There are many options, so I thought I’d share the ones that I use regularly to make my business, and my life, more streamlined, productive and balanced.
A free and easy to use tool design tool in which you can create graphics for your social media profiles, website and blog, PDF documents for online free or paid workbooks or tip-sheets, or marketing flyers, business cards postcards and posters. You can use your own uploaded images and logos or use free and paid for templates and images offered by Canva’s designers. You can also match your brand colours to make all your designs look unified and add links into the online graphics that can point back to your website or social media profile. There are lots of help videos to show you how to get started.
A new, paid for version called Canva for Work has just been launched, that gives businesses the opportunity to create brand styles to apply across your designs and a new way to resize a design for multiple platforms without starting from scratch.
I am a Mac girl, so I live by my iCal calendars synched across my Mac, iPad and iPhone. I use iCal’s ability to use separate, colour coded calendars to schedule different aspect of my business and family life so that I can see a snapshot of the balance of my week. This helps me see if there’s an imbalance or whether there’s a clear priority focus for that week. There are functions in Google Calendar to do a similar thing. It really helps me be more productive and plan out my MITs (Most Important Things) for the week.
A free to use email marketing system that allows you to grow an email mailing list, design emails and newsletter and send them to customers and potential customers or clients on your list. It’s a great way to engage with your customers, share news, offers and get the benefits of your products or services across, right in their inbox.
There are paid for options once your list get to more than 2000 email addresses. It’s easy to use once you’ve watched their getting started’ and ‘how to’ help videos. I’ve found their customer support really responsive and with bespoke answer to my queries too. MailChimp integrates with lots of common online platforms and systems, such as WordPress, Facebook, WooCommerce, Salesforce, LeadPages, GoogleDocs, PayPal and loads more.
A nifty way to schedule and manage your social media content across your online profiles and groups. Its a real time saver as, combined with some social media planning of what you want to say and share, it encourages a new work habit to sit and schedule your content to be sent out automatically for you when you are asleep, away or busy with something else.
If you block out time in your calendar to do this once a month, then post organically in between, you’ll have fresh and frequent content going out to your potential customers everyday. Again, there are free and paid for versions, pus advanced features to monitor your social media impact, monitor your brand and create lists of people and profiles to follow and connect with.
A completely free, online accounting tool that you can use as a basic bookkeeping system for customisable invoicing, estimates and expenses, with in-built reports for profit and loss and balance sheets. Or you can use a few more advanced features to send payment reminders to customers, VAT return reports, link your bank accounts, create custom reports and tracking of your finances and costs over time. Really handy when it comes to self assessment time!
A simple and low cost way to automate your booking process and get clients to schedule (and pay for) their own appointments, meetings or classes online. This helps you reduce the amount of admin work coming from individual email conversations with clients about availability, bookings and payments. You can link to it from your website or social media, or send a private link to clients via email.
A lifesaver, as the images on my WordPress website and blog were not showing up correctly when I shared links in groups or on my Facebook page. I got this tip from WordPress Ninja, Mui Tsun, who has an easy to follow tutorial on her blog to help you use the debugger tool to get the right image show each time.
Free stock images for you to use free from copyright and without paying a penny. While it’s important to have professional, consistent and ‘on brand’ photography across your website and profiles, there are times when you need a quick image for a blog post or social media message and pexel is a great place to dip into to get one. While it is completely free, you can choose to make a donation by PayPal or support them by sharing on social media as a little thank you.
There are plenty of alternatives to these tools and every business owner and business has different needs. Feel free to share your favourites and why in the comment box below.
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