23 March 2020
As COVID-19 continues to spread, there's nothing more important to us than the well-being of our clients and team members.
In support of small businesses everywhere and to help keep business going, we've compiled free products, resources and tools that we use to work from home successfully.
Skype - collaboration and internal communication
Let us start by saying that we’ve been using this for over a decade and we love it. Yes, there’s Zoom and Boom and whatever else, but Skype has been our tried and true and carried us through multiple business launches, pregnancies and maternity leaves, international travel, side hustles – you name it. You can video conference up to 50 people on one call, you can screen share, call for free on skype or significantly reduced rates on landlines, cell phones and international numbers –– and best of all, it’s free and reliable. Bonus - you can now blur your background on your video, which is nice if you’re working from home and your home is a disaster.
FreeConferenceCall.com - collaboration and communication
We’ve also been using this product for years now and just like their name suggests, it’s free. You can create an account and then get assigned a call-in number and user passcode that you can hand out to team members, clients, vendors, etc. and add it to your calendar invites so everyone can call in from different locations or from the road. There’s no internet connection required. Full disclosure: since the “stay at home” order, there have been some glitches and hiccups with the service because of the influx of users, but overall it’s been very reliable. They have a cool feature where you can record the call as well.
Trello - collaboration, project management and your sanity
Trello has been a lifesaver for us working remotely –– to keep us on the same page, to organize our deadlines, client feedback and input, as well as internal communication about projects. It’s a free project management tool that’s also very visual for our art director and designer friends. You can drag and drop your jobs to different lists and assign them to people on your team, which also notifies them via push notification and email (if they have the app installed on their phones). There’s a bit of a learning curve to take advantage of all of their features and efficiencies, but just getting started with the basics will make your life so much easier and everyone you collaborate with too.
MailChimp - organized and designed eblast templates
Given that this situation is extremely fluid and things are changing by the hour, communication with customers and clients is critical. We use MailChimp to collect email addresses (you can import them into MailChimp if you’ve never used a third party eblast system before). The free service includes up to 2,000 contacts and 10,000 sends per month, with a daily send limit of 2,000. After that you pay as your list and sends increase, but it’s reasonable while you’re still small. They also have nicely designed templates and automation features that are free. This service manages your list for you to handle bounced emails, duplicates and unsubscribes. If you’re sending to more than 5 contacts, you really should use a third party marketing service like this.
Hootsuite - social media management
Let’s face it, you didn’t have a social media contingency plan in place for emergencies did you? And now that you’re trying to get some messaging out there, you’re scrambling to try to find your logins to all your accounts so you can post the same message across platforms. We use Hootsuite to manage all of our accounts and clients’ accounts and post to all platforms with a single draft-and-send effort. It’s free, but make sure you google “free hootsuite account” to find it because they hide it now. This will save you so much time and frustration.
We are up and running so your business can stay up and running — and so you can reach your customers and they can connect with you. We’re also WFH veterans and are here to help, so reach out if you need help setting up any of these services and systems.
Please take care of yourself and your loved ones. Stay safe. Stay healthy. There’s no better time to work on yourself, your business, or your side hustle.
Let’s do this together.