Every day our brains flow with ideas and dreams of building something big. At some point, we believe our next big idea will change the world, if only we had the time, the money and the resources to make it happen.
Fortunately, we live in an era where creating a minimal viable product (MVP) is achievable thanks to open source, free software and access to free learning. Unfortunately, most of us don’t know what's out there, so today I want to share with you the tools that saved me thousands of dollars to help you start the journey of making your vision a reality.
The Basics of Web Development
Building a basic website is relatively simple. It can be done inexpensively and in a surprisingly short amount of time. To get started, get familiar with the very basics of web development and the services that will allow you to build robust applications for free (or very cheap).
To really get started
Codeacademy has been one of my favorite learning tools for web development. They offer simple and actionable courses for free starting at the dummy stage. If you spend a solid week on these courses you should master all you need to know at the beginner level. For additional ad-hoc help and ideas use W3Schools or step-by-step guides from HTML Dog.
Once you understand the foundations of web development, you'll be overwhelmed with the resources available — you won’t know what to learn first. I love this video. It walks you through the universe of tools to be familiar with as you take off with your project. It’s slightly dated (2016) but still super relevant for those starting up.
Or get the work done for you!
Once you've got the basics down, go to ThemeForest, and you'll find that everything you ever thought of is already built and available for free or very cheap. ThemeForest is a marketplace of fully developed websites, html templates, landing pages and themes for products like Drupal and Joomla. Other resources to keep in mind are Squarespace and WordPress.
Or really really get the work done for you – for 5 bucks
Another great resource for growth hacking is Fiverr. You can get almost anything you want done for only five bucks. Simple websites, professional videos, voiceovers, Facebook marketing campaigns, you name it! It's freelance, on demand.
Now Let’s Get Intelligent, AI Intelligent
AI and machine learning is pretty scary for nontechies. Techies love this, because it keeps people out of the space, but just like everything else there's a large number of free learning and open source software that allows you to quickly get started without spending thousands of dollars on a data scientist. MonkeyLearn is a great example of leveraging a free plan to run text analytics and automate manual processes. This article by Shashank Chaudhary takes you a little deeper.
Now Sell It!
Marketing is tough, but thanks to free and inexpensive tools anyone can have access to great marketing creative and campaigns. I’ll pull back Fiverr to get you started, but try Biteable for easy video creation, Vidiq to improve traffic on your YouTube account and free CRM (Customer Relationship Management) from HubSpot to manage your current and prospective clients. If you need access to free, high-quality photos (as most marketers do) try PikWizard. Their sister site, DesignWizard, let's you create stunning social media and print designs from the photos you find.
How About Social?
Hootsuite allows you to manage three social profiles in one place, schedule 30 posts in advance and generate leads with social contests — all with a free account. Buffer has similar capabilities but presents a few different options, and if you want to go twitter try TweetDeck.
Want more? Of course you do. Luckily, the list is endless. Start with these 400+ awesome free things for entrepreneurs and startups.