Screen with WordPress on it.

WordPress is a free, open source framework used for building websites. It takes a little technical knowledge but there are lots of tutorials, themes and plugins available.

Let’s face it: marketing and advertising is expensive. It’s easy to blow a bunch of cash on marketing for your small business. In fact, there’s probably no end to the amount you could spend.

That said, there are some less expensive options for marketing on a shoe string budget. Online tools and open source software have led to a plethora of choices for people who don’t mind doing it themselves.

Bear in mind that having the tools at your disposal does not equate to having a fully-formed marketing strategy. In other words, it’s one thing to own a piano. It’s another thing to know how to play it. There are times when it pays to hire a professional when you need something polished that only a marketing expert can provide.

But, if you’re not at that point or you just want to see what you can build yourself, here are some free and inexpensive resources for small business marketing:

Photo and graphic design apps

Need pictures for your advertisements? When you take photos on your camera or on your phone, you often need to edit them. This could be as simple as resizing and cropping or you may need to do something more intricate like removing the reflection from someone’s eyeglasses.

Many designers rely on photography and graphic design applications to perform such tasks. Here are two free options:

GIMP, which stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program, is open source software used for editing images, free-form drawing and saving image files in different formats. It has a bit of a learning curve but the price is hard to beat (it’s free).

Canva bills itself as a graphic design platform that’s easy to use but capable of producing high-quality materials. The platform includes lots of templates for almost anything you need to design, including social media posts, presentations, posters, logos, flyers, YouTube thumbnails and more. There’s a free version that comes with lots of stuff but if you need more design templates and more cloud storage for your designs, there are reasonably-priced paid options.

While it’s not free, Photoshop is not really expensive anymore. It can be purchased from Adobe for just $9.99 per month when you subscribe to the Photography plan (which includes Lightroom). For decades, Photoshop had been the standard by which all other photo and image applications were judged and for good reason: it’s excellent software when you know how to use it. In some instances, it may be overkills for many small business owners but the plethora of features and functionality may also let you be more creative in the types of images and photography you use on your website or in your marketing materials.

Stock images

Don’t want to take your own photos? That’s understandable. Cameras cost money and you may not capture the best photographs when using your phone. Instead, check out some of these free resources for stock photography:

Unsplash is a free stock photography resource with more than two million images that can be downloaded and used for any purpose under the Unsplash license (read it to make sure you’re in the clear). The quality of the images on Unsplash appears to be a little better than many other stock photography sites, possibly because the site has a team of human photo editors who curate the content.

PixaBay is another free stock photography site that sports almost two million images. The photos can be used for commercial purposes and no attribution is required.

Website builders

Wix is a cloud-based platform where you can build a website using a template. The company emphasizes that no coding skills are necessary. Instead, they provide online tools that make it relatively easy to do things like set up an online store or create an online portfolio. Wix starts at $14 per month for personal use and $23 per month for the Business Basic plan (which includes online payments).

If you’re a little more advanced and you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, you can try WordPress. This open source software began life as a blogging tool but it quickly morphed into a full-blown content management system that’s used by millions and millions of users around the globe. There are tens of thousands of ‘themes’ available to use (themes are like templates) and many of them are free.

Email Marketing

Mailchimp bills itself as an “all-in-one marketing platform” but many users get their first use of it through the platform’s email marketing capabilities. The free version allows for up to 2,000 contacts along with the ability to use Mailchimp’s CRM capabilities. It’s limited to 10,000 email sends per month and no more than 2,000 in a 24-hour period.

Constant Contact
Constant Contact is similar to Mailchimp in that it provides email marketing capabilities but its pricing starts at $20 a month for up to 500 contacts. It also comes with several templates and you can send an unlimited number of emails per month.

Want to learn how a point of sale system can help with your small business marketing efforts? Contact us today for a free demo.

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