I am often asked or find myself sharing what tools I use in my own small business. There are many wonderful resources and tools available that can help you work successfully online. The list on this page is comprised of resources I’ve personally used in my own business or for a client. Although, some links may be affiliate, I’ve only shared the ones that I enjoy and/or currently use.
I think FreshBooks is great. It’s one of the first paid services that I used for my own business. I have used both the free and pro accounts. The price has actually DECREASED since I first used it. FreshBooks has continued to add new features over the years. It’s really easy to send invoices. Clients have the option to pay invoices using their credit cards, debit cards or PayPal account, etc. It has some nice integrations. I also like their reports that are particularly helpful to me at tax time. Paid plans begin at $9.95. Check out FreshBooks.
I love Dropbox. I have used it for years. Yes, I love that you collaborate with others by sharing folders with them. I enjoy that I can access files from anywhere including my phone and not just my PC. All folders are automatically synced. I have used both the free and pro account. One of the major differences between the two is the amount of storage. Paid plans begin at just $9.99/month or $99/year. Try it out: Sign up for Dropbox.
Okay, I have a thing for Google. I wrote about in the past. Google has wonderful business solutions for small business owners. They have a library of tools but a few of my faves are: Google Drive, Google Calendar and Gmail. Learn how to set up Google Apps for your business. Plans are available for $5 or $10 per month.
iContact is an email marketing service that has been around since 2003. I used iContact for a nonprofit client that was looking for an affordable option with social media integration. Having researched several options we decided to use iContact. It was a great choice and even offered a nonprofit discount. Pricing begins at $14 and it varies according to subscriber list size. Sign up for iContact’s 30 day free trial.
MailChimp is also another email marketing service. It’s the only email service I have used in my own business. I have also used it for clients. I think it is great. Pricing begins at FREE. MailChimp offers nice email templates to choice from. Their service also integrates with other popular apps and services like Salesforce, Eventbrite, Google, Twitter, Facebook, Shopify, and SurveyMonkey.
SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
Buffer is social media scheduling tool. I have used Buffer for several years and use it almost everyday. It has some great features. I like that you can schedule updates and then reshuffle the times that they post for that network. Buffer also has an awesome browser extension that makes it easy to schedule directly from the web to your networks. It offers a free and paid plans. Paid plans begin at $10 per month. Check out Buffer.
This is another great scheduling tool with useful features. I have used HootSuite for years; I use it nearly every day. I primarily use it to post to Twitter; although you can connect other social networks. I am most impressed with their analytics and reporting which they updated in 2016. HootSuite also has a browser extension and some nice integrations. Did I mention that their customer support is awesome! HootSuite offers a free and paid plans. I have used both but am currently using HootSuite Pro. Sign up for a free 30 day trial.
Feedly is a big time saver and vital part of my social media management process. I use it on a regular basis; read how I use it to aid in content curation for my clients. Feedly has both free and paid plans. Paid plan begins at $5.41/month if billed annually. I use their free plan. Learn more about Feedly.
VISUAL CONTENT MARKETING
I am a huge fan of Canva. It has allowed me to up my social media game with professional looking visual content. I have used both the free and paid plans. You could definitely use the free plan and be fine. Canva allows you to create an image just the right size for that particular social network. You can select from their free images or upload your own. You also have the option to purchase a Canva stock image for $1. Canva’s paid plan is $9.95 per month when paid annually or $12.95 per user/month.
I like Adobe Spark. It’s the newest program on this page. It was launched in 2016. Adobe Spark offers professional themes, a variety of fonts, and a huge collection of photos. You can also choose to use your own photos. You can create images, a web page or video with Adobe Spark. There is also a mobile app for each tool and your projects are automatically synced across the web or iOS app. Adobe Spark is free and definitely worth the look. Test it out.
Fotoflexer is a free online image editor tool. It’s my go-to for quick resizing. I do not have Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator. If I unable to’fix’ an image as desired in a particular program then I will upload and make the adjustment in Fotoflexer. I mostly use it to quickly resize or crop images but there are other great features like effects, layers, or distort. Use Fotoflexer.
Once my website became self hosted via WordPress.org in 2009; I’ve only used Bluehost. So, I am probably a little biased. I never had any major problems with it. So it you are looking for web host – check them out too.