Ah, Hello! That was quite a hiatus. I took off on a month long vacation to visit my family ( it was an year since I saw them! ) and although I planned to check in here during my vacation, I just couldn’t make it happen ( I don’t know .. what was I thinking? ) . Thank you for all the lovely tweets and emails while I was gone. It means a lot to me.
But the good news is I am back, and how! There are going to be regular blog posts (as before) from now on and I am excited for all the new content that I am going to be sharing with you in the coming months. So let’s start off!
On our private Facebook group, Photography for Blog + Biz. we have a weekly feature called Toolsday Thursday where all the community members share a tool thats currently doing wonders for their business. Its been amazing to discover a ton of useful tools through this and today I am excited to share my current tools arsenal that I use to build, organize and grow my business.
Productivity + Time Management:
1. Self Control : I use the Self control app to block all the distracting websites and applications on my computer while I am working. You can list the websites that you want to block in the app, the time you want to block it for and no matter what you do, the app will not let you access the distracting apps for that amount of time.
2. Headspace is a great meditation app that helps you improve different areas of your life i.e performance, relationships, health, happiness and more. Start with their free foundation program here.
3. Pomodoro One is a simple way to use app for increasing personal productivity using the Pomodoro technique.
4. Asana is an amazing project management tool and makes team work super easy with the use of tasks, follow-up conversations and notifications. I use it with my clients as well as for my personal projects.
5. Noisli is an extremely simple yet genius app that spruces up your workspace with a sound booth. You can adjust the settings to play any background sound that you want. For eg. , the hustle and bustle of a coffee shop or rainy day weather or the chirping of birds – you can mix and match the sounds to create the perfect work environment that inspires you.
Blogging + Content marketing :
6. Evernote is the hub of my entire business workflow. I use it for literally everything from jotting down ideas on the go to planning big projects and collaborations for my business.
7. SumoMe plugin makes social sharing super easy and is one of the best ways to increase your content outreach. It is very simple to set up and enables social media sharing buttons for your content which can be clicked by visitors to share your content. List builder and heat maps are two other significant features of SumoMe which help with growing your traffic further by providing email forms and page analytics respectively.
8. Co Schedule provides an easy to use, drag and drop editorial calendar. You can also schedule your social media posts and spruce up your social media marketing strategy.
9. Grammarly analyzes and checks your content for grammar, correctness of sentences and improves readability.
10. Pinterest is by far one of the best ways to get your content in front of your audience. Its easy to setup , share content and gain traffic and business. Learn my Pinterest secrets that helped me grow my Pinterest by 4000 in 5 months!
Contracts, Invoicing Software:
11. Bonsai is what I use for all my contracts for client projects. It is free and fuss-free 😉
12. FreshBooks creates a quick and a fuss-free system for managing the finance part of your client projects. I use FreshBooks to send out project estimates, invoice my clients, track my expenses and payments.
13. Pancake app is another amazing app for managing client projects – proposals, estimates, contracts, invoices, time tracking – you name it – its all in there.
14. 17 Hats: From booking clients, to managing projects, to controlling your finances, with 17hats you have everything you need to manage your business and clients anytime.
Social media marketing:
15. Meetedgar is hands down my favorite social media scheduling app. It automates my social media updates and makes sure that I have a consistent social media presence.
16. I love Buffer ‘cuz its free. At the beginning, when investing an expensive social media tool wasn’t an option, Buffer was my best friend. It is helps scheduling app for twitter, Facebook
17. I use Board Booster to schedule my pins to go out throughout the week. It makes the whole scheduling task super easy and you can just schedule it and forget it – Board Booster will take care of everything for you!
18. Tailwind is an another amazing scheduling app that specifically focuses on Pinterest.
19. MailChimp is a free email marketing platform that helps you manage subscribers, track results and grow your business. If you are starting out , this is the best one to start with!
20. ConvertKit is a premium email marketing service that helps you effectively manage email lists and implement drip campaigns. I recently started using this and have been loving it so far!
21. LeadPages is a god send for any business owner that is looking to grow your email list.
Website Hosting & Design:
22. Bluehost is my go to hosting service for all my WordPress websites. I use their cloud hosting and so far I ve had a pretty good experience with the speed and customer service.
23. WP Engine is an expensive but super efficient hosting service for WordPress websites.
24. WP Plugins For almost every feature or functionality you want on your WordPress site, there is a plugin ready to install and use. If you use a WordPress site, you know exactly what I am talking about. Here are the 8 most essential plugins that will supercharge your WordPress website.
25. Squarespace is the way to go is you want a simple fuss free website solution or your business. Easy to set up, Easy to use – you can have a slick, beautiful and professional website within just hours!
Finance + Growth tracking:
26. Mint manages your finance effectively by integrating all your finance sources together. Just plugin all your credit cards, bank accounts etc and it will track your expenses, savings and help you mange your money.
27. Google Analytics is one of the most powerful tools you can use to measure and analyze your traffic. if you haven’t yet, get started here.
28. Iconosquare : If you are big on Instagram, Iconosquare is your best friend. It tracks and analyzes your Instagram audience and gives you useful and powerful insights that help you grow your audience quickly and efficiently.
Finance + Selling products
29. Etsy is a great starting point to launch your business as it provides you a ready, buzzing marketplace, an easy interface to set up your shop and helps you develop the confidence and skills required to run a business.
30. Woo commerce If you want to set up a shop on your WordPress site, WooCommerce is the best plugin to help you do it. WooCommerce is robust, powerful and helps you sell anything you want from anywhere in the world.
31. Gumroad makes selling digital products a cake walk. With minimum effort, you can set up an online shop to sell your products and grow your business quickly without the hassles of setting up shop.
32. Paypal is a fast secure way of accepting, sending payments to your clients and customers. Everyone can use Paypal , its fuss free and quick!
33. Shopify is another e- commerce platform for selling your physical and digital goods.
Graphics, Stock Photos and design resources
34. Creative Convex is a photography resource for creative entrepreneurs and bloggers by yours truly.
35. Creative Market If you want to avoid the hassle of creating graphics for your blog, Creative market is an awesome place to find pre-made logos, headers and other graphic elements for the design.
36. Death to the stock photo is an amazing stock photography resources for content creators. You can get 10 free photos every month by signing up to their email list!
Storage + Organization
37. Google Docs is where I create all my online documents. With a super easy and intuitive interface, you can create beautiful looking, effective documents quickly to share with your team.
38. Dropbox When my computer was crying out of disk space shortage, Dropbox came to rescue. Now, I organize all my files neatly in folders on Dropbox. I keep only the files that I need and use all the time on my computer, the rest is stored away safely in Dropbox. It is also super easy to share files with clients and collaborators using Dropbox. What more can I ask for?
39. iCloud For those of you who use a number of devices, iCloud makes sure you always have the latest versions of your most important things — documents, photos, notes, contacts, and more — on all your devices. Get it to save yourself some headache.
40. Boomerang for Gmail makes it super easy to achieve inbox zero by adding scheduled sending and the easiest, most integrated email reminders to Gmail.
41. LastPass helps you manage and share your passwords with the people you work with in the most secure and easy way.
42. Wacom tablet: If you create your own graphics, you need this. A designer, artist, letterer – you need this in your life. Makes the whole process of sketching super fun for me, I look forward to my logo design time – yes!
43. Canon DSLR : If you are just starting out and looking to invest in a DSLR, I’d totally recommend the Canon T3i / T4i. I started with the Canon t3i and for $500, it is worth every bit. It is an entry level DSLR, but the capabilities it offers are limitless. You can take extremely crisp and sharp photos with it and personally for me this camera was a huge game changer in terms of improving the quality of my blog photos.
44. MacBook Air Light as a feather, this laptop makes the whole creative hustle as enjoyable and joyful as possible. I spend a lot of time with my computer – for both personal and work and I couldn’t recommend this one more. Its worth every penny. As they say, once you go Mac you never go back!
45. WD Hard disk is a must have to store all your heavy duty data securely in one place without clogging up your computer space.
Inspiring Books, Business Podcasts + Shows:
Here are also some books and podcasts to fuel your creativity and grow your business.
There you go, a complete list of all the tools I currently love, use and recommend for all business owners. Now, its your turn! I ‘d love to know your favorite picks!