Sunbird Brand Bites: Episode #5
Sunbird Brand Bites is a podcast where we answer real questions from small business owners and solopreneurs around building an irresistible brand.
As a strategist and graphic designer who have worked with over 100 small businesses, Bianca and Mara have decided to share their best advice for solopreneurs in these bi-weekly episodes. In the fifth episode of Sunbird Brand Bites, Mara and Bianca list a series of free tools that they have used to grow their own business and highly recommend for other entrepreneurs.
Episode #5: What are the best free tools for solopreneurs?
For an all-in-one tool:
“My number one favorite tool, because it is so diverse and it’s many tools in one.” - Bianca
Sunbird’s operations are largely based on Google. It’s where we store important content for easy editing and sharing, exchange emails with our clients and team, monitor the media for keywords that are relevant to us and our audience, and find personalized fonts.
In Google Drive, you can upload or create files to share with collaborators, co-workers, or clients. You and your collaborators can then edit or make comments on the files—according to the permissions you set for each collaborator.
Google’s well-known email service is called Gmail. We find Gmail to be much simpler and better organized than other email platforms.
We also use Google Alerts, in which you can sign up to get email alerts for any content that is published online with certain keywords. We have alerts set for “Harlem” and “branding” so we can keep up with what’s going on in our neighborhood and industry. We also have alerts up for our clients so that we can highlight their accomplishments on our social media.
Another lesser known Google feature is Google Fonts, which is a directory of free fonts available for download. It’s really easy to find what type of font you’re looking for because they allow you to be specific in your search. It’s a simple way to customize the font on your website or any other digital asset.
These are all free stock image sites that are a great place to start for those entrepreneurs who can’t yet afford to hire a photographer. Most of the images on these sites are licensed under the creative commons zero license, which means you can use them free for personal and commercial purpose. Don’t rush through your search for free images. If you end up picking the first ones you see, those are most likely the ones that everyone else is choosing. You’re differentiating yourself by just digging a little further.
Creative Bloq is a digital magazine. When you sign up for their mailing list, they send you a ton of free and useful resources for design. It’s a great place to go when you’re designing a specific asset to get some quick ideas for best practices and what to be mindful of.
Canva is a graphic design tool that offers free templates in multiple formats, as well as free stock imagery and fonts. It’s great for those who aren’t professional designers, and just need a simple design asset quickly. They also have educational resources on their site for those who want to strengthen their graphic design skills.
HARO stands for Help a Reporter Out, which is basically a matchmaking service between journalists and sources. In HARO, you sign up to get emails for specific topics that journalists are writing about. If you think that you can answer a reporter’s request, or provide some insight for their article, you can send them an email with your pitch. If they like your pitch, they’ll contact you, and you or your business can be featured in different media outlets. Keep in mind they do receive a lot of pitches each day, so it’s not easy to get featured. Be specific, give them all the information they need up front, and position yourself as an expert in your pitch to increase your chances of being selected.
MailChimp is a very intuitive email marketing service. MailChimp lets you design customized emails and send them to one or many different email lists that you’ve created. It’s a great way to keep in touch with your subscribers. A lot of people talk about how email is dead, but if you look at the statistics… it’s really not. So do not overlook the power of email marketing!
Slack is an instant messaging service specific to the workplace. You can download it as an app on your phone or use it on your desktop. You can create different channels in Slack for different topics of conversation where multiple co-workers can talk at once, or you can direct message one coworker at a time. You can also upload and download files with your team. It’s a great way to share things very quickly in the middle of the workday that you don’t want to spend a whole email on. Plus it’s fun to use! For instance, you can put up a quirky profile picture (at Sunbird we use adorable animal headshots).
Mara mentions that, “It really helps to have a place for communication that’s dedicated for work. Because Bianca and I are good friends, we do communicate outside of work.” Rather than rely on text messages, Facebook messages, or personal emails, Slack is a way to have efficient conversations about work—while keeping personal conversations in more appropriate channels.
Listen to Episode #5 of Sunbird Brand Bites now: