When you’re a small business owner on a tight budget, every little bit saved counts. Chloe Brittain, owner of Opal Transcription, shares her top tips, tools, and services for cutting costs in your small business.

1. Use HARO for free PR

One of my favourite services for getting free PR is HARO (Help a Reporter Out). Small business owners can sign up as a “source” with HARO and receive daily emails with requests from journalists and bloggers for story ideas. Even if you don’t consider yourself an expert at anything, you might be surprised how many queries you can respond to. Successful pitches will earn your company a mention and, in most cases, a link to your website, giving you an SEO boost.

Most HARO queries can be answered entirely by email. Here are a few tips to keep in mind to help you land as many pitches as possible:

  • Monitor your inbox closely for the daily emails from HARO, because the quicker you can respond to inquiries, the more likely your pitch will be seen among the tens or hundreds of others.
  • Editors of top-quality publications don’t have time to edit poorly written content, so thoroughly proofread your pitch before hitting send.
  • Don’t forget to include your name, title, website link, and professional headshot.
Cost Cutting Tips for Small Business

2. Create graphics using Canva and free stock photography

When it comes to creating content for marketing and advertising campaigns – social media graphics, advertisements, custom blog images, etc. – I have found Canva to be a huge money saver. With its drag-and-drop interface, professional-looking templates, and attractive font combinations, this free tool is easy for non-graphic designers to use.

Canva sells high-quality stock photos that you can add to your designs for a small fee, or you can upload your own photos for free. The following sites are good sources of beautiful, high-quality free stock photos:

These sites have a wide selection of images that you can use commercially without attribution. This means the photographer or content creator has given permission for people to use and/or edit the images – whether in blog posts, advertisements, print collateral, or social media – without adding a credit stating where the photo originated from. (That said, you should always double-check the usage license that comes with any photo you download, just in case you’ve clicked on one of the premium photos that are often advertised on these websites.)

3. Use your blog as a recruiting tool

Most of the well-known job search engines, like LinkedIn Jobs, Monster, and CareerBuilder, are cost-prohibitive for small businesses, typically starting at a few hundred dollars to post a job. Fortunately, your blog can be your best tool for recruiting qualified staff or freelancers, particularly for remote positions.

For example, my business blog features several audio transcription tips and tutorials, and I regularly receive applications from transcriptionists who came across one of my posts on social media or in a Google search. Because there’s less competition in the search results for general informational blog posts than webpages targeting a product or service, I don’t have to do a lot of extra SEO work to get those posts discovered.

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Here are a couple of tips for optimizing your blog posts for search engines:

  • Use a free keyword tool, such as Ubersuggest or Ahrefs Keyword Generator, to come up with commonly searched phrases. These tools provide an estimate of how competitive a keyword is in the unpaid search results.
  • Include your keyword phrase and variations of it throughout your content, as well as in the title of the blog post, URL, subheadings, and “alternative text” of images, where applicable. However, be careful not to over-use keywords! They should appear naturally, where it makes sense to readers.

4. Save on web development fees with a WordPress-powered website

The days of the static HTML site are mostly over. Today, most business websites – from brands like Disney to small businesses like your local dog-sitting service – are powered by content management systems, WordPress being the most popular of these. The WordPress software itself is free and open-source. In fact, it’s possible to set up a fully functional WordPress website with just the cost of domain registration and web hosting (a few bucks a month).

What sets WordPress apart from other content management systems is its huge database of free themes and plugins, which you can add to make your site look and perform however you want it to. With a few clicks, you can add almost any feature or functionality to your site, making lots of fun experimentation possible. Here’s just a sample of the things you can do with plugins:

  • Show off your Google reviews on your website
  • Change a basic website into an online store or add an online forum
  • Add custom signup forms that integrate with your email marketing service
  • Install a drag-and-drop page builder that gives you complete control over the look of every page on your site
  • Protect your site from malware and hackers

If your website already does everything you’ll ever need it to do, there’s no need to switch to WordPress. But if you often find yourself wishing you could try out a new feature you’ve seen on your competitors’ sites, you may want to consider making the switch. (If you don’t have a business website yet, you can learn more about getting started with WordPress here.)

Many developers today specialize in working with WordPress sites and making them look and function great, so if you have the cash for it, this is worth looking into. But if you’re on a tight budget and you want the flexibility and control that a WordPress site offers, it’s nice to know you have the lower-cost option of building and managing your site yourself. WordPress is easy enough for non-techies to use, and if you really don’t have the time or inclination to learn your way around the dashboard, you can always hire a student to make updates to your site for you.

Cost Cutting Tips for Small Business

I hope this post has given you some ideas for cutting costs in the areas of marketing, hiring, and technology for your small business. Since many small business costs recur monthly or yearly, making a few tweaks can make a big difference.