Our Little Black Book

Welcome to our little black book.  These are services we use and we think other small businesses will find helpful.  Many of these services are free (at least a “lite” version is free) or provide good value for what they offer.  We understand small businesses and know that you don’t have money to waste so, please, gorge on these freebies!  Wouldn’t the world be a much better place if everyone shared???

Website Hosting

We use (and recommend) Siteground.

Why? They have a great reputation (they were recommended to us by several other users), are very responsive (with a great live chat facility which we have used!), are reasonably priced (there are cheaper hosts but this host is worth it), have a number of helpful “add ons” included (notably security features) and, most importantly, provide a good website speed (which is key for customers visiting your website as well as SEO). We have experience of other hosts and find this host the best we have used.

Graphic Design

Have you discovered Canva? It is a brilliant resource for producing graphics for social media, print and much more. It makes it easy to select the right size template for different uses. What’s more is it is free to use (they charge $1 for some images, but many images are free) and you don’t need to be a graphic designer to use it. Check it out!

Stock Photos

Photos taken for you by a professional photographer is, without a doubt, the best solution for your marketing, but sometimes you don’t need bespoke pictures. Stock photos are a great alternative. Many stock photo websites charge and/or require you to attribute the photo to the photographer, but some don’t. Pixabay doesn’t – all photos are provided free of copyright.

Grammar

How’s your English? We hate to see poor grammar in social media posts. If you struggle to remember where your apostrophe should go, we recommend the completely free Grammarly. Use it for all your social media posts and there will never be another basic grammar failing again.

Accounting Software

Wave is completely free accounting software which provides up to date accounts and has the ability to provide invoices too. It helps to have a little accounting knowledge to use it. We find it much better than the Excel spreadsheet we used to use!

Email Marketing

Have you ever tried to mass mail your customers? Many email providers block such “spam” mail. Mailchimp is a free way to overcome this. Mailchimp requires all email addresses to have pre-agreed to receive emails from you – so they vouch for you that they aren’t spam. They also allow you to send beautifully formatted emails, tying in with your business branding and making your business look professional. Give it a go!

Market Research

Have you ever conducted market research with your customers or potential customers? Customers like to be listened to (don’t we all!). Think carefully about the questions you might want to ask then use Survey Monkey to devise a survey. This is another free resource!

Image Optimisation

For reducing image sizes (and therefore speeding up websites), we like Image Resize.  It does the job and it’s free (what’s not to like!).

Please note some of these are “affiliate links”. This means that we get a small commission if you visit their webpage or sign up to their service (enough for a round of coffees not for a sports car). You don’t pay anymore. We recommend them because we use them – not because of the commission (but as they offer it we’re not going to refuse!). If you don’t want us to benefit then please type the relevant phrase into a search engine and access their site that way.

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