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EPISODE 103

24 Best Free & Low-Cost Tools for Online Entrepreneurs

Tools for Online Entrepreneurs

Tools for Online Entrepreneurs

As business owners, we are always looking for ways to make our lives easier. In this episode, I’m providing you with a list of 24 free and low-cost tools for online entrepreneurs.

From boosting productivity to improving writing and communication and streamlining tasks, I cover it all. Join us as we explore the tools that will make your life easier without breaking the bank.

Tune in to discover essential tools for productivity, team communication, time tracking, project management, video calls, writing and editing, SEO, marketing, automation, and security that won’t break the bank.

01:24 Google Suite

02:18 Slack

03:10  Toggl

03:38 Pomofocus

04:34 Airtable

05:33 Notion, Asana, and Clickup

07:22 Zoom

08:02 Google Meet

08:15 Fathom AI

08:58 Calendly

09:27 Grammarly & Hemingway Editor

10:31 Loom & Tango

11:49 Google Analytics

12:33 Google Search Console

12:58 Rank Math SEO

13:44 Ubersuggest

14:24 ConvertKit

16:32 Meta Business Suite

17:10 Zapier

17:37 1Password

Some links mentioned are affiliate links. This helps to support this podcast at no additional cost to you.

Kristen 0:03
Okay, TPT sellers, ready to see growth in your business? You’re in the right place. Welcome to The Savvy Teacher Seller. I’m Kristen Doyle, and I’m here to give you no fluff tools and strategies that will really make an impact on your sale. Let’s get started y’all.

Kristen 0:23
He y, y’all, and welcome to this episode, I’m your host, Kristen Doyle, and today’s episode is all about making your life easier as an online entrepreneur. I am sharing some of my favorite free and low cost tools, we are talking $10 or less a month, that can help you to boost your productivity, streamline communication, if you have a team, help improve your writing, and so many other things.

Kristen 0:51
Whether you are a TPT seller or a blogger, you sell courses, or you do services, I got you covered today with a tools that will help streamline things make your life easier and won’t break the bank. So let’s start with productivity.

Kristen 1:10
We all know that keeping everything organized and staying on top of our tasks is so important. But it can also be so much harder than you would think. So here are some tools I love that can help with productivity.

Kristen 1:24
I can’t imagine anyone listening right now isn’t already familiar with Google’s suite of tools. We have Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drive, Gmail, all the things. They’re practically a requirement if you have an online business. And Google Drive gives you 15 gigabytes of free storage, which is fantastic. But did you know that for just $6 a month, you can use Google workspace to get a custom domain email that’s like [email protected]? And you need that if you’re doing any kind of email marketing.

Kristen 1:58
I love Google workspace for custom email because you get to keep using the Google tools you’re already familiar with. You check your email right in Gmail. You can use all of their apps. All the things you already know. It’s just branded for your business and that makes you look super professional. Plus, you get 30 gigs of storage with a Google workspace account.

Kristen 2:18
Next up Slack is a team communication tool that helps keep everybody on the same page. I absolutely love it because it keeps me off of Facebook Messenger or out of my email inbox when I’m working on projects with my VAs or working just business things. Even for myself, I will send myself slack messages, so that I can remember things and find it in a spot where I’m not going to be distracted by anything else. It’s that one place where I know every message is important and it’s business related.

Kristen 2:51
The free plan includes 90 days of message history. And you can even do one on one video calls on there. So it’s fantastic for staying connected with a team sharing files, having those quick chats where you don’t have to schedule a zoom call or anything really great place to communicate if you have bas that you’re working with.

Kristen 3:10
Toggl is another tool that’s great if you have a team or if you’re just trying to monitor how you spend your own time. It is a time tracking tool. And their free plan lets you track unlimited projects and clients. You can separate out the tasks you’re doing based on what categories they are. And it gives you some basic reporting features too. So it’s really good if you’re just trying to monitor what you’re spending your time on, or if you’re working with a small team of vas.

Kristen 3:38
The next productivity tool I love is called a Pomofocus. It is a free web based Pomodoro timer that helps you stay on track by breaking your work into 25 minute work intervals with a short break in between each. This is known as the Pomodoro method. And Pomofocus is just a website with a super simple interface that lets you customize how long you’re working, how many work sessions you take before you have a longer break, all of those kinds of things. And I love that it will pop up notifications for you. So you don’t actually have to be looking at the tab. When it is running. You can kind of let it run in the background while you’re working and it will sound a charm for you when it’s time to take a break. It really, really helps me to stay focused on the tasks that I need to be working on without letting myself get distracted by all of the other things that can sometimes pop up and distract us from our work.

Kristen 4:34
Next up we have Airtable. If you are not familiar with Airtable, if you have not tried it out yet, Airtable is a lot like Google Sheets, but it’s beautiful and colorful and don’t we all love that. And it has the power of a database built in. So it’s kind of a hybrid of a spreadsheet and a database. Airtable does have paid plans but I have always used just the free Airtable plan. It includes unlimited bases, which is kind of what they call a sheet like you’d have in Google Sheets. But there is a limit of how many records you can add per base, and how much storage space you get for things that you’re attaching. But a great workaround for that storage space is just to link over to your Google Drive or Dropbox or whatever else you’re using.

Kristen 5:16
You can use Airtable to manage projects if you want. But I find it is really best for organizing lots of data. So if you tend to keep a database of your products, or your blog posts, or podcasts, or any of those types of things, client databases, Airtable is great for that.

Kristen 5:33
And the next three have very similar purposes. So I’m going to talk about them all together, Notion Asana, and Clickup. They are all all in one workspaces, and project management tools. They help you to organize your notes, your tasks, your projects. They’re really great for keeping things all together in one place for a specific project you’re working on, for setting due dates to hold yourself accountable and for tracking your progress.

Kristen 6:00
If you are collaborating with a team, they are fantastic tools for communicating and keeping all of your project information in one single place, no matter who’s working on different pieces of it. But even if you are working solo, I find it so helpful to have my to do list, especially for repetitive tasks, tasks that maybe have multiple steps and links I need to go to, I find it so helpful to have those to do lists, with all of the details in there for what I need to do. And have those due dates scheduled out for me so that I don’t forget anything.

Kristen 6:35
I find that these are all great platforms, and really which one works best for you comes down to just your personal preference. So my recommendation would be to try them all out and see which one you like best. Personally, I use Clickup and I absolutely love it. They do have a free version of clickup. But I have upgraded to their $7 a month plan because it has some additional features that I really like to use. However, you can save a lot on your monthly cost by adding your team of VAs as guests instead of full members because each plan gets a certain number of free guests. And unless you have a huge team, you can probably add all of your VAs as free guests instead of having to pay for them as full members. That’s what I do with my team.

Kristen 7:22
All right, moving on from productivity. If you have video calls, whether it’s with a team, you work with clients, or you have a course and you’re meeting with students, there are lots of tools that can help you host video calls. Zoom offers free video calls for up to 40 minutes. Zoom is very, very popular, which means whoever you’re meeting with, probably already have it. And I love that they let you upgrade for larger meetings or webinars or anything like that, that you need on a one month basis when you need it. So you don’t have to always pay for a more expensive plan if you only need those bigger features every now and then.

Kristen 8:02
If you need a truly free video call option, Google Meet works well. It’s super convenient if you’re already using Google tools. And really the reason it’s not my top pick is that I find the video quality to be a lot better on Zoom.

Kristen 8:15
The next one is one that I have just started using recently and it’s called Fathom AI. Fathom integrates with Zoom and Google Meet and it gives you free AI powered note taking during your video calls. So while you’re on the call, it is automatically transcribing the conversation, and then at the end it creates a summary. So you can focus on the discussion without worrying about taking notes. It is clutch when it comes to meetings with clients, or group calls. Maybe in a coaching program you have where you want to share timestamps, along with your recordings. I absolutely love Fathom. There are some paid plans for it as well, but I just use the free version. Their paid plans really are intended for big teams.

Kristen 8:58
Now to schedule all of these calls that you’re having, Calendly is a free scheduling tool that helps you cut out all those back and forth messages trying to find out when everyone is available to meet. So you set up the meeting type and your availability and then whoever you are inviting can choose a time slot that works for them. Calendly has paid plans that start at $10 a month and those are for if you need multiple types of meetings or you want to collect payments when a meeting is booked or something like that.

Kristen 9:27
Next up we have two of my favorite tools to help with writing and editing. Grammarly is a free chrome extension that checks your grammar, spelling, punctuation, and it even gives you some tips about style and making things easier to understand. I love that it shows up everywhere I’m typing as long as I’m in Chrome. And I cannot tell you how many typos Grammarly has saved me from.

Kristen 9:52
The other one I love is called Hemingway editor. This is another free writing tool and it helps you make your writing clearer and more readable. You can paste in a whole body of text you’ve written. So a product description, a blog post, whatever you have written. An email you’re going to send out, and it will highlight things like complex sentences and passive voice, and other things that make your reading a little more difficult to understand. And then it will suggest ways to improve the clarity and the readability. It is fantastic for people like me who tend to sometimes over explain things because it really helps you simplify.

Kristen 10:30
If you ever need to create videos or tutorials, two of my favorites for that are Loom and Tango. Loom is a free screen recording tool. So it’s perfect for creating video tutorials recording presentation. And sometimes I use Loom just to send a quick video message. If it would be easier for me to explain what I’m saying with a screen recording included. It lets you record your screen with or without your face on camera. And then you can easily share those recordings just with a link to the recording online.

Kristen 11:04
Tango is another free tool. This one is better for creating step by step guides or SOPs, standard operating procedures that use text and photos. So with Tango, you complete a task. And as you are doing that task, it captures what is on your screen in photos, and it automatically creates instructions based on what you were doing. So it will tell people click on this button, type in this information, those sorts of things. I find that Tango is best for tasks that require the exact same steps every time, click here, then click there, then select this. While Loom is better when there are more variables when you need to be able to explain things and give different options.

Kristen 11:49
Alright, let’s talk SEO and analytics because understanding your audience and optimizing your content is so important. So Google Analytics is completely free. And it tracks and reports website traffic so that you can see how visitors are finding and interacting with your site. You should create a Google Analytics property for every website that you own, including your course platform, or a cart or funnel builder that you might be using. But quick note, you do have to be able to add a little snippet of code to the site, it’s very easy, they tell you exactly what to do. But that means that Google Analytics does not work on marketplace sites like TPT, or Etsy where you don’t have access to add those snippets of code.

Kristen 12:33
Another SEO tool is Google Search Console, also completely free. And you should also create a property there for each website that you own just like with Google Analytics. Google Search Console, though is going to tell you some insights about how your site is showing up in search, which keywords are getting you the most traffic, what your rank is for those keywords, all of those types of things.

Kristen 12:58
Rank Math SEO is a free WordPress plugin that helps you optimize your website for search. They do have a paid version, which I personally use, but their free version is fantastic. And it offers a lot more features than Yoast. So if you’re currently on Yoast, and you’re paying for it, I would highly recommend looking into Rank Math to see if you can cut that subscription. And I really just like the way that Rank Math scores your content for search better anyway.

Kristen 13:26
Rank Math includes features like keyword optimization, Sitemaps, Google Search Console integration. All of those can help with your site’s SEO. But it also includes things like 404 error monitoring, and automatic redirects, and some other features that are really great for the user experience for visitors on your site.

Kristen 13:44
Ubersuggest is a keyword research tool for SEO. Now they have a free plan, it gives you a very limited number of searches each day. But they also have a lifetime plan. And I don’t know about you, but I love a good lifetime deal. Pay once and be done speaks to my heart. The individual lifetime plan is currently $290. But if you sign up for a free trial, and then you cancel it before your trial ends, you can find a hidden lifetime plan that’s just $99. And it’s pretty perfect if all you need is the keyword research and you’re not worried about their more comprehensive project tools and rank tracking and those sorts of things.

Kristen 14:24
When it comes to marketing and automations you usually do have to pay for these tools, but there are some good free options out there. If you’ve listened to this podcast much you have probably heard me talk about how I have tried every email marketing platform out there and come back to ConvertKit. There are a lot of reasons that people love ConvertKit. They have customizable form builders and landing pages and all the things.

Kristen 14:47
But the real reasons that I came back to ConvertKit after leaving to try what I thought were going to be greener pastures, is how streamlined and intuitive ConvertKit is and how easy it is to integrate with tons of other tools that you’re using like WordPress, WooCommerce, your course platforms, you name it. ConvertKit probably integrates with it.

Kristen 14:47
And one of the biggest complaints that I hear about ConvertKit is the cost. But did you know they now have a new newsletter plan, and it is free for up to 10,000 subscribers. The only real limit to this plan that I found is that you’re limited to one automated sequence. If you’re primarily using your email list to send out weekly broadcasts that you just schedule out one at a time, then I would highly recommend looking into this plan. Unlike some of the other providers sending out that automated welcome email with the freebie attached to it does not require an automation. So you would be good to go there that is all built out within forms. So you would be able to do that for as many forms as you need. And you would still get one automated sequence in addition to that.

Kristen 15:57
I always encourage people when it comes to a tool, like your email marketing, or your website platform, if it’s something you’re going to use long term, and it’s going to take a lot of work to move, I always encourage people to start somewhere that will grow with you that you will be able to stay long term. And with this newsletter plan that’s free for up to 10,000 subscribers, this gives you a really good way to start somewhere like ConvertKit, where you will be able to do whatever you need to with your email marketing long term. And you can always upgrade past that free plan if you need to. But you will be able to do quite a lot on the free plan.

Kristen 16:32
I always hear people looking for free scheduling tools for social media posts. And most of those third party tools are either pretty limited on their free plans, or they have issues with getting disconnected from Facebook and Instagram. But did you know that you can use Meta Business Suite right on Facebook for free to schedule your posts to both Facebook and Instagram? It is super easy to use and you never have to worry about it getting disconnected, or Facebook suddenly deciding that they don’t like it and so your post doesn’t get any views because it’s created by Facebook. Really easy to use, and it is right there and doesn’t require any third party connections.

Kristen 17:09
Zapier is my favorite automation tool. It connects one app to another and helps you to automate different types of workflows. Zapier costs about 20 bucks a month normally. But if you don’t have a lot of those super repetitive tasks to automate, you can create up to five zaps, that’s what they call those automations, on their free plan. So that’s really great if you just need to take a handful of super repetitive tasks off your plate.

Kristen 17:37
Last up, let’s talk security. One Password is a password manager that securely stores passwords, credit cards, other personal information. You can store driver’s licenses and passport numbers and things in there in a secure place where you can access them across all of your devices. It makes it so much easier for me to use those hard to guess totally random, really long passwords that are so much more secure than you know than the pet’s name or the kid’s birthday.

Kristen 18:06
There’s no free plan for one password. But the other free password managers that I know of have had multiple security breaches over the last few years. And so that is just not something to play around with. And I don’t recommend using any of them. One Password is such a low cost for the peace of mind and the security that it provides.

Kristen 18:26
Their individual plan, so for one person is just $3 a month and you can use it with up to five family members for $5 a month. So it is more than worth it to have all your passwords stored somewhere secure and to be able to use those random generated passwords for things.

Kristen 18:43
Alright, that is it for today’s episode. I just shared with you 24 free and low cost tools that will help you in your business.

Kristen 18:53
Here’s a simple action step for you today. Think back through that list. Maybe check it out at the show notes and pick one tool that you have not tried yet to start using in your business this week. You can grab a downloadable guide with links to all of those tools over on my website in the shownotes at Kristindoyle.co/episode 103. And don’t forget to follow the podcast for more tips and insights like these.

Kristen 19:21
Thank you so much for listening, and I’ll talk to you soon.

Kristen 19:26
I hope you enjoyed today’s episode. If you did, please share it with another teacher seller who would also find it helpful. For more resources on growing your TPT business, head to Kristindoyle.co/TPT. Talk to you soon.

Ready to see growth in your business? You’re in the right place.

I’m here to give you no-fluff tools and strategies that will really make an impact on your sales. We’re talking SEO, improving product listings, leveraging your website, and more. 

About Your Host

Your host, Kristen Doyle, has a decade of experience selling on TpT and has made all the mistakes so that you don’t have to! As a web designer and the go-to SEO expert in the TpT world, she loves helping TpT sellers stand out in the crowd & grow their businesses with passive income strategies.

Tune in to hear Kristen cover all aspects of running a TpT business – from leveraging SEO, to improving product listings, to effective TpT seller strategies for your store and website.