Should You Choose Free Or Premium Tools?

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free or premium

When you start a new business you’ll discover you need several different tech tools. It is often difficult to decide which tools you need, and even harder to determine if you should use a free tool or a premium paid tool. In this article I give you my opinion of when you should use free and when you should use premium.

I hear many experts saying that you must use certain tools to grow your business. Often they are promoting tools that they are affiliates for and earn a commission. Or they promote tools that they use and are most comfortable with. This can be particularly bad in the wellness industry where many business owners are not tech savvy. 

For every tool that you use, give yourself some time to try it out. Try to make sure that it is the right tool for you for this time in your business. And understand that what your business needs may change. 

There are tools for every area of your business. And for just about every one of therm, you’ll have to choose between a free version and a paid version. Some areas you might need to look at are:

  • Website builders and themes
  • Email marketing platforms
  • Course platforms
  • Video conferencing
  • Accounting software
  • Social media scheduling
  • Appointment scheduling
  • Document storage
  • Business suites
  • Chat support
  • Payment processing
  • Project management
  • Landing page software
  • Team communications
  • Communities and forums

As you can see there are a lot of areas you could end up paying $10, $20 or even $100 a month. And the problem is many of these tools are set up for larger businesses than your one or two person business

free or premium tools

What do I mean by premium?

Almost every creator of business tools is in business to make money. They have various business models but the most common is to offer the use of tools for sale. Actually it is usually more of a rental in that you pay a monthly or yearly fee to use the tools. 

Some tools may offer a one time or lifetime fee. This can be a good option if you know that you will be using the tool for a long time. 

What about free?

Many companies that offer tools have a free version that is limited in functionality in some way. You might get a certain amount of users, or posts before you have to upgrade to the paid version.

What Tech Do You Need?

To Run A Successful Wellness Business

Free trials

Free trials give you the opportunity to try out the paid version for a short amount of time. Often you will get registered for a free trial when you think you are just signing up for the free version and then you quickly end up losing the features unless you pay, so beware.

When should you choose premium?

As you can see from the above list, there can be a lot of places that you can spend money every month. So here are a few guidelines for choosing premium options.

  • The premium option will save you time. This only applies if you are actually making money with your time.
  • The premium option will save you money in the long run
  • You have taken the free version or free trial for a test ride and know that this product is right for your business
  • It will make your business look more professional. But be careful with this, Most clients will have no idea if you are paying for a service you are using in the backend of your business. 
  • There is no free option available
  • Converting to the paid version will be extremely expensive or time consuming
  • Your business is a side hustle and the paid tool will save you time that you don’t have

When should you choose free?

I used to feel guilty about using the free version of so many products, until I realized how many people signed up for my free challenges, and free guides. Now I use many free products and services and only upgrade to paid when I feel it’s necessary.

I often hear that you should start with the services you think your business will need in the long run. And the reason I usually hear is that it’s too time consuming to change. One example I often hear is that you should choose an email marketing platform like Active Campaign or Convert Kit. Active Campaign doesn’t offer a free version beyond a 2 week trial and ConvertKit has a free version which is very limited in functionality. 

A platform like Mailerlite or MailChimp has a free version to a certain number of users. Both have some limitations but the platforms are very useable. And if you do decide to upgrade you may wish to stick to Mailerlite or Mailchimp. Even if you were to move to another platform they often will do the conversion for you. The cost may be free or would likely be less than what you would’ve cost to use the paid version. For more information on starting your email list check out this post.

You should use the free version when

  • you can easily upgrade to the paid version when you need to
  • The cost of conversion is less than what you will save by using the free version
  • You don’t have the systems in place to take advantage of the premium version
  • The free version meets your needs right now


My favourite free tools are:

Mailerlite

For email marketing I feel that Mailerlite offers the best free plan there is. You can have up to 1000 subscribers on the free plan and they don’t have very many limitations. There paid plans are also some of the cheapest in the industry. They have a few limitations compared to a few of the premium options, but I feel they are one of the best options for email.

MemberVault

MemberVault is where I host my programs, ebooks and free products for my wellness business. I think they are one of the best platforms for user engagement. They have a generous free plan of 100 users. This gives you a good time to try out the platform before you commit to a paid plan. 

Trello

Trello is a great tool for organizing your business, your programs and your life. Especially if you are just getting started with digital tools, Trello is a good place to start.

Summary

I don’t buy the idea that you have to start with the paid version for every tool you use. There are some tools that you will likely have to pay for, but there are also some very good free alternatives. Really think about how the paid tool will help your business and don’t just decide because some expert told you that you needed to use that tool if you wanted your business to grow.

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