Regular readers of The People Side of the Business might be looking at the byline and asking, “Where’s Liz?!”

Well, I’m right here. And it’s my great pleasure to introduce you to Mara Woosley. Mara is an amazing virtual assistant — and person — with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working for a few years. She is going to be guest posting here once a month, to share insights and tips related to research, resources, and tools that make writing about HR easier.

And now, here’s Mara…

I think we can all agree that free is good, but good isn’t always free. Especially when it comes to online marketing tools. All too often, the free version of a great tool is only available for a few days, weeks, or is so limited it’s not helpful.

We’ve researched and found five tools that have free-forever plans that are really free, and really good. From graphics to CRMs, we’ve got you covered. We’ve also thrown in some great places to find free marketing ideas.

  1. Canva for graphics
  2. Grammarly for proofreading
  3. MailerLite for email campaigns
  4. Buffer Publish for social media scheduling
  5. HubSpot CRM and marketing tools


Canva graphics

Canva is a great free graphics tool that anyone can master. You’ll find pre-sized templates, stock photos, graphics, icons, stickers, and fonts to create anything from social media images to eBooks.

You can also work with videos, order prints, and edit photos in Canva. And if you want to upgrade, the Pro version is only around $12/month, so it probably won’t break the bank.

 Pro tip: If you’re looking for a more complex editor similar to Photoshop, check out Gimp.


Typos, misspellings and poor grammar make you look unprofessional. Protect your brand and marketing efforts by running all of your copy through Grammarly.

Your own personal online proofreader, Grammarly, will check for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors, make suggestions to improve your writing, and also review your writing tone. For example, do you want to come across as friendly, encouraging, forceful, or confident? Choose your intended tone, and Grammarly will let you know if you’ve hit the mark.

And Grammarly is easy to use. Upload documents to the app, copy-paste text into Grammarly, or use the Chrome extension to ensure your copy is error-free.

 Pro tip: Make sure you review Grammarly’s suggestions before accepting. It’s a great tool, but it’s not perfect. Always do a final review before sending your copy live.


MailerLite email marketing

Set up comprehensive email marketing campaigns with MailerLite for free, up to 1,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails a month. It’s super easy to learn and integrates well with WordPress.

Landing pages, forms, and pop-ups are easy to customize and look professional. In my opinion, MailerLite has a lot more options than most other free (and some paid) email marketing tools.

 Pro tip: When you’re ready to upgrade, plans start at just $10/month.

Buffer Publish

Buffer social media planner

Buffer has a suite of tools to help you manage your social media presence and reach. Their flagship program, Buffer Publish, is a social media scheduling tool that is intuitive and easy to use.

Connect three social accounts (except Pinterest) and schedule 10 posts at a time with the free version. If you want to add Pinterest, plans start at $12 per month when paid annually or $15 per month on the monthly plan.

 Pro tip: Buffer’s blog is full of research, insights, and tips for marketers and business owners.


Hubspot CRM

HubSpot is a leader in the online marketing world, and for good reason. In addition to a free-forever CRM and suites of other free marketing tools, they regularly publish in-depth research and top-notch insights on marketing best practices.

They also have tons of resources to help you learn how to use HubSpot. You can join communities, research blogs, use templates and even graduate from HubSpot Academy.

 Pro tip: HubSpot has dozens of free courses and certifications to make you a better marketer.

Get Started

We hope you find these free programs as helpful as we do! Even if you’re already using programs that you love, be sure to check out the blogs and other resources these companies offer. In addition to being good free online marketing tools, they offer a wealth of free marketing ideas you can use to grow your business.