NOTE: This post is apart of a series. You can now find all post in the series here.
My first year in business has been a real roller coaster but along the way I found quite a few tools to help me work smarter. If you are anything like me you spend quite a bit of time looking for tools that will make your life easier and cut down on the time it takes to get things done.
Over the last year I definitely spent a good amount of time trying out just about everything out there. It definitely started to seem like there was always some new shiny thing so I had to get smart about what I needed so that I could finally pick the tools I needed and get productive.
Tools of the trade
The tools below are the ones that made the cut and that I am still using after my first year in business.
CoSchedule (paid) is a paid calendar app that integrates with WordPress. I use it to put together my digital editorial calendar, schedule post to my Facebook group and schedule out social promotions on Facebook and Twitter. This has definitely allowed me to free up a lot of time when it comes to promoting and scheduling content.
CoSchedule Headline Analyzer (free) is included in the CoSchedule plugin but you can also use it for free by itself. Before it was integrated into the CoSchedule plugin I would go and test out the headlines for my blog post. The CoSchedule Headline Analyzer scores the strength of your headlines and gives helpful suggestions for you to make more click worthy headlines. There was a definite improvement in click-through to my site when I started to use it.
Buzzsumo (paid & free) is a program I learned about from the Fizzle show on How to Reverse Engineer Massively Sharable Content . I have been hooked ever since. Currently I am only using the free version but if you want to dig in deeper than the paid version is the way to go.
Basically you can use Buzzsumo to search topics around your niche and see which post on those topics performed the best. You can see how many times it has been shared across social media platforms. Another really cool things about Buzzsumo is that you can search other blogs in your niche and see their most popular content. Buzzsumo is my go to research tool when I am working on a post.
Sendowl (paid) is what I use to sell all the products on my site as well as run my affiliate program. You can see it in action in my shop. I looked at every thing out there before finally deciding to go with sendowl. I definitely don’t regret everything was easy to set up and the fee is minimal. The best thing about it is you get paid instantly into you paypal account and can sell digital and physical products as well as subscriptions.
Creative Market (marketplace) is a place that you can get lost in for hours. I go here for all of my fonts, graphics, illustrations and styled stock photos. They have an amazing selection of products that you can use to really take your blog or business to the next level when it comes to design. Also be on the look out for their big monthly bundles. You can get thousands of dollars worth of product for only $39.
Dollar Photo Club (paid) is the go to place for stock photos. Every single photo is only a $1 which means you can have beautiful pictures and pinnable images.
Magic Action Box (paid & free) is what I use for email sign ups. The reason I choose Magic Action Box was because I could have different opt-ins on every page and could connect multiple list. Check out the bottom of this post and then check out the bottom of this post.
Notice that the opt-in boxes are different? That is you can style your boxes different for every page and send people to different list. It has been amazing and I can say my list really began to grow once I added the Magic Action Box. Also its non intrusive unlike a pop up.
Adobe Photoshop Elements (software) the program that pretty much changed my life. All of the graphics that I create I use Adobe Photoshop Elements. Elements as I like to call it is much easier to use than regular Photoshop. I like to think of it as the user friendly version of photoshop.
You can design just about anything you can think of as well as edit your photos. There are tons of youtube videos online to help you learn it as well.
Adobe Creative Cloud (software) was my next step after Elements. I do a range of creative things from designing planners to video editing. I currently pay monthly for the use of creative cloud. I have all of the adobe apps (Photoshop, Illustrator, Adobe Acrobat DC, Premier Pro and InDesign).
Elance (aka Upwork) can help you find people to do thing you either don’t have time to do or lack the skills to complete. I use Elance for a number of different things. Just recently I used it to hire an illustrator. Many people use Fiverr but I find that the quality is much better on Elance which is also reflected in the price you pay for services.
Meet Edgar (paid) has just been added to my list of go to products to help me get more done. At first glance you may be thinking that it is just another scheduling app. However, where Meet Edgar really shines is the ability to repurpose old content so that your social platforms are always active.
If I have to live post to every platform I am on I can tell you I just won’t be posting but in order to build community and engagement it is important to post consistently. Meet Edgar is helping me do just that.
Ahaology (free) is a pinterest scheduling app that allows you to schedule your pins as well as to pin content from their network. I have seen really great results since using it and my Pinterest account has grown as well as my pinterest traffic. Did I mention it was FREE!
I know that with this list of tools you may feel a bit overwhelmed. The best way to approach incorporating new tools is to just get what you need right now. So if your current focus is on getting email sign ups then focus on the opt – in box.
If you approach it this way it will feel less overwhelming and you will be more productive in the long run. I would love to hear your thoughts on these tools or any other tools that you may be using to boost your productivity and work smarter.
Next up: How I figured out the best days to post and how to write less and promote more .
What are some blogging/business tools that you can’t live without?