I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about what I use to run my business so I figured I’d put together a quick post about what I use and why. If I miss your favourite piece of software, leave a comment below.
There is plenty of competition, but nothing will ever beat WordPress. It’s so damn easy to use a child could do it. If you’re going to hire someone to build your website, make sure it’s someone who’s going to do the job properly. Remember, WordPress is supposed to make something complicated easy enough for the every day Joe to be able to handle. Case in point: I had a client who’s entire WordPress website is so difficult to work in, I’ve had to call in the troops on a number of occasions (thanks Christina!). Every single page had it’s own page template, the navigation was hard coded right into the site. It was a nightmare and it also means that she’ll need to hire someone anytime she wants to make a simple change on her site. So use WordPress, but hire someone who’s going to set it up properly. You’re going to need web hosting too, and Hostgator is a great choice. If you use code fallspecial25 you’ll save yourself an extra 25% off their already easy-to-deal-with prices.
Imagine you have all your client files neatly laid out on your computer. There’s invoices, completed files, graphics .. everything. And you wake up in the morning and when you turn on your trusty computer, it does … nothing. It’s happened to me and it’s totally not my idea of a good morning. Not only were all my business files held captive inside a tiny little box that had no intention of ever opening up again, but there were also all my son’s baby pictures there too – all his firsts. If you don’t have some kind of an automated back up system, you could be kicking yourself in the ass. Hard drives fail … and every single one of them will … trust me. Take the time to get something like Carbonite in place. It works in the background and takes care of backing everything up without hogging your system resources. If you have a hard drive fail, you simply replace the hard drive, press a few buttons inside Carbonite and wait while they happily replace all your missing files. Give it a try through this link and they’ll even give you 2 months free on your subscription.
#3: AWEBER OR MAILCHIMP
There’s reasons to use both of them and I’ve recommended both to my clients depending upon their needs. If you’re planning on doing a lot of information marketing, get yourself an Aweber account. If you need an autoresponder, get yourself an Aweber account. If you’re only going to have one list and you’re planning on sending out a handful of newsletters to your list, get yourself a Mailchimp account. Mailchimp starts out free – but they don’t have an autoresponder for the free account. Once you surpass 2000 people, the price between both average out. Don’t think you’re going to start off with Mailchimp and then move to Aweber when you’re bigger. They don’t allow you to just place folks on the newsletter list, which means everyone is going to have to opt in on Aweber again. And truth be told, a lot of people don’t do that. If you’re in doubt, go with Aweber.
#4: GOOGLE ANALYTICS
Most people have this, but few people actually use it. Take some time to go through the system and figure out how it all works. If you’re running a business, you need to measure what’s going on. In order to measure something, you have to actually use the dang thing. So get yourself a free account, place the bit of code and get measuring.
A lot of folks don’t have the money or the need for a separate phone line for their business. Skype is a fabulous option. They do have online phone numbers you can buy (sorry, no Canadian numbers) and their subscriptions for long distance are second to none. Seriously, who could beat $3 for a months worth of calling in North America?
I’m in love with this service. So much so that I bought the pro version. If you’ve ever sent an email and then forgot about it because they never replied, you NEED this service. You can also schedule your email messages to go out at a later time, and “boomerang” messages back on a certain day or time. Try it out – I’ll bet you love it too.
#7: MY INTERVALS
This is the project management system I’ve used since I started my business back in ’09. They’re inexpensive, have fabulous support, and have robust features that are sure to fit any business. Project management, document storage, online timers – it’s all there.
#8: SCHEDULE ONCE
These guys have free and paid plans. For me, the free plan works perfectly. I switched to them after Tungle left the scene last year. The one thing I wish the free plan did have was the email reminders.
#9: CLICK TO TWEET
As I put together my blog posts, I sometimes have a sound bite that would make a perfect tweet. This is a free service that doesn’t require any signup. Plug in your tweet, click the button and you get a link that you can insert into your page. You can definitely do this on your own, but for those of you who are a little tech-challenged this is a perfect solution.
#10: RECITE THIS
Truthfully, I haven’t started using this, but it’s on my list to start. This is free, online, and will create a stunning graphic for your quote in a matter of seconds. Great for anyone who needs to add some Pinterest love to their business.
I had a client who recently had malicious code placed on her site. She was using some other service who monitored her sites, but wanted to charge another $200 to fix it. Who’s got time for that? Not me and not you. Hook yourself up with Sucuri. They’ll monitor the site AND clean anything that ever comes up. True peace of mind.
#12: OFFICE AUTO PILOT
This isn’t something I use in my business, but one of my clients does use it. Oh. My. God. I love it. Contact management – check! Payment processing – check! Email marketing – check! Task management – check! affiliate management – check! It integrates with WordPress, has if-then rules .. hell, it can even handle direct mail postcards. This is not for everyone because it’s pricey – but when your business is large enough to warrant it, you’re going to kick yourself in the ass for not getting on it sooner. You can’t beat a 90 day money back guarantee either.
#13: TINEYE REVERSE IMAGE SEARCH
I love this little site. I plug in a URL or upload an image and it’ll give me a number of hits where that image appears online. This can be uber useful for businesses trying to track down their own images.
What piece of software is a must-have in your business?