12 Resources For Running Your Company on a Budget

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If you're just starting your online business, whether it be selling crochet scarves on Etsy or running a blog (which, yes, can be turned into a business), you might feel overwhelmed with everything you have to do. And that Pinterest article you read basically screamed at you for not understanding analytics and engagement rates and what your niche is and your brand? Like, of clothing? But it's okay, take a deep breath and remember the internet is a scary and big place, but you're surrounded by thousands of people in the same boat as you.

While I can't even hope to cover every aspect of online businesses (branding, marketing, advertising, social media management... I could go on all day), I'm hopeful that this list will help you get started somewhere. Because the hardest part of starting is actually starting.


Humans are visual. Most people would pick an attractive image over a wall of text any day. Thankfully, we've come a long way since the days where your only photo editing option was Photoshop. There's thousands of free resources for any kind of photo editing you can image. From simple filters to perfect your IG theme to websites allowing you to create infographics all on one site; if you need it, chances are it exists.

* = Paid features optional
˜ = Available on desktop and in the app store

• VSCO Cam :: Free*, available for iPhone and Android
• Polarr :: Free*, available for iPhone and Android

Canva :: Free*˜
Piktochart :: Free*˜
Pixlr :: Free˜
Info.gram :: Free*


Chances are, you have social media accounts. I'm also willing to bet that sometimes you also feel lost in a sea of random numbers and analytics. While it's important to be able to understand the data behind your social media accounts, you don't have to understand it all in a day. There's so many free products created to help people like you manage and understand the data behind your accounts. Let them take over (at least for now). I'll only be linking websites because I feel it's easiest to get the full feeling for these products when you're not staring at a tiny screen.

* = Paid features optional
º = Paid membership required

Hootsuite* :: The only tool that allows you to manage over 30 social media platforms in one place. If you're not using Hootsuite... how have you been keeping your head above the ever rising tide that is social media management?
TweetReach :: This site allows you to easily view how many people your Tweet "reached." It's important to know how many people you engage with daily so you don't feel as if you're staring into a black void.
Iconosquareº :: Free for 14 days with paid membership after. If your biggest platform is Instagram, Iconosquare is for you. They have analytics on anything you need from hashtags to your competition's daily counts. 


Could I be more vague? Possibly. But could the world of free resources be so rapidly expanding that this guide will require an update in 3 months? Definitely. Running a company is so much more than pretty pictures and tweet engagement, but understanding how to do those things with the free resources out there will save you time, money, and sanity, all invaluable resources when you're a small business. 

AllTop :: This website gathers some of the internet's most popular sites and their top viewed stories. If you want a site that shows you Mashable, LifeHacker, and CNN's top stories on one page, AllTop is for you. It's an excellent site to see what people are interested in now
FreedCamp :: A free content and project management system. I'm a firm believer in the best way to stay organized is to let other people keep me organized and FreedCamp helps me with that.
HelloSign :: Contracts are scary. The idea of actually writing law-binding contracts for others to sign is scary. Hellosign is not scary. It lets you virtually create contracts for clients to sign with ease. 

Engagement 101: Growing a Following VS an Audience


The biggest challenge we face with social media is engagement. It's easy to gain followers, but hard to gain an audience. Let's start with the difference:

gaining a FOLLOWING:
- Impressive number of followers, but that's the only good statistic you have
- High number of followers, but low level of engagement (think: 10k followers, but your picture only gets 1k likes and 10 comments on Instagram)
- You're unsure of your demographic
- You haven't built any relationships

growing an AUDIENCE:
- The end goal is a high following and a high engagement rate to match, but you don't start out with both. Don't be discouraged if you have 1k followers but your content is engaging with 50%+ of your audience
- You have comments and you reply to them
- You know everything from your demographic to the intricate details of your niche or "tribe." Or if you don't, you're actively trying to learn
- You're constantly building and maintaining relationships. Engagement is a two-way street for most people (the exception is huge companies and influencers who have gained a large enough following that the engagement continues with or without their input), so don't expect others to want to engage with you if you're not doing the same

So what now? 
Just give up if your audience isn't engaging with you? No, of course not! 

ONE: When creating content, apply the law of least effort to it. 
In Daniel Kahneman's "Thinking, Fast and Slow" he writes about how when multiple people have the same goal and there are many ways to achieve said goal, they will naturally gravitate to the one that requires the least effort.
Make it easy for your audience to engage! If you have a blog, add a small, but noticeable pop-up asking them to subscribe to your email list. If you are announcing something on Twitter, add a link to whatever it is; don't make your audience search for it, because most likely they won't.

TWO: Don't just talk at your audience, talk with them. 
Engagement should start with you actively reaching out to your audience; respond to questions, answer tweets, like photos they've tagged you in. No one has ever said "Wow, that company / person replies to too many of their subscribers." 

THREE: Engage beyond your niche.
Of course you want to engage with your audience, but broaden your scope too. Engage with similar creator's audiences or the creators themselves. Share other influencer's content to your audience. See a company you're similar too trying to answer a question they can't? If you have content that can help, politely step in and guide them to your site.

FOUR: Study your audience.
Blogger and YouTuber Krista Rae has an excellent video and blog post explaining why knowing your audience is essential to engagement. 

Hopefully this post helped you gain a little insight to engagement! 
Let me know in the comments down below how you engage your audience. Do you think it's more important to have an account with a large following + small engagement or a smaller following + a lot of engagement? Or does it vary based on what the person or company's objective is?

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