It’s costly to run a website. If you’re using self-hosted WordPress, yes, the platform is free. However, it’s necessary to purchase themes, plugins, stock photos, application memberships, and more I’m likely forgetting at the moment. It’s also costly to build and maintain an online presence in email marketing and social media platforms. The good news is that there are free or low-cost options available to help stretch your budget. For small businesses in particular, that can be very helpful. With a little research you can find some bargains. Here are a few. Read on!
I’ve always considered Twitter to be a global gathering of reference librarians. Of course, everyone using it isn’t a librarian. Yet many are experts in a particular field. No doubt you are as well. What’s nice is that you can find a hashtag for your industry or interest and become part of the community by joining in the conversations. If you’re looking for information about a topic, all you have to do is determine what the hashtag is for the topic and go find some experts that tweet about it. You can quickly access a wealth of information at no cost to you.
Best of all, in my opinion, is that there may be a Twitter chat for a topic in which you’re interested. If you find one you can follow along or join in, or check tweets afterward. The real-time discussions provide much information. You can learn quite a bit. If you join in, you can share your expertise and help build your personal or business brand.
To find a chat, find a hashtag for topic or industry in which you’re interested. Review hashtags that others are using, and keep looking over past tweets to see if there’s a chat tag. Commonly, the term “chat” is appended to the end of the tag. For instance, there’s #contentchat. One of the most popular chats is #blogchat. Look around and find a chat and then join in (or watch from the sidelines.)
Facebook Business Groups
There are two overall types of groups in Facebook: general audience and business. Most groups of which I am a member are business related. For instance, I’m in several WordPress groups and some related to Facebook. Those are available at no charge. For others, there is a fee required. Those requiring fees are mostly related to training. I’ve learned much in all the groups. Search in Facebook for free groups related to your industry or business. They provide an opportunity to learn quite a bit.
Businesses and service providers often provide varied offerings that benefit small businesses. If you’re interested in seeing such offerings, identify yourself as a small business in your profile. Then you’re more likely to see ads in your newsfeed about upcoming webinars (see below) or discounts or something that may be helpful. When you place an ad in Facebook, you can select an audience that includes those with an interest in small business. That’s something to consider yourself if you’re placing an ad. If providing something for small businesses, target that audience in the ad.
These provide another opportunity to obtain information at little or no cost. Join some groups that focus on your industry and join or review the conversations. Like Twitter chats, these groups also provide opportunities to build your brand by sharing your expertise. There are both a free and paid option for LinkedIn. You can use the groups in the no-cost option.
Choices abound for free webinars on topics related to managing an online presence. Companies, trainers, marketers, and websites are some examples of webinar hosts. These provide an excellent way to obtain some information. Expect to hear of discounts on pricing for something they’re selling, but it might be something in which you’re interested. Look around and see what’s coming up.
Many applications, services, plugins, and products offer no-cost options. These options provide a reduced number of options and functionality compared to paid options. Many offer free trials ranging from one week to one month. It’s a good way to try something out before purchasing or signing up for an extended time for which you pay a fee. Social platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn provide ad credits. All of these options help you determine what is best for you and your budget before you spend money or commit to payments over an extended time. I’ll include some examples below. It’s not comprehensive. Look around for the applications and products that you would like to use and you’ll likely find some kind of free option.
Free options in addition to paid:
I’ve received these credits via my hosting account or emails from the platform. I don’t know if you can find these online anywhere.
Free trial: applications
Free trial: online and marketing
- Constant Contact
Note regarding email applications (Mailchimp, Constant Contact, AWeber): Mailchimp and Constant Contact process email in different ways. I’m not sure how AWeber is similar or differs, as I’ve not used it as yet. In any case, that’s something to keep in mind. It may be trickier to move to a new mail platform at some point in the future. That’s all the more reason to sign up for free trials.
These aren’t free options, but I think it’s important to mention them. There are times when you can purchase a product or application and receive discounts or free access for an extended time.
Applications also often provide lower cost updates for existing customers. I’ve received discounts on training options with social media businesses over a number of years because I enrolled in earlier sessions. I have a renewal discount for a plugin I use. There are many options that you might not know at the time of purchase but that change or become known afterward. It’s something to think about and look into.
End of Year Deals
If you thought that Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday were only for retail purchases, think again. You can get tremendous deals each of those days. I’ve seen webhosting sales, plugins, themes – everything related to an online presence. I’ve even offered some reductions myself, limited to just those days, of course. If you’re thinking of a purchase and it’s October, maybe do your research and wait for the big three year-end sales events and then pounce on the bargains.
There you go. Those are some of the options available. Take the time to look, test, and make purchases knowing that you found some deals. Then perhaps instead of watching funds float out the window, you can instead reinvest in your business and watch your money grow.
For other tips in this series, see the following post.