As a relatively young business, I’m always looking for cost efficient but also effective ways to do things on the web. During the past year, I’ve done some research into new tools for marketers and here’s what I’ve found. I use many of these on a regular basis, and several are free. All have paid options if you want to upgrade to more expanded service (and on some of them I have). But here are my top choices:
(1) Freshbooks - This is a fantastic service that allows you to do invoicing for your clients. You can customize your invoices as well as your dashboard (which your clients see when they log in), send out late notices, keep track of time spent on projects and expenses, just to name a few things. You can email or snail mail the invoices. The first 3 clients are free. I guess it’s a sign of success that I’ve upgraded to the paid version, so you won’t hear me complain.
(2) Join Me - I’ve attended plenty of “Go To Webinar” seminars, and have always been impressed with the technology. But when a potential client in Florida asked if I could do a virtual presentation on my laptop, I wasn’t interested in setting up an account with GoTo. Join Me allows you to give a seminar and your clients can see your computer. Join Me also get a free conference call number. Really, it couldn’t have been easier. I have also used it to enable my WordPress coding guru Manny (who lives in Florida) to give me tech support.
(3) Dropbox.com or Box.net - Sometimes, clients have a lot of files (photos, documents, etc.) they need to share with me, but email is just too cumbersome. Both of these services offer free online document storage. With Dropbox.net, you get 3GB free, and with Box.com you get 5GB free. I prefer Box.net because as you run your cursor over the list of documents, you’re able to see an image of the document, whereas with DropBox.com, you have to physically open a document to view it. Another good option is YouSendIt, although it also has size limitations.
(4) Hootsuite - As a social media manager, this is an indispensible tool. I can see all of the accounts I manage, schedule social media posts, respond to Direct Messages, etc. I do not recommend it for Facebook postings, however. (Read this blog post to see why.) Again, as a sign of my success, I upgraded to the Pro version, but at less than $6 per month, it’s worth it.
(5) Onlywire - This is a social bookmarking tool that allows me to simultaneously post articles on up to 42 social bookmarking sites. Of course, there is a paid version that prevents you from having to fill in Capchta’s, but overall it really helps with increasing SEO.
(6) Tungle Me - This is a service I have not personally used, but one of my clients introduced it to me and I was intrigued. Tungle Me allows you to keep all of your activities and schedules online in one place. That way if you have virtual staff or team members in different locations who don’t share a server, you can invite people to view your calendar so they can stay on top of your activities. You can also be selective about what activities people get to see, so there are built-in privacy factors. AND… there are SmartPhone apps! I’ll be trying this one out.
(7) Fiverr.com - Finally, this one isn’t free, but it’s very close. Fiverr.com (for which I’ve written entire blog posts which you can read here and here) is full of people willing to do things for you for $5. It was through Fiverr that I found my WordPress guru, my graphic designer, and my Twitter/YouTube graphic designer. This wonderful service has helped me to build an amazing virtual team.
If you have any other free services to share, please comment below and let me know!
Karen Naide is a Social Media Barista for Project Social, a virtual social media management company in Alpharetta, GA. She loves helping her clients make sense of the social media space, and use it to their benefit. Karen is married to Adam Naide, Executive Director for Social Media at Cox Communications. Her Twitter handle is @ProjSocial.