110 Online Marketing Tools for Freelancers

Many colored pens

Image via Wikipedia

I’m always on the lookout for cool tools that can make my life easier, save time, or help me help my clients.

Here, all in one place (!), are 107 free or low cost online marketing tools  that will help you improve your SEO, find photos and icons, for your web site, publish ebooks, hold webinars, and choose the right theme for your blog.


  1. Google Trends – type in your keywords and check trends – Is the US election trending up or down? Have there been a lot of recent searches for images of parrots?  You can check words or images.
  2. DuckDuckGo -search without your personal preferences and history (which affect the rankings and results you see)
  3. Web Site Grader – analyzes your site and grades your keyword effectiveness (too many? not enough?)
  4. Website Optimizer – a Google app that helps you test landing pages and increase your sales
  5. Google Keyword Tool – plug in search terms and find out how popular they are; a good way to do some quick market research before you invest in Adwords
  6. Google Search Console Links to Your Site – this backlink checker shows who’s linking to your website or blog.
  7. SEO Book – free Firefox plugin with page ranking, link checking, and keyword research tools


  1. Quantcast –  estimates the demographics for your site (so you know who’s looking) or at any registered site you choose
  2. Page speed – analyzes your site and tells you how to make it faster (hint: faster sites do better in Google rankings)
  3. Chartbeat – real-time analytics for your site (free trial)
  4. Analytics tracker – track clicks back to your site from your ebooks or articles

Webinar Software

  1. Zipcast Instant meeting – turn a slideshare presentation into an online discussion
  2. Free conference call.com – free conferencing, playback, and recording.
  3. Google Hangouts – limited to 10 people, but it’s free and works pretty well. You’ll need a Google account to use it, but that’s free too.


  1. Audacity – record your podcast, interview, or music; then edit, remix, and upload the result. Works on Macs, Linux, and Windows, and it’s free.
  2. Garage Band – a mini-recording studio right inside your Mac (or ipad). Works for music or podcasts.

making and sharing videos

  1. You Tube Live Streaming – now you can have live feeds – watch out Ustream.
  2. Video Playbook – ebook with tips on creating, editing and sharing videos
  3. Camtasia – screen recording software (great for tutorials)
  4. Jing – free screen capture software for short (5-minute videos); basic version is free, more advanced version costs $15


  1. Anatomy of a WordPress Theme –  infographic explains all the bits and pieces of wordpress themes (so you know where to look if you need to fiddle with something).
  2. Scribefire – Firefox plugin that lets you drag and drop text directly to your blog

Free WordPress Themes

  1. WordPress.org free theme directory – Lots of options here, including the WordPress Twenty Eleven theme created by wordpress itself. Choose by most popular, most recent, or do a more detailed search by features, columns, and colors
  2. Smashing magazine free themes – 2011 roundup
  3. Free premium themes – A collection of free themes gathered from all over the web

Paid WordPress Themes

  1. Elegant themes – unlimited access to all their themes for $39
  2. Headway themes – a base framework, with drag and drop functions; currently it’s do-it-yourself (just the base), but templates are coming
  3. Woo themes – (they also have some freebie promotions) – $70 for a single theme, plus two free bonus themes with  purchase
  4. Genesis themes from Studio Press – like Headway, Genesis is a framework for building themes; you can buy just the framework, or individual themes they’ve already created
  5. Theme Forest– themes as low as $1, with user ratings, the ability to search by category (corporate, creative, etc.).


  1. Akismet – stops nearly all comment spam in its tracks; easier than asking for a CAPTCHA (which slows people down)
  2. Google Analytics for wordpress – integrates page tracking, clicks, and e-commerce
  3. No self-pings– If you link to another post on your site, wordpress will automatically ping you (saying you have a trackback). If you find that annoying (as I do), use this plugin to stop it
  4. Post post –  add custom content before or after your posts (such as an offer or contact information)
  5. Updraft WordPress database backup– Automatically backs up your blog and database; you can set how often and send the files to multiple cloud locations,
  6. Yet another related posts plugin–  finds older posts on similar topics and adds them to the bottom of your new posts (more clicks and time on your site)
  7. WordPress SEO – checks your keywords and allows you to rewrite your post titles to make them more SEO friendly
  8. Feedburner – RSS feed plugin
  9. XML site map generator – creates a site map to help index your content for search engines
  10. Broken Link Checker – checks your links and notifies you when something breaks
  11. Contact Form7 – easy-to-use customizable contact form
  12. Theme Test Drive – test out a new theme before you go live
  13. Facebook Like – adds a facebook “like” button to your post
  14. Yoast SEO – I admit I have a love/hate relationship with this plugin; love the reminders to add keywords and descriptions, but hate how “literal” it is (nobody writes that way!)
  15. NextGen Gallery – puts a sliding gallery of featured posts at the top of your blog
  16. WP E-commerce plugin – sell digital products or create coupons.


  1. Thinkmap– a visual thesaurus that shows you the relationships between wordsJott – transcribes voice messages from your friends or yourself (no typing) and emails them to you
  2. Bubble.us – mind mapping software to help you track and visualize ideas (and the connections between them)
  3. Scrivener – designed just for writing books, you can make an online “corkboard” and map out your story (think mindmapping meets writing)

eBOOK or printed book DESIGN tools

  1. Pages – a full-featured word processor and a beautiful design tool all in one. Comes with templates or design your own (Mac only)
  2. InDesign–  the gold standard (and priced accordingly), if you’ve got the time to learn it and don’t mind the investment, then try it. Or, hire a pro.
  3. Book Design Basics – a series of blog posts about book design; starting with tips on margins and leading
  4. Non-Designer’s Design Book, The (3rd Edition)(affiliate link) – a clearly-written guide to design


  1. Calibre – free conversion software; supports lit, mobi, epub, text, and pdf formats. It reads the pdf, mobi file, etc. and saves it to epub format
  2. Sigil – a free WYSIWIG epub editor. Works on different platforms, lets you edit without making a mess
  3. Create ebooks for free – a  detailed (and somewhat techie) how-to article
  4. Anthologize  – turn your blog content into an ebook (free tool from the National Endowment for the Humanities).


  1. Lulu – print-on-demand and ebook publishing packages. Pay to have your book formatted, published, and printed. Or, publish as an ebook and share the revenue with Lulu. Physical book publishing packages include purchase of ISBN (bookstore catalog number)
  2. Amazon Ebook Publishing – format and publish your book for Kindle readers
  3. Smashwords – publish your ebook and distribute it to the Apple, Barnes&Noble, and Sony E-readers store (as well as Smashwords’ own site); includes ISBN number
  4. ISBN numbers – a unique identifier that helps bookstores and libraries catalog and sell books. You won’t need this to sell directly or on Amazon.  You will need it if you are going to sell your book in retail stores, or on other platforms (like ibooks).

create your own BOOK COVERS

  1. Create Ebook covers with Photoshop – a complete tutorial with templates
  2. BoxShot 3D –  create your own book covers, CD covers, and brochure covers


  1. Digital Color Meter – Mac-only color identification tool
  2. Firefox Colorzilla plugin – identifies colors on web pages (not documents though)
  3. Color Scheme Designer – choose complementary colors for your site or ebook
  4. Color Hunter – color palettes generated from images
  5. ColorCombos.com – color palettes with HTML codes and color search (find schemes that include a particular color)
  6. ColourLovers Palettes – over 1,000,000 user-generated color schemes (includes web codes and RGB codes for printing)

Free Website Icons

  1. Dryicons – free blog or website icons: social sharing, flowers, e-commerce, sports, and holidays
  2. Icon Archive – icons of all shapes and sizes, plus a really cool sliding search feature
  3. Iconfinder – free icons for your blog or web site
  4. Stock icons – free and royalty-free stock icons
  5. Icon dock – free icons, from shiny to origami, and holidays
  6. Chocolate obsession icons – icons that look like chocolate!

Web Font Finders

  1. Linotype font finder – font identification (answer a few questions and voila!); I used this to match my brother’s wedding invitation font
  2. Font Factory – choose the right font based on what you want to do with it (brochure, business card, website, etc).
  3. My Fonts – find a font, choose one by type of project, or just try one out before you buy it

Website buttons

  1. How to make buttons in Photoshop – step-by-step instructions for making website buttons
  2. Button Maker – free tool for making your own call to action buttons (choice of colors, fonts, and shapes)


  1. Bounceapp – use this for website design changes, editing suggestions, and feedback
  2. Instant Website Review – are you making these common web marketing mistakes?
  3. Web launch checklist – fill in the blanks on the form and see if you’ve missed anything
  4. Customer Focus Calculator – focusing on yourself too much? or just enough?
  5. Unbounce – easily design and test different landing pages. Free 30-day trial


  1. NASA – photos of space
  2. The National Forest Service – free nature photos
  3. NOAA – US weather agency nature photos
  4. Flickr Commons – public domain photos from libraries and universities
  5. Freefoto – beautiful free stock photos of nature, cities, food, and holidays (email to clarify usage; the terms are a bit confusing)
  6. Public domain images – sorted by type (nature, food, computers, flags, etc.)
  7. Digifeld – a collection of flowers, plants, fish, buildings, and vintage cars
  8. Compfight –  Flickr search, by license, and by size


  1. Veer – more quirky and interesting than standard stock, with prices starting at $1
  2. Shutterstock – royalty-free photos (pay once and keep using them)
  3. Dreamstime – stock photography (royalty-free, meaning you pay once and you’re done)
  4. Getty Images – this is a big change for Getty, which had a reputation for years as being a fierce protector of copyright. You must embed the image, rather than downloading it, but there are 50 million of them.
  5. Death to Stock Photo – This is a freemium model. You sign up and they send free photos every month.  There’s also a paid subscription option (with greater access).


  1. Basecamp – keep track of each stage of your project, make edits, and keep files all in one place
  2. Dropbox – share large files too big to send through email; you can also use this for cloud backup, but don’t rely entirely on it (just in case someone else is cheating, e.g., the Megaupload debacle)
  3. Trello – virtual project”bulletin board”, looks like a good tool for people (like me) who think visually (sure beats spreadsheets)
  4. Mockingbird – web-based program that lets you quickly create application mock-ups and share them
  5. Balsamiq – create and modify web and app designs in real time


  1. Wordoid – create a name for your site, product, or service
  2. Nameboy – domain name generator

Miscellaneous Tools

  1. Email on Acid – preview your HTML email in multiple email apps
  2. Infographic generator – infographics are hot; make them without fussing
  3. Timeline – easy interactive timeline generator
  4. Privnote – email that self-destructs (if you have to send passwords or other sensitive information) – it’s like having your own “Missin Impossible” tool

10 Virtually Instant Ways to Improve E-Newsletters

High Speed - Lights

Image via Wikipedia

Your e-newsletter is your link to your prospects and your clients.  So, it’s important to make it useful, relevant, and helpful.

Here are 10 quick ways to improve your e-mail newsletter marketing and get better results.

1. Limit the number of steps to sign up

The more questions you ask, the lower the opt-in rate will be.  Make it as simple and easy as possible.  Name and email are best (or even just email).  Don’t ask anything else unless you have to (for example if you’re sending fashion tips, you’ll need to know gender.

2. Review your sign up process

Spell out what they’ll get when they sign up (a book, a video, an e-course), how often they’ll get it (monthly, weekly, daily), and the kind of information they’ll receive (graphic design tips, reviews of the latest camping gear,

3. Check your confirmation page

Does it spell out exactly what will happen next?  Are the instructions clear?  If yours is confusing, change it.  Sometimes, people see “subscribe” and think they need to pay, others see it as a reminder that they’ll be getting regular information and emails.  Experiment with the wording and see what performs best for your readers.  Make sure you ask them to whitelist you too (add your email to their address books), so the message doesn’t fall into the spam folder by mistake.

4. Include links back to your blog

This gets more clicks and traffic back to your site.  Add links to posts that expand or complement the topic of that particular issue. Or, highlight the best posts of the past month/week (depending on your frequency).  Include posts by other people too (as long as it’s useful and relevant to your audience – no sneaking in tips about hiking gear to a newsletter about decorating with stained glass.

5. Tweak the design

If you’re using HTML (graphics) for your newsletter, take a look at the design. Is it easy to follow?  Or, are you trying to cover 5 or 6 different topics at once? Add more white space, to make it easier to read.

6. Cut down the content

Sometimes too much information can be overwhelming.  Try three articles instead of six.  If there’s one primary article or topic, make it bigger than the other two (but not too big, or it will drown them out).  Edit ruthlessly.

7. Add more calls to action

If you want people to do something (like watch your how-to videos), ask more than once. Make it clear that’s what you want (“watch the how-to video”).  If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

8. Test your subject lines

Which gets more opens and clicks?  Subject lines with questions (Is HTML better than text?);  subject lines with numbers (4 Things Your Website Must Have)? Or a subject line that promises something (Turn Your Trash into Cash)? Remember, what works for me, or for your friend, or for a famous blogger may (or may not) work for you.  Each audience is different.

9. Be consistent

Send it around the same time, on the same day each week/month/day.  You can schedule this easily in AWeber.

10.  Ask for feedback and encourage replies

You can put up a survey in Google docs (or use survey monkey) if you like.  Or, just make it clear that your virtual door is open.  I include a note saying that if you have a question or comment you can just hit reply.  It goes straight to my personal inbox.

28 Essential Online Marketing Tools

paint chips

Image by Anosmia via Flickr

Want free tools for your business? These 28 handy helpers save you time, improve your marketing, and make life less stressful.

Five free tools to help you get more traffic, brainstorm ideas, create screen capture videos, and manage projects.

1. Web Site Grader

Web Site Grader reviews your site, checks your keywords, and tells you how effective they are.  It will also give you your ranking in Alexa and Technorati.

2.  Quantcast

A tool that estimates the traffic and the demographics of visitors to your site (male/female, education level, age, etc).  You can use it for other sites too.

3. Bubble.Us

Free mind-mapping software. If you’re visually oriented (like I am) this is a great way to organize information and ideas. It’s like a flow chart for creative types.

4. Tiny Url

If you want to send (or post) a long, messy URL, try using this shortener instead. It’s a lot less cumbersome, and you can even customize it.

5. Scribefire

See something you want to quote on your blog? Or get a quick idea while you’re browsing. Use ScribeFire to drag and drop text into a post (without opening your blogging software). Or, save it for later use.

6. Wordoid

Stuck for a name for a new service or business? Plug in some words and wordoid will come up with suggestions for you.

7. Jing

This free tool takes a quick screen capture video – five minutes or less. If you need something longer, you can get Camtasia (not free, but not expensive).

8. Jott

Turns voice messages into emails. If you leave yourself a message, or someone leaves you one, it automatically appears in your email box (no typing).

9. Basecamp

Great for collaborating with people who are spread out in different cities. Keeps your notes, edits, and project management tools are in one place.

10. Maczot

Woot for Macs. One great deal each day.

11. Make Your Own Buttons

Make your own call to action buttons in photoshop. Plus, another one especially for buy now buttons.

12. Ebook covers

Make your own ebook covers for free. Takes a bit of practice, but it works.

13. 3-D Box.

If you want more ebook options, try BoxShot 3D software. It’s not free (and Mac only), but it will save you a lot of time.

14. Google Link Tracker

Once you finish that ebook, you’ll want to know if anyone is clicking the links back to your site. Great when you want to spread a free book or article.

15. Creative Commons Image Search

Find free images for your blog posts or ebooks. It will search in multiple places at the same time.  You can specify keywords, as well as usage rights, and where to look.

16. The wayback machine

It’s not just for Mr. Peabody anymore. Get your own time machine – and go back and find old versions of your site (or someone else’s) on the Web. It also has photos, old movies, and public domain books.

17. Scribd

Sample book chapters, free (and paid) ebooks, forms and templates – many at no charge. Upload a free ebook of your own and use their traffic to spread it.

18. Dryicons

Free icons in lots of different styles, from glossy to rather scruffy. It’s got blog icons, e-commerce icons, and holidays too.

19. Compfight

An improved Flickr search tool. It shows a full page of photos, plus their sizes (so you can find one that fits your needs without more clicking). You can choose by license too.

20. Veer

A stock image site, but one with photos that are more quirky and interesting than usual. Prices start at $1.

21. Free ideas

Out of ideas? Type a word into the inspiration generator and get photos, quotes, videos, bookmarks, songs, and tweets that match the word.

22. tineye

It’s a reverse image search.  Use it to find how images are being used,  if they’ve been changed, (great if you’re an artist or photographer and want to control the rights to your work) or to see if you can find a higher resolution version of an image you like.

23. E-junkie

An online shopping cart. E-junkie processes the orders, takes the credit card (or paypal information) and notifies you when you’ve made a sale. Use their affiliate program to help other people sell your books too.

24. Evernote (free and paid versions)

Keep track of ideas, save images, write drafts for blog posts, record your thoughts, and Available for both desktop and as an app, which will sync together so you can access it anywhere.

25. Asana – (free and paid versions, depending on your company size)

A project management tool. Use it for web development, tech support tickets, and task tracking (for one person or a team).

26. Scannable – scanning app from Evernote

Scan receipts, documents, scribbled notes (I have lots of these), business cards, and other piles of paper into your phone.  Goodbye clutter.

27. Userium – pre-launch website usability checklist

28.  Grammarly – a better spelling and grammar checker (this one can tell if you used the wrong word (even if it’s spelled correctly), suggest alternatives in context, and spots missing punctuation.

The Two Most Important Words in Online Business

trust image
There are two words that are critical to success if you’re doing business online.

Why are these important? Because you’re dealing with people who can’t physically see or talk to you. So, you’ve got to build up these two words.

The First Word is Trust

If people trust you, they’re more likely to believe that you can help fix their problem, and will be more willing to pay you to do it. It’s like making deposits in a bank.

Here’s how to do it.

Listen harder

First, as Chris Brogan says, grow bigger ears. Start listening to what potential customers are saying. Subscribe to appropriate blogs and join forums in your niche.

Tools to help you listen:

  • Google Alert: set up alerts to monitor what people in your chosen niche are saying. They’ll be emailed to you automatically.
  • Google Reader: monitor blogs and read about what your potential market thinks, and the problems they have.
  • Twitter Search tools
  • Listen First, Sell Later (just a plain link). The author, Bob Poole, was a successful salesman for years. Instead of a pushy, hard sell, he chose to listen – and find out what his customers really wanted and needed. This book tells how he did it.

The Second Word is Authority

You build this by demonstrating your expertise in your chosen niche. If people believe that you are trustworthy, understand their problems, and know their business, they will be happy to pay you to help them.

Here’s how to build authority.

Answer questions on forums

Use whatever links or biographical information are allowed to send traffic to your site or blog for more information about you. Don’t forget to fill out the forum profile too.

Write guest posts

Make intelligent comments on those blogs, and get the attention of the blogger. Offer to make a guest post on a topic that is relevant and helpful to the blogger’s readers.

When you do, say something nice about the blogger and how much you enjoy his/her blog. Don’t grovel or gush, just be polite and genuine. Include a brief bio at the end of your guest post, with a link back to your own blog.

Don’t have a blog? Tomorrow’s post will have some tips to help you start one.

Photo:  morguefile

The Truth About Internet Marketing

Someone on LinkedIn said that Internet Marketing is “new”, “there’s never been anything like it.”  It’s true that there are lots of new tools, such as SEO, pay per click, social networking, e-mail, or even e-bay that weren’t available 20 years ago.

However, the basic principles of marketing haven’t changed, only the means and the speed.  Regardless of whether you’re using print or pixels, you still need to reach the right people.  If you sell custom car parts for racing enthusiasts, you have to reach out to people in that particular tribe.

You must then establish a conversation with them.  Talk  to them about their interests, their problems, and their enthusiasm for racing.  Show that you share that enthusiasm.  Gain their trust.

Then offer them something of interest (free newsletter with sources for custom paint jobs, new parts or tools on the market), a discount coupon, etc.

Finally, ask for action (join here, call this number).

Photo: web success diva