Of the infinite resources available on the Internet, there is still nothing better than free. So in light of Independence Day and the sense of freedom it exudes, below are 12 (mostly) free tools that can help build your business:
1. 1M/1M offers access to the extensive startup network and collective knowledge in Silicon Valley to entrepreneurs everywhere. I know, crazy. But this is a truly interesting source for “starter uppers” to talk about branding, positioning, financing or anything else entrepreneurial.
2. Want to merge your brand into the social networks within your industry? Instead of searching the hundreds of thousands of Twitter hashtags, newswhip.com does that for you. This site aggregates the overwhelming volume of topical discussions and delivers the most popular ones to you so that you know who to start a conversation with. You can also type in your name or Twitter handle and see how influential you are -- or not.
3. Looking for another revenue stream? Of course you are. Skimlinks will measure and implement affiliate-marketing links not only on your website but also on your RSS, Twitter and Facebook feeds. This handy tool turns links and keywords on your site into their equivalent affiliate links, thus allowing you to focus on more pertinent content: your business.
4. For those startups who collaborate over graphics, try Lucidchart, a sort of Google Docs for visual projects. You can build collective mind maps, flow charts or anything else your graphics-based heart desires.
5. Graphic designers have a broad range of services, fees and (sometimes) attitudes, which is why finding the right one for you is as much a cost to your wallet as it is to your emotions. Cool Text generates free graphics for web pages or logos without overburdening you with the design work. Simply choose what kind of image you like, fill out a form, and your custom-made image will be created right then and there.
6. Needtagger allows you to find a target audience on Twitter based on your product or service. You can set filters for like-minded people in your industry and build a followership of potential customers based on your business.
7. Bright Journey offers a collection of startup knowledge from extremely successful entrepreneurs around the globe with the intent of sharing their expertise with others. Users post questions and the best answers are voted to the top.
8. Want to know where your website stands along a grade scale? Go to Hubspot’s marketing grader and see where you rank in terms of effectiveness. It will measure your blogging, SEO, lead generation and more.
9. While Fiverr may not be free, it’s pretty darn close. You can buy and/or sell anything for $5 -- and by anything, I mean anything. From writing a blog headline, generating an “About Us” page on your website, to drawing a cartoon character, fiverr.com is a one-stop-shop for anything under $5.
10. Looking for an elegant digital or print layout for a magazine or company newsletter? LucidPress is an easy-to-use resource that offers drag-and-drop capability, making video, text or photo layout much easier.
11. CreativeLive hosts video classes spanning five different categories: photo and video, art and design, music and audio, craft and maker and money and life. Videos are free and there’s even a calendar to peruse for upcoming content.
12. Of course, no list of websites is complete without the resident Google tool. Google for Entrepreneurs is another pool of insider knowledge with free videos of instruction, such as learning how to brand yourself from Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian, and more.
Know of more cool websites not mentioned above? Share it with us below and spread the startup love!