Hubspot vs. Zoho: CRM for job search (and side-hustles)

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Hello CRM cognoscenti!

TL;DR: Want a FREE CRM to organize my job search and support/integrate side-projects.

I am looking at options because I was recently laid off from my job and have some additional side-projects going on as well. I see setting up a personal CRM as a good way to get my job search organized and I thought it also might make sense to get the side-hustles organized at the same time, in the interests of efficiency.

By way of introduction, I am a sales guy and have worked with marketing, development, and other departments around CRM systems for a long time. I have used Goldmine, Salesforce, Raiser's Edge, Dynamics, Navision, and more in the past, so I am pretty comfortable in a CRM environment.

A free, usable CRM is the order of the day for right now, but if any of this grows in the future, it would be nicer to have a scalable solution than a transferable one, and nicer to have a transferable one than one that needs to be scrapped. I wanted to get your impressions, as I am looking at Hubspot and Zoho for my uses. I am hoping you can give me insight into how either might help, and which offers advantages, where.

I am a one-person operation, and none of this is complicated, yet, so I am looking for a FREE CRM that will help me with:

  1. JOB SEARCH! I have been a salesperson and I have networked a LOT in the past 20 years! I am rebuilding my contact list, including uploading my contacts from LinkedIn into an excel spreadsheet, and then dumping them into Zoho/Hubspot to organize/sort. I would like to run my job search through here, with notes, contacts, follow-ups, etc. Both Zoho and Hubspot seem well-suited to this task – is one or the other better? Worse? Different?

  2. I use Outlook for my email and calendar (not tasks…yet), running it through my G-mail account. I have the Office suite as well (Word, PPT, excel, etc.). Does Zoho/Hubspot offer integration and efficiencies with these?

  3. I am a heavy LinkedIn user and integration there would be SUPER helpful. It looks like Hubspot has this covered through its free app connections? When I make a LinkedIn contact, will it populate to Zoho/Hubspot automatically? I also have access to LI Sales Navigator – do you know if there are additional benefits to this with Zoho/Hubspot?

  4. I send out a weekly newsletter via Mailchimp, with a focus on leadership, business, highlighting events and resources, and mixing in a bit of fun, as well. Are there tools in Zoho/Hubspot that will help or enhance/improve/replace Mailchimp? In the past, one of the things I did was list events I was attending, and I liked that I could see who clicked on what so I could arrange meetings, follow-ups, etc.

  5. I just registered a domain name and connected to WordPress to house some of my writing. Can Zoho/Hubspot integrate with WordPress, Mailchimp, etc. so if people say "I want the newsletter" their contact information is downloaded into Zoho/Hubspot, Mailchimp, etc.? Are there tools within Zoho/Hubspot that will make that better, more effective, or offer greater insight?

  6. There is no revenue tied to (4) and (5) but I wonder if I go to a patreon model or something similar, does Zoho/Hubspot help with that as well?

I have been toying around with both of them, but my experience so far is thus. What I like (+) and dislike (-) about Zoho:

+ Clean Layout

+ Dashboards have been very usable

+ Filters are very helpful

+ I could easily tie my job search to the "DEALS" model in Zoho and track it like a sale

+ Video tutorials on YouTube seem excellent (I am a visual learner)

– Can it do what I need it to do?

What I like (+) and dislike (-) about Hubspot:

+ I can drop a company web URL in and it populates a company record – HUGE time saver in my world

+ Support was QUICK when I had questions

+ Free integration with LinkedIn (though I don't know if it has specific limitations?)

+ Large apps library and integration – all free

+ Dashboard library is HUGE, and they are customizable

– Dashboards are ugly

– Costs seem to add up quickly if I scale up

Thanks for any thoughtful insight or advice you can offer.

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