Editor’s Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase any of the recommended tools through the provided link, I will get a percentage of the sale.
If there is something that makes the workflow easier, helps save me time, creates a streamlined system, I’m all for it. I prefer having systems in place where possible for my business. I actually don’t mind organizing computer files. Don’t ask me about my kitchen cupboards or closet though. Completely different story.
I figure this post would be a good one to put out while all the Cyber Monday/ Cyber Monday week sales are still going on, including one by yours truly (only available to email subscribers, cough, cough). Often, we are more likely to buy OR not buy based on what the people we know, like and trust say with respect to a certain product. The tools mentioned below have been recommended by people I follow on social media and/or have met in person or came across while reading other business owners’ blogs. I am using the free version for some of them, but for others, I am using the paid version because of the additional features that are being provided.
Call me impatient, but why do you have to wait until the New Year to streamline/organize/set-up things? If anything you should be looking into this sooner than later so you can focus more on other active business tasks in January.
Here are sixteen (I hope I counted correctly) awesome online tools for your blog and business (Seventeen if you include the Vistaprint promo box, but I categorized that as an offline tool).
Planoly – For planning out my feed visually. I also use Planoly to autoschedule my Instagram posts. I can’t tell you how excited I was when Instagram finally got onboard with this.
Linktr.ee – The one link on Instagram that enables you to have several links. Link inception at its best. This was definitely a game changer for me when I found out about this one. This comes in very handy if you have several things you’d like to link to i.e. an event, your email list, one of your services, etc.
Buffer– For automated social media scheduling. For the record, I still make an effort to spend some time being social on social media.
Tailwind – For bulk scheduling pins on Pinterest. Tailwind also has their own Pinterest group boards known as Tailwind Tribes for additional reach.
Offline Marketing Materials
Vistaprint promo box – It’s interesting to see how your logo can look on various products. This box has also given me ideas for giveaways when I facilitate workshops and attend as a vendor at trade shows. I’ll often wear t-shirts with my logo printed on them when I’m out and about, especially when I’m at networking events. The photos below show the items in my first promo box. I have paused the subscription for the time being, but am considering unpausing it sometime next year.
Camtasia – This tool was recommended by the people at Skillshare. I used it to create my first online class on Skillshare and used it for video interviews on the blog. This is one of the newer tools
I have invested, but no complaints so far.
Graphics Creation/Photo Editing
Pic Monkey – The paid version has a feature called Hub where you can save designs that are still a work in progress.
Canva – I use Canva for my social media headers and for creating other graphics for things such as Facebook events. If you’re looking to create a short e-book, Canva is also a good option. One thing to note is that you are limited to 30 pgs.
Site Ground – So this is the 4th web hosting provider I have gone through. The first two I went through were recommended to me. They were smaller, independent hosting providers and provided excellent service. The downside was that for reasons I can’t remember (the business model had changed?), they were no longer providing hosting services. Based on those experiences, I personally recommend going with a more established web hosting provider.
Based on other bloggers’ recommendations, I made the switch to Bluehost and then eventually to Siteground. I found their support to be more helpful and more responsive. Mind you, I have heard people have great experiences with Bluehost and no complaints.
Sync – This is more for the Canadians out there. Prior to Sync, I was with Dropbox. (I’m based in Ontario, Canada).
Skillshare – The videos are bite-sized pieces of info. Often at the end, there is a project/assignment to help reinforce the learning concept. Students can upload their projects and provide each other with feedback. It can be best described as Netflix, but for online learning. The monthly subscription is quite reasonably priced and you receive access to 1000’s of courses.
Chimpessentials For Learning MailChimp. For the record, I am still slowly going through this. I have learned a lot from what I’ve done so far and appreciated the short, detailed videos that the creator, Paul Jarvis provides. I seem to be quite slow when it comes to completing in-depth online courses. Good thing there is no expiry date for this.
WordPress Themes: Restored 316 Designs (affiliate) – current theme for my website. If you’re looking for a clean, simple, feminine theme, this is a good starting point.
This may come as a surprise to some of you, but I’m pretty analog when it comes to planning out content. I actually use a physical planner for the most part. WordPress also has a plugin available –WordPress editorial calendar. I sort of use this, but not as much as the agenda.
Managing Finances and invoicing
I originally had this portion of my business outsourced. To cut down on expenses, I decided to look into Wave. This may depend on how comfortable you are with numbers, finances and if you are the DIY type. I also like the Wave Receipts App, which allows you to take a picture of the receipt and it gets uploaded to your account.
For video calls – I used to do this via Skype but now swear by Zoom. The free version allows you up to 45 min. My client calls are normally an hour, so I ended up getting the paid version.
For scheduling – Acuity – There is a free version available. The paid version has a significant amount of features available such as integrations with your other tools (i.e. Zoom, Mailchimp). To minimize the emailing back and forth I will send people a scheduling link (I have one for each time of meeting), so they can see when I’m available and choose based on my availability.
I am still in the process of trying to find a CRM (Customer Relationship Managment) tool that suits my liking. I hope to provide an update in the next few months.
What are some online tools that you swear by? Share your favourites in the comments below!