Here is a list of my favorite business tools that I use and I couldn’t do business without. I wanted to share them with you because I love them and they may be beneficial for you in your business, as well! If you have any favorite business tools that you love that I didn’t mention, be sure to leave me a comment and tell me about it! (And just so you know, this post does include some affiliate links. But I only share things that I use and love!)
My Favorite Business Tools
- Planoly – I absolutely LOVE using Planoly for Instagram! I batch my graphics every week, then upload them all to Planoly to schedule throughout the week. While IG doesn’t allow a third party app to actually post for you, it does make it super easy to post when it is time. One of the things I love most about Planoly is the ability to rearrange my scheduled posts on my feed and make it look “pretty” before actually posting. This is a great way to do it if you have a grid and want to keep it looking a certain way! Try it and let me know what you think!
- Tailwind – Tailwind is a site/app that I use for Pinterest. I know that I am not using it to it’s full potential, as I am still getting it all figured out, but I love the ability to schedule posts on Pinterest! I don’t always remember to get on and pin consistently, so Tailwind helps do that for me, once I load up the queue. You can also join Tailwind tribes in your niche and share your content there to be shared by others!
Read Three Simple Ways To Be More Productive
- Gsuite – Gsuite is great for email, docs, google drive, calendar, and more. I even have my gmail set up with my domain, so my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. And I love Google drive for creating, storing, and sharing documents. It’s a great way to save things that I want to be able to access from any computer or device. It’s also great for being able to share things between my clients and myself when I am working with them on web design or branding.
- Acuity Scheduling – This is an awesome tool for allowing clients to schedule appointments with me, whether it is a free 15 minute clarity call, or my 45 minute paid brand strategy sessions. I can create my calendar based on my schedule and they can choose a time that works for them. I can also ask them to answer some questions when they book to help me know what they are wanting out of the call, and they pay right when they schedule the appointment. And I love that it emails both them and me a reminder the day before!
- Zoom – Zoom is a fantastic tool for video conferencing. I often use it when I want to “meet” with a client online and want to be able to see each other and record the video content. You can use it with groups of people as well, and can see each person who is part of the meeting. Being on video is not a requirement, though, for someone who would rather not. You can also mute people other than the speaker so you cut down on background noise and other distractions. It is also free for up to 40 minutes of screen time (I believe).
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- Canva – This is a website that I use pretty much every day! I most definitely could not do business without it, because it is how I create all of my graphics! A lot of people use PicMonkey as well, but I prefer Canva for most things. And I love paying for Canva for Business so that I can save my brand colors and fonts. It makes it super easy and quick to create branded graphics for my business! If you need any assistance learning how to use it, just reach out!
- Trello – Trello is an awesome tool for all kinds of things, to do lists, content management, project management, and more! I use it for all of the above. You can create boards privately and use them yourself, or you can add others and have team boards. In each board you can add lists and cards and move the cards around. In the cards you can add comments, checklists, upload files, colored labels, due dates, etc. It’s pretty fantastic!
- Stock Photos – There are several stock photo sites I like to use, such as Pixabay and Unsplash, but one of my favorites is a monthly subscription one with “girl boss” type photos. Each month I have received 25-50 photos and they are fantastic! Many of the “girl boss business” type photos I use on my blog and social media come from this service. I highly recommend it!
- Siteground Hosting and the Divi Theme – As a web designer, these are two of my favorites! Siteground is my favorite site for hosting your website and Divi is my all-time favorite theme! I love how customizable Divi is. I can create all kinds of very different websites!
Read Six Easy Steps To Start a Blog
What are your favorite business tools to use? Leave a comment and let me know!
Are you ready to start a blog but are not sure exactly what to do or how to do it? Here are six easy steps to help you get started. (This blog post has some affiliate links of some of my favorite things!)
Hosting is the space where your website is at online. It’s kind of like the land that your house is built on. There are lots of hosting sites, like Go Daddy, Bluehost, etc, but my favorite site is SiteGround. SiteGround has a quality service, affordable prices, excellent customer service, free domain, an easy 1-click WordPress install, 30 day money back guarantee, free SSL certificate, and more! SiteGround is also super affordable, which we all love, right?
There are other free or cheap website options available, such as WordPress.com, Wix, Blogspot, etc, but I always suggest going self-hosted. This way you actually own your content and you’re not relying on someone else. It is also the best for SEO and monetizing your blog if that’s your goal.
To get started on SiteGround, you can click on my link and choose a plan. The StartUp plan is probably good enough for now if you’re only going to have one blog, but you can always go bigger if you choose. You will click on “Get Started” then it will take you to register your domain name.
Choose and register a domain name
Your domain name is your url, or site address. It is what you type in the address bar of your browser to get to your site. You can register a domain name very easily with SiteGround when you are setting up your hosting account.
I would definitely do a search for your domain name and similar ones like it first, to see what else is out there. You don’t want to choose something that will get confused with someone else’s or something that is going to go to a questionable site if someone accidentally types it wrong. Getting a .com url is usually best, but you can always get a .net or something else if you need to, like I did.
On the next page you will enter your account, client, payment, and purchase information. For the data center you will choose which ever one is closest to where most of your readers will be coming from. So since I am in the USA, as are most of my readers, I chose Chicago. You don’t necessarily need the extra services, unless you want to get them. I did not get the Site Scanner because I use a free plugin (WordFence) on my site in place of that.
Next, you will need to install WordPress on your site. After clicking Pay Now and finishing your purchase, you should get a page that says Proceed to Customer Area. When you click on that, you may get a pop up that asks if you want to install WordPress. Otherwise, you can go to your account, the CPanel, then click on WordPress under the pre-installers category.
After you install WordPress, you can access the back end of your website, which is your WordPress admin dashboard. To access it, you will go to www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin, replacing “yourdomain” with your domain.
Install a theme
After you have installed WordPress and have logged into your dashboard, it is time to choose a theme for your blog. There are free WordPress themes that you can choose from or you can pay for one. While there is nothing really wrong with choosing a free one, at least to start with, they are not as customizable as others. My recommendation, and what I use, is the Divi theme from Elegant Themes. I love how customizable it is and it is pretty easy to use once you get the hang of it. If you choose to use Divi and want some tips for using it, just schedule a call with me and I will go over it with you!
To install Divi, you will go to the Elegant themes website and click on Join to Download up at the top right. Then you will choose either the Yearly Access or Lifetime Access. You will fill out the information and complete your registration. Then you will go to the members area (I get there by clicking on Login after I am already logged in and it takes me there) and click Download on the Divi Theme. You will need to make sure you download it as a zip file.
Then you will go back to the admin dashboard of your site, and go to Appearance and then Themes. From there you can click Add New, then Upload Theme and upload the zip file of the Divi theme. After it installs, you will click Activate Theme to activate it on your site. And now you are ready to move on to the fun part!
Customize and add content to your site.
After you choose and install your theme, you will need to customize it and add your content to it. Customizing your website the way you want it and in a way that reflects your brand can take time to do. If you are up for it and want to do it, go for it! The Elegant Themes website has a blog where they have lots of articles with tips that you can look through for assistance if you need it. But if you want to spend your time running and growing your business and let someone else create your website for you (like me!) then I would love to chat with you about that! It’s what I love to do! 😉
Want to know more about visual branding? Check out this post!
Write your first blog post.
Now you are ready to write and publish your first blog post! Don’t wait too long for this step. If you keep messing around with the customization of your site until it is absolutely perfect, you may never get around to actually blogging! So be sure you start blogging as soon as you can. You can always work on making your site better as you go.
I hope these steps help you get started! Want some more help with your website or branding? I’d love to chat! Schedule your free 15 minute discovery call with me here!