30 Free Tools and Software to Keep your Business Ahead of the Game
Our Recommendations for Free Tools and Business Software
In our last post we talked about getting great business tools and software from Appsumo at great discounts, but what is better than cheap, FREE. Being a small business and helping many clients who are small businesses or startup companies we are always trying to save money and get the most value and efficiency from our tools we use. When a company goes into business there are quite few tools and technology type software that the company may not even realize they need. When we start looking into that software we see often that they are a monthly fee and that doesn’t seem bad but $15/month here and $20/month there adds up quickly and can become a large amount of overhead.
Being able to cancel a monthly fee for something that you can get for free is a great thing. Finding something that can help with your businesses’ efficiency while saving you time and getting it for free is a great feeling. We have a list of 30 free tools and business software that we believe can help our customers as well as other web designers and developers. This list is in a categorical order rather than best to worst. We hope it can help your company save some money and time and will be extremely useful for those who are website designers and developers.
Free Graphic and Photo Editors
Though your company may just be a construction company or floor cleaning services being able to make a few image adjustments, banner ads or social media images can be very handy, but paying people to do this may be quite expensive. Take a look at these free tools for your graphic editing needs.
1. Glorify – Though many people use Canva which is a great service as well and has a great plan I thought I would add a service that many may not know about. The thing for me that I think makes the free Glorify plan better than Canva’s is that they have 10 uses of the background removal tool and Canva doesn’t have any it is only on their paid plan. It may be something where you use Glorify for the background tool and Canva for other stuff as it has more features.
2. Lunapic – This is a definite go to for me when I just need a simple crop or taking out a background. It has many quick easy to use tools and requires no login. It’s about the easiest image editors you can use.
3. Mass Image Compressor – This is a tool I use all the time, but I believe it is only for Windows computers. This is an actual program to install on your computer. You can easily take a folder with tons of pictures that are way too large for your website or maybe too big to attach to emails and in bulk compress all images and also set the max width lower so you get much smaller images. It works great, is totally free and is quite quick to mass compress and mass scale down images.
4. GIMP – If you have ever used Photoshop and are annoyed by their monthly fee then definitely check out GIMP. It is free and open source and it works for Windows, Mac and Linux. It is a downloadable program that can do most all the things Photoshop can do. It also has a great community with many free addons that individuals have made. Understand though that just has Photoshop has a very large learning curve GIMP does as well though there are many how to videos on Youtube.
Free Stock Photos and Videos
Stock photos and videos can be very expensive so getting these images and videos for free to use on social media, ads or your website is an absolute steal. Though do remember you may see these on other peoples sites as they are using them as well.
5. Unsplash – This free stock photo site only has photos, but it does have a great selection.
6. Pixabay – Another great free stock photo site that also includes stock video.
7. Pexels – The last free stock photo and video site we use regularly.
Free Office Desktop Productivity Applications
What do we actually call Microsoft Office? It’s not just a word processor or spreadsheet editor, but a whole suite of applications and if your computer does not already have it, it can be quite expensive.
8. Libreoffice – This is a fantastic free open source alternative to Microsoft Office. It has basically all of the apps that Microsoft Office has and it functions and looks very similar as well. If you know how to use Microsoft Office you will know how to use this. We now use Microsoft Office as we got that for free, but we had used Libreoffice and I wouldn’t go out and pay for Microsoft Office when this alternative exists. There are others like OpenOffice that work decently also but I liked Libre the best so that is what I used for over a year.
Free Accounting Software
Quickbooks and other programs that are all online for accounting, invoicing, payroll, etc can be expensive, but we have a great free option that we use for all accounting in our business.
9. Wave Financial – This online software is free, but has a few caveats. Wave can connect to your bank accounts, paypal, etc to take care of all your accounting needs and can bring in all your payments for both receivables and payables. You can do all your invoicing with wave and your invoices can even allow for taking ACH or Credit Card payments. There are fees for using the payment processor, but they are pretty standard in the industry and your payouts go straight to your account less the fees so no having to pay a monthly invoice. Wave also allows for payroll though this is also a paid feature. The only thing I really dislike about it is the recurring invoices, that it does have which is nice but the invoice names are randomly generated from previous invoices on your account, but they are almost never what you want them so you must go in and change them as you can’t set them. For companies that are a one man show, have no real employees just contractors or freelancers, Wave is an amazing accounting software that will surely save you money while making your business look legit and professional with great looking invoices.
Free Mailing List Service
Whatever you do don’t send mass e-mailings from your standard email, it is a real pain and is hard to track everything. Make a list either through your site opt-in or through people who have asked to have updates from you.
10. Mailchimp – This is a great service that integrates with a large amount of apps and website plugins to be able to build your mailing list. You can easily segment your list of people by interests, how they were added to the list, etc. It also has a great email builder that allows you to quickly drag and drop blocks to make great looking professional emails. There are paid levels, but their free plan allows up to 2000 subscribers on the list which is a huge amount for many small or local businesses and almost all features are free. Anytime a client wants to have a mailing list and they are a startup with no names on the list we have them go with Mailchimp. No need to pay when you are just testing out and seeing how list building will work and what you need.
Free Video, Online Meeting, and Screenshare/Screen Capture Services
11. Vectera – After the beginning of Covid it seemed that everything went to Zoom and online meetings so Zoom got a huge following though they do have a 40 minute limit on their free plans. Vectera is a great competitor with some great features on their free plan. With the free plan you can only do 1 on 1 meetings so it works well for client meetings for people who do work for individuals. There is no 40 minute limit and you can create up to 4 persistent rooms. This means that you can download documents to the room or use the whiteboard for notes and then when you come back to the room with the customer all your notes and documents will be saved and right there to look at again. So it isn’t a one and done thing like Zoom you can leave and get right back to where you left off.
12. Loom – At one point we used this all the time to easily make quick how to videos for clients and then allow them to just click the link and see the video. This is a great product but they did recently change their free plan. It used to be that you could create unlimited time videos and tutorials, but now they have a 5 minute limit which is often not long enough for even a short tutorial video. So, this may be valuable for some but the 5 minutes is very short, with a 10 minute limit you would probably fine but it is quite short. We now use BerryCast though it is not free it has no time limit and I got it from Appsumo (though it’s no longer on there) for a fantastic lifetime deal.
13. OBS(Open Broadcaster Software) – This software is totally open source and thus is free. If you want to make Youtube videos especially those where you need to show off your screen or just want to talk in front of your video camera this is a great option. This is what we use on our Youtube videos and it allows us to switch easily between different scenes with great transitions. You can use multiple audio and video sources making for something that is very personalize and professional.
14. Davinci Resolve – This is not open source, but has such an amazing free version that I have never needed anything close to their paid version. If you think of Photoshop or GIMP for images and photos this is what Davinci Resolve is to Videos. You can bring in many videos usually from OBS for me and then cut them, put transitions in, blur things out, add intros and outros, have different audio tracks overlaid over video, and many many other things. It has a ridiculously large learning curve to learn its many many features though, to just add a few things and make a decent video a couple Youtube tutorials (of which there are many) will get you going.
Free Miscellaneous Tools
These are free tools that we couldn’t find a great place for but are valuable nonetheless.
15. Google Drive – Though many already know about this if you have a Gmail account you also have 15gb free storage to use within drive which is cloud storage and allows for you to store documents and files and easily share them with others. We actually have upgraded to the paid version, but many will be fine with the free version. The other cloud storage service that isn’t free but I can’t harp on it enough is IceDrive. It is quite reasonable in price and allows you to hook it to your computer and use it just like another hard drive, but it is all stored in the cloud so I can access it from any computer with internet.
16. Pass Camp – Another service I got from Appsumo this tool stores your passwords and allows you to create very secure passwords easily and even has autofill. It only allows 15 passwords on the free level so that may not be enough for most people. The great feature of Pass Camp is if you have a team account (only €35 per year) is that you can create team members and share certain passwords with those team members. It is a great tool compared to using an excel spreadsheet for all your passwords.
17. Zapier – I am just putting this together with IFTTT as they are two different companies but do almost exactly the same thing, both have a free plan though I think Zapier has more integrations and services it works with. It may be a little hard to explain, but essentially what these two services do is integrate third party services together to have one service do something when something else happens in the other. You are creating automations that can save a ton of time. In the Zapier free version they only allow single steps like if I post to Facebook Zapier can automatically pull that info and post it to Linked In. A multistep integration may take that facebook post and post to Linked In as well as Pinterest and that would be on the paid plan. These are extremely powerful services and can save tons of time, but have a small learning curve on how to set them up. I have used them many times in many different ways.
18. Trello – This free tool is great for managing team projects. You essentially make online lists with things that need to be done in your business and you can make them by when they need to be finished or a piece of a project and you can give each of these tasks to people working on the project. It is essentially a project management tool that allows you to see how well a project is coming along.
Free Website Speed Tools
How fast your website loads is now very important to Google as well as to your customers. If they wait for your site to load too long they may leave and if this is how you get leads this can be huge problem.
19. GT Metrix – GT Metrix allows you to test a link and see how fast it loads and see what you can do to make it faster. It will give you a whole list of things that need to be done as well as what things like an image or video that is taking a long time to load.
20. Pingdom Website Speed Test – Another testing site like GT Metrix this one is not as in depth in recommendations as GT Metrix, but it is great to check both. I will normally check both sites to be able to see how fast my site is and what things I need to do to make it faster.
Free Website SEO Tool
21. Ubersuggest – This might be one of the best free tools on the list. This offers a free plan that many SEO tool companies may charge at least $50 per month for the features. This is created by the very experienced SEO professional Neil Patel. Until recently it was totally free though they have started a paid plan, but you can get tons of features in the free plan from keyword research, to backlinks pointed to your site to tracking where your site ranks for certain keywords.
Free Website Miscellaneous Services
22. Google Analytics – This extremely valuable tool will show you not only how many people are looking at your website, but where they are from, how they got their, what pages they looked at, and many other demographics. You can also set goals to analyze how many are buying or getting onto your list or how far in the process they got before they decided not to buy. The information is super powerful you just need to know what to do with it after you get it.
23. Google Search Console – Another powerful tool from Google this allows you to tell Google that you have made a new page on your site and to send your sitemap to them so they know exactly what pages to check and put in their search engine. It will also give you warnings if there are reasons it can not include pages or some different warnings about things that need to be changed on your site.
24. Google My Business – The last very important tool from Google that I have is to sign up for Google My Business if you your business has an actual address. This allows the information about your business to be shown on the right side when you search for it on Google. Customers will be able to see your website, phone number, business hours and a lot of other valuable info, including reviews. I would suggest every client who can to have a Google My Business listing as it is fast to setup, free and very powerful with customers.
25. Cloudflare – While they have a paid plan I have only ever needed the free plan. This is a CDN (content delivery network) service and while many people won’t know what it does, it can be very valuable. It may take a little bit of setup, but I will try and explain it quickly and simply. When you have a website you have hosting, which your site is broadcast from. If your site is a site that sells around the world, but say your hosting server is located in Flagstaff, Arizona as you have customers further and further away from the location of the server the site will load slower for those people. If your customer was in Flagstaff your site may load very quickly, but if they were in Bangladesh it will load slower. A CDN saves or caches your information for your site on many servers around the world making your site load faster even when the customer is very far away. It is much more complex and technological than that, but this is a good simple overview. Cloudflare is totally free and has many other features that can speed up your site and help with security.
Free WordPress Plugins
As we use WordPress with the Divi them when we design and build websites I thought we would have a sections of great free plugins.
26. Wordfence – This is a security and firewall plugin to make it much less likely that your site will be accessed or hacked by a stranger. They have a paid version though the free version has always been enough features for me. I use this on every site I build and have not had any sites hacked while using it.
27. All In One WP Migration – When you want to make backups of your website just in case of hacking, this is always my go to. For most websites the free version will work fine though I believe they have a 512mb max limit unless you buy the unlimited extension. This is a great easy way to make backups of your site, but some slow hosts the backup never finishes. I am looking at you Godaddy (don’t use Godaddy hosting if you can help it, there domain name registration is quite good though). With the paid extensions you can use things that allow automatic backups to be put right into your Google Drive it really is a great plugin.
28. Migrate Guru – Another plugin kind of like All In One WP Migration, but does not make backups, but it allows you to move your website to a new hosting account or to a subdomain easily and very reliably. Sometimes with All In One WP Migration I get the slow hosting issue so moving a site is not able to be done with it. Migrate guru has never had any problems though you have to have hosting login. It does not use a backup file, but rather goes into the hosting cpanel or ftp and moves everything over even if it is junk hosting that is super slow. It is an amazing plugin that is 100% free.
29. WP Fastest Cache – Having a fast website is extremely important as we talked about above. A caching plugin is something that helps with that. They can be quite finnicky and can cause goofy issues on your site, but adjusting the settings and what you turn on and off can fix that. If you have a WordPress site and don’t have a caching plugin you should. WP-Rocket is probably one of the best on the market, but is quite expensive so I have used WP Fastest Cache, it may not have as many features, but does a good job as just a caching plugin. It is free and works well with Apache servers. One issue I have seen is with contact forms sometimes, you may have to set it to clear the cache every 10 hours to make sure you don’t get an error.
30. Litespeed Cache – This is an amazing plugin with just about the same amount of features as WP-Rocket. It is 100% free with no paid plans, but the caveat is that you need to have Litespeed server hosting. Many of the cheap hosting companies will use Apache servers for their cheap plans though our hosting plans at JnM Web Creations are on a Litespeed server. They are much quicker than the Apache servers. This has so many features and works extremely well so if you do have a Litespeed server I would recommend this much more over the WP Fastest Cache plugin.
Wow that is a big list and hope it really helps not only my clients, but also web designers and developers. I hope you were able to find a couple tools you didn’t know about and they are valuable to you. Everything on this list we have used either in the past or still use and all are great alternatives to their expensive and usually more popular counterparts. Comment below if you have other free tools you think should be on the list!