Trying to launch a blog, side hustle, or another online biz endeavor on a shoestring budget can be overwhelming! There are SO many free resources out there, but which ones are actually worth using?
To make your search easier, are some of my own favorite free business tools, plus some additional popular options.
Free WordPress Blogging Tools
I love the Astra theme for self-hosted WordPress sites, because it's made to be simple and clean and ready to work seamlessly with a page builder so you can fine-tune your design (that said, there's a ton of added functionality that comes with Astra Pro if you ever need to upgrade).
I also appreciate that the free version doesn't require you to have any attribution in the footer, while most free themes won't allow you to remove a link to their site.
If you're not into DIYing your design, Astra has some free ready-made Elementor templates that you can use pretty much out of the box – just input your own info and you're set!
On this site I use the Pro version of Astra, because it adds a lot of additional functionality that I like, but that isn't really necessary for most.
I just mentioned Elementor, which is a free page builder plugin for WordPress that allows you to essentially design your entire site drag-and-drop style! The free version is all you need to make the content on your site look beautiful, and to even design entire landing pages from scratch or with a built-in template! With the Astra theme and Elementor, you can pull off a very clean and sleek site!
Elementor Pro is AWESOME at $49/year and allows you to do some really fancy stuff like designing your own blog archive page or single blog post template. I use it on this site and am always slowly implementing new ideas into my theme, or changing them when I decide I don't like them. I love that the possibilities are endless, and I can basically make my site look and function any way I like.
Elementor Pro is one tool that I definitely recommend paying for if you're really into having full control over the look and function of your site. However, it's really not a “necessity” kind of tool for most.
Free Branding + Graphics Design Tools
Social Media + Blog Graphics
Canva is a truly great design tool that most bloggers and online marketers can get away with using for free forever, especially with all the great Canva design templates popping up that you can use to make professional social media graphics, ebooks and more!
The 2 main drawbacks of the free plan (as far as I can see) are that you can't upload custom fonts, and you can't export with a transparent background, which comes in handy for things like making your own logo or custom branded icons. I personally use Canva Pro so I can use these features, and also utilize other cool features like folders for storing my designs and uploaded graphics and images.
But there are a lot of other free design tools besides Canva — in fact, here's a whole post about the best free Canva alternatives!
Free Social Media Management Tools
Free Pinterest Schedulers
Pinterest is my top “social media” channel of choice, and I know how hard it is to find a good free Pinterest scheduling solution that's approved by Pinterest no less (RIP BoardBooster)!
After weeding through many possible free schedulers, I wrote a post about the best Pinterest-approved schedulers with FREE plans I could find. All of these schedulers are “officially” Pinterest-approved, so you don't have to wonder about their legitimacy!
You can also use Tailwind Tribes totally for free (my favorite way to collaborate with other pinners and get more shares on my pins!) — at least for the time being — but you need to first sign up for a free trial of Tailwind Plus. When your free trial runs out, you can still use tribes for free using this method if you decide not to upgrade to Plus.
Tailwind FREE Trial w/ No Time Limit
Try Tailwind Plus for as long as you like (up to 100 scheduled pins)!
Other Free Social Media Tools
Buffer – Add up to 3 social accounts (for 1 user) and 10 scheduled post with Buffer's free plan. Scroll down below the pricing table to get started with the free plan.
Free Email Marketing Tools
If you're going to use an email service provider, you need one with automation and segmentation capabilities from the start.
Here are a few great options that are free to use until you reach a certain number of subscribers:
- MailerLite – MailerLite offers a generous free plan, including up to 1,000 subscribers, a beautiful landing page builder, and surveys. A perfect balance of ease of use and awesome features.
- MailChimp – MailChimp is probably the most well-known email marketing platform, and it integrates with just about any other tool you can imagine. You get up to 2,000 subscribers on the free plan.
- ConvertKit – ConvertKit now has a limited free plan too! Here's a post comparing the free plan to the free trial, and here's my referral link to get you started with free broadcast emails to 500 subscribers!
Free Online Course + Digital Product Selling Tools
*UPDATE! The Teachable free plan now has a limit of 10 students.
At the moment, Teachable is the only platform with a free plan that I can recommend to most digital product sellers, solely because of the issue of EU VAT tax. Even sellers not from the EU are generally subject to collecting and paying VAT tax on products that are “hands-off” as in you don't have to really have ANY interaction with the buyer in order for them to buy from you.
Most passive income products like online courses fall into this hands-off category — but not all! For instance, if your course includes group coaching, it wouldn't be subject to VAT tax.
Unfortunately, many course or digital product selling platforms won't help you manage VAT, or don't even allow you to collect it without an additional complicated and sometimes expensive addon.
More Free Online Selling Platforms
If you're only interested in distributing free courses or products, or you don't think what you're selling requires VAT tax, or you're OK with figuring out how to properly collect and file it yourself, here are a few other good selling platforms with free plans.
Note that for distributing free downloads and simple courses you could just use one of the email marketing tools mentioned above instead.
- Thinkific – Another popular course creation platform with a free plan.
- Selz – A flexible online store platform for physical or digital products. Sell up to 5 products on the free plan.
*For both of these platforms, just keep in mind any limitations or extra expenses that may be required to collect EU VAT tax!
Free Task + Project Management Tools
Airtable is my go-to tool for organizing pretty much everything in my life! It's like a spreadsheet on steroids… like Google Sheets and Trello had a baby… it's just pretty great!
For my blog, I use it to gather ideas, organize screenshots and notes to self, plan blog content, track my progress… pretty much errrything.
There's so much you can do with the free plan of (I'm still on the free plan after 3 years of heavy use), you just have to be careful with upload limits to individual bases.
The one potential drawback of Airtable is that it's not really meant to be a TIME management and scheduling tool, so if you're someone who needs every to do to be checked off and reminders sent if it's not, then you might be better off with a tool like Asana. Personally, reminders and keeping strict schedule give me major anxiety, so I'm fine with just checking things off when I can in Airtable 🙂
More Free Organizational Tools
- Trello – Trello allows you to organize ideas, links, attachments and more in beautiful kanban-style boards.
- Asana – A popular task management calendar that allows you to organize ideas in different ways, set reminders and more.
Free Writing Tools
When I'm not writing directly into WordPress, I often like to draft my blog posts and other content in Google Docs.
Google Docs are surprisingly powerful, and yet simple enough so as not to be overwhelming. They're also completely free all the time (no need to upgrade)!
I appreciate that I can add HTML tags and links and get a pretty accurate visualization of what they will look like, and then just copy everything into WordPress for final tweaks (like adding nofollow tags to affiliate links, etc.)
Grammarly is great for pointing out spelling and grammatical errors as you write, and allowing you to take its suggestions with the click of a button. It's kind of like spell check on steroids, and since it's a browser extension it works with most web-based writing tools.
I use the free version of Grammarly, and I love that it works with WordPress. It helped me catch mistakes as I wrote this post!
More Budget-Friendly Biz Tools
I hope this roundup gave you some great ideas of tools you can use to grow your business for free right now!
Need some more budget-friendly ideas? Here are some other great biz tools you might love: