If you’ve already built your website, I can imagine you’re now struggling hard to achieve a manageable work/life balance, being preoccupied with content creation, marketing, traffic, numbers… Finding money for staffing sure ain’t easy, so you need to organize yourself better and find the time to get all (or at least most…) things done by yourself.
I’ve talked before about working smarter, being focused, increasing productivity and efficiency trying to run your online business. Here I’ll list some great productivity tools that will simplify your daily efforts and make you run your online business like you have an army of workers to support you, even though it’s just you pulling the strings behind the curtain.
Email is a real productivity killer. Not with Inbox Pause
Numerous studies confirm that shifting our attention from one task to another, as we do when we’re constantly checking our email instead of working on our website, is really damaging to our productivity, concentration, and even lowers our intelligence by up to 10 IQ points (!), according to a University of California-Irvine study.
If you usually check your email early in the morning, you’re potentially wasting the peak of your creative time and fresh thoughts listing through your inboxes.
Instead, you can set about 10 minutes max to look into the most important and urgent emails before you get back to work. Or even do this faster using Gmail’s inbox tabs and category labels to separate the personal stuff from the business-related messages.
A great tool to help you with email distractions, Inbox Pause, lets you put new messages on hold, so they can’t get in your inbox until you want them there. It’s the perfect solution if you have a constant flow of new emails on your accounts.
Google Apps: Manage your emails, documents, calendar etc. from anywhere
If you’re on Gmail, and you probably are, since this is officially the best
and most used email service with over 500 million users, then Google Apps are a definite must-have, for you, as well as for any other online small business owner. 65.66% of these people open their email on mobile. (Read “Why Do You Need a Mobile-Friendly Website”.)
Google Apps is a packet of very useful popular Google tools like Gmail, Drive, Calendar, and others. Drive is a true lifesaver when it comes to moving large files, sharing documents, graphics, calendars. You can store, exchange and collaborate on documents using the Web, and everything is accessible on a variety of mobile devices, as long as you have Internet connection.
You can also try Google Apps for Work; though if you want to continue using the app-package after the 30 day trial period, you’ll have to pay $5 to $10 per user each month.
What do your customers want? AskYourTargetMarket
It’s crucial to understand what your target customers want and need. This determines the success of your business. So whether you’re just started running a side business online, or researching the market before launching a new product and/or service, the better you know your audience, the more accurately you can determine whether or not you are heading in the right direction.
With AskYourTargetMarket you can customize different questions, send out surveys, and get answers from real people who meet the criteria of your target market. The tool is free if you use your own list of website visitors, Facebook fans; or you can pay $0.95 to ask 10 questions and up to 3 open-ended questions, and get full, relevant, quality responses in a full set of demographics.
Capture and organize your ideas, links and notes with Evernote
Evernote is great for collecting things. The tool lets you capture anything you find online and save it, organize text and images around different ideas, and have them readily accessible across all your devices.
It’s a perfect way to keep valuable content ideas, inspiration and actual data sources, closer and easier to search through when working on projects.
Search Google for rights-free images. Or create graphics with Canva
It’s important to start your business on the right foot; you don’t want to be sweating every time you publish an image. Look for rights-free images that you can use on your website, blog, social media, by searching Google Images and filtering the results for only ‘Labeled for commercial reuse’.
If you want to test your designer skills and create unique visuals, Canva is the simplest tool to use to build high-end graphics that you can post on your site, company blog, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter account etc. If you are an Instagram fan, you’ll also love PicMonkey. It’s a free web-based photo editor that lets you fix your images, add amazing filters and text, transform your photos and easily create outstanding graphics.
Create and curate great content with Google Trends and Scoop.it
Google Trends can help you brainstorm great ideas for your next big blog posts. Explore trending topics with Hot Searches, compare them and measure the public’s interest to make sure you’re producing relevant content.
To find quality in a sea of average posts and articles, you need to follow the right people on Scoop.it. Here people create boards around specific topics with content they like and want to keep. So if you devote some time to locate the right people, industry experts, those behind the popular websites and blogs in your niche, you can be sure you’ll always have great content to share and engage with your fans and followers.
Manage all your social accounts from one single dashboard
There are at least 4 social networks new online businesses should get active on, – Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, – and the rest depend on their audience and content specifics, – Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, Vine, YouTube, and so on. With all demanding a different approach, it can be really tough to handle everything.
Buffer and Hootsuite are both very popular apps that allow you to schedule and manage sharing across all social platforms. Easily build up queues of social updates to be posted on all your social profiles, at a specific time, to make sure you’re always interesting and relevant at the key moments when your readers can hear you.
Monitor your company and brand with Social Mention
With so many social websites existing, it’s literally impossible to follow everything that could be happening and is related to your business and brand. And the risk of a crisis happening, and you not reacting on time, is just too high to be allowed.
Social Mention is a user-generated content aggregator that will list you mentions from blogs, microblogs, videos and other social media about your search queries, and provide real-time information on the social influence of your company and brand among the over a hundred most popular social sites that they monitor.
You can search your company name and/or website, and the tool will show you how likely it is that people are talking about you on social sites, will they do this repeatedly, is the feeling positive, neutral, or negative. This data can be crucial for improvements based on a better understanding of your audience’ needs and wants. Make sure to include this knowledge in your future social media marketing activities.
You should also set Google Alerts to check up yourself, your company and brand, as well as the web presence of your competition, or would-be clients. It’s a very simple and user-friendly tool that anyone working online should use.
Build your email list and send newsletters with AWeber
Email marketing is an amazing channel to grow your network and connect with your audience. AWeber can help you collect subscribers’ email addresses, easily design newsletters to send them out, and track the performance of your campaigns.
Keep Your SEO and keywords in check with Yoast for WordPress
Optimizing for the search engines is crucial for creating a professional website and a successful business. Yoast for WordPress can help you do this in no time. The tool covers everything you need to optimize your site and pages, and lets you see if it’s ok to hit publish by giving you a green light (yellow is for close to finish, and if the light is red, you have more to work on).
Start monetizing your site with PayPal
Online businesses usually have international clients, so the fact that PayPal accepts over 20 currencies, is certainly in their favor.
You can set up a free account that you’ll connect with a valid bank account, and then you can accept payments via email, or through simple embedded `Buy Now’ or `Add to Cart’ buttons on your website.
Track important tasks with Remember the Milk and Wunderlist
If you have a hard time organizing your daily tasks, you need a to-do-tracker. Remember the Milk and Wunderlistare among the best on the market. Both apps are highly flexible and easily customized, and allow you to manage and share your to-do list, get email, SMS, or IM reminders, and have free basic access from desktop, iOS and Android mobile devices. These tools really won’t let you forget anything.
I’ve also listed most of the tools that I personally use and find most valuable in my resources page.