Marketing

8 Free SaaS Productivity Apps That Have Changed How I Work

These are eight of my favorite free apps that have helped me automate my job over the past 12 months and go home early.

Matt Pliszka Matt Pliszka on June 15, 2018 • 7 minute read

If there is a job to be done, chances are, there’s a SaaS application to help.

Project management. CRM. Email. SEO. Content marketing. Cold calling. There is literally a software solution for everything.

And while many of them offer free tials, or a freemium plan of some sort, if you’re a freelancer of working for a startup you’re looking for tools that can help you be more productive and efficient on a budget.

You can find numerous free applications promising to save time and resources, but today I’m going to share eight of my favorite free apps that have helped me automate my job over the past 12 months and go home early.

Here they are, broken down by the job to be done…

Design, without becoming a professional designer

Drawing has always been my flaw and I was really surprised to learn that while becoming a professional designer would take me ages, it’s not that difficult to create fancy social media and blog graphics by yourself.

Using apps like Stencil or Canva, you can start with numerous pre-defined templates and customize them, depending on your preferences.

Even better, you can customize the size of your graphics/posts, depending on your social media channel, which means no more problems with uploading the distorted picture to your social media.

Canva vs. Stencil

With Canva, you might need to pay individually for particular design elements like graphics/icons, while with Stencil, you could get unlimited access to the full Stencil product.

Scheduling social media posts in advance

Sharing newly discovered stuff on Twitter has been one of my favorite things recently. It’s been quite great to share content I’ve researched and discovered with my current audience and to see more and more interested followers.

And while instant sharing is great, I like to share something every day. With an app like Buffer, I can plan and schedule my posts on different social media channels in advance. I can easily spend one day planning some of my posts in advance so that my followers can get something from me every day.

Thanks to Buffer, I also find it easy to analyze the performance/reach of my posts, so I can easily re-tweet the most popular posts.

Buffer TIP!

Install the Buffer Chrome/Safari extension, to quickly share any content you see, directly from your web browser.

Connecting quickly via video chat, using one link

I’ve been using Skype for years for video conversations. It’s always been quite a nice way to connect quickly, however with time, I’ve noticed it takes awhile to turn on the app, add new people to my contact list and create a group for team conversation.

With Appear.in, I’m able to send just one simple link, letting all the participants connect with one simple clickthrough a web browser. No application installed on my computer.

It also allows me to share my screen with chat’s participants and communicate using text/emoticons.

Appear.in TIP!

You can easily lock the room so that new participants will be prevented from joining without your permission.

Monitor and manage projects with customizable project stages

When working on your own, you probably have everything in your head. There is no need to write down the stages and progress of your work because you can remember everything. As you start to work with others, your team or your clients, you’d probably discover the need to share the progress and manage the process in one place.

From a bunch of free SaaS tools for project management, choose the simplest one to have your project structured in the easiest way possible. Trello is a project management app, focused on providing you with the simple structure to handle the stages and progress of your projects.

In Trello, you can also assign team members responsible for particular tasks and set specific deadlines.

Project management tip!

Connect your project management application with other applications, like Google Drive, which will let you sync between different workplaces and communicate with your team better.

Collect your visitors’ email addresses with discrete pop-ups

Having a visitor browsing through your website is quite a nice feeling. You know that somebody is using the product or service you created in a beneficial way for his/her life or business. At the same time, it’s your unique chance to build a relationship with the person interested in your product/service.

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Everybody hates pop-ups. Who even enters their email address in those giant windows asking you for your personal data?

However, a pop-up does not need to be large and interruptive. With Sumo, you can set up a really discrete slider, prompting your visitor for their email, at the same time providing him/her with some additional benefit, e.g. eBook.

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It also allows you to connect to your mailing automation software, letting you add the email addresses automatically to your newsletter mailing list.

Sumo tip!

Connect Sumo with Woodpecker to automatically add prospects to the automated, personalized email + follow-up sequence.

Send newsletters and automated mailing campaigns to your subscribers

Once you collect your visitor’s information from a website, you need to do something with it. And while it’s worthwhile to limit the usage and storage of the data in the days of GDPR, you should still gently communicate your offer to potential customers.

With applications like MailChimp or GetResponse, you can easily divide your subscribers into mailing lists and send targeted, well-designed campaigns.

MailChimp allows you to also set up automated mailing campaigns, which trigger particular mailing/stages, depending on the receiver’s activity.

Mailing Automation tip!

Schedule your newsletter mailing at max twice per week. You do not want to look spammy to your users/subscribers.

Create your own, publicly available website, with simple drag and drop editor

Setting up a website 10 years ago was quite a challenge. You’d need an IT specialist, who would know coding, server infrastructure, and design to set things up. The process lasted a long time and let’s face it, the results were often far from our expectations.

Today, with software like WIX or Weebly, you can easily create a website on your own, for free. Just set up your account and start editing already pre-defined templates to match your brand’s style. Still, if you’re working with a professional developer, it still might just be an effective tool to communicate your vision of the website.

With WIX, you can connect your own domain purchased individually and within the app’s interface or set up the website on the Wixsite domain if you don’t want to pay for the premium plan.

WIX tip!

Connect your WIX website to other additional services like LiveChat, to communicate with your visitors and manage your company in one place.

Manage your leads/contacts/marketing in one place

Storing contacts on your iPhone has always been an obvious habit. Every time, when you receive a new contact, just store it in your phone, so that you can remember and reach out to the particular person later on. But scheduling different calls in a calendar is quite a difficult and inefficient job…

CRM applications have been known for being quite expensive and intensive to set-up. But today, in the days of SaaS technology, solutions like Hubspot CRM or Salesflare let you manage your contacts and activities in one place, with some of them offering it completely for free.

Hubspot CRM also lets you analyze the performance of your sales and marketing.

CRM tip!

To make use of your free CRM system, you need to actually use it within your team. Put every new contact and track all the activities within your Hubspot or Pipedrive CRM.


Track all your HubSpot CRM metrics in real-time with the HubSpot CRM Basics dashboard


Modern workspace for free?

Today, SaaS technology is so easily accessible. It’s extremely easy to automate a significant part of your daily work, with zero budget.

Starting with free applications is worth a try and as your business and your team grow, you can always switch to more advanced premium plans when you want to improve your SaaS metrics more quickly.

Still, if you start using many different applications, you will face a problem of duplicate information. Today, however, you can easily exchange data and trigger specific actions between tools using software like Zapier or PieSync. Start using the apps, connect them and automate your workflow to grow your business faster.

If you want more detail on how to choose a SaaS app, check out picksaas.com.

About the author
Matt Pliszka
Matt Pliszka I’m a SaaS and cloud technology passionate, helping grow businesses using the best software products.
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