Are you starting a business from home? Hats off to you! In this blog, I’m going to show you my top 5 tools for starting an online consulting, coaching or service-based business. The best news? They’re free! All of these tools and apps have generous free plans, so that you can start or take your business online without having to spend hundreds or thousands of pounds a month.
I have used all of these tools myself, and actually ran my online consulting business with almost no expenses for the first year! So I’m excited to share them with you today.
The first tool for starting a business from home is Carrd. Carrd is basically a website builder and it allows you to build these beautiful and super responsive websites and landing pages – for free.
Now, the reason I recommend Carrd is firstly because it’s super intuitive to use. Compared to Squarespace and WordPress and other website builders, I have found Carrd to just be really easy to use, especially if you’re a beginner. Not only that, but it also allows you to build up to three sites completely for free. As I said, the websites look really good, and they’re really aesthetically pleasing.
If you do decide to go for a paid plan, then their paid plans are also super affordable. Their mid tier paid plan (as of the time of writing) allows you to build up to 10 sites. That comes at around $2 per month, so around $25 per year, and then their highest tier allows you to build up to 50 sites or landing pages. That costs you $90 per year so that’s around $8 per month. As you can see, this is super affordable. But please check as this may have changed by the time you’re reading this.
The best thing is, when you’re just starting a business from home and you only have one website, you can do that for free. And then as you grow and you scale and you need to create more websites and more landing pages, then you can hop onto one of their paid plans.
Moving on to the next tool, and that is ConvertKit, which is essentially an email marketing software.
This nifty software it’s going to allow you to build your email list, which is super important as a new entrepreneur. It’s also going to allow you to send out freebies or lead magnets to your email list as you build it.
Just as a reminder, a freebie or a lead magnet is a piece of super valuable content that you provide to your audience in exchange for their email address. The reason I recommend ConvertKit over other email marketing software like MailChimp, or Active Campaign is because I just find it so easy and so intuitive to use. When you’re just starting out, you don’t want to be using the fanciest software. You just want to be using something that you’re going to get the hang of quickly and that is going to last you for the next one or two years in your business. As you grow, you can then move up to more complex software. ConvertKit lets you manage your first 300 subscribers completely for free.
When you would want to move up to one of the paid plans is when you want to start making more complex email automations. You probably won’t need this if you’re only just starting a business from home. I made do with just really simple broadcast emails at the beginning, for a long time.
Now one thing I will say here is that tools like MailChimp will allow you to manage far more subscribers for free. That was what initially drew me to them but, upon using MailChimp, I found it quite complex. Maybe it was just me, but I just didn’t really find it that easy to use. That’s when I jumped to ConvertKit.
I would be really, really sure when you’re ready to commit to email marketing software, that it’s the right software for you. So let’s just say you start off on MailChimp, it’s super easy to transfer your subscribers over to another platform if you change your mind. But it starts getting complicated when you’ve built up automated funnels and sequences. Because then, if you want to change, it’s going to be quite laborious to transfer all of that to another tool.
The next tool to help you when starting a business from home is Loom. Loom essentially records you and/or your screen, and then uploads that video online. And then if you want to share that video, all you have to do is share the URL of the video. Loom is really useful if you have remote workers or virtual assistants because it’s going to allow you to just record your screen and communicate tasks really easily.
Instead of using something like QuickTime to record your screen, and then uploading that to Google Drive and then sharing the link, all you have to do is record and then it’s uploaded automatically so you just need to copy that link and send it to the person. And again, it’s all free and really easy to get started!
You just have a couple of limitations on the way to use it. You can’t make videos longer than five minutes. But you could just do that in two parts. And you can only have 25 videos stored in your workspace. But when I started using this, I would just delete my oldest ones or ones that I didn’t need to use anymore. You can also download the videos if you do want to keep them, put them in Google Drive, and then just delete them from Loom.
The next best tool for starting a business from home, especially an online coaching or consulting business, is MemberVault. MemberVault is absolutely amazing if you are selling digital products, such as a membership or online courses, or you simply need an online portal to host your client calls and to share things with them. I have used Teachable and I’ve used tons of other course portals like Podio and I’ve just found MemberVault to have the best functionality and the best free plan. With the free plan, you can have up to three products.*
So if you’re just creating an online course, then you only need one, and then you’re just capped at 100 students. So realistically, you need to have created your online course and made 100 sales before you even have to pay. After that it is super affordable anyway so it’s only $20 a month. Not only do you get the full functionality for free, but also that cap of 100 people is very high. By the time you’ve made 100 sales of your online product, especially if it’s a high ticket product, then you likely will be absolutely fine paying $20 a month.
*Unfortunately MemberVault no longer has a free plan, but their lowest paid tier has everything you need, and is well worth it!
This tool will be an absolute game changer if you’re starting a business from home and looking to do it on a budget! I think the best way to describe Airtable is like an Excel spreadsheet – but one that is on steroids, and much prettier! The main reason that you would use Airtable is to simply organise things in your business.
The possibilities are endless. I think it’s super useful for things like content creation, where there tend to be lots of stages to it. And you just need to be really, really organised so things don’t get lost. So when I was creating content for clients, I had a separate Airtable base for each client, which I gave them access to. Then I would upload all of the content in there, they could see what stage it was at, and we could make changes and leave comments and things like that.
Now I use it for my own content creation process; specifically for YouTube. YouTube video production has multiple stages to it, and it can get really, really chaotic. So we track it all in Airtable and we can actually see what stage of the creation process a certain video is at whether that’s filming, scripting, or editing. It just provides us with an overview of all of our content and what’s going on. I think the best thing about Airtable is that it’s completely customizable. What that means is you can build it in pretty much any way you want. And of course, it’s completely free! I’ve been using it for over three years now and I’m still on the free plan.
The next tool when it comes to starting an online business for free is Asana. Asana has been around for a while and you’ve probably heard of it before. It’s essentially a project management tool. We use this to track all of our tasks within the team. It’s really, really useful for communicating what tasks need to be done to team members, but also for managing your own workload. So even if there’s just one of you, Asana is a really good way to track your projects and your deadlines. The free plan is capped at 15 people which is quite high. So even if you are managing several freelancers, as you scale your business online, then you’ll likely still be able to use the free plan.
Facebook Creator Studio
The next (and final!) tool for starting a business from home is Facebook Creator Studio. This is essentially Facebook’s native social media scheduler that you can use to schedule both Facebook and Instagram content. The reason I recommend this is because, of course, it’s totally free. But also it’s the only one that allows you to actually schedule IGTV content.
Social media scheduling tools have come such a long way now that I really don’t think you need to be paying for a tool, especially if you’re just starting out. I think Facebook Creator Studio has the best functionality for a free plan. Now one of the drawbacks I have found however, is that you can’t actually give someone else access. So if you are using another scheduling tool like HootSuite or Later, you can just give that remote worker or your team your logins. But with Facebook Creator Studio, you’re basically given them access to all of your private messages and your DMs so it’s not actually ideal if someone else is managing your social media.
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