My Favorite Free (and Inexpensive) Marketing ToolsJan 21, 2022
In yesterday's episode I shared my favorite software and apps that help my business run smoothly. But those don't come cheap. So in today's episode, I talk about the best free and inexpensive software and apps out there that will help you run your business more effectively. (And, spoiler alert: I talk about why software and apps aren't really that important, anyway).
Hello, and welcome to the Client Attractor Show. I'm your host, Jacob Ratliff, client attraction coach and author of the new book Client Attractor. In yesterday's episode, I talked through the software tools and apps that I rely on every day to run my business, and I gave y’all the whole list, and I told you exactly how much I'm paying each month for each of them. And when we got to the bottom of the list, I shared that cumulative number of how much I am paying every month for software for my business, and it came out to over $500.
I am not going to lie to you and pretend that $500 a month on software isn’t a lot of money. And for a lot of people, for a lot of coaches, consultants, and entrepreneurs, one of the biggest money leaks that occurs in the early days of your business is on software, right? Because you're told that you need all these different things to make your business run and they're all $10, $20, $30, $100 a month. If you're not already making a living off your business, or you're still really kind of bootstrapping it, then spending $500 a month on software makes absolutely no sense for you.
That's why in this episode, what I want to do is go through this list again—the exact same list that I went through yesterday—and I am going to suggest more inexpensive or preferably free alternatives to what I listed. Now, obviously, the feature set of these less expensive and free options is going to be significantly more limited than what I use on a daily basis. But again, if you're just getting started, then these make a lot more sense.
The first platform I listed was Kajabi, which I said manages my website, online courses, email marketing, and I pay about $200 a month for that. And really, the use cases for this software, if you're just getting started, come down to website hosting, and email marketing. Building your own website and having it hosted online is actually really cheap these days. Before I switched to Kajabi, my website was on Squarespace, which was something like $9 a month. Even now, Squarespace does have what they call members areas, which have that same functionality for hosting an online course. So something like Squarespace or Wix can be really effective for the website piece of things.
For email marketing, there are a lot of different options. Some of the most inexpensive ones include MailChimp, AWeber, and Active Campaign. My recommendation in this case would be Active Campaign, because they have plans starting at $9 a month and $49 a month. And as you grow with Active Campaign, you will be able to build landing pages like you can in Kajabi, build those opt-in forms, things like that, so you start to get that more advanced feature set for not spending a whole lot of money.
Second on yesterday's list was Calendly, which I use to schedule appointments with clients and prospective clients, and this one has an easy alternative. They have a free plan that you can use, not a free trial, but a true free plan with a limited feature set. If you're just getting started, this will probably be more than enough for you.
The third is Buffer, which is a social media scheduling platform that I use, and they also have a free plan.
For number four, I mentioned that I use DocuSign and that I pay about $10 a month for that. That is a pretty low monthly fee there. However, eSign does have a free version where you can, as of right now at least, have three e-signatures per month. So if you're taking on fewer than three clients a month, that can be a really good option without having to spend any money.
Number five was Vimeo, which I paid $7 a month for, and I use that for video hosting, and you can do the same for free on YouTube.
Number six on yesterday's list was monday.com, and I pay $30 a month for that. However, whether it's Monday, Airtable, or ClickUp, all of them do have free versions that you can use. And if you don't want to use any of those, you can use a simple Google Sheet or Excel spreadsheet to achieve the same end result.
Number seven was Dripify, which I pay $100 a month for, and that manages my LinkedIn campaigns and outreach, so that's really only important if you're doing LinkedIn outreach. If you're not, you don't even need to worry about that, but if you are, I recommend looking at Linked Helper, which starts at $15 a month, or the lower version of Dripify that starts at $39 a month.
Number eight is Sales Navigator, which is very much in the same vein of if you're not doing anything with LinkedIn, you don't need to subscribe to Sales Navigator. However, the free alternative there would be doing your normal limited LinkedIn searches. These are searches on LinkedIn where you're going to have more limited criteria, so you're not going to be able to search as many different things that show up in someone's profile, but you can still use it to search leads to add to your LinkedIn campaigns.
Number nine was Buzzsprout, which I paid $40 a month for, and that is my podcast hosting and distribution software. My recommendation here would still be to go with Buzzsprout, but with one of their lower plans, either free or their $12 plan, both of which, if you are including a podcast as part of your marketing strategy, would be a significantly cheaper alternative to their higher-level plans.
Number 10 was Otter.ai, which I said I spend $10 a month for. I don't have a good alternative that would be cheaper than this, although Otter does have a free plan. Indeed, that will probably work for almost everything you need if you're just getting started.
Number 11 was G Suite, or Google Workspace, which I pay $18 a month for because I have three users on it. You can either buy a single user if it's just you, which would be about six bucks a month, or you can just go with an old fashioned free Gmail account and pay nothing for it.
Now that I have run through my suggestions for cheap or free alternatives, I want to add them up and do the math to see what softwares and tools that you can leverage without spending such an enormous amount of money on software every month: For your website, Squarespace, $12; for email marketing, Active Campaign, $9; using the free version of Calendly; free version of Buffer; of eSign. Using YouTube instead of Vimeo. We'll assume that you're not doing any LinkedIn outreach and that you don't have a podcast at this point and that those will be things that come later down the road. You're using the free version of Otter.ai, and you're either spending $6 on one user for Google Workspace, or you're spending $0 and just using a free Gmail account.
So if we look at the total, let's say you are using a free Gmail account, so that's $0. That means that your only two monthly software expenses are your website and your email marketing. So say that’s Squarespace for $12, and Active Campaign for $9. Compared to $524 a month, that is $21 a month. And what that means is that if you don't have a lot of cash to throw down on all fancy softwares and tools, you can still achieve the same exact end results, while spending only a fraction of what you could be spending.
But what if you're listening to this and saying, “Jacob, that's great. I know that $21 is less than $500, but I still can't justify spending $21 a month on software for my business, because my business isn't making any money at this point”? Well, the good news is that you don't even need a website or an email marketing tool to get clients. That's the beautiful part, that when we're talking about all this software stuff, all the different options that are out there, if you really strip it back to the basics, there's literally no software that you “need” in order to get your first five or 10 clients. That's because, ultimately, all this software is doing is making your life easier. It's a convenience. It's like running to the 711 to pick up a loaf of bread, rather than getting in the car and driving 10 minutes to the grocery store. Yeah, that bread is going to cost more at the 711 than at the grocery store, but it saves you from having to get in the car and drive 10-15 minutes.
All that software does is make things easier for you. In fact, there are so many times when I have fallen into the trap of believing that, “Okay, if I just chunk down for this software, then that's going to fix all my problems, right? That's gonna solve all the problems in my business,” and that never works. It never works that way. There is no reason to ever spend money on software out of your own pocket. If you are investing in software, the business needs to be paying for it, because that means that your business is bringing in enough money to fund that investment, rather than you saying, “Okay, I'm going to take this $500 out of my savings to pay for the software, because if I do that, then things are just going to start working.”
Like I said, that literally never works. Sure, you have to spend money to make money, or whatever it is that people are saying these days, but there are better ways to spend that money than others. If you have, say, only $10 that you can afford to spend on your business, don't spend it on software apps or a tool, spend it on educating yourself about strategies and tactics for getting clients, because that is going to be infinitely more useful than spending $10 on an email marketing platform for one month.
And this opens up the door for me to make a shameless plug for my book Client Attractor, which was built from the ground up to give you the tools you need to attract clients. One of the great parts about the strategies and tactics that I cover in it is that it comes with an estimated software cost of zero. You can implement all of the strategies in that book without spending a penny on software, tack, whatever. If you have a computer and an internet connection, that book is going to give you the tools you need.
So yeah, take advantage of the free and inexpensive tools out there, but remember that, ultimately, they are not what's going to get you results. Instead, you are what's going to get you results. Thank you so much for joining me for today's episode of the Client Attractor Show. Really glad that you're able to join me, and I look forward to seeing you tomorrow. Take care.
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