I recently saw a blog post on Twitter from someone I follow, where they outlined their favourite blogging tools. I bookmarked a couple of their recommendations to look up and look into, and felt validated by a couple others that I use myself. I was also inspired to craft my own post sharing my favourite tools when I’m creating content, whether it’s for blogging or business productivity.
Most of my favourite tools aren’t particularly high tech, and I’m sure there are even better more efficient tools out there that I’m not aware of, but finding something that works for you, while still learning new things, is what matters.
If you have the Microsoft Office suite of programs and haven’t been using Publisher you’re missing out. It’s a great way to prepare flyers, bulletins and even newsletters. If you’re operating on a do-it-yourself budget this is a great tool to start with to create some of your own promotional material.
Images are key to get eyes on your content, and Pixabay has been a good tool for finding images to use. But buyer beware, there’s always an inherent risk of copyright violation and these sites are only as good as they police themselves.
I do a surprising amount of image manipulation and editing in PowerPoint, and it’s also good for creating pitch decks, presentation or your own marketing plans and strategies. PowerPoint is particularly effective because it’s such a visual platform that allows you to map out ideas and work.
Build a website for your business. Change it as you’re developing your business to meet your changing business needs. Blog from it to reach potential customers. Affordable hosting and a great beginner to intermediate tool. I’ve also used Shopify (which I would recommend if you’re a product focused or pure sales business) and Wix and I definitely prefer WordPress as the best do-it-yourself, get online, and share content, platform.
I love having a cloud drive built into my Outlook email. From it I can share large documents from clients, access files regardless of what computer I’m on and back-up files from my computer hard drive. As a free tool that comes with a free email account, I think this is a great way for a business owner on a shoestring budget to create a collaborative workspace to meet employee and client needs.
A paper To Do list
My To Do list is still one of my favourite things. What I’ve found to be most productive to me is to have my To Do list in a scribbler beside my computer, something I can cross or check off from as I work. One of the reasons is because it’s not as changeable and in flux as a digital list, which can be manipulated to seem like it never ends. I also find it useful to divert my attention away from my screen, take a minute to look at my list, decide if things at the top are still priority and see what kind of progress I’m making and what changes I may need to make, I think the physical act of shifting communication mediums helps provide clarity.
Multiple emails linked to my phone
I need to check in on over 8 email accounts, both personal, business and client. I like to be in the know and to be responsive to client and business needs. This certainly isn’t the life for everyone, and there’s a lot to be said for work-life balance, but as someone who travels throughout the province not infrequently, and has family responsibilities that sees me staying outside of my own household overnight to a week at a time, sometimes at the drop of a hat, having my life on my phone, and being able to access everything from it, is a big help. I can access all the email accounts I monitor from my Outlook app on my phone, if this something you don’t have set up I cannot recommend it enough, just be sure to pay attention that you’re drafting emails from the right account before you send them!
Social Media Tips
I actually don’t like posting tools for social media, you know, the ones that allow you to bulk plan your social and post across multiple platforms? I find you then have content that is either optimized for only one platform and isn’t effective on others, or content that is less effective across all the platforms, so I tend to post everything across platforms separately.
First, I cannot recommend having an image on almost every post enough. Occasionally, on a well established platform I will post text without an image, but overall you’ll get more attention and interaction with an image.
Here is my system – first I post to Instagram because I find it has the best tools for me to edit my photos. Before I hit post I copy my text and then I drop it into Facebook and pare the hashtags down to about 3 that are the most relevant. Then I upload my edited photo that I used in Instagram and pop it into my Facebook post and let it loose. From there I copy the Facebook post and put it into Twitter, of course I may have to pare it down again to meet the character limit, but I’ll have the 3 relevant hashtags chosen and it’ll be a lot less work that way. And voilà! All done.
Although I have to admit, sometimes for the ease of it I will cross post from Facebook onto Instagram. What I won’t do is use an automated system that make a post show up as a URL line in Facebook or on Twitter, because that’s very ineffective and doesn’t look good, so keep your eye out for that.
I hope there are some useful tools and ideas for you in this post, something that will help you improve the way you do business and have a better, more productive day.
All the best,