I’ve been working from home for a few years and I completely understand the challenges and distractions that come with it. If you’re new to the virtual life, it can be a little overwhelming.
The good news is, there are lots of free tools and resources out there that can help make working from home a success—whether it’s connecting with colleagues, keeping tabs on projects, or offering services online.
Below are the top tools and resources I use regularly to help me manage and grow my online business. I am not affiliated with any of these companies, I just wanted to share some resources that might make the transition a little smoother.
PROJECT & TASK ORGANIZATION:
Airtable is part spreadsheet and part database that is an excellent way to keep tasks and teams organized. I currently use the free version of Airtable. It has helped me with organizing my virtual summits, webinar series and client projects. It’s also easy for my virtual assistant to login and know what she needs to handle. It’s easy to use and very customizable.
Trello is another web-based project management tool that is easy to use. It will keep you organized and on top of all your upcoming campaigns and projects. Plus it helps to collaborate with your team more effectively.
EMAIL CAPTURE TOOL:
This free email marketing service is great for collecting emails and leads. It also has a number of templates that make it quick and easy to send emails and newsletters. There are also opt-in forms, landing pages, and email automation options. Mailchimp is free up to 500 subscribers.
ONLINE LEARNING/ COURSE CREATION TOOLS:
Teachable or Thinkific
I use Teachable to host my virtual summits, short courses and virtual events. It’s a great platform if you want to create an online learning resource for your staff or your clients. I have one client who runs a pre-school and is using it to create an online resource for parents.
Teachable has a free plan but it is very limited. You could also try similar platforms like Thinkific that have a better free option.
DOCUMENT SHARING TOOL:
Need a simple and easy way to share files? Try Google Drive. You can share documents, spreadsheets, PDF’s, presentations and even video files for free. You can also create or upload folders and choose what kind of shared access people can have. To share, you simply enter the person’s email address and hit done! That person will receive a link in their inbox for access. It’s free up to 15GB of storage. Need more storage? Try Google Drive Enterprise for businesses starting at $8 per month.
ONLINE MEETING TOOLS:
Need to have an easy way to connect with colleagues and clients? Zoom is a video conferencing tool that is user-friendly and quick to set up. Their free plan allows you to host meetings with up to 100 participants for 40 min. At the moment, they are waiving the minimum time of 40 minutes which makes this free tool extra useful and budget-friendly. I mostly use it to connect with clients and staff but it has been a great platform for hosting webinars (but that requires the paid version!).
Another option for connecting with colleagues and clients online is through Google Hangouts. You can do video calls, phone calls and send messages through their platform. It’s free and simple to set up as well.
I use Skype all the time to connect with people online. I mainly use the chat function but you can use it to make phone and video calls as well. Keep in mind, long-distance rates may apply when using it to call someone’s phone.
If you’re working from home while managing a team, this app is essential! Slack is a web-based communication tool that helps you keep conversations organized and easy to follow (no more endless and confusing email threads!). You can create different channels based on different topics. You can create organized spaces for everything related to a project, topic or team. Their free plan is perfect for small businesses and teams.
VIDEO HOSTING TOOLS:
Vidyard is a fun online video hosting that you can use to send personalized to clients. I have also used it to send demos to staff or clients on how to set something up or troubleshoot a tech issue. It’s also a unique way to stand out in the inbox when inviting someone to connect or collaborate. Vidyard can help you create more personal connections or communicate visually.
The free, high-resolution photos on this site are all published under a Creative Commons Zero licence. (https://unsplash.com/license ) That means you can copy, modify, distribute and use any of the photos on Unsplash for free, and without asking permission from or even providing attribution to the photographer or Unsplash. This is a way better option than cheesy stock photos.
FREE DESIGN TOOL:
This is a super simple, user-friendly design tool for non-designers. You can use Canva to easily create great-looking social media posts, headers, posters, presentations, etc., all in just minutes. You can upload images, or use Canva’s templates, shapes or images as a base to get creative. It’s a useful tool for adding a little pizzazz to your posts and presentations, and also a great way to make sure they fit on whatever platform you’re posting to.
SOCIAL MEDIA SCHEDULING PLATFORMS:
This scheduling platform helps you manage all of your different social media channels. It’s a real time saver! Later is more focused on visual content, particularly for planning, scheduling and posting on Instagram. If you’re specifically looking to grow a particular account or want a better platform for organizing images, this might work well for you. They do have a free option, so you can test it out and see if it suits your business needs. You can post to Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest with Later as well. Their free plan is similar to Hootsuite – 1 profile per social platform
30 posts per social platform and 1 user.
Here’s another scheduling platform with a similar free plan. You can upload your posts and schedule them to go out at various times on various platforms. It means you can schedule all your content on a Monday for the whole week ahead and not have to worry about coming up with a new post every day. Their free plan includes 3 social profiles, 30 Scheduled Messages and 1 user.
SPELLING AND GRAMMAR TOOL:
No one likes sending out a typo. This automated proofreader will save you from embarrassing spelling mistakes and silly errors that you might miss. It proofreads and checks grammar on the go. What I love most about it is that it follows you around the web. If there is a mistake in your text while you are scheduling posts for social media or writing an email to a client, it will let you know. That saves you the hassle of going back and editing posts because of a tiny error. I have saved myself from countless silly mistakes by using this service.
I hope one of these tools listed above will help make the transition to working remotely a little more manageable for you and your team. My suggestion is to sample of few different types of tools in each category and see what works best before investing in one of the paid options.