Blog / The Best Free and Cheap Online Tools for Social Entrepreneurs


One of the great things about the internet is that there are so many tools out there to help you on your journey to change the world. Whether you're looking for ways to organize your team or manage your time or communicate better, there's definitely at least one company - if not five - out there tha

Posted by Lauren McKenna on April 23, 2019

Blogging

What is blogging?
Blogs are text and image-based websites that are written in an informal or conversational style. They're a great way to track your journey or stay in touch with your community.

What are some blogging tools?
WordPress The most popular blogging platform. You can use Wordpress.com or Wordpress.org, depending on the needs of your project. Wordpress.org is more customizable and is the one we'd recommend using. It's great for: creating a blog or fully functional website. Lots of templates to choose from if you're not working with a professional designer. URL: wordpress.com/, wordpress.org/

  • WordPress (wordpress.com):
    The most popular blogging platform. You can use Wordpress.com or Wordpress.org, depending on the needs of your project. Wordpress.org is more customizable and is the one we'd recommend using.
    It's great for: creating a blog or fully functional website. Lots of templates to choose from if you're not working with a professional designer.
  • Medium (medium.com):
    An open blogging platform from the founders of Twitter. You can't create an entire website here but it's very, very easy to get started.
    It's great for: reaching a larger audience. Low learning curve to get started.


Cloud Storage

What is cloud storage?
Cloud storage is great for both storing large files and sharing them with different members of your team. It's more efficient than email for big stuff like images and also for keeping track of all of your files. It's called "cloud storage" because "cloud" is the term used to for virtual storage, meaning it's not saved on a hard drive that's in your possession. Cloud storage is also great for backing up your computer so you don't lose all of your hard work.

What are some cloud storage tools?

  • Dropbox (dropbox.com"):
    Is "a service that keeps your files safe, synced, and easy to share. Bring your photos, docs, and videos anywhere and never lose a file again." It's great for: storing and sharing huge chunks of data.
  • Backblaze (backblaze.com):
    Is scalable low cost cloud backup and storage services.
    It's great for: automatic online backup of all of your data.

Fundraising

Looking to raise some money? Here are some great crowdfunding platforms that will help you meet your goals. For more info on fundraising, check out our fundraising section.

What are some fundraising tools?

  • Kickstarter (kickstarter.com):
    Is "the world's largest funding platform for creative projects. A home for film, music, art, theater, games, comics, design, photography, and more."
    It's great for: an all-or-nothing approach, offering rewards to your backers and if your project has some sort of deliverable for your backers.
  • IndieGoGo (indiegogo.com):
    Is "the largest global site for fundraisers, Indiegogo helps individuals, groups and non-profits raise money online to make their ideas a reality."
    It's great for: raising money for your project.
  • CrowdRise (crowdrise.com):
    Is a platform to help you "raise money online for personal causes and fundraise online for charity."
    It's great for: personal fundraisers, non-profit fundraising and event fundraising.
  • GoFundMe (gofundme.com):
    Is "a DIY fundraising website for raising money online."
    It's great for: people raising money for personal causes. Great if you don't want to be concerned about deadlines or goal requirements.
  • Fundly (fundly.com):
    Is an online platform that "makes it incredibly easy to raise money online for the things that matter to you most. In less than a minute, you'll be able to personalize your fundraising campaign and share it with the people in your life."
    It's great for: people who don't want to be concerned about deadlines or goal requirements. Has a lot of personalizing capabilities."
  • RocketHub (rockethub.com):
    Is an "online crowdfunding platform."
    It's great for: "keep it all" crowdfunding.


Messaging

There are so many ways to communicate these days! We suggest you choose one as your main form of communication and try to stick to that as much as possible so that you don't lose or miss important info and so you don't get overwhelmed by messages from all sides.

What are some messaging tools?

  • Slack (slack.com):
    Their social media says it best: "Imagine all your team communication in one place, instantly searchable, available wherever you go. That's Slack."
    It's great for: Instant communication either in groups or one-on-one. It's marketed as a replacement for email.


Productivity

Staying productive is one of the hardest - and most important - parts of starting your own business or project. It's especially hard to stay on task if you're working on your own or you have other distractions pulling you away - which we all do. These tools make it much easier.

What are some productivity tools?

  • Slack (slack.com):
    Is an all-in-one communication and collaboration project management tool.
    It's great for: "Connect all the tools you use to Slack and avoid all that constant switching between apps. Set up your integration so that you get all your notifications directly within Slack-from support requests, code check-ins, and error logs to sales leads-all of them searchable in one central archive."
  • MailChimp (mailchimp.com):
    Is "online email marketing solution to manage contacts, send emails and track results."
    It's great for: easily creating beautiful, engaging email campaigns and for managing subscribers.
  • Keynote (apple.com/mac/keynote/):
    Is presentation software for Mac.
    It's great for: creating and sharing stunning presentations. Interactive charts make data pop. It's even PowerPoint compatible.


Project Management

What is project management?
Project management encompasses everything from keeping your team on task and organized to keeping yourself on task and organized to collaboration. There are so, so many project management tools out there because this is one of those areas of work that is specific to each person. These are some of the ones that we've worked with and therefore recommend but if you find that none of them work for you, don't despair! A quick Google search will turn up many, many more.

What are some project management tools?

  • Slack (slack.com):
    Is hands down the most popular and fastest growing project management tool.
    It's great for: internal communication, especially for remote teams. Additionally, "all your files, images, PDFs, documents, and spreadsheets can be dropped right into Slack and shared with anyone you want. Add comments, star for later reference, and it's all completely searchable. If you use any services like Google Drive, Dropbox, or Box, just paste the link and that document is immediately in sync and searchable too."
  • Trello (trello.com):
    Is "the easy, free, flexible, and visual way to manage your projects and organize anything."
    It's great for: people who like visually organizing projects and personal tasks, without a ton of bells and whistles. At its most simple, it's a great to-do list and at its most complex, it's a perfect collaboration and brainstorming tool.
  • Asana (asana.com):
    Is "web and mobile application designed to help teams track their work."
    It's great for: tracking and managing a project and team from start to finish. It's a great way to keep everyone focused on the big goal while still achieving their smaller tasks every day.
  • Evernote (evernote.com):
    Is a collaboration and note taking tool.
    It's great for: quickly jotting down ideas and organizing notes without all the bells and whistles, and in live time.


Organization

While a lot of these tools will help you stay organized, these ones are particularly helpful.

What are some organization tools?

  • 1Password (agilebits.com/onepassword):
    Is a password manager.
    It's great for: keeping all of your passwords in one place and retrieving them with a click of a button.
  • OneTab (one-tab.com):
    Is a Google Chrome extension that converts all of your browser tabs into a list in order to reduce clutter and save memory.
    It's great for: when you're deep into research and require a ton of things within reach but don't want to get lost or overwhelmed.
  • Google Docs (google.com/docs/):
    Is the best way to "instantly create shareable documents, spreadsheets and presentations that can be updated by any team member with an Internet connection. Track changes, live."
    It's great for: collaborating on and sharing text documents.


Other Helpful Tools

These tools don't fit into any set category but they'll definitely help you move your project forward as quickly as possible.

  • Canva (canva.com):
    Is the easiest way to create beautiful images.
    It's great for: Easily creating visuals for your social media profiles, newsletters, and/or crowdfunding campaigns. Anything from your Facebook cover photo to big artsy fonts to soup up your Kickstarter project. Free.
  • F.lux (justgetflux.com):
    Is free software that warms up your computer display at night, to match your indoor lighting.
    It's great for: those late nights you're up working but still want to get some sleep once you're done. F.lux won't disturb your ability to sleep once you shut down the computer by giving you the most natural light possible.

Social Media Management

Social media is a big part of getting the word out about your project - but it can be a pain. These tools will help you keep everything on track and moving smoothly!

What are some social media management tools?

  • Buffer (buffer.com):
    Is a great way to schedule, organize, and track posts on social media.
    It's great for: creating and managing a coherent social media schedule that doesn't take up all of your time. It's also very easy to learn and use.
  • HootSuite (hootsuite.com):
    Is a tool to help you "manage multiple networks, schedule posts, and engage your audiences."
    It's great for: creating and managing a coherent social media schedule that doesn't take up all of your time.


Video Chat

Video chat is a great way to communicate with your team as well as donors or mentors who you can't see in person but want to connect with in a more immediate way than you can via email or messaging.

What are some video chat tools?

  • Skype (skype.com):
    Is the most famous video chat platform.
    It's great for: One on one calls. Not as great for group calls. Free.
  • FaceTime (apple.com/ios/facetime):
    Is the video chat tool that works between Apple products. It comes free with any Apple computers, iPad, and the iPhone. Free.
    It's great for: High res one-on-one calls.
  • Room (room.co):
    Is a group video chat tool. Free.
    It's great for: getting a group together to talk face to face. There's a super low barrier to entry because you don't have to sign up in order to use the service. The host just creates a "room" and shares the link and when it's time for the call, you click the link and are good to go!
  • Google Hangouts (hangouts.google.com):
    Is a video chat platform run by Google. Can be a little glitchy.
    It's great for: group chat, complete with fun add-ons.


Tags
social entrepreneurship