I’m always looking to make my life easier. Whether it’s for my home life or my business, I love when I find an awesome shortcut – something that saves me time, makes me money, and keeps me sane. (TALK TO ME!)
Over the past few years I’ve found a few gems that have really helped me tremendously – and I can’t picture my life, online or off, without them! Try them out, they’re all FREE! (Yay for free!)
1. WordPress. As soon as you get your domain name registered and you’re signed up for hosting, I’d highly suggest installing WordPress on your website. It’s a blog-based platform and just a tremendous tool to power your site in that it’s user friendly, has a great dashboard, easy to install and update AND is tremendous for Search Engine Optimization and rankings. YAY WordPress!
2. Bit.ly. This is an app that shortens, shares and tracks your hyperlinks. I use this for every single link I want to track out there in the interwebs; anything of mine I post to Twitter, to Facebook, in blog posts… anywhere I want to track clicks and shares (Hey, it’s valuable information – you’ll be able to see what works and what to write more of!). It has a great dashboard, is easy to check stats and referrals and is just all around AWESOME! Check it out: bitly.com.
3. Mailchimp. One of the VERY first things (besides WordPress!) I do for my online marketing clients is get them set up with a list manager (start to build your list from the get go – don’t underestimate the power of your list!). There are a few out there that are highly recommended and feel free to shop around, but I fully support (and worship, lol) Mailchimp. A) it’s free (up to 12,000 email addresses), B) it’s super-easy to build campaigns and has a tremendous user knowledgebase, fantastic help desk, and lots of integrations and work-arounds (i.e.: super-easy to add your opt-in to your website and your Facebook fan page for starters). C) it has a great reporting structure as well: you can see who is opening, forwarding, clicking on links, etc.
4. Tweetdeck. This has made everything about my life and biz online less cumbersome. With Tweetdeck you can update various social media profiles at once, and from one dashboard. Schedule tweets and updates, see what’s happening with friends and colleagues, follow conversations easily… all on one screen, from one dashboard! LOVE this! Download to your desktop or install the mobile app and you’re good to go. Easy as 1,2,3.
5. Online payment system. I use two: Versapay for Canadian clients and Paypal for international or recurring payments. What I love about Versapay is that there are no hefty transaction fees and it takes only a few days for the funds to appear in your bank account (and you don’t have to do anything, they are transferred automagically!). What I love about Paypal is it’s recurring payments option, “Buy Now” buttons/transactions and the ease of integration with other online applications.
And a few favorites added by the MIM team!
6. Podio – What doesn’t this European built app do? Build a dasboard for your employees and snap on modules for Sales, Marketing, Calendars, CRM, Business Planning…you name it! And better yet, there is an app for it so all your information is available on the go!
7. Capsule - (or any type of CRM that is mobile friendly) – We spent a few weeks researching various low-cost (or better yet FREE) CRM systems that could accomodate our growing biz. While Capsule might not have the most user friendly interface, it has some kick-ass integrations with the other apps we use (Mailchimp, and Freshbooks) that makes our lives a lot easier when we want to work with our customers.
8. Hootsuite and Timely – For those of you not on the Tweetdeck bandwagon, we recommend Hootsuite. This locally grown business has some great features like the ability to add social media teams and to easily schedule tweets. Timely is a great new platform that will automatically schedule tweets for when your users are the most active, and takes the guesswork (and grunt work) out of scheduling!
There are many applications, both free and low cost, that can help in fueling your business and looking after a few details behind the scenes. These are only a few of my faves, but make my top 5 for sure!
Stephanie Lee is the busy mom behind ScratchpadSecretaries.com, a Virtual Assistant business, and MomsWhoMeanBusiness.ca, a site dedicated to helping other moms find their online calling and training them how to get noticed (and get their bank accounts rockin’!). She has a free weekly tip sheet for hip mamas who want to start, run and grow a successful home based business. Sign up now to receive insider tips & resources designed to help YOU make money from home! (AND? You get the insider’s peek at her “Little Black Book” – the FULL list of apps she uses to run her biz!)