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In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I have decided to give thanks to all of the huge businesses that have helped me grow my business by offering their services for free.

Seriously, without the following people, life would have been 1,000,000 times harder.

So to all of these companies: THANK YOU!

Design

Unsplash: Unsplash provides free beautiful high quality images and photos that any one can use. You do not need to give any photo credit; although, it is nice to. Pixabay is also a great resource, but I always default to Unsplash, sorry Pixabay.

Canva: This is hands down the world’s best design software. You can make designs for infographics, prints, flyers, resumes, you name it. I love Canva. They provide tons of free templates that are easy to customize and personalize. This is a must-have for the social media age.

PicMonkeyWe use Canva with an eye towards all social media channels. However, PicMonkey is photoshop made easy. With PicMonkey you can quickly and easily edit pictures. You can change the lighting of pictures, make someone gain weight, reduce blemishes, or smooth colors.  It is the photo editor you need to know about.

IconfinderThe name says it all. This is the one stop show to satisfy all of your icon needs. Seriously, it can be a pain to make or find quality vector icons in SVG, PNG, CSH, and AI. They have excellent free icons as well as a plethora of paid ones at incredibly low prices.

ZeplinDepending on your business you may or may not need this software. For any web design or development business, you should check this out. It is hard for developers to go from designs to pixel perfect development. This helps take the guessing out of the equation. You have to use it to see the power in it.

Communication

SlackThis is an internal communication software. It was first described to me as “Group Messaging For Business.” I thought that sounded a little silly, but now I love it! Jacqueline and I do all of our work remotely with clients, designers, developers, etc. This is the go to collaboration tool. Slack helps break down the walls of communication. We love Slack so much we are even making a video for Slack to show them our appreciation. 

Google HangoutsThe better version of Skype in my opinion. This meeting software that is fantastic for both one – on – one sessions as well as group sessions with multiple people. You can easily share documents, pictures, and screens. The best part is that it is completely free.

Productivity 

AsanaWe also just started using this software. We were previously using Trello, another project management tool. However, Asana is 100X better than Trello. It is the best project management software out there and deeply undervalued. Their free version is perfect for small to medium size teams.

Sales

HubSpotThis is a sales platform that we use for customer relationship management (CRM). I love HubSpot because of how easy they make it to follow up with leads and previous costumers. They allow you to enter in notes for all your emails, assign dates for follow up emails, and even write the email then and schedule to send it later. I use this feature all the time to schedule emails that I know I will need to send later. They have other great features as well, but are not included in the free plan. Also, they offer a lot of great courses like their Inbound Marketing Course.

VidYard: This service is amazing and definitely under-utilized, but will be growing in the coming years. In sales, it is hard to get people’s attention. You cannot always meet with people in person, and let’s be honest, e-mail is over done. So how do you get people to notice? You send them video messages.

I send video messages all day. VidYard allows you to record your screen with a small circle that shows you talking. I find that this increases engagement several fold. I will send people messages about their Adwords, their websites, different things I think they might want help on. This tool really allows you to show the human side of yourself. They have a great chrome plugin too.

E-Mail:

Zoho Mail: Although, Jacqueline and I just switched over to Gmail, Zoho has a great suite of free products. My favorite is their e-mail. To get an e-mail like justin@seedx.us then you often have to pay money. With Google it is $5 dollars a month to have an e-mail like this, but with Zoho they offer a great free tier. This makes you look more professional while keeping expenses low.

MailChimpI think everyone knows what MailChimp is, but if you do not, it is an e-mail marketing platform. More the majority of business owners they know that the free tier is great for 12,000 emails. However, they continue to improve their platform. They make crafting your emails as easy as possible as well as provide great analytics about open and click through rates.

Mailtrack: This one can go under both sales and e-mails, but I think that it is more important for e-mails. Mailtrack is a gmail plugin that allows you to track when people read your e-mails. I love this because when I know someone read my e-mail I will pick up the phone and call them. They are often shocked that I happened to call them right when they were reading my e-mail. This is perfect because they are already thinking about the project and gives us the time to talk right then. Hubspot has this feature too, but they drastically limit the amount you can do without paying.

Websites

WordPress: WordPress is actually an open source blogging platform, but it has become one of the de-facto content management system. WordPress has amazing plug-ins to quickly enhance your website, but it also allows someone knowledgable about the platform flexibility to provide custom designs and integrations.

WooCommerceWooCommerce is an open source e-commerce platform built on top of WordPress. While a lot of people have moved over to Shopify I am still a fan of WooCommerce. The software is completely free and does not force you to upgrade your packages when you want to do things like one page checkout. There are great themes that you can integrate with WooCommerce. Additionally,  for people with small budgets who are just starting out the learning curve is not terrible.

Tawk.to: Tawk.to is a free real time messaging app for all of your website visitors. They have an awesome platform that allows for easy communication with visitors who need help. Tawk.to allows has a mobile app that allows you to communicate with people even when you are not at your computer. You can automate responses based on actions taken by users, time on page, or user flow through pages. This is the best chat app that exists. 

Social Media

Hootsuite: For me, social media is one of the hardest things to do. I am constantly forgetting to post. When I am suppose to post things I do not know what to post. Which leaves me posting things that are not that engaging and not that well thought out. HootSuite helps manage your social media channels as well as schedule posting and providing ket metrics to help improve your engagement. 

Analytics/Research

Similar WebThey describe themselves as a digital market intelligence platform. However, a lot of people can glean a lot of insight about their website and the websites of their competitors by using this tool. SimilarWeb allows you to see where traffic is coming from, top organic searches, and other amazing website that can help you dissect your competitor.

Google AnalyticsGoogle again coming in with another great free service. They provide amazing analytics for your website. Hopefully, I do not need to tell you to use this feature. However, they recently upgraded their UI as well as added in additional features. Thank you Google for all the help and the better user experience!

SEMrushSimilarWeb is good for seeing the overall traffic of your website, but SEMrush is specifically great for getting SEO/SEM analytics. You can discover how other people are ranking, what keywords they are ranking for, how much they pay for certain keywords, as well as which keywords are performing the best for them.

Finance

Wave AccountingThis is an awesome tool for people that do not want to upgrade to Quickbooks. Although I think that Quickbooks has a better integration platform, Wave Accounting is great for people in the service industry. Wave is completely free. They generate their revenue from advertisement and adding-on extra services.

SquareSquare first emerged as the mobile credit card reader. However, they have quickly grown their platform into a complete payment system. They offer great services like digital invoices that can be paid over the internet, keeping credit cards on file for recurring payments, and they are constantly extending their capabilities. Recently, they began offering micro loans to small business in need of capital. They base this off of the amount of transactions your do through Square.

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