As a solo entrepreneur, when you first start to sell your products and services online, it’s hard to know where to begin with sales & marketing. How do you know which ones are right for you with so many sales & marketing tools and platforms out there? Which ones do you need? When should you start paying for your CRM? Which are the best sales & marketing tools for solopreneurs? Which are better for small businesses?
This article breaks down some of the tools I use as part of my sales and marketing pipeline and explains when you should go with free services and when you should invest money in sales & marketing tools for solopreneurs.
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Why use Free Sales & Marketing Tools as a Solopreneur?
Use free tools wherever you can, for as long as you can. If there’s a free service/plan that provides the level of service you need, why not use it! Many of the tools I utilise are on a “freemium” business model, so they offer the most basic service for free and then all me to upgrade to paid services as my needs grow. Many great tools offer free plans for single users; these are perfect for Solopreneurs.
When it comes to paying for your sales & marketing platforms, I recommend only paying for those tools that provide added value to your offering and result in a return on investment. Where possible, use a service that provides value through its range of functionality and use the minimum level of service you require. Some plans and services offer a great range of functionality, but if you don’t use it all, that tool could better serve you on a lower price plan with only the services you need and use. Do your research and speak to the sales team; sometimes, you can negotiate a better deal than the list price.
Tools to Enhance Your Sales & Marketing Strategy
Hubspot’s free CRM means you can ditch all those spreadsheets to manage your sales pipeline and log sales activity. It’ll even connect with Gmail or Outlook to track the emails you send to your leads and customers.
When you’re nurturing leads to convert them to clients, a CRM like HubSpot can help you close more deals with less work and remove friction from your sales process. HubSpot provides marketing automation, prospect tracking, live chat, meeting scheduling, and that’s just within the free CRM!
Hubspot’s free CRM also includes the option to manage two ad accounts (Facebook Ads and/or Google Ads). You can create and monitor your ads and audiences within your HubSpot dashboard and manage the leads generated by those ads.
Price: Free, Various paid packages are also available.
Mailerlite – Email Marketing Platform
Mailerlite provides the best email marketing automation tools on a budget. Mailerlite’s free forever plan allows up to 1,000 subscribers with functionality including forms, landing pages and automation.
When you sign up, be sure you have an active website or social media profile to show how you will be gathering email subscribers. You will also be what you intend to use the software for; this is so that Mailerlite can verify you are a real person with honest intentions and not a spammer.
I’ve been using Mailerlite for two years now, and I love it. It’s super easy to use; it works great with WordPress (and Elementor). Mailerlite offers an easy to use drag-n-drop email builder, so making your emails is a breeze. It accepts an RSS feed, which means I’ve been able to automate sending out my new blog posts each week.
Calendly – Scheduling made easy
Calendly has made it super easy for new clients to grab time in my schedule, a time that suits them. The back and forth “Does 2:30 pm work for you?” “Can we make it 3:00 pm?” is reduced to a few clicks. Calendly not only connects to my calendar so it when I’m available, and when I’m busy, it also allows me to limit my working hours to the days and times I want.
I love that I can set up multiple calendars with different availabilities for each; a calendar for discovery calls with potential new clients and a calendar for my existing clients to meet regarding ongoing projects. My clients love that they can always find scheduled times based on what works for both of us without all the back and forth or having to expose our calendars.
Each calendar has a unique link that you can include in your emails, web pages and even embed your calendar (like I have on my contact page). You can also share a personal link that provides a choice of appointment types to book. Great if you want to offer different lengths of appointments; 15min, 30 min, etc.
Price: Free Basic plan, Paid plans start at $8 per month.
Stripe – The go-to platform for handling online payments
If you want to make paying online easy for you and your customers, then Stripe is the go-to payment platform. It integrates with so many online platforms from site builders like Wix and Squarespace to e-commerce plugins such as Woocommerce and email marketing tools like Mailerlite. If you’re charging for your time, clients can pay for their coaching calls and consultations when they book with the Calendly x Stripe integration.
Stripe handles all payment types, from debit cards to credit cards, Google Pay and Apple Pay. It has integrated per-transaction pricing with no hidden fees.
Price: Free to get setup. Only pay when you get paid! Per transaction fee: 20p + 1.4% (or 2.9% dependent on card type)
Grammarly – Excellent Spelling and Grammar, Always!
Before you schedule any emails, marketing or sales, always proofread multiple times. Spelling and grammar can be a real bugbear for some people, and some people can lose trust over the smallest of things, especially if they feel you’ve not put in the effort to check for mistakes.
Grammarly is more than just a spell checker; it checks spelling, grammar, clarity, tone of voice and also has a plagiarism checker. The free plan allows using the spelling and grammar checkers. The premium plan brings the full suite of checks, and as an annual premium plan user, it’s worth every cent! I recently achieved the 97-week streak, looking forward to 100 weeks!
Being a total geek, I also love the reports Grammarly sends me telling me how many words I’ve checked recently, what my common mistakes are and what tone of voice I use most often.
Price: Free Basic Plan, Premium $12 per month
Tailwind – Pinterest Scheduling Tool
Whether you offer a product or service, there will be someone searching for it on Pinterest. Widely misunderstood by many, Pinterest is not a social media platform; it’s a visual search engine. Having a presence on Pinterest is as crucial as getting your website SEO right.
Pinterest can be a huge traffic driver for e-commerce stores, blogs and business sites. Using a tool like Tailwind can help you grow and automate this source of traffic. I sit down for a couple of hours once a week to create and add pins to Tailwind, then I let it do all the hard work for me.
Tailwind can also handle all your Instagram posts, helping you schedule them in advance and showing you what your feed will look like in advance, great for planning out that perfect looking grid. Tailwind also has a great tool for creating your Pinterest and Instagram posts: Tailwind Create.
Price: The Plus plan starts at $9.99; use my link to get a 100 pin trial with no credit card required (and no time limit)
Canva – Design Tool for Non-Designers
Canva is a graphic design platform, used to create social media graphics, presentations, posters, documents and other visual content. The web (and mobile) based app allows those with no/limited graphic design experience to create their own sales and marketing materials with the help of pre-designed templates, ready to go graphical elements, colour schemes and more.
You can also create designs from scratch if you’re looking for something more unique and the cost is a fraction of other popular design tools on the market (such as Adobe or Affinity)
Canva is perfect for the Solopreneur to save time and money on producing custom-designed materials when first starting out and/or having a limited budget.
Price: Free Plan Available, use my affiliate link to get a 30 day trial of Canva Pro (usually £10.99)
Other Recommended Tools
If you just want the most basic email tool integrated directly within your WordPress dashboard, then Mailpoet is the one for you. This WordPress plugin has everything you need to send out simple updates and messages to your subscribers and customers. All your subscriber management is handled within your WordPress dashboard, and it even has a basic drag and drop email editor.
WP Mail SMTP by WPForms (Improve deliverability)
If you’re using Mailpoet or an e-commerce plugin that sends transactional emails from your WordPress site, WP Mail SMTP will ensure your emails get delivered using the email address of your choice, with no more bounces or spam filter issues.
Price: Free; some mail integrations require a paid subscription.
Convertkit (Email marketing platform for creators)
Get Help With Your Sales & Marketing Setup
If you need help implementing any of these tools into your sales and marketing pipeline, let’s chat and see how I can help you get started.
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