Resources

resources and tools for small businesses

These days you need more than a word processing program and email to efficiently get through your day to day tasks. If you’ve done any research, you know there are tons of different products out there that can help.

One thing that has helped me is when other people post about the tools they use and how they use them. There is always a way to improve your set-up especially with new tools coming out all the time.

So in the spirit of the help I’ve received from other people posting about their tools, I’m going to return the favor. These are the tools I use in my business.

Tools I use to manage my business

Content Curation

Feedly – blog subscriptions

Pocket – save blog posts

These two posts describe how to use Feedly and Pocket for content curation:

Scheduling Social Media Posts

Buffer – Schedule Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn & Pinterest posts

Schedugram or Onlypult – Schedule Instagram posts. Recently switched from Schedugram to Onlypult.

Viralwoot – Schedule/promote Pinterest posts. I used it for scheduling Pinterest posts before Buffer added it as an option.

Social Media Stats

Iconosquare – Instagram’s insights are notoriously lacking. Iconosquare pulls the information into a more meaningful form. Its best feature is that it shows you the best times to post for likes, comments or engagement.

Statusbrew – I use this once a week to manage Twitter. I check recent unfollowers and unfollow anyone that I’m following, see if I want to follow back any new followers, and occasionally cull inactive accounts from my following list. You can do all that free on one account.

Creating Images

Pixelmator or Pixlr.com – The average business owner doesn’t need Photoshop; these will do just fine. Pixlr is a free online editor. Pixelmator is an inexpensive alternative to Photoshop if you need the option to edit images without an internet connection.

PicMonkey – Easily adds text and enhancements to your images. As of September 2017, it no longer has a free version but it is free to try.

Canva – Another way to quickly add text to your images. It also has stock images you can use for free or $1 each.

  • Here’s a video showing how to edit an image’s size at Pixlr.com and then add text to it using PicMonkey.

Relay – Another tool that makes it easy to make beautiful images. There’s a 14-day free trial and after that, they put their watermark on your images.

Website

Hover or Namecheap – Domain registration

WordPress – Content management system for your blog or your whole site.

Thrive Themes – Conversion Focused WordPress Themes. I’m using the Minus theme and signed up for membership which gives me access all of their tools. It has lead pages with built-in A/B testing and other cool tools. If you’re shopping around for a landing page solution, see this comparison between Thrive Landing Pages and Lead Pages to see which might be right for you.

Flywheel – Solid, fast, no worry web site hosting.

PaveIQ – Google analytics referral spam removal

Grammarly – Grammarly is a proofreader that helps catch spelling and grammar errors. It’s the next best thing to having a human editor. Plus, it doesn’t just work in WordPress, but in Mailchimp, Buffer, and many other places. Plus, there’s a web version and a stand-alone app you can use to fill in the gaps. I was using the free version but after a free trial of the premium version, I upgraded. Going back and running it on older posts is eye-opening!

Quuu Promote – Quuu Promote is an inexpensive way to help your blog posts gain traction. People subscribe to topics via the Quuu App. The posts are then added to their social media content queues. Submissions are vetted by a human so the content offered is pretty high quality. And because people subscribe to topics, you are likely reaching a targeted audience for your post.

Productivity

Trello – Highly customizable project task management. Free with inexpensive paid options. Searching the internet for different ways people use Trello always gives me new ideas.

Zapier or IFTTT – Both of these help apps you use work together. For instance, I have used Zapier to add new invoices in Freshbooks to my CRM Nimble and to collect Instagram contest entries in a Google Sheet.

Mailstrom – A simple interface that has helped me hover at near inbox zero. After a year, I switched to Mailbox, but I still highly recommend Mailstrom to initially get your unruly email inbox in check.

Mailbox – Another app with inbox zero as the goal, owned by Dropbox. Now that I’ve got my accounts under control, I’m using this instead of Mailstrom. Well, Dropbox killed this, sadly. Now I’m using…

Airmail – Airmail’s desktop app and iOS app combo handle all of my email beautifully. For me, it replaces Mailbox and is more than worth the $15 I paid for both.

Evernote – I use Evernote as more of a library and storage space but like Trello, the possibilities are almost endless for how you can use it.

Communication

Slack – I use Slack to communicate with my clients.

Mailchimp or Tinyletter – For sending email newsletters. I use Mailchimp for the automation features, but if you are simply sending a regular newsletter Tinyletter might be all you need.

Google Voice – This is my business phone.

Skype – Video calls with clients.

Wisestamp – Elegant email signatures. Very professional looking. I was able to get a lifetime account at a special price. I’m not sure I’d pay a monthly fee for it at this stage of my business.

Standard Office Needs

Gusto (formerly Zen Payroll) – They make it so easy to manage payroll.

Freshbooks – Bookkeeping & invoicing. Easy to use.

Google Apps – This lets you use Gmail for your domain email, and their suite of office apps with a ton of storage for about $50/year.

Apple MacBook  – Updated to a 12″ Macbook with Retina display in the Fall of 2015. I wasn’t sure about the smaller screen, but it doesn’t hinder me at all. And the battery life is superb.

Fiverr – Great if you need something miscellaneous done for cheap. So far I’ve just used it for image creation.

Moo – Lovely business cards.

Coinbase – Can use to set up recurring bitcoin payments.

PayPal – Payment processor. Works with Freshbooks.

Stripe – Payment processor. Works with Freshbooks.

Miscellaneous

Knowem – Use this when you are deciding on the username you want to use for your business across social media platforms. You can check if your Brand or Product name is available on over 500 popular Social Networks.

This will be updated regularly as I think of things I’ve left out or new tools come along.

Note: some of these are referral links and I may earn credit or a small commission if you sign up using them.

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