getting a ton of pageviews but not selling much of a product, maybe I need to spend some time making it more appealing. Alternatively, if I’m constantly seeing a trend toward certain blog posts, I can see that my readers are more interested in that type of content. This makes it easier when deciding what to write about next!
Canva: I’ll be honest, I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Canva. It’s not Canva’s fault, it’s because I’m used to creating graphics and such with the various Adobe products I use that allow me to do virtually anything. Canva is much more limited in nature. That being said, for someone just starting out that needs to create simpler graphics, it’s the PERFECT solution! All of the templates I sell in my shop are available for Canva because I understand how convenient it can be for non-graphic-software users! As a side-note, because I offer goods through Canva, I pay for the Canva for Work subscription but it’s essential to my shop! You should only need the regular FREE Canva account.
Myhours: Now that I have cut down my client list to two clients, I don’t use this anymore but LOVED it when I was managing 4 clients. It easily allows you to track time spent on a specific client and export all of the information as an excel spreadsheet to quickly prepare invoices!
Dropbox: This is an e-storage platform that I use daily. It allows me to safely store all of my files and not have the stress of losing anything if my computer decided to crash or if it got a virus! Because the graphic files I use are MASSIVE, I’ve had to upgrade but, again, the free starter plan should be more than enough!
Paypal: So this is a bit of a catch 22 because I do technically pay a small percentage to PayPal for selling items on my site. However, Paypal personal, for the most part, won’t cost you a thing. At least for the percentage I do pay, I only have to when money comes in from my shop, so it’s worth it for the ease of being able to accept all types of payments!
Teachable: This is THE online course platform and you can start creating your very first eCourses absolutely FREE. It’s what I am using to create my very first course which should be available before July! (Fingers Crossed) I’ve also taken several courses by other bloggers through the teachable platform and thought it was great!
Hootsuite: I’ll be honest, there is some debate out there as to whether it’s a good idea to use Social Media schedulers or not. A lot of people say that some platforms like Facebook will punish your post if it’s done through a scheduler other than their own Facebook scheduler. For that reason, I do everything related to Facebook from inside Facebook’s own site, but I use Hootsuite all the time for my Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn posts! I love that I can schedule my posts in advance!
Linktree: This is a fantastic platform to help navigate your Instagram followers to your site, shop, blog etc… As you may know, Instagram only allows you to have one link in your bio. Linktree creates a URL for you to include in your bio; when clicked, it brings up a list of links to where ever you want! It’s pretty sweet and I know it’s helped to increase my traffic!
FREE WordPress Plugins I Can't Live Without
Elementor: This is a front-end page builder that works perfectly with the main WordPress Themes I recommend from Bluchic. This is one of those free resources that make life 1000 times easier when formatting a blog post. They also claim that their plugin works with all Themes, but, I can’t confirm as I haven’t tried it with other themes.
Wordfence: This plugin has a free and paid plugin. I’m still with the free version but have been considering moving over to the paid version. I get weekly updates on any hackers that have tried to get into my site and since I started my shop this has increased hugely! It also alerts you as soon as one of your other plugins needs an update as this can leave your site vulnerable.
Pretty Link: This one is HUGE for me! It allows me to take super ugly looking affiliate links into nice looking links that are easy for me and readers to remember.
Sumo: I love this plugin because it makes it super easy for readers to share my content if they love it! Look to the left and notice that share bar? Well, it shows up on the side, top and bottom of every blog post and page on my site!
Woo Commerce: This is an e-commerce platform that I use to run my online shop. It’s pretty simple to use and there are a whole wack of complimentary plugins available to be able to really personalize your shop!
Yoast SEO: I know, SEO…boring… but it’s super important if you want to increase the number of people who can actually find your content! Yoast literally walks you through step by step to make sure all of your posts, your shop and your pages are SEO perfected!
Updraft Plus: This plugin allows you to back up your site to make sure you always have a copy in case something happens. You can actually schedule your backups and the best part for me is that I can have that backup save right to my dropbox to make sure I always have a copy!
Resources I Do Have to Pay For
Adobe CC Suite: I use Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign daily, not only to create the templates for my online shop, but I also use them to create all of my Social Media Graphics and Blog Graphics.
Canva Pro: As I said above, Canva is great but still not my personal first choice when comparing it to the Adobe Suite. In order to simplify my life to sell templates, I had to upgrade to Canva for Work in order to have access to all their added features!
Lynda.com: I have to mention Lynda.com as it’s an online course provider that literally has courses on EVERYTHING. I could mention a whole bunch of individual courses that I’ve taken along the way but for the low monthly membership fee at Lynda.com, you will save huge to up your education game!
I hope this list of Free Resources will help you to stay thrifty right from the getgo and make you think twice before spending any extra money on something that you don’t need to! If you have any questions about how I use any of these programs, please get in touch!
Did I miss any FREE tools that you think are amazing and should be added to the list? I would love to know!