Owning and operating your own business generally means that you end up wearing lots of hats. You’re not only the director of pushing out and creating all the content, but the one who markets it, organizes getting paid, communicates with clients, and so much more. It can get really overwhelming, but if you put systems in place you can save time, earn more and work less. Organization and systems will help you focus on what you love, and also lets you take care of the necessities. We’ve gathered our top 15 productivity tools *(HINT: 8 of them are free!) and today we’re letting you in on how we use them and how they could be big influencers in your business too.
Whether we are coordinating to dos, brainstorming blog posts, or just need to get organized, Wunderlist is our go to. It has completely streamlined our project management and better yet, it is completely free. Add notes, reminders and even assign tasks to teammates (or your husband!). For a step-by-step guide to organizing your business check out this post.
This tool is quite possible our best accountability partner to date. Since we work 400 miles apart it would be really easy for one of us to get side-tracked or unclear on what we’re currently working on. We have many days throughout the week where we hop on a Hangout for 2, 5, or even 8 hours at a time to get things done.
We can easily screenshare what one of us is working on, talk out our latest blog post schedule, newsletter copy, or just brainstorm. Heck, we’ve even just got on a Hangout and blasted some T. Swift as we both cleaned our offices! It can be lonely to work from home sometimes, so even if you don’t have a business partner consider getting a friend or fellow boss to “Hangout” with you so you can cheer each other on and hold each other accountable.
Considering hosting a webinar? See how you can use utilize Google Hangout. BONUS, we have a free guide for first timers!
ConvertKit has become our go-to email service provider. As we outgrow the “free” account on Mailchimp we realized we needed more robust features to handle both our growth and our ever changing needs. There incredible customer service, increased open rates and individual subscriber details make the switch well worth it. For more about ConvertKit and why we left Mailchimp, check out this post.
Other than chilling on Hangouts all day, this is by far where we spend most of our time. Drive makes it so easy to keep track of all our our blog post drafts, website copy for edits, contact spreadsheets, slides for webinars, and all the other copy we produce.
Pro Tip: Create only one shared folder then make folders inside it for organization. This way you don’t have to share every single thing you work on - just add it to the main folder and anyone who is added to the shared folder can see it!
This tool is super handy because of its multi-device functionality. We’ve got Dropbox downloaded on our computers so we can save directly, and also saved to our phones so we can access documents or images on the go.
This may fall under “free” for you if you don’t need the Dropbox business plan like we do, but for only $9.99 a month you get 1TB of storage and auto backup to the cloud.
Personally, we used to be turned off by any and all Instagram posting apps. We are strong believers in posting what’s “instant”. However, when organizing things like giveaways or having two members with access to one account, this tool has saved us! Later makes it super handy to not only be able to schedule posts in advance, but be able to type your caption on the internet instead of the tiny fumbly keyboard on your phone.
Interested in giving it a try,
Ready to get started on Latergram? Use this link to sign up for your free account and get 10 extra free posts a month! Want to take your Instagram game even further? Start our FREE 5-day email e-course Quadruple Your Instagram Following now!
This may fall under the “buy it if ya need it” list for your business, but for us, hosting webinars has had a significant impact on our email subscriber list. Starting at around $35 a month (billed annually) this tool is what we use to host all of our webinars (read more here). It’s an extension to Google Hangout so you’ve got rockstar servers with added benefits. Check out more benefits of Webinar Jam in this post.
You know when you so whole heartedly love someone or something you can't even find the right words to describe your infatuation. That's how we feel about Trello. In less than 30-days we have seen such incredible growth in our business because we have streamlined our systems and batched our processes. Trello is totally free - if you only get one new system, make it this one!
As two people who have precious product information, custom designs, and memorable photographs, we are paranoid about backing up our files. Carbonite allows a behind-the-scenes automatic backup of all your files on your computer (you can add multiple computers and devices). We also use external hard drives to manually pull files from our computer and backup. Trust us when we say you do not want to go through a hard drive fail when you haven’t backed anything up in 7 years!
Ok, we have already harped once on backing up, but here we are going to do it again. We document on the go constantly, and as two photo fanatics we would be devastated if we lost our latest snaps. If you have an iPhone, make sure your auto backup to iCloud is on. This could really save you in a pinch!
Adobe Creative Cloud
We fell head over heels when Adobe announced their creative cloud! To be able to access files from any device at anytime is incredible! With their CreativeSync capabilities, all of your files will show your latest version - no matter which device you log in from.
Knowing where to invest your time is so crucial. Getting insight into your real audience, up-to-date statistics, and real time feedback allows you to adapt. By using Google Analytics we always know where on our site people are spending the majority of their time, what are our most popular blog posts are, and what things we should consider reworking. If you haven’t already, make sure you set up a free account and get your website linked up today.
It may seem silly to have to mention Gmail, but when we see anyone with any other email provider we can’t help wondering why they haven’t made the switch. If you need assistance in making your Gmail Inbox run even better, then be sure to check out our post on the Power of Inbox!
This may be one of Apple’s least-known secrets. Have you ever had to take multiple steps in order to get an image from your computer to your phone via email? AirDrop cuts these steps way down. So next time you have that beautiful branded stock photo you can’t wait to share on Instagram, try using AirDrop to get it to your phone faster and with fewer steps. If you want a more step-by-step direction on how to use AirDrop check out this tutorial.
We know that adding a few extra minutes to your social media posting routine can get overwhelming, but trust us, the benefits of Pinterest for your business are astounding. If you still don’t believe us let us fill you in: it’s led to over 50,000 Impressions every single day and refers thousands of people our site a month. Whoa.
If you need your own Daily Pinterest Formula and need to (Re)Fall In Love With Your Pinterest check out these posts! And if you are totally ready to uplevel your Pinterest game, Tailwind is the next step - try it for free for 30-days, you won't regret it.
Having these tools in our back pocket saves us time, keeps up productive and bridges the gap of our 400+ miles working apart. Your business is never too small or too chaotic to put systems in place that can make your life easier!
DISCLAIMER: We whole heartedly LOVE these tools. All opinions expressed here are simply because we do use these tools and find them extremely beneficial. We were not paid or approached in any way to write about these brands, tools or companies. A few of these links (Adobe Cloud, ConvertKit and WebinarJam are affiliate links).
We realize that these tools are just pieces of the gigantic puzzle that makes a small business successful. Sometimes before we can even begin to learn or implement things like webinars and list organization we’ve got to take it a few steps back a lay the foundation. We’ve created the best FREE tool for you to do this! We’d love to have you inside our free 7-Day Email Course “Spark Your Creativity: 7 Steps to Ignite Your Creative Business”.
Stop wasting time and turn your dream into a reality. Let’s turn your side hustle into a soul fulfilling, goal-crushing, freaking profitable creative business. We get it. You work all day and then you come home and you hustle even harder. Balancing essentially two full time jobs is not for everyone. Let’s make a plan, simplify and start earning what you are worth. Start your free course today.