post by Stephanie Nelson
Periodically, I like to post the top tools I use for business. Some of the list stays the same; some change as I learn new things, algorithms update, the services I offer evolve, etc. Here’s my updated list for March 2021.
- Apple Products
It’s no secret that I’m an Apple fan girl. I love that I can work seamlessly from my Macbook, iPhone, and iPad. I can AirDrop images and websites from device to device. The keychain function helps me sync passwords across devices, too, so I don’t have to sign in 18 times just to get one task done.
- Website CMS
By far, my favorite website content management system (CMS) is WordPress. But Wix and Squarespace rank up there, too. Between built-in functionality and plug ins, the website build, maintenance, and SEO are fairly easy to manage, especially if you’re even a little tech-savvy.
- Email Marketing Systems
The SBN Marketing email blast goes through MailChimp each month. Constant Contact is another great email marketing solution, too!
I love, love, love schedulers! Being able to set posts up for multiple outlets from one spot frees up a lot of bandwidth – I don’t have to stop what I’m doing at different points every day to post for my business or my clients. I’ve long been a Hootsuite gal. It’s really user-friendly, and being able to access it from my computer, phone, and iPad makes it an awesome tool for me. I’ve recently been introduced to Meet Edgar, too, because of a client’s preference. I’m not as familiar with it yet as I am with Hootsuite, but so far, it seems really easy to use and manage. It has more functionality than the free version of Hootsuite, but there are also more details to pay attention to if you want to get it right.
- Phone and Tablet Apps
Part of the beauty of this job is that I truly can work from anywhere, especially when my mobility is made easier by not having to tote a bunch of equipment around. Being able to monitor and respond to comments and DMs through apps like Facebook Business Suite, Yelp for Business, and the Google My Business app means I’m not tied to my computer (or lugging it around in hopes of having WiFi wherever I end up), but I’m still able to do everything I need to do for my clients. (I’ve included the links to the websites for these items here. Search your device’s app store for the appropriate app for you.)
- Graphics Creation
Picmonkey and Canva are my two go-to sites here. My personal preference is Picmonkey, but both are extremely easy to learn and use. There are multiple options for file types when you save the graphics you’ve built, so you can choose what works best for the end use of the graphic. And both have templates sized appropriately for the different social media outlets, so you’re not left guessing as to whether your graphic will need to be resized before you post it.
- Video Creation
I’m not a huge video person, in creating nor consuming. But I’ve found Animoto, and it does what I need in a fast, easy way. You can create fun promo videos from images (either those you’ve created, from photos, or from a combination). I use the free version, which includes a watermark on the final video, but you can pay for a subscription that removes that.
- Google Apps
- Google Voice lets me have a dedicated phone number for my business that rings straight to my cell phone (or any other phone I want it to ring to). That means I don’t have to give out my personal cell number, nor do I have to carry two or more phones to keep business and personal separate.
- Google Drive allows me to create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations that I can access from any computer or share with clients. I can set access levels on documents I share, too, meaning that if I want someone to be able to edit with me, that’s doable. But if I just want them to see the doc for proofing purposes, I can restrict editing permissions to accomplish that, too.
- Google Analytics and Search Console
I insist that Google Analytics be installed on every website for which I do SEO. It’s imperative that we be able to track traffic volume, where the traffic is coming from, block bad traffic sources, etc. Since Google is where 60-70% of online searches happen, tracking everything here is almost a one-stop shop. And if you navigate through the performance report within the Search Console site itself, you can see all queries that brought impressions and clicks to your site. In turn, this helps with determining overall SEO strategy and/or any changes that need to be made.
- Credit Card Payments
Square is the system I use for credit card payments. I chose it because there’s a fee per transaction, not a monthly fee + a fee per transaction. Granted, the fee per transaction is slightly higher than those other solutions, but if I go a month or more where everyone pays me via check, I’m not incurring any additional costs.
For me, this is the ultimate mission control center. Mine is hung on the wall behind my computer monitor. I track where I am on long-term deadlines there. I have monthly calendars for the current month and next month posted there. And all of my motivational postcards and printed pieces are hung with magnetic pushpins there.
Know of a tool that’s not on the list but you think we should try? Use the button below to shoot us a note to let us know!Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay