If anything, you should start with free tools when you start a business (upgrade when it makes business sense).
Any business. Be it a regular startup, an eCommerce store, a digital product store, your online course front, or even when you are selling services.
I am a huge advocate of starting for free. Spending less (invest more, elsewhere).
Buying marketing products, investing in online course platforms, and so on could soon spiral out of control.
It’s all good as long as you make a “profit”. If you aren’t, however, it’s a slippery slope.
What’s the fun in pouring thousands of dollars on a bunch of ideas (which will eventually become your products, of course)? What if it doesn’t work? Why should you commit before anything works for you?
Using free marketing stack tools to sell online courses and digital products has several good reasons. Here are some of them:
Validation Ideas For Free (with Just Some Effort)
The overarching ethos when it comes to most startups is usually like this:
- Build an MVP (for no cost), validate the idea, gather the pulse.
- See some interest? Are social media networks already trending with your hashtag? Awesome, maybe you are on to something.
- Ask for actual feedback. Get inputs. Make changes (if needed).
That’s all there is to launch a startup (there’s more, but I aim to simplify).
Swap out “startup” with your own “online courses” or “memberships” or “coaching programs”, or “selling eBooks” ideas.
You could follow the exact path to validation as well.
The only question is: Why should you be spending on Shopify (for physical eCommerce stores), Kajabi (for courses), or anything else for that matter?
Let’s assume that it’ll take 2 yrs to make sales (enough sales to matter).
Do you really want to keep paying for a bunch of marketing tools, online course platforms, email marketing tools, landing page builders, and maybe even paid ads — all without a single sale to show for it?
Even worse, would you want to do this even without knowing if there’s a demand for your online courses or digital products?
Think about it
Thousands Saved, Before Thousands (or more) Are Made
In the same line of thinking (above) — and assuming that you don’t have your products ready yet (online courses, digital products, or anything else) — let’s see what you’ll end up spending (just off the top of my head):
Let’s just say you were considering Kajabi for online courses. Why? I don’t know.
You didn’t validate yet. You don’t have proof that your courses are in demand. Never made any sales yet.
Now, the Kajabi Pricing (basic plan, monthly option) will run up a bill of $1788 per year. How do you justify this?
Do the math. Don’t go for paid products until you learn the ropes of profiting from a business (not just starting, launching).
Upgrade When You Can Back It Up [With Real Numbers]
By real numbers, I mean sales, revenue, and profits.(not some kind of addictive social flexing where you just go ra ra ra and have nothing to show for it).
Also, none of the vanity metrics matter here. Things like just how insanely popular you are on Twitter or LinkedIn or YouTube.
Or vain things like views, likes, followers.
I hope you are not like that?
Start with the free tools. Get results. Upgrade to paid tools that give you more power.
How does that look like, in real life?
You don’t need fancy project management tools when you are just starting off selling services. Use Stripe to create payment links and sell.
Validate your eCommerce store idea with a Shopify free plan first. You can also use several free tools from Shopify for various purposes such as business name generation, domain name check, and even to help create your new logo.
Upgrade when you make actual sales.
Start with free email marketing tools such as Convertkit or Mailchimp to start with. If your audience grows, it then makes sense to upgrade to their respective paid plans.
Learn to build landing pages for free using WordPress. See how landing pages boost your conversions and get you results. That’s when you upgrade to full-fledged landing page builders and lead management systems that Unbounce, Leadpages, and Instapage provide.
The key is this: Start Free. At least start cheap. Upgrade later.
What do you think?