There are so many different hats to wear when you’re running your own business, especially when you’re just starting to establish your practice. Not only do you spend time seeing your clients but, you also have to think about finding them in the first place, as well as keeping them happy and engaged.
Over the years we’ve discovered some great online and digital tools that help us with these various business activities. Tools that have helped us be more organised, more professional and more profitable! The bonus is – many of them are free.
Today we’re sharing just a few of them.
We’ll be adding to this list as the weeks go by and you’ll be able to access all our recommendations in the Resources section of our site.
In alphabetical order:
Evernote is a place to store all your notes – whether it be ideas for a new service you could offer; drafts of that blog post that you’re working on; research for a paper your writing; a list of things to remember and more! You can arrange your notes in different notebooks and have your account sync between your phone (that’s where you might note down ideas when you’re on the go), your tablet and your computer, so that you can easily can pick up where you left off. Evernote has a search function so, no more sifting through pages and pages of old notebooks to find something. You can also share notes with others and chat with them – that’s what we use to communicate when it comes to working on all things Materia Marketer.
We recently shared some of our top strategies for email – helping you to use it as a tool to build your practice, as opposed to something that fills you with dread and overwhelm. We mentioned Highrise, a contact management tool that can help you keep track of your contacts by storing their details, any associated notes and tasks, as well as reminders.
Social media is an important tool for letting people know that your website exists and growing your practice. We’ve observed that people experience several different barriers to engaging with social media. For some it’s concerns around privacy (here are some Facebook-specific tips for that), for some it’s the worry that it takes too much time or, they’ll get carried away and, never actually do any work! For the latter, we recommend using a social media management tool like Hootsuite. Through one dashboard, you are able to manage several social media accounts. You can schedule your messages – rather than spending time thinking of ideas to post every day, you might decide to sit down for an hour, once a week, to create and schedule all your posts in one go. You can easily keep up with any mentions or messages you receive, so that you can remain actively engaged with your network – after all, social media works best when you dialogue with your audience, rather than simply speaking at them.
A great way to keep your clients and prospective clients engaged is by regularly sending out emails/e-newsletters with content that is relevant, useful and interesting (some tips). For all of you who subscribe to get our weekly emails (thank you), they are delivered to your inbox thanks to MailChimp. MailChimp helps us to manage your details – when you sign up to the list, your information is automatically added to our database there; it enables us to put together the design of the emails and; we are able to schedule when we want them to go out (on certain plans, MailChimp can suggest the optimal time to send the email, based on the previous behaviour of people on your list). Not only does MailChimp get functionality marks from us but, it’s also one of the most user-friendly email marketing platforms that we’ve used. They get bonus marks from us for great marketing, e.g. their fun annual reports!
It’s important to have a space of your own on the internet. While we’re big advocates of using social media to connect with like-minded people, reach and your audience and build relationships, your social media pages should never be a substitute to having your own website. Not only do social media networks come and go, or at least, fade out of favour but, they also determine the rules regarding how you present yourself. With your own website, you set the terms. One of the first steps in going about creating your website is, reserving your domain name, i.e. www.yourname.com. Another benefit: you get to decide what your domain is! As opposed to www.socialmediasitename.com/yourname. We say all of this to say, we recommend name.com as a place to purchase your domain name. They have a clear website and a really good help section.
You may have noticed that all of our blog posts have words with pictures – Word Swag is the iPhone app that we use to make them. We talk more about pictures with words here. We love making them and we can help you with yours (details here).
We’re always interested in hearing about tools that can help us be more organised and productive. We’d love to hear what works well for you. Let us know in the comments below.
Tracy and Lulu