It takes a village to keep a growing online business afloat, and by village I mean me, a virtual assistant, and a bunch of websites that do a good chunk of the work for us. You know I’m all about organization and automation, but some of this stuff still needs personal attention. Scheduling social media posts, planning blog content, coordinating clients and customers.
Here are the top 10 online tools I use to minimize the work and stress on my end, make it super simple for my clients and customers, and maximize growth and profit each month.
* This post contains affiliate links because that’s how boss business ladies roll
WordPress Editorial Calendar
I’ve been using the Editorial Calendar plugin for years to plan blog content a month or two in advance. It allows me to see my entire month, add in post titles and drafts, and includes a drafts box on the side of the screen for all those posts I’m considering but haven’t fit into my calendar yet. An editorial calendar is a must-have for any blogger looking to post consistently and build an audience. Flying by the seat of your pants ain’t gonna work anymore! (CoSchedule would be a good option for non-Wordpress users and allows you to schedule social media posts as well.)
QUICK TIP: Every time you add a new blog post to your calendar include a short outline, draft, or bullet points. This way you’ve got a starting point and an overall idea of what you were planning when you go to write. There’s nothing worse than opening up a draft and having no idea what you meant to write just from looking at the title.
Buffer is my go-to for scheduling Twitter content. I use the Chrome extension, which allows me to 1. copy any sentence from any webpage and add it to my Buffer queue, and 2. add re-tweets from within Twitter to share content from other bloggers. Once or twice a week my lovely VA jumps in and schedules a week’s worth of promotional tweets for my blog posts and products. I’ve used both the paid and free versions, but it is really nice to be able to drop an unlimited number of posts into the system and know my Twitter will be rocking all month long.
QUICK TIP: After using Buffer for a few weeks, switch to their Optimal Timing Tool (under schedule at the top) – this allows Buffer to choose the best times for your tweets instead of just guessing when you’ll get the most action.
HelloSign has made sending client contracts super easy and hella legal. (yes, that’s a technical term) I have a pre-written contract in Google Drive (I could create and save a template in HelloSign by paying for the premium option) that I update with my client’s info, upload into HelloSign (connects with Drive and Dropbox), and then add a space for their signature or initials. HelloSign sends it over, notifies me when they’ve looked at it and when it’s been signed.
QUICK TIP: HelloSign also allows me to add my signature (just a crappy scribble I made in Photoshop) so I can use it when I need to sign contracts for other people too. I signed my apartment lease this way because who has a printer anymore??
I use LeadPages for three things…
- First, to add content upgrades to my blog posts to help grow my email list.
- Second, to create simple landing pages for upcoming products or programs. I did this for my Photoshop course to gauge interest before starting to build the lessons.
- And third, to create registration pages, live event pages, and thank you pages when I host webinars.
I also use LeadPages to share content upgrades when I’m doing guest posts because I’ve found it to be a much better way to connect with readers, instead of just crossing my fingers they’ll take a minute to visit my site. LeadPages is a bit of an investment, but it’s a huge time saver and all of their templates have been tested to make sure they’re optimized to grab the most subscribers possible.
QUICK TIP: Instead of a plain Thank You page, create social sharing thank you pages for your content upgrades. Under templates, choose the “Invite a Friend Thank You Page,” which will allow you to add specific text to the tweet instead of just a link. The easier it is on the user, the more likely they’ll take action!
My new favorite! I have a mega love for Buffer, but their Pinterest tool doesn’t yet compete with TailWind. (Thanks to the Badass Babes for turning me on to this one) I pin every single post on my website to over 10 boards at least once, sometimes twice. Being able to schedule a pin to multiple boards at once is AMAZING.
With pins scheduled at regular intervals throughout the day (at times determined to be best by TailWind), my Pinterest traffic has literally doubled, making it the #1 referrer to my site.
I can now see which pins are going to which boards throughout the week so I’m not bombarding one group board with all my content and forgetting others. Plus it lets me know if I’ve already pinned something to a board, so I’m not doubling up too often.
QUICK TIP: Under Publish you’ll find Board Lists – this allows you to group boards together so you can add them all at once instead of adding board by board. Super helpful if you plan to pin content to 10+boards!
If you’ve purchased an ebook or signed up for the Badass Babes, you’ve used my DPD shopping cart. This is my go-to for a simple to use (on the buyer’s end), easy to create (on my end), and CHEAP buy now buttons. DPD only charges $10/month and DOES NOT take a percentage of sales, which is always a massive selling point for me. I’m able to upload products straight into the system (instead of hosting them elsewhere), pre-sell products, and create affiliate programs.
QUICK TIP: Add buyers into your email lists so you have the opportunity to contact them in the future and share new products and services.
- In your DPD dashboard, click into Integrations and connect your email provider.
- Then go into your email provider and set up a group. In MailChimp you’ll find this setting under Manage Subscribers.
- In DPD, again under Integrations > your email list provider settings > scroll down to Product Specific Groups and set a group for each product.
Now when you need to contact those buyers you can segment your list by group (in your email platform) and email all of them at once or create an automation sequence to automatically up-sell them to your next level product.
I was never big on project management tools because using a daily to-do list always worked well for me. It wasn’t until I started working with a VA that I had to get organized ahead of time and realized sending to-do lists via email or keeping tabs in a doc wasn’t going to cut it. Asana allows me to create to-dos and assign them to my VA, add notes for each project (like links or instructions), upload files, set due dates, track time, include comments and conversations, and (super important) they have a really nice app!
QUICK TIP: When I first started adding tasks into Asana I didn’t find the dashboard very helpful as it was showing me every task, both complete and incomplete. Using the filter options you can display the tasks you want to keep an eye on and then click the little star in the corner to add it to your favorites. Now the link to that filtered list will show up in the left sidebar instead of having to filter the tasks each time.
Maybe it’s the Monkey, maybe it’s that high-five I get every time I schedule an email, but I love me some MailChimp! Once you figure out where everything is, using this platform is super easy and well designed. I use this for weekly emails, my Badass Babes E-Course, and automation sequences after people download content upgrades.
QUICK TIP: Add your Monkey Rewards link to the bottom of your emails or within blog posts/pages on your site. MailChimp doesn’t pay out an affiliate commission, but it does give you money toward your bill. Adding that link has helped cut my bill at least in half the past few months, which is awesome as it keeps growing and costing more!
I just started using Calendly to allow my consulting clients to add themselves to my schedule, send me their Skype info, and their preference for an audio or video chat. I have such a crush on sites that allow me to collect info and complete multiple steps in one!
Calendly automatically shows the user the available times in their timezone, so no one shows up an hour (or three) late. And, most importantly, it syncs with my Google calendars, so I don’t have to worry about adjusting my availability when I add a new appointment. Plus it allows me to add a buffer before and after sessions, so I have a 30 minute window if I ned a break or drive time. (Thanks to Kayla for the heads up on this one!)
QUICK TIP: If users need to pay for your time, you can add this as an automatic option after they schedule their session. To do this, edit your event type and scroll to the bottom. Under “add custom links” you can include a link to a product (I created a new product in DPD for a 1hr session) which users can pay for without the need to send an invoice.
For building online communities, nothing is easier than Slack. I had previously been using Google+ Communities to create groups for my programs, but after five Badass Babes sessions, I can tell you that I’m over the tech support issues. On my end, having two G+ accounts meant I had to logout of one and into the other to add new Babes to the community. On student’s end they had issues creating a G+ profile, getting into the community, and joining hangouts. When it worked, it worked really well, but when it didn’t it was a pain for everyone.
Slack, so far, has been so much easier. I send invites via email and students can get in with one click. I create channels for the different topics within the Slack team and can hold office hours within the app instead of using a separate chat platform.
QUICK TIP: Download the desktop app so you don’t need to login to the website each time. You stay logged in, can see all your Slack teams in one window, and have the option for alerts when there’s a new post or direct message.