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Marketing Resources

Tools, Training & Resources to Help you Grow Your Business!

Favorite Resources

Welcome to my go-to list of favorite free resources for marketing your businesses. This list was built throughout my many years of working in online marketing. For every item on this list, there were dozens of others I’ve tried and didn’t find value.

Don’t let the “free” price tag on many of these items make you think any less of them. We’re programmed to think that something expensive is better than the free version. There are a lot of paid marketing resources out there with fancy bells and whistles, and the fees they charge are justified if those features are important to your business. However, I even when I was using these expensive tools in my job managing social media for a large online brand, I found myself using only a few of the features. I frequently would go back to these free resources because they were convenient and easy.

So let’s keep our overhead low while maximizing results! Don’t you agree?

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The Very Best Marketing Resource: MORE TIME!

There is one more resource I’d love to give you, and that is TIME! I know first-hand how hard it is to market your business when you’re busy running it. If you need help with your website design, marketing, SEO, or social media, let's chat!

Let's Help You Have More Time!

Happy Marketing & Enjoy!
Heather Stephens

*Please note that most of the products I'm listing are free, but there are some affiliate links on this page. At no cost to you, the company may give me a referral commission if you purchase through these links as a thank you for sending them your business. I will never share a product just because of the commission I may earn.

Website Hosting

Hosting is an important decision for your business and definitely one of those times where you get what you pay for. Cheap shared hosting accounts are like living in an apartment building. A bad tenant can affect you. Your website will be stored on a server with thousands of other small websites. If one of them gets infected with malware, it could spread to your site. If one of them experiences a huge traffic spike due to a viral post or a brute attack, it can bring your site down. Unfortunately, for most business owners, a dedicated server is not affordable. I ask you to please consider skipping the cheapest hosting you can find for something that is more reliable or going with WordPress managed hosting. It’s worth the investment to protect the website you’re pouring your heart and soul into creating.

My favorites web hosts are WPEngine & SiteGround because they have high quality and fast customer service (shorter hold times than anyone I’ve found.) Plus they offer topnotch secure hosting that boosts site performance and security.

I caution you to stay away from cheap shared-hosting sites like GoDaddy, BlueHost, and HostGator. While I've used and recommended them in the past, the quality of their hosting has decreased significantly. I’ve noticed that my website maintenance & security clients who are on these plans experience frequent unexpected downtimes. They have a much higher risk of getting hacked. The hosting companies don't offer any resources or support if you do have an issue. Plus their customer service hold times are often over 30-60 minutes. Dealing with them is frustrating, to say the least.

If you need to purchase hosting, here are my affiliate links that will help you take advantage of some discounts on your hosting!

Need a domain? You can get them anywhere. I have mine at Namecheap, SiteGround & GoDaddy. Siteground will give you a free domain when you register for hosting! 🙂

 

Recommendations:

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WordPress Themes

I specialize in customized WordPress websites for business owners and I've worked with dozens and dozens of different themes. Genesis Themes and Child Themes from Studio Press are my favorite themes to work with and where most of my sites begin. I compare it to building a house. The home’s foundation is WordPress and the framing is Genesis. Then I customize it (or “decorate” it) with a child theme designed to deliver the style my client is after.

I choose WordPress and Genesis because together they offer:

    • Rock-solid security
    • Blazing fast performance
    • Out-of-the-box SEO
    • Beautiful, mobile-responsive designs
    • Ultra-flexible foundational code

It is also a combination that can grow with a business as the business’ needs change. After a quick tour and tutorial of the WordPress dashboard, business owners have the ability to easily update their websites themselves. I love it because the content editor is very similar to Microsoft Word. It makes it easy to create new content for your website without having to know how to code!

Check out the Genesis Theme Resources in the column to the right!

Here are a few other themes I've used and liked:

 

Recommendations

Genesis Themes:

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Calendars & Online Scheduling Resources

Going back and forth with a client trying to decide on a time to meet is a waste of time. Time you could be spending working with clients or playing with your fam. That's why I highly recommend you use a calendar scheduling tool that allows you to set certain office hours for discovery calls and client calls. Here are some of the most popular resources in the coaching niche:

  • Calendly
    An awesome FREE calendar scheduling tool that is JUST a calendar scheduling tool. If you need more I'd recommend going with Satori or Acuity. (I use the paid version which is $8 per month when paid annually.) It integrates with your Google Calendar and Microsoft 365 or Outlook and can be embedded on your website easily! Will deliver people to a PayPal link for purchase, but does not have payments built in. It can be integrated with your email service provider with Zapier.
  • Acuity Scheduling
    "Automate your client bookings, cancellations, reminders & even payment with one click (and zero frustration.)" Acuity integrates with MailChimp, Aweber, Constant Contact, PayPal, Stripe, WordPress, etc. Basically, it will link up with everything you'd want to integrate it with.
  • Schedule Once
    Schedule once is another popular option with coaches and consultants. It allows you to integrate with Gmail, iCal, Microsoft 360 Calendar and more. It starts at only $5 per booking page for one user. Buttons and scheduling forms both will embed easily on your website.
  • SatoriApp
    Satori is a popular client management tool among my coaching clients. It was designed specifically for the coaching industry and has everything you need to run your coaching business. It integrates with PayPal, MailChimp, Aweber, Google Calendar, and iCal. "With automated invoicing, reporting and online payments, Satori is the fastest and easiest way to turn your coaching practice into a coaching business."
  • Vicita
    Scheduling, payments (PayPal), online forms, etc.

Email Marketing Resources:

Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to drive traffic to your website, encourage new customers to join your list, and increase repeat business from existing customers. Yet, it’s one of the least used marketing tools among the business owners I consult. (WHAT?) Grab one of these free email services and get started building your email list and engaging with your loyal customers!

Free Email Marketing Service:

  • MailChimp
    MailChimp is the most well-known email marketing service provider with a free plan that allows you to send 12,000 to 2,000 subscribers. They offer pre-built workflows, in-depth reporting, auto-responders, blog RSS feed emails, responsive templates, etc. Everything you need to leverage email marketing for your business.

Affordable Email Marketing Services:

Image Resources for
Social, Blog & Email Marketing

A picture is worth a thousand words. They are also worth thousands of dollars to businesses that leverage their power on social media! Posts on Twitter containing images get 18% more clicks, 89% more favorites, and 150% more retweets. Facebook brand posts with images account for 87% of total interactions. (Source: hubspot.com)

Beware! Grabbing any old image off of Google for your marketing could be copyright infringement and the financial penalties for doing it are staggering. Here are six of my favorite free resources to find beautiful royalty free photos.

Choosing Website PhotosRoyalty Free Photos:

Free Royalty Free Photo Sources:

Affordable royalty free images:

Free Image Editing Resources:

Great images are a great start but you need to optimize them to get the most out of your efforts. Each social media platform, your blog, email newsletter will need specific images sizes. Don’t let this scare you if you’ve never considered yourself a graphic designer. There are many of free photo editing tools that are super user-friendly and include helpful tutorials for beginners!

  • Canva
    Canva is a great tool for beginners and they have one of the best free design schools on the web! Choose size specific template layouts for all the social media channels or create your own designs for print or presentations!
  • Fotor
    Fotor is a great free online photo editor, collage maker and designer! They have a huge number of backgrounds and filters to make your photos or any stock photo look amazing!
  • Pixlr
    Pixlr has a desktop, mobile and web app to allow you to use their entire family of photo editing tools anywhere. Choose express for quick collages, filters, borders, and overlays or the editor for more complicated layered files.
  • PicMonkey
    PicMonkey is a free online photo editor that will have you looking like a pro in no time! Check out this their awesome tutorial library to help you get started.
  • Pictochart
    Create beautiful point and click Infographics for your blog, website, and social media. You can use Pictochart for reports and marketing materials too! (Pictochart Tips)

Of course, if you have Photoshop you don't need any of the above programs - unless photoshop intimidates you. If that's the case here is a fantastic basic photoshop tutorial!

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Resources:

Having to create a never-ending stream of high-quality content for your website can feel like a daunting task to any business owner. Mix in the need to balance your content so that it appeals to both your readers and the search engines and it gets even harder.

Let me simplify this for you with some of my favorite go-to resources for keyword rich content ideas that will help you boost your business website in the search engines and keep your readers coming back for more!

Keyword Research & Rich Content Ideas:

  • Google AdWords Keyword Planner:
    Keyword planner is a free AdWords tool that helps you find keyword ideas and get traffic estimates and historical statistics, so you can choose the best words to focus on for your business.
  • Übersuggest.org
    This is an amazing free keyword tool that takes the Google Suggest tool and turns it up to eleven. Plug your keywords into übersuggest.org for an ultimate list of blog post keyword ideas.
  • KeywordToolDominator
    Find long tail keywords for Google, Amazon and YouTube. This tool utilizes the autocomplete databases to provide real keywords real users are searching.

Content Creation & Blogging Resources:

If you’ve held off on blogging for your business because you don’t think you can write, this final section will be your favorite! Here are my favorite resources to help you create content quickly even if you struggle with writing!

Free Blog Topic Generators:

  • Portent Content Idea Generator
    The blog title generator of your dreams! It may not be the best when it comes to grammar but you can fix that. You will become the MacGyver of Blog Titles with this fancy, fun tool!
  • Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator
    Stuck without a blog topic? Plug in three nouns that are relevant to your business and Hubspot will deliver a week’s worth of relevant blog post titles for you
  • Blog About Tool
    If you’re stuck without a unique angle for your topic, here is a tool to help you brainstorm, favorite and email yourself your best ideas!
  • BuzzSumo
    Check out blog topics and headlines that are working for others! Plug in your keyword phrase and get a list of blog posts on the same topic that performed well. Great tool for also finding influencers in your niche!

Make Your Writing Better!

These tools will help look like a true wordsmith! Use them to improve your writing for social media, email newsletters, press releases, and blog content.

Free Headline, Editing, & Grammar Tools:

  • Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer
    This tool, while it looks totally antiquated, it will determine the emotional marketing value (EMV) score of your headline so you can hit your customer’s emotional hot button. The higher the score the more likely your headline will appeal emotionally to your readers.
  • Hemingway App
    Paste in your text and use the suggestions in the Hemingway App to simplify your content and make your writing bold and clear. It will highlight any run-on sentences, adverbs, and passive phrases that make your writing weak.
  • Grammarly
    Eliminate grammar errors and improve your writing. Grammarly will let you know when you’re making a writing, punctuation, or grammar mistake in emails, social media posts, blog posts and more.

Social Media Marketing Resources:

There are so many accounts to keep track of: Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and more! Monitoring them and posting to them can take forever if you’re logging into each one, one at a time. Here are some fantastic free tools to monitor and post to your business and personal social media accounts. They have paid options that offer more services if you wish.

Free Social Media Monitoring Resources:

  • Buffer
    Adding relevant content from around the web to your Buffer queue is a great way to schedule posts throughout the day. Schedule and share posts to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. Pinterest scheduling is available as well with the inexpensive paid version.
  • Hootsuite
    A free Hootsuite account will allow you to manage your social profiles from one central dashboard, track your social results and schedule posts on up to 3 social profiles. Hootsuite works with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google+, Foursquare, & YouTube.

 

Copywriters:

If you need help creating content for your business, here are a few talented colleagues I recommend. Please let them know I sent you!

  • ContentBistro.com: Copywriting & Social Media Updates I LOVE the Grab & Go Social Media Pack from Content Bistro. It includes 60 custom social media updates per month with branded photos, links to your products, links to your blog content, etc. It's a huge time-saver. They also provide SEO rich blog content and copywriting for sales pages. (ContentBistro takes great care of my clients, so please let them know I sent you!)
  • YourHotCopy.com: Wanna add some spice & appeal to your website copywriting to make your content irresistible to your clients? YourHotCopy will either take your already written content and add some sizzle or create content from scratch for you based on information you give them about your audience, business, etc. (YourHotCopy will take extra good care of you! Please let them know I sent you!)
  • LisaMayHuby.com: Lisa-May is a sales page strategist who offers a sales page copy makeover as well as a signature sales page package that includes a long-form sales page, landing page, + email sales sequence (6+ cart closing)! (Please let her know I sent you!) P.S. If you're a DIYer you'll LOVE her 10 Step Sales Page training!

Let's Make You the Best Resource in Your Niche!