3.09.2013

Top Free Tools for Running Your Handmade Business


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Making it rain 
tychay makes it rain with the money he saved from free styling, yo. 

Running a handmade business can be tough, especially when trying to keep your business profitable while maintaining competitive pricing. There is an old saying  that “you have to spend money to make money” but it is almost impossible to dedicate that extra $10 a month to start an email newsletter, let alone a few thousand on the latest version of Photoshop. Luckily there are a few tools out there to help the bootstrapping small business owner, and best of all: they are FREE!

Gimp
This open source alternative to Photoshop is much more powerful than the more budget friendly Adobe Lightbox or Photoshop Elements. Edit and adjust your product photographs, create marketing material and more.

OpenOffice
Open office, or even Google’s Drive products (drive.google.com) offer a great, free alternative to the world dominated by Window’s Office. Spreadsheets, presentations, databases and more are all at your fingertips for free. Plus both products have a wide option of templates available for creating with them, just like Windows.

Cloud Storage
Cloud storage is a must for any important office documents and files. There are many options available, and with a little research, you can find one that best fits your workflow and needs. A good article on the options can be found here


Google Keywords
Keyword research is not only a good way to determine how to word your titles and tags, but is critical when deciding if there is even a need out there for the product you are considering to sell. Google keyword tool can give you great insight into what people are searching the internet for and with what terms they are using in their search (is it a baby hat or a bonnet?)

Mailchimp
Most email newsletter service providers have a 30 day free trial, but Mailchimp alone has a free trial...forever! Well, as long as your list is smaller than 2000 subscribers anyway. Free or not, their customer service is top notch and their new drag and drop layout tool is awesome! Plus they are connect to tons of other applications out there courtesy of their api-loving tech crew. And it’s the chimp. And he is based out of Atlanta (swoon). What’s not to love?

Bloggity Blog Blog
Hosting, domain names, DNS setup, FTP, security...oh my. If the idea of a self served blog leaves your head spinning or your pocketbook burning, then a free blog on a host server may be your answer. The battle of the blogs: Wordpress.com versus Blogger.com? With all the restrictions Wordpress.com puts on editing the limited number of themes of their free service, one is almost tempted to say “Go with blogger”. But then, what’s this? Out of nowhere comes...Tumblr! Tumblr is a great option for free blog services, because not only can you edit their themes, but the built in sharing functionality of their community means that your blog works for you instead of just being another piece of your company that you have to market to get people to.

HootSuite
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare, Google+. Linkedin. Tumblr, YouTube, Flickr, Mixi, MailChimp, SocialFlow, InboxQ, Constant Contact...um, why are you sitting there? You have social networks and they all need updating...RIGHT NOW! GO!!! Luckily Hootsuite makes it easy to update your networks all from one central location, saving hours a month on logging in and logging out of every. single. one.

Bliss Control
While we are on the subject of social networks, you still have hours of work ahead of you if you want to update your profile avatars or cover/header images to feature your weekly special, or to add your new blog url to your profiles, or to change that typo in your boilerplate. Yeah. That would have sucked until Bliss Control came along and made THAT possible from one central location as well, too.

So there you have it, a few of the must know about web apps to help you save some money on running your business so that you can spend it on more important things...like a much needed trip to the tea shop.  


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Craft Cafe would like to send out a big THANK YOU to Shell Bufton for this amazing guest blogger post!!


3 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing your hard won knowledge with us. There were some services you mentioned that I had never heard of and am looking forward to trying out. Awesome post! Thanks again!

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  2. Awesome list! Don't forget outright.com for accounting! I pay for the deluxe version, the the free version is nothing to sneeze at!

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  3. Melissa, I use to use them until they were bought by GoDaddy. www.waveapps.com/ and mint.com are pretty good.

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