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Kimberly’s Favorite Free and Cheap Resources

It’s true you have to spend money to make money, but you don’t have to spend a lot of money. In fact, sometimes you don’t have to spend anything at all! Check out these free and cheap resources that Kimberly Bean, founder and CEO of Southern Maryland Weddings, loves.

Vistaprint

may14-vistaprintFor business cards, banners, postcards, and other marketing materials, you can’t beat VistaPrint. Service is fast, and we’ve always been happy with the products we’ve received. Choose from predesigned business cards and marketing materials or upload your own design. Some premade designs are even free! Plus, you can coordinate everything so your branding is cohesive and consistent. Look out for coupons and sales online and on TV; you can often get 250 business cards for $10 plus shipping. You just can’t beat that.

MailChimp

may14-mailchimpConstant Contact is the big dog in email newsletters, and if you can afford it, we say go for it. It’s what we use for the various email correspondence we send out. But if money is tighter, it’s worth your time to check out MailChimp. If you’ve got less than 2,000 subscribers, you can sign up for a free account. That’s right: We said free. You can design your own email or choose one of their templates. A professional email newsletter improves the opinion customers and potential customers have of your brand. They don’t have to know it’s not costing you a cent.

HootSuite

may14-hootsuiteIf you have social media accounts on more than one social network, you can drive yourself crazy trying to keep up with it all – not to mention planning ahead. HootSuite keeps us sane. In one action, we can pin to several accounts across more than one platform of social media. HootSuite even lets you schedule posts in advance. Imagine sitting down for an hour and planning your social media for a week or longer! A basic account is free gets you one user and up to five social media profile; go Pro to add more users, create teams, and post to even more social media profiles.

Did you miss our article recently about managing your social media? Find it here – it includes a primer on using HootSuite!

Office 365

may14-office365Who’s been here: You’ve got a big presentation coming up, and your laptop dies. Just dies. It happened to us recently, and Office 365 saved the day. Office 365 is all of the Microsoft Office software you love – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) – but online and available anywhere. Create your documents and store them online so you can access them from anywhere. And, unlike the Office software on your computer, it’s always up to date, and instead of paying a big lump sum for the software suite, you pay a monthly fee.

Picasa

may14-picasaIf you’re really going to get into photo editing, Photoshop or its sister program Photoshop Elements is the way to go. But if all you need to do is resize your images and use preset special effects, Picasa is the best free (hear that? FREE!) photo editing software there is. Plus, since it’s a Google product, Picasa integrates easily with Google +. And, Picasa can help you keep everything organized so you can find the photos you need easily.

Animoto

may14-animotoWe’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again: Video is hot. Whether you’re introducing yourself to your potential clients online or showing a sneak peek at your process, video is an effective and personal way to reach out. With a smartphone in nearly every pocket, it’s never been easier to create videos and upload them to social media or websites like YouTube. Animoto lets you take your videos up a notch. Add effects and music – free for 30-second videos, and $5 a month if you’d like to work with longer videos and access more features. You can even upload photographs and create a video using your still pictures. If you’re planning a 30-second online commercial (or something even shorter!), you’ll be able to create something cool and unique all by yourself – for free.

What are your favorite free or cheap business tools? Share them with us in the comments area below!