MY FAVORITE TOOLS
I’m giving you the right tools to run your business. Here are some of my favorite tools that you can use to start your online business.
You need a website. Period. That is if you want to do business beyond your local market. And my guess is that you have an amazing gift and want to reach as many people as you can! A website will help you build your brand, share knowledge, position yourself as an authority and deliver value to potential customers. Your website should be dynamic and the hub for connecting with people you can serve. And with the tools available to you there is no reason not to have a great website!
GoDaddy makes registering Domain Names fast, simple, and affordable.
WordPress is open source software you can use to create a beautiful website, blog, or app. Beautiful designs, powerful features, and the freedom to build anything you want. WordPress is both free and priceless at the same time.
The Wix website builder has everything you need to create a fully personalized, high-quality free website.
It’s simple, crazy user-friendly and you never get stuck in a situation where you need to call in someone else to help you make edits! There are a ton of beautiful (and free) templates you can start with!
SITE GROUND –
SiteGround’s website promotes different types of hosting; it offers dedicated, cloud, and VPS plans in addition to shared hosting and WordPress. Customers benefit from the basic CloudFlare CDN plan, free SSL certificates, and free daily backups of their website data on the server. Unlike some hosts, it has made sure that its shared plans are packed with feature.
Hostinger is a budget hosting provider that seems to have everything you need to get a website online for the lowest price possible. Offering good value hosting with some interesting features.
GOOGLE ANALYTICS –
While you are setting up your site, you may as well set up Google Analytics. This is a free service offered by Google that tracks and reports your website traffic. The insights you can gain about your website and visitors is invaluable! It will help you to understand what your audience and customers are doing and the current trends happening in your market and industry. In order to effectively market your services/offerings and convert leads, you need to know how and where your audience is accessing your site and spending the most time.
Email is one of the oldest tools for electronic communication. And today it still is one of the most intimate forms of communication we can have online. It is one of the most powerful ways to communicate with your potential customers and readers. But only IF you know how to use it and if you look to it to first build a relationship, and then only if appropriate, move to the transaction!
You need to learn to create emails that people actually want to read; emails they connect with and gain value from, and you need to build trust!
ACTIVE CAMPAIGN –
ActiveCampaign (or AC as we so fondly refer to it in-house) is a great middle ground email service provider. It’s powerful and very easy to get started with. It has a robust tagging system; you can use it for integrated email marketing, marketing automation, and some customer relationship management. I love AC because it so easily syncs with my Facebook Ads and is great for complex funnels and automation.
Have brilliant ideas in the middle of the night regularly but don’t want to give clients the impression you work all hours? Or do you need to follow up on an email in a week, but need to remember to do so? This is an amazing 3rd party Gmail add-on which allows scheduled sending and follow-up reminders so you can take some of the stress out of your inbox.
Speaking of inbox clutter… how much time do you spend distracted by random junk mail daily?? My guess… is too much! And then you have to scroll all the way to the bottom and find the tinnnyy unsubscribe button, followed by an elaborate guilt trip before you can finally bye, bye to the junk mail. This is why I love to unroll.me! It lets you unsubscribe, without all of the hassles. Time Saver. And lifesaver.
While email is a great foundation and a great way to communicate, we are now talking about tools that go beyond that. We are talking about communication platforms for business owners to talk with your team, or with clients. You will need a reliable program to facilitate the conversation. Here are my top choices for conducting and scheduling calls?
The great thing about Skype? Almost everyone has it! It’s great for free long distance Skype to Skype calls, group calls, instant messaging, and screen sharing. It also works on any device.
This is my absolute favorite tool for something a little more professional. I’ve been using it for well over a year and conduct nearly all my client calls and group calls here. You can host webinars; share your screen; host training sessions; offer breakout rooms; plus more; and you can record it all!
Between email, text messages, phone calls, chat tools, social media accounts… the list goes on… the multitude of ways you can chat with teams members can get confusing. I have had instances many times of things getting lost in the shuffle because of this! Slack is a great tool to manage conversations with your team members across devices and account on one platform.
While you aren’t exactly communicating with Calendly, I do want to this here because it’s how I schedule my calls with clients. It’s simple, super easy to-use and powerful! I don’t like playing email tag when trying to schedule calls, consultations, interviews, appointments, etc… Calendly makes this process super streamlined for me.
Here are some great tools to help you be more productive in your business, manage projects, and share files easily with your team members, collaborators, and clients.
Dropbox not only allows you to safely and securely store your business files, but it also makes easy to work with other people! Dropbox brings your files together, in one central location! Making it easy to find and conveniently synced across all of your devices. Meaning you can access them anytime, anywhere! No more wasting time having to track down files.
This is a wildly popular project management application. And while there are many of these out there, it’s my team’s preferred choice. You have tasks, projects, conversations, and to-do lists all in one place. It helps you break down a project and assign sub-tasks to specific team members. You can even leave notes for team members. This has been a lifesaver in our workflow and structure.
CONTENT CREATION AND DELIVERY
In order to run a business, you need to be able to create your own unique content-whether that’s your free content to pull in potential customers and start building relationships, or it’s your paid content that ultimately funds your business! There are so many ways to go about this and differing opinions. So please note this is only scratching the surface! Your content has the power to help you generate more passive income streams, to position you as a voice of authority and to truly catapult your business.
This is an excellent tool that allows you to screencast, record and edit video! Which you will then use to deliver your message and teachings.
If you are creating workbooks or e-books, InDesign is the standard for a reason!
This is a great tool for creating high-converting landing pages quickly and easily. You can even do your own testing with A/B split-testing and by analyzing the conversion rates and stats! Getting people into your services and courses starts with them landing on your LeadPage… so make it a good one.
GRAPHICS & DESIGN
There are so many free tools available online. Creating a cohesive and professional digital presence has truly never been easier. I’ve collected some great, free tools to help you generate high-impact graphics for your brand.
This is our go-to that’ll give you the look of professionally designed graphics for your marketing materials. Canva will be your new BFF! There are tons of pre-formatted templates to create social media banners, blog graphics, marketing fliers, email headers, and more. You can even save your brand colors, fonts and logos as a style guide!
Offeo is an online animated video maker for small businesses to create effective social media video ads. It comes with thousands of motion graphics elements and templates to create videos unique for your brand.
Easil is the Drag-and-Drop Design tool that helps you create Visual Content SO good it looks like a Pro designed it. Customizable Graphic Templates – drag and drop your way to design stunning graphics like a pro in seconds; without leaving your web browser
Powtoon is an online video creation platform for making your own engaging short videos and presentations. Powtoon empowers anyone to easily produce videos and presentations with a professional look and feel. Use your own visual content and voiceover, or select from royalty-free libraries of animation, live-action video, images, designed backgrounds, soundtracks, and moving graphics.
Lumen5 is a video creation platform powered by A.I. that enables anyone without training or experience to easily create engaging video content within minutes.
99 DESIGNS –
This marketplace is full of highly skilled freelance graphic designers. Submit a design task, designers compete for your business, you hire the one you like!
ADOBE INDESIGN –
It can be used to create works such as posters, flyers, brochures, magazines, newspapers, presentations, books and ebooks.
ADOBE FONTS –
You can integrate Adobe fonts into your Webflow projects. It’s one of three native ways to bring extra typography options into your Webflow project.
ADOBE PHOTOSHOP –
Create and enhance your photos, images, and designs with Adobe Photoshop CC, the world’s best imaging and photo editing software.
ADOBE ILLUSTRATOR –
Create logos, icons, sketches, typography and other vector art with Adobe Illustrator CC.
INVOICING & FINANCING
FROM THE VERY BEGINNING. Especially when it comes to the money side. The best way to start is with a reliable system for invoicing. The more time you spend setting this system up, the less time you waste later…
QuickBooks is an accounting software package developed and marketed by Intuit. QuickBooks products are geared mainly toward small and medium-sized businesses and offer on-premises accounting applications as well as cloud-based versions that accept business payments, manage and pay bills, and payroll functions. This is so user friendly!
Xero connects you to all things business. Its online accounting software connects you to accountants and bookkeepers, your bank, and a huge range of business. Enjoy accounting software with all the time-saving tools you need to grow your business. Xero is always secure and reliable.
Bonsai is designed to help you get paid on time with a workflow of contracts, signing, invoicing, and payments. Super simple and in minutes you can be creating and sending bulletproof contracts! You can also set up automated invoices and reminders to ensure you get paid.
To put it simply, Stripe allows you to accept payments over the Internet. It operates in over 25 countries so chances are it’ll work for all of your payments!
Freshbooks is an accounting software that makes running your small business a snap! It’s also fast and really secure. It also automates tasks like invoicing, organizing expenses, tracking time/follow up with clients… My favorite part is it lives in the cloud so you can access it from anywhere!
This web-based personal financial management is free, simple and helps you manage your money, create budgets, pay your bills, categorize expenses, receive alerts and even track your credit score!
This is a helluva beast that is always changing. It’s tough to keep up with the latest! But you should have some sort of social presence. You can decide what exactly that means and how much you’d like to invest into that. I prefer to choose 1-2 platforms and give it my all, instead of only doing 10% across all the social platform options. Once you are comfortable with 2 and feel that you can handle more, branch out and expand.
THE visual planner for Instagram. See how your photos will line up in the feed. Write your captions. Save your favorite hashtag groupings. You can even auto-post and plan your Stories!
Hootsuite makes it so easy to manage all your social from a single dashboard. You can schedule your posts (Facebook, Twitter, IG, LinkedIn); create a cohesive strategy across all your platforms, and get real-time analytics to see how your content is performing.
This is a great tool for sharing evergreen content on social! Everything you publish with Edgar is stored in an organized library and arranged into categories. Then you can create a schedule that tells Edgar when to publish from each category. Once all content is shared, it’ll start recycling older updates.
This is an incredible tool to have one master calendar/marketing strategy! Collaborate with your team and others easily. It greatly streamlines your execution process.
Trello’s boards, lists, and cards enable you to organize and prioritize your projects in a fun, flexible and rewarding way.
So there you have it! These are the essential tools and systems that will serve as your guide in running your online business. You will come across thousands of other tools, widgets, plug-ins, programs, and applications! And new ones are coming out daily. Choose wisely and stick to the ones that work well and then focus on running your business and actually getting the work done!