Small business owners often have to wear many hats: boss, sales person, support, accountant, marketer, etc. These days, with the help of computer and Internet technology, it’s… um… easier and… uh… cheaper? …..um, mostly kinda sorta. Easier in the sense that the Internet provides a wealth of information resources for learning on your own. And cheaper in the sense that software can allow you to do a lot on your own, removing the need for expensive designers, marketers, or consultants. But, for those exact same reasons it’s harder and still expensive.
To do much of your own marketing you have to research how ads, websites, videos, blogs, etc are supposed to look, sound, move, and feel. You can learn this with all that extra time you have… you know… when you’re not running your business. Also, to build these these marketing materials you need software. This software doesn’t tend to be easy to use. But, we do it anyway.
If you’re wondering, the 4 basic types of software that are commonly used are:
- Graphic software to create and manipulate images.
- Desktop publishing software to create print and online ads, fliers, brochures, etc.
- Audio recording and editing software for podcasts, background music, etc.
- Video editing software for vlogging, commercials, infomercials, etc.
If you are a business owner who is trying to use all of the digital marketing options at your disposal, you probably want all of these types of software. Buying commercial, brand name versions of them can cost a lot of dollars. Using free or cheap versions typically results in under-performing software or software that imposes feature restrictions.
I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be that way.
Free, Powerful, and Feature Rich
If you’re going to do your own marketing and learn the complex world of graphic, audio, and video software, why pay hundreds (or thousands) of dollars to do it? Here are the best free, open-source versions of the aforementioned software types. Each of these run on Windows, Mac, and Linux, have robust support forums and communities for learning, and are as powerful as their commercial counterparts.
Creating and manipulating still graphics and photos is crucial to developing print and online ads, signs, brochures, fliers, and even videos. The Gimp is the free solution for all your graphic design needs. It has the full pallet of tools, filters, color correction, bells, and whistles. It also has a robust support community, wiki, and documentation.
Creating your own print documents can save you thousands. The free and open-source publishing software standard is Scribus. Scribus can do absolutely anything you need it to do: business cards, brochures, signs, fliers, envelops, and more. It also comes with a healthy selection of templates to get you started.
Audio Recording & Editing.
Recording and editing audio has some helpful applications for your marketing. Podcasting is still a thing. Creating audio versions of blogs is a good thing to do. Background music can be nice too. Our free digital audio workstation solution is Ardour. The selection of audio effect plugins is stunning.
Video logging (vlogging), commercials, Informational videos, and other such moving pictures can be great for business. The better they look and flow the better they are. Our pick for best free video software is Kdenlive. It’s a little heavy (requires more computer power than other options) but has a huge amount of features and is pretty straight forward.