Top 8 tools I use in my business
There are just so many tools. So many different nooks and crannies of online businesses that some brilliant start up has built a solution for. I love that, I do.
I love that whatever problem we come up against, likely someone somewhere is working to build a smart solution.
But, all that choice can lead to a few problems...
Death by subscription fees.
So many tools can mean so many tiny subscription fees that amount to hundreds if not thousands of dollars each year.
Paralysis by analysis.
Maybe you're looking for a landing page builder, for example, how do you know if you should use Leadpages or Thrive or Instapage or Optimize Press... etc, etc.
How do you know what features you need now or what you'll need in six months?
You have to research and test and that process can end up feeling so daunting that you just give up or put it off for another time (read: never). And that's just for one thing you might need in your business. What about invoicing or email marketing.. does it ever end?
Choosing the wrong solution at the wrong time.
I've seen people invest in the solution with the most bells and whistles long before they've needed it in order to avoid picking the wrong thing. It's an understandable approach but it can mean months or years of paying for functionality you don't need yet.
I absolutely LOVE researching, testing, and choosing software solutions for a particular set of needs. And, over the past two years I've helped dozens of clients choose and implement different tools. Not to mention, the tools I've carefully selected for my own business.
I strive to find the SIMPLEST solution possible with the lowest cost. I lean towards tools with clean, simple design, a thoughtful user experience, great support and a friendly, approachable brand.
So, I thought I'd share a few of the key tools I use in my business that make my life easier.
(Some of these are affiliate links but they'd be on this list whether they have an affiliate program or not :-).
Consider this list a snapshot of what I need and use at the moment and I will do periodic snapshots as I refine, grow, and expand, keeping you posted on what tools I add or remove. After all, it's all about iteration, isn't it?
I can't even begin to explain the frustration that LastPass has alleviated in my business (and life!) for FREE.
LastPass encrypts passwords and saves them in a vault, protected by a master password. The browser extension makes it super easy to access your vault and save passwords as you move around the Interweb.
It's also brilliant for sharing access with contractors. Instead of giving passwords, you can share access through LastPass and then revoke it when the project is over. No more changing passwords every time you have a new contractor come and go.
Calendly is a scheduling tool that allows you to send a link to clients, prospects, and associates to click and select a time to meet with you. It syncs with your calendar so as long as your calendar is up to date, you're golden. You can set your availability within Calendly as well. Plus, it's beautiful and easy to use.
If you're still deciding on meeting times by emailing back and forth - Calendly will be a game-changer. Depending on the kind of business you have, the free account might even do.
I'm a Convertkit superfan. I love the product and love the company behind the product. They strive to make email marketing as easy and painless as possible. Scratch that, they strive to make connecting with your tribe as easy and painless as possible. They believe in simple, clean design and doing as much good as we can in the work that we do.
If you're just starting out with email marketing, you're probably deciding between Mailchimp and Convertkit. The big difference here is that Mailchimp is based on lists and Convertkit is based on tags. When you have to organise your subscribers based on lists, it can be limiting. Tags allow you have subscribers that fall into many categories and you can tailor your communication as such. Convertkit doesn't have a free plan but, the $29/month is well worth the investment to start out with a tag-based service.
They're also launching visual automation in August and I'll be hard pressed to recommend anything else for email marketing for most people starting or running small online businesses.
Converkit just put Instapage inside their platform making it easy to create landing pages to capture leads for your email list. So, admittedly, I'm just getting started with Instapage but, to be honest, I've had landing page frustration since I started working in online marketing. I haven't seen anything this simple, intuitive, and beautiful to date. However, there are still some advantages to Leadpages, Thrive, Clickfunnels, and Optmize Press so Instapage might not be perfect for you but if you're looking to easily deploy domain-specific landing pages to capture leads and sell online products and services - Instapage is worth a look.
Ok, I know I go on about Asana but it's so central to my business that it'd be crazy not to mention here again. Asana is a task and project management tool that helps me organise my business and life with ease. I live in Asana everyday.
It's free, easy to use, and once it's set up with all your tasks, goals, and dreams - it's the best way I've found to keep my priorities front and center. They are continuing to add awesome features and are open to community suggestions. Their free version likely offers much of what you'll need to get organised and, of course, I'm here as a resource if you get stuck.
For delivering online courses and digital products, It's just so damn easy to get up and running with Podia. Their interface is simple and beautiful and the support is incredible. The checkout process is high-converting and super simple. It's never taken their team more than three minutes to get back to me on any question I have and they're always wildly open to suggestions and feedback. They've kept ease of use a top priority.
They've just launched affiliates and membership sites. I honestly have a special place in my heart for these guys.
Bonsai is getting better and better by the minute. I use Bonsai for proposals, contracts, invoices, and time tracking. It's soo nice to have it all under one roof. When I first signed up with them about a year ago, they had a basic offering but because it's so well designed and, at that time, was free I was sold. They JUST switched over to a paid platform and I didn't hesitate to sign up. It's well worth the $19/month. I do have a few suggestions for the dev team but it seems like every time I send something through, it's already on their roadmap. Props.
I'm actually quite new to Loom. I've been using Ilos Videos ($24/month) for some time and love it but Loom is currently free, it's a Chrome extension and it allows you to quickly record talking head videos or screen shares. I like the user interface and will continue to test it and keep you posted.
As a lot of what I do is showing the ins and outs of tools, I love being able to easily capture my screen and share it. It's great for talking a client through a proposal or demonstrating something visually.
Right now, they're allowing access to more features as you share Loom with others but I imagine they'll go paid at some point soon.
I love these tools and they each make my work each day easier and more enjoyable. I'm also always testing something new tools and technology and will keep you posted when I find tools that I love.
Are you testing anything at the moment? Are there any tools that you're wondering whether or not they're a good fit? Leave a comment below and let me know.