(Full disclosure: this post contains affiliate links to the products I use and recommend)!
Running a business online is a lot of fun, and there are so many tools out there that will help make your life easier. When it comes to email marketing, there are tons and tons of services that you can choose from, and the same goes for social media platforms, document sharing programs, and hosting services. Below, you’ll see the tools that I regularly use to keep my business up and running. Take these recommendations and see if you like them! Shop around for other options if you don’t think that these particular services are a fit for your needs. But know that these kinds of tools are available and most of them are free services for the taking! Enjoy!
Website and Email Marketing
Bluehost – When I first created my website, I chose to use Bluehost as my hosting service because it had a great reputation, it had a one-step WordPress installation process (which was highly appealing to me), and it was not overly priced. Bluehost is simple and easy to understand, easy to navigate, and super user-friendly. Every time I have a question, a customer service representative always answers the phone within 1-3 minutes, and they are very friendly and helpful! If you’re developing your first website, this is a great service to go with for your domain name and hosting needs!
Mailchimp – if you’re receiving this post in your email inbox, MailChimp sent it to you. Mailchimp is the service I choose to use for my email marketing because it’s simple, fun, customizable, and did I mention simple? I’m all about ease-of-use when it comes to technology, so MailChimp is definitely the one for me. When you’re first getting started, it’s a free service! You don’t have to pay until you start growing your email list (or if you choose to use autoresponders)…
Autoresponders – if you haven’t signed up for my free four-week course to help you kick ass online, you can subscribe at the bottom of this post, or by clicking here! When you sign up for this list, you’ll receive a series of four emails (once per week starting the day after you subscribe for my list). This is called an autoresponder. Like a crockpot (my favorite cooking device), you simply set it and forget it! Your campaigns will be sent out automatically as new subscribers sign up, and you’ll never have to mess with it if you don’t want to.
(Side bonus: when you subscribe to my site, you also get a free beginner’s eBook for learning to use email marketing for small businesses)!
Twitter – Twitter is my favorite social network for so many reasons. The connections and opportunities than can come from this platform are endless, and it’s an amazing tool for marketers and small business owners especially. I am working on a beginner’s guide to using Twitter for business, called “How Do I Twit?” This is a question I have actually received on multiple occasions, so it seemed to be a fitting title for my eBook! The best part about Twitter is that it’s so easy to use, and you can use it ALL DAY LONG without sitting at your computer all day long, as well.
Hootsuite – Hootsuite is my scheduling tool of choice for Twitter. It also has the ability to schedule for other social media platforms, but I prefer to just use it for Twitter. With Hootsuite, you can login to your account in the morning, take a look at who is tweeting about what, schedule your tweets for the day, engage with other people by joining conversations, and be done with it! You have the ability to connect, connect, and connect some more throughout the entire day, even though you may have only been online for a total of 30 minutes at 6 AM. If you’re going to be traveling for a few days, schedule some tweets ahead of time so that your business doesn’t fall silent during your absence.
Click to Tweet – I recently began using this free service called Click to Tweet because it allows your readers to tweet quotes directly from your blog posts. Click to tweet is just one more way to spread the word about your posts! [Click to tweet this, and you’ll see what I mean].
Facebook scheduler – Facebook has its own scheduling tool, too… and a lot of people don’t know about it because it’s kind of hard to see/find! If you’re an admin for a brand page, you can schedule posts hours, days, weeks in advance, and it will post them as requested! This is another great one to keep in mind if you’re traveling.
Rafflecopter – if you’re hosting a giveaway or promotion, this is an amazing tool to help make it happen (and it’s free). If you want to do a giveaway through social media, Rafflecopter is a way for you to promote your giveaway through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, commenting on blog posts, etc. People enter into your giveaway by either following you on Twitter, pinning your promotion on Pinterest, liking your Facebook page, tweeting about the giveaway, and more. You can set the criteria to be whatever you wish! At the end of the entry period, Rafflecopter will randomly select a winner (or winners) based on how many times they entered into the raffle. Statistics are confusing – let Rafflecopter do the work.
Tungle – I discovered Tungle from one of my favorite blogger gals. This is an online calendar to help you keep track of your appointments, phone calls, and anything else you may need scheduled. It lets you block out the times that you are unavailable, and you can send people to your personal Tungle page so that they can schedule a meeting with you based on your availability. I use this tool for all of my consultations and meetings (and by meetings… I clearly mean Skype chats and phone conversations).
Google docs – If you’re a Google Apps user and you’re collaborating with several people on various projects, put them into a shared folder in your Google Docs so that you won’t have to keep saving the files to your computer, attaching them to an email, and sending files back and forth. Google Docs automatically saves your progress and everyone on your team can work on the same documents together without having to deal with files falling through the cracks of the Interwebz.
Dropbox – for big files (videos, photos, presentations), check out Dropbox. Like Google Apps, you can share folders and people on your team can upload and share files in the same folder.
What are some of your favorite online tools that you use to keep your business running? If you know of anything that I should be adding to this list, please share in the comments below!