These are some of the tools I just cannot live without. I am not one to rave about things that don’t work, so you can be assured that I have tried and tested a lot of productivity tools over the years to find the best for me personally, so have added these to save you some time.
Get yourself familiar with some of the most commonly used tools, inspire confidence with your clients, and save tons of time! If you need any help with any of them, just give me a shout.
DISCLOSURE: Some of these links are affiliate links, which will give me a small commission if you click through and make a purchase, and others will give me referral points, so lets help each other out.
Oh and these are all rated at least …
Trello – A magical, customisable drag and drop real-time collaboration project management tool “to-do list”all on a single interface. It’s a list of lists filled with cards that adapts to your workflow, team or project. There’s nothing to set up and everyone gets updates instantly. There’s even an app. Notifications make sure you always know when important stuff happens and best of all, ITS FREE! Yes there is a paid version, but for starting out it’s a great way to organise thoughts for your blog or create a blogging calendar! Yes there’s a calendar too. A simply fantastic 5 stars. Thank you Trello.
Google Apps for Work (now G Suite) – G Suite from Google Cloud brings the same fantastic apps you’ve come to learn and love from Google Apps, to share with teams around the world to work with at the same time. Continue to create documents, spreadsheets, presentations from anywhere, yet still familiar apps such as Gmail, Drive and Calendar for mail, storage and setting up tasks and reminders all nicely wrapped up in comprehensive layered security which is constantly monitored.
Customer Relationship Management Tools (CRM)
Capsule is the best CRM out there, that I have tried anyway. I use this for managing deals, storing business contacts, to which you can add documents, emails and files relating to individual clients. Another great feature of Capsule is the ability to create a sales pipeline by tracking bids, deals, proposals etc. Cases provide a bucket for managing customer service and other events, allowing for a detailed view of requests, responses and what needs to be done next. And all this linked to a task calendar. Integration with a multitude of additional services. Indispensable and FREE for up to 2 users.
Canva – simple, fun drag-and-drop design tools for free. I have been using Canva since its inception in 2012. This brainchild of Australian CEO Melanie Perkins has to be hands down the best free design software out there. Not only do you get millions of design templates to choose from (should you need inspiration), but the large selection of fonts, image, icons, elements, colour palettes and photo-filters make creating your morning blog, social media or book cover image a walk in the park. You can literally do it over your morning coffee. What a great way to start the day. And with a little nudge from Canva, I have now – FINALLY, added them to my tools page. With a FREE FOREVER account and only a few seconds to learn, there is simply no excuse to not create eye catching images that get noticed everywhere. I dare you to go have some fun! Gotta give a fun and fre(e)asy 10 stars!
Instant Messenger (IM) for Business
Not only is SLACK a collaborative instant messenger for business, but its collaborative, productive nature makes it a tool that fits into any category. Save your inbox from clutter overload by using this life saving tool. It is available on all devices, integrates with many apps, and comes with FREEMIUM, standard or plus versions depending on needs. At the moment they are offering a special due to expire in September 2018, called Give $100, Get $100. This means that if you sign up using my link, you will get $100 credit when you upgrade to a paid plan … and so will I.
MailChimp – Marketing automation at its best. No doubt you have heard of it but this is the ultimate marketing integration for any website. Keep track of new signups, create drag and drop campaigns to match your brand and let MailChimp do all the work for you. Best of all, you can use it FOREVER FREE for up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails a month. After that you will need to pay a small monthly fee of $10 per month, which is nothing for what it can do for your business.
Google Keep – This little gem is a very recent find. I guess you could say it’s Google’s real-time reminder. You can download this app onto your laptop (browser extension), tablet and phone, which sync’s nicely between the lot. The tag line “Save your thoughts wherever you are” has so far proved invaluable. You can store images, notes, lists and audio. You can create colour coded post-it type notes and filter them by colour. Need to remember a TO DO or pick up some groceries, simply set a location-based reminder which will pull up your grocery list when you get to the store, or a time-based reminder for your To Do list. Its fab. You can even share say your grocery list with friends and family and it will tick items off your list in real time.
Evernote – I never thought I would be raving about it but Evernote has come a very long way from when I first used it. I am so impressed with recent developments and simply cannot live without it anymore. It stores absolutely EVERYTHING in one place. You think it, it can do it. So much so that I don’t only use this via the web, but have now downloaded it to my android and windows which is all in constant sync. I will be blogging about everything that can be done and how to do it in the future. You can even collaborate with others. Until then, “remember everything” is exactly what it does.
Free Stock Photos
These guys started 2 and a half years ago by taking some left over photo’s from a photoshoot, adding them to a blog with the title “10 free, do-whatever-you-want photos every 10 days.”
This became their life changing moment. Since starting Unsplash, thousands of photographers from around the world have submitted and shared their photos without so much as asking for recognition or compensation.
The photo’s are stunning, hi-res images that you can literally do anything with. Of course it would be nice to recognise the photographers if you can, but this is not a requirement. Finding the perfect photo’s is a simple as a quick search. No more paying for stock photo’s. What a relief. Giving them 10 stars.
Social Media Tools
I am Sharing the #bufferlove here. This is hands down the best social media sharing platform out there (and I have tried them all). Its simple, its clean, it easy and allows you to spend less than an hour a week uploading your posts for the week and then sit back and relax and let the magic happen (while you spend some time on next weeks posts).
Simply sign up and authorise buffer to access facebook, instagram, twitter, linkedin and google+ profiles and you are good to go. It has an appropriate posting times schedule built in which you can modify to suit your own target audience. There is even an app and browser extension so no excuses here. There is a free version (allows maximum 10 posts in your queue) so you will have to monitor and re-buffer daily and paid versions for increased AWESOMENESS. Giving this one 10 stars!
For time tracking I use the free version of timecamp i.e. solo use. You can easily create various client projects, track the time spent actually doing the work and then allows you to create reports and timesheets based on various projects or total project that I can download and send with invoices. My favourite part of timecamp is the goal setting. You can use the manual timer with the online version. The desktop application is awesome as it tracks everything automatically. And, if you rather switch one or two features off, you can do so in settings quite easily, if you value your privacy. However it does keep me productive and on track with tasks and does show me where I spend productive time and/or where I am getting side tracked.
Website Hosting Tools
Whether you are starting out or have a website that has been running for years, TSO Host can offer you a variety of options, all easily managed in your control panel. If you want to move hosts, they offer a free migration service. You can also purchase domain names, which they didn’t initially offer … and … for a limited time, you can currently buy .UK domain names for £1. They offer cloud, WordPress, cpanel, reseller and Microsoft exchange hosting to suit all budgets. They can install a free Let’sEncrypt SLL certificate within a few seconds and are always around to discuss any support issues you may have. I have watched them grow over the past 6 years and can honestly say they have come a very long way, especially on the support side. Any strange time day or night, they usually get back to you. I can only give them a well deserved 10 stars.
WordPress Theme Tools
4 years ago I found the X theme by themeco and have never looked back. This one theme comes with 4 different stacks, and each stack comes with about 12 different versions of said stack. And … you can simply build your own theme using shortcodes taking the best parts of every different stack. This theme has to hands down be my best buy. You will never have to update your theme again as with a simple click of a button, you can import another pre-designed theme of your choice, or simply update yours using cornerstone building blocks.
I have never had a problem with this theme and if for whatever reason I need something to work differently, you can access their support forum from your WordPress dashboard and they will be getting back to you within 24 hours, but usually within a few.
Hands down … my best buy. You can click on the image to buy the x theme, or simply click here to see their 6,289 (5*) Reviews for yourself. If you do one thing in your life, I suggest you buy the only theme you will ever need, for less than $30.00.