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Some of the best gifts I've received are ones that didn't look like much at first, but they ultimately saved me a lot of precious time or money. I was admittedly underwhelmed when I opened a measurement magnet from my work secret santa a few years back, but I've used that thing more than any of the fancy, expensive kitchen gadgets that are currently collecting dust in my cupboards.

In the spirit of the holiday season, here are some free and low-cost marketing tools and resources that will give back all year round. (I also added a few stocking stuffers - my favorite blogs and podcast for life in general.)

CONTENT MARKETING & INBOUND

HubSpot - Blog & Tools
Even if you're not running their automation software, HubSpot is an essential resource for anyone working in marketing. In addition to their extensive informative blogs, they also produce useful tools and templates, like the on-site SEO grader for quick SEO health check-ups.

Marketo - Blog
Another marketing automation software with a killer blog series. I love the simplicity of their cheat sheets - they're like CliffsNotes for marketing professionals!

Moz - Blog & Forum
Handy blog for the latest SEO news, tips, and tricks. If you're looking for a place to share your own marketing insights and tutorials, also check out their popular forum, YouMoz.

Contetly - Blog & Newsletter
A great resource that covers everything from design to strategy. Their newsletter is one of the few that I haven't unsubscribed from since discovering the content aggregator, Feedly

DESIGN

Canva - Online Tool
Even if you have top-notch Photoshop skills, Canva should be in your toolbox. It's essential for design novices and a great mockup tool for all skill levels. Plus, their templates are always optimized to keep up with constant social media platform changes.

PlaceIt - Online Tool
No more fussing to place screenshots of your site onto images of mobile phones and laptops. PlaceIt does everything for you, including properly skewing the image, adding glares, and making it look professional and realistic. It does video too!

PROJECT MANAGEMENT

Trello - Online Tool
A kanban style project management tool that's perfect for recording and tracking marketing campaigns. For more complex projects, there's a variety of genius add-ons - check out Harvest for your time and resource management needs.

Slack - Online Tool
I'm guilty of jumping between a few different tools for day-to-day chatting, but I prefer Slack for its more robust functionality. Thanks to its file sharing capabilities, it almost eliminates the need to send email. It also integrates easily with Google Apps and allows you to track conversation topics using hashtags.

Google Apps - Online Tools
I rely heavily on Google Apps. I use Drive to store all of my digital assets, Sheets to record budgets and campaign data, Calendar to schedule meetings, and Hangouts to stay connected with my global colleagues.

LIFE IN GENERAL

The School of Life - Videos
It's like Schoolhouse Rock but for curious grown-ups! The brainchild of the modern philosopher, Alain de Botton, The School of Life is a video series that explores everything from pop-culture to the meaning of life in small insightful doses.

TED Radio Hour - Podcast
It's hard to find someone alive today who hasn't had their minds blown or been emotionally moved by a TED talk. I prefer the podcast because I can listen during my commute. Check out their episode on the power of branding. It's a must-listen for marketers.

You Are Not So Smart - Book & Podcast
I loved David McRaney's book so much I thought of gifting all of my friends with a copy this Christmas but didn't want to insult them with the title. Turns out, we humans are terrible at understanding ourselves. With his books, blog, and podcast, David attempts to set us straight by analyzing things like how we're fooled by the clothes we wear and how we behave differently when in big groups.

Wait, But Why? - Blog
Have you ever wondered what a quadrillion Sour Patch Kids would like? Of course not, because that would be ridiculous. Lucky for us, Tim Urban has dedicated himself to asking these absurd questions, and somehow through their explanations, helps us better understand what it means to be human.

If there are any tools or resources not included here that you can't imagine living without, please share in the comments!

Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash

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