Building a marketing strategy with little to no budget?
Use this list of free and low-cost tools to put together a plan. Just make sure to keep your specific marketing goals at the forefront.
Brand collaborations can give you access to new audiences and resources. Find the right partners, outline expectations, and track goals.
$27K in revenue in two months. Donald Ng used the power of AppSumo and subscriptions to land paying customers quickly.
Want to grow your business? Try running a promo in the Indie Hackers newsletter to get in front of nearly 70,000 founders. Use code NEW500 for $500 off an intro section ad.
Free Tools to Market Your Business 🛠
As a one-person marketing team for a B2B SaaS with a very limited budget, I've had to get creative when it comes to marketing my startup products.
Here are the free and low-cost tools I've used to reach customers!
- Google Analytics: Free.
Sheets for marketers for templates: Free.
- Smartsheet for reporting templates (more business): Free.
- Typeform for customer feedback: Free.
- Google Search Console: Free.
Keyword Insights for content planning: $58 per month.
SimilarWeb for analysis: Free.
AlsoAsked for keyword research: Three free searches per day.
- ContentKing: Free trial, affordable subscription.
A tool that's free, but often forgotten, is Google itself!
Use incognito mode to search your terms and competitors. Gather a list of top-ranking content and additional queries from the "Also Searched" section. This strategy can be used for finding keywords and getting inspiration.
Visily for page design: Free plan.
- Figma for design: Free plan.
- Google PageSpeed Insights: Free.
XML sitemap for sitemaps: Free.
Please note that these tools are helpful for marketing-related website tasks, not necessarily creating the website itself.
Spectacle for video: Product demos and tutorials, free plan.
- Buffer for social media content: Free plan.
- Google Optimize for A/B testing: Free.
- Deepl for translating: Free(ish).
TinyWow for image sizing: Free.
Bitly for URL shortening: Free plan.
I won’t go into the obvious mentions of AI tools, like ChatGPT and Bard, but I will caution against relying on these if you want high-quality, original content.
- Figma for design: Free plan.
- Canva for social: Free plan.
MySignature for email branding: Free plan.
Social media accounts are tricky. Yes, they are free, but stick to the ones where you know your audience hangs out. Reddit is great for finding your audience, but should mostly be used for community building, not advertising.
Promotion, referrals, and reviews
- Google: Free.
- Gartner, Capterra, and Software Advice: Free(ish).
- G2: Free(ish).
- Indie Hackers.
- Product Hunt.
Most review sites require a subscription to get promoted. However, even without a subscription, they can be useful for showing credibility, search visibility, and getting reviews.
My favorites right now
Right now, my favorite tools have been Spectacle and Visily.
I spent a lot of time at my last startup trying to make video content for our knowledge base, and Spectacle has been amazing for that.
Visily has awesome templates that I’ve been able to mix and match to create sections on my websites.
You don't necessarily need a big budget. Use this list of tools to piece together a strategy. The most important thing, especially when it comes to free tools, is to make them fit within your own marketing goals!
Discuss this story.
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How to Plan a Brand Collaboration 🤝
by Thomas Griffin
Planning a brand collaboration may be daunting, especially for founders who are just starting out with them.
Here are a few easy steps to get you started!
Know what you want
Define and set your goals clearly. You should have a clear idea of what you want from a collaboration, to minimize potential conflicts down the line.
Find the right partners
The next step is identifying the best partners for the collaboration. This requires extensive research, and leveraging your network to find the right partners.
The goal here is to find brands whose values and goals align with yours.
It's best to send an email or make a call to discuss the proposal first.
This will help you shortlist potential partners based on what they have to offer, and their level of interest.
Make it official
Draft an agreement that clearly states the terms and conditions of the collaboration, and outlines the expectations of the parties involved.
Devise a plan
Your goal here is to stand out from the competition in your respective industry, and get more eyeballs on your product.
Define key deliverables, a timeline, and expected outcomes. Create a to-do list, splitting objectives into tasks that are to be performed by each party.
Whether you announce new products, plan marketing campaigns, create content together, promote your solutions, or host events, all tasks supporting the collaboration should be clearly listed.
This step also covers the allocation of resources. When you collaborate with a brand, you get to leverage the resources of your partner, and vice versa.
It's important to keep tracking your progress throughout.
When you track your progress, it becomes easier to identify what's working and what isn't. Gather the data, and assess it against your KPIs.
Also, make it a priority to maintain a good relationship with your partner(s) in the long run! This can help open the door to future successful collaborations.
Discuss this story.
In the News 📰
$27K in Two Months With a Second Startup 💪
by Donald Ng
As a solo tech founder, I worked on Howuku, my side project, back in 2019. I later turned it into a full-time startup in 2020.
I didn't really know what I was doing. I was too shy to talk to customers, and I really believed in "build it and they will come." Here's what changed my mind.
For the first 24 months, I kept building one feature after another. I now realize that was a form of procrastination. I was feeling good about myself every time I posted the product on Indie Hackers and got praised for it.
I got my first paying customer after 12 months of building the product. It was my first sweet internet dollar, and the customer was paying for our highest tier. Then, it took us about another 12 months to break the $1K MRR mark.
Now, Howuku is growing on its own organically, and most signups come from SEO and word-of-mouth, with pretty decent conversion rates.
About three months ago, I started Mida.so, an A/B testing tool. I decided to build it after Google Optimize announced that it was sunsetting in September.
First month: Built the MVP, and tried to get as many new users to test it out as possible. Pretty rough product, but it worked. I reused a lot of components from Howuku.
Second month: Launched on AppSumo, mainly for product feedback and actual users. The campaign ran for a month, and we made $17K in revenue.
Third month: Closed our first few customers and reached $10K ARR within 30 days after the AppSumo campaign (you can't really sell subscriptions during the campaign).
The product is nowhere near perfect, but we are making progress! My advice is to just launch and make sales. You can improve the product later on.
What I learned
- Get to the market faster. Make sales. Don't add another new feature.
- You don't have a business without sales and marketing, no matter how good your product is.
- Learn SEO, learn SEM, learn to build in public, or whatever works for you. Just be consistent!
- No customers? It is not because you don't have feature X, Y, or Z. It is because you are not reaching out and selling to the right person.
- Selling to everyone equals selling to no one. Who is your target audience? Be very specific about it!
- Talk to your customers.
Discuss this story.
The Tweetmaster's Pick 🐦
by Tweetmaster Flex
I post the tweets indie hackers share the most. Here's today's pick:
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Special thanks to Jay Avery for editing this issue, to Gabriella Federico for the illustrations, and to Jas, Darko, Thomas Griffin, and Donald Ng for contributing posts. —Channing
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