Here the 6 Online Tools I’d Be Lost Without
The Internet has made working at home easier and more affordable than ever. A lot of that has to do with the business tools that allow you to make money, market yourself, and automate tasks. There are a lot of moving parts to building a successful online income, and the more tools you have to systematize and manage these to-dos, the more time you can spend on money-making tasks or living your best your life.
Starting out, many people put off getting business tools as a way to save money. I can certainly understand that. Not only am I a total DIYer, but also, I’m pretty cheap. However, online tools are well worth the expense because they can help you make more than you would without them. They also save you time and help prevent burnout from tedious tasks.
Everyday, I use many tools to manage and grow my income from home. But if I had to limit the business tools I can use, these are the six I’d choose (but please don’t make me limit the tools I use 🙂 )
If you’re just starting out or are ready to start saving time and making more money online, or are curious to what online tools I like, here’s my list of my top five faves.
If you’ve been online for any time, chances are you’ve heard of the WordPress platform. In fact, most bloggers I know swear by it (I’m a bit of a WordPress snob myself). The great thing about WordPress is that the script is free (you need to pay for a domain name and hosting).
Other great features include:
- Easy to use. The backend of WordPress where you write your pages and posts, or add and change your sidebar or menus, doesns’t change. So once you learn it, you’ve got it.
- Total customization. On the front end, there is practically no limit to what you can do to create a blog or website that is unique to you and your business. You don’t even have to blog. You can use WordPress for a website, ecommerce and more.
- Tons and tons of themes. If you’re tired of the look of your site, change the theme with a click. There are many free themes. I use Themify.me, which I love for it’s builder (can buy the builder as a stand-alone plugin) and themes (that come with the builder included). The Themify Builder lets you take any WordPress theme, and modify the formatting of any page or post. For example, the home page at WAHS uses the Themify Builder to organize what is on the page. The interface is drag and drop, so it’s easy to add what you want, whether it’s a widget, a box, a count down timer, posts, or whatever you want.
- Tons of plugins. Plugins are little snippets of code that let you add features and functions to your WordPress site. Some help you deal with issues behind the scenes such as speeding up load times or dealing with spam comments. Others add perks for your visitors, such as share buttons, job boards, videos and more. Some of my favorite plugins are PrettyLinks, which allows you to not only cloak your affiliate links (to help prevent affiliate link stealing), but also, to track how your links are doing, Yoast SEO, which helps you optimize your blog posts for search engines, and Post Gopher, which allows people to request a PDF doc of a blog post delivered to their email (it’s like turning your blog post into a content upgrade).
I’m seeing a lot of hoopla around Kartra and BuilderAll, and they’re probably great. But ClickFunnels was the first and still offers some of the best all-in-one online business set up. I like ClickFunnels because I can do everything with it. Whether you just want to gather leads, make sales, host an event…whatever … you can do it through ClickFunnels.
- You can easily and quickly set up a sales funnel. There are tons of free funnel templates you can install with a single click. Whether you want an optin page, webinar page, author page, speaker page, sales page…there’s a funnel template you can use.
- You can run a a business solely through a 2-page funnel (optin and thank you page) and email , which is ideal for affiliate marketing, especially if you’re not interested in blogging.
- Or you can set up more complex funnels that sell your service or affiliate program, as well as with upsells and downsells.
- You can set up and sell a course or membership site. I ran the WAHS Virtual Summit entirely through ClickFunnels.
- You can even blog through ClickFunnels
- It has integrations with other tools (if you don’t want the all-in-one option) such as email list services, Zapier, and more.
- Through it’s expanded Etison suite, you can manage your email (including campaigns, segmenting, triggers, etc) and set up an affiliate program.
ClickFunnels has a ton of features, which can take some time to understand, but the interface it’s self is easy once you learn with drag-and-drop elements that are easy to customize.
ClickFunnels isn’t cheap, but when compared to the other all-in-one platforms, it’s very competitive, especially since it allows for a bunch of funnels under a single account. Along with the WAHS Virtual Summit, my Digital Writer Success book info and Affiliate Funnel Success project that are run through ClickFunnels, I’m currently moving the Work-At-Home Job Course, my personal website, and other courses to ClickFunnels.
I’ll confess that I’ve been taking a closer look at ConvertKit lately. There’s been so much buzz around how it’s designed specifically for bloggers and ease of use. Aside from the hassle of setting it up and moving my list, there are two reasons I’m still with Aweber over Convertkit:
- Cost: Aweber is less expensive than ConvertKit. In fact, for each list size cost interval, Aweber is nearly half as much.
- Number of Lists: While it’s true that Convertkit doesn’t count a subscriber twice if it’s on the more than one “list,” the truth is, you can only have one list with Convertkit. I have several different email lists, and while there may be some people who are on more than one list that would be counted twice in Aweber, I have lists that are completely different. To have more than one list with Convertkit, I’d need another account.
Aweber has added many of the features that makes Convertkit so attractive, such as having email campaigns and the ability to segment a list through tags. You can also set up automation. Admittedly, I’m struggling on figuring out how to do many of those things in Aweber so that they work the way I want. Convertkit, as far as I’ve been able to tell, makes all that much easier. With that said, part of my challenge is simply learning something new. I’ve been with Aweber so long and using it in a specific way, doing something different takes time to learn and implement.
I spend way too much on social media tools, and have been actively looking at finding one tool that can manage it all. At this point, that tool is HootSuite. Here’s why I love Hootsuite:
- You can manage up to 3 accounts for free (I use the paid version to manage 9 profiles.)
- It integrates with all the most used platforms including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, and YouTube.
- You can schedule posts that will automatically post on the days and times you set, even on Instagram.
- You can use it on your computer or there is a phone app as well.
- It has a browser applet that you can click to share other great content you find online.
- Along with sharing and posting stuff, you can see what’s going on in your feeds, and respond with likes, shares, comments, etc.
- Add team members. My VA is able to post for me as a member of my team.
As it turns out, I can’t have one social tool to rule them all, but in this case, I’m okay with that. While I can mange Pinterest through Hootsuite, Tailwind has a few other bells and whistles that I LOVE and can’t live without. Here’s why:
- Schedule pins: Not only can I schedule my pins, but I can schedule other pins I want to share. You can get the Tailwin applet for your browser, so you can share a pin from any website, but also, the Tailwind button appears when you’re on Pinterest as well.
- Schedule multiple pins at one time. Along with scheduling a single pin to post across multiple boards, you can also schedule many pins across multiple boards.
- Group boards together. If you have several boards that are in a related topic, you can group them together and select the group, instead of having to select each group one at a time.
- Pin at the best times. While you can set the time to pin, Tailwind offers a smart calendar that will pin at the best time.
- Interval pinning. Pinterest will ban you for spam if it feels like you’re pinning the same pin too much. Interval pinning spreads out when the pin is posted to boards to avoid being banned as a spammer. You can even shuffle the queue if you’re still worried some pins might post too close together.
- Analytics. You can find out your best pins and repins, followers, and engagement on your overall profiles, as well as data on specific boards.
- You can also manage Instagram through Tailwind.
Pinterest drives more traffic to WAHS than any other social media, so I want to maximize that and Tailwind makes it easy for me to pin my own stuff, as well other stuff for an entire week in a matter of minutes.
I am not a design experts. In fact, I’ll argue that I’m terrible at design. But in a web that is increasing visual, graphics are important. Along with great graphics for your website or blog, you need them for social media profiles, social media share images, thumbnails and more. And unfortunately, one size doesn’t fit all. That’s where Canva comes in and why I use it everyday.
- Premade templates (free and premium) in all social media profile and share sizes, as well as book covers, flyers, and more. You can even set your own custom size.
- Free and premium graphics
- Ability to upload your own graphics
- Illustrations and icons
- Free and premium fonts
- Cool elements
- Resizing (premium) allow you to resize your graphic into a new one. I use this to resize my blog graphic (sized for Facebook) into a Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter sized graphics.
- Custom fonts, colors etc (premium)
- Download options.
You can use Canva for free forever. I opted to go with the paid version which is about $12 per month and I think it’s worth it. My only beef with Canva is the inability to manipulate text such as adding a shadow, but the rest of the bells and whistles make it worth it. My only other beef is that I have to pay for 2 accounts to have my VA help me. While most services do charge more for team access, it’s not usually the full cost of two accounts.
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