At The Digital Space, some of the most common enquiries we receive are regarding monetary concerns when it comes to running and managing online businesses.
In truth, there are plenty of free digital tools out there that business owners can utilise to kickstart their entrepreneur journey. That does not mean that the quality of work is sacrificed; instead, if you are willing to put in the time and effort to learn to effectively put these tools to good use, you could even produce websites, designs and marketing collaterals rivalling those that are done by professionals using more expensive software.
The Digital Space has compiled a simple list of digital tools that we use in the running of our business. The three main categories of tools that we will look at are websites, design, and marketing, as these 3 form the very core of running a business online.
Some business owners have the pre-conceived notion that developing websites is complex and hence expensive. The very sight of endless, seemingly incomprehensible codes leads to them giving up on the idea of picking up website development skills, and the thought of needing to hire expensive developers to generate their very own website turns them off. In truth, as we have addressed in one of our articles, WordPress vs Wix, developing your own website is not a difficult thing to do at all with the aid of several free tools on the internet.
Of course, there are several other digital tools we recommend you use for your website.
Website security is a key concern, especially if your website deals with confidential client data. In which case, installing an SSL certificate and configuring a website for HTTPS can be a challenging task. Whynopadlock quickly checks your URL to ensure there is no insecure links found on your site. Insecure links on your URL will cause your security lock to display incorrectly or not display at all. This helps to allay concerns for your potential website visitors.
Designs are an integral part of any business. They are needed for a range of purposes, including but not limited to website development, marketing collaterals and marketing campaigns. A visually aesthetic website will attract more traffic. Likewise, a visually pleasing poster for your marketing campaign is more likely to help achieve your marketing objectives by attracting more attention from your intended target market. Fortunately, you do not need to break the bank or spend years to produce quality designs. The Digital Space recommends the following tools for design purposes.
Unsplash offers a large collection of free high-resolution photos and has become one of the best sources for stock images. The Unsplash team combs through new submissions and features the very best photos on their homepage. All images that are submitted and published on Unsplash fall under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license, which means you can use the image for any personal or commercial use. You can alter, copy, and distribute the images without any credit to Unsplash or the photographer — although it is always a nice gesture to give credit where credit is due.
Flaticon gives you access to free icons available in PNG, SVG, EPS, PSD, and BASE 64 formats. You are also able to make edits right on the site. With the wide selection of icon styles and choices to choose from, you will have no problems putting together infographics, e-books and even explainer videos using the tools Flaticon offers. Plus, with the ability to edit icon colours on the site, it is easy to prepare graphics for quick turnaround use.
Non-premium accounts do have a limit on how many downloads they can make daily, so if you are in urgent need of getting a number of resources for your website, you might want to consider getting a premium account.
Removebg is our go-to website to remove unnecessary image backgrounds. The website is straightforward to use. All you need to do is upload the photo, and the site will automatically remove the background. Furthermore, you can even add a background colour or an image using this website.
While you can remove background for unlimited pictures of any size, the final image is saved in small size only in the free version. For original file size, you do need to pay for it. The website even offers API if you want to add the background removal tool to your site.
Canva is an online graphic design tool that enables everyone to make beautiful designs. You can use it for free to make the correct-sized images for social media covers and posts. You have the option to upload your own photos and use Canva’s backgrounds, fonts, and templates, or you can use a vast array of design and image stock in Canvas library for affordable prices. Moreover, if you have multiple people working on your brand and social channels you can use Canva for Business that allows you to collaborate with people, and load all of your fonts, colours and designs into your file to be accessed from anywhere by your team.
With such functions, it is no wonder that Canva is now worth a staggering $3.2 billion after only being founded in 2013.
Finally, marketing is equally important to make sure that your brand is heard. There is no point in having a beautifully designed website with fantastic user interface set up if no one knows about it. A splendidly designed poster will go to waste if it reaches the wrong audience. Just like website development and designs, there are free tools readily available for you to kickstart your marketing journey.
Instagram has emerged as an unparalleled platform for engagement with the audience, perhaps even better than Facebook in certain situations. To help manage your corporate Instagram account, we recommend Everliker, one of our favourite Instagram automation tools. It is a free Google Chrome extension with an optional paid subscription that allows you to stimulate organic growth on Instagram. Essentially, Everliker saves you time and attracts users to your Instagram account by liking posts on your behalf. It takes breaks, mimics human interaction, and has safety measures included to avoid being perceived as a bot and having your account shadow-banned by Instagram. You can look forward to more followers and likes on your Instagram posts with Everliker.
LinkedIn has always been overshadowed by popular social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. However, quietly, in a business-like fashion, LinkedIn has materialised as a social force to be reckoned with, with over 500 million users and 100 million active monthly users. As such, we recommend using Getprospect to make full use of the resources from LinkedIn. It is a LinkedIn lead generation tool with email finder. Simply input your search criteria and the email extractor will provide a list of names with corporate emails, position, LinkedIn profile URL, company name, industry, website, and more.
Search Engine Optimisation is a must-have to ensure that your website reaches your targeted audience by ranking up high on search engine results of relevant keywords. At The Digital Space, we have provided an SEO Checklist which outlines a simple step-by-step guide to ensure your website is SEO-friendly:
o Step 1: Search Engine Listing.
o Step 2: Website is both mobile and tablet friendly.
o Step 3: Your website loads in about 3 seconds or lesser on the desktop version.
o Step 4: Your website loads in about 5 seconds or lesser on mobile and tablet version.
o Step 5: Images on your website are loaded on WebP format.
o Step 6: Tagged H1 & H2 titles properly on your website.
o Step 7: Upload images that are high in resolution.
o Step 8: Meta description and title for all your pages are done properly
Business owners intending to spread awareness, build their brand, and engage target audiences will inevitably need to manage your online presence on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter by creating, publishing and analysing content you post, in addition to engaging and interacting with social media users. As such, we have also developed a Social Media Management Checklist to highlight the important steps business owners should undertake.
o Link up both Facebook & Instagram Page
o Key in the details under: About, Phone Number & Email Address
o Create content consistently, especially during festival seasons
o Set-up an automated welcome message on your Facebook Page
o Check your engagement level
o Set up automated posting for your social media pages
With these digital tools, you will be more than ready to kickstart your online business! For a more compact summary of the digital tools we employ, check out our Digital Tools Segment. Of course, there are also plenty of useful digital tools out there that are not mentioned here. Feel free to share your thoughts on some of these tools by commenting below!