These are tools every small business owner needs to improve online visibility and productivity.
Whether you have a coaching business or just want to improve your personal brand, these are the tools I highly recommend.
A large part of growing your business has to do with getting the word out and letting people know what you do. In order for that to happen, you have to have a website. You also have to use social media to expand your network and reach.
I’ve played around with many tools and apps to simplify or improve my online reach. These are the go-to resources I find myself using again and again. Now I’m sharing them with you!
Genesis WordPress Theme
In 2016 I finally moved over to Genesis when I updated my website. It is supposedly better for SEO and I can say that it’s less technical than what I was using before. I don’t speak CSS, HTML, hooks or other fancy stuff, so this is the perfect solution for me. There is a cost associated with owning a premium theme. But if you want to build a business online, I think you’ll want to pay for a solution. A special shout out to Rebecca Metz of WebpagesThatSell, for her ongoing help with my site.
Plugins provide an easy way to add functionality to your site. There are hundreds of thousands of them. These are the plugins I recommend:
AddThis Social Sharing: The AddThis Social Bookmarking Widget allows any visitor to share my site with many popular services (such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter). I can see how many visitors are sharing my content and which services they’re using for sharing, which content is shared the most, and more.
Contact Form 7: It’s important to have a contact form so people can easily send you a message.
Contextual Related Posts: Displaying a set of related posts at the bottom of your articles can increase reader retention and reduce bounce rates. It gives visitors a reason to stay on your page longer! And all you have to do is set it and forget it. The plugin does the selection for you.
Yoast SEO: SEO is too important to chance. That’s why I started using SEO by Yoast. It prompts me to use a keyword and then analyzes my post to make sure I’ve used the keyword enough, that the length and readability are ok.
Optin Forms: This allows me to add a call to action at the end of my posts like this one.
WordPress Popular Posts: Showcase your most popular posts to your visitors on your blog’s sidebar. Use WordPress Popular Posts as a widget or place it anywhere on your theme using some code.
My website is hosted on GoDaddy. Sure, there are lots of places that host, but I haven’t found any reason to move my site (yet).
Social Media Scheduling & Monitoring
I need a tool that makes it easy to schedule my status updates on multiple social media platforms and the follow two tools make it easy. FYI, I’m using the free versions without any complaints.
HootSuite is my preferred desktop tool. I can schedule posts to LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter all at the same time, with a bit of modification of course. It also works on mobile, but it’s a bit more difficult to use.
Hootsuite also lets me monitor all the activity going on across my social networks (especially all the lists I’ve created on Twitter!) And it’s easy to retweet content from people I follow.
Buffer: I also use the free version of Buffer to share articles and status updates on social media. As a free user, I am limited to connecting 3 social media accounts and 10 shares on each. That’s why I also use Hootsuite.
Buffer also provides a weekly summary of how well my status updates perform. It shows how many clicks, shares, mentions and likes. (This shows analytics for Twitter, but each platform has it’s own summary).
Commun.it: This is a Twitter monitoring tool! I get a daily update via email that tells me who has engaged with my post, new followers, people who I might want to respond to, etc. I recently started using the free version and refer to it weekly to follow people who follow me.
I always need fresh content to share and sources of information. Most of the time I get current news from my Twitter feed. But, sometimes I need more. I use Feedly to find articles on a particular topic and to stay current. Most importantly, it eliminates a lot of the email newsletters and updates in my inbox.
Feed.ly: You can tailor the Feedly reader to your tastes. Get started by adding sites you love to read.
I read and reshare articles (and more) from many other experts. But just because I’ve shared something on Twitter, doesn’t mean everyone sees it. So creating a summary is another way to ensure people see what I share. Sharing other people’s articles is good karma!
Paper.li: I publish a Weekly Job Search Guide. It is a compilation of tweets from some of the top career professionals I follow. The tool aggregates the articles I specify and tweets it once a week. I don’t need to touch it. I set the accounts I want to share, set a weekly time to publish and it tweets it at the scheduled day and time.
FlipBoard Flipboard gathers news and popular stories collected by news outlets and others plus lets you save articles you like to your own boards. It’s good for personal branding and it another source of finding relevant news curated by others. It’s a more visual reader, sort of like a magazine.
Scoop.it works very much like FlipBoard. You can follow other people’s Scoops t0 see what they share plus create your own page to share your news-worthy scoops.
Almost every image I use comes from Pixabay. Pixabay offers royalty free, attribution free images I can modify and use for any purpose!
I usually capture screenshots with Microsoft’s Snipping Tool. Sometimes I use Evernote’s Skitch. It has been discontinued and you can’t upload it any longer so you may want to try the snipper that comes with Microsoft or you can use Open Screenshot which will capture any size screen. It’s a Chrome plugin. The editing is limited but it will take care of the basics.
My go-to resource for creating infographics is Visme! And Visme also works if you want to create cover images for your social media accounts.
Canva also has infographics and slide presentation templates.
MailChimp: I use MailChimp for distributing my blog posts, sharing my Summary Sunday and newsletter. Since I’ve put more effort into growing my list, I now pay a small monthly fee. If you have under 2,000 subscribers, there is no cost.
Sumo: And while we’re talking about growing your list, consider using a tool like Sumo to grow traffic and encourage people to sign up for your email newsletters!
Other Cool Tools
Grammarly: I write- a lot. And one thing I’m not good at is proofreading my work. Grammarly shows me typos and grammar mistakes. It works with email, social media posts and any online messaging! It’s saved my butt a bunch of times.
List.ly: Create lists of your favorite posts or resources! Then share it on social media! This tool has “engagement” factor, meaning people can follow your list, add to it, share it, or like an item you’ve listed. The options are endless for how you can use this neat tool.
WiseStamp: Create a professional email signature and promote your business with every email sent.
Dlvrit This is an automated social sharing tool. The basic account is free, so that’s what I’m using for now. I use it to automatically tweet new articles from blogs of trusted experts. I select the source and Dlvrit will automatically tweet new articles.
IFTTT is a way to get all your apps and devices talking to each other, for free. There are “applets” or actions pre-programmed for you, such as “Tweet your Instagrams as a native photo” or “Automatically share your new YouTube uploads to your professional network on LinkedIn”. This automates actions that would normally take you time and effort.
These are the extensions and apps I use to stay organized.
Pocket – When I want to save an article to read later, I save it to Pocket.
EverNote – Sometimes I need a place to keep articles or thoughts.
Slack – This is a great tool for collaborating on projects
Trello – It’s a visual project management tool and more!
Video Calls & Recording
I used to use Skype and I still do sometimes. But I like Zoom better. Zoom makes it super simple to have a conference call, with or without video and share anyone’s screen. You can record your Zoom calls (up to 30 minutes for free).
I just learned about a new video recording tool called Loom and I’ll be testing that to record screenshots on my desktop and adding them to how-to posts I write!
Keeping Up With Trends
I hope you have found some new tools to help you with your business or job search.
Are there tools you use that you can’t just live without? Please, do share!