5 Free Online Tools You Need to Build a Business

5 Free Online Tools You Need to Build a Business

I’ve spent a lot of time reading lately, specifically 2 great books, books that I can’t speak higher about. These are:

A little plug, if you have the spare cash to get an Amazon Kindle, I really, strongly, encourage you to get one. They’re simply amazing.

Both of these books, for different reasons, have given me so much inspiration, concepts, ideas, tools and techniques with which to continue to build this online business of mine (as small and humble as it is). So let’s start with the first one.

LinkedWorking

This really is an outstanding book. I never realised before just how powerful, yet simple, this site is. Whether you want to grow a career in your chosen field, grow a variety of contacts across a wide range of industries, build yourself as an authority on your chosen subject, or get to know people from across the world in a professional basis – LinkedIn is truly outstanding.

Crush It

This is a book that’s an inspiration for so many reasons. Gary’s style is direct yet not in your face; coarse yet polished. He tells it like he sees it and through nearly every page provides inspiration and hands on, practical, education for getting the most out of the online world to begin to live your passion – starting today!

Whether that’s engaging with Twitter or Facebook, using Tumblr or WordPress to build a solid presence online or using YouTube or podcasting to really engage with your audience, it’s all there.

And based on that reading and inspiration, I want to both share with you some of what I’ve learned and also provide you with some other tools to help you build a business of your own – or if you’re already in business, tools that can help you to do it faster, quicker, simpler, more efficiently.

But the best part about all of these tools and techniques are that they’re absolutely free. That’s right – free. But to keep it simple and not be overwhelming, this post is going to cover 5 of the best professional tools that can help you. What are they?

  • WordPress - Setup a professional blog or website
  • LinkedIn - Build and grow a professional business network
  • MailChimp - Build a professional mailing list
  • Evernote - Organise notes, thoughts and ideas from anywhere
  • YouTube  - Build a global video presence

LinkedIn

Maybe you’re a student and you’re just starting out or you’re already early in to your career. Maybe you’re coming to the end of your career or you’re a stay at home parent with their career briefly on-hold. I’m more than confident that irrespective of the stage of life that you’re at, you can use LinkedIn to help you build a network of people with which you can:

  • Build your identity
  • Share your knowledge
  • Learn from the knowledge of others
  • Join in events relating to your chosen field or hobby and more

Groups

Groups are a really powerful for a number of reasons. Firstly, you can become a community leader by building and curating a community around a topic that you’re passionate about. You can help others come together to share their passion; help people find jobs; build up engaging discussions; create opportunities for people to interact with companies, who can provide further opportunities, product & service discounts, give-aways and more.

Find Opportunities

Whether you’re looking for a new job, have a job that you need filled, want people to help out or more, through knowing an ever increasing array and diversity of people, you increasingly expand the possibilities to make this happen. Now it’s not all about what we want for ourselves, well, not directly.

As well as seeking out our own interests, we can look to help out others and in so doing help ourselves. How? Well you can answer questions that others pose on the site, give informative and timely responses in discussions that are already running and one of the best that I’m keen to keep exploring is connecting people who have needs with those that can, potentially, solve them.

Something for Everyone

No matter where you start from, LinkedIn has something for you. I’m totally convinced of this. I’d not call my network that big, at only 398 1st-level connections as I write this. But through constantly getting to know others and through starting my first LinkedIn group, PHP Cloud Development, I’m planning to really make the most of it.

Who do you know? Who would you like to get to know? What is your passion? What group can you start or join to help out fellow people with your passion?

MailChimp


It’s said that “the money is in the list“. I had the good fortune of hearing this again recently when I was having a review of my other site with the great Chris Garret lately. He reiterated in our discussion that a mailing list is one of the most effective and efficient tools that you can have to build a productive business, no matter what your passion is (ok, almost no matter what).

If you’re not familiar with a mailing list, it’s the online equivalent of direct mail via the post. You give people incentive and invite people to join your mailing list, where you build an audience of people who are actively engaged around your product, service and passion. Over time, you give them loads of value in a very targeted and personal way that other mediums likely cannot match.

The great thing is that doing this is simple, quick and free through a tool that I personally vouch for – MailChimp. There are other tools, such as Aweber, but I don’t have much experience with it and am much more familiar with MailChimp. All you need to do is this:

  1. Signup for a free account (specify the relevant details)
  2. Create and build a list of people that have said they’re interested in your product, service or passion
  3. Be engaged with them on a regular basis, giving them loads of value

Easy, Right?! Well, yes and no. Now there’s a lot more to it than this, of course. But MailChimp makes it easy by giving you a platform that helps ensure you:

  • Comply with all the legal requirements and obligations
  • Present a professional appearance through a host of pre-defined and customisable templates
  • Provide all the facilities for people to join, update their details and (occasionally) leave, should they feel that it’s not for them and more

What’s more, no matter your skill level, they provide a host of PDF guides and video tutorials that help you learn everything there is to know to get the most out of the service and running a successful mailing list.

What is your passion? Who also shares your passion? Where are they in the world? Can a mailing list help you build a community of people with a shared interest? Give it a try – today.

Evernote


As it’s motto says Evernote helps you Remember Everything. In a world that’s increasingly interconnected through every imaginable method, including the web and smartphones, Evernote makes it next to impossible to ever forget anything. Whether that’s a shopping list, urgent work or home todo items, thoughts that you have at 2am when you can’t sleep about a new book you’re writing, a business you want to start or anything else.

Whether you’ve got an Apple device, such as an iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Macbook Pro, or an Android device, whether a tablet or smartphone, or whether you have internet access at home or only at an internet cafe, you can use the service for free to record everything you think of. As well as this, you can:

  • Tag any note so that it’s reference in a logical way
  • Share notes with others so you can collaborate and get constructive feedback
  • Sync the notes between all of your devices
  • Categorise your notes
  • Save links (urls), text notes, photos, videos, voice notes and loads more
Just imagine the possibilities with this. You’d never forget a thing; You could get loads of feedback from friends, family, mentors, co-workers, university lecturers, school teachers; You could plan out just about anything. What could you do with Evernote?

WordPress


If you want a presence on the internet, this (in my humble opinion) is the tool to use! Not only is it the easiest to use for creating, editing and publishing posts, leaving comments, linking to a raft of services, such as YouTube, Facebook, MailChimp and Twitter it’s the most used blogging platform in the world powering 4,744,328 websites at the time of writing.

This site is running it and just about everyone I talk with who has a site, from Chris G, to Darren Clark at copyblogger.com and Darren Rowse at Problogger use it. Whether you’re a cricket lover from Adelaide, Australia promoting your local team or cricket supplies, an avid and super passionate snow-boarder from Banff, Canada recording her adventures around the world, or an Irish Polyglot, hi Benny, WordPress is the way to go.

Just like all the tools in this post, it’s free. Now the hosting may not be, but there are a raft of low-cost WordPress hosting companies no matter where you are in the world. You can publish on any topic that your heart and passions desire. Not much of a writer – I love to write – you can record podcasts or video blogs and then link them to your blog entries with a few notes about them.

Want to create a more immersive experience? Get your blog started, link in your videos, podcasts, tweets and Facebook pages and posts as well. It’s a case of if your imagination can conceive it, through WordPress, plugins and related tools, you can likely make it happen.

YouTube


Maybe writing isn’t your strong suit, but you love to talk, get out and about with a smartphone or camera or you’re a budding film maker. Well, YouTube is the platform for you. As well as being free here are some magic statistics about it:

  • Over 3 billion videos are viewed each day
  • 800 million users view YouTube each month
  • YouTube is localised in 25 countries and 43 languages

That’s a hell of a lot of content and an enormous potential audience for your passion, product or service. Now, to be fair, that also means that there’s a lot of competition if you’re only using YouTube to find your audience. But if you combine the use of your blog and mailing list to grow your audience and inform them of your content, you can grow your audience, even if it’s talking about peanut farming in Queensland, Australia.

Now have I used YouTube? Yes. As amateur and potentially embarrassing as this video may be, here’s a video that I took of me when I was wandering through Prague, Czech Republic a few years ago – be gentle with your responses.

Now that’s an old one and I’m planning to be putting up a fair bit of recorded videos this year. But it’s just so simple to use. All you need is a video camera and you plus an internet connection to upload the video. You don’t need fancy and expensive software to cut, crop, edit and polish. Just upload your content and YouTube will sort out all that’s required to ensure that it plays to whoever wants to see it. Now there’s much more to it and I’m no expert, so I’m not going to claim to be, but get in to it.

To put my money where my mouth is, I’m going to be uploading my first video for this site before the 23rd of this month. So I encourage you, if you’re interested in videos to join with me and we can keep each other motivated and honest.

In Summary

So there you have it; there’s 5 great tools, with worldwide renown and usage that you can use today to start or continue building a business around your passion, product and service. You don’t need a Bachelors or Masters degree from any University, you don’t need formal training or certifications – you just need you, passion and dedication.

What is your passion? What is your business? What is your area of speciality? How can you use these tools to build it and promote it and promote brand YOU? Drop a comment or send a tweet with your thoughts and ideas.

image copyright © ndrwfgg

Related Posts