Best Resources I use in my Business
I always find it helpful to learn what kind of resources other people use in managing their day to day business. That is certainly how I got to learn about many of the services and products I use. On this page, I am sharing the resources I use almost every day in the hope that you find something that improves how you work and leads to making your day and your business more productive.
Just a short heads up: Some of the links I included below are affiliate links. This means that if you decide to make a purchase, I will get a small commission from the company you are purchasing from. The commission is at no additional cost to you. All of the resources I have listed below are products and services I use myself and I am recommending them because I find them useful. You can choose if you want to use my affiliate links or not, that is up to you. If you decide to use them, see it as a way of giving me a little bit of return on the content that I create for you for free. And of course, only invest in the tools that you think will help you achieve your goals.
All of us have the same amount of time available each day to achieve our very best. The way we organise ourselves can help us achieve what we set out to do more productively. Here are a set of productivity tools that help me organise myself.
Evernote is a digital notebook that helps you manage and find your notes back easily when you need to. I use Evernote every day to capture all my ideas, meeting notes, blog posts, images, lists, goals and any other online content that I find important to save for future references. I upgraded to the premium version of Evernote which allows me to have access to my notes across all devices. Evernote makes it super easy to tag and search content so that you can always find what you are looking for. There are many good tutorials online that bring you up to speed on how to make the best with this great tool. Click here to learn more about Evernote (if you sign up with this affiliate link you get one free month of Evernote Premium).
In Trello I do all my planning. Trello is a project management tool that you can also use as a team. You can create different boards on which you include lists and cards that are similar to post it notes. You can easily move your cards across to different lists and even different boards which makes this tool so flexible to use for managing your projects, as things always change and need updating. I have a board for tracking my goals, one for my social media planning, a weekly to dos board, and a content creation board for my blog and podcast. Within each card, you can include checklists, images, links, deadlines etc. I also share boards with my clients to manage projects more efficiently. Instead of emailing each other updates and latest versions of documents, we communicate, share and update each other about our progress in Trello. For teams up to 15 people, the tool is free. Have a look at Trello here via my affiliate link.
I use AnyList to organise my personal life together with my husband. AnyList is mainly a mobile app but also has a web application. In AnyList my husband and I share shopping lists, ideas for birthday gifts for our family and friends and other to dos. What I love especially is that you can also include cooking recipes. You can save ingredients for any of the recipes directly onto your shopping list which I find really practical (although there are many other apps who work the same). We keep our favourite recipes in the app and if we are on the go and need to plan our next meals we can go through our collection, decide on what we want to cook and then create our shopping list directly from there and hit the super market well prepared. No more forgetting your shopping list at home and hassle free coordinating between family members as the app updates automatically on everyone’s device. Here is the AnyList website and you can also check your IOS App Store.
When I wanted to organise myself I did a lot of research on which online calendar was the best. Almost every blog post and youtube review I studied came to the same conclusion that Google Calendar was the best. Today I agree. I use Google Calendar to organise my private and business life. I can give access to specific calendars to family members and team members if needed. It is easy to use and integrates well with many other tools that I use such as Trello and ScheduleOnce. It also has a nice smart phone app so you can work seamlessly across devices. Google Calendar is free to use. Here is the link to Google Calendar.
I often need to arrange meetings either with my podcast guest or with my clients. I got tired of having to write 10 emails back and forth to only arrange one appointment. That is why I am happy that I discovered Schedule Once. This tool lets other people book an appointment with me automatically. Schedule Once is linked to my Google calendar so people can see which days and times I am free and book 1-hour meetings with me.
What I love about this is that the system also sends automatic reminders before the meeting to my podcast guests and clients. Find out more about Schedule Once here and opt for a free trial.
The more we do online the more user names and passwords we need to create, manage and remember. As you know, each and every platform has certain requirements on how to set up your user name and password which makes things even more complicated to remember. I know many of my colleagues just reset their password almost every time they log into a platform they don’t use as much through the ‘Forgot my password’ function. That is one way of doing it. The more efficient way is to use a password manager that helps you keep track of your passwords, automatically fills in your passwords when you enter a site and also helps you make your passwords more secure if needed. Dashlane claims that a password manager can save you up to 50 hours a year. I would agree as I don’t know how I could run my business where I rely on so many online applications and platforms without a password manager. Check out how Dashlane works with my affiliate link.
Make graphic design easy
The more we work online and on social media the more we need to have great images and graphics to get our messages across. Here are some tools that make creating great graphics easy even if you are not a graphic designer.
I came across RelayThat through a recommendation of my Podcast Website hosting provider (see below). When I saw the demo of how RelayThat works I was immediately sold. In the age of online and social media, it is important to create images and so called posts. However, as you know each website, blog and social media platform need a different image or post format. This can be a lot of work if you want to create several social media posts for the same type of content. For example, when I post my podcast I need an image for my website, for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. As some platforms accept the same type of formats, that means in my case three different formats for one podcast episode. If I wanted to also post on Pinterest, YouTube or Snapchat I would need to create additional formats. This is where RelayThat creates the magic. You upload all your content for the post, such as background images, portrait images, headlines, subtitles, names, company names, logos, website URL, hashtags etc. once into the online platform. Then RelayThat creates all type of social media posts that you can think of automatically. You can adjust the ones that you want to use and download them to post to your website and social media platforms. The tool is easy to use and perfect for everyone who is not a graphic designer but does want to create all their posts themselves quickly. RelayThat also offers a free trial. Here is the link to the RelayThat website.
Another great graphic design tool that is already quite well known is Canva. Canva let’s you design all sorts of graphic designs online with the help of their predefined templates, headlines, frames etc. You can create social mediap posts, social media headers, invitations, CV’s, presentations, magazines etc. Canva offers predefined designs free and paid and you can adapt them as you need to by changing the text, colours, adding your images etc. I use Canva for one off designs like an invitation, business cards, social media headers etc. There is a free and paid version. Access Canva here.
Do you like my logo? I had that designed through 99 Designs. The platform is a market place to source graphic design work from freelance designers online. You simply create a briefing for the type of design you need and any freelance designer interested can submit their design ideas. You can give feedback during the process if you feel the designs are not going into the right direction. At the end you select a final round of designers you like best and let them refine their designs. At the end you pick your winner and the designer will create the final version and formats you need. If you don’t like any of the designs you also don’t pay anything. I thoought it was a great process to go through because unlike when you only work with one agency you get a lot of different designs to choose from and that helps you learn what you really want and like. I have an affiliate link with 99 Designs here.
Sometimes you just need to edit an image quickly like reduce the size and crop it. For these occasions I use Pixlr. This is an online platform where you can upload your images and quickly make edits to your photo, save it and your set. This is practical for everyone who does not have access to a Photoshop license or is not familiar with any basic graphic tools on their desktop. Follow the link to the Pixlr website here.
I often create videos for my blog posts as well as for my clients where I record my screen. This can be handy when you want to teach how to use a specific tool or record a presentation. Screencast-O-Matic is the software I use for all my screen cast videos. The recorder gives you three recording options: Full screen, full screen and a video of yourself talking and only yourself. You can also record audio and have basic video editing tools. There is a free and a paid version available depending on how long your videos should be. Find out more on the Screencast-O-Matic website here.
Managing Social Media
One key to being successful on social media is to post content regularly and consistently. Posting 5 images on one day and then none the rest of the week is not as effective as posting one every day. However, it is more cumbersome to take the time to post every day. That is where a social media managing tool comes to your assistance. A social media managing tool like CoSchedule lets you schedule your social media posts as far ahead as you need to and then posts them automatically for you. Think about the freedom that gives you, if you want to switch off during a holiday but still want to keep your momentum going online. Or you need to go on a business trip to a location with little connectivity and time to take care of your social media. You can just schedule your posts in advance. In addition, a tool like CoSchedule will also give you analytics, help you choose the best time to schedule and save you time as you just need to log into one platform instead of all your social media platforms. Follow my affiliate link to the CoSchedule website here.
If you are a podcaster, then repurpose might be of interest to you. This is also an automation tool that you can set and forget. In Repurpose you link up your podcast with your YouTube account and each time your podcast goes live, repurpose creates a video for YouTube. That means you get more exposure from your podcast, you repurpose it without the hassle of doing it each time yourself. If you are interested to find out more, here is my affiliate link to the Repurpose website.
While Social Media is a great way to connect with your target customers, landing directly in their email inbox is still one of the most valuable forms of communications. To ensure that your messages get delivered we need newsletter tools such as MailChimp. MailChimp helps you manage your subscription lists, lets people subscribe to your list and assists you in creating great emails through their templates and tools. There are many newsletter management tools available. MailChimp is free for the first 2000 subscribers, which can get small businesses and start ups already far. Try MailChimp here.
Because I publish a podcast, I needed some additional features and support for my website. That is why I opted for Podcast Websites, a WordPress theme based website provider that is specialised in serving the needs of podcasters. Podcast Websites makes it easy to create and design your website and give you great support and lots of online tutorials. In addition, the service includes the hosting of the podcasts, daily backups, website security and built in podcast download statistics. If you are a podcaster and want to publish your episodes hassle free, this service is right for you. Follow my affiliate link here and use the discount coupon HOSTME.
Recording and Editing
Skype – As my show is purely interview based, I do all my interviews on skype. Only exceptionally do I interview people in person.
Music Premium Beat – The music that you hear at the beginning and the end of my show is licensed from Premium Beat. They have tons of different jingles to choose from.
Audacity – I edit my podcast in Audacity, which is a free open source tool and easy to use.
Mixer: Behringer 802 8 Input 2 Bus Mixer – I am using a mixer to record my interviews. This version is a basic version but does the job (affiliate link).
Recorder: Roland R-05 – I record my interviews as well as my intro and outro on this little recorder and find it is easy to use, small and light to carry around and the sound quality is also good. (At the time of writing this, I could not find the recorder anymore on Amazon).
Microphone – I am using a basic microphone: Samson SAQ2U USB and XLR Microphone Recording Pack (affiliate link).