The other day I came across a list of blog post ideas and they were quite interesting and different…and what I really liked about them is that they all had a “personal” touch to them. One that caught my eye was Top 10 Business Tools I Use. So here I am…writing a blog post about exactly that. BTW…the list can be found here: 100 Blog Topics I Hope You Write by Chris Brogan (who rocks BTW).
So after 5 years of being an entrepreneur I’ve used a wide array of tools to help me do things faster and more efficiently and sometimes with more fun.
Here’s the list:
1) WordPress - This is hands down my #1 tool. It allows me to get a website up and running fast if I need to. And it allows me to create squeeze/landing pages, update my blog/website, create products (yes this is a new product I’ll be creating soon. How To Create Info Products.) It has so much flexibility I can do just about anything with it..well except brush my teeth. There are tons of plugins and themes available so if I’m looking for new functionality or a new look, I can usually get something up and running in minutes and most times for free. One of the greatest benefits of using WordPress is the ability for 2 way communication between my readers and I. This rocks! Anyways…as some of you know I have created an info product that teaches people how to “build your own website” in an evening with WordPress. Or you can check out my free 10 minute video for the condensed version here: TheTenMinuteWebsite.com.
2) MailChimp – This tool is what really allows me to “connect” with my readers. For less than FREE it allows me to have up to 2,000 subscribers, create autoresponders, and send out emails whenever I want. It tracks it all and shows me who my readers are. Plus this program is hands down the most fun to use. I think they must have hired a comedienne to put together some of their copy. Unlike some other mailing list services, it allows you to create your own templates, setup multiple autoresponders and much more. If you’re not building a mailing list yet…go grab yourself a free account here: http://eepurl.com/Qpa1
3) Evernote – This is a piece of software that you can download to multiple computers and your smart phone. It allows you to take and keep track of notes, list, or web pages. It syncs between multiple computers and phones. And it also comes with a browser plugin that allows you to quickly grab a webpage and copy it into Evernote..and file the webpage as well. I use it for almost everything, lead lists, ideas/projects list, webpages I find that really rock and I don’t want to forget about. What I love about Evernote the most is it keeps everything at my fingertips. It’s also free and I suggest you take a look. Evernote.com
4) Market Samurai – This tool gives me a ton of info. Stuff like keywords to use that get a lot of traffic but have little competition, who is my competition and what do I really need to do to get on page 1 of Google. It also tells me what will be profitable and what won’t be, allows me to find and publish content that is completely optimized and soooo much more. If you’re looking to take your “internet marketing” skills to the next level…definitely check out this tool. They have a 30 day free trial. MarketSamurai.com
5) Facebook Page – Facebook is the biggest site around with the most traffic. If you’re not using it …believe me you’re missing out. But it’s not just for online junkies and kids. It’s powerful viral nature can spread the word about you and what you offer faster than you can say “Gary Vay-ner-chuck”. I’ve been growing one of my Facebook pages to over 2,000 fans now and when I post something there…I get responses. Remember you want to use Facebook pages to create a community not to sell. Warning: Get your own Facebook page…cause you’ll max out at 5,000 friends and Pages allow you to do some cool Double Lead optin stuff…ya like getting two leads for the price of one. Sweet. Facebook.com/page. Oh and check out my tutorial: How To Create A Facebook Landing Page
6) Kodak Zi8 – This is my handy little video camera. It was a toss up between this and the Flip cam. The deal breaker was that the Zi8 allows you to add an external mic…which is really important when doing online videos, because if someone has trouble hearing you, they’ll probably stop watching. (I know I would). This camera is HD, less than $200 (actually I saw a refurbished one for $99 once) and works great. I keep it in my purse for those unexpected video moments or thoughts. Plus just discovered the other day that I can prop it up on my phone holder in my car so it makes it really easy to make videos in the car. Saweeeet! Kodak Zi8
7) Freebinar & See You On The Call - Webinars are hot. I use them to train my team and give away free education on my services, products and expertise. I record them and then use them later for other things such as optin offers or free giveaways. Freebinar is a free webinar service. So if you’ve heard of GoToMeeting.com, it’s similar but free. They have all the basic features and many additional ones. Once you start using webinars (or teleseminars for that matter) you’ll definitely want to also take advantage of SeeYouOnTheCall.com. This is also a free service (can you tell I love free ) that you can use to promote your webinar or teleseminar. They send out a daily email to webinar junkies …basically it’s free advertising.
8) Hootsuite – If you’re into social media (and you should be at least a little bit) then you’ll know that it can be time consuming. Hootsuite is one of those tools that allows you to not only use more than one social media outlet at once, but also to schedule your posts, create drafts, respond to people and track all your social media activity in ONE place…wooo hooo. It’s awesome. And I really love Hootlet which is a small browser add in that enables you to share any website you come across through Hootsuite with only a couple clicks. Huge Time Saver. Check out Hootsuite.com. If you find it confusing at first..check out this tutorial: Hootsuite How To: Managing All Your Social Media In One Place
9) Odesk.com – As an entrepreneur for the last 5 years I’ve tried to do everything..but about 8 months ago I decided that’s it! No more. I’m only going to focus on what I’m really good at and let everyone else do the other stuff. Odesk has been a critical tool in that regard. I’ve hired copywriters, graphic designers and programmers to take care of all the stuff that used to take me hours or that I did really poorly. And at Odesk you can find someone in your budget which makes it nice. It’s simple to use and they act as a third party in the sense that they hold your payment and only release it once you’ve indicated that you’re satisfied. This is a good way to protect both parties …so you know it’s fair and you won’t get ripped off. Hire someone on Odesk.com today and get focused on what you do best.
10) Paypal – This is such a great tool for small business. It’s cheap, easy to use and most people have heard of it. Plus they have a lot of protection features in place protecting both buyer and seller. If you want to sell anything online and don’t have a big budget for merchant accounts and payment processors…Paypal is definitely a safe and affordable bet. It allows you to invoice customers, request funds, send funds (maybe to pay vendors), add Pay Now buttons on your and even a simple shopping cart. Super easy. Oh and did I mention you only pay when you use it (again…awesome for entrepreneurs). Check out Paypal.com. If you want to sell a digital product on your site, you’ve got to check out this tutorial: How To Sell A Digital Product On Your Site
I hope you enjoyed this post. I actually have many more tools I use..but these are definitely the most valuable.
Leave a comment below with some of your best / favourite tools that you use to grow your business.